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Get Ready for Back to School! 803-359-5393 • 520 Columbia Ave • Lexington, SC 29072

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Early Detection is the Best Treatment After putting off a routine colonoscopy for 10 years, Mark Giles of Irmo learned he had colon cancer. Because he got screened, his cancer was discovered and treated before it could spread, proving that early detection is always the best treatment. At Lexington Medical Cancer Center, we treat cancer successfully every day. But we’d rather find it early so there’s a better chance for a cure.

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8 | LEXINGTON LIFE | August 2021

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It is hard to believe this August 2021 issue marks the 18th year of Lexington Life Magazine. Eighteen years! Wow, time sure has flown by. For those of you who are regular readers, afficionados, and advertisers of the magazine, I offer my heartfelt thanks. I never dreamed that Lexington Life Magazine would grow to what it is today. I was just a young, dumb kid who had a vision and a wife who believed in me. She fully supported the vision of publishing a direct mail magazine that would help connect and bring our Lexington community together. Truth be told, it was really God’s idea; He spoke to me as I was taking a shower one random morning. Another time God spoke to me, He said that he wanted me and Donna to have another child and name him Noah. I will never forget the look on Donna’s face when I told her God wanted us to have another child. Incredulous! Once again, she trusted me and God’s word and “BAM,” she was soon pregnant with a boy and, of course, we already knew what his name would be. This month, Noah will be entering high school. It is surreal for me to be typing those words. Yes, our “little baby boy” is a high schooler. Many of you have watched him grow up. Our monthly family pictures offer both our family and you, our reader, to see the changes and growth as we move season to season and year to year. Lexington is an amazing place to raise a family and I am thankful God led us here to do just that. Enjoy back to school with your family. The time rips by so fast! They go from diapers to degrees pretty darn quickly. Thanks for being a part of Lexington Life for 18 years. I sincerely appreciate it.


DIRECTOR OF SALES Donna Shevchik 803-518-8853


EDITOR Kristi Antley

CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Mary Ann Hutcheson, Renee Love, Jackie Perrone, Marcy Roberts, Linnette Rochelle, and Brandon Watson

EDITOR EMERITUS Allison Caldwell ACCOUNT EXECUTIVES Tracy Tuten 803-603-8187

STAFF PHOTO BY Clark Berry Photography

CONTACT US: 5483 Sunset Blvd., Unit G, Lexington, SC 29072 • 803.356.6500

Kristi An

tley, Kim Curl Donna Sh ee, Cam Soltysiak, evchik, To Tr dd Shevch acy Tuten, ik,

contents Todd Shevchik



14 Lessons from the Teacher 20 Play It Safe 24 Let the Music Play 36 Lexington County Text to 911 43 Snack Smarter

9 From the Publisher 10 Events 13 Lexington Leader 45 Spice of Life


Columns 12 Faith Matters 47 David Clark


14 August 2021 | LEXINGTON LIFE | 9

AUGUST Friday, August 6th-Saturday, August 8th 2021 S.C. Sales Tax Holiday Weekend During the annual Sales Tax Holiday, a variety of purchases are exempt from the state’s 6% Sales Tax and any applicable local taxes. Tax-free items range from clothing, accessories, and shoes to school supplies, backpacks, and computers. As long as an item is eligible, it is tax-free whether purchased in-store or online-SHOP LOCAL! Check with local participating retailers to see if they offer online shopping, delivery, or curbside pick-up. Saturday, August 21st For the Love of Hops Beer Craft Festival Icehouse Amphitheater, 107 W. Main St., Lexington, 6:00 p.m. Join us for the 2021 Craft Beer Festival at the Icehouse Amphitheater! This is a 21 & up event, ID required. Food will be available for purchase; tickets are $30 in advance (, $40 the week of the event, $45 the day of the event. Price includes unlimited samples of over 50 different craft beers from North and South Carolina, live music from Kenny George Band and a souvenir sampling glass. Friday, August 27-Sunday, August 29th Columbia House and Outdoor Living Show Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, 1101 Lincoln St., Columbia, Friday 2:00 p.m.-7:00 p.m., Saturday 10:00 a.m.7:00 p.m., Sunday 11:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Don’t miss the Columbia House & Outdoor Living Show, presented at the conveniently located Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. This comprehensive and expansive home show brings together homeowners and the area’s top remodeling and building experts. Every aspect of the home can be explored, from the smallest design detail to the largest house addition. See the latest innovations and design trends! Experts will be showcasing everything for the home including the latest in cabinetry and countertops, sunrooms and additions, flooring, basement refinishing, waterproofing, smart home automation, energy efficient windows and exterior products, as well as the newest ideas pertaining to landscape installations. Admission is $3 for adults, children 18 and under are free. For more information visit

Submit your event info five weeks in advance to Events will be included as space permits. 10 | LEXINGTON LIFE | August 2021

Mayor Steve MacDougall It’s hard to believe it’s already August and another school year is about to start! As students at Lexington Elementary return to school, the work continues to widen North Lake Drive in that area. The new traffic configuration and added lane headed out of town is a continuation of our One-Way Pair project. This is Phase 2 of 3 for traffic improvements in this corridor and will significantly improve traffic flow. The Gibson Pond is full of water and the park is reopening any day now. If you haven’t at least driven by, you are missing out as the new bridge and dam are quite impressive. The park will be a frequented destination and we are glad to finally have it back and even better than ever. The park features a new bridge with fishing piers, a new dock and new picnic shelters. There are plans in the making to restock the pond with fish which we are very excited about. Work will begin in the near future on the new walking trail which will be located around the Old Mill Pond. It will be onemile long and lighted. This is the next new area the whole family can enjoy downtown. Events continue at Icehouse Amphitheater. For the Love of Hopes Craft Beer Festival is on Saturday, August 21. There will be food, beer and live music from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m. and tickets are $30 in advance. Visit for more information and to purchase tickets. Then the fall concert series will start September 9 and will continue each Thursday through October 7 at the Amphitheater. The concerts are free and start at 6:30pm. I hope everyone had a safe and enjoyable summer and look forward to seeing you all at upcoming events.

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August 2021 | LEXINGTON LIFE | 11

Kevin Thumpston Lead Pastor Watershed Fellowship Keep Your Thinking Caps On! SCHOOL IS BACK! Time to put our thinking caps back on and be learners once again. But why do we even take our thinking caps off and press pause on learning? Ought we to be learners all the time—always learning something from someone, the world around us, and from God? Jesus’ term for the learner is a “disciple.” The key to wisdom is to be a disciple by having an amateur mindset, avoiding ignorance, or becoming a self-proclaimed expert. Austin Kleon states: Amateurs might lack formal training, but they’re all lifetime learners, and they make a point of learning in the open, so that others can learn from their failures and successes. Sometimes, amateurs have more to teach us than experts. The world is changing at such a rapid rate that it’s turning us all into amateurs. Even for professionals, the best way to flourish is to retain an amateur’s spirit. All truth is God’s truth, but there is much falsehood masquerading around as light. God has revealed himself through general revelation in creation, the special revelation of God’s word, and the embodied revelation through Jesus Christ. In a culture of many stories, we can find great comfort and hope in the truth of God’s meta-narrative revealed in the scriptures. This means that we must ultimately bring our questions of life to the Bible to find out what God has to say about all things for this life and the life to come. As learners, we read, listen to, meditate on, memorize, and study the word of God by faith. We take the posture of a learner at the feet of Jesus, rather than a colleague sitting side-by-side choosing what we want to believe or as a critic, making judgements on its validity. Mary sat at the feet of Jesus, and he commended her for choosing the one needful thing – to be a learner. He would not take it away from her, nor will he take it away from us. Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. Matt. 11:28–29

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by Jackie Perrone

Joe Mergo Joe Mergo’s parents started their family in Wilkes-Barre, PA, during a time of declining economic prosperity in that area. In search of a better life, they moved to the Midlands of South Carolina asking about “the best schools in the area.” That settled them squarely in Lexington County, (which four decades later still enjoys a reputation for top schools.). Their son Joe thinks that was the best decision of their lives, and his career path reflects his dedication to Lexington County. “No question we live in the finest place in this country,” he says. “No amount of money would convince me to move somewhere else.” The youngster Joe took advantage of that great schooling, capping it with a B.S. in Business at the University of South Carolina, double major in management and marketing. He became the administrator for magistrate’s court and then the assistant director of solid waste management. From that position, he was promoted to director of both solid waste management and animal services, while also achieving law enforcement certification from the S. C. Criminal Justice Academy, over a 10-year period. For the next four years, he served as deputy county administrator, and in January 2012, he was named county administrator. That, which began a nine-year term leading Lexington County through continuing explosive growth, with large population increases, rapid building of new facilities, and constant coping with traffic issues. He is proud of the accomplishments of those years as county administrator. “We emphasized a culture of family”, he says. “We reduced our health care costs, achieved the best bond rating in the county’s history, the best fire service rating and innovative financial management practices. “Our weekly leadership team meetings, focused on strategic objectives, increased accountability for all areas.” As the pandemic year of 2020 wound down, County Administrator Mergo announced his retirement, looking forward to spending more quality time with his family. He was also being recruited to Nephron Pharmaceuticals by owner Lou Kennedy. When Lou is recruiting, you might as well capitulate immediately; she will win you over no matter what. Nephron was enjoying the same kind of explosive growth that Lexington County has felt and needed a chief operating officer to provide hands-on control of everything and everyone on duty. End result: Joe Mergo left his County Administrator position on December 31, 2020 and began his new responsibilities as COO at Nephron the next week. “It’s a wonderful place to work,” he says. “We are a team and building a family and are always looking for good people to add. I was able to bring along my co-worker Chris Folsom, and we are glad to be here.” Through the years, Joe Mergo has maintained his community spirit, actively coaching baseball at Brookland Cayce High School, and served as a deacon and elder at Saxe-Gotha Presbyterian Church, as well as membership on many boards. Joe is married to Nikole Mergo, managing partner at Nexsen/Pruet Law Firm in Columbia, and they have three sons, Parker, Paxton, and Paiden. n

August 2021 | LEXINGTON LIFE | 13

Lessons from the

Teacher I am often asked some variation of this question: “After all these years as a teacher, what skills do you think are most important for student success?” by Renee Love

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y answer to this question is shaped by more than 25 years of university teaching experiences. I also have three children of my own. In addition to college students, I have taught workshops for middle-school students, high school students, home-school students, professionals, and coaches. Even after all these years, I still love teaching, and I consider it a privilege to help students learn both academic skills as well as life skills. It’s hard to narrow down a single skill that is essential for student success, but here are some of the skills students need in order to succeed in the classroom—and in life beyond the classroom, too. Ideally, by the time our children reach college, they would have a solid understanding of

these life lessons, and, arguably, the greater a child’s mastery of these skills, the more successful the student. I emphasize these skills not only to my students but to my three children. I think these lessons benefit all of us, no matter one’s stage in life, but if you want to help your child succeed in school, consider these lessons: Accept responsibility for your actions, as well as the consequences. Some years ago when my daughter Lila was in high school, I gave her “the opportunity to make a mistake,” so she could learn a lesson. Many of us have likely made this same mistake, and there’s nothing like the sting of disappointment to crystallize certain truths. Lila had a paper due, and she had procrastinated, waiting until the night before to finish her paper. Finally, Lila told me she

was too tired to finish, and she planned to get up early the next day to finish her paper. She planned to print the final version of the paper in the morning. That night, I had a decision to make – whether I was going to “make” Lila finish her paper before going to bed (which I knew would be best) or whether I was going to “allow” Lila to make her own decision about the situation (the option that would likely result in Lila making a mistake). I did try to counsel Lila, expressing my concerns about waiting until morning to complete the paper and printing. I said things like, “Lila, I know when I have waited until the morning an assignment is due to finish my work, something often goes wrong, and then I’m disappointed about the outcome. If you complete everything before going to bed, the assignment is finished, and next time you can start earlier on the paper to avoid this last-hour crises.” I did try to warn her. But I also said, “Lila, you’re a young adult, and I’m going to leave the decision up to you. Whatever happens will be your responsibility.” You don’t need a crystal ball or tea leaves to see what happened next. The next morning, Lila could not get the printer to work. I had to be at work, and Lila’s brothers had to be at school. There was no room in our morning for late arrivals, so Lila could fix the printer, and Lila was in tears. I did not say “I told you so.” Instead, I affirmed Lila’s disappointment: “Lila, I’m sorry this happened. I have confidence in you to be responsible and to figure out how to handle things.” I was in suspense all day at my own desk at work, wondering what Lila would say to her teacher. I also felt enormous compassion for Lila, and I was sad knowing she was having a hard day because of her decision (missing the assignment deadline). Lila had to do what all of us have had to do on some occasion: “face the music” of a poor decision. That afternoon, Lila told me she had talked with her teacher and owned up to her mistake, something along the lines of “Ms. Smith, I’m sorry I don’t have my paper finished. It’s my fault. I waited until the last minute, and then my printer didn’t work. I know you don’t accept late work. I know this is my fault, and I accept any consequences.” It may sound strange to be proud of

Learn how to succeed in different contexts with different people. Another lesson I have tried to instill in my children is that academic settings help us learn how to adapt and succeed in a variety of contexts. Sometimes a student feels confused if he or she makes an “A” in one class, but then the next semester, the student feels the same work has been done but makes a “B” in a comparable class. The les-

her pencil during a lecture.” Hmm, I thought, and I understood the problem: Ms. Spence had certain rules in her classroom that Lila’s previous teacher had not had. I talked with Lila about how each teacher is different; each teacher has different expectations. While her firstgrade teacher may not have been bothered by Lila’s pony-tail holder and hairstyling, this teacher did not like those behaviors, so Lila had to learn how to succeed in the new setting. As soon as Lila understood that each teacher has different requirements for success, Lila was able to make A’s in Ms. Spence’s class. More important, Lila had learned how to adapt to meet the needs of different

son is – we have to learn to succeed not just in one class but in a variety of contexts and with different teachers. We have to learn what each teacher (boss, supervisor, manager, etc.) views as success. My daughter learned this lesson in second grade. I started receiving emails from Lila’s teacher that sounded like this: “Lila was very disruptive in class, and her behavior distracted other students from learning.” I knew Lila was a bit of a “chatterbox,” so I asked Ms. Spence what Lila had done to disrupt the class. Ms. Spence reported a long list of infractions: “Lila was putting her hair in a pony-tail, playing with her pony-tail holder, using her pony-tail holder as a bracelet, and once she got up to sharpen

teachers in different classrooms. This lesson may seem inconsistent – the idea that certain actions in one class result in an “A” while in another class those same actions lead to a “B” or lower grades. But anyone who has worked for more than one manager can attest, each leader is different, and as professionals we have to learn what we need to do to succeed in different settings with different co-workers and leaders. Of course we would never do something unethical or illegal to succeed, but Lila needed to understand that we have to adapt our behaviors to meet the needs of different leaders in different settings. The next year she would have to learn another teacher’s expectations and a new formula for success.

one’s child for accepting a zero with a good attitude, but I was proud of Lila: she had accepted responsibility for her mistake. She had learned a valuable lesson about being responsible for her actions and the ensuing consequences.

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Recognize that avoiding a problem is not a helpful coping strategy. Instead, face problems, and view problems as learning opportunities. Another essential lesson we can teach children about how to succeed in school (and in life) is to face problems rather than ignoring problems. Avoiding problems is not an effective strategy: being hopeful cannot be one’s only plan for resolving a problem. I have seen these limiting habits (avoidance and wishful thinking) play out in the classroom and on the home-front. I remember a challenging class my son Gray had in middle school where a clear pattern emerged. Gray would believe he had followed an assignment’s directions – only to be disappointed later when his grade did not meet with his expectations. I would encourage my son to talk with his teacher as soon as possible, to reverse this downward

spiral, but Gray would avoid the problem, as if the problem would disappear if he pretended long enough that there wasn’t a problem. We all know the saying: “de-nial ain’t just a river . . . .” After several experiences with drowning in “de-nial,” Gray learned a better strategy. He realized that when problems emerge, avoidance makes the problem worse. He learned to face the problem as it soon as it appeared (i.e. talk with the teacher). No

matter how uncomfortable, address a problem before the topic escalates into a crises (i.e. failing an assignment). Gray learned to face unpleasant topics, so he could learn from his mistake. The sooner a problem is addressed, the

responded insightfully, saying, “now that we have learned our mistakes, if we had the opportunity to play that same team again, I think we could beat them next time.” I was impressed with how Gray had transformed a disappointing experience into a lesson.

“Every blade of grass has its angel that bends over it and whispers,

‘Grow, grow.” - The Talmud

faster it can be resolved. Equally significant, each time a problem is faced, it helps us learn the skills needed to overcome the next challenge with a little less fear, a little more confidence, and a little more courage. As the Brazilian writer Paulo Coelho writes, “You need to have sufficient courage to make mistakes.”

Look for the lesson in any “failures,” and use each experience to grow. My son Gray’s experience with learning to face problems in classes also helped him learn how to view “problems” as “learning opportunities.” I remember an occasion when Gray’s high school football team lost a big game. I was concerned Gray might be depressed about the loss, but when I asked how he was feeling, he surprised me. Gray

This is the ideal mindset needed for overcoming setbacks and losses: face the issue, whether it’s the loss of a football game or a disappointing test grade, and learn the lessons afforded by the experience. I see similar patterns and growth in my students each year, and I am proud of my students as they learn proactive problem solving strategies, which include skills like accepting responsibility, facing problems, and using any “failures” as learning opportunities. Making mistakes is part of life, and we can all learn from our mistakes. We can consciously cultivate an attitude of viewing “failures” as chances to learn and grow. If you’re a parent, and you want to teach your child how to be responsible for their choices and actions, consider giving your child opportunities to make the “smaller mistakes,” as well as the opportunities to face the consequences of their decisions. I know how hard it is to “let” our children “fail” at any time, but “failing” in elementary school or high school with a paper assignment is a much better situation than failing in college or on the job. By allowing my children to make mistakes and to learn life lessons while they are in school, my children have gained valuable life skills that help them succeed not only in the classroom but in life. We will all have setbacks, obstacles, and problems. Rather than avoiding the problem, or relying solely on wishful thinking, take action. Be responsible, and face the issues and any consequences. Realize that different settings will require different success strategies that can be learned. Recognize that students are not just learning academic content but how to have the right mindset for succeeding. Every problem is also an opportunity to develop courage, and nothing is a failure if you learn something. n August 2021 | LEXINGTON LIFE | 17

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Play it Safe Home Security Tips for Last Minute Vacations by Brandon Watson Many people do very little to prepare their home in terms of security when they embark on that much-anticipated, well-deserved vacation. The anxiety and excitement that kicks in once the trip is booked can make us forget the common adage, “Better safe than sorry.” Unfortunately, most of us tend to place our main focus on the trip itself, including the travel route, adventurous excursions, clothing for each situation, food, culture and language, and entertainment. However, neglecting your home will leave it vulnerable to burglar invasion. To keep your home safe, use the following tips to ensure the safety of your home when you are away for long periods of time.

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Have someone monitor or stay at your home For this option, you have three choices; first, you can ask a neighbor to keep an eye on things. Of course, you must have a good relationship with your neighbors so you can trust them to keep an eye on your home and yard when you aren’t around. Second, you can ask a person that you know to be a house/pet sitter. This could be a family member, a friend, co-worker, or even a nanny who lives nearby. Some corporate businesses offer house-sitting services, but these can be pricey, so be sure to budget for this expense as a part of your vacation. Last, you can arrange a free exchange in which a person you do not know stays in your home and takes advantage of the

available resources within the agreed-upon time. Perhaps you live on a lake, a mountain with a view, or a beach-front property. This person will be responsible for taking care of your pets and performing simple household chores like watering the plants and collecting newspapers and deliveries. Look for secure opportunities online with full background screening programs and security checks. Put Everything under Lock and Key In order to have complete peace of mind while away on vacation, lock up everything of value. All entries to your home should be locked, including deadbolts. Burglars always attempt entries like windows or the garage door first.

The garage door should never be assumed to be safe; it should always be locked. If you have an automatic garage opener, then you are safe, but those that are opened manually by hand should always be installed with a deadbolt-style lock for utmost safety. All valuables such as cash, guns, jewelry, or family heirlooms and any other precious items should be stashed in a safe just in case there is an intrusion. Create a “normalcy defense” A great scholar once joked that illusion and perception are both forms of deception that feed on our conscience one at a time. Creating a perception of normalcy in your home while away on vacation to fool potential burglars can be one of the best deceits. You can begin by having timers installed on your electronics so they can be turned off and on at specific times during the day and night, creating the illusion that someone is home. Leave the blinds halfway open and leave a lamp on to give the perception that someone is in the main living room. You can also purchase timers and cameras that can be controlled remotely through your mobile phone. Hire someone to mow the lawn and shovel the driveway and collect your mail; these tasks, when left undone, are dead giveaways to attract burglars and vagrants. You can hire a family member, friend, or a landscaping company to complete the task while you are away.

profile. Travelers can find it irresistible to post on social media of their whereabouts with status updates like “Traveling to Malaysia!” Unless you enjoy risk, wait until you are on the way back to post vacation updates, food indulgences, activity reports, and photos. There is no need to advertise to potential burglars online that you are away from home. Lastly, have a vacation checklist; this is important, as it ensures that the house is left in tip-top shape. Safety is always an antidote that will steel our nerves, especially when you are going away from home. These simple but necessary measures will ensure that you can relax on your trip and expect your protected fortress to remain safe, awaiting your return. n

Maintain a low profile While away on vacation, it’s important to maintain a low-key

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Preplanning. It’s your move. There are many benefits to pre-arranging your final wishes. In fact, it’s one of the most thoughtful and considerate things you can do for your loved ones. By planning in advance, you can design and specify the exact type of service you’d like. In doing so, your family and friends can celebrate and honor you as you wish, without having to make difficult decisions during an emotional time. Make preplanning your next move and make it easier on those you love. Our doors and our hearts are open everyday — as well as in your time of need. We invite you to call or stop by to pick up your own free personal planning guide. 4720 Augusta Road, Lexington SC 29073 • 803.996.1023 845 Leesburg Road, Columbia SC 29209 • 803.776.1092 August 2021 | LEXINGTON LIFE | 23

Music y pla Let the

With a bit of determination and motivation, five minutes is all it takes to change a life. During a brief but powerful five-minute conversation with Shark Tank’s Mark Cuban, West Columbia native Marty Fort introduced his Musical Ladder System, which opened a new chapter of his life and made a permanent impact on the world of music education.

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Lexington School of Music 226 Barr Rd., Lexington, SC 29072 (803) 667-4436 Columbia Arts Academy 3630 Rosewood Dr., Columbia, SC 29205 (803) 667-4451 Irmo Music Academy 1061 Lake Murray Blvd., Irmo, SC 29063 (803) 667-4447

By Linnette Rochelle Photos by Pixel Fusion

Marty is the director of the Lexington School of Music, Columbia Arts Academy, and Irmo Music Academy. His passion for music led him to teach private guitar lessons when he was only 15 years old, which was the beginning of a brilliant life path. A graduate of the Montessori Early Learning Center (owned by his mother), Marty attended the South Carolina Governor’s School of Arts and Humanities for guitar. He would later earn a bachelor of music degree in classical guitar performance at the North Carolina School of Arts in Winston Salem and a master of music degree in classical guitar performance at University of South Carolina in Columbia. He lived in Los Angeles, California, for a brief stint before returning home to marry his wife Valerie and teach guitar lessons locally. As his clientele grew, he rented a room on Rosewood Drive and opened his first official instruction studio: Columbia Guitar Academy. With high attrition rates in the realm of music instruction, Marty created a program to incentivize students to practice and grow as musicians. He noticed that dancers and gymnasts receive competition trophies, while martial arts recognizes student progression with rank and championship belts. After considering the belt system in karate, Marty created a unique award program called the Musical Ladder System. Every three months, students take a test and, upon passing, receive a colorful wristband and certificate and are eligible for trophies at different stages. Students are not awarded these items for participation – they are earned through consistent practice and improvement of skill. True to his Montes-

sori background, Marty is a firm believer in individualized music lessons. The Musical Ladder System is not a set curriculum but a foundational award system for students who work diligently to advance in their performance level. Teachers at the music school are encouraged to tailor curriculum and tests to the individual student’s gifts and needs. Students are viewed as individual souls, and Marty firmly believes the student/teacher relationship is the most vital part of growth as a musician. The parent/teacher relationship is just as vital to the growth of the student. A critical component of the Musical Ladder System is the parent portal, which allows the teacher and parent to communicate securely with one another regarding student progress, strengths, and weaknesses. Unlike other performing arts programs, tests and awards within the system are completely free for students. This creates a great incentive to continue lessons throughout the adolescent years into the adult years and beyond – Marty found that all students get excited to receive wristbands and trophies. Many of his adult students are proud of their accomplishments, often sporting the colorful wristbands while out and about in the community and displaying trophies at their places of work. From 2003, Marty’s studio on Rosewood grew and transformed into Columbia Arts Academy, adding teachers of guitar, piano, singing, voice, drums, bass, banjo, mandolin, and ukulele. By 2008, his clientele grew to 600 students strong; in 2013, he opened the Lexington School of Music, which is now located on Barr Road in Lexington, August 2021 | LEXINGTON LIFE | 25

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and implemented the Musical Ladder System. His excellent instructors and superior programs quickly caught the attention of people in the surrounding areas; in 2018, he opened the Irmo Music Academy on Lake Murray Blvd. All three schools combined have served over 3,000 families and currently serves 1,600 students. Marty attributes a large part of this growth to the Musical Ladder System. Technology plays an important part in the role of music instruction as well. Each of Marty’s facilities are equipped with LED monitors to interact with mobile devices, lending the opportunity for more interesting and versatile practice sessions. There are

also large windows in the door of each instruction room, allowing parents and teachers to observe students in session. For those curious about how lessons are taught, there is a standing invitation to schedule a tour and witness classes firsthand. Kate Wink enrolled her son Sam in piano lessons with Marty’s academy at the tender age of five years old, adding guitar lessons when he was seven years old. When asked how they managed lessons at such a young age, she said three things have been key: her son’s love for music, his love for the teachers, and the Musical Ladder System. Though his piano teacher and guitar teacher are very different from one another, Sam has a great relationship with both and is always eager to begin the next lesson. Not only does Marty have a phenomenal award system to keep musicians encouraged to hone their skills, he hires teachers who truly care about their students. Kate has no regrets and no plans to discontinue her son’s lessons. In the early days of the Musical Ladder System, Marty attended a business conference in Nashville, Tennessee, and briefly spoke with Mark Cuban of Shark Tank. When he showed Cuban pictures of the wristbands and explained the Musical Ladder System, Cuban said, “This is great. You need to try and patent this and license this to others.” The rest is history; Marty currently has a trademark, nine patents, and one trademark and 10 more patents pending. His five-minute discussion with Mark changed the course of his career and the world of music training globally. To date, he

has 125 music school licensees with 30,000 students all over the United States, Canada, Australia, and other parts of the world ranging from individual teachers working from home to large schools such as one Houston, Texas, school currently serving 4,000 students. The system is that versatile, proven and affordable. One of the frustrations Marty experienced in his growing licensing business was with trophies constantly arriving with incorrect name plates and other defects. So, true to his entrepreneurial spirit, he went with the adage that “if you want something done right, do it yourself.” He opened a production office in Irmo, SC, bought the equipment needed to make trophies, and flew in trophy engineers to train his employees. Now, the Musical Ladder System has its own trophy manufacturing company, which makes and ships trophies to their licensees. During COVID-19 lockdowns, Marty’s schools hemorrhaged hard for two months. He worked to find a solution to keeping his students both encouraged and safe. First, he created a HOPE wristband, giving out 30,000 to 40,000 to his own students and to students throughout the United States and Canada. The second thing he did was create the Safe Music Schools pledge program, which helped music school owners to rebuild their enrollment to pre-COVID numbers safely. His next project is the Family Safety Plan, which is another program for music school owners dedicated to student safety, which includes security cameras, teacher background checks, and more. Throughout his music career, not only has Marty Fort earned two music degrees, taught guitar for 30 years while successfully opening and growing multiple music schools, created and licensed Musical Ladder System, opened a trophy manufacturing plant to supply his licensees, and created a safety program for his and other music schools, but he also plays in a band. Having played guitar for the band Rock Candy for eight years, he now plays and sings for Capital City Playboys with Jay Matheson and Kevin Brewer – a throwback to the retro garage rock bands. The Capital City Playboys have been around for 12 years, playing both original music and cover songs. Marty has opened for bands such as Ratt and Skid Row. He was also fortunate to play on stage with Kirk Hammett, the guitarist for Metallica, at the Columbia Museum of Art. Kirk jammed UFO’s hit song “Too Hot to Handle” with the Columbia Arts Academy teacher August 2021 | LEXINGTON LIFE | 27

PETSinc was established in December, 1991 as a 501(c)(3) non-profit, no-kill animal rescue organization serving the Midlands of South Carolina to re-home abandoned, abused, distressed, unwanted, surrendered, and stray animals. The operation became so prolific that a small adoption center was opened in 1993, and by 1998, the operation was moved to our present 13-acre site at 300 Orchard Drive in West Columbia. In 2006, our current adoption and retail center was opened, and in 2010, a low-cost Vet Clinic was added to serve our rescues as well as pet families throughout the Midlands area. In recent years, our animal welfare mission has expanded to include Critical Vet Care, Alternative Vet Medicine & Rehabilitation, grooming, dog training, and companion canines for military veterans. We are currently in the process of launching a cat cottage for boarding and a mobile vet hospital outreach into surrounding communities, providing full veterinary services and compassionate end-of-life care.

Because we raise all of our funding (we are not funded by government or municipal grants), consistent monthly support is so critical for us, allowing us to: continue to care for the animals who need us, plan/budget for the year, expand our services for rescues and outreach to the community… and keep making tails wag! How your becoming a PETSinc Partner helps rescued pets throughout the year while they await their new families: $13/ month = food for happy bellies $30/ month = medications for preventatives $53/ month = a roof over the pets’ heads $103/ month = surgical and recovery needs of rescues For more information on becoming a PETSinc Partner, please log onto and click on the “PETSinc Partners” button. THANK YOU!!

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For Capital City Playboys schedule and upcoming events: band. The Capital City Playboys have some exciting venues coming up. They open for Cowboy Mouth in July 2021, and they will be playing at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in August 2021. Then, in April 2022, they have the distinct pleasure of playing at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. They currently have a new single: “Bad Bad Man.” When asked how he manages everything and still finds time to travel with his band, Marty was quick to praise his team

of 15 full-time employees who help keep everything running smoothly. He did give up teaching after 30 years, but he is excited to see his music schools and the Musical Ladder System reach new growth proportions each year as well as having new and exciting opportunities for his band. Thanks to Marty Fort and his Musical Ladder System, teachers and students in Lexington and around the world will continue to let the music play on. n

Batesburg Location: 803-820-0353 210 W Church Street, Batesburg, SC 29006 Gilbert Location: 803-820-0352 3970 Augusta Hwy, Gilbert, SC 29054 Hours: Monday- Friday 8AM-6PM

For more information about the Musical Ladder System and schools that implement the program: For musical employment opportunities:

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EMERGENCY SERVICES Many citizens have minimal knowledge of what goes on behind the scenes when we make an emergency call. David Kerr, Lexington County’s director of emergency services, explained the need for such a valuable service within the larger framework of emergency services in the county.

At the end of April 2021, Lexington County’s emergency services expanded its program with a new technology service called Text-To-911. The service provides a valuable option for the hearing- or speechimpaired or when it would be unsafe for an individual to speak during a home invasion or kidnapping. An exciting and significant addition to Lexington County’s emergency services, Text-to-911 is one of the many technical innovations that make up Lexington County’s exceptional Department of Emergency Services (DES). 36 | LEXINGTON LIFE | August 2021

Emergency Services Approximately 580 career, parttime, and volunteer personnel (comprising almost one-third of Lexington County’s employees) make up our county’s DES. Their key role is to provide comprehensive emergency response – fire, EMS, 911, and emergency management services – for citizens and visitors to Lexington County. Their 911 coverage covers all of the county, with the exception of Cayce, Batesburg-Leesville, and West Columbia, which provide their own 911 service. Emergency services also provide emergency medical services and emergency management of disasters for the entire county. Examples might be for situations like hurricanes, floods, train derailments, and even the COVID-19 pandemic.

by Mary Ann Hutcheson

There are 25 county-run fire/EMS stations, a primary dispatch center, with 17 dispatch positions, plus a supervisor’s station. The county also provides a redundant backup dispatch center, which has 14 positions for dispatchers and call-takers. Kerr describes a management strategy used in the county called “dynamic deployment.” “It is an automated system that tracks statistical analysis of call volume and travel times over a three-year period. It predicts where their EMS calls originate on any particular day, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Dynamic deployment and 911 call triage allow them to put the right emergency medical resource on the right level (or acuity) of a call throughout the entire county.” What Happens When You Call 911? “In our county,” says Kerr, “the process begins with the caller contacting dispatch from a landline phone call, a cellular phone call, or via our newest technology: text-to-911.” Once call-takers receive the calls for service, they triage the calls by using an automated priority dispatch system called

ProQA, a system requiring a series of one question/one answer. The dispatcher asks a question; the caller’s answer leads the call-taker to the next question. The procedure reaches a point where the system gives a recommended response to the dispatcher, who then sends the appropriate field resource – law enforcement, fire, or EMS. “The most important part for citizens to understand is that the questions do not delay the response,” says Kerr. “The citizen is talking to a call-taker, going through questions, and typing in answers. At the point where the system recognizes it as a high-priority call, requiring an EMS unit

process is the same. Numerous high-priority (high-acuity) calls, like shootings,

“The most important part for citizens to understand is that the questions do not delay the response” or a fire truck, that information is automatically sent to a field unit. The response resource is already en route to the call, while the call-taker is still taking questions. Upon arrival, the field units can immediately deliver the appropriate care or response, as they have been given the critical information.” The same process holds for law enforcement calls. For any of its services (fire, EMS, or law enforcement) the triage

structure fires, heart attack, strokes, unconscious victims, breathing problems, or anything life-threatening, turn into almost immediate dispatch. There are two types of EMS units in the county: high acuity (advance life support/ALS) and low acuity (basic life support/BLS). Triaging emergency calls is critical. It’s important, for example, that a basic, or lower acuity call, which is staffed with two

EMTs, receives a BLS unit. This saves the advanced life support units, which have a paramedic, for those who are genuinely in danger of losing life or limb. Analyzing all the circumstances provided and determining an acuity level allows the system to put the right resources against that acuity level. Technology and Equipment Advances Thanks to the Safer Ambulance Program, EMS units have been changed to a new color scheme. Among other improvements, the units are more visible to drivers and provide enhanced safety and quality-of-life features for both healthcare providers and patients. There are auto vehicle locators on all August 2021 | LEXINGTON LIFE | 37



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of the county’s fire trucks, EMS units, and sheriff department field vehicles. Dispatchers can actually see where EMS units are in real time and identify which ambulances are closer to a particular call. The Lexington County DES works closely with the sheriff’s office and municipal response partners, implementing dispatch for them. New technology has evolved to improve

smartphone connected to personal and health information stored in a secure HIPAA compliant cloud. The county is currently phasing that out and replacing it with the automated system, SMART 911. With SMART911, you can provide 911 call takers and first responders critical information you want them to know in any kind of emergency. Visit its link to learn

“The most beneficial thing, the most iportant mantra, about Text-to-911 is ‘Call if you can, but text if you can’t.’” response times within their dispatch center, which translates to improved field unit response time from their 911. Through a program called Process Improvement, teams work on committees and with field responders to include all of their functions and operations in their 911 center. This ensures that they respond quickly but efficiently to all citizens’ calls. Another technology advance Lexington is rolling out this year uses a software suite called RAVE, which improves functions for 911, including the automatic location of callers. Knowing where callers are calling from is critical. If someone is calling from a cellular phone, the RAVE suite will show the dispatcher the actual caller location on the map. David Kerr says, “It provides a breadcrumb, which gives you the next 10 minutes of tracking information for where the caller is moving. That’s really important in a kidnapping or missing person situation or a medical problem where someone calls 911 but can’t speak.” You may previously have been signed up with the “My911” program, with your

more. Another new Lexington County program is Code Red. This system delivers time-sensitive public safety information throughout the county during times of emergency or disaster. You can visit its link at Code Red Enrollment to read more and enroll. Examples of notifications include weather alerts, evacuation notices, hazardous material instructions, and missing child reports. TEXT-TO-911 “If a caller is in a dangerous situation and unable to speak, such as an intruder in the home or a domestic violence situation, then Text-to-911 would be an emergency lifeline,” says 911 Communications Chief Nikki Rodgers. A Text-to-911 caller in that situation would enter “911” in the “Recipient” field. In the message box, the caller then texts his name, the nature of the emergency, and his exact location. If dispatchers need additional information, they will communicate back via text. If it is not safe to call 911 for any rea-

son – for the deaf or hearing-impaired, or during a home invasion where someone is hiding and unable to talk aloud, or a kidnapping – those are the times you want to use Text-to-911. Those at emergency services stress that if someone can dial 911 and talk to a dispatcher, it is always the preferred method of receiving a 911 call. Rodney Watson, deputy chief for 911, says, “The most beneficial thing, the most important mantra, about Text-to-911 is ‘Call if you can, but text if you can’t.’” A caller’s address and name are important in the event he or she is disconnected. Kerr points out how cellphones have taken over landline calls. If you are calling from a landline, your location is available. However, if a cellphone caller is in an area that may involve different jurisdictions, like an apartment complex with different buildings or apartments, it is extremely important for a caller to know his or her actual address when they call 911. Even from a landline, the dispatcher will still verify and validate your location, and the questions are the same regardless of what method you use to call 911. Kerr says, “I spent 22 years in the army traveling all over the world. Without a doubt, the first responders and emergency service professionals here in Lexington County and at the municipal level are truly exceptional. They do a very difficult job to serve and care for those experiencing the worst possible day of their lives, and they do it exceptionally well. We are very proud of our responders; very proud of our people. They truly have selfless service in their hearts. When citizens get a chance, they need to thank a first responder for their dedication and sacrifice for our communities.” n August 2021 | LEXINGTON LIFE | 39

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Snack Smarter by Marcy Roberts


et’s be honest: snacks can make or break your health goals. Snack smart, and you’ll keep hunger at bay and fuel your body. Snack wrong, and you can blow hundreds of calories without realizing it. Constant snacking is one of the easiest ways to blow your calorie count for the entire day. Even when you plan your meals, giving in to those little snacks during the day can take a toll — especially if you aren’t tracking them. Are you guilty of mindlessly grabbing a handful of M&M’s, reaching into a bag of almonds several times a day, eat a stash of crackers, and so on? If the answer is yes, this type of mindless eating can really slow down your progress. It really doesn’t matter if it’s a lick, taste, or a “small bite,” all of those items add up — and when you begin to account for them every day, you’ll see just how much. That said, a snack between lunch and dinner is an important part of your lifestyle. The key is to learn how to snack responsibly on good quality food to boost nutrients and to plan snacks into your day — not just eat them randomly on-the-fly. Preparation is the key to snacking smart. Schedule your meals Studies show that when we are trying to maintain our weight or lose weight, stabilizing blood sugar by eating every three to four hours is critical. Skipping meals can cause you to become overly hungry and eat too much at your next meal, and when you snack throughout the day you can lose track of your calories and are constantly releasing insulin — which is no good. View your snack as a meal When we’re in snack mode, we typically ignore standard eating practices, like sitting at a table — instead we’re standing in the kitchen or talking while we dig into that bag of chips or whatever. Admit it, you’ve done it, too. By not consciously acknowledging what you’re consuming, it can ultimately lead to OVEReating. If

you actually take the time to put your snack on a plate, sit down, and enjoy it like a meal, you’re going to savor what you’re eating that much more. You’ll also be more likely to feel satisfied. Be aware-track It In general, tracking your snack calories will be important. For those of us in maintenance mode, we will be allotting roughly 300 to 400 calories for a snack. For those of us who are in weight-loss mode, we will be allotting roughly 200 calories for a snack. Make sure that you have a bunch of snacks at the ready that meet your desired calorie requirements. Include the 3 macros The point of a snack is to curb hunger, keep your blood sugar from drastically dipping, and to make sure you don’t hit dinner hungry. One of the best ways to ensure your snack does what it’s supposed to is to make sure it has all macros: healthy fats, carbs, and proteins. Here are few grab-and-go ones to consider: plain Greek yogurt with berries, beef jerky, hard-boiled eggs, almond butter with apple slices, or a protein shake on the run. When You Can’t Stop… A fool-proof trick for those nights when you just can’t seem to stop snacking: gum. Who wants to eat another sweet with the taste of mint on his or her tongue? Not me. Other tricks? Go online, (it will temporarily distract you), take a bath or shower, exercise, sit outside, anything that distracts you will stop you from going back into the kitchen. Another strategy is to guzzle water when you feel tempted to graze on snacks between meals. These tips, along with an exercise program approved by your doctor can help you reach your goals while not feeling deprived. Snack mindfully--food is NOT a reward and exercise is NOT punishment for eating bad. Choose smart snacks, keep them in your bag or car when you are on the go, or in the cabinet at work and enjoy them in moderation. n August 2021 | LEXINGTON LIFE | 43


favorites PITA POCKETS 1/2 c. preferred meat (deli ham, turkey, pepperoni) chopped 1/2 c. shredded lettuce 1/2 c. preferred cheese 1/4 c. shredded carrot 1/4 c. Ranch or preferred dressing 1 pita bread round, cut in half Place ham or turkey, lettuce, and carrot in a resealable plastic bag. Pour dressing into a small resealable container. Wrap the pita bread in plastic wrap. Pack the ham mixture, dressing, and pita bread along with a spoon in a lunch box or bag until lunch time. Assemble pita pocket by spooning the ham mixture into each pita half and drizzling the dressing on top.

BACK TO SCHOOL COOKIES 1 c. white sugar 1 c. butter, softened 2 eggs 1 tsp. vanilla extract 3 3/4 c. all-purpose flour 2 tsp. baking powder 1/4 c. heavy cream 1 pinch salt Icing: 1/2 c. confectioners’ sugar, or as needed 1 tsp. lemon juice, or as needed assorted food coloring Beat white sugar and butter together in a bowl using an electric mixer until smooth and creamy. Add eggs and vanilla extract and beat until well mixed. Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt and stir into the creamed butter mixture alternately with the heavy cream until dough is evenly mixed. Chill dough in refrigerator, 2 to 3 hours. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F; line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll cookie dough on a floured work surface. Cut dough into strips

about 2 1/2 inches long and about as thick as a pencil, forming one end into a point. Arrange “pencils” on the prepared baking sheet. Bake in the preheated oven until lightly browned, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer parchment paper with cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Mix enough confectioners’ sugar and lemon juice together in a bowl to form a thick icing. Divide icing among several small bowls and mix different colors of food coloring into each bowl. Decorate “pencil” cookies with colored icing so they look like colored pencils. Allow icing to dry completely. PB&J PRETZEL SNACKS 1 c. natural peanut butter 3/4 c. berry-flavored syrup or jelly 96 pretzel twists, or as desired Mix peanut butter and syrup/jelly together in a microwave-safe bowl; heat in microwave for 10 seconds. Mix well using a butter knife. Spread peanut butter mixture onto 40 pretzels; top each with another pretzel making a “sandwich”. Enjoy! n

GRILLED PEANUT BUTTER APPLE SANDWICHES 1 Gala apple, peeled, cored, and thinly sliced 1/2 tsp. white sugar 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 8 tbsp. creamy peanut butter 8 slices whole wheat bread 1/4 c. unsalted butter Mix cinnamon and sugar together in a small bowl. Spread one tablespoon of peanut butter onto one side of 8 slices of bread. Arrange apple slices on 4 slices of bread. Sprinkle the cinnamon/sugar mixture evenly over the apples. Top with the remaining 4 slices of bread, peanut butter face down. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry sandwiches until browned, about 1 to 2 minutes on each side.

August 2021 | LEXINGTON LIFE | 45

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Little John’s Question A young married tradesman named Little John asks: “How can I succeed?” You’re a child of The Living God. God won’t shield you from suffering like your mama did, because God understands suffering is a great teacher. Have daily conversations with God. If you don’t, God lets you learn The Hard Way. Life has lots of gray, but it’s mostly yes or no. Learn the difference. Listen to cranky gray-haired men. If you’re diligent, they’ll guide you. If you’re flippant, they’ll ignore you. Don’t vent frustrations on others, just because your parents did. Only your mama and Big John care about your “widdle feewins.” Everyone carries their own sack of bricks. Most men willingly listen, but if you break your problems over their head they may break your nose in response. This is especially true about your new wife. Don’t make her pay for you not being man enough. A positive outlook sees solutions. Complainers see problems to feed their pastime. A good tradesman solves problems. Observe closely. Measure precisely. Learn about acceptable tolerances. Current culture says everything’s acceptable, but there are reasons that ain’t so for measurements or behavior. You

en bolts properly for a reason. Success requires discipline. Every decision or lack thereof is a choice with an unavoidable price. Avoid alcohol. Most believe they can “handle it,” and after a few years “handling it” end up with fewer brain cells than they started with. This is the mathematics of chemistry. Face life square-on, and you won’t need escape. Avoid mass “recreational” pursuits. Almost nothing truly worthwhile happens where crowds gather for “fun.” Television is mostly lies sandwiched between exaggerations. Your brain’s like a muscle that exercise strengthens. Read the Bible and other books daily. Not reading is willingly blinding onself. Be skeptical of everything touted by known liars. Live honorably. If you’re lucky you’ll have two true friends. Popular men often discover they have zero friends. The most important act is showing up on time. Then be fully present. “Finding your spot” takes a lifetime. Many you meet are down-hearted. Your positive spirit will affect them. You’ll become terribly aware of how little time remains, and you won’t want to have wasted any. Learn about America’s beginnings.

Someone’s got to know to know this vital topic. Learn to use a compass and you’ll better recognize your inner compass. Many times the path isn’t clear, and you’ll need something to trust. Never use sarcasm. Sarcasm is the protest of the weak. Sarcastic people don’t respect themselves enough to respect others. God’s path for you will never be crowded. Volunteer to serve others. Do the little tasks no one else wants to do. Have children. Discipline them so they’ll become good people. Grow your own food. One of man’s deepest purposes is feeding his family. Pray alot. Sing often. Learn to whistle, for song and signal. Judge others based only on their actions and character. Heaven is very real. Accept God’s Grace so you’ll see it. n

David Clark writes and works in Cochran, GA. Connect with him at

August 2021 | LEXINGTON LIFE | 47

48 | LEXINGTON LIFE | August 2021

Profile for Todd  Shevchik

Lexington Life Magazine-Aug21'  


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