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Drew Tutton

Leads, Educates & Sponsors Technical College Students To New Careers

CCF Responds to Pandemic • Cobb EMC Goes Solar • Latest in PT • Powder Springs Park


Because pediatrics doesn’t stop at age 12. Whether your child is learning to walk or learning to drive, their growing bodies need special care. Children’s has unparalleled expertise because we only treat kids and teens. No condition is so small that it should be treated by an adult doctor. No matter their age, take your child to the specialists at Children’s. Visit to learn more. ©2020 Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Inc. All rights reserved.

Kim, Dr. Alwan and Katelyn Wellstar Emergency Medical Team

COMMUNITY CARE The world has changed. We know you’re worried and anxious. But this is the moment we’ve been training for. Our 25,000 team members are poised and ready to handle health emergencies. But we are also here to help you virtually manage ongoing conditions like diabetes and hypertension. And any other health concern you have. As you strongly practice social distancing, we are fighting on the frontlines - because we all have a job to do to keep our communities safe. Our 16 urgent cares, 11 hospitals and 10 emergency departments stand ready if you need immediate, in-person care. And through telehealth, we're ready to see current and new patients virtually for primary and specialty medicine. We are helping Georgia fight illness, and we’re doing it together.


Contents Vol. XVI, No. 3 MAY/JUNE 2020


Journey On


Open Roads Complete RV owner Drew Tutton and Chattahoochee Technical College have partnered on workforce development programs. We have all of the details.

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


Cobb EMC and Gas South are building a solar energy and battery storage facility on the Cobb EMC campus. Read all about this renewable energy project.


It may surprise you to learn about some of the modern treatments physical therapists use today to help patients.


Connect with local leaders who strive to make Cobb County a better place.


Did you know that you can use your local library to help get your new business off the ground? Get all the details.


A new park will bring crowds — and business opportunities — to downtown Powder Springs.

30 IN YOUR COMMUNITY Learn how the Cobb Community Foundation is supporting Cobb County through the COVID-19 crisis.


Even while we’ve been stuck at home (self-isolating and social distancing), we likely aren’t incorporating enough water into our diets.

On the cover: Drew Tutton, owner of Open Roads Complete RV in Acworth. Photo: LaRuche Creative 4


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foreSight COBB


New South Publishing Inc. President Larry Lebovitz Vice President John Hanna Publisher Jamie Ryan Account Executives Sherry Gasaway Ginger Roberts Editor Cory Sekine-Pettite

As I write this on April 10, 2020, it has been one month since I started working from home to significantly lower my risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus. Fortunately, this social distancing has been effective for me and my family, and I hope the same is true for you and your family. Unfortunately, as of this same date, the state of Georgia reported more than 11,000 confirmed cases and 416 deaths. These numbers only will go up by the time you read this magazine. Since my self-isolation, I have been grappling not only with my thoughts and feelings about this pandemic, but also with how I would write about this virus and its impact. This is just how writers think. We process our lives and the world around us with an internal monologue that, if written down, would sound like an article or book. That’s just the way we think — or at least the way I do. I’m still considering ideas. No one quite yet knows the toll this pandemic will take on our lives. Only time will tell, but I’m optimistic that we will have a vaccine soon, and this virus will become a footnote in our history. Meanwhile, we must carry on, even if we are doing it from home. And this is why we present to you our May/June issue pretty much as we planned it to be, but with the addition of a report on the great work that the Cobb Community Foundation is doing in the wake of this disaster. We don’t want everything you read to be about the virus. So read a story about a thriving business that is helping Chattahoochee Tech students see a brighter future (our cover feature). Get a peek at the sustainability initiative underway at Cobb EMC (pg.8). And read about the changing landscape of physical therapy beginning on pg.12. Take pleasure in these articles and in other small things.

Photo by LaRuche Creative

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

Associate Editor Amy Meadows Graphic Designer Jack Simonetta Contributors Haisten Willis, Writer Christy Rosell, Writer Katherine Michalak, Writer Jessica Johnson, Photographer 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) 650-1102, 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 2020 by New South Publishing Inc. All rights reserved. Printed in the U.S.A. For address changes, email


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Sharper Focus

PLEASE SUPPORT YOUR FAVORITE LOCAL BUSINESSES by purchasing products, services, and gift cards. You can also donate your gift cards back to first responders, healthcare workers, and our many citizens out of work.

Here’s a snapshot of what’s going on in your community.

Credit Union of Georgia Gives Back Credit Union of Georgia has donated 100 bags and over $500 worth of food to the Sanctuary Church. Additionally, the bank has committed to making a financial donation to MUST Ministries and has placed donation bins outside of all branch locations for MUST Food Rapid Response program. “We understand our community needs us more than ever. The Credit Union is choosing to spread joy and give back during these uncertain times,” said Amanda Arnold, VP of marketing & business development. To learn more how you can give back to your community with Credit Union of Georgia follow along on social media and for their latest fundraising efforts.

Marietta Students Win Prize in C-SPAN’s Documentary Competition In March, C-SPAN announced that George Walton Comprehensive High School students Daniel Liu, Shruthi Maharajan, and Advaith Shivaram are honorable-mention winners in the network’s national 2020 StudentCam competition. Liu, Maharajan and Shivaram will receive $250 for the documentary, “Final Ruling: Criminal Justice Reform in the Modern Era.” Each year, C-SPAN partners with local cable television providers to invite middle and high school students to produce short documentaries about a subject of national importance. Nearly 5,400 students from 44 states entered this year. You can see the winning documentaries at

NW Metro Atlanta Habitat for Humanity Donates Masks

PJ Library Atlanta Expands Services The PJ Library Atlanta, a service that sends free Jewish children’s books to families, is expanding its services to support ALL of Atlanta’s families with engaging resources via Facebook Live and Zoom to help pass the time indoors. Programming includes live concerts, virtual storytimes, virtual scavenger hunts, virtual cooking demos, virtual magic shows, and Parents’ Night In on Zoom. Learn more at

ArtsBridge Foundation Announces 2020 Shuler Awards Nominees Presented as the Shuler Hensley Awards — also known as “The Shulers” and named for the Atlantaborn star of the stage and screen — recipients are recognized as the best of the state’s high school musical theatre students and schools. Among the nominees are Michael Huebner (Kennesaw Mountain High School) in the orchestra category for “Pippin”; choreographer Ursula Cole (Walton High School) for “Matilda”; and the Walton High School ensemble cast for “Matilda.” The complete nominees list is available online at

Cumberland CID: I-75 Express Lanes are Working According to a recent report from the Cumberland CID, the I-75 Northwest Corridor Express Lanes are proving effective. In its first year alone, the corridor has seen a one-hour reduction in rush hour commutes and more than seven million commuters. Additionally, those express lanes are 20-percent faster than the general-purpose lanes during peak travel times.

The NW Metro Atlanta Habitat for Humanity has donated more than 1,000 N95 masks to Cobb & Douglas Public Health. The homebuilding charity recently found a pallet of these masks in its Smyrna warehouse. The masks will protect Cobb & Douglas Public Health workers who are fighting the COVID-19 virus here in Cobb.

Video Games Keep KSU Students Engaged Recently, Kennesaw State’s Division of Student Affairs and the Kennesaw Esports student organization launched a new competitive esports series in an effort to provide an innovative social outlet for KSU students who are participating in remote learning. Titled “Game On, KSU,” the series features three video game competitions played entirely online, allowing students to participate from the comfort of home. Originally conceived as an alternate spring break activity for students whose plans were impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, the series grew into a semester-long effort. Learn more at esports.

Responds to MPCS Robotics Team Wins Comcast COVID-19 Two State Championships Comcast reports that it is working hard during

Bonnie Willis with from the NW Metro Atlanta Habitat for Humanity construction team. 6


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In February, a field of 48 high school robotics teams gathered at the Cobb Civic Center for the State Championship for the FIRST Tech Challenge, where two teams representing Mount Paran Christian School took home awards. Team Diamond Plate finished as State Championship Semifinalists, and Team Carbon Fiber was crowned Robotics Champion and moves on to the World Championships in Houston, Texas.

the pandemic to keep its customers connected. The company also has committed $500 million to support employees where operations have been closed or impacted. Additionally, Comcast is offering free online educational resources for kids in cooperation with Common Sense Media. For details on these efforts and other Comcast initiatives, visit

MAY 5/23 6th Annual Veterans Memorial 5k Run


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.

American Legion Post 29’s 6th Annual Veterans Memorial 5K and Military Appreciation Celebration is open to runners and walkers of all ages. It kicks off at 7:30 a.m. More info:

5/30-31 44th Annual Big Shanty Festival The City of Kennesaw, the Kennesaw Business Association, and JRM Management Services have rescheduled the 44th Annual Superior Plumbing Kennesaw/Big Shanty Festival to May 30-31. More info:

JUNE 6/6

Hero Run 5K The sixth annual Hero Run 5K supports Run for Wounded Heroes, Inc. The event will include a 5K run/1-mile walk with the race sanctioned as an official qualifier for the Peachtree Road Race. More info:

6/13 125th Birthday Celebration for Athos Menaboni The Marietta Cobb Museum of Art celebrates the work of Athos Menaboni with a special reception from 6-8 p.m. More info:

6/13 Smyrna June Concert


From the most popular modern hits, 90s and early 2000s R&B smashes, to timeless party anthems from the 60s, 70s, and 80s, The New Royals bring a repertoire that includes the best contemporary crowd-pleasers and iconic classics. More info:

Enjoy music under the stars with the Cobb County NAACP Branch’s Juneteenth Festival in historic Marietta Square. The event features live music and more than 150 food and crafts vendors. More info:

Juneteenth Festival

6/20 NCBA 5K9 The NCBA 5K9 is a community-centered race hosted by the Northeast Cobb Business Association. Proceeds go toward purchasing a service dog for SafePath. More info:


Glover Park Concert Series Presented by the Downtown Marietta Development Authority and the City of Marietta, this concert series runs through September 25. Each show features a different genre of music. More info:

Cobb Fourth of July Celebrations 7/3

Salute to America Concert & Fireworks City of Kennesaw, Depot Park 6-10 p.m.


4th In The Park

City of Marietta, Glover Park 10 a.m.-Dark



City of Acworth, Cauble Park Begins at 4 p.m.

City of Powder Springs, downtown noon-10 p.m.

4th of July Concert and Fireworks

SpringFest on the 4th


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Cobb EMC + Gas South = Sustainability Two local energy providers team up to produce renewable energy for thousands. By Haisten Willis

Cobb EMC’s solar panels were provided by Kennesaw-based Creative Solar USA.



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s sister companies, Cobb EMC and Gas South share a lot in common. Both are Georgia-based energy providers serving hundreds of thousands of customers in metro Atlanta and beyond. Both also are working to stay on the cutting edge of energy, keeping up with the latest technology and trends in an ever-changing world. With that forward-looking perspective and in partnership with Kennesaw-based Creative Solar USA and Northern Reliability, the companies are building a solar energy and battery storage facility on Cobb EMC property in Cobb County. Once complete, the renewable energy project will enable Cobb EMC to operate its headquarters during certain hours using 100-percent renewable energy, while diverting shared solar energy back to the grid. “This project is an innovative partnership that helps the cooperative learn how to better support our members who have interest in solar and battery storage and provide peak reduction savings that are

“This project is an innovative partnership that helps the cooperative learn how to better support our members who have interest in solar and battery storage and provide peak reduction savings that are passed on to our members.” Tim Jarrell, Cobb EMC Vice President of Power Supply and Planning passed on to our members. This means a decreased amount of electricity supplied from the grid,” says Cobb EMC Vice President of Power Supply and Planning Tim Jarrell. “Gas South’s partnership allowed the opportunity for the project to qualify for the federal tax credit available for solar and battery projects, reducing the total cost of the project and Gas South’s taxable income. Through a market power purchase agreement, Gas South and Cobb EMC both demonstrate their support of renewable energy

and a reduced carbon footprint.” The project broke ground on February 13, as leaders from Cobb EMC, Gas South, the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, Creative Solar USA, and Northern Reliability all were on hand for the groundbreaking ceremony. “We’re committed to affordable, renewable energy and redefining what it means to be an energy expert,” Peter Heintzelman, Cobb EMC president and CEO, said in a press release touting the event. “This project

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Business enables us to test the performance advantage and resiliency of solar panels and battery storage, which will benefit Cobb EMC members for decades to come. We’re proud to support sustainability efforts that make financial sense for all of our members.” Gas South President and CEO Kevin Greiner echoed Heintzelman’s sentiment, saying, “Together, we’re committed to renewable energy that will pave the way for a more sustainable future for our communities. As a subsidiary of Cobb EMC, we are excited to work with our parent company on this innovative project.” At full build-out, roughly 1.85 megawatts of solar and 1 megawatt (4 megawatt hours) of battery storage will be added to Cobb EMC’s campus near Highway 41, helping power its operations for years to come. Company officials say the project will provide enough power to supply about 200 homes for a full 12 months. Founded in the 1930s, Cobb Electric Membership Corp., or Cobb EMC, is a non-profit electric utility serving customers not only in



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Cobb County, but in Cherokee, Paulding, Bartow, and Fulton counties as well. Initially serving just a few hundred clients, it now reaches more than 200,000 customers and is one of the nation’s largest EMCs. Established in 2006, Gas South is a wholly owned subsidiary of Cobb EMC,

serving residents, businesses, and governments not only in Georgia, but in Florida, North Carolina, and South Carolina as well. Boasting more than 300,000 customers, the company prides itself on offering simple and competitively priced rate plans along with excellent customer service, and has promised to give back 5 percent of its profits to assist children in need. An expansion of the renewable energy project includes a series of “Smartflowers” on Highway 41, which will provide another 13,140 kWh of power and give the cooperative a high-visibility chance to showcase renewable energy to the public. Three of the flowers are located along the highway, while the fourth is a mobile smartflower that stays on Cobb EMC’s campus, but is also available for select events to demonstrate the power of the sun. Essentially, Smartflowers follow the sun, opening in the mornings and closing in the evenings. Visitors are encouraged to stop by the “solar garden” to see the flower power in action. Solar energy created by the project will be stored in batteries for use when needed. “Clean, renewable energy sources are an important part of a sustainable society, says Jarrell. “Renewable energy can displace our need for other sources of energy. Such renewable power resources, such as solar and wind, might not be produced during high usage periods, depending on weather conditions. Integrating a storage solution with the solar provides the opportunity to store

“We’re committed to affordable, renewable energy and redefining what it means to be an energy expert.” Peter Heintzelman Cobb EMC President and CEO

COBB EMC’s solar flowers and electric vehicle charging station

renewable energy until required. This makes it an ideal sustainable energy project.” Exactly when will the renewable energy be available? That depends on a host of factors. “There will be times that we will generate more from solar from the Smartflowers, rooftop solar, and car canopy than actually needed to meet demand,” says Jarrell. “As a result, there will be excess solar generation that will go to the grid. Regardless, when the solar energy is available, it will help reduce the power needed from the grid.” Gas South and Cobb EMC are joint owners of the project, which aims to provide the EMC with both battery and solar energy for 10 years. Creative Solar USA developed the rooftop-mounted solar panels and energy storage units, which should be operable this spring. In pursuing the project, Cobb EMC becomes one of the nation’s first electric cooperatives to add battery storage and rooftop solar to its offerings. “Cobb EMC’s energy portfolio, over the past few years, has seen a continual increase in renewable energy,” Jarrell says. “We will continue to look for viable economic renewable projects and we do expect to roll out some sustainability goals in the future.” Creative Solar USA describes itself as a “turn-key” installer of solar panel systems for homes and businesses, offering roofmounted, ground-mounted, and parking canopy-mounted panels. “The team at Creative Solar USA is proud to play a role in this important project, which will

not only provide competitive renewable energy to the grid but serve as a learning tool for future projects,” said Russell Seifert, CEO of Creative Solar USA. “I founded this company to be a cutting-edge leader in our evolving energy market and this project is a standing example of our

commitment to clean, economical electricity for our fellow Georgians.” As its name implies, Northern Reliability is not based in Georgia. The Waterbury, Vermont-based engineering and technology firm designs, procures, installs, and supports stand-alone electric power and energy storage systems for utilities and governments, both inside the United States and internationally. Founded in the early 1970s, it now boasts more than 1,000 systems across the globe and on all seven continents.  n


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Modern PT Physical therapists combine proven techniques with new tech so you can get back to work and enjoy the activities you love.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

By Christy Rosell


hysical therapy as a recognized medical service has been around since the 1920s, according to the American Physical Therapy Association. Today, it is common to find patients working with therapists to restore physical function related to back, neck, shoulder, and knee injuries and for post-surgical recovery. But it may surprise you to learn about some of the modern treatments physical therapists use today to help patients. Typically, these highly trained professionals have doctorate degrees and specialize in areas such as sports medicine, orthopedics, neuromedicine, and



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pediatrics, as well as lesser known areas such as women’s health and oncology. Perhaps a more surprising change in the field is that like medical care in recent years, physical therapy is taking on a more preventative health role. Most people know physical therapists work with athletes to improve and maximize function to prevent injury. But keep reading to find out why more white-collar professionals are seeking physical therapy to get back to work after injury or for surgical intervention.

Wellstar, specialized physical therapy for all ages Wellstar offers patients access to 60 out-

patient physical therapy locations, which include orthopedics, neuro rehabilitation centers, and several specialty centers. Across Cobb County and surrounding areas at Wellstar OrthoSport and PT Solutions, the health system helps patients get back to work after sustaining an injury or undergoing a medical procedure. “We do things to simulate getting back to work,” said Judith Niehuser, clinical supervisor and physical therapist at Wellstar OrthoSport Kennestone and Kennesaw locations. “If it’s a nurse standing for 10-plus hours, we utilize specific interventions focused to that line of work, as opposed to someone who works in a call center, who has different

“We do things to simulate getting back to work. If it’s a nurse standing for 10-plus hours, we utilize specific interventions focused to that line of work.” – Judith Niehuser, clinical supervisor and physical therapist at Wellstar

physical activity requirements and posture.” Wellstar physical therapists often work as part of a multidisciplinary team to treat patients with back and neck pain, or patients who have had rotator cuff repairs, hip replacements, knee replacements, and ACL surgeries. Therapists customize treatment for each patient, using time-tested techniques such as stretching, electrical stimulation and exercise, paired with newer technology and treatments, including dry needling, cupping, and even gaming devices. Most locations also offer aquatic therapy, which offers pain-free rehab for most injuries. Using built-in or bi-directional treadmills with resistive jets for performance challenges on all levels, patients reach their

goals in record times. And, Wellstar is adding specialty clinics to help patients with lymphedema and pelvic floor dysfunctions. “We can treat any pelvic pain in men and women,” Niehuser said. “This includes therapy for pelvic organ prolapse, incontinence, and pain with sex. Incontinence is something we can help manage and a lot of times, get rid of completely.” Pelvic specialty clinics are available to patients in private rooms at Wellstar Orthosport locations in Vinings Health Park and Acworth. Specialized therapists at Wellstar also treat patients with lymphedema, a condition of excessive swelling that can occur as a result of trauma, venous insufficiency,

or cancer treatment. “If lymph nodes are removed or irradiated as part of cancer treatment, there can be fluid build-up in the arm, leg, or head and neck area that is affected by those nodes. It can be a chronic condition,” Niehuser said. Patients require treatment from skilled therapists to reduce the swelling and to learn techniques for lifelong self-management. There also is clinical education that can be done to help reduce the risk of onset of initial lymphedema. In addition to adult therapy, Wellstar has dedicated pediatric physical therapists who have specialized training and expertise treating children and teens. Adolescent patients often have different needs and

During these unprecedented times, A.G. Rhodes continues to deliver compassionate care to our community’s seniors. Learn how you can help: COBB

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Health require different treatments due to status of bone growth and soft tissue development.

Northside offers preventative PT for athletes and weekend warriors White-collar professionals who sit at desks, conference tables, and in cramped airplane seats for extended periods but who are highly active on weekends have an increasing need for physical therapy. “They’re highly successful and active individuals,” said Matt Lopez, a sports-certified physical therapist for Northside Hospital Orthopedics Institute in Buckhead. “Their bodies are trying to acclimate to going from sitting [all week at work] to a high level of activity. My goal is to keep individuals as active as possible, to find strategies that allow them to complete the activities they love with minimal to no pain.” Lopez said Northside’s sports medicine team often cares for patients preventatively, to help them avoid injury and maximize their function. “The view on wellness has shifted to recognizing that investing in your health is truly building wealth,” he said. “If I were to invest money into the stock market, I want to invest into things that bring me good return. If you can invest in your body, you’ll stay healthy and happy so when you retire you can travel, see your grandkids, [or] continue running.” Lopez has treated NFL players, Canadian Football League members, and NBA athletes, as well as Olympic sprinters and long jumpers, and motocross riders. The technology available to these athletes also is accessible to all of his patients, including the weekend warriors. The Buckhead location offers a

“The view on wellness has shifted to recognizing that investing in your health is truly building wealth.” – Matt Lopez, sports-certified physical therapist for Northside Recovery Lounge equipped with advanced technology, including compression treatment boots that fill with air to reduce both pain sensitivities and recovery time. “If you’re a marathoner and you just did an 18-mile training run, you could come in and use these boots for a much faster recovery,” Lopez explained. “It allows you to push your body in training and recover with the same intensity.”

Children’s offers physical therapy just for kids

Cryotherapy chamber at Northside

Another treatment, whole-body cryotherapy, fully immerses patients in liquid nitrogen for three minutes. The temperature can drop as low as negative 184 degrees. “The body thinks it’s going into a

“My goal is to get them better than they were before. We can teach them things to stay strong and healthy, even if they don’t have pain.” – Anna Gleyzer, board-certified sports clinical specialist and physical therapist with Children’s 14


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frozen state,” Lopez said. “It flushes blood to the core to save the vital organs and picks up nutrients. As soon as you step out, the blood is redistributed. It’s a great treatment for pain, inflammation, and joint stiffness. Many of our professional athletes are using this treatment as part of their recovery process.” Northside Hospital also offers access to sports medicine in East Cobb, which includes orthopedic surgeons, athletic trainers, and physical therapists.

A collegiate swimmer, Anna Gleyzer had a shoulder overuse injury as a teen. She depended on Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta’s physical therapists to keep her pain-free and swimming throughout high school and college. Because physical therapy helped her to do what she was passionate about, she became passionate about physical therapy. “I was interested in helping a young athlete like me extend their career and do what they loved,” she said. “When I got my clinical [certification] at Children’s, it was like I was coming back full circle.” Today, Gleyzer is a board-certified sports clinical specialist and physical therapist, and serves as the site supervisor of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Sports Medicine/ Ivy Walk in Smyrna. In her role, she helps young patients from ages eight to 21 keep doing what they love doing, whether they’ve been injured in sports or are dealing with continuous growing pains. It’s important for adolescents to see pediatric physical therapists because their needs are different from adults. For example, children often compete in sports with high volumes of frequency and intensity. Teen injuries are unique, too, when they occur in the areas of the growth plates — the places in the bone that allow for growth.

In addition to physical differences from adults, teen athletes are developing mentally and emotionally, and have different nutritional, sleep, and rest needs. Gleyzer said pediatric physical therapists have to keep therapy fresh because kids get bored quickly. “My goal is to get them better than they were before. We can teach them things to stay strong and healthy, even if they don’t have pain,” she said. While she is helping student athletes learn about movement and the ways they can maximize their function, Gleyzer enjoys learning the latest slang and discussing the newest Taylor Swift song or Marvel movie with her young patients. “We know how to communicate with and design treatment for that age group,” she said. Her pediatric patients also have access to technology and new treatments. For example, Gleyzer’s team uses video capture technology to film movements in real time to help patients see how to adjust their movements to stay healthy and prevent injury. Force plates in the floor help patients see if they’re evenly loading their legs. And, a new

Patient Resources Wellstar Orthosport Northside Sports Medicine Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta

blood flow constriction treatment allows muscles to be exercised at lower loads to achieve strength gains.

Direct access to physical therapy for all Georgians Physical therapists are great partners for people who want to maximize their function so they can recover from pain, prevent injury, and get back to their jobs as well as

the sports and activities they love. Physical therapists are highly qualified to evaluate patients and can refer them to another specialist if needed. In the state of Georgia, any patient can be seen without a referral and most insurance companies will cover the visits. However, patients who have coverage with small, private insurance companies or Medicare and Medicaid may need to ask their physician for a referral. n

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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



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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 pages we have profiled individuals who are among Cobb’s premier leaders. We wanted to find out about their jobs, delve into their personal lives and gain some words of wisdom. And of course, we asked: Why have you picked Cobb County?

Leaders of Cobb

Ted Ziaylek

Clinic Director at Team Rehab

THE STORY: I was born and raised just outside of Philadelphia. I grew up in the suburbs with my parents and an older sister. I graduated from Pennsbury High School and I received my bachelor’s in business management from Widener University in 2006. After completing my undergraduate work, I began working in a sales position. During that time, I realized I missed my calling for healthcare. I went on to earn my doctorate in physical therapy at Mercer University, where I graduated with honors in 2015. Additionally, I completed Mercer’s Orthopaedic PT Residency program in 2016. In January of 2018, I opened Team Rehab’s first clinic in Georgia. I felt a desire to help people improve and better their lives. Physical therapy allows for me to do that, as well as to build relationships with my patients and community.

on how they are doing. That means the world to us. Watching people return to the life they want makes every day worth it.

WHY I CHOSE TO LIVE IN COBB: I love working in Cobb County. It is full of active people who are willing to put time and effort into improving the area. It has given myself and my staff opportunities to be involved in the community more than we could have hoped for. As we continue to grow, we are always looking for more ways to help the community.

WHAT’S NEXT? Professionally, I am looking to learn more. I am currently enrolled in several continuing education classes on new techniques. I love to learn, and I want to make sure I am treating my patients based on the most current research and techniques available. I recently added blood flow restriction training into my practice and have seen some great results with it. Personally, I am recovering from a fairly significant shoulder injury. I am looking forward to getting back to exercising and playing outside with my children without limitations. I am trying to follow my own advice and keep moving.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? The number-one thing I love most about my job is the people. I love being a part of people returning back to their lives. We have former patients stop in all the time and give us updates

LEISURE TIME: In my spare time, I love to play with my 5-year-old daughter, Lily, and 1.5-year-old daughter, Emilia. My wife and I often are found in the local parks with our children or hiking throughout Cobb. I grew up playing football and still look forward to watching it each and every fall. We also are foodies and love discovering new places to eat around the area. BEST ADVICE: Stay active. Movement is medicine. Find things you love to do that are active and do them. If you are physically struggling to do the things you love, see a physical therapist. Let us help you return to your passion! Don’t let pain or limitations stop you.

1401 Johnson Ferry Road, Suite 340, Marietta, GA 30062 • 404.491.7420 • COBB

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Photo by LaRuche Creative

Leaders of Cobb

Sondra Rowan

Candidate for Cobb Superior Court Clerk

THE STORY: I am a life-long resident of Cobb County. After graduating from Wills High School, I continued my education at Kennesaw State University. It was during this portion of my life’s journey that I realized my passion for political science, government and law, which would follow me throughout my career. My first adventure after graduating was a position with Randstad in conjunction with staffing for the 1996 Olympic Games in Atlanta. Participating in the operations required to staff this amazing event on the worldwide stage was a oncein-a-lifetime experience. I was lured away from the private sector for an opportunity to work within the judicial system. Here, I worked with the Cobb County Juvenile Court in various areas of supervision within multiple programs such as Intensive Surveillance, Probation, and the Truancy Diversion Program. I returned to the private sector for an opportunity to manage and restructure a local small business. My first time at the helm

was quite educational and an experience that would propel my success into business management. It is important to understand the needs and functions of a company to determine what changes need to be made; however, the speed is determined by the level trust of the employees. As my career progressed, I was recruited by the Clerk of Superior Court to take the position of Judicial Program Coordinator for the Board of Equalization (2013). Here, I implemented several changes resulting in a substantially more efficient department, including creating a waiver so the taxpayer could receive their ruling immediately. This also saved the county over $50,000 in mailings. Under my leadership, the department’s budget would have an excess over $60,000; a savings over 25 percent of the total budget. Several of the processes I created and implemented were added to legislation in 2015. That same year, I was promoted to Division Manager over the Real Estate Department. Again, I would take on the challenge to revamp a department under the Clerk of Superior Court. During my tenure, I not only identified, researched, and provided solutions to inefficiencies, but also helped introduce and produce methods and processes to improve the customer’s experience. Together, with the trust of an amazing staff, I was able to directly implement a multitude of changes that drastically improved the department. Under my guidance, we were one of the first counties in the state to implement E-filings for security deeds. This process expedites real estate closing and eliminates back-andforth issues that can delay your enjoyment of your new Cobb County home. WHY I CHOOSE TO LIVE IN COBB: It offers the energy of a big city but retains the feel of a small town. I can’t imagine finding a better community or place to live, work, and raise a family. WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? I have been in management for over 20 years. I enjoy the responsibilities and the demands of the role. I resigned from my position in 2019 to run for Clerk of the Superior Court. Cobb County Citizens deserve to have a hard-working Clerk who will put their needs first. LEISURE TIME: I love to spend time with my girls, Sophia and Alexis. My high energy level has led to an active lifestyle with a focus on running (nine marathons so far and too many 10 K’s to count). BEST ADVICE: Always be honest and fair, and take the time to acknowledge and empower those around you.

601 Townsend Place, Powder Springs, GA, 30127 • 18


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Leaders of Cobb THE STORY: I grew up in Cobb County and attended Osborne High School. During those years, I began to feel a sense of community and pride in our nation and considered joining the military. As I weighed my options, I decided that law enforcement was my calling and I have now been a law enforcement professional for over 40 years. WHY I CHOSE TO LIVE IN COBB: Cobb County is my home. To serve the great people of this county is a daily honor and I can’t imagine doing anything else. Taking over the unexpired term of longtime Sheriff Bill Hutson, I was sworn in as the 42nd Sheriff of Cobb County on Jan. 1, 2004. I have been employed with the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office since 1977. I worked my way through the ranks of the Sheriff’s Office, starting as a Sheriff’s Deputy. Over the years, I was promoted to the ranks of Sergeant, Lieutenant, and Captain. Then I was appointed as Chief Investigator in 1984 and to the position of Chief Deputy Sheriff in June of 1994, where I served until taking over the Office of Sheriff. Having been elected to the office of Sheriff four times, I continue to serve the citizens of Cobb County today. LEISURE TIME: During my off time — of which there is very little since you are the Sheriff 24/7 — I enjoy spending time with my wife Penny, my daughter Liz Malcom and her husband John, and my other daughter Kim Warren. Both Penny and I are active in our church and believe that our community activities are a very important part of our lives. Reading and staying caught up on law enforcement trends,

Neil Warren Cobb County Sheriff

plus managing a “small city” called the Cobb County Adult Detention Facility, keeps me in constant contact with my command staff. With an $85-million-dollar budget, and over 800 employees, there is always something that demands my attention! WHAT’S NEXT? As for the future, I am seeking a fifth term from the Cobb County voters! I believe that law enforcement knows no political party affiliation, and I think the consistent law enforcement that the citizens of Cobb have grown to expect will allow me to continue to reach the goals for myself professionally and the good folks of Cobb County. COBB

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Leaders of Cobb

office. These are essential ideals I have exhibited throughout my career and intend to carry with me to Cobb County Superior Court bench. The practice of family law requires a patient ear. As a Judge, I will be expected to preside over a wide range of cases, including, but not limited to, criminal felonies and business, property, and contractual disputes. To me, these cases have one common denominator: One party feels as if the other has wronged them and they are seeking relief from the court. I promise to use my well-trained ear to hear every aspect of these cases before rendering a fair decision.

Daniele Johnson Candidate for Cobb County Superior Court

THE STORY: My parents were married for 55 years. My father worked for Chrysler American Motors for 43 years, and my mother was a respiratory therapist at a Veteran’s Memorial Hospital. On their modest incomes, they raised me and my six older siblings in the northern suburbs of Chicago. I developed my strong work ethic, moral compass, and sense of family from my parents. Immediately upon graduating law school, I was hired by the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office. Assigned to the Special Victim’s Unit, I helped prosecute crimes against children. In 1999, I moved to West Cobb and began my career as a family law attorney. I have been in the trenches alongside Cobb County families for the last 21 years, handling such matters as divorce, custody, child support, legitimation, and adoptions. Well before even knowing I would run for the bench, I wrote three articles that were published in The Family Law Review, a State Bar publication. In those articles, I wrote about judicial transparency, culpability, credibility, impartiality, and the need to hear the voices of those seeking relief from the court. These are not mere talking points one should say when running for

WHY I CHOSE TO LIVE IN COBB: I met my husband in 1995. That same year, I left the DA’s office and joined him in Georgia. We married in 2003, and became the proud parents of twin daughters in 2006. In 2007, we welcomed our third daughter. Cobb County is just a wonderful place to raise a family. From the schools, to the abundance of activities we can find in our own backyard, Cobb County is just perfect for us. WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? I love helping people attain closure of whatever family, financial, or personal crisis they may be living. As a sole practitioner, I close as many as 50 cases per year. As a judge, I estimate that I can close as many as 1,000 cases per year. In short, I can do more good from the bench than what I am doing now in private practice. LEISURE TIME: I enjoy traveling, reading, culinary arts, the theater, the opera, and ballroom dancing at the Ballroom Institute in West Cobb. BEST ADVICE: Find something you love to do and do it well. WHAT’S NEXT? Sitting on the Cobb County Superior Court bench for at least the next 16 years and travelling the world with my husband, children, and, hopefully, grandchildren.

257 Lawrence Street, P.O. Box 120, Marietta, Georgia 30060 • 20


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THE STORY: I am a native of Atlanta. I attended the University of Colorado and received bachelor’s degrees in English and Philosophy. After college, I returned to Atlanta and began working at the Georgia Law Center for Homelessness doing advocacy for homeless people as well as victims of domestic violence, people with housing issues, and working-class people with labor claims. I learned that I enjoyed public-interest law and have been lucky to dedicate most of my career to that effort. I attended law school at Georgia State University, beginning in 1998. During law school, I worked at the Atlanta Volunteer Lawyers Foundation doing domestic violence work and continued to work at the Law Center in the summers. I went to work at the Atlanta Legal Aid Society upon graduation from law school. I worked there for three years before going into private practice. I spent about 10 years developing a practice that was 75-percent criminal law and about 25-percent juvenile law. For the last two years, it’s been about 50-50. I continue to do as much domestic violence work as I can. I have worked as a public defender in Doraville, Sandy Springs and Rowell, and served as the Cobb County Circuit Defender since 2008. Currently, I staff a courtroom in juvenile court where I represent children and parents, and where I function as the courtroom advocate for the Juvenile Drug Treatment Court, the Family Treatment Court, and the Child Court. WHY I CHOSE TO LIVE IN COBB: Cobb County is a great place to live. It has great schools and it has a lot of great things to offer. The county’s services have always been excellent, and it was an ideal place to raise three children — all of whom attended and graduated from Cobb Public Schools.

Photo by LaRuche Creative

Leaders of Cobb

Scott Halperin

Candidate for State Court Judge

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? The absolute best thing about my job is when we all work as hard as we can and still manage to come out with a result that is better than what came into court. When we can help a family move forward, that is the most rewarding day at work for me. LEISURE TIME: I enjoy listening to and sometimes playing music. And I love to play with my dog, Gertie. BEST ADVICE: Pay close attention to whom you elect and why you elect them. Read about your candidates and about the new laws the legislature passes each year. It is our country and we need to take some responsibility for having the society we want. WHAT’S NEXT? I plan to continue to serve the community by taking my skills and experience to the bench and becoming a judge in Cobb County.

399 Washington Avenue, Marietta, Georgia, 30060 • 404.983.2342 • COBB

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Journey On Drew Tutton paves an open road for students



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By Katherine Michalak


fter more than 25 years in the automotive business, Drew Tutton knows how to read market trends and how to value the hum of a fine-tuned vehicle. He also knows how to recognize a strong work ethic, and he appreciates the impact of excellence in customer service. Tutton admits to

challenging his parents as a mischievous teen, veering off into negative directions that seemed to derail his future. But, through the support of family and the mentorship of an encouraging coach, Tutton made it through school and out into the workforce with a determination to find his niche in business.


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By 1992, he’d been recruited into sales for the Ed Voyles Automotive Group and deftly climbed the company ladder to general manager and dealer principal/partner. Then, in 2014, he added RV-dealership owner to his list of ventures, founding Open Roads Complete RV. Now he looks forward to the expanded possibilities at his company’s new facility in Acworth. Placed high on his list of priorities is the continuing development of programming for Chattahoochee Technical College students, assisting them with hands-on-learning in automotive or recreational vehicle service. Tutton’s ongoing relationship with Chattahoochee Technical College originated about 12 years ago as he sought resources to enhance the Ed Voyles service department. What started with hiring mechanics grew into a deep respect for the school’s curriculum and pedagogy. Tutton saw the

mutual benefit of carrying that educational spirit into the dealership via on-the-job training and mentorship for student-apprentices and new hires. “In these years of involvement, I’ve seen a big shift from viewing trade schools as an alternative education,” Tutton maintains. “Chattahoochee Tech cultivates energy and a mindset in students, encouraging them to be the best they can be at a defined skillset.” This becomes the path that makes sense for students who set an overarching goal to make a strong entrance into the workforce in a rewarding, marketable career. High regard for the Chattahoochee Tech mission led Tutton to volunteer more of his time with the school, teaching seminars and serving as a past member of their Foundation Board of Trustees. In that role,

he focused on engagement initiatives and strategic planning. “Drew Tutton and Open Roads Complete RV have been valuable supporters of our college,” says Amanda Henderson, director of advancement at Chattahoochee Tech Foundation. “Open

What is the Student Leadership Academy? The Student Leadership Academy is designed to provide a select group of Chattahoochee Technical College students with workplace skills, while also giving them a vested knowledge about leadership development. The program helps develop students academically to become creative and innovative, and to become effective leaders in the workplace. It also allows them to benefit through development of a mentoring relationship with members/ facilitators of the Academy, such as Tutton. The Student Leadership Academy consists of five sessions. Each session is designed to facilitate a better understanding of leadership qualities and principles. Sessions include establishing a personality and leadership profile, teambuilding and conflict resolution,

communication skills, and community leadership and networking. Participants commit to the semester-long program that culminates with one student being selected to receive an award of $500. In order to participate in the program, students are required to complete an application process that included a panel interview. They also have to meet GPA requirements and demonstrate evidence of community or work-related activities. The Chattahoochee Technical College students selected for participation in the college’s 2020 Student Leadership Academy are Mikayla Alexis, Ainsley Armstrong, Eileen Carr, Jada Drake, Jemetria Mabrey, and Monique Ubani. Learn more about the program at

Open Roads Complete RV is sponsoring the 2020 Student Leadership Academy for Chattahoochee Tech. Shown here is Open Roads Complete RV owner Drew Tutton with the students and Chattahoochee Tech President Dr. Ron Newcomb.



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The new showroom at Open Roads Complete RV.

Roads Complete RV has served as sponsor of the Chattahoochee Tech Student Leadership Academy for two years [with Tutton], volunteering as a featured presenter during the session called Cultivating Your Vision.” Out in the community, Tutton promotes school programming by contacting high schools and discussing the benefit of technical education, as well as encouraging young adults who feel stifled on their current path to consider taking courses.

“If those in their 20s and 30s check it out and discover how [through these jobs] they can provide for their families, it will really shift the paradigm,” Tutton affirms. “These are not skills to learn online,” he continues, “and if [automotive] techs work with me for a year, they are eligible for corporate scholarships.” For Tutton, the commitment to supporting technical education grew organically from his own personal experience.

A true, all-American bootstrapper, he achieved business success more through sweat equity than classroom instruction. “I’m not a college grad,” he said. “I started out washing cars, then selling cars, then management on up, learning as I went. [Now] most kids don’t have that opportunity to learn certain skills.” Technical colleges and trade schools help those students discover new aptitudes, master skills, determine a career track,

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“In these years of involvement, I’ve seen a big shift from viewing trade schools as an alternative education. Chattahoochee Tech cultivates energy and a mindset in students, encouraging them to be the best they can be at a defined skill set.” — Drew Tutton and navigate a direction for the future, Tutton offered. As he champions the positive outcomes of a strong technical education, Tutton also assesses developments within his own field and considers the possibilities those changes could provide within the workforce. About six years ago, he noticed a distinct and measurable dearth of RV technicians. “RV work requires a different skillset,” he explains. “It’s more like working on a house with trim work, interior finishes, and detailing.” With this in mind, Tutton focused on what steps could be taken to get more technical students introduced to RV technology. “This whole project has been about trying to move in that direction,” he says. “We needed a new facility anyway and bought a piece of property right up the road from Chattahoochee Tech [North Metro campus]. It’s a good location for us, and we believed it would be easier if we were closer to the school to have instructors and students participate in training.”

Tutton sees this need for trained, capable RV technicians as a void in the industry overall. Relatively new programs exist in a few other areas of the country — Indiana, Florida, and Texas, for instance — but the necessity to expand and to make mainstream technical training for RV service increases in tandem with the rising demand for these vehicles. “There’s been huge growth [in the industry]. Yes, there’s still a big market share of that traditional buyer, retirees over 60, but there’s never been this huge of an audience of younger buyers,” Tutton reveals. “There’s GenX-ers looking for adventure, and a huge growth in the millennial population,” he continued. When asked why the surge, Tutton points out that technology presents a new world where people can easily work virtually, which increases their ability to move around the country as they please, often bringing kids and homeschooling on the road. In addition, he notes, “For people who are

Open Roads Complete RV’s ribbon-cutting from early March. 26


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conscious of the financial element, they realize that they can buy an RV for a fraction of the cost of a house, finance it, and also have the lifestyle freedom they want.” However, the reality of this industry is that most dealers only sell the units and may not have adequate resources to offer full service and repair. “It’s a house on wheels, whether it’s being pulled or driven, so there are a lot of items that need maintenance,” Tutton acknowledges. Unlike automotive mechanics, which involve the more traditionally grimy labor on engines, transmission, tires, etc., RV work presents a cleaner environment and Tutton’s new facility offers students an opportunity to immerse in that. “The appeal is that students can be introduced into the RV industry even if they are pursuing plumbing, carpentry, or electrical,” he stresses. “We want to give Chattahoochee Tech students another path to choose from while in trade school.” n


Business 101

How you can use local library resources to get your business up and running


nce the dust settles on the COVID-19 pandemic — and it will settle — there will be many brave souls ready to take the plunge into new business ventures. So if you’ve been thinking about starting a business but you’re unsure of where to begin, might we suggest a trip to your local Cobb County library branch? The first card you need when launching a new business isn’t a company credit card — it’s a library card! You may be surprised to learn that the library can be a fantastic resource for assistance in getting your business up and running. For example, ask your local librarian for help with the Business Insights: Essentials portal from Gale, an educational resource company that has partnered with libraries around the world. Through this free, online resource, users can find in-depth information on U.S. and international businesses, industries, and products. Such data would be instrumental when conducting your due diligence before starting your own venture. Through this program, you can: •  Investigate investment opportunities; •  Find parent-subsidiary relationships; •  Obtain competitive intelligence, market share information, and product trends; • Explore market-industry information and analyses; • Study product and brand information; and • Compare companies within an industry. The next step in your research should be education. Every great leader/business owner knows that they don’t know everything. They remain successful by continuing to learn. Your local library has hundreds of available online, instructor-led courses that you can access via your local branch or from the comfort of your home. All you need is a library card. Just log in, find the courses you would like to take and enroll. It’s that easy! For example, as of early April, there were 20 courses available for people looking to start a business. Taking the time to learn from a few experts will save you from making rookie mistakes as you begin your new enterprise. And once you have that shiny, new library card, don’t forget that you now have access to thousands of books and audio books to help you stay abreast of trends in your chosen industry, and to find motivation or inspiration when the need arises. Additionally, your library card will allow you access to MorningStar analysis on stocks, mutual funds, and exchange traded funds and other investmentrelated research. As a new business owner, this data can be valuable in understanding market trends that will affect your business.

Finally, if you’re about to embark on a business ownership journey for the first time, the Cobb County Public Library system has developed a 14-step plan to help you get started. The “Keys To Starting A Business In Cobb County” brochure is available at your local branch and contains a thorough list of the state and federal agencies you’ll need to contact and the forms you’ll need to complete. The information is broken down into the following categories: 1.  Developing a Business Concept 2.  Forming a Legal Business Structure 3.  Registering a Business Name 4.  Getting an EIN from the IRS 5.  Business Licenses and More 6.  Georgia Business Taxes 7.  Contacting Regulatory Agencies 8.  Writing Your Business Plan 9.  Insurance for Your Business 10.  Financing Your Business 11.  Hiring Employees 12.  Your Intellectual Property 13.  Cobb Business Resources 14.  Additional Local Resources Clearly, your local library is your best resource to prepare you to start your own business. Who wouldn’t want to take advantage of such a wealth of information? You can join the Cobb County Library system online at, and once the local branches are open again to the public, take advantage of those as well. Cobb’s libraries consist of the following locations: •  Switzer Library •  East Cobb Library •  Gritters Library •  Kemp Library •  Lewis A. Ray Library •  Mountain View Regional Library •  North Cobb Regional Library •  Powder Springs Library •  Sewell Mill Library •  Sibley Library •  South Cobb Regional Library •  Stratton Library •  Sweetwater Library •  Vinings Library •  West Cobb Regional Library •  Windy Hill Library n


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Arts & Recreation

New Park To Bring Crowds And Business Opportunities To Downtown Powder Springs

New park rendering



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By Cory Sekine-Pettite


he City of Powder Springs will soon have a new park and special event space right in the heart of downtown. The as-yet-unnamed park is the culmination of a $3.7-million redevelopment. The one-acre space features

an amphitheater, splash pad, and climbing structure. The original opening celebration was supposed to take place in May, but has been pushed to September because of the COVID-19 pandemic. But let’s concentrate on the positive: Powder Springs has a great, new outdoor space for concerts, movie nights, and other events. And you can help the city celebrate this new park from September 11-13 during the “Bringing The Sea To Powder Springs” Seafood Festival. “Our seafood festival will be a unique addition to Cobb County’s event calendar, and with its featured musicians, juried arts and crafts vendors, plenty of fresh seafood from Georgia’s coast, a beer & wine garden, and more, we are excited about having a top-quality event for people of all ages to enjoy,” said Powder Springs Parks Director Jeff Crowder. “We are proud to have a partnership with Robin Roberts Promotions to make the seafood festival an annual event for our residents as well as bringing in visitors to our beautiful city.” In addition to the food from local and regional vendors, the festival will include live entertainment as well as local artisans showcasing their wares. Additionally, there will be a silent auction benefiting the Powder Springs Youth Foundation. The money will be used to fund an annual summer camp, which is designed to provide a quality educational as well as recreational experience for the youth at an affordable price. Items still can be donated for the auction. Volunteers can pick up the items from your home and leave a tax donation sheet behind for your convenience. Just visit for more information. The new outdoor space, located at 4485 Pine View Drive, is the only park within downtown Powder Springs, so it is sure to become a favorite destination for locals and tourists alike. The city is planning to host several events and activities throughout the year that includes “brown bag” lunchtime concerts, holiday celebrations, cultural events, and more. Plus, there are plenty of Elm trees to provide shade for family (or romantic) picnics.

The park is part of a larger plan to bring new business to the downtown area. The green space should attract new development and new shops, the city says, as business owners see increasing crowds from the local events, as well as the hikers and joggers from the nearby Silver Comet Trail who stop by the new park and patronize the city’s business along the way. “Part of what we have been told by consultants and in all of our planning is we have to have people living in the downtown, and that means density and creating walkability in the downtown. We believe that we needed to make Powder Springs a destination, and the park, obviously, would help with that,” said Powder Springs Mayor Al Thurman. “If we can get people parking here as a trailhead and going onto the Silver Comet, we believe that would help spear walkability in the downtown and hopefully will create a daytime and a nighttime population for the downtown.” A new nearby business, Rooted Trading Company on Marietta Street, is working to schedule its opening in anticipation of the park crowds. The business is housed in a renovated general store that dates back to 1860. The store will feature a variety of local and branded merchandise, as well as grab-and-go foods and beverages, bicycle and boat rentals, and adventure services like guided fishing trips, downtown Powder Springs tours, and Silver Comet tours. “It has been very exciting watching the construction progress in anticipation of the park opening,” Crowder said. “As a child growing up in the Powder Springs community, I would have loved to have had a park like this to go to with my family and friends. It will be a popular place to relax and enjoy the downtown district for many years to come.” n COBB

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In Your Community

Together We Can How the Cobb Community Foundation is Supporting Cobb County Through the COVID-19 Crisis By Amy Meadows


very Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Shari Martin and her team at the Cobb Community Foundation (CCF) have lengthy phone calls with key individuals from the nonprofit sector. The participants on the calls represent an array of sectors, issues, and services, from food and financial to homelessness and schools. Together, they discuss the critical needs of residents and organizations throughout the county as the COVID-19 crisis rages on. “Our highest priority is to keep our fingers on the pulse of what’s needed where and who is serving where. We can’t send the resources to the right places unless we know where they are needed most,” explains Martin, president and CEO of the CCF, which manages charitable funds for local individuals, families, for-profit, and non-profit organizations. “We knew early on that the virus was not just going to impact healthcare dramatically. It was going to impact the economic health of our community and the entire country.” For years, the CCF has been dedicated to inspiring charitable giving and connecting donors with the nonprofit organizations that serve the causes they care about most. The organization also has provided grants and endowments to worthy nonprofits to help build resources within the county for the future. And while that work remains central for the foundation, it has had to shift its attention in recent weeks to meet the current and truly pressing needs of the community. According to Martin, that



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means focusing on two areas: immediate need and recovery.

The here and now “One of the biggest challenges people are facing today is where to get food,” Martin notes. “Food is just hard to find right now. It’s not that there is a food shortage — it’s that the demand is so high.” To help individuals and families locate viable food sources, including food pantries, the CCF is pointing people to its sister site, The Cobb Community Connection, which provides a map of all local nonprofit organizations broken into categories and locations, allowing people to search for the services they need near their homes. Recently, when Martin and her team realized that there were a few Cobb County locations on that map that had no easily accessible nonprofit food resources or food pantries, they were able to contact local organizations that could help fill the gap. This is particularly important right now, as the Atlanta Community Food Bank is a primary provider for many community food pantries; however, its donations are down approximately 70 percent and it cannot keep up with the need of the many food pantries that depend on it. The CCF is working to connect donors not only with the pantries currently in need, but also the Atlanta Community Food Bank itself. It also is searching for ways to deliver food, including more perishable items like milk and eggs, to those families and seniors who either cannot afford to purchase many groceries or who cannot leave their homes

for any number of reasons. “We are looking at different models, including a Meals on Wheels model,” Martin explains. “Right now, it’s not just about having food available at the more than 30 food sites across our county — it’s about how we get food delivered to people.” That concern also is being addressed through Operation Meal Plan, a fund created by the Cobb Chamber of Commerce, which provides a means for local restaurants, nonprofit agencies, and churches to support nonprofits by providing meals for local residents. The CCF is working closely with Operation Meal Plan to keep donations coming in for the effort, which also aims to keep restaurant workers employed. “This is really about prioritizing and trying to identify where we are needed,” Martin says. “The nonprofit community is trying to get creative, and Cobb’s nonprofits are working from their hearts. They have a strength and a resolve that is beyond inspiring.”

Looking to the future Of course, food insecurity isn’t the only issue that people are facing during the COVID-19 crisis. “There are going to be so many unexpected consequences of this situation,” Martin notes. “We have more people who are going to be out of work and people who can’t afford rent. That’s going to create tensions, and domestic violence will be on the rise. There will be more events of child abuse. There are people who are dealing with addiction, and the worst thing for an addict is isolation. There is a current stay on

evictions and foreclosures, but that eventually will be lifted, and we’re very concerned about that. The downstream impacts of this are something that we recognized early on, and we’re ramping up for that. We knew we needed to get ready and to prepare ourselves to be called upon to help.” Thanks to its work over the last three decades, the CCF is connected to an extensive network of nonprofit organizations that focus on just about every serious issue that the county is facing today, including the ones that are being exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, many of those nonprofit agencies are facing — and will face — tough times. Not only are their resources being stretched during this time, but the organizations also risk seeing much less in terms of donations coming in. “There are going to be nonprofits that are devastated by this. We have to help these organizations get back on their feet,” Martin states. To help identify the organizations that need the most help, the foundation will be able to turn to the Cobb Human Services Needs Assessment that it completed in 2019 in partnership with the United Way

of Greater Atlanta, the Cobb Collaborative, and the Georgia Center for Nonprofits. The information garnered from that effort, Martin says, “is going to be even more helpful several months down the road. It’s going to help us focus our efforts where they are needed most.” It already has been useful, as the foundation has started to award grants through its recently established Cobb COVID-19 Community Response Fund. The first round of grants, totaling $30,000 thanks to Diamond Level Corporate Community Champion Liberty Furniture, were given to three Cobb County nonprofits: The Center for Family Resources, which is responding to the financial needs of families impacted by the pandemic; the Cobb Schools Foundation, which will use the grant to support access to digital learning for students in Osborne, Campbell, South Cobb, and Pebblebrook High School clusters; and Ser Familia, Inc., which also is providing emergency financial assistance to Latino individuals and families who work with the Smyrna office. The remaining funds from the Cobb

COVID-19 Community Response Fund, which initially amounted to approximately $125,000, will be distributed as the CCF is able to pinpoint the organizations that require donations to keep their efforts moving forward. “Our job is to do everything we can to help our community be the best it can be,” Martin asserts. “Charitable giving is one of the best ways to accomplish that. And we can play matchmaker to anyone who wants to help Cobb really make an impact in people’s lives.” As the CCF works to provide both immediate relief and recovery-based resources for the future, Martin understands that there is a long road ahead. “We’re are collaborating among nonprofits to create efficiencies as we move forward,” she concludes. “We are seeing our community come together in ways that it hasn’t in a long time. And we know our purpose. It is our job to help our community, and it is the best job in the world.”  n For more information, to donate, or to find out more about volunteer opportunities, visit

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Final Focus

Are You Drinking Enough Water?

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in focus  M A Y / J U N E


By Cory Sekine-Pettite


et me just answer that question for you: No. According to many physicians’ groups and the National Academy of Medicine, about 75 percent of us don’t drink enough water and likely suffer from chronic dehydration. Over time, chronic dehydration can lead to conditions ranging from fatigue, joint pain, and weight gain to headaches, ulcers, high blood pressure, and kidney disease. So clearly, we all should be drinking more water. Even while we’ve been stuck at home for the past couple of months (self-isolating and social distancing), we likely aren’t incorporating more water into our diets. In fact, since most of us aren’t even exercising right now, we probably don’t see the need in drinking much water. However, the CDC, the USDA, the Mayo Clinic, and other healthcare and nutrition organizations warn that it’s easy to reach a state of dangerous dehydration — but it’s also an easy problem to fix. Generally speaking, women need about 11.5 cups of water per day and men require about 15.5 cups. These estimates include fluids consumed from both foods and other beverages. Typically, experts say, we get about 20 percent of the water we need from the foods we eat. So, taking that into account, women need about nine cups of fluid per day and men about 12.5 cups in order to help replenish the amount of water that is lost. Remember: Not all fluids are created equally. Caffeinated beverages and alcohol are diuretics; they pull water from the body. Additionally, most fruit juices and fruit-flavored drinks contain very little sodium and a lot of carbohydrates. Stick to water for proper hydration and you will keep your summer activities safer and much more enjoyable. Plus, your properly hydrated body will be able to better maintain a normal temperature, your joints will be properly lubricated and functioning better, you’ll have more energy, and your brain function will improve. Drink up! n

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Cobb In Focus magazine May/June 2020