Cobb In Focus May June 2023

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Not Slowing Down

Drew Tutton on his drive to succeed

MAY/JUNE 2023 Decks & More • Wholebody Systems • Georgia Highlands College • A.G. Rhodes • Marietta Business Association
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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.

VISIT US AT SMYRNAGA.GOV @CityofSmyrnaGA @SmyrnaNews @CityofSmyrnaGA
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Not Slowing Down

Drew Tutton shares his journey of growth and expansion from one company to four, with another to launch next year.



Atlanta nonprofit nursing home, A.G. Rhodes, explains why private rooms are a big deal.


When you join the Marietta Business Association, you get not just an outstanding networking group, but a built-in support group that cheers you on and helps you persevere.


America’s first single-rail family racing coaster debuts at Six Flags Over Georgia for 2023 season.


Recently, our editor took advantage of a great opportunity to learn how to blow glass.

Vol. XIX, No. 3 MAY/JUNE 2023 Contents FEATURE On the cover: Drew Tutton, owner of the Tutton Group, which consists of Open Roads Complete RV Acworth, Open Roads Complete RV Jasper, Tutton Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram (formerly Jasper Jeep), Voyles Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Birmingham, and Jasper Tractor (which opened in March).
LaRuche Photo
Find out what’s going on throughout Cobb County with our news updates and calendar of events.
has turned a passion for home renovation into a thriving business with more than 20 years of success. 12 HEALTH Wholebody Systems is a therapeutic fitness program that uses certified medical devices rather than traditional exercise equipment. 16 EDUCATION
Highlands College is celebrating its
year of classes at its newest location in Marietta.
Frank Pologruto, owner of Decks & More, Inc. in Smyrna,
20 LEADERS OF COBB Connect with a local leader who strives to make Cobb County a better place.
22 4 MAY/JUNE 2023


New South Publishing Inc.


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

Growth and change are prominent themes in the articles we bring you with every issue of this magazine. From the people who share with us their personal journeys of turning tragedy into triumph or improving the lives of others; to the local business owners who help to make Cobb County the best place to live, work, and play in metro Atlanta, there’s never a shortage of great stories to tell.

In this issue, we profile entrepreneur Drew Tutton (whom many of you may recognize) about his many thriving businesses. We take a look at the one-year anniversary of the opening of Georgia Highlands College’s Marietta campus. We get a glimpse of the burgeoning Wholebody Systems program from owner Alex Simmons. A.G. Rhodes CEO Deke Cateau tells us about the nonprofit’s Legacy of Care program. And we speak with Frank Pologruto, owner of Decks & More, Inc., whose remodeling business has been flourishing for more than 20 years.

All these people (and more) have incredible stories to share, and it is our pleasure to bring them to you. As always, we hope you enjoy these articles; we certainly had fun producing them.

Do you have a great story to share? I want to hear it! My contact information is below, so let me know what you’ve done for Cobb or vice versa. Perhaps you’ve started a business or you operate a charity. Maybe you mentor kids or created a scholarship program. Whatever it is, let me know. We could be featuring you in a future issue!

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


Jennifer Morrell, Writer

Michael J. Pallerino, Writer LaRuche Photo, Photography

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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 2023 by New South Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A.

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Photo by LaRuche Photo
MAY/JUNE 2023 5


Cobb Community Foundation Announces New Board Members

Cobb Community Foundation (CCF) has appointed four new members to the board of directors. The new members, Carole Cox, Darion Dunn, Cheryl Richardson, and Ray Thomas began their two-year terms with CCF effective Jan. 1, 2023. Cox is a senior portfolio manager at GLOBALT Investments. Dunn is managing partner at Atlantica Properties. Richardson is City of Marietta Councilwoman of Ward 1 and founding attorney at Richardson Legal Services, PC. Thomas is president of Mableton Improvement Coalition. Learn more at

Chattahoochee Tech Foundation Awards Student Scholarships Valued at $110,000

The Chattahoochee Tech Foundation awarded student scholarships with a total value of $110,000 at an awards presentation held April 14, at the college’s North Metro Campus. The scholarships ranged in value from $500 to $2,500, with scholarship recipients competing against hundreds of student applicants throughout the college. “These scholarships help make college education an affordable reality for students to reach the goal of graduation and enter the community workforce,” said Chattahoochee Tech President Dr. Ron Newcomb. “We greatly appreciate the generosity of our scholarship donors in supporting Chattahoochee Tech students and workforce development.”

Cobb EMC’s Mark Justice Named Distinguished Cooperator

Antoine Pettway Named Kennesaw State Men’s Basketball Head Coach

City of Smyrna Launches Smyrna Safe Business Program

The City of Smyrna has launched the Smyrna Safe Business Program, an emergency preparedness program for local businesses. The program will take participants through topics such as hazard identification, contingency planning, and CPR/First Aid training over a series of six sessions. Once completed, the graduating businesses will be recognized by the Mayor and City Council as a “Smyrna Safe Business.”

Georgia Power Donates $50,000 to Chattahoochee Technical College

Georgia Power recently presented a $50,000 donation to the Chattahoochee Tech Foundation to provide support for the Superior Plumbing Veterans Education Career Transition Resource (VECTR) Center. Located at the college’s Marietta Campus, the VECTR Center helps veterans who are transitioning into civilian life be successful in transferring their skills into the local workforce. “Our contribution toward the VECTR Center allows us to support the brave women and men who have fought for our freedom and help keep Georgia the number one place to do business, which drives economic development leading to the prosperity of Georgians,” said Georgia Power Regional Director Britt Fleck.

Mark Justice, director of education and community relations at Cobb EMC, recently was named Distinguished Cooperator by the Georgia Cooperative Council, a statewide nonprofit association whose membership is composed of financial, electric, telephone, marketing, and service cooperatives. “Mark is the quintessential servant leader, and his commitment to our community is unwavering and seemingly endless,” said Kris Delaney, VP of marketing and communications at Cobb EMC. “In addition to the numerous initiatives that Mark spearheads with local schools, he works with numerous community groups and chambers of commerce and serves in a leadership capacity for many of them.”

Town Center Community to Complete Exhibits at Aviation Park

The Town Center Community Alliance recently announced final funding and curation of outdoor exhibits at Aviation Park. The first of the final two exhibits is Wheels to Wings, which focuses on aviation history of the local region. An exhibit entitled, What Happens up There: From Taxi to Landing, will offer a sneak peek at what happens inside the cockpit. Both exhibits will be installed by early summer 2023.

Antoine Pettway is taking over a KSU program coming off its most successful season in school history, as the Owls set numerous school records on the way to the first-ever ASUN regular season and tournament championship as well as the firstever trip to the NCAA Division I Tournament.

Gritters Library to be Rebuilt

By a 5-0 vote this past March, the Cobb County Board of Commissioners cleared the way for building a new Gritters Library and Northeast Cobb Community Center. The vote culminated a three-year effort to replace a library built in the early 70s that suffered from multiple serious plumbing issues and mold and mildew concerns. The rebuild was originally a 2016 SPLOST project pushed by District 3 Commissioner JoAnn Birrell, who never gave up advocating for the library and its dedicated users despite numerous challenges. “This would not have happened without your fierce advocacy,” Chairwoman Lisa Cupid told Commissioner Birrell. “I know a number of citizens in District 3 are grateful for our action today.”

Cobb EMC’s Delaney is Marketer of the Year

Cobb EMC’s, VP of Marketing, Kris Delaney, recently was named Marketer of the Year from the American Marketing Association Atlanta Chapter, AMA Atlanta. Before joining Cobb EMC, Delaney was the director of marketing & communications for Undergraduate & Graduate Admissions at Georgia State University.

Mobile App Tracks Nearby Sex Offenders

Cobb County Sheriff Craig D. Owens recently announced the launch of the free Cobb County Sheriff’s Office mobile app. With this tech, parents can set a “no-go” zone and receive a notification if their loved one goes near a sex offender. The county is now part of the national OffenderWatch program that helps give parents and others peace of mind knowing where registered sex offenders are in the county. Download the free Cobb County Sheriff’s Office app on your Android or iPhone today.

a snapshot of what’s going on in your community.
S harper Focus
6 MAY/JUNE 2023


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

5/2 – 9/26

Food Truck Tuesdays

Join your fellow foodies at Taylor-Brawner Park in Smyrna from 5-9 p.m. for the best Food Truck event series around! More info:


Smoke on the Lake BBQ Festival

The North Cobb Rotary Club, City of Acworth, and the Georgia Barbecue Association partner each year to host the Smoke on the Lake BBQ Festival in Acworth. More info:


Spring Splash

There will be food, drinks, and games at this networking & charity event at White Water. More info:

6/2 Free Resources for Seniors Expo

Learn about low- or no-cost products and services for Cobb’s seniors at the Acworth Community Center.

More info:


Beginning Art Business Workshop

A workshop for you to learn and know more about the business of being an artist.

More info:


Music in the Park Concert Series

The Friends of East Cobb Park’s free concert series, presented by Wellstar Health Systems, returns. More info:


M2R TrailFest

M2R TrailFest is a public arts festival featuring the debut of numerous art installations in Downtown Marietta along portions of the Mountain to River Trail and in public parks. More info:


Community Job Fair

The City of Kennesaw, in partnership with the Kennesaw Business Association, will host a community-wide Job Fair at the Ben Robertson Community Center from 2-6 p.m. More info:


Paddles in the Park

The Northeast Cobb Business Association presents its newest fundraiser, Paddles in the Park, at Jim R. Miller Park.

More info:


June Concert –Electric Avenue

Come to downtown Smyrna for a great night of 80’s music featuring Electric Avenue from 7-10 p.m. Admission is free. Tables will be available for purchase later this spring.

More info:


Bringing The Sea To The Springs

This annual seafood festival in Powder Springs brings great food and fun for the entire family to Thurman Springs Park. More info:


Senior Services’ Expo & Marketplace

The Cobb County Senior Services’ Expo & Marketplace at the Cobb Civic Center offers free seminars, health screenings, and much more. More info:

5/29 Memorial Day

Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in military service for the United States.

Juneteenth Celebrations Concert
the Green
of Acworth,
Unity Walk City of Powder Springs,
Celebration + Parade City of Austell, Legion Park
p.m. Cobb Fourth of July Celebrations 7/3 Salute to America Concert & Fireworks City of Kennesaw, Depot Park 6-10 p.m. 7/4 4th In The Park City of Marietta, Glover Park 10 a.m.-Dark 7/4 4th of July Celebration and Fireworks City of Acworth, Cauble Park Begins at 5:30 p.m. 7/4 July 4th Celebration City of Powder Springs, downtown 6-10 p.m.
Logan Farm Park 5-9
Park 2-8
- 7
MAY/JUNE 2023 7

The Can-do Contractor

B usiness
Decks & More, Inc. was part of the team that created this award-winning “Outdoor Oasis” for a local homeowner.
8 MAY/JUNE 2023
For Frank Pologruto, the clients come first.

He was around 14 years old when the feeling hit him. Frank Pologruto remembers watching Bob Vila’s “This Old House,” PBS’ iconic home improvement show, and thinking how cool it was to see what went on behind the scenes. The remolding, repairing, and renovation was sheer artwork — and he was hooked.

Around this same time, Frank, owner of Decks & More, Inc. in Smyrna, would follow his father (a union electrician) around the house helping as much as he was allowed. When he started high school, Frank engrained himself in the building trade, taking shop classes to help hone his craftsmanship proficiency. His father was his muse and being able to emulate him was the arc he wanted to follow. “He gave me the work ethic, the discipline,” Frank said. “If it wasn’t for my dad, I don’t think I’d be here today. He was our family’s glue. His hard work and sacrifice were paramount to what I strived to be. That’s what I want to do — it is all I ever wanted to be.”

MAY/JUNE 2023 9

B usiness

What his father taught him about work, sacrifice, and commitment, the Army would reinforce it. In 1989, at the age of 19, Frank enlisted in the U.S. Army to serve a six-year stint that took him to the jungles of Panama, where he further learned the tenets of family, commitment, and teamwork. Moving from Private to Sergeant, he not only honed the skills to lead, but also how to effectively praise, reprimand, and correct people — skills that would become essential to being an entrepreneur. “We all have a mission, a job to do. You learn where to put people and who your best assets are. More than anything else, I learned that if you can take care of your people, your people will take care of you.”

After leaving the Army, Frank applied to Shepherds College in West Virginia and Towson University in Maryland, eventually settling on Towson, where he also sold alarm systems door-to-door. Upon graduating in 2000, he moved to Atlanta, where after a stint in telecom, he gravitated back to his first love. It was on the cusp of the recession that Frank started Decks & More. In his first year, he set up 700 appointments. “We were doing proposals and jobs and proposals; it was insane. I don’t think I could ever recreate what I started. We do about 100 appointments a year now.”

Home is where the heart is

The client comes first. If there is a principle by which Decks & More operates, that is the one. At the heart of this promise is the communication that Frank and his team have perfected after 20-plus years in the business. Multiple site visits. Constant conversations. The intrinsic attention to detail. Add it together and you get a company that has been honored with more than 120 design awards from industry leading groups such as the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) and the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA).

“We create an outdoor oasis. It could be a porch, a deck, a sunroom, a fireplace, outdoor kitchen or patio,” Frank said. “No matter what it is, you have to listen to what your clients want. If you can do that, you can make your customers feel special. That is a critically important part of the process. The real difference between our success and everyone else is that we care about our clients. We care about what they want.”

The other critical part of Decks & More’s

success, and one that Frank says he credits to his years in the military, is that he takes care of his people. “Ask my team and they will tell you that I just have two rules: Take care of our clients and make it look pretty. In the end, it all comes down to listening and the final products. You want to offer creative ideas,

optimum solutions, and you want to deliver on your promise. We are the ‘can-do contractors.’ I’ve seen too many people over the years say, ‘We’re going to do this and we’re going to do that,’ but they don’t. They don’t figure it out. We figured it out.”

In a time when a person’s home has truly

“The real difference between our success and everyone else is that we care about our clients. We care about what they want.”
–Frank Pologruto, Owner, Decks & More, Inc.
10 MAY/JUNE 2023
This large, outdoor renovation from Decks & More is known as the Harkins Pool Project.

become his castle, Decks & More is trying to help fill that passion. In a time of “staycations,” having everything you need in your backyard means something. When Decks & More first began, it was doing $4,000-$8,000 deck packages. Today, driven by bells and whistles like outdoor fireplaces and kitchens, the average ticket is around $120,000. Operating with three crews, the nine-person team (which occasionally includes Frank’s father helping out) has a client base that stretches from East and West Cobb, to Roswell, Dunwoody, Sandy Springs, and the City of Atlanta. It also does some work in Decatur.

“We love working with our customers, especially in the Cobb County area,” Frank said. “We have built some great relationships over the years with the building departments and inspectors. It’s just amazing where we are today compared to where we started. The whole outdoor living space just continues to blow up.”

One of Decks & More’s most recent award-winning projects was a nine-month, $500,000 custom build job in Marietta that included an upper-level porch featuring a

tongue-and-groove ceiling and wood plank tiles. The deck was accented with large flagstone steps leading down to the lower-level patio, which featured a firepit and a kidneyshaped pool with the sun shelf built into it. To complete the ultimate outdoor oasis, the area included an outdoor kitchen and seating area. The Decks & More team worked with Atlantis Pool & Spa, which designed and installed the resort-style, multi-level pool and hot tub. Crawford Landscaping added the final touch with a landscape design concept featuring a tailored hardscape and green space, which help create an organic flow from one area to the next.

“The job was one that we were really proud of. It has been one of the real pinnacles of all the work that we have done,” Frank recalled. “And like every recognition we receive, it was earned. That is the most important

factor — earning it. When we look at some of the other projects that are recognized and to know that we are in the mix with some of these amazing builders, it is exciting. Some of the work that other companies do is spectacular, so we are never concerned about what place something is rewarded. In the end, it is knowing that the customer is satisfied. The client is always first for us.”

n A Unit of the Technical College System of Georgia. Equal Opportunity Institution. 770-528-4545 Apply Now for Fall Semester Application Deadline July 7 Celebrating 60 Years of Creating New Career Opportunities. “It’s just amazing where we are today compared to where we started. The whole outdoor living space just continues to blow up.” –Frank Pologruto, Owner, Decks & More, Inc. MAY/JUNE 2023 11

Working Smarter, Not Harder

H ealth
12 MAY/JUNE 2023
Top R-L: Alex Simmons, Emily Ferrell, Isabella Kujawa, and Eli McKnight. Bottom R-L: Kim Brinson, and Omega Bickham.

The path forward is not always a straight line. Oftentimes, the road that eventually takes us to where we want to be is paved with a series of twists and turns — challenges that inevitably make or break us. After studying business management and entrepreneurialism at Kennesaw State University, Alex Simmons started his professional career working with a small startup music store, where he helped teach private lessons to mostly school-aged kids.

As he began developing relationships with local schools, he saw an opportunity to offer after-school music programs as an enrichment course. The students didn’t need to come to the music store, the store could take the lessons to them. Melding the practices, he studied about developing business and creating value from underused resources. Alex methodically grew the platform to nearly 200 schools in three states.

They were promising times, until they weren’t. During that same stretch, Alex’s father was diagnosed with cancer. Watching his mentor and business partner fight a brief and brutal battle he would eventually lose, the experience changed Alex. “It was a very hard time in my life. My father’s death changed my whole view on health and wellness. I became obsessed with getting healthier. I began to take my health seriously and began to study the holistic approach to life.”

Driven by a new purpose, Alex shifted the entire scope of his exercise regimen, moving away from movements designed to make him look good to ones geared toward preserving his body. Exercises centered on posture and flexibility became his focus. About the same time, his mother introduced him to a new technology called bioDensity, which is designed to help people build stronger bones. After mentioning her desire to purchase one of the machines and open a strength clinic, Alex’s entrepreneurial senses were reawakened.

Delving once again into the concept of developing business and creating value, Alex created the Wholebody Systems (WBS) business model, a therapeutic fitness program that uses certified medical devices rather than traditional exercise equipment. The primary goal is to focus on gains in strength, bone density, flexibility, posture, and balance through clinically safe protocols. The premise is straightforward: Function comes before fashion (exercise for health, not aesthetics). “I had seen the profound impact it had on my physical well-being,” says Alex, owner and operator. “BioDensity represents something that I believe in very much. Longevity is directly tied to your spinal health. I wanted to share this with the world.”

Working smarter, not harder

Most people tend to believe that the longer and more intense their exercise session is, the more effect it will have. Alex is not one of those people. He believes that for any exercise program to work, you must take the time to truly identify the goals most important for health and longevity. Just working out to get in shape is not a sustainable solution.

To help their clients understand the importance of being specific with their goals, Wholebody Systems takes every client through a functional assessment to help highlight the areas they need to work on. A big part of the process is understanding the distinction between cardiovascular exercise

MAY/JUNE 2023 13
Wholebody Systems is a therapeutic fitness program that uses certified medical devices rather than traditional exercise equipment.

and resistance training. “Everyone knows you need to get your heart rate up for heart health and metabolic management,” Alex says. “Only recently has resistance training — challenging the muscles and bones for strength — become prevalent in the conversation about health and wellness. Up until the last couple of decades, the population at large thought that weightlifting was only for athletes and bodybuilders.”

Wholebody Systems provides an option for resistance training for people who just want to stay healthy and strong, not to lose weight or build big muscles. Working toward those types of goals involves entirely different protocols and techniques, which is why the WBS focuses on the use of technology and advanced training.

“It’s all about the technology,” Alex says. “We use tools that provide a stimulus to the body that causes an adaptive response in your muscle and bone tissue. Traditional methods require multiple movements, sets, and repetitions to achieve this same result. I like to explain it like this: Science and technology are constantly improving the way we live our lives. The science we have learned about the body tells us how to achieve changes in your muscle tissue, bone tissue, and nerve function by using certain stimuli. The engineers that created the technology we use have crafted a vessel to deliver these stimuli in a safe, effective and extremely efficient way.”


Stepping into the WBS program gives you a one-on-one experience with a personal exercise therapist using some of the most advanced fitness technology on the market. The program started as an adjunct to other services, located inside chiropractic facilities. Over the years they have transformed into a much more robust clinical fitness service.

New clients must go through a Start Up process, which begins with a functional evaluation where they get measurements in

strength, flexibility, posture, and muscular endurance. The Wholebody Systems team takes the data and conducts a thoughtful analysis to determine the priorities for the program. Everything is summarized along with specific recommendations in a report that every client receives. From there, the clients set up conferences with the clinic director to review the report and decide on a plan.

“A lot of our clients come to see us specifically for Osteoporosis,” Alex says. “One of the tools we use was designed specifically to reverse bone loss. We have been doing that with great success since we opened in 2011. It’s funny because when I say Osteoporosis everyone usually thinks of old people. But that is completely untrue. Most of our clients are between 50-55 years old. That is when their doctors are ordering their first bone density scan.”

Wholebody Systems’ client list looks like this:

• 50-plus postmenopausal women needing bone density (Osteoporosis)

• The active aging community who wants to stay active

• Anyone who struggles with traditional forms of exercise

• People living with chronic muscle and joint pain

• Those trying to avoid or recover from surgery

• Non-exercisers that want to fight the effects of aging

The WBS program operates on each user’s preference. For example, it has clients who visit once per week to those who come three to four times per week. Some perform 15-minute sessions for strength, while others do 30-minute sessions for stretching and flexibility. The goal is to be sure that the specific purpose to each session is applied. “We don’t want to be just shooting in the dark,” Alex says. “The overlying theme is we want to do exercises that help maximize our musculoskeletal function. If you have tight hamstrings and lower back pain, we don’t want to just go to work on your arms and shoulders. It starts with making a small change that you can maintain. I see a lot of people fail when they try to change everything overnight, realize it is too overwhelming, and then they give up.”

Staying the course

As steady as success can be, Alex is quick to remind himself that the twists and turns in the road are always present. The most recent reminder was the once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, which created a whirlwind that tested his resolve like no other. In March 2020, just as the world was becoming familiar with

H ealth
“Longevity is directly tied to your spinal health. I wanted to share this with the world.”
–Alex Simmons, Owner & Operator, Wholebody Systems
14 MAY/JUNE 2023
Exercise Therapist Kim Brinson is now a partner in Wholebody Systems. She and Alex plan to open a new location soon.

apparent than anything else was that the Wholebody Systems approach was necessary. With the spotlight on the importance of health and wellness shining brighter than ever, there also was a light shining on the fragility of the medical system. “There was a paradigm shift in the general population that we are all accountable for our own health,” Alex says. “And Wholebody Systems embodies everything that has come out of this revelation.”

In March 2021, Kim Brinson was working as a yoga instructor/personal trainer and part owner of another fitness studio in Smyrna when Alex reached out about working together with his clients. Several months later, Kim decided not to renew her lease and asked about coming on board in a larger capacity with WBS. After several conversations, they inked a deal making her a partner in the Smyrna office, which they eventually converted into their first standalone facility.

In July, Alex and Kim plan to open their second standalone facility in East Cobb, which will be located behind the Whole Foods on the corner of Johnson Ferry and Roswell Road. The move is the next step

toward achieving Alex’s long-term goal — franchise sales in spring 2024. Where the road leads is something Alex places in faith. After starting his company in 2011, he once again methodically plotted the path forward. From renting space inside chiropractic offices to standalone facilities, his focus will always be on the process — a therapeutic fitness approach to helping people live healthy, longer, and more fulfilling lives. n

A.G. Rhodes is embarking on a landmark effort.

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. This new home will include six households with each featuring:

∗ Twelve private bedrooms

∗ Sunroom to connect with the outdoors

∗ Centralized community kitchen

∗ Living room with an inviting hearth

∗ Dining room for family-style meals

∗ Outdoor gardens

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.

“There was a paradigm shift in the general population that we are all accountable for our own health. And Wholebody Systems embodies everything that has come out of this revelation.”
Simmons, Owner & Operator, Wholebody Systems (404) 987-7908 MAY/JUNE 2023 15

Georgia Highlands College celebrates successful first year at Northchase Parkway

Georgia Highlands College (GHC) made plans to expand in Marietta early in 2022 with a new site on Northchase Parkway. The mission? The same as every other GHC site in the northwest Georgia region: bring access to

quality, career-targeted University System of Georgia programs at one of the lowest costs in the state or country.

The college’s newest location on 1090 Northchase Parkway opened in summer of 2022, but the college is no stranger to the Cobb County

community. The former GHC Marietta location was a small site opened on the Southern Polytechnic State University campus in 2005 (now Kennesaw State University).

GHC is a state college in the University System of Georgia (USG) and currently offers

E ducation
16 MAY/JUNE 2023

over 30 areas of study both in the classroom and online with associate degree and bachelor’s degree options at one of the most affordable rates in the state and country with a cost of less than $8,000 and less than $16,000 respectively. Students in Marietta kicked off the summer semester last year in a newly renovated Northchase Center. The first class was a summer course on Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation and First Aid.

Assistant Professor of Kinesiology and Wellness Jonathan Howard said teaching the first course at the new site produced a better learning experience because of the location’s flexible classroom space. He said the program will continue to utilize the new Marietta site and continue to teach courses at the location.

In September, USG Chancellor Sonny Perdue joined GHC leadership at a Ribbon Cutting for the new Marietta site. He spoke about the importance of access to higher education and the return on investment students can expect from completing a college degree.

“One of our chief goals at GHC is to provide opportunity to students through access to a college degree with little to no debt after graduating,” Marietta Campus Dean Ken Reaves said. “We do this through a range of degree options, flexible scheduling, and career-focused outcomes that put traditional students as well as students who may have full-time jobs and families to take care of at the center of everything we do. We see student success at our college as graduating from a high-quality program for a low cost and ready for a career or ready to pursue a higher college degree program.”

Reaves added that moving to this new location in Marietta will allow GHC to increase its presence in Marietta and continue serving as the USG’s primary access institution in the region.

GHC is part of the USG’s newest website aimed at helping students and their families make decisions about where to attend college, what to study, how much a degree should cost, and how much different career fields earn in salary over a lifetime.

That site is available at georgia-degrees-pay.

Students also have access to USG’s “Find Your School” page, where they can enter information about themselves and create a list of USG institutions that meet their criteria with links to each school’s admission websites. Additional resources include links to information about financial aid, scholarships, online

degrees, online courses, and student support efforts.

During a series of meet-and-greet events throughout the region, including a stop at the Marietta site, GHC President Mike Hobbs expressed GHC’s part in helping students and their families calculate the return on

investment students can expect from completing a college degree at GHC.

President Hobbs stated, “We are the talent producer for our footprint. So, whatever is in our footprint, we need to know from our economic partners what it is that they need. Because we educate you here, we get you a

MAY/JUNE 2023 17
CPR class at Georgia Highlands College.

degree here, we get you in a job here, you raise your family here, and your kids stay here. We are here for our footprint.”

He also added that GHC continues to find ways to make the whole student experience at GHC stronger for every student. “I want to start doing more things on our campuses for our employees, our faculty, our staff, their families, and the community,” he said. “I want to start giving students a reason to stay on our campuses. We find that a lot of the time, it’s car-class-car. They come in their car, go to class, then get in their car and go home. We want them to spend more time on our campuses and be engaged as a Georgia Highlands student.”

One of those initiatives that Marietta students can take part in by traveling to the nearby Cartersville site is the new Competitive League Sports starting next fall.

The college’s competitive league sports teams will be part of a number of organizations, including the National Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (NIRSA), the National Club Basketball Association (NCBBA) and the Southeast Collegiate Soccer Alliance, and are ideal for those who recently competed in high school, on travel sports teams, or on competitive leagues of any kind.

More than 100 attended events this spring focused on the new competitive teams forming in soccer, volleyball, cross country, and cheerleading. These students represented counties across the region, including Gordon,

Murray, Bartow, Polk, Floyd, Cobb, Forsyth, Douglas and Paulding, as well as a few from Alabama.

Anyone interested can learn more at

The Marietta site will start its second fall semester in August this year. GHC currently has over 1,000 students from Cobb County enrolled with nearly 70 preparing to graduate this May.

Notable faculty include Associate Professor Kencho Tenzin and Associate Professor Steve Stuglin. Each teach courses at the Marietta site. Tenzin teaches religion and philosophy courses. He was recently recognized as a “Teacher of the Year” during the annual Cobb Chamber of Commerce Give our Schools a Hand (GOSH) program celebration.

Tenzin began at GHC as a part-time instructor in the fall of 2007 and went on to full-time status in 2009. In fall 2017, he was promoted to Assistant Professor and then to Associate Professor in fall 2021. This award is one example of how GHC faculty live the role and work to reach students beyond simply providing instruction.

Associate Professor Stuglin was recently selected for the 2023 Felton Jenkins, Jr. Hall of Fame Faculty Award — one of only three in the state. He teaches courses in communication. The awards committee was impressed by Stuglin’s extensive list of innovative teaching practices, including “flipped” classrooms, Transparency in Learning and Teaching (TILT) assignments, and use of gaming and interviews. In particular, the committee was impressed by the data presented by Stuglin showing the

positive impact of these methods on student success.

Stuglin previously taught at Eastern Michigan University in 2007 as a master’s degreelevel graduate teaching assistant, then went on to teach at Georgia State University from 2008 to 2012 as a doctoral-level graduate teaching assistant. He has been with GHC since 2012 and is currently a tenured Associate Professor.

One notable student from Cobb County is Labeeba Shafique who was recently honored as one of 50 national Coca-Cola scholarship recipients. Currently pursuing an Associate of Science Degree in General Studies, Shafique has an interest in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM), and says the scholarship will help her to pursue undergraduate research and internships abroad that will strengthen her skills and prepare her for her future career.

On campus, Shafique has worked for the Six Mile Post’s Student Spin Podcast Network since her first semester at GHC. In addition, she has served as the Student Government Association (SGA) President, Student Advisory Council Executive, Vice President of Chapter Events for PTK, an orientation leader at Welcome to Campus Day, a member of the Honors Program, Lake Allatoona Undergraduate Research and GHC student organization Woman to Woman.

She encourages current and potential students to get involved to improve their student experience and expand opportunities.

Future students in Cobb County looking to start at GHC can apply today at highlands. edu, or learn more about the college by filling out the form at to start working with someone one-on-one. n

E ducation
18 MAY/JUNE 2023
Students in Marietta kicked off the summer semester last year in a newly renovated Northchase Center.
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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 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?

Special Section
20 MAY/JUNE 2023

THE STORY: I grew up in Lima, Peru and moved to Georgia 24 years ago. My two sisters and I were raised by a single mother with her own business. She taught us how to be strong, independent, confident, and wise with money but the thing I loved the most was her faith. No matter what happened, her faith was steadfast.

I am the baby of the family, so I had it easier in some ways, but I made decisions that were unexpected such as doing non-paid ministry for three years at the UGA Wesley Foundation after graduating from college. In fact, it was in ministry during college that I started to think I could be a counselor.

After graduating from the University of Georgia, I made the decision to get my master’s in clinical mental health. I went to Richmont Graduate University, which is about 10 minutes from downtown Smyrna. Richmont did an amazing job at cultivating a sense of family and, through self-reflection papers and theological courses, I was able to heal during those years. I became more “me” and I learned to love myself. Interestingly, I met my husband at Richmont, so I will forever love that school!

I started private practice in late 2019, the same day I found out I was pregnant with my first baby girl. Six months later, COVID-19 hit. I had time to pause and to reflect on what I wanted. So, in 2021, I started a group practice. In addition to the ups and downs of starting a business, I lost my mom to cancer in December of that year. This devastating blow was followed by the joy of becoming pregnant again in early 2022, which helped me make it through the year. Whenever I had doubts, I could hear my mom saying to keep going. I am thankful that I can continue her legacy of being a female minority business owner driven by my faith.

The name Remain Connected came from knowing that we are never alone, and that if we can remain connected to God, our inner self, and others around us, we can thrive.

WHY I CHOSE TO LIVE IN COBB: I have absolutely fallen in love with Smyrna! It has a small town feeling with the walkability of a city. I wanted to invest into this community and bring more mental health awareness, so I made the decision to close my East Atlanta office and move it here. Best decision I could have made. When we go on walks, I look at my husband and say, “I LOVE our city.”

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? To sit with people in their grief, in their brokenness, in their worries,

is truly a gift. I help them know that it will be ok and they are not alone. Second to that, having clinicians under me who love God and are so caring, kind, and loyal.

LEISURE TIME: I have two little girls (3 and 7 months) who keep me busy. I love to read, focus on self-care, and recently, I got into Sudoku.

BEST ADVICE: The best investment you can make in life is to heal from your past so you can thrive in the present and influence your future.

WHAT’S NEXT? We are adding more clinicians and are continuing to train our clinicians in highly researched counseling practices, and we recently started accepting insurance. We want to bring more mental health awareness to more people and to grow our practice in a way that best serves our community, and ultimately, beyond.

Leaders of Cobb • 678.892.7713
Mayra Richards, LPC Remain Connected Counseling
MAY/JUNE 2023 21
by LaRuche Photo
22 MAY/JUNE 2023
Drew Tutton opened his first business in 2014 and has seen continued success in the automotive and RV industries ever since.

Not Slowing Down

Drew Tutton shares his journey of growth and expansion from one company to four, with another to launch next year.

Many years in the making, Open Roads Complete RV launched Drew Tutton’s collection of businesses, Tutton Group. Tutton started at a steady pace in 2014 and has seen continued success in the automotive and RV industries ever since. When he worked for other business owners, he learned, saved and positioned himself to maximize on any opportunities that came along. That meant he and his family would practice a significant amount of self-discipline.

MAY/JUNE 2023 23
Photos by LaRuche Photo

“I and my wife, Dana, stayed grounded financially, living within our means on a budget of $3,200 per month for many years,” he says. “That meant few, if any car payments, no credit card debt, and remaining grounded in our faith. Either I worked, or I was at home with my family. My recreation was my work.”

Tutton had no idea that the opportunity he was anticipating would come via the RV industry. He and his wife purchased an RV from a friend in 2012 and fell in love with the RV experience. They took their first trip to Ruby Falls in Tennessee. From that first camping experience, they were hooked. “We felt it brought families closer together,” Tutton says. “We attended an RV tailgate and noticed what a great time everyone had. For two or three years, we went on many RV trips, whether it was out West, or an hour from home.”

What the couple also noticed was that they were having difficulty finding facilities that could accommodate the required maintenance and repairs on their RV.

Flash forward two years to the opening of Open Roads Complete RV, which consisted

of a metal building with three bays and a gravel lot for RV repair and maintenance. The business took off and, over six months, grew tremendously. Tutton’s son, Dylan, next opened the sales side of the business. Tutton next partnered with Winnebago Towable RV — the first in the state of Georgia. In only two years, that company became the No. 1 selling Winnebago Towable dealer in the country. Tutton Group then expanded into other brands. The company consists of Open Roads Complete RV Acworth, Open Roads Complete RV Jasper, Tutton Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram (formerly Jasper Jeep), Voyles Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Birmingham, and Jasper Tractor (which opened in March).

The Tutton Group Way

Tutton’s philosophy is simple: Deliver a quality product with transparency and integrity. “My whole life is built on faith, family, and work ethic,” he says. “My goal is to instill these values within each of our staff members and give each employee the opportunity to grow as professionals and personally. I want to give others the opportunity to grow without limits.”

Tutton asserts that Open Roads is different because he and his wife were customers before he become an RV dealership owner. He and his team understand the importance of doing anything necessary to give each customer the best experience possible. The overarching goal is to find a way to keep customers camping.

“The industry can be difficult at times, with the obtaining of parts and delays in approvals,” he says. “We continue to keep the focus on training and communication in order to remove as many obstacles as possible, so that customers can enjoy the RVs.”

Growing the Group

Open Roads Complete RV quickly expanded to three locations to accommodate Tutton

“My whole life is built on faith, family, and work ethic. My goal is to instill these values within each of our staff members …I want to give others the opportunity to grow without limits.”
24 MAY/JUNE 2023
–Drew Tutton

Group’s growing business. In February 2020, the group partnered to buy Voyles Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram of Birmingham.

Also in 2020, the group opened Siete Tacos and Tequila. The restaurant came about after a conversation Tutton had with his son-in-law and daughter, when he encouraged them to discover what it was they loved and enjoyed doing, go for it. “They both did an incredible job with the concept, logo, design, name and promotions,” Tutton says. “However, after a year in the business, they realized restaurant ownership is not always the best idea when it comes to family life. My son-in-law got back into a career that allows more life-work balance, and our daughter works with me daily overseeing most of our real estate projects as well as Tutton Storage.”

In 2021, the opportunity to purchase Jasper Jeep arose, and Tutton’s goal is to put that dealership, which was once known for its volume, back on the map. In March of this year, the company opened Jasper Tractor. Tutton is partnering with Zach Cagle, also a Cobb County native. Cagle presented Tutton with a solid business plan, making the partnership an easy decision. “This helps establish what Tutton Group is all about,” he says. “Our goal is to invest in others to pay it forward. We want to give people opportunities to invest in themselves, their families, and our community.”

Paying it forward has paid off for Tutton and his employees. Lynn Smith of White, Georgia, purchased a Rockwood Mini Lite from Open Roads and describes the experience as “smooth and easy, with a no-pressure sales team and a fantastic finance team.”

“My sales associate worked his magic and got me in the unit I wanted with a price I could feel comfortable spending,” White says. “I have used the service department in the past with a previous unit and was pleased with the service there as well. I wouldn’t hesitate to

buy again from Open Roads. This is the kind of place I would be proud to recommend to my parents.”

Navigating the journey

Owning a business is an adventure — every day. Business owners face challenges from personnel to sales to supply chain issues. However, this is what drives Tutton — the opportunity to tackle a task and find a way to be successful at delivering a product he’s

MAY/JUNE 2023 25
Pictured L-R: Operations Manager, Dylan Tutton; Owner Drew Tutton; and Chief Operating Officer, Ceci Garcia.

proud to sell, and running a company with which customers want to do business.

Tutton provides leadership coaching as well as specialized department training. He says most of that training boils down to employees understanding who they are and what strengths and weaknesses exist. Most business owners whose companies survived the COVID-19 pandemic walked away with new knowledge in one form or another. Tutton Group learned that their customers do not like to be told what they cannot do. Tutton sold numerous of RVs during the pandemic, which proved that people were going to get out, enjoy their time with their families, and take in nature’s beauty.

“People definitely realized the freedom and flexibility an RV could provide,” he says. “They can have their own recreational vehicles that they can take just about anywhere at any time and enjoy their time with loved ones and friends. The RV culture is one-of-a-kind. If you’ve ever spent a night in an RV park, you’ve most likely had someone say hello and offer you a beverage.

The community and family atmosphere are extremely contagious and makes you hungry for your next trip.”

Tutton says that during the pandemic adjustments had to be made in the fields of both RVs and automotives due to product availability. “It meant managing a short supply of inventory and margins to be fair with the customers,” he says. “Parts were harder to get. As a company, we saw improved communication, and our employees are [continuing to keep] customers more informed as they go through the sales and service process.”

Giving back to Cobb

Tutton Group employs 18 people in Cobb County proper and, of course, many more throughout the group of businesses.

“Cobb county is where it all started for me,” Tutton says. “The Ed Voyles Automotive Group has been a huge part of my journey. I originally started with the organization in 1992, and my career has expanded from a salesperson to the only partnership the family has ever had.”

Tutton has partnered with the Cobb County School System, Cobb Chamber of Commerce, and Chattahoochee Technical College. For example, for several years, Ed Voyles helped Cobb County Schools raise money through a Jeep Wrangler raffle. That act of community support later lead to Ed Voyles supporting the county’s Teachers of the Year program. Currently, each Cobb County and Marietta Teacher of the Year receives a car to drive for a year.

A look ahead

Tutton Group is in a prime position for future growth. The group had a strong February 2023, and a slightly softer March. But even with higher gas prices, Tutton says the demand for RVs remains the same.

“Just like a car, you can buy an RV cheaper today than 18 months ago,” he says. “Because the supply was so low then; with a high demand, prices started to rise. The supply chain is catching up with demand, so you can buy an RV for a more reasonable price today.”

In the next five years, Tutton Group wants to expand to two more rooftops, with a 10-year goal of having no fewer than 25. The company also has purchased property in Birmingham, Alabama, for an RV location that will be opening in 2024. n

“The RV culture is one-of-a-kind. If you’ve ever spent a night in an RV park, you’ve most likely had someone say hello and offer you a beverage. The community and family atmosphere are extremely contagious and makes you hungry for your next trip.”
–Drew Tutton
26 MAY/JUNE 2023
Tutton Group CFO Stacy Kennemur (left) and COO Ceci Garcia.

Creating a ‘Legacy of Care’

A.G. Rhodes, one of Atlanta’s oldest nonprofit organizations that operates three nursing homes in Cobb, Fulton and DeKalb counties, is transforming its Marietta location by constructing a new home and renovating its existing building to include private room accommodations for each resident. The transformation is part of the organization’s $37.5-million “Legacy of Care” capital campaign to create a new nursing home community accessible to those who are uninsured, underinsured and underserved, and that can be replicated throughout Georgia and across the nation.

“The antiquated nursing home model where most residents share rooms is not only undesirable, it’s unacceptable,” said A.G. Rhodes CEO Deke Cateau. “But because the majority

of nursing home residents are reliant on Medicaid funding — which doesn’t cover the true cost of care, let alone private room accommodations — most of our nation’s nursing homes

S enior Living
Atlanta nonprofit nursing home explains why private rooms are a big deal.
MAY/JUNE 2023 27
Construction is underway on A.G. Rhodes’ Marietta location. Pictured L-R: Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, and A.G. Rhodes CEO Deke Cateau.

simply don’t have the funds for that kind of major reconstruction given current government reimbursements and regulations.”

As one of only a few nonprofit nursing home providers in the state, A.G. Rhodes uses fundraising as one way to supplement the cost of resident care and other initiatives that Medicaid doesn’t cover — such as its Legacy of Care campaign — to greatly enhance the quality of life for its residents.

Through the leadership of its Board of Trustees and Board of Advisors, A.G. Rhodes has raised a large portion of its construction costs through philanthropy. Construction of the new building and renovations to the existing

one are well underway and are expected to be completed by the end of this year.

“With nearly 120 years of operating in Atlanta, A.G. Rhodes has long relied on the generosity of our community to equip us with additional resources to provide exceptional care for our community’s most in need,” said David Perdue, Chair of the A.G. Rhodes Board of Trustees and great-great grandson of Amos Giles Rhodes, the organization’s namesake.

Katie Smith Sloan, president and CEO of LeadingAge, which represents more than 5,000 nonprofit aging services organizations, says that COVID-19 has highlighted the urgency for systemic changes throughout

aging services, including private room accommodations in nursing homes.

“COVID-19 brought to the forefront the critical infrastructure changes needed to protect our nation’s most vulnerable and underserved. While these changes won’t happen overnight, A.G. Rhodes is demonstrating how nursing home communities throughout the United States can be designed to nurture the health, safety, and wellbeing of older adults who need and deserve high-quality care and dignity as they age,” Sloan said.

Coming back stronger than ever

While Cateau and his staff can’t predict if or

S enior Living
“The antiquated nursing home model where most residents share rooms is not only undesirable, it’s unacceptable. But because the majority of nursing home residents are reliant on Medicaid funding — which doesn’t cover the true cost of care, let alone private room accommodations — most of our nation’s nursing homes simply don’t have the funds for that kind of major reconstruction given current government reimbursements and regulations.
28 MAY/JUNE 2023
– A.G. Rhodes CEO Deke Cateau

when there will ever be another pandemic like this one, they are doing their best to make sure their residents are living in an even safer environment in the future.

Just before the pandemic shut down the country in early 2020, A.G. Rhodes Cobb was geared up to launch the Legacy of Care campaign in April 2020. The purpose of the project is to: Keep residents safe, including private room accommodations to better protect them from infectious diseases; honor the dignity of a resident’s aging experience, especially for those living with dementia; and move away from the institutionalized environment so the community can strengthen its person-directed philosophy of care.

“What we are creating is a model of care in an environment that can be replicated throughout Cobb County, metro Atlanta, and the region,” Cateau shared with Cobb In Focus during the campaign’s initial announcement.

A person-directed model

To take this person-directed model to the next level, A.G. Rhodes’ new Skilled Nursing And Memory Care Community will be designed to enhance service delivery while maximizing the everyday joys and comforts that come from being at home.

Residents will have private bedrooms which encircle inviting common areas, in contrast to the shared rooms and long corridors of traditional nursing homes. Communal spaces will be designed to encourage the spontaneous human

interaction of daily home life, such as hosting family-style meals, playing a board game, or listening to music by the fireplace. Sunrooms, patios, and gardens will provide continuous access to natural light and the outdoors.

Transforming all semi-private rooms for short-term care into private rooms has long been a part of A.G. Rhodes’ strategic plan. Like many nursing homes across the country, A.G. Rhodes Cobb temporarily converted all double-occupancy rooms into private rooms to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 virus — taking resident occupancy from 95 percent to 70 percent. Campaign funds will make this transition permanent, enabling A.G. Rhodes to become more adaptable and resilient for future unforeseen health events. The addition of the Skilled Nursing and Memory Care Community will restore A.G. Rhodes’ capacity for resident occupancy to pre-pandemic levels while increasing operational capability for outpatient rehabilitation services in the existing building.

In addition to the newly constructed building which will include 72 private rooms, more than 100 rooms of the existing building will be transformed from two-bed units into 58 private studios. Each room will have a bedroom and sitting area and can easily transition into an isolation unit when needed. The remodeled rooms will be equipped with innovative technology, including a touch-screen application to support memory and engagement for elders at all levels of cognitive abilities — fostering

independence and enabling virtual connection beyond the walls of the facility.

A game changer for the industry

Being able to provide these upgraded accommodations to residents and the Cobb community means the world to Cateau, as he told this publication in 2021. “What we are about to do in Cobb County is going to be a game changer for the industry and for so many of our elders in the community. It’s going to offer not just the type of accommodations they deserve, but the type of care they deserve. It’s the proudest time in my career.”

The new facility will offer training and job opportunities for students at Chattahoochee Technical College, Kennesaw State University, and surrounding high schools through workforce development programs. Cateau says they collaborate with each of these organizations and schools to help train students who he hopes may one day work at A.G. Rhodes Cobb. “This is an opportunity for us to come back stronger than ever,” Cateau concludes. “While a crisis is negative by nature, we want to be able to use it to allow us to improve, change, and build back better than ever before.”

Founded in 1904, A.G. Rhodes provides long-term and short-term care for more than 1,100 residents a year at its three locations (Marietta, Grant Park, and Wesley Woods). For more information about its Legacy of Care campaign, visit n

MAY/JUNE 2023 29
A rendering of the new Marietta nursing home.

Supporting Business Owners & The Community

While you may not directly be familiar with the Marietta Business Association (MBA), you certainly know about many of its community-oriented events, which not only bring us together for family fun but also raise funds for worthy causes. Like most business associations, the MBA’s primary goal is to “promote civic, social, and business goals through providing a forum to exchange business policies and create good customer relationships, all in good faith and integrity.” This cadre of local business owners meets regularly to remain knowledgeable about the community, its drivers, and its resources.

When you join the MBA, you get not just an outstanding networking group, but a built-in support group that cheers you on and helps you persevere, says MBA President Michelle Faucher. “We have a Networking Opportunity Weekly that meets every Thursday 3-4:30 at The Third Door. To that end, we have started an exciting new program, our Business Development Series. This is a quarterly luncheon featuring guest speakers aimed at helping you grow your business,” she continues. Additionally, you can join the

MBA on the fourth Monday of every month for a luncheon filled with networking opportunities. This year, the chosen event space is The Foxglove in Marietta.

The MBA’s support extends into the community at large as well. The organization has created multiple special events over the

years with which you likely are familiar and perhaps have attended, including SPLASH, its 3rd Annual Golf Tournament, and the annual Marietta Egg Hunt. For more information on any of these events, visit their website,, and continue reading about the MBA’s signature events:

2023 MBA Board of Directors

Michelle Faucher (President), Biltmore Insurance

Sean Rayborn (2024 PresidentElect), Money Pages

Michael Lindsey (Past President 2022), Freedom Payment Solutions

Kathy Winiarcyzk (Vice President), Credit Union of Georgia

Greg Fuller (Past President 2021), White Water/Six Flags

Dr. Tricia Patterson, Marietta City Schools

Bobby Lindsey, Atlanta Braves

Brent Rittersdorf, High Caliber Realty

Sergio Queiroz Santos, SQS Photography

Chase Sanger, Office of Congressman Barry Loudermilk

Elizabeth Bachman, Wildflower Social Media

Akella Clore, Kolorful Kreation

Christine Reynolds, Majestic Plumbing

Jacob Deaton, CEO Shindig My Event

I n Your Community
The Marietta Business Association brings everyone together.
30 MAY/JUNE 2023

A Coaster For Everyone


Known as the annual event presented each year by the MBA, the SPLASH event’s purpose is to raise money for local charities while networking and having fun. Six Flags White Water Park plays host to this year’s SPLASH on Thursday, May 18. Enjoy food tastings from local restaurants, meet local business owners, and try your luck with the duck race while celebrating the upcoming opening of White Water and the beginning of summer. Held at the pavilion inside the lazy river with the backdrop of the wave pool, expect a relaxing atmosphere to network and meet new friends. Note: This year’s event is free to attend but you have to sign up in advance!

MBA Annual Golf Tournament

Attendees of this annual event are guaranteed to have a good time, regardless of how well they hit the ball. Tee up with your business partners or make new friends at the City Club Marietta course where attendees are treated to great, local food and beverages; vendor tables; and chances to win prizes. City Club Marietta presents challenging shot selections and new Tif-Eagle Bermuda greens while providing an incredible golfing experience. The course has presented golfers with 10 decades of the finest playing experience among rolling hills, towering pines, and spectacular Southern vistas. Keep an eye on the events tab of the MBA’s website for this year’s tournament schedule.

Marietta Egg Hunt

Those of you with young children or grandchildren likely have participated in the annual Marietta Egg Hunt, which is presented in partnership with Superior Plumbing, Life University, and JRM Management. Attendees are sure to find fun, food, games, music, entertainment, a kids’ zone, and of course egg hunts for all ages. There are more than 40,000 eggs to be found each year! Can you imagine? For details on sponsorships, event history, and attending the 6th annual Marietta Egg Hunt next year, be sure to visit the MBA’s website at n

Most roller coasters are designed and built as thrill rides. However, not everyone enjoys being scared. Some of us avoid thrill rides, preferring to keep our feet planted on the ground. If you’re one of these people and the mere thought of riding a coaster is nauseating, Six Flags Over Georgia may just have the solution. The amusement park’s newest attraction debuts this summer and it looks to provide an enjoyable experience for everyone from coaster enthusiasts to the timid among us.

The first-of-its-kind, single-rail family racing roller coaster, called the KID FLASH™ Cosmic Coaster, is described as a P’Sghetti Bowl twin-tracked roller coaster featuring innovative single-rail track and an inclusive train design. The coaster provides comfortable seating for both adults and children. Like a twisted bowl of spaghetti, the twin tracks cross over and under each other a dozen times during the ride cycle. The two sides can operate simultaneously for racing action or with a single side. There are no terrifying loops. No high speeds. Just a great deal of family fun.

“Situated in one of the most popular sections of the park, Gotham City, the new attraction continues our commitment to providing thrills the entire family can experience together,” said Six Flags Over Georgia General Manager, Greg Fuller. “KID FLASH Cosmic Coaster sets the stage for a summer filled with exciting new memories for guests of all ages.”

With a 36-inch minimum height requirement, the new coaster expands ride offerings for families. Joining the villains and heroes in Gotham City, KID FLASH Cosmic Coaster will showcase a colorful LED lighting display, immersing riders in their very own comic book story.

The coaster’s theme is based upon the DC Comics character of the same name who first appeared in 1959 as a founding member of the Teen Titans superheroes who still are popular today in graphic novel form, as well as in both animated and live-action television series.

Daily summer operation at Six Flags Over Georgia begins Memorial Day weekend, with the opening of Hurricane Harbor, which features the park’s water rides and wave pool. Season Passes are now on sale for as low as $49.99. For more information, including park hours and to purchase your 2023 Pass, visit

Arts & Recreation
MAY/JUNE 2023 31

Trying Something New

Occasionally, I get the urge to try something I’ve never done — to gain a new skill or perhaps pick up a new hobby.

This past winter, just as I was wondering what new thing I wanted to attempt, I received

a notification from Cobb PARKS. With the assistance of Mableton-based glass blower Silica Burns Glass (SBG), the county was hosting a workshop at the Sewell Mill Library & Cultural Center. So, this past March, my wife and I took advantage of a great opportunity to learn how to blow glass!

OK, we knew we weren’t really going to be able to start making vases, but we were intrigued. Plus, when would we ever have another chance to do something like that? During the class, participants learned how to make what SBG owner Arthur Wilson jokingly referred to as “sucky bowls.” This wasn’t his assessment of our work, but rather a tongue-in-cheek reference to the small, simple shapes that he and his team could teach to a large group of novices within the time constraints of one Saturday morning.

On that freezing March morning, my wife and I arrived at Sewell Mill Library and joined about 10 other students in the outdoor amphitheatre. Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed close enough to the 3,000-degree glass-burning oven to get ourselves warm. All of us would be relying solely on our coats and hats that day. After Wilson’s introduction and safety instructions, we were ready to choose our colors and make our bowls. Of course, the professionals did all the hard work, but it was a great deal of fun to help shape the molten glass into a recognizable form.

Since our new bowls had to cool for 24 hours before we could take them home, we returned to the library the next morning to receive our creations. It was a bit like Christmas morning to open our bags and see what was inside — to see the final colors and shapes that our “sucky bowls” would take. We are thrilled with the results and will display these keepsakes for years. They are worth every penny. Given this experience, I can’t wait to try another Cobb PARKS class.

If you would like to learn something new, check out future events from Cobb PARKS at cobbcounty. org/events. To learn more about Silica Burns Glass and its future workshops, visit n

F inal Focus
SBG’s Arthur Wilson teaching Kaori Sekine-Pettite how to blow glass.
32 MAY/JUNE 2023
The completed “sucky bowls.”


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