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February 2019



Mammography Saves Lives


is now available at the Women’s Health Center at WellStar West Georgia Medical Center 706.880.7411

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February 2019

1420 Vernon Road LaGrange, GA 30240 (across from LaGrange Academy) Hours: Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

February 2019 VOLUME VI, ISSUE I A publication of the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce 111 Bull St./P.O. Box 636 LaGrange, GA 30241 (706) 884-8671 EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN: Marlene Rhodes, Renasant Bank  PAST CHAIRMAN:  Casey Smith, Calumet Bank CHAIRMAN-ELECT:  George Bailey, City of Hogansville SECRETARY/TREASURER:    William Stankiewicz, William & Mary’s Antiques PRESIDENT:  Page Estes, Chamber VICE CHAIRMAN FOR DIVERSITY & INCLUSION: Cynthia Culbreath, JB Legacy Enterprises VICE CHAIRMAN FOR BUSINESS ADVOCACY:  Dale Jackson, Jackson Services VICE CHAIRMAN FOR LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT:  Meghan Duke, City of West Point VICE CHAIRMAN FOR INVESTOR RELATIONS:  Patricia Rogers, WellStar West Georgia Medical Center VICE CHAIRMEN FOR TALENT & WORKFORCE DEVELOPMENT:  Jamey Jackson, Malone Workforce Solutions Brandon Eley, Eley Consulting VICE CHAIRMAN FOR MARKETING & ADVERTISING:  Rob Goldstein, Wild Leap Brew Co. VICE CHAIRMAN FOR TOURISM:  Jignesh Patel, LaQuinta Inn/Baymont Suites VICE CHAIRMAN FOR MEMBERSHIP ENGAGEMENT:  Martha Pirkle, LaGrange College VICE CHAIRMAN FOR HOGANSVILLE BUSINESS COUNCIL:  Jake Ayers, Pioneer Project  VICE CHAIRMAN FOR WEST POINT BUSINESS COUNCIL:  Stacy Bartlett, Point University

CONTENTS 4 | A Letter from the President 6 | Cover Story

26 | Music Scene

8 | Annual Report

28 | In the Know

Troup County's Got Rhythm

2018 in Review

Could Your Business be Under Cyber Attack in 2019?

12| Meet our Chair

Marlene Rhodes

30 | Movers, Shakers, Risk-Takers

14| Spotlight on West Point

32 | Member Update

16 | Small Business Spotlight

34 | Chamber Events

CenterState Bank

A Stroll Through History Higgins Funeral Homes

39 | Education

18 | Spotlight on Hogansville

Green Power Racing

From the Ground Up

40 | Member Spotlight

20 | Healthcare

Abbott Solutions Group

Eating Healthy in 2019 and Beyond

43 | Small Business

How to Make Your Business More Beautiful

Jayme Ogles

46 | HYPE (Young Professionals)


February 2019

This publication is produced by the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce. Reproduction in whole or part of this publication without express written permission is prohibited. All claims, materials and photos furnished or used are, to the publisher's knowledge, true and correct. Publication of any article or advertisement is not an endorsement by the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce.

ON THE COVER Cover story: Tripp Penn Photo credit: Blencoe & Co. Photographic Arts

Troup Trends is published quarterly by the LaGrangeTroup County Chamber of Commerce. Please send news items, suggestions, advertising requests and comments to:

Dave Marler P.O. Box 636 • LaGrange, GA 30241

Great Wolf Lodge-LaGrange

A New Era for the Callaway Foundation


Shelley Strickland

22 | Mystery Traveler




Dear Friends,

As I write this letter, it is an atypical cold winter morning in Georgia. Curled up with my favorite blanket, two canines and a warm beverage, I am a bit nostalgic. Reflecting back on a year that has been tumultuous—professionally and personally, I am pondering the question of “what is next”? How can the Chamber continue to channel collaboration of our members to inspire success, to fuel innovation and to dream bigger? And how can I personally use my talents to engage our team, to advocate for your interests and to coordinate meaningful conversations and connections? During the holidays, my family and I watched a film that was made for the bicentennial in 1976 that featured three families who came to Kentucky 200 years before and remained in the same places ever since—“a horse breeder from the Bluegrass, a small-town lawyer and a man of the woods who hunts with a long rifle.” My grandfather was that country lawyer. I saw faces of so many of my family that I miss, and I was reminded why I never had a future in acting! But I was also struck by my grandfather’s sentiments: that life in a small town is the best possible one; it’s the good life. It’s the place in America where children know people from all walks of life—rich and poor, black and white, C-level executive and front line laborer. The place where those of us that are a bit more mature have the opportunity to instill in our children and young adults the values that we hold most true. A small town can be the place that a young man like my uncle can return home to after completing a law degree from Harvard and still feel like he had a chance to make a real difference in the world, even from a small western Kentucky community. You know what makes communities like ours—and like my hometown—special? It’s the “power of we.” Jonathan Tisch is CEO of the Loews Hotels and author of several books including The Power of We. He purports that “in today’s world, no one can be all things to all people at the same time. You have to know what you’re good at. What is your best skill? Surround yourself with individuals that compliment you so you can work together. It’s the power of partnerships—the power of we.” That’s the perfect description of

the Chamber! We help create success by building relationships—by finding connections—between our members so that we can do well and do good. Joel Kotkin in Forbes “Where Small Town America is Thriving” notes that “those small cities able to assemble the right mix of talent, market focus and civic cooperation will succeed.” LaGrange is listed as the #3 manufacturing small city in the US in that article. Rutgers University sociologist Patrick Carr and author Maria Kefalas studied rural America and noted, “our work looked at the mechanism of mentorship and nurturing you have in small towns. In fact, most young people we spoke with talked about how in a place like this, ‘we kind of feel you are part of something bigger than yourself.’” Personally, I am still on that quest for something bigger than myself— that search for meaning in life. In The Road to Character, author David Brooks seeks to find a balance between his “resume virtues”— achieving wealth, fame and status—and his “eulogy virtues”—those that are at our core like kindness, bravery, honesty or faithfulness. The latter are those aspects of our character that others praise when we’re not around to hear it. Brooks argues that our society exalts the resume virtues but overlooks the humbler eulogy virtues. But it is this second category of virtues that truly matters. I hope you will join me on a journey to find meaning in life, to develop real relationships and to help our communities continue to thrive. Let’s harness the “power of we” and see where the road takes us in 2019.

Warm regards,

Page Estes, President LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce

Special Thanks to Our 1911 Society Presenting Sponsors!


February 2019



S T O R Y Tripp Penn, president of both the Callaway Foundation, Inc. and Fuller E. Callaway Foundation


A 6

s a recent University of Georgia master’s graduate, Tripp Penn took on his first major civic project in 1996. At the ripe old age of 28, he headed a fundraising drive to build a baseball complex in Manchester in memory of his beloved uncle, Brent Kersey. One of the first places he turned was the Callaway Foundation, which made a major gift.

Just how significant became apparent January 1, when Penn moved to “the other side of the desk,” as new president of both Callaway Foundation, Inc. and Fuller E. Callaway Foundation. Together, the charitable organizations, established in 1943 and 1917 respectively, have contributed more than $440 million for a wide variety of religious, charitable and educational opportunities, with emphasis on LaGrange and Troup County.

“It was my first foray into fundraising, and it hit me at my core…That project showed me the power of philanthropy and the impact a group of people rallying together can make…Kersey Park was a deeply personal project for me, but it had a significant professional impact,” Penn said.

“I didn’t know it at the time, but I feel like I have been preparing for this role for 22 years,” Penn said.

February 2019

That preparation included seven years at Roosevelt-Warm Springs Institute for Rehabilitation, where his role as director of development awakened his strong appreciation for mission-driven nonprofits.

“I discovered my purpose. I never once thought of going back to the private sector,” he said. The Penn family moved to LaGrange in 2001, and in 2003 he joined West Georgia Health System, now WellStar West Georgia. As director of development, he had the daunting task of starting a hospital foundation from scratch and developing the capital campaign to build the South Tower. Again, Callaway Foundation was a leading donor. During his time at West Georgia Health, Penn earned an MBA from LaGrange College, with help from a Callaway-funded Hatton Lovejoy graduate studies grant. The credential aided in his promotion to vice president, with added responsibilities for all support services, and to his hiring in 2016 as CEO of Upson

C O V E R Regional Medical Center in Thomaston. “At every step of my journey, I have been a beneficiary of the Callaway Foundation,” Penn said. Indeed, the facilities and opportunities underwritten by Callaway philanthropy helped attract Penn and his wife, Megan, to LaGrange in the first place. He was working in Warm Springs, she in West Point and they were living in Pine Mountain. They loved all three towns but wanted to drive less and be together more. “Most of all, we wanted our children’s hometown to have a small town atmosphere, but be big enough to offer quality educational, recreational and cultural experiences,” Penn said. “LaGrange absolutely fit the bill.” The same factors pulled Penn to his current role as foundation president. “What drew me to this job is that I love this community. It’s by far the best community in Georgia.” Like many LaGrange residents, Penn said he can’t imagine what LaGrange and Troup County would be like without the Foundation. The Callaway-funded facilities and community amenities make living here “just a little bit nicer than anywhere else.” Now that he is on the other side of the desk, Penn said, his role is different, but the satisfactions are similar. “In health care, the return on investment is the health of the population. Here, it’s the quality of life and vibrancy of the community.” In both roles, he said, “you get to go home knowing you helped somebody.” That desire to help is a big part of what drives the new foundation president. He is active at First United Methodist Church, where he has held numerous leadership roles, and at LaGrange College, where he is a trustee and former president of the Leadership Council. A native of Donalsonville, a south Georgia town of some 2,500 residents, Penn was raised in a home that emphasized “manners, a hard day’s work and enjoying the outdoors.” He played multiple sports – “I was slow and skinny, but passionate,” he said, laughing – and worked loading peanuts at the local peanut mill. “I was shaped by a small town,” he said. “I understand the struggles and appreciate the value of small towns.”

He believes he brings “a blue collar mentality” to his white collar job and looks up to his younger brother, Michael Penn, a Lt. Col. in the U.S. Army, now serving in Germany. The values birthed in Donalsonville are those he still tries to live by. “Think of an archery target,” he said. “Faith and family are the bull’s eye, friends come next, then meaningful work, then recreation. I get all this with my family and my job.” Penn is grateful to the Callaway Foundation trustees for trusting him with the responsibility of “meaningful work” and said they have treated him “like a member of the family.” One of his key responsibilities will be to scrutinize funding opportunities, asking the question “Does this fit in with our mission?”. He’ll also be working with the trustees in planning sessions this spring, exploring new directions for the foundation now that major projects in downtown LaGrange are nearing completion. After sitting down with every foundation employee during his first weeks on the job, Penn is impressed by their level of dedication. “They really care about the legacy of the Callaway family, and many of them have great longevity,” he said. He is particularly grateful to his predecessor, H. Speer Burdette III, who guided the foundations for 16 years until his retirement on Dec. 31. “Speer went way out of his way to help me, to set me up for success. He had a great 16year run,” Penn said. He described Burdette and his predecessor, J. T. “Tommy” Gresham, as “amazing community servants, men of character, heart and integrity.”


board chairman Bruce Williams, another cherished mentor, taught him by example to be an encourager, Penn said. And Jerry Fulks, recently retired CEO of WellStar West Georgia Medical Center, continuously fostered his development as a leader, Penn said. “Jerry showed me every day how to be a senior leader and do it by knowing the business, treating people with respect and doing the right thing.’” With a smile, he describes his wife, Megan, an Athens native whom he met at UGA, as the “real rock star” and key to all successes in his family. A risk management major at Georgia, she currently works at Hutchinson/ Traylor Insurance. “She’s a great partner and has been a supportive spouse, in good times and bad,” Penn said. Their three children are Riley, a recent Georgia Tech graduate now in her first post-college job at Children’s Health Care of Atlanta; Hannah, a student at the University of Georgia and Miller, a junior at LaGrange High School. As a business model, Penn likes the concept of “incremental progress,” citing the story of the tortoise and the hare. “I identify with the tortoise,” he said with a laugh. “Steady and always moving ahead. Do a little good every day.” Since early in his career, he has been inspired by advice from Jim Blanchard, former head of Synovus, who said, “Plant your feet deep in a community.” “That’s what I have done, and what I plan to do for the rest of my career,“ Penn said.

At this stage of his career, Penn said, he is more grateful than ever for several mentors who contributed to his development. “Nobody gets there alone. I had a handful of key mentors at just the right times.” Frank Ruzycki, a longtime director of Roosevelt Institute, “led by passion,” Penn said and taught him that “it’s OK to love the people you work with.” Roosevelt Tripp Penn and his wife Megan


2018 A N N U A L R E POR T For 107 years, the LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce has been the economic development organization that regional leaders depend upon to get the job done. In 2018, hundreds of chamber members worked to foster cooperation and growth in their teams, companies, community and in our region. We hosted more than 100 programs, events and gatherings with 3,882 attendees.


Seminars & Workshops


Special Events

Breakfasts, Lunches, & Dinners


$416,000 Raised for Talent Efforts




And convened more than 80,000 attendees in board rooms, classrooms and stadiums for meaningful conversations and connections.


Parade Spectators

Sporting Events with over





DC Fly-In Participants

Candidate Forums

Developing our future leaders remained a priority with a focus on diversity and inclusion.

3,055 Leads Generated

Website Views


Facebook Likes

We engaged local, state and federal elected officials from city halls, under the Gold Dome and to the nation’s capital to help shape policy.

Candidate Academy


Troup Trends magazines distributed

Paid Ad Impressions



Stopped in Visitor’s Center


9.5 Million

Ribbon Cuttings & Groundbreakings



Members of Steering Committee

And we told your story . . . our story to more than 10 million people!



Creating a top quality workforce remained a top priority.

Facebook Reach

The core of our strategy is simple—it’s all about relationships!



31,365 Employees


New members

Members It’s the POWER OF WE—together, we can do anything! We launched our first ever total resource campaign in 2018.


$384,759 $253,759 + $131,000 New Commitments 1911 Society Renewals And we did our work with EXCELLENCE, receiving top level reaccreditation from the US Chamber of Commerce.

675+ Alumni


February 2019


Current Participants






CONNECT Chamber members represent more than 31,000 business people who support our community by creating jobs, volunteering and fundraising for worthy causes, mentoring our future leaders and marketing our communities to future businesses and our residents. Our strength and success arise from the number and quality of our connections to each other.

We welcomed 85 new members in 2018! A. Smith Litigation Abbey Glen Apartment Homes Active Pest Control Advent Lutheran Church Air Evac Lifeteam 77 America's Best Garage Doors AMP'S Delivery Avis Car Rental Banana Beach Tan, LLC Blencoe & Co. Photographic Arts Boardwalk Limited, LLC Bob Knight Real Estate Budget Car Rental Butler Productions, LLC Butts Mill Farm Carpets For Kids CedarCross Media Childress Dental Center-Hogansville Coach's Bar & Grill Connexus Group, LLC Cricket Cornell Interiors, LLC Curl Up and Dye Salon Daikin Applied Dirt Roads Cafe Dudley's Outdoors Eley Digital Enhantzed Balloons Environmental Compliance & Safety, Inc. Five Star Painting Fountain Gifts Georgia Radio Museum and Hall of Fame Georgia Water and Fire Restoration Great Wolf Lodge Georgia Groundswell Highway 29 Mini-Storage Holliday Realtors Holmes Pharmacy at Sawmill Place Hometown Family Medicine Impact Workforce Technology Jackson Printing, Inc. Jam-N-Java JBLegacy Enterprises Kid's Zone Behavioral Health, Inc. LaGrange Newcomers and Beyond

Lambert Transfer Storage LEAD Workforce Consulting LJL Ranch Lowe Electric Supply Co. Luxury Lines, LLC McCarthy Building Companies, Inc. Merle Norman Cosmetics Momma Goldberg's Deli – West Point National Warehouse Management, Inc. Northern Exposure Coney Island & Cuisine P. F. Moon and Company, Inc. Railroads Redemption Tattoo, Piercing & Salon River's Bend Winery and Vineyard Royal Dancewear RT Systems Sentury Tire North America, LLC SouthCrest Church Southeast Asset Management, Inc. Southern Life Insurance Group Staples, Inc. Stone Martin Builders, LLC Supper at Home Y'all T & D Towing and Automotive Teachable Moments Teresa's Cake Art & Bakery, LLC The Body Shop The Local Buzz The M. Mitchell Group, LLC The Veal Group, LLC Three Oaks Barn Tie The Knot Hair T-Mobile Took 4 Granite, LLC Trane Atlanta Tree of Life Incorporated Tucker, Norma Vaughan Xpress Inc. West Point Lake Rental Window Cleaning by Brandon Yama Sushi Restaurant


































food by design









Christian School


2018 A N N U A L R E POR T



The collaborative spirit of our regional allows West Central Georgia to thrive economically. The Chamber’s work is made possible by our members who are driving our region’s future. In 2018, we celebrated the accomplishments of these members and volunteers.

Each year, the Chamber accepts nominations for two awards that recognize our tourism partners, and a committee selects the winners. LaGrange Mayor Jim Thornton announced this year’s winners which were presented by West Point Mayor Steve Tramell, Troup County Commission Chairman Patrick Crews and Hogansville City Councilman George Bailey. The 2018 Service Star Award was presented to Rebecca Clopp of the State of Georgia’s West Point Visitor Information Center for her legendary customer service. The Tourism Visionary Award is presented to an individual or organization who has played a vital role in tourism product development. For their vision of what is possible, their investment in downtown LaGrange and their commitment to enhance tourism for all of Troup County, the 2018 Tourism Visionary Award was presented to Rob Goldstein and Anthony Rodriguez of Wild Leap Brew Co.

LARGE BUSINESSES/MANUFACTURERS OF THE YEAR The Chamber recognized two outstanding companies with the 2018 Large Business & Manufacturers of the Year Awards. Members were recognized for their excellence in leadership, performance, profitability and workforce relations, and they were honored for their contributions to the region’s economy and overall community spirit. Chamber Board Chair Casey Smith (Calumet Bank), Chunk Newman (Batson-Cook) of the State Board of the Technical College System of Georgia and Leigh Newman (West Georgia Technical College), presented the awards.



(L-R): Smith, Leigh Newman, Jackson Services’ Ben Jackson and Dale Jackson, Chunk Newman

(L-R): Smith, Leigh Newman, Duracell’s Harley Ballew, Tanya Pullie and Patrick Bowers, Chunk Newman

(L-R): Thornton, Clopp, Crews, Rodriguez, Goldstein, Tramell, Bailey

SMALL BUSINESSES OF THE YEAR The Chamber recognized three outstanding small businesses (less than 50 employees) for their excellence in leadership, performance, profitability and workforce relations; awards were presented in three categories based upon total employment of each business. Todd Carlisle (UGA Small Business Development Center) and 2018 Chamber Board Chair Casey Smith (Calumet Bank) presented the awards.



(L-R): Donna and Curt Snider, Smith

(L-R): Lyle Daniel, Smith, Don McGuire

COLDWELL BANKER SPINKS BROWN DURAND REALTORS (L-R): Arch Hodges, Laurie Yates, Ben Yates, Tracy Spinks Wood, Smith


February 2019



(L-R): 2018 Chamber Board Chair Casey Smith, Groundswell’s Michelle Moore, Bill Stump, Groundswell’s Becca Eiland, 2019 Chamber Board Chair Marlene Rhodes


For his tireless efforts to make Troup County the best place to live, learn, work and raise a family, Bill Stump, President and CEO of Community Bank – West Georgia, was honored as the recipient of the 2018 Jane Fryer Award, sponsored by The Ray and Groundswell. Established in 2008, the Fryer Award is given annually to recognize a member of the Chamber community who has gone the extra mile to get involved in programs and activities that benefit our community and that exemplify the dedication, work ethic and community service that Jane Fryer showed in her 35 years of serving Troup County through her efforts at the Chamber. A West Virginian by birth but Troup Countian by choice, Bill Stump received an economics degree from Hampden-Sydney College. Upon graduation, he worked in his home state with Citizens National bank of St. Albens, Charleston National Bank and The Office of the Treasurer of The State of West Virginia. Community Bankshares, Inc. recruited Bill and his family to Georgia—first to Cornelia and then to LaGrange. He is currently President and CEO of Community Bank & Trust-West Georgia. Bill served as Chairman of the Chamber Board in 2012. He continues to serve on numerous local boards and currently holds multiple leadership positions with the Downtown LaGrange Development Authority, United Way of West Georgia, thINC College & Career Academy, Rotary Club of LaGrange and First Presbyterian Church. He remains active with the Chamber, including serving as Chairman of the Chamber’s first Total Resource Campaign. Through Bill and his 40+ volunteers, the Chamber more than doubled its annual sponsorship and advertising commitments for the upcoming year. If there is a project that will spur business growth and community development, Bill Stump is the man to lead the effort with humility and southern charm.

(L-R): 2018 Chamber Chair Casey Smith, Jerry Fulks, 2019 Chamber Chair Marlene Rhodes


The Tom Hall Innovation Award displays a quote by Steve Jobs: “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.” This year, the Chamber Board recognized another exceptional and innovative change agent, Jerry Fulks, retired President of WellStar West Georgia Medical Center.

(L-R): 2018 Chamber Chair Casey Smith, Otto Korth, Deedee Williams


Deedee Williams of the Georgia Department of Labor received the 2018 Otto Korth Diplomat of the Year Award. Williams embodies the welcoming spirit of Otto, dedicating countless hours to attending special events, mentoring new members and thanking existing members. Created in 2015 to honor Korth for his service as Diplomat Extraordinaire, the award is presented annually to a Diplomat who excels at serving as a liaison to Chamber members.

Under his leadership, the hospital created the West Georgia Health Foundation and West Georgia Physicians, as well as launched several new service lines. He also created the vision and laid the groundwork for building a new 4-story patient tower. He spearheaded efforts to solidify the future of healthcare in Troup County through the merger with WellStar. An active member in the community, Jerry has served as Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors in 2005, president of the LaGrange Rotary Club and Chairman of the West Georgia Technical College Board of Directors. He has also served on boards for the United Way, Synovus, Twin Cedars and the Development Authority of LaGrange. His aggressive plan to recruit top physicians to WellStar West Georgia Medical Center launched the chamber’s talent recruitment efforts. Through Jerry’s efforts, we are becoming one of the top destinations for physicians in the southeast. It is recognition of his efforts to drive innovation through creative thinking, problem solving and risk-taking that has led to transformative change that Jerry Fulks received the 2018 Tom Hall Award.

(L-R): 2018 Chamber Chair Casey Smith, Dale Jackson, 2019 Chamber Chair Marlene Rhodes


In 2013, the Chamber board created the Ida Tarver Jones award in her memory to recognize an individual who exemplifies her volunteer spirit. During her years as a volunteer, she dedicated countless hours of service to answering the phones and covering the front desk. Ida was a true servant leader. In recognition of his voluntarism and strong commitment to create opportunities to showcase the chamber and our members to the community at large, the 2018 Ida Tarver Jones Volunteer of the Year, sponsored by the Troup County School System, was presented to Dale Jackson (Jackson Services).. Dale told the Chamber Board of Directors that it was time to rethink the way we do business, how we connect businesses and how we recognize those businesses that go the extra mile. That prompted the Chamber to launch its first Total Resource Campaign in the fall of 2018. He was one of the first volunteers to commit to participate and is directly responsible for garnering more than 25% of total commitments made.


M E E T O U R 2 0 1 9 CH AIR

Marlene Rhodes


arlene Rhodes is a busy woman, leading Renasant Bank on a daily basis and serving on numerous boards, but she says one of her favorite activities is attending ribbon cuttings. “I love to go to ribbon cuttings because it means a new business is coming to town, people’s dreams are coming true, and that’s exciting to me,” Rhodes explained. And she’ll get plenty of opportunities to welcome new businesses and residents this year while serving as the 2019 Chamber Board Chairman. Rhodes, who is the Area President for Renasant Bank, is celebrating her 38th year in banking, starting her career at the age of 16 as a teller. “My mother was the lunchroom manager at my school in Opelika, AL, and I would go to the bank with her every afternoon to make the deposit and I thought that working in a bank would be a fun job to have,” she said. A co-op program in high school allowed her to work part-time at the bank, and her career path was set. She graduated from Auburn University on a full scholarship with a degree in Business Administration.

It’s an exciting time to be living and working in Troup County, and Rhodes is very appreciative of all the community has to offer. “What’s so special about Troup County are all the arts and culture that we have for a town this size. And the friendly people we have in LaGrange, West Point and Hogansville make it even more special,” she added. During her year as Chairman, she hopes to give the Chamber more visibility and to find ways to provide even more value to member businesses. Rhodes and her husband, Ken, live with their four cats and two dogs on West Point Lake. She spends a lot of time on her dock, reading a book or watching a sunset. “It is so peaceful there,” Rhodes said of one of her favorite activities, the others being oil painting and travelling. She credits her husband and mother with giving her a firm foundation in life. “I’ve learned to be very appreciative of the things I’ve worked hard for. My family has helped me learn to be comfortable with who I am and to accept things for the way they are. And being

Marlene Rhodes, Renasant Bank spiritual helps a lot, I don’t take things for granted,” Rhodes said. Rhodes is looking forward to serving as the Chamber Chair because of the opportunity to build relationships with people she’s not had a lot of interaction with before. She added, “With the county being in a growth mode, it’s a key time to be in a role where you can help move it forward.”

New jobs have a powerful effect. Every factory or tech firm that opens its doors makes surrounding communities that much stronger. That’s why Georgia Power works hard to bring new businesses here, creating over 134,000 new jobs in the last 10 years alone. And showing people across our state more possibilities than ever before. To see how we’re generating opportunity, visit

We show businesses why their future is brighter in Georgia. ©2019 Georgia Power. All rights reserved.


February 2019







A Stroll Through History Here are some of the other sites featured in the brochure: HAWKES LIBRARY: 100 W. 8th St. The building on the banks of the Chattahoochee River was constructed in 1922, following a decades long effort by many groups to bring a library to West Point. Initial funding came from Andrew Carnegie, but a major funder - and the building’s namesake - was Albert King Hawkes, an optician, who had a great love of children and their education. He donated between $7,000 and $7,500 for the project and the building initially was named Hawkes Children’s Library. “Children’s” was later dropped, thinking it discouraged adults from using the library. The building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1991.


or more than 150 years West Point’s Downtown has stood as a representation of the greater community. When the rail lines came through and established the City as a major transfer spot between Georgia and Alabama, Downtown West Point grew to accommodate this strategic role. Throughout the Downtown area lie structures and important plots of land that hold immense historic significance, both to the days of yesteryear and the currentday community. To honor the important contributions represented and provide insight on these historic spaces, the Chamber Tourism department has created an Historic Downtown West Point Walking Tour brochure. Produced in conjunction with the West Point Historical Society and the City of West Point, the brochure includes photos and descriptions of 11 sites in and around the downtown footprint. “I am excited that the Walking Tour brochure is ready to share with the community,” says Brittany Simmons, Director of Tourism for the Chamber. “The collaborative work has helped to produce an excellent piece that will provide visitors and residents alike with background on these wonderful historic locations.” The brochure is designed to allow someone to start and finish anywhere along the route and learn more about the individual locations. In many of the buildings, the current occupants renovated the inside space to fit the needs of today from both a customer perspective and operational requirements. But outside, the character and architectural detail remains the same. Locals know well the stories behind some of the more prominent locations such as the former West Point Pepperell building on 10th Street or Fort Tyler on 6th Ave.


February 2019

WEST POINT WOMAN’S CLUB: 1200 6th Ave. The West Point Woman’s Club has had many homes during its time, first meeting in hotel parlors and later in the club room of the City Auditorium. The club was chartered in 1912, after first being formed in 1898. Its goals were “social, literary and humanitarian.” The activities of the club included establishing Hawkes Library and the bonds for the school building. WEST POINT CEMETERY: 101 E. 11th St. Pinewood is the oldest public cemetery in West Point and its oldest marked grave is that of John C. Webb, dated 1840. It is believed there were earlier, unmarked graves or graves that have been destroyed. The cemetery is likely to have been built because all of the city’s denominations worshipped nearby. In 1834, the Methodists built a church on the northwest corner of Avenue E and 10th Street. A large area of the cemetery was used to bury Union and Confederate troops after the battle of Fort Tyler. The brochure is available at the Chamber’s West Point office located at 707 3rd Avenue and LaGrange office at 111 Bull Street. Brochures are also available for LaGrange and Hogansville. For more information on the walking tours contact Brittany at 706-645-3543 or

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ur Family Serving Your Family" ... Higgins LaGrange Chapel & Higgins Hillcrest Chapel are family-owned and operated. With more than 50 years in the funeral home industry, we’ve helped thousands of families along the way. The owner of Higgins Funeral Homes, Jeff Higgins was literally born into the funeral business. He was born while his parents were living in the upstairs apartment of Higgins Hillcrest Chapel in Newnan, where he lived until three years of age. Today, Jeff and his wife Mary continue to be active in all aspects of the business, along with Jeff's mother, Darlene, and their sons and daughters-in-law: Jeffrey and his wife Jamie and David and his wife Lindsay.

Chamber of Commerce and the Kiwanis Club of LaGrange. In addition, we’re all strong supporters of many local charities, high schools and churches and their ministries. We love LaGrange and the people in it, and we are thankful for your support!

(l-r) Jeffrey, Jeff and David Higgins

The staff of Higgins LaGrange Chapel

Serving as a funeral home for more than 60 years, the Newnan location is operated out of an antebellum home built in the mid-1800s. In addition to the Newnan and LaGrange locations, we owned a third funeral home in the little town of Fairburn. Our family tradition continues now, four generations later, as sons Jeffrey and David are licensed Funeral Directors and run the family business. Jeffrey graduated from Georgia Tech and David from Georgia Southern. Both continued their education into Mortuary Science.

(l-r) The Higgins Family: Jeffrey and Jamie, Mary and Jeff, Lindsay and David

As our family business grew, we seized the opportunity to expand and built our LaGrange location. We saw a need for a family-owned funeral home to return to LaGrange in that two of the local funeral homes had sold to large out-of-state operated funeral home corporations. Our idea was a good one … the city of LaGrange and its residents have embraced us and the services we offer, whether traditional service or cremation. Our commitment to community involvement has been an important aspect of our success. Jeff will serve as the next President of the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra and is a member of the Rotary Club. Mary serves on the Board of Directors for the LaGrange Art Museum and the LaGrange Symphony Orchestra, is a member of the Talisman Garden Club, and active in the LaGrange-Troup County 16

February 2019

Members may reserve one of four Small Business Spotlight articles during the 2020 Total Resource Campaign scheduled for September – November 2019. For more details, contact Dave Marler at 706-884-8671 or

LaGrange Housing Authority is dedicated to the service of our community. We are always willing to lend a helping hand.



FROM THE GROUND UP Hogansville lays foundation for growth

The Grand Hotel in downtown Hogansville

A recent interview with representatives from Mack Reynolds Realty provided a chance to learn, from the realtor perspective, about what the future holds for Hogansville. Mack Reynolds is the Broker & Owner of Mack Reynolds Realty, LLC and Mack Reynolds Attorney at Law. To borrow from a popular ad campaign, Mack knows a thing or two because he has seen a thing or two during his lifetime in the Hogansville community. “We’re on the cusp of some exciting development in Hogansville,” notes Reynolds. “The community has gathered around shared interests and invested in important studies to help lay the groundwork for what is to come.” In 2017, the Georgia Conservancy’s Blueprints for Successful Communities, along with partners at Canvas Planning and Village Green Consulting, began working 18

February 2019

with community leaders and residents in Hogansville to develop an updated Downtown Master Plan - a roadmap for future sustainable development and rehabilitation in the historic core. The Downtown Master Plan inventoried existing community assets (historic structures, city parks, festivals, etc.), took into account public feedback and desires, comprehensively analyzed socioeconomic, demographic and market data, made zoning recommendations, and developed real-world solutions and plans for the community to enhance its downtown. (https:// Results of the study were partly responsible for the recent designation of the historic downtown Hogansville corridor as a “Rural Zone” by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA). The designation under this new program will allow eligible businesses to qualify for state tax credits effective January 1, 2019.



he fundamental elements of construction call, first and foremost, for a solid foundation. For nearly 150 years, Hogansville has experienced economic volatility, just as so many other rural areas around the state. But now, after years of planning and progress, false starts and near-misses, the foundation for growth and development in Hogansville is nearly complete.


The Rural Downtown Revitalization Act, enacted by the legislature in 2017, encourages investment in “Rural Zone” communities that creates jobs, refurbishes older buildings and stimulates economic activity. The rural zone revitalization tax credit aims to encourage business investment in historic downtown areas in small communities outside of metro Atlanta. The program includes three different tax credit incentives: A Job Tax Credit, Investment Credit and a Rehabilitation Credit. Hogansville was also recently admitted into the State and National Main Street Programs. This designation provides access to Main Street training and limited access to all of the technical services offered by the Office of Downtown Development. Jason Stewart, an Associate Broker with the Reynolds firm, believes that downtown Hogansville is an amenity that will only improve over time. “With the Pioneer Project, the new City Hall, and ultimately the renovated Royal Theatre, there will be plenty of reasons for visitors to come off of I-85 and spend some time in the area.” “We’re already seeing an increase in new businesses within the downtown footprint, such as Karvelas Pizza, Station Coffee, and more,” adds Stewart. “If we can add a couple of retailers with a real niche appeal and possibly another destination restaurant, downtown will become even more attractive to visitors.” A new treasure has entered the mix with the listing of The Grand Hotel, a longtime fixture on Main Street. Placed on the market in December 2018, the main building and three adjacent properties offer unlimited possibilities for the right owner. Known as one of the most iconic properties in West Georgia, the main structure features exquisite beauty and craftsmanship and consists of a tea room, restaurant, commercial kitchen, 10 bedrooms with private baths and a covered patio perfect for outdoor entertainment.

“When you open the door, your imagination just begins to run wild with ideas for the space,” says Marianna Reynolds, a Residential Sales Agent with the Reynolds firm. “Whether as a Bed and Breakfast, Special Events Center, Corporate Retreat, Mixed Used Development, or something no one has even imagined, this property has the potential to transform the downtown area and beyond.” “The timing is right for Hogansville to really take off,” said Mack Reynolds, Jr., an Associate Broker with Mack Reynolds Realty, LLC. “The city is upgrading its infrastructure with a new waste water treatment plant, broadband fiber is being installed around the community, and we’re beginning to see some activity on the east side of town around the I-85 interchange.” When completed within the next year, the new treatment plant will have the capacity to treat 1.5 million gallons per day which will allow for the retirement of the spray field and free up more than 400 acres for other uses. The $8.7 million investment includes a $2.54 million grant from USDA Rural Development Agency and $1.6 million from Meriwether County. Lack of broadband access is an issue across Georgia and Hogansville is no exception. To attract the small business owners and young families needed to spark growth, broadband access is essential and a number of carriers, including AT&T and Spectrum, have recently expanded their residential and commercial offerings throughout the city,” explained Reynolds. “City officials are also working closely with a third-party vendor in a cooperative effort to bring 5G commercial and residential internet service to Hogansville within a year. Such service will be capable of providing coverage to the entire city and beyond.” The focus on opportunity and improvement extends beyond the downtown area. In November 2018, the Hogansville City Council adopted a corridor plan for each of the major

gateways into the city. Each plan focuses on improving the overall condition and quality of the corridor and surrounding community where they exist. Stewart also expects growth in the residential sector with the natural expansion of suburban Atlanta moving southward and as many residents are priced out of Coweta County and other areas in the metropolitan area. “In his recent State of the City address, Mayor Stankiewicz noted the potential for more than 1,000 new homes within the city limits over the next few years.” “There is great potential for Hogansville. We were at this point about 15 years ago, but in the end just did not have the infrastructure needed to support a proposed large new development. This time is different. The climate is right, leadership is in place, the infrastructure upgrades are nearing completion and Hogansville is ready to come into its own as a destination for residents and visitors alike,” proclaimed Mack Reynolds, Sr. As Hogansville, the City of Friendly People, prepares for its 150th birthday in 2020, the plans and accomplishments, built on a solid new foundation, will provide countless reasons for the Sesquicentennial Celebration to be one to remember.


Episode 11 from season 9 of The Walking Dead, featuring Hogansville City Hall/The Royal Theater and historic downtown, is tentatively scheduled to air Sunday, March 3, 2019 @ 9:00 pm on AMC.











EATING HEALTHY in 2019 and Beyond


’m going to lose weight!” “I’m going to eat healthier!” Many new years start out with those bold proclamations, but by February the determination often begins to fade. So, if you’re needing a boost to stick with your plans for a healthy 2019, read on. (And, by the way, it’s not too late to start a New Year’s resolution now.)

6: Eat at least 6 colorful servings of a combination of vegetables and fruits each day. (Thankfully, there are hundreds of edible vegetable and fruit options in the world, so we have many choices to suit our taste buds.)


In general, for a well-rounded, healthy diet, Ludwick recommends that you:

“Whether your goal is to lose weight or just get healthier, starting with small, achievable goals and making those things part of your daily life, and then adding on new habits once those become ingrained, is the most sustainable way to make those habits stick,” says WellStar West Georgia Medical Center Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator Sarah Ludwick, MPH, RD, LD, CDE. For habits that stick, Ludwick suggests these simple examples to get you started:

• Focus on plant-based foods such as vegetables, fruits, beans, nuts and seeds

• Decrease the amount of sugar sweetened drinks like soda, juice and sweet tea • Add in a serving of vegetables with each meal • Pack lunch or breakfast several times a week instead of stopping for fast food • Add in time for physical activity several days a week “Once those choices become habit, you can add in new ones or make them more challenging, like completely eliminating the sugar-sweetened drinks, spending a little longer doing exercise each day or working toward even fewer fast food meals,” she says. Especially when you have a large amount of weight to lose, the key is to break down the ultimate goal into smaller pieces. Focusing on the smaller goal makes you less likely to get discouraged. It also helps to enlist supportive people around you, who can help you stay accountable and stick with your goals. This could be a family member, friend, co-worker, church group or an online support group.

EAT THIS, NOT THAT According to District 4 Public Health Nutrition Services Dietitian Freda Mitchem, RDN, “A healthier lifestyle can be achieved one day at a time by turning small positive changes in your meal routine into big impacts in your quality of life. Unless your doctor advises otherwise, you can most likely begin your 365-day journey to better health today by following a simple 3-6-5 meal tip guide: 3: Every 3 hours between the time you wake up and the time you go to sleep, try to drink about 12-16 oz of water.


February 2019

5: Limit fried foods. Try not to eat more than 5 servings of fried foods every month.”

• When choosing animal products, pick leaner options like poultry, fish and eggs most often • Opt for whole-grain versions of breads, rice and pasta • Enjoy high-fat and high-sugar foods in moderation • Season foods with salt-free herbs, spices and seasonings For each meal, try to include vegetables and/or fruit, a source of protein, and an unsaturated fat source (such as nuts, seeds, avocado, olive oil). If fruit is not included, choosing another source of complex carbohydrate such as a whole grain or starchy vegetable can round out the meal.

SNACK RIGHT When you’re following a more restrictive diet, food cravings can feel overwhelming. According to the American Dietetic Association, a balanced eating plan that allows foods you enjoy — even high-fat, highcalorie foods — will be easier to maintain since you aren't eliminating those foods outright from your life. When it comes to snacking, schedule in some nutritious snacks and keep portable, nutrient-dense “treats” in your desk or car. If you’re a reformed chocaholic, keep some dark chocolate on hand, but eat it mindfully and put it away when you’re satisfied. (When you always have chocolate on hand, you're less likely to overeat it.) Instead of hitting the snacks when a craving strikes, try taking a walk, working on a hobby or calling a friend.

FIT FOR FAMILY Sometimes, it’s about more than just your own health. Keeping your whole family fit can be a tough plan to follow – but one that’s worth doing, especially when you’re establishing lifelong habits for your children. Mitchem offers these tips from the American Dietetic Association to help keep your family eating right and within budget:

STAYING FIT IN TROUP COUNTY Ludwick says: “I’ve been in LaGrange about four years, so I haven't been here long enough to see changes in longterm health trends. But, I think the best change I have seen is the increasing focus on activity with the addition of The Thread downtown, as well as increasing opportunities for physical activity at several gyms in the area. The Thread provides a great opportunity for people of all ages to get more active, and I love seeing a diverse group of people using it every time I’m running or walking.” Staying fit is a way of life at WellStar West Georgia. The hospital cafeteria recently implemented a program called Eat Well to guide patrons to healthier choices by assigning green, yellow and red stars to each food based on its nutritional profile. Green starfoods should be chosen most often, yellow-star foods in moderation and red-star foods less often. Employees also have access to a 12-week diabetes prevention program offered several times a year.

• Always make a list before you shop. Planning ahead saves time and money. • To stay focused, try to shop without kids, or take them with you when you have more time. • Shop when you’re not hungry. You will be less likely to buy things that aren’t on your list. • Limit purchases of pre-packaged foods (like frozen dinners, packaged rice mixes, cookies, and cakes). They can be costly and high in salt, sugar, and unhealthy fats. • Grow your own herbs and vegetables in your garden or window box. • Get your kids to help plan and prepare meals. Looking for some healthy recipes for you and your family? Check out one of these websites: • Cooking Light: • Eating Well: • Food and Health: • Meals Matter: • Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

For those wanting to lose weight, control their diabetes or manage another nutrition-related health problems, WellStar West Georgia offers outpatient nutrition counseling services. This is a designated time to sit down with a dietitian to discuss your individualized needs and set personalized nutritionrelated goals that take into account your schedule, health history, likes/dislikes and other needs. Referrals can be faxed by a medical provider to the scheduling department at 770-618-5614. With a vision to “lead the way for our communities to live healthier and safer lives,” District 4 Public Health is one of 18 separate districts within the Georgia Department of Public Health. Located at 900 Dallis Street in LaGrange, District 4 provides numerous Family Health Services under one roof, including immunizations, family planning, Child & Women’s Health services, etc. And the WIC Program provides nutrition education and breastfeeding support to eligible women, infants, and children up to the age of five. Food benefits of the program include your choice of fruit and vegetables, yogurt, whole grains, cereals, cheese, eggs, eligible infant formulas, and much more.










Healthy Snacks Ideas

Snacks can be good for you. The American Dietetic Association recommends watching your portion sizes and keeping calories between 100 and 300. Try one of these healthy snack ideas: FROZEN BANANAS (100 calories): Peel bananas and store in the freezer in a resealable container or bag. You can also dip bananas in yogurt, roll them in crushed cereal or nuts, and then freeze. Provides vitamin B-6, potassium, vitamin C, and fiber. ALMONDS (167 calories, per 1-ounce serving): Buy raw or dry-roasted, unsalted almonds in bulk. Provides vitamin E, niacin, iron, fiber, and hearthealthy unsaturated fat. PEANUT BUTTER AND APPLE (189 calories): Top one sliced apple with 1 tablespoon peanut butter (preferably the natural kind that’s lowest in sugar). Provides heart-healthy unsaturated fat, vitamin E, and vitamin C. YOGURT AND FRUIT (154 calories): Top 6 ounces of fat-free, plain yogurt with ¼ cup fresh or canned fruit. Buy fruit canned in water or natural juices. Provides calcium, protein, and vitamin C. BAKED POTATO AND SALSA (178 calories): Top a medium-size baked potato with ¼ cup salsa. Provides vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and lycopene. TRAIL MIX (206 calories): For one portion of homemade trail mix, combine 2 tablespoons raisins; ¼ cup whole grain cereal; and 2 tablespoons of peanuts, almonds, or other nuts. Provides vitamin E, fiber, heart-healthy unsaturated fat, and iron. CEREAL AND MILK (200 calories): Mix ¾ to 1 cup of whole grain cereal with ¾ cup of fat-free or lowfat milk. Provides calcium, vitamin E, potassium, and protein. VEGGIES AND DIP (120 calories): Slice and dip raw vegetables in 2 tablespoons of your favorite dressing, such as ranch or French. Provides fiber, potassium, vitamin C, and beta-carotene. TURKEY ROLL UPS (179 calories): Spread 1 teaspoon mustard on two slices of deli turkey. Add lettuce and sliced cucumber to each turkey slice, and roll it up. Provides protein, niacin, and selenium.

Mitchem says, “District 4 Public Health is eager to partner with you and your family to promote overall wellness and healthier communities!”



Great Wolf Lodge-LaGrange


ven at noon, the day was dark and gloomy. A chill wind spit icy rain from grim cloudbanks. Longfaced meteorologists promised downpours before nightfall.

It’s perfect, I thought. Positively perfect. Today is just right for swimming, for water slides and wave pools. Good-bye cold and dreary. Hello, Great Wolf Lodge-LaGrange. When the folks at the Chamber assigned this Mystery Traveler to visit LaGrange’s howling big attraction in the dead of winter, I couldn’t ditch my wool scarf fast enough. Great Wolf, with its kid-friendly accommodations and weatherproof water park, has been the talk of the town. Let’s see how it handles a three generation, fedup-with-winter family. Before we got to the front door, at least four smiling workers wearing rain jackets and furry ears welcomed us to Great Wolf. Inside, a fire crackled in a massive rock fireplace, and check-in, by mobile phone no less, was simple. A cheery text message informed us our fifth floor suite was ready. The kindergartner in our pack of six opened the room door with a happy wave of her newly acquired wristband.

Though we were there to check it out, I couldn’t, at first, focus on the roomy suite. Kids, parents and grandparents were too busy stashing snacks (it’s OK to bring in food) and unpacking swimsuits. I barely noticed the two tastefully decorated bedrooms and sparkling clean baths.

foot indoor water park, heated to 84 degrees year-round and complementary with room reservation. It felt almost normal sashaying through the Lodge in flipflops and flowing swimsuit cover-up. In LaGrange. In January.

Not so the little ones.

I was right on their heels as our kids made a dash for Fort McKenzie, the water fort tree house with slides and squirters galore. About halfway up the first set of bright yellow stairs, I heard a bell ring and whoosh! A giant overhead bucket, filled to the tipping point, dumped an ocean of water right on our heads. So much for easing into things. I have never laughed so hard while looking like a drowned rat.

“There’s a wolf paw on the mirror!” called out the big one. “And another one on the shower curtain!” exclaimed the little one. Indeed, there were wolf paws on just about everything and a wall mural of a woodland scene in the living area that gave the feel of peering through tent flaps into the great outdoors. Still, we were on a mission to get to the 93,000-square-


February 2019

Somebody pinch me. A few more swishes of the wristbands and we were in the park, clutching the provided blue and white towels and staking out chairs. Trust me, arrival is a wow moment, a sensory overload of splashing water, colorful apparatus and squealing children.

We quickly lost count of how many times the youngsters zipped down the water slides – short ones, long ones, curvy ones, straight ones - then raced back for more. The little one amazed us. Nothing seemed to phase her – not the newness, not the noise, not the occasional shove from bigger kids rushing past. “Let’s do it again!” she’d say, every time. The bigger one found a home in the wave pool. “Watch me jump!” she shouted as the motor-generated wave approached. It hit her smack in the face, but she was ready for the

MYSTERY TRAVELER next one. “Let’s do it again!’ she’d squeal, every time. We caromed from fun spot to fun spot, from Slap Tail Pond to Crooked Creek, Cub Paw Pool to Big Foot Pass. A small army of prowling lifeguards provided peace of mind unavailable at the beach. They reminded me of the Secret Service, faces serious, eyes darting, except some of these “agents” wore wolf ears. When the young ones eventually wearied, we wandered out to explore the Lodge’s “dry land adventure park.” Our cubs were too young for the climbing wall and ropes course and too tired for mini golf, bowling and panning for “gold,” but tons of older kids were tearing them up. Most sported moneysaving “Paw Passes” or carried wands, key to the MagiQuest adventure that seemed to be a lot of fun, albeit at a price. After a short rest we shared short ribs and sweet tea brined fried chicken at rustic Barnwood, the Lodge’s “sit down” restaurant. Our food was tasty, if not memorable, but the after dinner trip to Ben & Jerry’s ice cream was a major hit. So were the free kids’ activities, especially the Jammie Jamboree, which filled the lobby with pajama-clad children ready to “shake, rattle and howl” on the dance floor. “Let’s do it again!” the kids begged as we hauled them off. Our beds and bedding were cozy and comfortable, the hard, square pillows less so. Some in our party slept like logs, others wished for ear plugs to muffle the noise of the heating system and trucks on the nearby Interstate 85.

An early riser made a run downstairs to Dunkin Donuts, and we cuddled and munched breakfast contentedly in our pajamas, gearing up for our return to the water park. (Checkout is 11 a.m., but guests can use the water park until closing on departure day, a great feature.) The big water bucket was waiting on me. So were the other attractions, and we made full use of them. The only rides we hadn’t tried were the tall, scarylooking slides that drew the true adventurers. Our kindergartner noticed that her yellow wristband allowed her on the Canyon River Run, a spinning, gliding raft ride. She begged. We doubted. She begged some more. We caved. It was a blast, so much fun we took the little one along on our second ride. Proud of ourselves – and weary to the bone – we grabbed a quick bite at an in-park restaurant before heading for the dressing rooms. I stroked the kindergartner’s wet head. “If you had to write a story about coming to Great Wolf,” I asked, “what would you say?” She thought a minute, then flashed a coy smile. “Let’s do it again!”

LaGrange Equipment & Tool Rental

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MEET MISTY REE My tourist gene runs deep. I love to go, to see, to do. I am always ready to eat, shop, play, listen, view, wander or try something new. I want you to go along with me, at least in spirit. We’ll visit some familiar places and others off the beaten path, from one end of beautiful Troup County to the other. To make our journeys more interesting, I am going incognito. You won’t see me coming. You won’t know where I am going next. If you have a suggestion of a place I ought to visit, just drop a line to my buddy Dave Marler, VP of Marketing and Tourism at the Chamber. ( Tell him you have a message for Troup’s Mystery Traveler, or use my nickname: Misty Ree.


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Troup County’s Got Rhythm

Sweetland Amphitheatre

Now in its fourth season, Sweetland Amphitheatre recently announced its 2019 Concert Series, which includes a wide range of music genres – from blues and country to gospel and R&B. “We strive to bring a diverse mix of artists to the community, so there’s a little bit of something for everyone,” says Sweetland Director Keyal Loveland. With seating for up to 2,500, Sweetland provides the perfect venue for some bigger name artists. For a much more intimate setting, head over to Pure Life Studios, a 108-seat listening room in LaGrange’s Hillside neighborhood. Here, it’s all about the music, a place where there’s a special sense of community and a shared love of listening to talented musicians, some Grammy nominated and some up-and-comers. Pure Life features an eclectic mix of musical genres – everything from A to Z: African drumming to Zydeco – but the main vibe is singer songwriters and acoustic groups. “This year, we’re especially focused on local artists. We have a lot of really talented musicians who were raised right here in our area or who trained at LaGrange College’s Music Department,” says Pure Life Owner Maggie McDonald. Over the years, Pure Life has played host to local talent from Jontavious Willis, who just walked in off the street (and now tours


February 2019

Pure Life Studios



ake a moment to stop and listen to the sounds of Troup County. On a warm spring evening you might hear the tune of a familiar rock or country song echoing through the trees around Sweetland or some soulful new lyrics pouring out of a little listening room in Hillside. The music scene in Troup County is rockin’ and rollin.’

the country and opens for Keb Mo and Taj Mahal), to Barry Waldrep, who was already well-established, having played with known groups like the Zac Brown Band and at venues like the Grand Ol Opry. Pure Life has a packed lineup for 2019, with most weekends already booked. “I hardly have to call people anymore,” says McDonald. “So many musicians are hungry to play in a venue that’s not a noisy bar. They love the uniqueness of Pure Life and are eager to spread the word to other artists.” Booking talent for a larger venue like Sweetland is a much different experience. Loveland, who works with a third-party booking agency out of Birmingham, Alabama, explains that talent selection is a multi-faceted process. “The first obstacle is the radius clause. This means, essentially, if an artist is playing Atlanta within the same time frame, they will not be able to play in

LaGrange. Most venues have a 90-mile/90day radius clause. Sometimes, Atlanta venues will make an exception to this rule and share their artists with us, but that’s rare. Next, is considering budget, venue preference, and average tickets sold for the artists. Sweetland is an intimate amphitheater, which is wonderful for seeing performances here. There really isn’t a bad seat in the house. Typical amphitheaters are double or triple our size, which does make it a little tricky when booking. There are also artists out there who only tour indoor venues. So, it’s important to look at the tour history of an artist before making an offer. “Having been in operation for more than 35 years, our booking agency has wonderful relationships with the artists’ agencies. This is a huge help to us! As Sweetland grows, we’re developing a great reputation as a venue, which now merits more artists requesting to play our venue as well.” Besides these music-specific venues, you’ll


LaGrange College Graduate Earns Grammy® Nominations

also find plenty of artists playing at local bars/restaurants like Brickhouse Grille, Main Street Pub; breweries like Beacon, Chattabrewchee and Wild Leap; and festivals like the Hillside Art, Music & Food Festival, and the Hummingbird Festival. In fact, LaGrange’s upcoming Hillside Festival (April 14), which is sponsored by Pure Life Studios along with others, will feature a lineup of talented local musicians. Especially as the weather warms up, Troup County will continue to hum along with the tunes of local and big-name favorites that you won’t want to miss.


avid Harris, a 2008 Composition and Music Technologies graduate from LaGrange College, has received two Grammy nominations this year for his work with R&B artist H.E.R.


Harris, whose professional name is Swagg R’Celious, is up for Grammys for best album and best R&B album. H.E.R. received five Grammy nominations, including album of the year, best new artist, best R&B song, best R&B album and best R&B performance. Harris said he’s known H.E.R. (Having Everything Revealed) since she was 13.

Pure Life Studios

SWEETLAND LINEUP John Prine (Americana) – April 6 Buddy Guy (Blues) – May 3 Black Jacket Symphony Presents: Journey’s “Escape” and “Greatest Hits” – May 24 Mavis Staples (Gospel/R&B) – August 3 Anderson East (Contemporary Soul/R&B) – August 3 Dwight Yoakam (Country) – September 12 Stay tuned, Sweetland will also announce a few more artists for 2019, including more contemporary music. For more info, go to, join their enewsletter and follow them on social media.

PURE LIFE LINEUP Jason Connelly (Singer Songwriter) – February 16 Justin Cross (Americana) – February 23 Skyler Saufley (Blues) – March 2 Randall Bramblett (Southern Rock) – March 16 Keep in time with what’s happening at Pure Life by going online to, joining their enewsletter and following them on social media. Lots of talented musicians will be on the schedule for most weekends in 2019.


“I interned with her management and she signed with RCA about that time,” he said. “She is so talented – she plays five instruments and writes her own material. But she was so young and her label didn’t quite know what to do with her. Her manager and one of my mentors, Jeff Robinson, called me in 2014 and asked me to work as a producer on her first project.” Harris and H.E.R. went into a studio piano room in New York City and started writing. “She was changing from a young girl into a woman during that time, so several things changed musically through the process. Her work really evolved.”

“She earned a total of five nominations,” he said. “I am so proud of her. I knew about all the hard work and sacrifice that had gone into it, and now it was paying off. I couldn’t sleep that night, I was so excited.” Harris, who lives in Connecticut, said he’s just launched a new label with Richard Gottehrer, and is working with Alex da Kid and his KIDinaKORNER record company as well as singer Shari Marie. “I’m branching out, developing new artists and working toward having a sustainable career in this business,” he said. But throughout his career, he looks back on his years at LaGrange College with fondness and gratitude.

“Lee (Johnson, Coordinator of the Digital Creative Media and Film Program and Fuller E. Callaway Professor of Music) and Toni In a 2018 article in Interview magazine, (Anderson, Coordinator of the Music H.E.R. credited Harris with her growth program and Professor of Music) were very influential during my college as an artist and a person. years,” he said. “When times were bleak and I didn’t know what I was “The studio was my safe haven,” she doing, they were always there to said. “I would talk to Swagg, who’s encourage me. I still stay in contact like my big brother. … We would be with them.” in a room with a piano, and I would cry while talking to him and sharing Meanwhile, Harris is making plans for some melodies and chord ideas. … Feb. 10, Grammy night. Eventually I had seven songs that completely described exactly what I was going through. That’s ‘H.E.R. Vol. “My wife, Deborah, and I are going to have to get a babysitter for the 1’ – the diary and stories of my four twins – Logan Arcelious Harris and years of evolving as a woman.” Ashtyn Marie Harris,” he said. “And then we’ll fly out to Los Angeles. I am Harris said he couldn’t believe it so excited!” when he heard about the Grammy nominations for him and H.E.R., now 21. Credit: LaGrange College





COULD YOUR BUSINESS BE UNDER CYBER ATTACK IN 2019? the cyber tampering of our elections, including allegations of foreign hacking of the Democratic National Committee, along with new international security standards that put a greater onus on global corporations (such as the General Data Protection Regulation), made 2018 a busy year for cybersecurity followers.


ybersecurity in 2018 was a hot topic. Industry uproar ensued after Spectre and Meltdown exposed computer chip vulnerabilities, and VPNFilter malware exposed new dangers to routers and network-attached storage products. Once again, the biggest, most trusted brands suffered costly and damaging data breaches. Victims included Amazon and Facebook, Macy’s and Kmart, Adidas and Under Armour, Delta Airlines and Cathay Pacific — and that’s just a start. And concerns around

In 2019, cybersecurity concerns will be a major topic in the boardroom and executive offices of every significant enterprise. Major data breaches suffered by leading firms across industries have struck fear into CEOs and other officers and board members that their company could be next. What’s more, partners, shareholders and customers now seek to hold corporate leaders ultimately responsible, and that sentiment is only heightened internally within organizations. As the damages from breaches continue to become more evident — a lower bottom line, a plunging stock price, a tainted brand — responsibility for cybersecurity failures will go beyond the CIO’s and CISO’s oversight of the IT department and directly to the CEO’s office door. Many board discussions will revolve around mitigating cyber risks and how they can improve their organization’s security posture.

Cybercriminals are equal-opportunity attackers. While breaches within the corporations like Target and Equifax consume the headlines, businesses of every size are under attack, especially in industries like healthcare, law and finance which, by trade, store and manage vast amounts of sensitive data. In 2019, smaller firms will enlist the same cybersecurity approaches that large enterprises use. This means leveraging the benefits of a robust security operations center. No longer willing to be a hacker’s lowhanging fruit, small- to midsize businesses and small enterprises will find ways to monitor and detect threats and respond when necessary. The impetus to do so will be accelerated by larger organizations, which will demand that businesses they work with meet certain cybersecurity standards. So, there’s both a carrot and a stick leading this new approach. In the end, hackers today are developing more sophisticated attacks than ever before and 2019 will pit many ongoing battles. The good news is that companies today recognize the threats they face and are increasingly discovering new ways to better protect themselves.

For more details on Cybersecurity or other technology needs, visit Cpak online at

or contact Philip Abbott at 706-298-5444 or Members may reserve one of four In the Know articles during the 2020 Total Resource Campaign scheduled for September – November 2019. For more details, contact Dave Marler at 706-884-8671 or Philip Abbott, Solutions Architect with Cpak Technology Solutions


February 2019

There is Beauty to Behold During All Seasons at Hills & Dales Stroll through the pre-Civil War gardens that flow gracefully from the shadow of the century-old Fuller E. Callaway villa. Lovingly preserved for over 175 years, the 35-acre home and garden museum offers a distinctive Italian feel paired with a welcoming Southern charm.




MOVERS, SHAKERS, RISK-TAKERS Hills and Dales Estate welcomes two new employees. The Fuller E. Callaway Foundation recently announced that Hills and Dales Estate has welcomed two new employees, Christy Gresley and Haley Merciers.

George Bailey Recognized at GMA Mayors’ Day Conference Hogansville Council Member George Bailey was recognized today for his dedication to continued training during the Georgia Municipal Association (GMA) 2019 Mayors' Day Conference in Atlanta. Councilman Bailey was awarded the prestigious Certificate of Excellence for achieving 120 hours of training through the Harold F. Holtz Municipal Training Institute. “This is an outstanding achievement,” said GMA Executive Director Larry Hanson. “We commend Hogansville Councilman George Bailey for his accomplishment and for the dedication he has shown in using this valuable resource to become a more effective city official.”

Wingate by WyndhamLaGrange Celebrates Ten Years In January, Wingate by WyndhamLaGrange celebrated ten years serving Troup County as one of the premier hotels in LaGrange. This could not have been accomplished without the help of the community and the dedication of the Wingate-LaGrange Team. Several team members were recognized by the company for their outstanding service. Ten years: Michael Parhams, Director of Sales; Crystal Jackson, Office Manager and David Federman, Night Auditor, who was also recognized for ten years of perfect attendance. Stacy Mahone, Housekeeping Team celebrated seven years of service, and Vickey Hankins, Housekeeping Team was honored for five years of service. Wingate-LaGrange is proud of these team members and their years of outstanding service at the hotel.


February 2019

Christy Gresley

Gresley was hired to serve as the new Communications Manager. In this role, she will be responsible for increasing awareness of the estate through marketing and public relations efforts and also serve as the in-house graphic designer. Christy was born and raised in LaGrange, Georgia. She attended Auburn University where she received a Bachelor of Art in Graphic Design and a Minor in Psychology. Upon graduation, Christy began working at Interface until 2017, most recently as Global Creative Design Manager. She went on to serve as the Graphic Designer in the Communications and Marketing department at LaGrange College.

Haley Merciers

Christy’s love of nature’s genius and desire to fully connect with the work she does makes her an excellent fit for Hills and Dales. She is continually inspired by the inviting gardens, rich heritage and in awe of the beauty, functionality and uniqueness of the estate’s environment. Christy serves on the executive board for Junior Service League of LaGrange as well as HYPE. She resides in LaGrange with her husband, Dornan, and their rescue dachshund, Roo. In addition, Haley Merciers was selected to serve as the new Assistant Tour and Program Coordinator at the estate. Haley will be organizing workshops and events such as the Annual Lecture, work with the estate’s historical collections and give tours of the Callaway home. Haley Merciers is a native of Heard County, Georgia. She earned a B.A. in History from Georgia Southern University. She also holds a Master of History and a Graduate Certificate in Public History from Georgia Southern University. As part of her degree program, she also completed an internship with the Georgia Historical Society. Before joining Hills and Dales, Haley served as Administrative Assistant at the Troup County Archives. She resides in Troup County with her husband, Dillon, and three dogs, Roscoe, Rebel and Raven. According to Carleton Wood, Executive Director, “We are extremely pleased to have these two talented professionals on our staff. They are already making a major contribution to our team and are poised to help make Hills and Dales even better in the coming years.”

Hog Heaven has new ownership Mike McCollum is the new owner of Hog Heaven, located at 2240 West Point Road in LaGrange. Call (706) 882-7227 for more information.


J. K. Boatwright & Co., P. C., announces the promotion of Barry Smith and John Westmoreland as Partners within our firm. of a wide variety of entities. Additionally, his experience includes individual, corporate and nonprofit tax matters.

Barry Smith

John Westmoreland

Smith is a long-time resident of the LaGrange – West Point area. He graduated from Columbus State University, earning a Bachelor of Business Administration in 2002 and began his accounting career with Dougherty, McKinnon and Luby, LLC in Columbus. He then joined J. K. Boatwright & Co., P. C. in 2004. He has experience in both auditing and tax. His experience in auditing includes nonprofit, governmental, construction, and manufacturing. He also has experience in compilations and reviews

Smith and his wife Kathy reside in LaGrange. They have four children, Olivia (Cam) Ellis, Thomaston, Ga., Matt (Madison) Barr, Symrna, Ga., Trey (LaGrange) and Meghann (deceased). When not enjoying family time with his children, Barry enjoys the beaches of Panama City, FL. Smith is on the board of directors of Heart of West Georgia (LaGrange, GA) and a member of American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Chartered Global Management Accountants and Georgia Society of Certified Public Accountants. Westmoreland is a lifelong resident of LaGrange, GA where he was a 1996 graduate of LaGrange High School. He

Summer Parmer Deal receives the Women’s Choice Award® as highly recommended Financial Advisor by Women for Women As the leading advocate for female consumers, WomenCertified Inc. is pleased to announce that Summer Deal has received the Women’s Choice Award for Financial Advisors and Firms based on rigorous research, and 17 objective criteria. The Women’s Choice Award is the only recognition program for well-qualified advisors who are committed to the women’s market and serving their female clients. At least 1/3 of their clientele are women and achieving this award reaffirms the commitment Summer Deal has to extraordinary service in addressing the financial needs of women and their families. “I am honored to receive the Women’s Choice Award,” said Deal. “I will continue to be an advocate for, and provide knowledge and tools for my female clients and friends as they navigate all walks of life including widowhood, divorce, and retirement.”

graduated from the University of West Georgia with a Bachelor of Business Administration in 2001. Following graduation, John began his accounting career as a staff accountant with Faucett, Taylor, and Associates in Atlanta. He joined J.K. Boatwright & Co. in December 2002 and has been with the firm for more than 16 years. He specializes in tax return preparation and planning for closely held corporations and partnerships, multi-state entities, individuals, and trusts. Westmoreland and his wife Fiona reside in LaGrange. They have two children, Mary Maddox (13) and Grady (12). In his free time, he enjoys coaching his son's baseball team, attending his daughters dance recitals and running. John is 2013 Graduate of Leadership Troup and 2014 Graduate of Wolters Kluwer, CCH Emerging Leaders Program. He is a member of the Georgia Society of CPA's as well as a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants.

The Economics of the Lucy Morgan I Rehabilitation The LaGrange Housing Authority (LHA) has launched a major rehabilitation of the Lucy Morgan Homes community designed to create a positive asset for the residents who call the neighborhood home. Aside from the substantial investments made by LHA and Vantage Development, there is a great deal of investment from sources outside the LaGrange city limits. Including the construction loan, US Bank is investing almost $19,000,000. In addition to acting as the allocating agency for the state and federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), the Georgia Department of Community Affairs (DCA) is investing $2,500,000 in HOME/ Kresge Funds to support the rehabilitation project. According to a report compiled by The National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), the rehabilitation/remodeling of existing buildings has an economic ripple effect across the local community. With an investment of more than $9.2 million in direct construction costs, the local economic impact generated through the Lucy Morgan rehabilitation will total approximately $16.1 million. Each unit will receive $82,000 of remodeling that will be energy efficient to allow the residents to save on utilities and live in a healthy environment.




New Name. Same Friendly Faces.


lthough CharterBank’s name is changing to CenterState Bank, its commitment to the LaGrange and Troup County community remains a priority. As CharterBank evaluated its options for meeting the market challenges ahead, it became evident that a partner was needed to help carry the torch. That partner was found in CenterState Bank, the largest community bank in Florida. With this merger, CenterState expands their brand of community banking into Georgia and Alabama – where CenterState's correspondent banking division, mortgage division and SBA lending division already have a presence. The same team of dedicated bankers the community has come to know will continue to focus every day on their customers. “I’m very pleased that we will be able to serve our customers just as we did before, with the same great people and products. We will also be adding some new services and

accounts, such as our Community Hero account,” says Community President Joe Ragland. Throughout the merger process, it became clear the two organizations share commitment to a similar set of core values. Both are focused on the long-term growth of their customers while placing a spotlight on the local market’s needs. Lee Washam, currently President of CharterBank, will serve as Regional President for the Georgia and Alabama communities. Washam says, “We are extremely excited about our partnership with CenterState Bank. Of all the potential merger partners we evaluated, CenterState was by far the best fit from a cultural and core value position. CenterState has the same commitment to

high quality customer service we have built our reputation on for the past 64 years. I believe our customers will continue to enjoy being served by their longtime banking friends while experiencing the technological advances of a larger community bank.”

(l-r) Lee Washam, Melinda Haymond and Joe Ragland


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February 2019

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EARLY BIRD BREAKFAST The November Early Bird Breakfast focused on innovative technologies and the publicprivate partnerships that are developing them. Featured speakers included The Ray’s Harriet Langford and Allie Kelly and Groundswell CEO Michelle Moore.

Speakers pictured with Georgia Power partners include (L-R): Michelle Moore (Groundswell), Harriet Langford (The Ray), Chamber Chair Casey Smith (Calumet Bank), Allie Kelly (The Ray), Becca Eiland (Groundwell), John Asbell (Georgia Power) and Carl Jackson (Georgia Power).

LaFayette Society for Performing Arts was the Coffee Sponsor and presented door prizes to lucky winners Michael Parhams (Wingate by Wyndham) and Kim Banks (Renasant Bank).

Chamber Chair Casey Smith, Parhams, and LSPA’s Kerri Vice

Chamber Chair Casey Smith, Tina Ragland (LSPA), Amy Orr (LSPA), Kerri Vice (LSPA), Banks, Stacey Hardigree (LSPA), Morgan Ayers (LSPA) and Amy McDow (LSPA).

Hans Boesing (Nesper International) won the Creative Call-Ins Basket.


February 2019

Christy Ellerbee also presented a door prize from Dermatology Specialists of Georgia’s Aqua Medical Spa!



Join us in celebrating our members!

GPS Studios 204 Broome Street LaGrange

Home2Suites by Hilton 120 Timberwolf Drive LaGrange

Northern Exposure Coney Island and Cuisine 1300 Lafayette Parkway, Suite C LaGrange

Yama Sushi Restaurant 111 Main Street LaGrange

ANNUAL MEETING What a fun evening we had with 500 of our great member representatives at the 108th Annual Membership Meeting: Rhythm & Brews held on January 24! Special thanks to our presenting sponsor, True North Investments, the team of Great Wolf Lodge who provided the perfect venue as well as delicious food inspired by craft beer (our brews), to Maggie McDonald from Pure Life Studios for securing fantastic musical entertainment (our rhythm)—Frankie’s Blues Mission and Skyler Saufley, to outgoing Chairman Casey Smith (Calumet Bank) for throwing a great party, to Steve Mason (Steve Mason Photography) who manned our photo booth and to the Chamber’s incredible team (LeTisha, Dave, Renae, Leslie, Brittany, Rhonda and Page) for their hard work planning and executing a great event!


Casey Smith (Calumet Bank), 2018 Chair, turned the gavel over to Marlene Rhodes (Renasant Bank), 2019 Chair, and congratulated George Bailey (City of Hogansville) for his election as 2020 Chair.

Aaron Mabon, from Presenting Sponsor True North Investments, celebrates with Great Wolf Lodge’s Wiley.

SAFETY COUNCIL The Troup County Safety Council held its quarterly meeting on November 29 at West Georgia Technical College’s Callaway Conference Center. The group focused on “The Benefits of a Comprehensive Safety Program” which was presented by Anthony Wenzel of Environmental Compliance & Safety. Thirty-two persons were in attendance.

At the November Early Bird Breakfast, Chair Casey Smith announced that the chamber has received the highest level of accreditation from the US Chamber of Commerce—5-Star. Of the almost 7000 chambers in the US, only 120 have achieved 5-Star accreditation, placing us among the top 1% of chambers in the US! U.S. Chamber accreditation recognizes excellence in chamber planning and performance. To achieve accreditation, a chamber must demonstrate quality programs, clear organizational procedures and effective communications by meeting minimum operation and program standards in eight areas: governance, finance, human resources, government affairs, program development, technology, communications and facilities. Our reaccreditation efforts encompass five years of work by our board, staff and volunteers and is the second consecutive time that we have reached this top level.





2018 Youth Leadership Graduates


he LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce recently held a graduation dinner to recognize the 34 high-school students who completed the 2018 Youth Leadership class.

here because you are recognized by your peers and those about you in our great community for your leadership potential,” said Beyers.

Beyers challenged the students to consider Presented by the Chamber, the Youth Leadership the motivation behind leadership asking if program gives future leaders insight into how they leaders are called to build better products; can positively contribute to their communities and to build better organizations; to build schools, reaching far into their adult lives. John better teams and better communities? Reed Batchelor, a member of the 2017 Youth “Remember this: You and I are essentially Leadership program, was selected by his peers human beings, not human doings. And, the to represent their class at 2018 National Student better our being, the better our doing! As a Leadership Conference (NSLC) in Washington, leader, you are an influencer: How will you D.C. Batchelor reflected on his experience in exercise your influence?” the program and the foundation it created as he prepared for college in remarks to the 100 This year’s class included students from students and parents in attendance. LaGrange (LHS), Troup (THS) and Callaway (CHS) high schools; Lafayette Christian “I had no preconceived notions about the School (LCS), and Springwood School (SS). program. As I was heading to the airport, I was completely open minded about what the week Graduates included: Will Alford (LHS), would be like,” explained Batchelor. “I had no Will Bartlett (THS), Ayden Brooks (CHS), idea what the program was going to entail but I Kristen Carter (LHS), Baker Davis (LCS), knew it would be a new adventure for me.” Ben Dixon (LCS), JahWill Fannings (THS), Aaron Fritchley (LHS), Nathan Fritchley In this era of declining civility, Batchelor explained (LHS), Sirwan Gardi (THS), Zoe Giddens one of his key takeaways from the program. “Put (THS), Grace Gipson (THS), Kierra Jackson yourself in a learning environment. It doesn’t (CHS), Kannon Key (SS), Ankit Kumar matter if you have opposing views and beliefs, (LHS), Harrison Lawson (THS), Hollis Lester you’re going to get things done, you’re going to (LHS), Gabriel Martinez (LHS), Caleb learn and become friends.” McCurry (THS), Daniel Oropeza (THS), Zoie Pembertson (CHS), Elizabeth Rainey (LHS), The Rev. Dr. John Beyers, Senior Minister at Christyle Reid (LHS), Jada Rhodes (CHS), LaGrange First United Methodist Church, Donna Roy (LHS), KeOnthany Seals (LHS), commended the class for their efforts. “You are Laegan Smith (LHS), Mary Frances Smith


February 2019

(SS), Meg Stogner (LHS), Devon Turner (LHS), Chloe Thames (THS), Emma Ward (LHS), Haylee Ward (THS) and Brant Williams (LHS). Each year, the class selects a student who has best exemplified the traits of a leader. JahWill Fannings, a sophomore at Troup High School, was selected by his peers as the 2018 winner and will have the opportunity to attend the National Student Leadership Conference on Mastering Leadership in Washington, D.C., during the summer of 2019. This was the fourth year of an enhanced program developed in conjunction with the Georgia LEADS program of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and the University of Georgia’s Fanning Institute, whose mission is to grow quality leaders across the state.

2018 Graduate JahWill Fannings, Leadership Troup Board Chair Monica Barber and 2017 Graduate John Reed Batchelor


TROUP COUNTY MANUFACTURING SPOTLIGHTED Chamber representatives attended the Georgia Chamber of Commerce’s Eggs & Issues Breakfast in January where they saw a sneak peak of the newest “Made in Troup County” product—Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia’s Telluride! Chamber Board members, staff and team members from the Offices of Congressman Drew Ferguson and Senator Johnny Isakson were proud to promote our Authentic Georgia product!

Chamber Board Members and LaGrange’s First Lady get a sneak peek of the Telluride. L-R: George Bailey (City of Hogansville), Dale Jackson (Jackson Services), Meghan Duke (City of West Point), Corinne Thornton (GA Department of Community Affairs), Latesa Bailey (Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia), John Asbell (Georgia Power) and Patricia Rogers (WellStar West Georgia Medical Center).

L-R: Max Kirby, Brett Smith, Laura Gower and Andy Bush admire the new Kia Telluride. Continued thanks to Congressman Ferguson and Senator Isakson for supporting Georgia manufacturing!



Representatives from the Young Singers of West Georgia provided festive musical entertainment.

More than 70 people mingled and jingled at our annual Holiday BASH held at Lafayette Society for the Performing Arts (LSPA).

Executive Director Kerri Vice awarded Tom Pirkle (Oasis Carwash) with most festive attire.

LSPA provided gifts to all attendees and multiple door prizes. Marlene Rhodes (Renasant Bank) was one of the lucky winners selected by LSPA’s Tina Ragland.

Attendees included Jennifer (Atlas Turf International) and James (Troup County Commission) Emery.

CHRISTMAS PARADE The Chamber presented the 42nd Annual Christmas Parade on November 29. One hundred floats, marching groups, cars and trucks celebrated the theme: “Miracle on Main Street.” Bobby Carmichael, former Executive Director of the Downtown LaGrange Development Authority, served as grand marshal. More than 18,000 spectators lined the parade route.

L-R: Parade Grand Marshal Bobby Carmichael (far right), his wife Molly (far left), son McCall, daughter-in-law Ginger, son Rob and grandsons Lyons, Jackson and Max

Faith Baptist Church had the top entry this year, receiving the 2018 Director’s Award for their re-creation of downtown LaGrange.





Blackwell’s, Inc.


February 2019










GreenPower Racing

Middle Schoolers racing to learn important skills


iddle school students in the Troup County School System are practicing life skills in a whole new way and having fun while they’re learning. Long Cane Middle School (LCMS) student, Summer Horne, had been working with her father on car maintenance for years. She says it is something they bond over. She was surprised to learn she could transfer the knowledge she already gained from her father to the classroom if she signed up for the GreenPower Tech class at her school. “An announcement was made over the intercom about GreenPower Tech. It sounded like something I would be interested in so I worked with my teachers to learn more.” said Horne, a member of the Cougar Strong Racing Team. GreenPower USA encompasses a wide variety of STEM skills (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) that exposes students to the world of engineering and innovation through a challenge based around designing and building a single seat electric powered race car. The GreenPower Tech course started in the fall at all three Troup County School System (TCSS) middle

of the TCSS Administrative Building and even led a presentation about their efforts during a Board of Education meeting. Members of the team believe this is more than just a class – it’s a learning experience that is helping to teach them life and future work skills while learning to build a racing car from scratch. Bo Dyes, 8th grader at Long Cane said he has had the opportunity to practice his engineering skills by working with the electrical systems of the car. “I’ve learned that the battery needs a certain type of electrical system to make it run correctly. Now, my focus is to make it run faster,” said Dyes. When the teammates rally during a race, they understand winning is about endurance – or how long the car lasts – as opposed to speed. During their first race in Chambers County, the team took the 2nd place overall trophy home. The only two teams ahead of them were the team that won the national

GreenPower Tech instructor at LCMS said, “This elective class is a semester long and it is a hands-on environment. The students take engineering concepts and learn how to make custom parts to fit the needs of the vehicle. If something is not working, they have to figure out how to make it work properly. This is truly a student-led course and I am there to facilitate and help them through any problems.” The 15-member team presented their business plan to Board members. Walker Graham, LCMS 8th grader explained, “We started with a steel frame that came in a kit. It took us about six months to build the race car. We had to raise money to buy parts we needed, we had to use teamwork and work together, and we had to build our knowledge so we could make changes where they needed to be so our car could outlast the other cars in the race.” Smiling, he added, “We are very proud about what we have done in just one year. We can’t wait to see how well we do at our next race and into next year.”

schools to incorporate STEM principles into learning and to create a class that provided a rigorous and relevant curriculum that appealed to student’s personal interests. Horne and her teammates proudly displayed their winning vehicle in the lobby

championship a year ago and the team that created the GreenPower Tech curriculum. So how exactly is this class set up to where students can build a working car and race it in a middle school NASCARstyle environment? Matthew Graham,

Both LCMS Principal Chip Giles and Graham agree that the rigor of the curriculum and relevancy it provides for the students is what makes it an ideal course to pique student’s interest. They say it gives them knowledge in STEM-related areas they can take into high school and beyond.

The community is encouraged to come out and support the LCMS team as they participate in the Diverse Power Grand Prix on February 23 at LaGrange College.




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Members may reserve one of four Member Spotlight articles during the 2020 Total Resource Campaign scheduled for September – November 2019. For more details, contact Dave Marler at 706-884-8671 or 40

February 2019


Abbott & Associates is a full-service accounting firm.

We have a range of clients from business to government to nonprofits. We focus on becoming an extension of your operation by providing advice, ongoing consultations, and effective service – with experience in your particular type of organization. SERVICES INCLUDE: • Financial statement preparation, Compilations & Reviews • Accounts Receivable Processing • Accounts Payable Processing • General Ledger • QuickBooks Support


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a technology-enhanced workspace for small business/tech companies. Our facility at 133 Main Street offers collaboration space, high-speed internet access and other amenities that allow a small business or a remote office space to be most effective. Our central location, with ample parking and access to the downtown area of LaGrange, provides an ideal space for organizations that want to work in a downtown setting without purchasing or long-term leasing commitments.

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Your path




K3-12TH Limited space available.




Lafayette Society for Performing Arts invites you to

Experience a Story this March the 23rd Annual

Azalea Storytelling Festival March 1st - 3rd

Lafayette Ballet Company's

Once Upon a Time

the stories of Rapunzel, Pocahontas, & the firebird

March 15th - 17th Lafayette Theatre Academy's

Jungle Book

March 21st - 23rd

www. 42

February 2019





ould your business use a makeover? Whether you want to update your offices, your marketing materials or your products, here are some ways to “pretty things up” to attract more business. As a successful small business owner, you’ve probably nailed down the key moving parts of your company – location, inventory, staff training and marketing. But is it “pretty”? Will it be enough to make your customers stop and stare? If not, you’re missing a key opportunity to capture and retain your customers’ attention. Studies show that all of us are hardwired to appreciate beauty. Taking the time to build beauty into the various elements of your business will ensure a good first impression. Numerous small business owners who recognize the power of attractive design have created powerful visual impact for their websites, offices and products in a variety of ways. And that investment has set them apart and been valuable in attracting attention. Beautiful design doesn’t have to break the bank. Here are four costeffective areas that have the best potential for big impact: 1. Color. Color is an easy way to add visual excitement, whether in your office or retail space or in your marketing. You can change colors seasonally, add it to a logo and use it as a design tool to give excitement to what customers are looking at. 2. Good photography. There are many factors that go into a good marketing strategy, and photography is not one to be overlooked.

The trained eye of a professional photographer can capture emotion, convey quality and communicate value. Be sure to take a hard look at what your business may be communicating through your photography. 3. Collateral materials. Keep them current, make sure your signage and brochures are updated regularly. Well-designed marketing materials help to quickly communicate the key benefits of your business and product. They speak volumes about your business and help build credibility. 4. Social media. The most important thing is to just do it. But also, do it well. Provide sharp photos and videos and a concise, professional message in your social media posts. Consistency is the key. If you need help in this area, it’s probably worth the money spent to hire someone who understands social media. No matter what your business is, it can probably benefit from a little primping. Making sure your customers see your best face will make the investment worth it in the long run.

NEED HELP WITH YOUR SMALL BUSINESS? Contact Todd Carlisle with the UGA Small Business Development Center at (706) 569-2651 to schedule a complimentary consultation in our LaGrange or West Point office.

Full Service Catering and Event Planning Small Intimate Events to Large Corporate Events

100 Webster Street LaGrange GA 30241 706-837-9009 |


sent a crew of students accompanied by a couple of parents or staff members as part of their annual community work day. I love seeing teenagers work. I love the opportunity to walk them through Coleman, letting them know the services provided by Twin Cedars. I really think the overwhelming majority of the students that have “served their time” here really liked it. I try and let them know that Twin Cedars is a conduit through which their efforts might positively affect other children. This

year they planted some border grass outside of the CAC, pulled some weeds and laid down a thick

Community Involvement layer of mulch on the garden, playground and

beneath the large magnolia tree. It transformed

the entire area. This entire area provides a place of solitude and reflection for children and families as they leave the CAC. They, after disclosing abuse to a stranger, might


Community Work Day is have just one many programs that generate he quality of life in Troup County is enhanced by countless step out into the world and theof first sight be something pleasant future leaders that will ensure that Troup County remains a great non-profit organizations, each with its own focused mission and peaceful in contrast to their conversation on moments before. place to live. toward community improvement. Each year, Lafayette Christian School connects its students with such organizations during Community Work Day. Students landscape for Twin Cedars Youth and Family Services, cook meals for Circles of Troup County, show appreciation for civil servants, honor the military, and minister to senior citizens and patients in hospice.

For the past five years, Lafayette Christian School has sent a crew of students accompanied by a couple of parents or staff members as LCS recognizes the importance of teaching youth to appreciate the part of their annual Community Work Day. I love seeing the teenagers work. […] This year they planted some border grass outside of invaluable work of local non-profits. For example, through Comthe CAC, pulled some weeds, and laid down a thick layer of mulch munity Work Day, students serve and interact with Twin Cedars, on the garden, playground, and beneath the large magnolia tree. It Circles of Troup County, and First Choice Women’s Center, all transformed the entire area. This entire area provides a place of solorganizations that meet social needs. In addition, students get real-life experience serving organizations that improve the quality itude and reflection for children and families as they leave the CAC. – “Thank You Letter” from Twin Cedars Youth and Family Services of life in our community like The Active Life, Poplar Creek, Hospice, City of LaGrange Police, and local churches. Rather than “living inside a bubble,” students are exposed to both the needs and resources in our community, and they get to experience the joy of serving and impacting the county’s culture. 44

February 2019

Lafayette Christian School serves infants through high school students at virtually all levels of academic need. Programs include the Early Learning Center, Discovery Cottage (Special Needs School), Preschool, Kindergarten, Elementary School, Middle School, High School, Collaborative School (Homeschool Hybrid), AP and College Classes (Dual Enrollment), and Summer Camps. 1904 Hamilton Rd., LaGrange GA 30240 • (706) 884-6684


MARCH 19, 2019

706.882.0662 email:


APRIL 23, 2019

M A R C H 2 6,


All concerts performed at Callaway Auditorium, LaGrange, GA (on the campus of LaGrange College)

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H Y P E – H E L PI NG Y OU NG P ROF ES SI ON ALS EN G AG E HYPE is a high impact group of diverse young professionals working together to showcase Troup County as a unique and fun place to work and live. HYPE provides its members with opportunities for building relationships with community and business leaders and cultivates an atmosphere for building personal relationships and a sense of purpose within the community.


Anabeth Ivey

LaGrange College Fund Gift Officer How long have you lived in Troup County? I was born and raised in LaGrange. Why does living in Troup County work for you?  It’s great being close to Atlanta without all the traffic, and the community and people are just fabulous. The beauty of living in this “small town” is having a strong support system and a community of people who work together so well.   When you’re not working, what do you like to do? I spend a lot of time on West Point Lake; I often travel on the weekends to visit out of town friends; and if I’m at home I’m probably cooking, baking, or watching The Office for the 100th time with my pup.    What is your best personal achievement? My first year at LaGrange College, I had the opportunity to build our inaugural giving day campaign and work with an amazing team of people who raised nearly $50,000 in one day to support our students.   What are your future plans? Earn my master’s degree, get married, start a family and continue to build my career.   Favorite Ice Cream Flavor: Cookies and Cream   All-Time Favorite Movie & Why: Shawshank Redemption, because it’s a great message about the importance of hope and friendship.   If you won $1 million, what would you do with the money? Travel to a few countries I’ve never visited and start a mentor program for students of all ages in Troup County.   Favorite “after work” spot in Troup County: The gym and Wild Leap!   Favorite Place to Visit outside of Troup County?  Anywhere with sunshine, sand and the ocean. For more details on HYPE, contact Leslie Traylor at To register for HYPE events, visit our website at 46

February 2019


Christmas Parade

Thursday, November 29 Approximately 35 young professionals joined on the rooftop of Del’avant for a festive evening of networking, pizza and warm beverages! It was the best view in town for the 42nd Annual LaGrange Christmas Parade.

Kickoff, GWL

Tuesday, January 8 With over 40 young professionals in attendance, Great Wolf Lodge hosted HYPE’s kickoff event in January. After the presentation of the 2019 board, HYPE members bowled at “Ten Paw Alley,” networked and enjoyed a buffet of delicious food and snacks. We even got a behind the scenes tour of all the facilities!

SAVE THE DATE Saturday, February 23 MARDI GRAS PARADE VIEWING PARTY. Lafayette Plaza Food, beverages and beads provided! Online registration and price/person TBD.

Tuesday, March 12 COLOR FOR A CAUSE LaGrange Mall Color for a Cause is a live mural coloring

Check presentation to humane society from BatP

Tuesday, December 18 HYPE board members presented a check for over $2,000 to the LaGrangeTroup County Humane Society from the 2nd annual Bark at the Park. Bark at the Park is a 5K run/walk that takes place in September. This family and dog friendly event starts at Granger Park and the proceeds go towards the humane society. Stay tuned for more details about the 2019 Bark at the Park!


Monday, January 14 Joined by LaGrange’s Chief of Police Lou Dekmar, HYPE members enjoyed an exclusive dinner and conversation at C’sons for a c-level dinner. C-level dinners were established by HYPE in 2012 and is a way to have an intimate conversation with a high-ranking person within a local organization. contest and shopping event that raises funds and awareness for local organizations

Saturday, March 16 ST. PATRICK’S DAY BLOCK PARTY ON MAIN Main Street A family friendly event with live entertainment and food and drink specials! HYPE leprechauns will be there with a table – or two!


kathryn a. mcfarland, m.d. caring for you and your heart ““is practice is really geared toward community. We have our hearts and souls in this community--not just to take care of hearts but to be good stewards.” -Dr. Kathryn A. McFarland

the care you expect. the professionals you know. a name you trust.

303 smith street, lagrange ga 706.882.8831


February 2019

Profile for LaGrange-Troup County Chamber of Commerce

Troup Trends - February 2019  

The February 2019 issue features Tripp Penn, the new President of the Callaway Foundation along with the latest business news from around th...

Troup Trends - February 2019  

The February 2019 issue features Tripp Penn, the new President of the Callaway Foundation along with the latest business news from around th...