Cobb In Focus January February 2024

Page 1


Showing Up Big For Their Community

The Cecils are dedicated to growing the Marietta Square

Dreamscapes • Powder Springs’ Internship Program • Businesses of the Year • Leading Edge Dentistry • John Silvey

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uni t y •

• Par k s • L





anding S er t s t u v

We are a well-rounded community alive with community spirit, a touch of urban chic and plenty of down-home natural charm. Nestled among lush trees, you’ll feel at home in our diverse neighborhoods. Residents and visitors enjoy access to indoor and outdoor amenities, from boating on the Chattahoochee, to biking, walking, or running along our trails, watching baseball at the Battery, or catching good vibes in our downtown.





Contents Vol. XX, No. 1 JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2024


Showing Up Big For Their Community Kacey and Hillery Cecil are dedicated to growing the Marietta Square.



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


Strength, utility, and beauty are at the heart of every Dreamscapes landscape design project.


The City of Powder Springs’ inaugural internship program is a rousing success.


Connect with a local leader who strives to make Cobb County a better place.


The Cobb Chamber’s Area Councils and local business associations have selected their 2023 Citizens of the Year and Businesses/Members of the Year.


Dr. Dimple Patel is on the ‘Leading Edge’ of dental health.


How several local sports tournaments and organizations are honoring Cobb’s past and future.


At this time of year, it’s just human nature to reflect on the past year and to ponder what the New Year will bring.

On the cover: From L-R: Kacey Cecil, Hillery Cecil, Will Adamek, and Jordan Traylor. Photo: LaRuche Photo






New South Publishing Inc. President Larry Lebovitz Vice President John Hanna Publisher Jamie Ryan Account Executive Sherry Gasaway Editor Cory Sekine-Pettite Associate Editor Amy Meadows Graphic Designer Jack Simonetta When working on the Education article in this issue (“McEachern Students Get Real-World Education,” p.10), I was reminded of my first job and what a great learning experience it was. As a college freshman, I worked in the admissions office of the University of Georgia School of Law. Not only was it interesting to see how the school’s admissions process worked, but I also learned how to be part of a team in an office environment, how to follow orders, how to behave in a professional setting, and more. These weren’t difficult tasks, but they are important skills that one isn’t going to learn as part of a traditional high school or college curriculum. When the McEachern students featured in this article move into the workforce, they will have a real advantage over many of their inexperienced peers. Honestly, I see bright futures ahead for all the students involved with the City of Powder Springs’ inaugural program, and I hope the city continues to build on their partnerships with local businesses as the internship program grows. Speaking of growth and community involvement, our cover feature profiles the business successes and civic focus of Kacey and Hillery Cecil whose love for Marietta shines through in everything they do. We wish them continued victories in their commercial endeavors, and the best of luck in their forthcoming global adventure which you must read about beginning on page 24. Finally, as you peruse the remaining pages of this issue, you will find stories of others whose focus on community is paramount in their lives — from our revisit with Dr. Dimple Patel and her dental practice, to our chat with restauranteur and community organizer John Silvey. These folks truly help to make Cobb County a special place.

Photo by LaRuche Photo

Contact Cobb in Focus We want to hear from you! Share your story ideas and comments with our editor. Visit or send your suggestions to: or New South Publishing, Attn: Cory Sekine-Pettite 9040 Roswell Road, Suite 210 Atlanta, GA 30350

Contributors Jennifer Morrell, Writer Michael J. Pallerino, Writer Lindsay Field Penticuff, Writer LaRuche Photo, Photography Production Coordinator/Circulation Amy Fine Controller Marilyn Walker @cobbinfocus Cobb in Focus™ is published six times a year by New South Publishing Inc., 9040 Roswell Road, Suite 210, Atlanta, GA, 30350. Direct all editorial queries to (770) 650-1102, ext. 100. Direct all circulation queries to (770) 6501102, ext. 130. Direct all advertising queries to (770) 650-1102, ext. 142. All information herein has been checked for accuracy to the best of the publisher’s ability. No responsibility is accepted for deletions, omissions, errors and/or inaccuracies. Material in this publication may not be reprinted without written permission from the publisher. Copyright 2024 by New South Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A.

For address changes, email JANUARY/ FEBRUARY 2024


Sharper Focus Here’s a snapshot of what’s going on in your community. Cobb County Family Advocacy Powder Springs Parks Dept Program Graduates get Lives Center Opens Back on Track Wins Award Ten young adults are getting a second chance after graduating from the Pinnacle-Cobb Diversionary Court overseen by Judge Kellie S. Hill. The program is aimed at reducing recidivism. Pinnacle is a rigorous, year-long program for non-violent offenders ages 17-25 that makes the individuals accountable while providing resources for positive growth and transformation.

Cobb Collaborative and CCF Award Grants

At the 30th Annual Cobb Collaborative Human Services Awards Luncheon in December, the Cobb Collaborative (CC) and Cobb Community Foundation (CCF) awarded grant checks to the following community organizers: • CC’s Jack Vaughan, Jr. Human Services Award Winner ($1,000 Unrestricted Grant) — Volunteer Category: Barry Krebs, volunteer for South Cobb Lions Club • CC’s Jack Vaughan, Jr. Human Services Award Winner ($1,000 Unrestricted Grant) — Professional Category: Laurie Ann Wong, Founder and CEO of Reflections of Trinity • CC’s William Hanson Collaboration Award ($2,500 Unrestricted Grant): Kim Scofi of United Military Care • CCF’s Howard Koepka Collaborative Spirit Award ($10,000 Unrestricted Grant): First Christian Church of Mableton.

After years of planning and building, there is now a safe place for people to go to get the care they need when leaving destructive and abusive situations. In mid-December, officials and supporters cut the ribbon on the Cobb County Family Advocacy Center (FAC) — a central location for crime victims to get assistance. The FAC is designed to address barriers faced by victims, by locating critical service providers under one roof with a coordinated intake process. Learn more at

Powder Springs’ Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs department was recognized recently at the Georgia Recreation and Park Association Awards Banquet as the 2023 Agency of the Year (Population under 20,000). The department manages 47 acres of park space as well as the Patricia C. Vaughn Cultural Arts Center, the Ford Center Reception Hall, and the Seven Springs Museum at the Bodiford House. Look for upcoming events on the Cobb In Focus calendar, as well as

CCF Honors Jay Cunningham

Cobb Community Foundation (CCF) recently presented Superior Plumbing’s Jay Cunningham with the 2023 James L. Rhoden, Jr. Award for Visionary Philanthropy. The award is voted on annually by the Board to recognize and honor a Cobb business and community leader who makes significant contributions to our community through gifts of time, talent, and treasure. Cunningham serves on the board of trustees for the Wellstar Health System, The Strand Theatre, Must Ministries, and many others. He also is a Tommy Nobis Center Community Champion.

Georgia Taxpayers Can Earn Credit for Supporting Law Enforcement Foundations

New legislation allows Georgia taxpayers to claim tax credit for supporting local public safety efforts by contributing to qualified law enforcement foundations, such as the Cobb Sheriff’s Foundation. During the normal process of paying State of Georgia taxes, citizens now can decide to send a portion of said taxes to qualified foundations. It allows all taxpayers that pay State tax to Georgia to receive a $1 for $1 tax credit simply by directing existing Georgia State tax to their chosen law enforcement organization. Learn more about the program at

LGE Foundation Donates $284,000 to Local Nonprofits

In December, the LGE Community Outreach Foundation presented $284,000 to local nonprofit organizations at LGE’s annual celebration breakfast. Nonprofits that received donations included Calvary Children’s Home, CASA of Paulding County, The Drake House, McKenna Farms Therapy Services, MUST Ministries, Next Step Ministries, SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center, United Military Care, and Warehouse of Hope.

Nagel’s Bagels Earns Prestigious Regional Award

Nagel’s Bagels, a purveyor of freshly crafted bagels and a cornerstone of Cartersville’s culinary scene, recently was named Best Bagel in the region by the Georgia Business Journal. “Receiving the Regional Award in the Best of Georgia Bagel category is a tremendous honor for us,” said Rich Nagel, Owner and Chief Baker at Nagel’s Bagels. “It reflects our team’s dedication to the art of bagel making and our commitment to providing an exceptional experience for everyone who walks through our doors.”

Chattahoochee Tech Radiography Program Celebrates 20 Years

For 20 years, Chattahoochee Tech has been preparing students for high-demand medical careers in radiology departments and related healthcare businesses. The college’s Radiography program marked this achievement and honored its newest graduates on December 6. “All of these graduates already have job offers,” said Program Director Jamie Bailey.

Left to right: State Rep. Matthew Gambill, Chattahoochee Tech Radiography Program Director Jamie Bailey, ASRT President Brandon Smith, and Chattahoochee Tech President Dr. Ron Newcomb. 4



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

1/20 Pop In For Family Fun: Board Games & Puzzles


Martin Luther King Day Celebration

The Acworth Parks, Recreation and Community Resource Department will host the 11th annual MLK Day Celebration and 13th Annual Day of Service on January 15. More info:

1/26-27 1/27-28 2024 State Indoor Winter Trains, Trains, Trains! Games & S.E. Powerlifting Event The Southern Join Special Olympics Georgia at the 2024 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:

Museum of Civil War & Locomotive History will host the 14th annual installment of its flagship event. Features include new train layouts, scales, and gauges. More info:

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:

Stop by the Smyrna library to pick up a to-go craft kit and keep those kiddos busy! The kits contain everything needed (no crayons or glue) to create three crafts. More info:


2/3 Valentine’s Dance Party

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


The Kennesaw Museum Foundation and the Southern Museum will host Southern Spirits. Wear your jazziest outfit and bring your beads and mask! Celebrate Mardi Gras as you stroll through the museum galleries while enjoying cocktails, Cajun hors d’oeuvres, and New Orleans live jazz. More info:


Cobb Chamber’s 82nd Annual Dinner

1/29 To-Go Craft Kits

2/9 Southern Spirits

Head to the Marietta History Center where Pop-In’s provide children and their families the opportunity to interact with the Museum through themed activities and crafts. More info:

GSO Jazz! Presents: What The World Needs Now

Celebrate the music of Burt Bacharach and Hal David featuring the GSO Jazz! Combo, and the iconic music and lyrics of two great American songsmiths onstage at the Canton Theatre on the 16th and the Strand Theatre on the 17th. More info:


Black History Month Celebration Dinner

Join the City of Smyrna for a Black History Month celebratory dinner with Dr. Daniel Black, novelist, essayist, and professor at Clark Atlanta University. More info:


Daddy Daughter Dance

This year’s Daddy, Daughter Dance will be under the big top at the Smyrna Community Center. There will be circus characters and a photo booth for all participants to enjoy. More info:

2/17 Georgia Black Vendor Market 2024

The First Annual Georgia Black Vendor Market 2024 is coming to Powder Springs this February at Christian Village. More info:

2/24 Polar Plunge

The 2024 Special Olympics Polar Plunge will take place at Acworth Beach at Cauble Park. The Polar Plunge is the largest fundraising effort benefiting Special Olympics. More info: JANUARY/ FEBRUARY 2024



Designing A Dream Strength, utility, and beauty are at the heart of every Dreamscapes landscape design project.

During construction of new display area at Dreamscapes.



By Jennifer Morrell


ichard Allen always loved and appreciated architecture. His admiration for the design and beauty of homes created by such renowned architects as Frank Lloyd Wright led to his pursual of a residential architecture degree. His path would later take a turn toward landscape design and an affinity for backyard beauty. Dreamscapes was born in 1998, and Richard has never looked back. “I started with a degree in residential architecture, but never pursued a career in this field,” Richard says. “I always loved architecture and learned about different styles of buildings. But the more I observed the lines and curves of landscapes while riding, driving or visiting places, I knew my love was more in the landscape design field.” The drafting skillset developed from his residential architecture degree helped make the move to landscape design smooth for Richard. Drafting knowledge helped him to understand how to draw plans. Knowing how to draw symbols for residential house

plans helped him to transition to a landscape design career. For the most part, Richard was self-taught, seeing how each curve and line could enhance a landscape. He also gained an understanding of a wide variety of plants, flowers and foliage, and how they work to create dimension and texture as well as provide beauty and opulence. “I started out only mowing and always watched each curve and every line,” he says. “I learned what could be enhanced to make some yards look better than others. Part of the learning came from my love of sports. I love the perfectly manicured lines of baseball fields and round swales and rolling portions of golf courses.” Richard says he was lucky to have picked up a few high-end landscape jobs when he was first starting out, including a garden in the Vinings area. “The owner would walk me through the garden at each visit, telling me what to do and how to do it,” he says. “I was amazed by the garden art he had created and

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Business asked a lot of questions about the design. I truly had an ‘ah-ha’ moment that, when combined with my passion of learning, took me to the next step in developing my creativity.” Another example of Richard’s brushes with landscape mentors included an opportunity to maintain a garden that was featured in Southern Living magazine. He was again walking and talking with the owner about how to maintain such an exquisite landscape design. “She started teaching me about foliage, textures, and colors,” Richard says. “I knew I could take my creativity to another level that would surpass my competition. I developed and worked off that knowledge as I kept looking for plants and materials that made my creations unique.” During his first five years in landscaping design, Richard’s focus was on working with nature and creating topography. This included the shaping of soil and raising beds that created contours, using nature to develop a natural look. However, a full understanding of drainage would be the most important part of his landscaping portfolio. Landscapes must drain well to have longevity, no matter how wonderful they may look in the beginning. The function of drainage must be incorporated at the onset of the project. Richard is an expert at foundation and drainage repairs, so much so that he sees a future in building custom homes with foundations built correctly the first time, with no future corrections needed. The grandson of a home builder, his potential knows no bounds. Dreamscapes works exclusively with homeowners and custom home builders. Richard’s passion is for landscape design, providing solutions and creating beauty — unique landscapes for each customer’s particular needs and wants. He offers a wide range of services, including drainage, plant installations, carpentry, remodeling, foundation repair, irrigation, ponds, fountains, lighting, natural stone hardscapes, and landscaping for pools, decks, volleyball courts, putting greens, and synthetic lawns. “We are able to do things that some engineering companies have turned down, due to the challenges presented,” Richard 8


“An inviting outdoor area will keep your kids around more often and offer a wonderful place for friends and family to congregate. It’s also a relaxing escape after a long day at the office.” –Richard Allen, owner of Dreamscapes says. “We maintain lawns and gardens, and I teach my maintenance crews about the art of the process of taking nothing and turning into a great landscape or garden. I want them to see it as art. We dream up the design together and determine what is needed for a piece of art or a solution to a problem.” Richard has 36 employees, including about 20 workers whom he employs through U.S. work visas each year. “It can be difficult to find people who are able to do this type of work,” he says. “It also can be challenging for them to perform the high-end work and maintain the level of professionalism required. I have a great crew, and we are all family.”

At-home oasis A functional outdoor living space can be an extension of a homeowner’s indoor living space, but also can be the reason for staying home and enjoying one’s own private Shangri-La. Richard knows this all too well, with 19-year-old triplets who would rather

hang out at home and invite their friends over, than search for a different environment for socializing. “A well-designed landscape can improve your quality of life, and we can’t really put a value on memories, enjoyment, and time with friends at home,” he says. “An inviting outdoor area will keep your kids around more often and offer a wonderful place for friends and family to congregate. It’s also a relaxing escape after a long day at the office.” Achieving a quality landscape or hardscape project for his clients is Richard’s number-one priority. Sometimes, to get there, he must first help his clients understand what is achievable, and how the entire process works to build their dream backyard. He explains: In 40 BCE, the Roman architect Vitruvius wrote that structures should have three attributes: finnitas (strength), utilitas (utility), and venustas (beauty). The Romans inherited these three attributes from Greek construction projects centuries before. Many of the greatest construction projects in history are based on the three principles, Richard said, and his company incorporates these design philosophies into everything they do.

Recognition Dreamscapes had the distinguished honor of being named as “Contractor of the Year” by LandOpt, a networking group for landscape designers, for measured commitment, focus and perseverance in the industry. “The award means a lot to us, because we went into LandOpt as a small company among the best and most elite landscape

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companies in the nation, from Hawaii to the East Coast,” he says. “Within three years of learning from the LandOpt team and our peers, we won many awards, but the best was Contractor of the Year.”

A clear-cut purpose Richard’s mission is to be the most respected landscape artist in the Cobb area. His philosophy is to incorporate strength, purpose, and beauty in each project. “I want to be

the person people call to build and design an amazing dream home or landscape,” he says. “I also want to be the first to diagnose an issue and correct it. Our designs must have a purpose, then they must be beautiful and always strong. We do it right the first time, before moving on to our next project.” The goal of Dreamscapes is for each customer to be 100-percent satisfied with the oasis the company has created. The breadth and depth of Richard’s landscaping skillset will only continue to expand in the future. “When you love what you do, it’s never a job,” Richard says. “It’s a pleasure to learn about and solve people’s problems, while creating a beautiful landscape design. We offer the best in customer care and service, along with solutions that last a lifetime.” n

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McEachern Students Get Real-World Education The City of Powder Springs’ inaugural internship program is a rousing success.

Josue Macias and Joseph Ramirez

MyMy Le



By Cory Sekine-Pettite


ccording to the online job search firm Indeed, there are a multitude of benefits for individuals who participate in internship programs. An internship is a great introduction to an industry or a role one may want to pursue, the company says, and benefits range from job experience, mentorship, networking, securing employment references, and building confidence in one’s abilities. “The transition from college to full-time employment can fill you with excitement, anxiety, hope, and ambition all at once,” Indeed’s editorial team writes. “An internship is a good way to fill some transition time with the work you hope to do long-term. It can eliminate some pressure of quickly finding a permanent job and help you apply the skills and knowledge you have acquired to a practical situation.” Typically, one might think of an internship as an opportunity solely for college students and recent college graduates. But the City of Powder Springs has seen a chance to help local high school students with a program it launched last year in collaboration with McEachern High School. The STEM Independent Research and Internship program, overseen by McEachern STEM Instructor and AP & Honors Physics Instructor, Beth Amacher, evolved into a partnership with the City of Powder Springs after a student reached out to the city looking for an internship opportunity. His interest was in business development, so City Manager Pam Conner agreed to a placement in the city’s Economic and Community Development departments and she contacted local businesses about possible work for the student. This resulted in a public/private partnership and sparking the idea to help more students gain valuable experience in the workforce before determining their future career paths. “I then met with Ms. Amacher about the scope of the program and during that discussion learned about the interest from three other students,” recalled Conner. “Given their field of interest in math and fleet management, I knew there were likely opportunities for internship positions within our public works department as well. The department

“For the 10-week internship, they get to know the business/organization and eventually conduct quantitative research. After the internship, the students return to school where they analyze their data, write their research paper on their findings, and then present their unique study to the community.”

was willing to participate, and we agreed to accept three more students.” Thus, this innovative program was born. And with it came unique opportunities for McEachern students MyMy Le, Jaydan Hall, Joseph Ramirez, and Josue Macias. “When our senior class began looking for internships [last] August, I met with Pam Conner, and she assisted in arranging four of my students with an internship opportunity in Powder Springs,” Amacher said. “[It has been] an invaluable partnership that I know we will –McEachern High School. The STEM Independent Research grow together to offer these opportunities to and Internship program, overseen by McEachern STEM our students in the future.” Instructor and AP & Honors Physics Instructor, Beth Amacher Amacher started the senior-level Independent Scientific Research/Internship class a few years ago modeled after Kennesaw Mountain High School’s successful magnet program research class. “I work with the students to refine their resumes, learn about are all encouraged to publish their work in contacted each student to learn about their workplace ethics, and how to construct a one of the many journals that publish high experiences. proper, professional email,” she said. “We school research like the Journal of Emerging even practice ‘cold calls’ and visits to walk Investigators.” MyMy Le into businesses with résumé in hand to ‘sell The four McEachern students referenced MyMy Le’s internship was with the City themselves’ in attempt to secure the internship above worked their internships from late of Powder Springs Public Works. Because they need to conduct research.” August through mid-November of last year. of her interest in math, she was assigned to As freshmen in McEachern’s STEM pro- As they were winding down their jobs and help analyze and revise the city’s sanitation gram, Amacher says students are encouraged preparing to write their reports, Cobb In Focus route. That seems like one heck of a résumé to find a problem about which they building block. My internship at are passionate and begin researchPublic Works was a truly enriching. They learn to analyze and ing experience,” Le said. “While I read peer-reviewed articles and do not have a favorite memory in learn the basics of the research promind, the best moments were all cess. By the time they are seniors, the fun my fellow interns and I had they have built up a volume of navigating the trial and error of understanding on their unique learning new things. interest and are ready to pursue “My intrigue for statistics led me an internship to aid in even more to pursue this internship, which understanding and analysis of the provided a multi-faceted exploratopic. “For the 10-week internship, tion into various domains,” Le conthey get to know the business/orgatinued. “Alongside statistics, I have nization and eventually conduct been lucky enough to also gain a quantitative research,” Amacher brief introduction to cars and fleet continued. “After the internship, management, while also receiving the students return to school plenty of valuable college advice where they analyze their data, from my mentor.” write their research paper on their “Internship students enrolled findings, and then present their in the McEachern High School unique study to the community. STEM program provide the City The STEM Research Presentation of Powder Springs with collegeEvening [which took place this past level, world-class talent that assists December] is a celebrated event the city in making analytical probfor our seniors as they present to lem-solving decisions,” said Leroy our community judges, parents, Young, Sanitation/Fleet Supervisor Jaydan Hall at The Bookworm. peers, and mentors. The students for the City of Powder Springs. JANUARY/ FEBRUARY 2024



Students receiving their certificates of completion for the internship program.

“This same program enables students to showcase their talents in real world environments years ahead of traditional college internships.”

Jaydan Hall Hall is the student credited with getting this program going by reaching out to the City of Powder Springs on his own to inquire about an internship. He has a passion for business, so Conner was able to arrange a series of part-time assignments for Hall’s

internship. He worked at The Bookworm, Rooted Trading Co., Hand Me Ups, Blade’s Lawn Mower Shop, Kennedy Advisors & Associates, and RID Property Services. “I loved this entire experience,” Hall said. “Some of my favorite memories are helping Rooted with their stores’ marketing, being able to do the visits of worksites with RID Property Services, and learning more about the city with City Management, Community Development, and Economic Development.

“This program has definitely given me further insight on the inner workings of businesses and learn about how they were created and built to what they are today,” he continued. It seems the business owners were equally thrilled with the program. “Jaydan is a smart young man. He has an entrepreneurial spirit,” says RID Property Services’ Saul Rodriguez. “Our experience [with the program] was good; it’s an opportunity to show seniors a real-life experience of running a business.

McEachern High School’s Growing STEM Program McEachern STEM Instructor and AP & Honors Physics Instructor, Beth Amacher, has taught at the high school for 22 years, and it always has been her goal to have a sustainable, growing STEM program. Last year, she says her hard work paid off when the program was granted certification. Currently, there are just under 100 students in the program. “The tremendous value for our students lies in the unique approach we are taking with the program,” Amacher said. “The students collaborate and communicate with different content areas to design and create various projects. …Students gain valuable knowledge while practicing critical thinking skills in this program with our student-centered lessons. In addition to the cutting-edge technology with our labs, the students also have the opportunity to collaborate with different classes to design and build or create original work. … One of the tremendous benefits is the development of connections the students are making with different disciplines, as well as learning to collaborate with others and communicate their perspectives. The senior-level



course where the student secures an internship and designs and conducts their unique quantitative study, prepares them for the workplace as well as giving them an opportunity to conduct college-level research and data analysis.” Amacher says the school’s goal with the program is to continually improve and expand. “We want our kids prepared to enter the workforce and/or higher education with a distinct advantage and we can only do this if we continue to improve. We are fortunate to have a core group of STEM teachers who collaborate well together, always going above and beyond to best serve our students. Our program also has the amazing support from our administrator, Krystal Wattley, whose tireless efforts and support have allowed us the opportunity to flourish.

City [officials] reached out to see if we would participate. We would do it again next year.” “Each Tuesday, I would spend time mentoring him on some of the behind-the-scenes business operations in owning a bookstore,” adds The Bookworm’s Julia Davis. “Jaydan would then spend time doing things that sometimes people don’t necessarily think about as tasks in a bookstore — things like cleaning books, sorting for donation programs, and searching for missing inventory. “I would absolutely do this again,” Davis continues. “I think it is important to provide our youth with an opportunity to learn not only about owning a business, but work ethic and helping to prepare them for the for the workforce with hands-on experience.” Hall will be attending college soon. He says his top choices are Florida A&M University, Morehouse College, Duke University, and the University of Miami.

Joseph Ramirez McEachern senior Ramirez interned with

the city’s fleet management office. “I enjoyed nearly every second of it,” Ramirez said. “My favorite memory of the internship was when we were able to figure out what was wrong with one of the work trucks. We had to use technology, such as the OBD (on board diagnostic) scanner, in order to pinpoint the problem area in the truck.” Ramirez also enjoyed the experience of simply going to work every day, which was quite a different routine when compared with going to school. “One of the major points of the internship was to give us real-world experience,” he said. “This accomplished that as we had to dress up every day and come with an open mind to understand some concepts I never knew about.” Currently, Ramirez is in the process of applying to colleges, including Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State, and Emory University. He says his main interest is being in the biomedical field, but the Powder Springs internship program opened his eyes to other fields such as mechanical engineering.

Josue Macias Macias also interned with Powder Springs’ fleet management office. He said he enjoyed applying the scientific principles learned in the classroom. “My favorite moment [was] disassembling a one piston engine,” Macias said. “Previously, I had researched different car parts on my own and learned about the engine as individual parts. The crankshaft, camshaft, piston, connecting rods, and many more items were just parts, but disassembling the engine and observing how everything works was the amalgamation of so many parts into one cohesive, amazing system. This experience helped me understand engines far better than any website or video and I’m extremely grateful for this opportunity.” Macias plans to attend Kennesaw State University where he will study engineering. “While I may not be directly working on vehicles, the concepts I’ve learned and tools my mentor has taught me to use will undoubtedly help me better understand aspects of the field.” n



Special Section

Leaders of Cobb


ince 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 individual who is among Cobb’s premier leaders. We wanted to find out about her job, delve into her personal life, and gain some words of wisdom. And of course, we asked: Why have you picked Cobb County?

THE STORY: I have thrown my hat into the ring for the Cobb County Commission Chair race next November. I have lived, worked, and played in Cobb for decades and I’ve experienced the challenges we face. I believe every elected official carries a profound moral and ethical obligation to serve with unwavering transparency, steadfast integrity, and an unyielding commitment to the well-being of every single constituent. This isn’t just a job description; it’s a sacred trust. My belief in transparent governance isn’t just a campaign promise; it’s a principle that I have held throughout my life. From pitching in at community events, to supporting local nonprofits, I’ve always prioritized the voice and well-being of our community. I understand our unique challenges and I am deeply committed to the change we so rightly deserve. I grew up in Decatur near the Square. It was so much like Marietta Square that I immediately felt at home when we moved here. I attended Emory University and Georgia State where I graduated with a business degree. My husband, Mark, and I started a software company that thrived for 30 years until we made the decision to sell and step away from the tech world to pursue other opportunities. I have for years enjoyed touring new homes as they were built, stopping my car at every new subdivision I passed. A friend suggested that I turn that passion into a career in real estate. I gave it a try and loved it! I became so busy that I convinced my husband to get his license to help me squeeze in more showings. He got the bug also and we are now a team with Red Barn Realty. WHY I CHOSE TO LIVE IN COBB: My husband grew up in a neighborhood with a swim and tennis community. He wanted that lifestyle for his future children, so we began looking around in the metro area. As I said, when we passed through the Marietta Square it felt like home. We got lost looking for another subdivision when we stumbled upon Saddlebrook in West Cobb. We have been so happy there that we are going on 40 years in the same home. WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? Being able to serve the community in so many capacities. Helping people with what is likely to be the largest investment of their life is a responsibility that I do not take lightly. I give every client my “A-game” when it comes to finding that perfect home and helping to negotiate the best deal. I look forward to continuing to serve all the citizens of Cobb as Commission Chair.

Photo by LaRuche Photo

Leaders of Cobb

Kay Morgan

Candidate for Cobb County Commission Chair LEISURE TIME: I love being outdoors! I am an avid gardener and love to hike the trails at Kennesaw Mountain. I also love to cook and am always looking for new recipes. BEST ADVICE: It’s an adage, but I had lived my life by it: “Love what you do, and you will never work a day in your life.” WHAT’S NEXT? My sights are set on the Primary and General Election. I will work hard to get my message out to all of Cobb. With community support, we can bring about the change that we all want. I promise transparent governance that will restore your faith in our system. We’ll review our tax system, making sure we keep Cobb the wonderful place to live and work that it is now, but without over-burdening our taxpayers. Our neighborhoods will be safe havens for our families, and every vote will be counted with the utmost integrity. Through town hall meetings and open forums, every voice in Cobb County will be heard, every concern addressed. I want to see Cobb thrive not just for us, but for generations to come. Let’s do this together • JANUARY/ FEBRUARY 2024


Cobb’s Citizens & Businesses of the Year T

he Cobb Chamber’s Area Councils and the local business associations have selected their 2023 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: September 2018, she has quadrupled the Outstanding Citizens organization’s budget through earned income, grants, donors and sponsorships; Acworth Citizen of the Year: Bertha launched the Connecting Cobb Veterans proNelson. Nelson, the Principal of Acworth gram; established key partnerships with local Elementary School, has been passionate about organizations; brought critical mental health, serving students and families in the City of suicide prevention, and trauma-credentialed Acworth for nearly a decade. Dedicated to training to over 4,000 individuals through student success, and business and community the Mind Your Mind mental health awarepartnerships, Nelson works tirelessly to ensure ness campaign; distributed over 8,300 books all Acworth students can succeed. She works to children; and installed over 50 Little Free closely with the Acworth Elementary math Libraries across the county and grown the team and advanced content classes to promembership from 78 to 125. Austell COTY Delores Powell mote critical and creative thinking, advanced research skills, and accelerated academics. Kennesaw’s Citizen of the Year is Allison Nelson has created a school environment through a Gang and Bullying Prevention Giddens. Giddens is the Co-President for that is focused on student success and sup- Program by uniquely bridging partnerships Win-Tech, an aerospace precision machine ported by strong parent and community with local law enforcement, schools, com- shop. She is actively involved in local workforce relationships. She works closely with local munity leaders, and parents to build a sense development and industry groups, including businesses, churches, and members of the of awareness, love, and unity through com- Chattahoochee Technical College Foundation community to provide opportunities and munication and social interaction. Board, Leadership Cobb Alumni Association, experiences for Acworth students that foster Powell has a heart for all young people, LiveSafe Resources, Women in Manufacturing, positive relationships that benefit the school believing that all deserve a fair chance at life National Tooling & Machining Association, and the surrounding community. Organiza- and can recover from difficulties to prosper and the Georgia Manufacturing Alliance. tions she has volunteered with include MUST and grow into fine, upstanding, contributMinistries, Piedmont Church, and Acworth ing individuals. Over her 20 years in Cobb, Elementary School Food Pantry. Powell has continuously contributed to the wellbeing of the Austell community through her servitude and dedication. East Cobb Citizen of the Year: Irene Barton. Irene Barton is Executive Director of Cobb Collaborative. She works every day to ensure that the East Cobb community is a wonderful place to live, work, and play. Since becoming the Executive Director in Kennesaw COTY Allison Giddens

Acworth COTY Bertha Nelson

Austell Citizen of the Year: Delores Powell. Powell is Founder and Executive Director of the Cool Kids Committee. The mission of the Cool Kids Committee, (Courageous Outspoken Outgoing Leaders Kind Independent Determined) Inc. is to positively influence the lives of at-risk youth 16


East Cobb COTY Irene Barton

As the Founder and Executive Director of the Dave Krache Foundation, she and her board of directors have helped hundreds of kids in the Kennesaw community be able to participate in sports activities by helping to cover of the costs of registration fees and equipment costs. She has volunteered with the City of Kennesaw’s Grand Prix 5K race series as both a race director and Grand Prix Series Director helping non-profits raise money for their various causes.

Mableton Citizen of the Year: Dr. Christopher Boyd. Boyd is General Manager at Riverside EpiCenter, a 113,000-square-foot multi-function/multi-purpose facility owned by Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral, constructed to promote the balance of life in service to the Mableton/Austell community and beyond. Dr. Boyd is a tremendous community partner and advocate for the residents of the Mableton community. For the past several years, he has expanded the services offered at the EpiCenter to make it a hub in South Cobb. For example, he has launched a business incubator space and hosted countless business and community groups regardless of their ability to pay.

Mableton COTY Dr. Christopher Boyd

Marietta’s Citizen of the Year is Bonnie Buckner Reavis. Reavis is the owner of The Brickyard, a special event venue on the Marietta Square that launched in 2010. She is also the founder of the marketing and advertising firm Zenith Design Group, named one of Atlanta’s Top Ten Fastest Growing WomanOwned Firms, a Top 25 Small Business of the Year by the Cobb Chamber and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and a two-time recipient of the Business Community Service Award by Georgia Trend. In 2018, Reavis opened The Loft, a fine art gallery and event space on the Marietta Square. She serves as Executive Director of the Marietta Arts Council, a nonprofit group working to enrich the artistic and cultural landscape of the City of Marietta through advocacy, education, and public art. A graduate of Berry College, she has been inducted into the Academy of Women Leaders, and is a graduate of Leadership Cobb Class of 2010, and co-chaired the Class of 2015.

Marietta COTY Bonnie Buckner Reavis

Reavis was honored with the Ernest Barrett Award during her class year in Leadership Cobb. The Ernest Barrett Award is selected at the conclusion of each class year by the co-chairs for personal extra effort and commitment to excellence as a participant in the program. Powder Springs Citizen of the Year, Laurie Wong, is Founder & Executive Director of Reflections of Trinity, an organization that serves families in need and combats hunger in the community through service and education. Every weekend she serves more than 350 families with healthy food and necessary supplies. She and her team of 22 employees manage the daily operations of Reflections of Trinity and have served 13 million pounds of food to more than 500,000 individuals in need.

Smyrna’s Citizen of the Year, Eric Homansky, is a teacher at Teasley Elementary School. He has been teaching in the Cobb County School District for 22 years. In addition to teaching, he owns two Smyrna-based small businesses, Way2Play Sports and FNA Flag Football. Homansky volunteers his time as a coach with Smyrna Little League, NASA TopHat Soccer, and the Kyle Pease Foundation. When not running around fields, he enjoys spending time with his family, staying active, being outdoors, cheering for the New York Mets, and assisting the efforts of the Support Smyrna Board of Directors. Homansky has been a proud resident of Smyrna since 2003 where he lives with his wife, Kristy; two sons, Benjamin and Andrew; and their dog, Frankie.

Smyrna COTY Eric Homansky

West Cobb Citizen of the Year: Joy Doss. Joy Doss, attorney with The Doss Firm LLC, is an unsung hero who is constantly working behind the scenes to serve others. Joy currently serves on the board of directors for the Center for Family Resources, as Vice President of the Cobb Schools Foundation,

Powder Springs COTY Laurie Wong

For the past 20 years, Wong has faithfully served communities within and around Powder Springs as a provider of resources to families facing crisis. Her entrepreneurial spirit, her visionary leadership, and her heart of service are reflected in the charity organization she founded more than two decades ago.

West Cobb COTY Joy Doss



and former Chair and Officer of the Board for Marietta Mentoring for Leadership. She is an active member of Marietta Kiwanis and has served on multiple committees across local non-profits, such as the Center for Family Resources Silent Auction and Thanks For Giving initiative, Communities in Schools of Georgia, Cobb/Marietta Adult Spelling Bee, LiveSafe Resources Que & Brew as Volunteer Coordinator Co-Chair, Kiwanis Veterans Day Parade & Ceremony Co-Chair, and the Marietta MDE School’s Silent Auction. Doss is also an active alumna of Leadership Cobb Class of 2023.

The MBA recognized the following members and businesses: Zach Hiatt with Modern Woodmen is Member of the Year, LGE is Business of the Year, and Akella Clore with Kolorful Kreations is the President’s Choice Award winner. “These three have gone above and beyond for Marietta Business Association for being involved and contributing to our association at a high level,” Garland says. “We thank them for what they have done in my year of Perseverance as President in 2023.” KBA BOTY Forks & Flavors

Business Association Awards Acworth Business Association’s 2023 Person of the Year is Bob Brooks. Brooks almost single-handedly initiated the ABA Outreach program, providing a vital avenue for both the ABA and the Acworth community to engage in meaningful acts of service. Under Bob’s leadership, the Outreach program has become a beacon of hope, offering support and assistance to those in need. One of his remarkable achievements was the facilitation of the cleanup and repair of a home, providing solace to a family coping with the tragic loss of a child to suicide. His compassion and dedication have made a lasting impact on the lives of those facing adversity. Brooks’ commitment to community service extends beyond the ABA Outreach program. As a volunteer, coach, and buddy, he actively participates in fundraising for Horizon special needs sports teams, embodying the spirit of inclusivity and support for everyone in the community. Kennesaw Business Association’s Business of the Year is Forks & Flavors. Owners David Willmott & Darnell Morgan took KBA by storm. As brand new 2023 members, they hit the ground with passion and enthusiasm that is rarely encountered from new members. Their participation and sponsorship in events were immediate and their involvement within the Kennesaw community was impressive. Fun & excellence are synonymous terms that define Forks & Flavors Kennesaw Business Association’s Member of the Year is Brent Rittersdorf. He has been active with the KBA for over 10 18


WCBA BOTY Jennifer Carnahan KBA MOTY Brent Rittersdorf

years and has been a member of the KBA board for the past two years. Rittersdorf is the chairperson for Wake Up KBA and has grown that segment to new levels of success. He is the managing broker for High Caliber Realty and past president of the Marietta Business Association.

The Marietta Business Association gives out awards for member and business of the year to recognize the contribution and dedication of that member or business to the association. “As it is a hard choice with all the great members and businesses out there that are involved, we vote as a board of directors on making this decision for the year,” says MBA President Michelle Garland, Biltmore Insurance Services. This year, the MBA chose the President’s Choice Award recognizing a member for their overall dedication and contribution to the MBA.

West Cobb Business Association’s Business of the Year is Aflac Independent Agent Jennifer Carnahan. Carnahan is the current WCBA Education Director and has been a benefits counselor for more than 15 years. West Cobb Business Association’s Member of the Year is Wayne Newland, President of Lighthouse Investment Advisors, Inc. Newland enjoys helping his clients organize their financial lives. His company provides the families and businesses it serves with innovative financial strategies, solutions, and planning that result in financial clarity, security, and overall financial health. n

WCBA MOTY Wayne Newland


Setting Her Practice Apart



Dr. Dimple Patel is on the ‘Leading Edge’ of dental health.

By Cory Sekine-Pettite


t the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, when health officials didn’t know much about the virus, one of the recommendations issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) was for people to delay dental care. Well, we all soon learned that medical-grade personal protective equipment (PPE) would prevent transmission of COVID-19. So, if your dentist and dental hygienist wore masks, you could seek treatment safely and your dentist would be protected from possible exposure as well. Following that WHO suggestion, the American Dental Association’s (ADA) then-President, Chad P. Gehani, D.D.S., issued a statement strongly disagreeing with the WHO, declaring: “Dentistry is essential health care because of its role in evaluating, diagnosing, preventing or treating oral diseases, which can affect systemic health.” This statement holds true whether or not we are in the midst of a pandemic. It’s accepted knowledge that good oral hygiene is fundamental to overall health and wellness. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a growing body of evidence has linked oral health, particularly periodontal (gum) disease, to several chronic diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. In pregnant women, poor oral health has also been associated with premature births and low birth weight. With this information, Cobb In Focus sought out a local dentist to talk about how oral hygiene is a foundation for good health. Meet Dr. Dimple Patel, D.M.D., who owns and operates Leading Edge Dentistry in Marietta. Leading Edge Dentistry was founded by Dr. Michael L. Howard, D.D.S., more than 30 years ago. The practice offers full-service, comprehensive dentistry that utilizes the latest techniques and technology for patient care. Leading Edge is known for its warm, friendly environment, whether patients desire a simple check-up and cleaning, or more involved



Health restorative and cosmetic procedures. Dr. Patel bought into the practice in recent years and now operates the business while also providing cutting edge dentistry for the whole family. So, what else sets this practice apart? While most dental professionals are aware that patient comfort is important, Leading Edge Dentistry makes it a priority. From high-tech laser dentistry to tension-reducing terry-cloth neck rolls to the caring smiles and personal attention patients receive at each appointment, a comfortable, stress-free dental visit is always the goal. “We love the demographics of people here [in Cobb],” said Dr. Dimple Patel. “They’re very friendly, extremely intelligent, and in tune with their health needs, which makes practicing dentistry very rewarding. We love building long-lasting relationships with the family-oriented people here. And it just helps us to ensure good, long-term dental health through having long-lasting relationships.” While Leading Edge Dentistry is known for its cosmetic work (restorations, whitening, veneers, cosmetic bonding, etc.) that can repair a patient’s smile and their confidence,

“What sets us apart is that we really listen to our patients to gain a better understanding of what will allow each patient to succeed in their whole treatment process.” –Dr. Dimple Patel, D.M.D. the doctors aren’t focused on vanity. “We can not only change the aesthetics, but also provide help in so many different ways involving their overall health. So, it’s been very rewarding,” added Dr. Dimple Patel. Their reputation for improving smiles is but one differentiator. Another factor would be the amount of time they spend with their patients. “Healthcare is driven in so many different directions these days. Patients don’t necessarily always feel like they’re heard, or their voice gets lost,” Dr. Dimple Patel said. “What sets us apart is that we really listen to

our patients to gain a better understanding of what will allow the patient to succeed in the whole treatment process. We treat each person with compassion and excellence while restoring health and beautiful smiles. We listen to each patient’s desires and empower them to make the best choices for their personal health and happiness.”

Why you should practice good oral hygiene According to dentists, about 80 percent of us have some level of gingival or gum inflam-

Meet the doctor Dr. Dimple Patel is a native of South Carolina. She attended Emory University in Atlanta, where she attained degrees in Psychology and Religion while also completing her science requirements for dental school. Upon graduation with honors in 2000, Dr. Patel returned home to attend dental school at the Medical University of South Carolina in Charleston. While in dental school, Dr. Patel was inducted into the prestigious Omicron Kappa Upsilon dental honor society and was named a Hinman Scholar where she was awarded a coveted scholarship. After graduating at the top of her class, she moved to Atlanta to pursue her career in dentistry. She has been delivering excellent dental care to her community in the Greater Atlanta area for the last 18+ years before joining Leading Edge Dentistry. So, why did she choose a career in dentistry? “I enjoy dentistry because I like working creatively with my hands and providing a service to patients that can change their smiles and outlook, while also providing a service that can really benefit their overall health as well,” she said. “After almost 20 years of practicing dentistry, I’m more excited than ever to go to the office. I have a great team and great



patients and have found a niche allowing me to offer topnotch dentistry in a relaxed, comfortable manner.” Dr. Dimple Patel has treated and changed the lives of thousands of individuals and continues to serve her community. She is constantly learning new techniques and staying on the forefront of advancing dentistry by partaking in countless hours of education. Dr. Patel has been residing in Smyrna for the last 15 years and has enjoyed watching her Cobb community grow and thrive. When she is not practicing dentistry, Dr. Patel enjoys spending time with her adventurous husband, playing basketball with her two energetic boys, cooking, working out, and supporting the Atlanta Falcons, Braves, and Hawks!

mation or infection caused by the buildup of plaque in and around the gums. Generally speaking, that isn’t indicative of poor health or bad oral hygiene. There are many factors at play from diet to body chemistry. “It could be due to hygiene, but it could also be due to medications or underlying medical conditions in the body. So, there are various factors that can lead to gum disease.” said Dr. Dimple Patel. The early stage of gum disease is called gingivitis. The ADA reports that at this stage, the disease is reversible. Eliminating the infection can be as easy as a trip to the dentist’s office for a professional cleaning. And prevention can be as easy as daily brushing and flossing. Typically, gum disease is painless, so you wouldn’t even know you have it, which is why it is critical to see your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings. “Every patient is different, and their dental needs vary as well,” Dr. Dimple Patel continued. “Some people require cleanings three to four times a year, while others may need cleanings twice a year. So, it’s really dependent on each individual’s dental and gingival health conditions.” Additionally, you may be diligent about

Leading Edge Dentistry 3475 Dallas Hwy #310, Marietta, GA 30064 770.425.2001

brushing and flossing, but did you know there are proper techniques? Consult with your dentist or dental hygienist on the best method for your situation. And for general guidelines, the ADA has brushing and flossing instructional videos on their website at Ignoring your oral hygiene for too long can lead to chronic or aggressive forms of gum disease leading to gum loss, tooth decay, tooth loss, or worse. The ADA reports that research between systemic diseases and periodontal diseases is ongoing. While a link is not conclusive, some studies indicate that severe gum disease may be associated with several other health conditions such as diabetes or stroke. And the link to heart disease is being seen as a little more conclusive. According to the Harvard-affiliated Forsyth Institute, a

not-for-profit research organization focused on oral health, chronic inflammation — including that of periodontal disease — is a key contributor to many health problems, especially atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries around the heart). “There have been studies that show poor oral health and gum disease to be correlated to cardiovascular (heart) disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and even pancreatic cancer,” Dr. Dimple Patel said. “In addition, the body’s immune response to poor oral health (inflammation) can create a chain reaction of vascular damage throughout the entire body.” Bottom line: Don’t put off your oral checkups and don’t ignore any problems you may be having with your teeth or gums. You know the proverb: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. n



Kacey and Hillery Cecil



Showing Up Big For Their Community The Cecils are dedicated to growing the Marietta Square.


By Lindsay Field Penticuff acey and Hillery Cecil love living and working in Marietta. And we mean love! The couple, both of whom were born and raised in Marietta, and were even delivered by the same doctor at Wellstar Kennesaw Hospital, attended Harrison High School, and pretty much live and breathe all things Marietta. “We were born here, and we’re going to die here,” declares Hillery Cecil, formerly Hillery LeSueur. “We want to make the place where we live better, and we want it better for everyone around us as well. We can only improve each other’s lives. …Marietta shows up big for its people, and we do as well.”

From L-R: Cecil & Campbell (C&C) partner Chris Campbell; C&C Director of Operations, Christy Jackson; and C&C Partner Kacey Cecil.



This is why they are so dedicated to helping the area grow, more specifically the Marietta Square. Their efforts center around the historic and picturesque Marietta Square. Hillery articulates their vision, “Marietta is a gem that’s been overlooked for too long. We see its beauty and potential and are committed to elevating it.” Their investment in the area is evident through their ventures, including the real estate firm Cecil & Campbell Advisors, The Foxglove event venue, 131 Le Fleur floral shop, the Marietta Proper Wine Bar and Café, and a variety of commercial investment properties.

The Foxglove Located at 54 Atlanta St. SE in Marietta, the Cecils discovered The Foxglove space in 2019 while looking for a site to open Hillery’s flower shop, 131 Le Fleur. Originally a Pure filling station with a dealership in the back, Hillery says she didn’t quite know what they should do with the space when she first saw it, but Kacey knew almost immediately. “He’s just so good at what he does,” she adds. “Kacey has this vision, sees something I don’t, and he already has a plan for it. So, as soon as he saw it, he knew it should be an event space. …We knew nothing about event spaces, but Kacey said we’d figure it out.” The name, Hillery says, came to mind while looking for a name for her flower shop. “I thought about The Foxglove, but it sounded like a place you go, like a destination, so when it

Jordan Traylor and Will Adamek



Jordan Traylor and Kacey Cecil

actually became a destination, that was a good fit for the name,” she says. “We opened three months prior to the pandemic, which was a bit unsettling, but looking back a blessing in disguise,” Kacey adds. “All the other venues were forced to cancel and unable to rebook because of the backlog, our calendar filled up seemingly overnight.” Kacey also gave much credit to Marietta locals for spreading the word relentlessly. They host all esteemed events: weddings, corporate functions, social and nonprofits, and even political gatherings. Beyond elegant weddings, they’ve had the opportunity to host the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Gov. Brian Kemp’s fundraiser, and the filming of an Aretha Franklin documentary. They have recently invested heavily into their corporate events offering program. In an increasingly remote work environment and through his background in Atlanta office leasing, Kacey says they want to partner with the best businesses in Cobb. “By partner, I mean host multiple events per year for businesses to reconnect and stay connected with customers and each other. Knowing firsthand how offices have downsized, we consider The Foxglove an alternate office location for businesses to rent monthly or quarterly to maintain relationships.” The Foxglove aesthetics and service seem a step above a traditional interior country club room or typical conference facilities. It’s an experience wrapped in history. Adjacent to The Foxglove is 131 Le Fleur, Hillery’s floral shop, which plays a significant role in complementing the events at their

venue. The name, a nod to her maiden name, symbolizes the harmonious blend of their personal and professional lives. Hillery’s flowers are artistic and elegant as her brand motto states, “wild and refined.”

Marietta Proper Wine Bar and Café Their latest venture, Marietta Proper Wine Bar and Café, recently opened at 9 West Park Square. It is centered around, you guessed it… the local community to gather and enjoy personally selected fine coffee, wines and whiskey from around the globe. “Out of The Foxglove family came our preferred caterer, Will Adamek, of Dogwood Catering,” Kacey says. While discussing putting a wine bar across the street from one of his commercial buildings just off the Marietta Square, Kacey says he and Adamek learned the space formerly known as Hamilton Jewelers across from Marietta Pizza Company was becoming vacant for the first time in nearly 40 years. “We were full throttle about to start construction when this space came up,” Kacey says. “We took the asking price, signed the lease, and off we went.” Partnering with Adamek and another close friend of theirs, longtime sommelier Jordan Traylor, the Cecils worked throughout most of 2023 to renovate what would become Marietta Proper, which opens January 2024. “They each have 20-plus years of experience, plus they CARE, A LOT! Finding partners like them is incredibly rare, and I found two.” Kacey says. “Together they are

“We want to make the place where we live better, and we want it better for everyone around us as well.” –Hillery Leseur Cecil, about making Marietta a thriving community

an unstoppable team; they just needed an amazing space to share their talents. “We have one of the most prominent corners on the Square, and one of the most historic buildings on the Square,” Kacey continues. “The wine and whiskey club will be hidden by a secret speakeasy door which will guide members down a private entrance to our private wine cave, a dimly lit 150-year-old brick/stone that has been renovated completely. Members will enjoy a variety of exclusive wine and whiskeys, curated pairings, and top-notch service.” In the mornings, Marietta Proper will serve as a café, and in the evenings, a wine and whiskey bar, serving elevated small plates created by Adamek, and paired with spirits Traylor personally selects. “The pairings will be Proper as well. Intentional with our wine list,” Hillery says. “Jordan and Will have worked together for years and overlap seamlessly.” There also will be a Marietta Proper pickup window accessible from the sidewalk, so if someone is shopping and walking around the Marietta Square, they can swing by and grab craft cocktails, whiskey, and wine. “Place your favorite order at the Dutch door, grab it and go shop on the Square,” Kacey says. “Hillery always says I’m more fun to shop with after I’ve had a margarita.” They are currently accepting applications for the members-only space. Learn more online at

Kacey says has the ability to be a “disruptor” in the commercial real estate industry. “It’s an off-market exchange platform where investment property principles, agents and other 3rd party vendors can connect similar to a residential Zillow or Redfin” he says. “It’s a similar model, but completely confidential.

We’ve worked on this for a few years and now having launched, receiving fantastic customer feedback and early successes.” The new website — — launched in November 2023. It’s an opportunity for Cecil, who has nearly 20 years of experience in commercial real estate, and his team

MARIETTA w i n e

b a r


c a f e

And that’s not all! Cecil & Campbell Advisors recently launched an exchange platform, Maslow CRE, that mp-ad1.indd 1

12/29/23 4:24 PM JANUARY/ FEBRUARY 2024


“We are really trying to push connecting people, companies, employees, clients and customers who are disconnected, and really help bring them together in our space.” Caption to come. Caption to come. Caption to come. Caption to come. Caption to come.

–Kacey Cecil, about The Foxglove

Kacey Cecil and Paula Wooding

to help kick the firm’s expertise in this industry up a few more notches. “It’s very simple and has everything to do with what’s best for every customer, buyers, sellers, and of course agents,” he says. “It’s meant to solve the communication problem between parties off market while connecting faster with our proprietary algorithm that matches Buyers and Sellers, kind of like a dating site, minus the long walk on the beach.” One user of the platform shares, “As promised, Maslow CRE delivered on our sale leaseback. Within 48 hours, they crafted a comprehensive marketing package of digital, hard copy, and video format. On day three, we were introducing the property to vetted investors, and by day four, we had an offer surpassing our existing one.”

But there’s more! The Cecils have kept it pretty hush-hush, but they are setting sail this July on a yearlong adventure with their two children, Charlotte

(12) and Barrett (11) — dogs and cat included. “We bought a sailboat and are pulling the kids out of school next year to homeschool them to sail around the Mediterranean Sea and then back over the pond,” says Kacey. “Teenage years are in full swing, so Hillery and I hope this experience will be great for them and bring us closer together.” The Cecils’ 52-foot sailboat is a Neel Trimaran and is currently being built in France. “Believe it or not, we’re not sailors, but we have been earning our certificates and are almost ready to go,” Kacey says, “Hillery has a relentless belief in me and never shied away from a crazy adventure idea, so they just keep getting better as we go. “It’s all about the life experiences with each other, which is super exciting to me. The struggles are almost as rewarding as the wins at times. It’s kind of crazy to say it out loud, but doing it is even more exciting!” concludes Kacey. n

Marietta Proper Wine Bar and Café 9 W Park Square Marietta, GA 30060 678.744.3882 Monday-Wednesday, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.; 5 p.m.-11:30 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-2 p.m.; 5 p.m.-1 a.m. Sunday, closed

The Foxglove 54 Atlanta St. SE Marietta, GA 30060 470.259.0698

131 Le Fleur “It’s all about the life adventures and the chase for us.” –Kacey Cecil, about sailing around the Mediterranean Sea The Cecil’s are learning to sail and plan to voyage around the world later this year.



54 Atlanta St. SE, Suite A Marietta, GA 30060 404.402.6750

Cecil & Campbell 65 Whitlock Ave. SW Marietta, GA 30064 770.575.1515

A rts & Recreation

The Art of the Game(s) How several local sports tournaments and organizations are honoring Cobb’s past and future. By Michael J. Pallerino


n 2020, John Silvey remembers sitting in a board meeting as the director of sponsorships for the first year of the Lemon Street Classic (LSC). As the discussion moved around the table, Silvey couldn’t help but feel honored to be a part of what was being proposed. The basketball tournament would be part of the Marietta City Schools’ commitment to restore the significance of the once-historic elementary school — the first for African American children in Cobb County. Established in 1887 (and rebuilt in 1951), Lemon Street High School was a key provider of education for Black children during segregation. The school’s last class graduated

in 1966, right before its student body was integrated with Marietta High School and various other Cobb schools. Today, as a testament to its significance in the Black community, the site was recently added to the Georgia Registry of Historic Places. “I was easily drawn to LSC because of the real purpose behind the tournament,” Silvey says. “It gives a voice to those who may have lost it when their high school was demolished. The event honors the legacy of the education these students received and recognizes their contributions to the community and their families.” In his three years as tournament director, Silvey has had a first-hand look at how

the event harmoniously marries Marietta’s historic past with the innovation and thoughtfulness of Cobb’s diverse and growing sports community. This past December, more than 25 teams from Georgia, and five from outside the state, participated in the three-day tournament. On the legacy side, over the past four years, the event also has recognized alumni and supporters of Lemon Street High School. The school’s transformation from a storage facility — the role it eventually played after closing its doors in the 1970s — to a bastion of history and education has been a testimony to the community and its legacy. For example, in February 2021, the Lemon JANUARY/ FEBRUARY 2024


A rts & Recreation Street building reopened its doors to help educate students. In addition, the Marietta Schools Foundation fully funded the design and creation of historic markers outside and inside the building that denote its journey before, during, and after integration. There also are plans for it to house the Marietta Performance Learning Center. With the support of the local community and businesses, the Lemon Classic continues to build its own legacy of giving. Take its recent partnership with the Ludacris Foundation, which will enable tournament organizers to give out two scholarships in the Lemon Street name. “The Lemon Street Classic Tournament brings communities and families together in a very unique way,” Silvey says. “The tournament is bringing revenue to Cobb County by patronizing local businesses and hotels. We are using local restaurants for our Hospitality Room.

“Each of these are tied to the community in ways that inspire participation, growth, and learning. I chose to move here because of all the opportunities there are to help the community.” – John Silvey

And we continue to recognize Lemon Street alumni each year, which is the purpose of the tournament. And on the sports side, we are bringing highly competitive high school basketball teams together. It offers a great sense of community.”

At one with the community Growing up the middle child in Hendersonville, North Carolina, Silvey learned the intricacies of hard work and perseverance. Jumping in the restaurant world at an early age, he took a job with Long John Silver’s, eventually working his way up the ladder to general manager. After getting married, Silvey moved to Marietta, where an assistant manager job at Zaxby’s led to an opportunity to become a managing partner in two Zaxby’s locations (one location was closed in 2021 as a direct result of the pandemic). Silvey’s restaurant is actively involved in the Partners in Education program, assisting 15 local schools. Beth, Silvey’s wife of 20 years, was a teacher

Lemon Street Classic 30


(now retired) in the Marietta City Schools district. Silvey’s affinity for his community is deep. After becoming foster parents, the Silveys adopted twin newborn girls, which expanded their vision of giving back to the community. Silvey was a board member and president of the Cobb County Foster Adoptive Parent Association for years, and he worked with a peer-to-peer mentoring program in Marietta Middle and Park Street Elementary Schools called My Next Big Adventure, as well as the End Hunger Alliance. Additionally, Silvey serves on the Student Governance Team for Marietta Middle School and the Board for the Marietta College and Career Academy. In 2022 and 2023, he received the Cobb Chamber Community Service Excellence Award. “I love that what I do isn’t a job. It is a way to connect with the community and provide services that I wouldn’t be able to do anywhere else.”

North Cobb Christian team at Lemon Street Classic

That’s why when the Florida-based Southeastern Fastpitch Tournament (SFP) was looking for a tournament director in Georgia, Silvey jumped on a plane to go meet with them. After finding it was a great fit for both groups, Silvey signed on to manage another competition. The move was inspired in part by his involvement in the Marietta Metro Softball Program. After discovering there was no feeder program for Marietta High School, Silvey decided to find a solution. Since his daughters were at the age to be in the program, he began coaching in 2022 and 2023. Heading into 2024, he will move to a directoronly role for the program, as well as become president of the Marietta High School Softball Booster Club Program. “The amount of talented young girls that had no place to play softball during the summer/beginning of school inspired me to want to start this program,” he says. “In order for a high school program — no matter what it is — to be good, it needs the talent coming from the younger grades. If there is no program at the middle school grades, the talent won’t be there for the high school like it could be.” That made the Southeastern Fastpitch Tournament an easy decision. The tournaments, held in Florida (and now Georgia in 2024) from March through November, help connect families, and give the young women a fun and competitive atmosphere to show off their talents. And thanks to its recent partnership with the nonprofit charitable organization First2Home, SFP can help bring together players who may not have been able to play, as well as connect them to higher education associations and possibly help make career choices. “The Southeastern Fastpitch Tournaments will deliver a lot to the community, businesses, and families,” Silvey says. “Teams that may not have been able to play against each other can now come together in one tournament. Families can meet different softball families. Businesses benefit from the local revenue that the tournaments bring in, not to mention the hotels that the tournament teams and families may need. And certain SFP tournaments will be partnering with a local nonprofit organization to support the local community in different ways.” As he moves into the next phase of community and sports development, Silvey is helping set the Cobb County area to be a drawing ground for families interested in sports,

Evans High School and Lemon Street High School coaches

community, and history. “I believe it is very important for the community to support and engage with each other. By having community support, young people can play a sport they love; they can feel more engaged and want to continue to have a long career. Each of these are tied to the community in ways that inspire participation, growth, and learning. I chose to move here because of all the opportunities there are to help the community.”

As Cobb continues to grow, the value of building community through sports continues to help share a sense of purpose, unity, and belonging. By uniting sports with history, culture, and growth, events such as the Lemon Street Classic, Southeastern Fastpitch Tournaments, and Marietta Metro Softball Program, are creating a supportive environment where residents not only thrive as athletes, but as contributors. n

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Final Focus

Reflecting On 2023


t this time of year, it’s just human nature to reflect on the past year and to ponder what the New Year will bring. As I’ve written in these pages before, I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions, but I do get reflective. So, as 2023 was winding down, I began to think about all the articles Cobb In Focus published last year, and I started putting together a list of my favorites — both those written by me and by our contributors. In January of last year, I wrote about food insecurity and the great work of Atlanta-based Goodr, which we reported was opening a Goodr Grocery Store at Tapp Middle School in Powder Springs to help those in need. It’s always great to share stories about the important work of charitable organizations. In our March/April issue, Lauren McBride told us about her Gift of Music Foundation, which provides greater access to musical instruments, education, and the many benefits of studying music. She is an inspiration. Of course, the always inspirational Drew Tutton was profiled in the May/June issue and demonstrated how his keen business sense has helped him succeed. Later that summer ( July/August), we covered municipal development and the importance of improving walkability and mobility access with a feature developed with the National



Association of Chronic Disease Directors. An important and ongoing discussion! Then in September of last year, I wrote about choosing a senior care facility — a significant decision we all may face some day. The good people at Gaines Park Senior Living in Kennesaw were extremely helpful with that article. Finally, our November/December 2023 issue featured local florist extraordinaire Mike Whittle who is known widely for both his beautiful creations and his beautiful soul. If you haven’t read his story yet, please check it out. So, what are your favorite Cobb In Focus articles from the recent past? Let us know! All the articles mentioned here — and more — are at n

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