Cobb In Focus January February 2023

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2023 B Green Services • Goodr • JuicePlus • Citizens of the Year • Georgia Food + Wine Festival Ivan Savant Team Real estate agents extraordinaire
City of Smyrna, 2800 King
Smyrna Ga 30080


Small But Mighty


Find out what’s going on throughout Cobb County with our news updates and calendar of events.


An immigrant from Bulgaria, Emil Bekyarov is the quintessential definition of the American Dream.


Goodr and the City of Powder Springs are working to address food insecurity with a grocery store at Tapp Middle School.


Certified Health Coach Brenda Dixon walks us through how small lifestyle changes can have a big impact.


Connect with a local organization that strives to make Cobb County a better place.


The Cobb Chamber’s Area Councils and local business associations have selected their 2022 Citizens of the Year and Businesses/Members of the Year.


Tickle your tastebuds at the Georgia Food + Wine Festival, which will be a showcase of local and regional cuisine, beverage, and culture.


Thawing out from winter storm Elliot.

2023 Contents
A close-knit group of real estate agents and staff is the Ivan Savant Team’s secret to success.
On the cover: Ivan and Jessica Savant, owners of Ivan Savant Team, a small real estate firm with a genuine commitment to its clients and community.
Photo: LaRuche Photo


Looking through (and editing) the series of articles and features in this issue, there’s a definite theme tying them together: community. The good people of Cobb County continue to amaze and surprise me with their generosity and communal spirit. That spirit is reflected first in this issue by our cover subjects, Ivan and Jessica Savant, owners of the Ivan Savant Team real estate firm. Read their story to see how they go above and beyond for their clients and help homeowners become a part of their new neighborhood and community.

Speaking of community, read about how recycling and sanitation company B Green Services has been servicing Cobb for nearly 15 years!

We have an article from a local health coach who writes about how making small changes to one’s diet can have a large impact. Read about Brenda Dixon’s journey and the ways in which she now helps others to improve their wellbeing.

Then, turn your attention to our education feature, which focuses on a company working with the City of Powder Springs to address food insecurity, particularly among children. And if that program isn’t uplifting enough, read about all the incredible things our local business owners and private citizens are doing for the county with our annual summary of the Citizens of the Year and Businesses of the Year honors presented by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and local business associations. These folks continue to impress every year.

Finally, you can prepare yourself mentally for springtime outdoor activities with our article on the 2nd Annual Georgia Food + Wine Festival which will take place from March 23-26 at Jim R. Miller Park in Marietta. Nothing brings a community together like a food-focused event! There will be plenty of entertainment and cuisine options for the entire family, so get your tickets now.

Contact Cobb in Focus

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Photo by LaRuche Photo

ARPA Funds to be Used for Public Safety

Cobb’s Board of Commissioners has approved using American Rescue Plan Act funds to help fill public safety vacancies. Funds would raise pay, boost incentives, and launch recruitment efforts. The plan would use more than $20 million of Cobb’s ARPA allocation to adjust salaries, implement recruitment and retention incentives, and raise the entry-level pay for the police and fire departments, E911, and the Sheriff’s Office. The plan also includes funding to help departments recruit employees both locally and out of state more aggressively.

Cobb EMA Director Honored

Cobb Emergency Management Agency Director Cassie Mazloom was named Director of the year at the Emergency Management Association of Georgia’s training conference in Young Harris. Mazloom began her Cobb career in the Police Department and worked her way up through the agencies to become EMA Director in 2017. She has become a leader in the county and the community, and her steering the county through the pandemic led to her nomination.

Cobb Family Advocacy Center to Open in Marietta

One of the first Family Justice Center models implemented in the state of Georgia has broken ground in Marietta. The Cobb Family Advocacy Center, which opens this spring, will work collaboratively with its partners in serving victims and survivors of abuse. “This moment in time would be impossible if it wasn’t for the labor, efforts, dedication, commitment, and resiliency from each of [our supporters],” said TaNesha McAuley, Cobb Family Advocacy Center Site Coordinator. “While this is a wonderful milestone and key accomplishment for our Cobb County community, there’s more to be done and we cannot do it without each of you.”

Town Center Alliance Launches Lanie Shipp Hoover Fund

The Town Center Community Improvement District and its 501(c)(3) nonprofit arm, the Town Center Community Alliance, announced a new greenspace initiative: the Lanie Shipp Hoover Fund. Established in honor of the CID’s first executive director, this fund will be managed by the Town Center Alliance and will honor Lanie’s dedication to trail and greenspace projects. Moving forward, funds raised during the annual State of the District event will go to fund the Lanie Shipp Hoover Fund. Learn more at

Cobb Community Foundation Honors Sweetwater Mission

The Cobb Community Foundation has named Sweetwater Mission as the recipient of the first annual Howard Koepka Collaborative Spirit Award, an award that in its inaugural year carries with it an unrestricted grant of $10,000. This new award honors the life and collaborative spirit of the late Howard Koepka, a much-loved community organizer known for asking everyone everywhere, “How can we help you?”. In his role at Noonday Association of Churches, he was an integral part of the Cobb Community Food Fleet. “Sweetwater takes seriously the village notion that it takes many people to help with large, complicated problems,” wrote Martie Moore in the nomination submitted by First Presbyterian of Marietta. The $10,000 grant was made possible by S.A. White Oil Company.

Two Cobb Schools Among High School Bands Chosen to Play at College Football Bowl Games

Pebblebrook High School and Marist School are among the 43 marching bands from across the country that have been chosen to perform at college football bowl game halftime shows this year. Celebrating 55 years of providing students with life changing moments, WorldStrides (an organization that provides educational experiences outside the classroom) works directly with band directors at high schools across the nation to enable marching band students to participate in this experience. Learn more at

Shelley Elder Honored by Cobb Community Foundation

Cobb Community Foundation (CCF) has honored Shelley Elder with the 2022 James L. Rhoden, Jr. Award for Visionary Philanthropy. The award recognizes someone who makes significant contributions through gifts of time, talent, and treasure.

CCF Board President Kim Gresh praised Elder for her commitment to our community. “She gives of herself quietly and without any need to call attention to herself … Shelley serves on the boards of the YMCA, LiveSAFE Resources, The Extension, Cobb County Schools Foundation, Kennesaw Public Safety Foundation, North Cobb Rotary, Town Center Alliance, and Kennesaw Business Association. She has been a part of too many initiatives to name.”

Cobb Public Safety Agencies Earn Award

Recently, the Commission on Accreditation for Law Enforcement Agencies presented the CALEA TRIARC award to departments within the Cobb County Public Safety Agency. On Nov. 19, the Cobb County Public Safety Police Academy and 911 obtained accreditation with CALEA for the first time. This qualified them for the award. The TRI-ARC award is given to agencies that maintain accreditation in three of CALEA’s accreditation programs. Only 22 agencies have achieved this designation.

Chief Magistrate Judge Brendan F. Murphy Appoints Five to the Magistrate Court Bench

Chief Magistrate Judge Brendan F. Murphy has appointed Jana J. Edmondson-Cooper to serve as a full-time Magistrate Judge and Lauren R. Boone, Ronna M. Woodruff, Che A. Karega II, and retiring Cobb Solicitor-General Barry E. Morgan as part-time Magistrate Judges. Those appointed were selected after an open application and interview process from a competitive field of well-qualified candidates. The Magistrate Court operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, with a heavy criminal and civil caseload

Here’s a snapshot of what’s going on in your community.
S harper Focus
Pictured L-R: Cobb County Safety Director Randy Crider, Cobb County Emergency Management Director Cassie Mazloom, and Cobb County Emergency Management Specialist Bernard King.





King Day Celebration

The Acworth Parks, Recreation and Community Resource Department will host the 10th annual MLK Day Celebration and 12th Annual Day of Service on January 16. More info:


Trains, Trains, Trains!

The Southern Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History will host the 13th annual installment of its flagship event. Features include new train layouts, scales, and gauges. More info:


2023 State Indoor Winter Games & S.E. Powerlifting Event

Join Special Olympics Georgia at the 2023 State Indoor Winter Games & S.E. Powerlifting Event in Marietta. Support up to 3,000 athletes as they compete in Basketball, Gymnastics, Powerlifting, Bowling and Floor Hockey. More info:

1/28 Cobb Chamber’s 81st Annual Dinner

You are invited to a highly anticipated gala where officials recognize the dedication, leadership, and valued contributions of the county’s most engaged professionals. More info:


Celebrate National Puzzle Day

Drop in to the Smyrna library and work on one of the community puzzles that will be available on the tables in the Youth Services department. More info:



GSO Jazz! Samba

@ The Strand

GSO Jazz! is bringing the steamy sounds of Samba to the Strand Theatre! Join director Skelton and the GSO jazz combo as they perform the swinging beats from south of the equator. More info:


Dance Around The World

The City of Marietta’s Family Fancy Pants Dance returns. Celebrate the different cultures of the world. The event is open to children ages 5-12 years and their parents/ guardians. More info:


You Shall Hear...

The GSO Chorus, led by Music Director Bryan Black, will join the orchestra to pay tribute to renowned black composers. More info:


Black History Month Lecture: The Real Hank Aaron

The Smyrna library hosts Terence Moore, author of “The Real Hank Aaron.” More info:


Great Backyard Bird Count

Join Smith-Gilbert Gardens — and people from around the world — to watch, learn about, count. and celebrate birds. More info:


Polar Plunge

2/4 Valentine’s Dance Party

The Ben Robertson Community Center in Kennesaw is hosting a Valentine’s Day dance. More info:


The Atlanta Lyric Theatre Presents ‘Next to Normal’

“Next to Normal,” with book and lyrics by Brian Yorkey and music by Tom Kitt, explores how one suburban household copes with crisis and mental illness. More info:

The 2023 Special Olympics Polar Plunge, hosted by the Law Enforcement Torch Run For Georgia, will take place at Acworth Beach at Cauble Park. The Polar Plunge is the largest fundraising effort benefiting Special Olympics. More info:

Editor’s note: Due to evolving community needs, these events are subject to change or cancellation.

Control Waste, and Want Not

B usiness
Emil Bekyarov

Emil Bekyarov made a life-altering decision at the age of 20, moving to the United States from Bulgaria. With only $400 and a dream, he emigrated first to upstate New York and worked in the food service industry to make ends meet.

Ever the motivated entrepreneur, Bekyarov eventually took his future into his own hands, moving to metro Atlanta where a relative was living. He already had begun taking English lessons and quickly moved into a food service management position. Everything was clicking, as he learned the business of budgeting and managing a staff.

During this time, Bekyarov observed a high number of bottles and cans being thrown into the trash. He wanted to do something to prevent this waste. So, just three years after his move to the United States, Bekyarov started B Green Services. “I knew how important recycling was, because a lot of my cousins back in Bulgaria work in sanitation,” Bekyarov says. “I knew a little bit about the business, so I decided to just give it a shot.”

He recalls that he was “just crazy enough” at the young age of 23 — even during the Great Recession in 2009 — to start the business. Financial institutions basically laughed at him when he attempted to acquire a loan, but he was not deterred. Bekyarov moved forward with his plan to start his own recycling and sanitation company, beginning with only a pick-up truck.

In a mere three months, he purchased his first garbage truck, which had 90,000 miles on it, not even knowing how to actually crank it. He took the leap to buy that first garbage truck after knocking on a few doors, explaining his service-oriented philosophy, and drumming up enough business to warrant the purchase. He also hired his first employee during that time.

“I would drive my garbage truck on my day off [from my other job] and go and sell accounts during the day before my shift,” Bekyarov says. “I went to my friends who ran restaurants and hotels and asked them if they would give me a shot, and they did.”

To say that Bekyarov is a self-taught, selfstarter is an understatement. To his earliest customers, his drive and determination were palpable, and his vision was clear. He would own a company with an impactful mission of recycling in his community as well as bringing pride to his employees who would work in the sanitation industry.

Bekyarov had to determine which facet of the waste industry would make the most sense. Heavy industry and commercial clients were ruled out as potential customers because servicing those was simply too costly. Since considerable competition existed in the residential markets, service to multi-family properties created a sweet spot for the company.

The option to recycle in multifamily properties became mandatory in Cobb County, which meant B Green Services had a strong chance of making the business work. While Bekyarov knew he didn’t have to reinvent the wheel, he also knew his company would have to be better and stand out. At the time, only one main competitor provided recycling to owners of apartment complexes. Bekyarov capitalized on the opportunity and has never looked back.

Voted “Trash Company of the Year” on, the company’s great success comes from oldfashioned word of mouth and the unwavering provision of reliable service, says Bekyarov. “We started as a recycling company and continue to

expand our recycling services with both our commercial and residential customers,” he says. “We are also one of the very few companies in Cobb County that still runs recycling collection every week.”

Bekyarov’s day begins in the wee hours of the morning and ends well into the night. He works with his wife, Angie, and his father, who six months out of the year resides in the U.S. to work at B Green as well.

Servicing more than 15,000 people in both commercial and residential properties in southern and eastern Cobb County, the company owns 29 trucks and currently employs 34 people — an amazing amount of growth in a short 13 years. B Green Services is the thirdlargest recycling and sanitation company in the county. His employees make $50,000+ per

An immigrant from Bulgaria, Emil Bekyarov is the quintessential definition of the American Dream.
“We emphasize to our staff the importance of their jobs as a service to our community and remind them that they are not just ‘trash men.’
During COVID, they became ‘healthcare workers’ who were the first line of defense from diseases.”
–Emil Bekyarov, owner, B Green Services

year, and the turnover is low to non-existent. They are paid a higher wage than what is the industry standard, and they work in an environment with a small-family feel.

Growth during a pandemic

Bekyarov says that during the COVID-19 pandemic, he and his staff were faced with many unknowns regarding how B Green might be affected. People generated a greater volume of trash than they normally would because they were stuck at home. Thus, Bekyarov hired more workers during the pandemic. Best of all, those newly hired employees were able to keep their jobs, even after the pandemic dissipated.

“Everybody started cleaning their garages and ordering takeout food with everything delivered in a box,” he says. “Someone had to pick it up, so it was us.”

Bekyarov makes a point to ensure his employees know that they are valued. “We emphasize to our staff the importance of their jobs as a service to our community and remind them that they are not just ‘trash men,’” he says. “During COVID, they became ‘healthcare workers’ who were the first line of defense from diseases.”

Doing good

B Green Services can give some people a second chance at a happy, successful life. Bekyarov says he employs people who have suffered in the past from drug addiction, for example. He and his team are incredibly proud of the team members who have been able to turn their lives around and are now thriving.

“For example, we service a lot of concert venues in town, and many of our guys clean up the amphitheaters afterward,” Bekyarov says. “A lot of our drivers are long-lasting employees who we met through secondchance programs from which they graduated, such as rehab. Their credit may be messed up, so we have subleased apartments for some while they got back on their feet. We also assist with transportation as needed.”

The entire company also participates with the Tunnels to Towers Foundation,

sponsoring a golfing event hosted by Lincoln Property Management. The non-profit pays for housing and education for those — spouses or children — who lost people during and after 9-11.

Pride in the work

“A lot of people look down on [sanitation workers], but at the same time, this is a very important job in our community,” Bekyarov says. “We have a lot of young men who take pride in what they do. Every day, they get out on the streets and work in the elements. It’s not a glamorous job; it’s tough and physical. They have a purpose, helping so many people in our community.”

Bekyarov is sheepish about exclaiming his own accomplishments, but he is not shy when it comes to talking about his staff or the service they provide.

“As a Cobb County resident for 15 years and owning business and property in the county, I would like residents to know that we are a part of the community,” Bekyarov says. “We have to be profitable, but we are not obsessed with profits. We try to be fair in the market and provide good service for folks. We are men and women from a local company who make the customer’s experience as a priority.” n

B usiness
“We try to be fair in the market and provide good service for folks. We are men and women from a local company who make the customer’s experience as a priority.”
–Emil Bekyarov, owner, B Green Services

Steps to Begin Your Retirement Planning Journey

Retirement planning is one part of a wealth management plan. While most people realize how important retirement planning is, few look forward to the tedious work involved. And, with so many investment possibilities, it’s challenging to know where to start! Here are some suggestions to help you begin.

The first step is to determine the lifestyle goals you envision for your retirement. If you picture yourself enjoying an early retirement with extensive travel, you would require more planning than someone retiring at age 68. You’ll need to budget all of your basic necessities, such as food, utilities and transportation. These costs remain after retirement. Also keep in mind that you may still be paying off your mortgage or your child’s education well into retirement. Another consideration to remember is that you will need to pay for health insurance until you turn 65 and become eligible for Medicare. Be honest with

yourself about how many years of retirement you’ll need to save for. With people living longer, your retirement could last for 30 years or more. You’ll require more money as your retirement period lengthens.

Next, determine if your projected annual retirement income will be sufficient to cover your expenses. Determine the income sources you’ll have in retirement and the annual amount you can expect to receive from each source. Social Security benefits, pension payments, distributions from retirement plans (including IRAs and 401(k)s), and dividends and interest on investments are a few common sources of retirement income. You’re in good shape if you find that your retirement income will likely equal or exceed your retirement expenses. If not, you’ll need to make an effort to close the gap. Consider putting off retirement, saving more money, or increasing your investment risk.

This is just the beginning. It’s never too early to start planning for your retirement,

though it’s true that the farther you are from retirement, the more difficult it is to project your future income and expenses. If you are ready to take that step, consider consulting a financial professional. n

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No Teacher Can Teach Through Hunger

The City of Powder Springs opens a Goodr Grocery Store at Tapp Middle School.

You may be surprised to learn that in a nation as wealthy and modern as ours, there still are nearly 14 million households (by U.S. government estimates) that suffer from food insecurity. This term is defined as a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food. And whether the condition is temporary or longterm in a particular household, the greatest harm typically falls upon children — many of whom may only be fed through their school lunch program. As one would expect, a hungry child is not adequately equipped to learn, to enjoy school, or even to want to stay in school.

This is where organizations, such as Atlanta-based Goodr, are stepping in to relieve hunger, particularly in minority communities, which are more likely to be impacted by food insecurity. According to the USDA, in 2020, Black non-Hispanic households were over two times more likely to be food insecure than the national average (21.7 percent versus 10.5 percent, respectively). Among Hispanic households, the prevalence of food insecurity was 17.2 percent compared to the national average of 10.5 percent. Potential factors influencing these disparities may include neighborhood conditions, physical access to food, and lack of transportation.

“Food insecurity is a huge issue facing many parts of our country, and even within our own community, and when it affects children, it can have even more negative effects,” said Powder Springs Mayor Al Thurman. “The city’s partnership with Goodr aims to reduce food insecurity and is part of its greater effort to create an economically secure city for its residents.”

Founded in 2017, Goodr is a sustainable waste management and hunger relief company that leverages technology and logistics to reduce food waste and fight hunger.

“Food insecurity is a huge issue facing many parts of our country, and even within our own community, and when it affects children, it can have even more negative effects.”
–Powder Springs Mayor Al Thurman.
Photos courtesy of Goodr

Goodr, a certified B-Corp, is built on the principle that food insecurity is not an issue of scarcity; it’s a matter of logistics. Goodr offers a variety of Hunger Relief and Food Waste Solutions, which include Surplus Food Recovery, Pop-Up Grocery Markets, and more. Headquartered in Atlanta, Goodr operates nationwide with clients in industries ranging from food service and hospitality to arenas, universities, celebrities and more. As of 2022, Goodr has served nearly 30 million meals to those in need and redirected 12 million pounds of food and organic material away from landfills.

The company recently worked with the City of Powder Springs to open a Goodr

Grocery Store at Tapp Middle School. A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held on Dec. 7, 2022. This store represents the company’s second Goodr Grocery Store in a Georgia Title I School and the company’s fifth store overall. The store will provide access to groceries for Tapp’s students (grades 6-8), and their families — free of charge during the school year. Eligible families are those at 120 percent of the federal poverty line, typically any family eligible for free or reduced lunch, TANF, or other need-based federal aid.

“Adding a Goodr store at Tapp means a lot to our school and local community,” said Tapp Middle School Principal, Dr. Alvin Thomas. “It gives us the opportunity to

provide our families easy access to free, fresh food. This takes the burden off families that may be struggling financially and having a hard time affording groceries in today’s market. I am hopeful the store will be a light in the community and be a model for other schools and communities.”

The planning, building and restocking of the grocery stores is all handled by Goodr and they can be placed within a school, healthcare facility or location of the sponsor’s choice. The mission is to provide families a place where they can conveniently receive groceries, beverages and more at no cost, in a dignified setting; something that would bring immeasurable relief to struggling families everywhere.

Goodr opened their first Goodr Grocery Store in partnership with GRAMMY-nominated, platinum rap artist, Gunna, at his former middle school, Ronald E. McNair Middle School, in September 2021. In January 2022, Goodr followed up with an on-site store for residents at the Lutheran Towers senior living community in Midtown Atlanta. This past November, the company opened two of six planned stores in Denver Public Schools, in partnership with Amazon and Aetna. Goodr Founder and CEO, Jasmine Crowe-Houston, says that there will be 13 Goodr Grocery Stores open or set to open by Q1 2023, with a goal to open 50 by the end of 2023.

“Having access to stores like this has changed the lives of so many and we are grateful to the City of Powder Springs for giving us the opportunity to serve this community in such an impactful and continuous way,” Crowe-Houston said. “Students across America deserve to equitably engage in their learning opportunities instead of wondering where their next meal is coming from. No teacher can teach through hunger! Goodr’s plan is to continue to bring solutions to cities and school districts across this country with the help of amazing partners like this great city.”

The funding for the store at Tapp came through the city’s funds from the American Rescue Plan Act, or ARPA (the COVIDrelated federal stimulus plan). According to the city’s ARPA Program Manager, Wayne P. Wright, the Mayor and Council chose to spend some of those funds to address food insecurity. “Tapp was chosen because it is a community hub in Powder Springs and

all middle school students in the city

E ducation
“Having access to stores like this has changed the lives of so many and we are grateful to the City of Powder Springs for giving us the opportunity to serve this community in such an impactful and continuous way.”
–Goodr Founder and CEO, Jasmine Crowe-Houston
Pictured L-R: Goodr Founder Jasmine Crowe-Houston, Powder Springs Mayor Al Thurman, and Tapp Middle School Principal Dr. Alvin Thomas.

limits who attend public school,” he said. Wright added that in addition to the Goodr Grocery Store at Tapp Middle School, the City of Powder Springs funded a contract with Reflections of Trinity, a non-profit that operates a food pantry and thrift store in the city. Under the city’s contract with Reflections of Trinity, they provide weekend food bags for local elementary school students who are on the free or reduced lunch program. Reflections also have expanded their weekly distribution of food boxes to families in need.

“Reflections of Trinity has been serving the Powder Springs community — and beyond — for the past 20 years and our food pantry currently distributes groceries to approximately 1,200 families each week,” says Founder Laurie Wong. “I have seen food insecurity increase over the years with a huge surge during COVID and again in 2022 with rising inflation, limited affordable rent options, and the significant rise in the price of food at the grocery store. We have a long-standing relationship with Tapp since

we opened our doors in 2003 and we wish them all the best in this new endeavor.”

Programs such as Goodr and Reflections of Trinity are made possible through volunteers. If you would like to learn more about these organizations and how to get involved or to make donations, visit their websites at and

“Contributions to food pantries and organizations that support the hungry are important, Wright said. “People also can volunteer their time; volunteers are supporting the grocery store at Tapp, and Reflections of Trinity also needs a large number of volunteers for its weekly food distribution on Saturdays.” n

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“Students across America deserve to equitably engage in their learning opportunities instead of wondering where their next meal is coming from. No teacher can teach through hunger!”
–Goodr Founder and CEO, Jasmine Crowe-Houston

Making Small Changes Can Improve Your Health Journey

H ealth

hen do you set healthcare resolutions? Most of us would say New Year’s Day or perhaps after a significant birthday. For me, my resolution was set on April Fool’s Day, 2019. Not exactly the traditional path, but I was overwhelmed with my autoimmune issues that had controlled my life since I was 16, and I had prayed many years for relief that didn’t include a bunch of prescription drugs with bad side effects.

Around that time, I read on a friend’s social media page about a company that advertised an easier way to get more fruits and vegetables in your body. I thought the idea was ridiculous, in addition to some of the other health suggestions mentioned! But my friend was a certified health coach — and I wasn’t (yet). That still didn’t reduce my resistance to the idea of whole-food nutrition in capsule form. What did get my attention was her post that she was off all her autoimmune medications. What? Is that even possible?

The last medication I was prescribed was $3,600 per month. Who can afford that kind

of expense when it was only to make the symptoms less severe? I was intrigued with the notion of a medication-free option. I was sick and tired of being sick, tired and hurting all the time, so I jumped in — all the way in — and it changed my life.

I found JuicePlus and used that “easy button” to add more fruits and veggies to my diet. It was the first step in making intentional choices about my health. My cholesterol

dropped 30 points, my energy level increased, and I felt like a real person again instead of a medical chart example. The best result is that I removed both autoimmune diseases from my medical chart!

This experience gives me such a passion to share this simple solution, and to show people what it’s like to feel good! I believe that so many people don’t know what it’s like to feel good. And by making small changes,

We are building a new home on our Cobb campus that will improve the quality of care and safety of elders, particularly for those living with dementia.

Help us create A LEGACY OF CARE as we pioneer what it means to live well during all stages of life – regardless of age, diagnosis, or socioeconomic status.

A.G. Rhodes is embarking on a landmark effort.
I was intrigued with the notion of a medication-free option. I was sick and tired of being sick, tired and hurting all the time, so I jumped in — all the way in — and it changed my life.
Brenda Dixon

they can improve their health journey from here on out. How good would it make you feel to know that by sharing JuicePlus, you could help someone rewrite their DNA? Great, I would say! And to withhold sharing that knowledge would be to not care about other people, and that’s not me.

I started using a 10-day guideline (see insert) that made things simple. Some of these things you may already be doing — maybe you have sleep nailed down, or you always drink plenty of water. Here is the list so you can see what each guideline affects and how easily you can incorporate them into your daily health plan:

• Eat more fruits and veggies (including JuicePlus plant powders) — Most of us know we need to eat more fruits and vegetables. But even when we think we are eating healthy, we don’t get the quality, the quantity, or the variety of fruits and vegetables we need. Are you a big beet fan? Me, either! Is broccoli or garlic or rice bran your favorite snack? Right, I thought so! That’s where JuicePlus comes in because it gives you the nutrition of 30 fruits, vegetables, and berries every day.

• Move more — Are you eager to exercise? I am … most

of the time! But even if we can’t do a workout routine every day, just moving more — parking further away or taking the stairs instead of the elevator, for example — will add up!

• Drink more water — This seems so simple, but it’s one of the things that can get you into big trouble with dehydration. I have friends who have been hospitalized because of dehydration. In severe cases, it can be life-threatening. If water bores you, add something fun (but natural!), like lemon or lime slices, cucumbers, or other fresh foods. We need 50 percent of our body weight in ounces of water per day. Once I understood how much it benefits everything in our body, from digestion to brain and heart health, it was easier to deliberately keep tabs on how much water I had a day.

• Sleep better — How can our bodies perform well if they are “on” 24/7? Rest is important. And remember that it isn’t like a bank account; you can’t store sleep and withdraw it when you are a tad low!

• Bring caffeine into balance — Would this be hard for you? I thought it would be impossible because I am a coffee girl! But I learned that caffeine is inflammatory, and since the goal was to reduce inflammation, I found a great decaf coffee in a K-Cup so I can still enjoy my coffee and leave the inflammation behind.

• Manage sugar cravings — I thought this would be the most difficult. My grandfather would have had dessert after breakfast if he thought that would have been possible. And it passed straight through to me — no passing GO, no collecting $200! And the sneaky ways sugar is added to a lot of our food makes it challenging to reduce our intake. But this is about managing our cravings, right? So, we can do this!

• Eat more whole grains — This is not a statement about whether you should eat meat. It’s just saying that eating more whole grains is better for us.

• Balance alcohol — This one may be tricky for some people. The guideline isn’t saying, “no alcohol,” but if 50 percent of your calories for a meal are from alcohol, it might be time to get the old calculator app on the phone and see how alcohol can be in balance with everything else.

• Stop late-night eating — This includes late-night hot chocolate in bed, reading and unwinding. This one was tough because that was my go-to bedtime routine! I changed

H ealth
Most of us know we need to eat more fruits and vegetables. But even when we think we are eating healthy, we don’t get the quality, the quantity, or the variety of fruits and vegetables we need.

and now have lemon tea instead. Not quite as satisfying, but I feel much better and that is a huge payoff for me to make the swap!

• Celebrate your success! — We all need to be gentle with ourselves and celebrate! Your body will thank you for the changes — now and years down the road as well!

Research demonstrates a link between inflammation and what we put into our bodies. In fact, evidence increasingly shows that chronic inflammation may be the actual cause of almost all diseases. We’re talking about heart disease, cancers, and even neurological diseases. And changing the DNA that I mentioned earlier? Well, new research shows that we can control the on-off switches in our genes. For example, certain forms of diabetes can be turned “on or off” by how we take care of our bodies! You can have more control over the gap between your “health life” and your “age life.” Ideally, we want them as close together as we can get. And this is where JuicePlus can help.

JuicePlus is a company that has been in

business for more than 50 years, and there are more than 40 clinical studies (gold standard, double-blind, peer-reviewed) that document how powerful it is to eat more fruits and vegetables. I’m no longer a skeptic. I’m a believer, and I’m living proof of the power of getting more whole-food plant nutrition in this body of mine. Come join me and let’s get healthy! n

Brenda Dixon is a Certified Health Coach and JuicePlus affiliate. To learn more, visit brendadixon.

We all need to be gentle with ourselves and celebrate! Your body will thank you for the changes — now and years down the road as well!

Leaders of Cobb

Since its establishment more than 180 years ago, Cobb County has been defined by its people. Some of these individuals have made their mark by becoming pioneers of business, captains of industry and heads of state.

And if you’re reading this, you likely know why Cobb is attractive to so many. It hosts exceptional schools, is within close reach to the world’s busiest airport, has all of the convenience of

proximity to the big city and is fertile ground for entrepreneurship. The list goes on, but it always comes back to the people who have built this county into what it is.

On the following page we have profiled an organization that is among Cobb’s premier business associations. We wanted to find out about their mission, delve into their benefits, and gain some insight for their passion.

Special Section

East Cobb Business Association

THE STORY: The East Cobb Business Association (ECBA) has been a part of the East Cobb business community since 2008. Through the years, the organization has continued to evolve based on the needs of the East Cobb business community. We know that when local businesses thrive, families and the community thrive as well.

ECBA MISSION: When COVID became a part of everyone’s lives we felt it was important to better understand what our local businesses needed to survive and thrive in a rapidly changing business environment. After conducting multiple member surveys and conversations, we decided to focus on three main areas: (1) helping our members learn from each other and recognized experts, (2) increase the number of professional relationships/resources they have, and (3) provide an environment where they can receive encouragement. While they might be in their own business, they are not alone.

This focus led to our mission statement: The ECBA is Where Ambitious Professionals Grow Together. To achieve this, we drive member engagement through multiple events. Some events go deep on skill building while others drive networking and relationship building.

Our monthly Business luncheon provides high-level insights from local business leaders and networking. The monthly Professional Women of East Cobb luncheon is an event where different female business owners share their journeys, challenges, and successes. Attendees leave feeling they have learned something useful while developing deeper relationships with other female business owners.


Through our Cross Coaching, Toastmasters, Lunch & Learn and Master Mind programs, participants develop stronger business skills in specific areas. The weekly East Cobb Open Networking (ECON) and monthly social events provide additional networking opportunities. Our annual ECBA Expo is designed to give local business owners the chance to showcase their offerings and meet potential new customers.

ECBA’S PASSION: The ECBA board is passionate about the success of our members. We’re all in this journey together. We know that when our members experience success, that energy spreads. If you have an established business, are thinking about starting a business, or do business with business owners, the ECBA is the place for you. For more information, please visit or email us at We look forward to seeing you at one of our events!

East Cobb Business Association • P.O. Box 70814, Marietta, GA 30007 • •

Leaders of Cobb
Photo by Stuart Hasson Studios
The ECBA Board has a plan, is excited, and ready for 2023!

Cobb’s Citizens & Businesses of the Year

Outstanding citizens

Acworth Citizen of the Year: Lori Perkins

Lori Perkins has lived in Cobb for over 20 years. Her servitude, hard work ethic, and giving spirit make her a valuable contributor to the community of Acworth. Perkins was a teacher for the Cobb County School District for many years before working for the Marietta City Schools district office and retiring in 2018. Currently a real estate agent for Coldwell Banker, Perkins also leads the five-member volunteer board of the Acworth Tree Commission as their elected Chairperson.

Perkins brought the idea of a Community Garden to Acworth city staff in 2019, with the intent to engage community participation and provide a local senior community with the harvested produce. In 2022, the Community Garden was built, and Perkins volunteers there at least three days per week.

Austell Citizen of the Year: Lin Harrison

Lin Harrison is an engaged and active member of the Austell Community who shows his passion for the community through everything he does. A leader who has focused on education and youth for decades, Harrison helped establish the Austell Community Collaborative (ACC), a non-profit dedicated to creating a transformative vision for bringing hope to the next generation of the community. Currently serving as the Chair of the ACC, Harrison has been instrumental in helping the organization get to where they are today, leading collaborative conversations with multiple sector leaders to transform the community.

This past year, Harrison helped reorganize and transition the ACC toward a new executive board of advisors, while achieving 501(c)3 nonprofit status for the organization, which will be instrumental in helping to fund the expansion of the Austell Youth Innovation Center (AYIC). Under Harrison’s leadership in the ACC, the AYIC’s goal is to improve graduation rates and test scores for Austell youth, while providing a solid foundation to put them in line for the jobs of the future.

East Cobb Citizens of the Year: Mike and Judy Boyce Mike and Judy Boyce have been active pillars of the East Cobb community for many years. They have been involved and engaged in several organizations, including Mt. Bethel Church, MUST Ministries, Military and Veteran related groups, and the Cobb Republican Party. Mike served as Chair of the Cobb Board of Commissioners from 2017 to 2020 and remained an active community volunteer until his sud-

den passing in January 2022 at the age of 72. Judy has been equally engaged with these organizations and continues to volunteer her time with Mt. Bethel Church, the Cobb Republican Women’s Club, local political campaigns, among other volunteer activities.

Judy has been active in numerous organizations over the years, including the Daughters of the American Revolution Martha Stewart Bulloch Chapter, Cobb Master Gardeners, the Chattahoochee Plantation Women’s Club, Cobb Center for Children & Young Adults, Cobb Library Foundation, The Emmaus Community, the Public Safety Academy, and holds a board position at Delta Clipped Wings.

Kennesaw Citizen of the Year: Patti Schoettler

Patti Schoettler, Independent Agent for AFLAC, is a servant leader who is always the first to selflessly volunteer whenever an organization, business or friend needs support. An active member of several boards and committees in Cobb; including North Cobb Rotary, the Atlanta Lyric Theater, The Davis Direction, and Devereux Georgia, Schoettler works incredibly hard as a doer, producing big ideas and seeing them through to fruition.

This past summer, Schoettler helped organize a Leadership Cobb Alumni Association breakfast donation for the group to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. She regularly volunteers for various organizations and events, including The Dave Krache Foundation’s Sports Fanatic 5K, LiveSafe Resources’ Que & Brew, and Back Our Blue and America Too.

Mableton Citizen of the Year: Ray Thomas

Ray Thomas, President of the Mableton Improvement Coalition (MIC), has been a crucial fixture within the Mableton community for many years. Upon joining the MIC as a board member in 2016, Thomas relaunched MIC’s corporate sponsorship program, founded the HOA Network, spearheaded the design guidelines for Veterans Memorial Highway and Mableton Parkway, and has grown the MIC’s membership to an all-time high.

Thomas has also played pivotal roles in establishing the inaugural Taste of Mableton and the Mableton Economic Development Summit. One of the most enduring achievements in Ray’s portfolio of success is Discovery Park at the River Line. After over 10 years of advocating, his persistent advocacy opened this park to the public with

The Cobb Chamber’s Area Councils and the local business associations have selected their 2022 Citizens of the Year and Businesses/Members of the Year to honor those who have made our community a better place in which to live and work. The awards were announced recently for the following communities:

a ribbon cutting in 2020. Discovery Park today is the anchor of Cobb County’s involvement in the Chattahoochee Riverlands project — a 100-mile plan for greenspace along the most important water resource in the community.

Marietta Citizen of the Year: Dr. Dwight “Ike” Reighard Dr. Dwight “Ike” Reighard is the President and CEO of MUST Ministries, which serves nearly 60,000 people a year struggling in poverty. Reighard has successfully combined business experience with ministry and has an outstanding reputation for transforming communities through serving others from 2011 to present. During Reighard’s tenure, he has led the organization through the planning and opening of one of the country’s most unique homeless shelters, the MUST Hope House; the launch of the MUST Mobile Pantry, which will serve nearly 17,000 families in its first year by bringing healthy foods to areas of food deserts; and serving a plethora of need during and after the pandemic to include helping several other local nonprofits by sharing food and resources.

Powder Springs Citizen of the Year: Pam Connor

Pam Conner, City Manager for the City of Powder Springs, has worked diligently for the community for over 20 years. Since her appointment in 2015, she has overseen the revitalization of Downtown Powder Springs, including the construction of Thurman Springs Park, and has taken the lead in sparking a rebirth of economic growth for the entire city.

Conner has been instrumental in growing and sustaining community involvement by fostering relationships with local non-profit groups and local small business associations. She provided strong and steady leadership throughout the pandemic by implementing wise measures to protect both the public and her city staff, all while exhibiting and maintaining the highest professional and ethical standards. She is highly respected by all her contemporaries and has willingly shared her expertise with other city managers to enable their success in their respective cities.

Smyrna Citizen of the Year: Dr. Jeanne Walker

Dr. Jeanne Walker has been a compassionate and dedicated educator in the Cobb County School District for 26 years, serving seven of those as Principal of Campbell High School. In her seven years as Campbell High School’s Principal, she was responsible for a graduation rate increase of over 20 percent, an athletic program with multiple regional titles and countless state playoff appearances; an outstanding ROTC program with a State Championship; an expanded Fine Arts program inhabiting a new performing arts center; a school-wide renovation through E-SPLOST funding that included a new gym, academic building, media center, and parking lots; and a host of internal and external campus improvements.

Dr. Walker is transitioning to principal of Cobb Horizon High School and Cobb Online Learning Academy (COLA). During her last semester as principal of Campbell High School, Dr. Walker was named the 2022 Georgia Library Media Association’s (GLMA) Distinguished Administrator of the Year. As a veteran and award-winning educator, Dr. Walker is a crucial fixture within the Smyrna community and has remained a strong and steadfast advocate for teachers, students, and parents.

West Cobb Citizen of the Year: Eddie Wade

Eddie Wade, COO of Croy Engineering, is an unsung hero to many organizations and people in West Cobb. Wade has a serious passion for his community, regularly supporting local organizations by offering to help volunteer his time and resources. Whether it is mentoring students or stepping up in times of need, Wade serves with pure authenticity and with a smile on his face.

Wade contributed to The Center for Family Resource’s inaugural “Parade of Playhouses,” single-handedly designing and building Croy’s “Command and Conquer” playhouse, which was donated as an auction item to help the non-profit raise funds to prevent childhood homelessness. Additional examples of his investment in non-profits include service as a Board Member and volunteer with the YMCA of Northwest Georgia, Director on the Board for the Cobb Community Foundation, and Director on the Board for the North Georgia State Fair.

Business association awards

Acworth Business Association’s 2022 Business of the Year is Piedmont Church. Dr. Dwight “Ike” Reighard, President and CEO of MUST Ministries, is the senior pastor at Piedmont Church, and has helped to grow the church’s membership in a time when many churches are losing members. Church leaders say that more than 10 years ago, they realized they needed to chart a new course to remain a significant part of their members’ lives and the community. So, they shifted focus outward, guided by the mantra that everything they have been blessed with they should use to bless the community.

Acworth Business Association’s 2022 Person of the Year is James Albright. Albright is Acworth’s City Manager. He has served the city since 2000, first as Director of Parks, Recreation, and Community Resources. He was appointed City Manager in July of 2021. Albright is the Secretary of the Special Needs Development Group, Inc. and serves on the Board of Directors for the Acworth Business Association. He also has served as the President of the Acworth Business Association, Commissioner of the Georgia Recreation and Parks Fifth District, and as a Distinguished Past President of the Kennworth Kiwanis Club.


Cobb’s Citizens & Businesses of the Year

Kennesaw Business Association’s Business of the Year is Three13 Salon, Spa, & Boutique. Three-13 has been a part of the community for 48 years. The owners have traveled the world to identify the best of the best in their industry and bring it back to Cobb County. One of the most impressive aspects of Three-13 is their commitment to the community. They support MUST Ministries, Cobb County Police, Cobb Junior League, Blue Thanksgiving, My Pals Place, our local schools, and the Georgia Transplant Foundation.

Kennesaw Business Association’s Member of the Year is Marlon Longacre. Longacre, Community Pastor at Piedmont Church, is KBA’s longest serving board member, having worked on the board since 2000 and serving as president in 2003. He is known throughout the county for his volunteer work, including working as chairman of Cobb EMC Community Foundation, chairman of NE Cobb Egg Drop, chairman of Christmas at Piedmont, managing the gameday activities for North Cobb Football, and for the past 20 Years serving as chairman of the Big Shanty Festival.

Marietta Business Association’s Members of the Year are Michael King of Marietta Roofing Company and Sergio Santos of SQSPhotography. Santos is originally from Brazil and began his professional photography career in New York City before moving to Marietta. His company provides professional head shots, business/marketing photography, and other professional imaging solutions. Currently, Santos serves as the director of the Marietta Business Association’s Communications Committee.

King is an independent contractor with Marietta Roofing Company, which has offered residential and commercial roofing installations and repair services for many years, earning a solid reputation in an industry that isn’t always looked upon with trusting eyes. King knows that customer referrals are his bread and butter, so he works diligently to keep his clients happy and his business booming.

Marietta Business Association’s Business of the Year is The Third Door. The Third Door is a craft cocktail bar, live music venue, and private event space located just steps away from historic Marietta Square in a

restored 1920s filling station. The atmosphere is intimate and cozy, and you may just find owners Lara & Ted Ferreira wandering around greeting guests. The couple also own a mobile bar business called Temperance Trailers, which offers mobile bar setups for weddings and other events.

Northeast Cobb Business Association’s 2022 Businessperson of the Year is Patti Willig. Willig is owner of LogoMotion LLC in Marietta. LogoMotion offers custom designed screen-printed, embroidered, and appliqued garments and accessories. Willig has been in business for 33 years, designing and producing promotional items for clients near and far. That feat alone deserves some recognition.

West Cobb Business Association’s Member of the Year is Kathy Winiarczyk, who also received this same honor in 2020. Winiarczyk is the business development officer at Credit Union of Georgia, and has been involved with WCBA for the several years, including volunteering in multiple roles on the leadership team and serving as the organization’s president in 2021.

Last year, she was honored as the winner of a friendly competition at Credit Union of Georgia to raise money for the Communities In Schools Georgia in Marietta/Cobb County (CIS) Jail & Bail Fundraiser. Winiarczyk raised $2,539.23 for the cause. Communities In Schools is the nation’s leading dropout prevention and intervention organization. The fundraiser raised a total of $18,064.18 for at-risk youth in Marietta and Cobb County. Winiarczyk not only participated on behalf of the Credit Union of Georgia, but the Credit Union also donated to the fundraiser.

West Cobb Business Association’s Business of the Year is K. Mike Whittle, owner of K. Mike Whittle Designs in Marietta. K. Mike Whittle Designs is a family-owned florist that has served Cobb County and beyond. It has consistently been named a Top 25 Small Businesses of Year by the Cobb Chamber. Whittle is a Cobb native and started arranging flowers at the young age of 13.

Whittle once told Cobb In Focus: “What sets our business apart from the average florist is our team. We have compiled some really creative and award-winning designers that work well together and put the ‘un’ in unusual. Our design style could be described as ‘traditional with a flair.’ We take pride in being different and strive daily to outdo ourselves and to please both the customer and the recipient with both quality and style.”

Michael King Sergio Santos
Photos: Nadja Cook
But Mighty
close-knit group of real estate agents and staff
the Ivan Savant Team’s secret to success.
The Ivan Savant Team. Pictured L-R: Shawn Nixon, Janet Abbazia, Ivan Savant, Jessica Savant, and Nadiyah Jett.

Ask most business owners what their No. 1 goal is, and they’ll likely say “growth.” For Ivan Savant, founder, and Jessica Savant, operations manager, of the Ivan Savant Team — in one very important way, that’s not the case.

For their real estate team, the husbandand-wife pair favor a small, carefully curated group of agents and administrative support. “So, we can keep the level of service,” explains Ivan. And that high level of service is for the agents as much as it is for the team’s clients. A member of the Atlanta REALTORS® Association Multi-Million Dollar Sales Club, winner of multiple awards, and a certified condominium and relocation specialist, Ivan is committed to personally training and guiding each agent the team brings on. “They join the team for who the team lead is, for whatever the value proposition is

that we bring to the table, and this way we’re able to give them that one-on-one attention and help them navigate the hurdles that they come across, versus a larger team,” he says.

The five-person (plus a transaction coordinator and a few consultants) team currently has two buyers’ agents with Ivan overseeing sales and acting as sales manager. “If we hire more agents, I don’t see us having more than four additional agents at a time. So, two more would probably be the max for us,” says Jessica. “Ultimately, we always want to stay small,” she explains. “A small SEAL team,” says Ivan.

The varied backgrounds and traits of the Ivan Savant Team’s agents also already allow it to serve a range of customers. The newest addition to the group, Shawn Nixon is adept at using his transaction management and analytical skills to assist cautious buyers. Brought on in fall 2022, he’s also experienced

in providing superior customer service (courtesy of time with The Hertz Corporation) and has been in sales and marketing for nearly two decades. Jessica notes that Shawn’s motivational speaking also is powerful for making buyers feel comfortable.

Janet Abbazia, a sociable event company founder and executive with real estate roots in her family, offers tenacity and a process with steadfast ease to competitive buyers. She joined the team in January 2020 and has flourished despite the circumstances of the past few years. “I think in event planning specifically you have to really understand multitasking and how behind the scenes everything might be imploding, but it’s your job to make sure that everything works out really well — especially on the surface — and that everybody’s still comfortable,” says Jessica, who’s also familiar with event planning. The operations manager previously organized weddings and large parties for the acclaimed Ray’s Restaurants. “So, Janet manages exceptionally well,” she says.

The team’s namesake, Ivan, has 15 years of experience in the fine jewelry business. The former general manager has become an expert at working with people while they’re making some of the most personal and expensive investments of their lives.

The kind of growth the Ivan Savant Team is focused on is what Jessica calls “diving

“We’re able to give [clients] that one-onone attention and help them navigate the hurdles that they come across, versus a larger team.”
–Ivan Savant, Founder, Ivan Savant Team
The Ivan Savant Team is a carefully curated group of agents and administrative support.

deeper, not wider.” It’s a continuation of what the couple has done since Jessica joined Ivan in his real estate venture in 2016 — further refining and perfecting the team’s systems and processes to provide clients with a fivestar experience and to increase efficiency.

Laying the Right Foundation

An emphasis on back-end organization heightened a few years ago when the pair realized, thanks to help from a business coach, that instead of Jessica working alongside Ivan as another agent, it’d be wiser to put her bachelor’s degree in business management to use and have her at the helm of operations. The call made perfect sense. It also led to future growth that was methodical and intensely prepared for. “You shouldn’t hire when you have no time and you’re so busy; your business is booming. You should be planning for it way ahead of time. You want to see where you’re going and hire for that,” says Ivan.

The couple has done just that, starting with hiring a transaction coordinator around the beginning of 2019. “When we made that decision, that was huge in terms of really stepping into the next level because it allowed us both to step back and be involved in things beyond the paperwork,” explains Jessica. Shortly after, Nadiyah Jett came on board as listing and team coordinator, lending her writing skills from time as a business and finance editor to crafting compelling listing descriptions. Her communications and management savvy are applied to marketing work as well, which the team also partially outsources. Nadiyah also is key for administrative support.

Marketing-wise, the Savants have leaned into video as a promotional tool. This comes as part of a wider effort to maximize the potential reach of social media and the internet. A staff videographer is even in the works.

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Going Above and Beyond for Clients

With a well-organized team in place, Ivan and Jessica have been able to increase their focus on big-picture visions and making them realities. Most importantly, they can dedicate more time to seeking solutions to the obstacles faced by clients who want to buy or sell a home. “I feel like it’s really our job to make sure that they understand what opportunities are there for them,” says Jessica. She explains that without this knowledge, buyers and sellers oftentimes can’t see their situations from different angles and comprehend the paths forward that are available.

One message the team has been communicating heavily is the fact that rising interest rates have flipped the market, turning it into one that favors buyers. “You’re actually in a better position to buy right now even though the interest rates are high,” Jessica says. “So, we’re really trying to tell people that now is a better time to buy rather than staying away to wait for the rates to go down,” she explains. “Because when the rates go down, then it’s going to turn back into a seller’s market for all

of the people who were waiting for the rates to go down. And you can always re-finance.”

The Savants also understand the financial concerns on the other end of the spectrum, the seller’s side. For those interested in selling but unable to afford necessary repairs and improvements, Compass Concierge, offered through the Savants’ brokerage, is an almosttoo-good-to-be-true solution. Ivan says, “If you’re a seller in this market, and you want to sell your home and you know that your home requires some extensive repairs, but your money’s tied up in the equity of the home, what Compass does is, we will credit you the money up to $25,000 interest-free with no hidden fees. That allows the homeowner to do necessary repairs, remodeling, whatever’s needed to bring the home up to market standards and Compass will simply collect the money at closing.”

Great consideration for clients continues throughout the buying and selling process with meticulous service and thoughtful gifts like a box of Heidi’s Heavenly Cookies delivered with a congratulatory note once buyers and sellers pass the due diligence period. The results of inspections, appraisals, and more make it a particularly nerve-wracking time for buyers and the sweet treat is a small way to celebrate the milestone, notes Jessica.

Even before that, the team aims to make its efficiency and dedication to quality customer service evident. “When someone goes under contract, we always send a thank-you email and congratulations, and that email is going to have a rundown of all the dates affiliated with the transaction moving forward. It gives people a timeline and a visualization, per se, of how it’s going to unfold,” Jessica explains. Of course, a closing gift also is always in order. The team prefers to source all its presents from local vendors, with Mud Creek Market in Marietta being the current favorite for closing items.

Past and potential clients also receive a monthly newsletter. Within the email, alongside current events and homes the team has listed, is information on current interest rates. Those who’ve already worked with the Ivan Savant Team and still have a home locally get a bonus email each month

“Our values are to maintain integrity, exude passion, deliver quality, and embrace innovation. Those are the four cores of who we are and what we’re trying to accomplish.”
–Jessica Savant, Operations Manager, Ivan Savant Team
The varied backgrounds and traits of the Ivan Savant Team’s agents allow them to serve a range of customers.

them with the updated value of their home. “People can plug in their loan information, and it also shows them what they could do with the equity that they have in their home. They could buy a rental property, Airbnb it, all of that,” says Ivan.

Another important way the Savants stay connected with buyers and sellers is through events. They recognize and value the relationships they have with past clients and want to continue to nurture them. Ivan says about five small gatherings with six to seven couples are hosted over the course of the year. The team also is refining its processes around open houses, which it hosts for each of its sellers’ homes the weekend they launch on the market. Making sure listings receive maximum exposure and that every prospective buyer is diligently followed up with are top priorities.

Without superb back-end structure, defined roles, and the unique characteristics each member brings, the experience the Ivan Savant Team prides itself on providing wouldn’t be possible. And that’s what Jessica says makes the team so important. “We’re all kind of in it together, that’s the good part about having a team. You know, whether it’s a PTO day or a vacation, your clients are taken care of because you have the team to fall back on and people are always going to be there,” she explains. That kind of reassurance coupled with continual, clear communication from team members also is comforting to buyers and sellers who know they’ll always be taken care of.

Staying True to Team Values

Whether Ivan and Jessica will bring on additional agents anytime soon is still up in the air. Most likely, a showing agent will be in the mix in the future to guarantee to clients that they can see a house within 24 hours of it landing on the market. Regardless of when they hire, one thing is certain, it’ll have to be the right fit.

Jessica says that no matter where a potential team member lead comes from, even a best friend’s recommendation, there’s no skirting their established hiring process. A DiSC® profile assessment (an accepted, professional tool used by millions of employers

and individuals each year) is uesd to see if personalities are a match is a crucial initial piece, followed by an interview to further get to know the person and make sure they’re committed to being a part of a team. Finally, shadowing one to two open houses provides additional insight on both sides. Ivan and Jessica also ask for Janet’s input during the process to further gauge whether it’s a fit.

Though a willingness to get out and connect with people, internal drive, and the ability to think creatively are all musts, a commitment to the team’s values comes above all else. “Our values are to maintain integrity, exude passion, deliver quality, and embrace innovation,” says Jessica. “Those are the four cores of who we are and what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Depth will always come before width for the Ivan Savant Team. n


The Georgia Food + Wine Festival Returns

The 2nd annual event runs from March 23-26 at Jim R. Miller Park in Marietta.

There’s nothing quite like the anticipation of a springtime food festival to free one from the winter doldrums. So, Cobb In Focus is pleased to report that the 2nd Annual Georgia Food + Wine Festival will take place from March 23-26 at Jim R. Miller Park in Marietta. Tickets are available now.

Tickle your tastebuds at this unique event, which will be a showcase of cuisine, beverage and culture that showcases Georgia celebrity chefs, local chefs, celebrity winemakers/ vintners, artisans, farmers, local craft spirits and beers, along with renowned wine, spirits, and beer brands from around the globe. The festival offers a mix of events for all budgets, with a variety of tasting events, shopping, live music, and more. You are sure to find the right ticket package for you and your friends & family from the descriptions here.

Local firm JRM Management has organized this event, so you know everything will be top-notch. If you have visited any of the larger outdoor festivals in the area, then you are sure to know of JRM’s handiwork. The firm manages and produces fairs and festivals throughout Georgia and South Carolina, including the North Georgia State Fair, The Great Anderson County Fair, the Big Shanty Festival, Smyrna Jonquil Festival, Taste of Smyrna, Taste of Acworth, Taste of Kennesaw, and more. The Georgia Food + Wine Festival will partner with SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center to bring funds back into the community.

With that, here’s a taste of what’s to come at the festival. Get your preferred event passes before they sell out!

A rts & Recreation
Photos courtesy of Georgia Food + Wine Festival

Thursday, March 23 — “Best of Cobb,” presented by Cobb Life Magazine and the Marietta Daily Journal, 5:308:30 pm

Georgia Food + Wine Festival Mar. 23-26, 2023

Jim R.

Park 2245 Callaway Road, SW, in Marietta

The “Best of Cobb” is a showcase of Cobb County, Georgia’s best. More than 1,000 people gather to eat, drink, and recognize the county’s favorite businesses and service providers. Cobb Life Magazine and the Marietta Daily Journal ’s Best of Cobb 2022 celebration recognized winners of a readerdecided contest that had more than 460,000 votes. *The Best of Cobb is a partnership event with the festival, tickets are sold directly by the event.

Friday, March 24 — “Fired-Up,” 7:309:30pm

Tickets: $75 Winter Rate (Jan/Feb), $85 March/Gate

This BBQ Extravaganza is a showcase of the Southeast’s most celebrated pitmasters and grill masters with wine, beer, and spirits plus live music and more. Enjoy unlimited beverage tastings in a souvenir glass, along with delicious grilled, smoked, and roasted gourmet BBQ bites — all included with ticket price. *FREE parking, 21 & older only event, no pets allowed.

Saturday, March 25, 1-4 p.m., “Savor, Georgia Food + Wine Festival”

Tickets: $79 Winter Rate (Jan/Feb), $99 March/Gate

A fun afternoon of culinary and beverage tastings, with live music, celebrity chef demonstrations, including renowned Chef Jernard Wells, and interactive stations from several world-renowned beverage experts. Tickets include a souvenir glass for unlimited beverage tastings from hundreds of wines, beer, and spirts exhibitors, and each guest will receive $10 in Tasting Credits that can be used to purchase additional credits throughout the festival.

“Savor” also will feature a variety of exhibitors, from an artisan market and farmers to live music stages. Guests will enjoy the Georgia Celebrity Chef Stage. This stage will feature chef demonstrations, with limited tasting sampling available. The stage will feature opportunities to learn from Georgia’s most celebrated chefs. *Stage tastings limited to the first 100 people in attendance for each stage session.

The Marietta Daily Journal Music Stage will

showcase outstanding local and regional live music. A fantastic Silent Auction will feature a variety of items and services, from luxury and beauty, to travel and one-of-a-kind entertainment and dining opportunities. The auction will benefit SafePath. *FREE parking, 21 & older only event, no pets allowed.

Saturday, March 25, 12-4 p.m., “VIP Lounge ~ at Savor, Georgia Food + Wine Festival”

Tickets: $150 Winter Rate (Jan/Feb), $165 March/Gate

VIP Lounge tickets include early access to the festival and VIP Parking and crystal souvenir tasting wine glass. The VIP Lounge, presented by Atlanta Magazine, is an exclusive, fully catered VIP Lounge experience with special SWAG bags, restrooms, open bars with cocktails, live music and more. A limited number of tickets is available. The VIP Lounge ticket also includes full access to the general admission area of “Savor.” Each ticket includes $10 in Tasting Credits and can be used to purchase additional credits throughout the festival.

Sunday, March 26, 12-5 p.m., “Sunday/ Funday” (Family-friendly event)

Tickets: $20 Winter Rate (Jan/Feb), $25 March/Gate

This fantastic festival finale, sponsored by Atlanta News First, will feature live music and a variety of delectable restaurant fare, farm-

ers, artisans, and food trucks, and a variety of beverages for purchase. This family friendly event has something for everybody, including a free Kids Zone. There will be a variety of adult beverages available for purchase. Plus, the Sunday/Funday Lounge will feature specialty drink stations for purchase: Mimosas, Sparkling Wines, Bloody Mary Bar and Frose’ (Frozen Rose’) with a souvenir cup! *Each ticket includes 10 Tasting Credits. Children 12 & under are FREE, free parking, no pets allowed.

Sunday, March 26, 12-3 p.m., “Oyster Roast, VIP Lounge” (Family-friendly event)

Tickets: $65 Winter Rate (Jan/Feb), $75 March/Gate

Enjoy sipping and shucking the afternoon away while listening to live music and savoring unlimited wine, beer, and spirits tasting stations with unlimited buckets of oysters and BBQ. Oyster Roast, VIP Lounge tickets include admission to Sunday/Funday from 12-5 p.m. and VIP Lounge parking. *Each ticket includes 10 Tasting Credits. Children 12 & under are FREE, free parking, no pets allowed.

About Chef Jernard Wells

Jernard Wells is an award-winning TV host/ celebrity chef/bestselling cookbook author. He is the host of “New Soul Kitchen” & “New Soul Kitchen Remix” on CLEO TV, and is well known from appearing on numerous cooking shows on the Food Network and Cooking Channel over the last decade. Additionally, Wells has been featured on the “Today Show,” “Good Morning America,” “Steve Harvey Morning Show,” ESSENCE, “Daily Blast Live,” USA Today, Lifetime, Oprah Winfrey Network, and HLN. The James Beard House Honored Chef is affectionately called “The Family Chef” because he loves using food to promote positive family images. He and his wife of 24 years have nine children. All six of his books, as well as his signature sauces & spices are available on www.hautecuisine. store. Follow him on all his verified social media pages at @ChefJernard.


Thawing Out

As I write this, it’s late December and we’re in the midst of the coldest temperatures we’ve had in years — just long enough for many of us to forget how cold the fall/ winter seasons can be, even in the South. Temperatures in the teens and 20s (particularly for days at a time) are so few and far between that Southerners just aren’t equipped to handle them. Never mind our infrastructure; I’m talking about our mental state. We don’t “do cold.”

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matter where you are, you can now access up-to-date information about what’s going on around the county. With local news, events calendars and the latest issue of Cobb In Focus, you can be instantly connected to your community.

It’s amusing to me just how much I loathe the cold because I grew up in Germany where freezing temperatures and snowstorms are the norm. Winter is celebrated in Germany, or at least tolerated, with outdoor Christmas markets and other festivals. As a kid, I didn’t think twice about spending all day out in the snow, either skiing, sledding, or just hanging out with friends. Runny nose and wind-burned face be damned! In fact, many of my fondest childhood memories involve outdoor winter events. But when my family moved back to Georgia, it wasn’t long before I detested the cold. Perhaps it is the lack of accompanying snowflakes? Of course, in Georgia, snow brings with it an entire mess of problems I won’t get into in this article.

Hopefully, by the time you read this, our coldest days are behind us for at least the remainder of 2023. Currently, the long-range forecast predicts that we will see 60-degree weather again once this issue finds your mailbox. I, for one, will be happy to call winter storm Elliot (Yes, winter storms get names, too.) a distant memory. A memory I’m sure to forget until the next time Georgia is in a deep freeze. Meanwhile, I’d love to hear about your best/worst winter weather memories. Send your stories and/or photos to me at n

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