Page 1



Is All About the


LakePoint Sports • Marietta’s Aguair • Long-term Care • Aviation History & Technology Center

SAFECARENOW Wellstar Kennestone Hospital is now Georgia’s largest Emergency Department. The new Wellstar Kennestone Emergency Department is designed with safety in mind. This Level II trauma center’s world-class features include a separate ambulance bay and entrance for trauma cases, the latest technological advances in treatments, a full-service pediatric unit and a fast-tracked intake process so patients can get the care they need, quickly and safely. With strict precautions in place to prevent the spread of infections, Georgians can rest assured they’ll receive safe care. During uncertain times, getting the highest level of trauma and emergency care is something Georgia can count on.

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More than healthcare.


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Contents Vol. XVI, No. 6 NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020


DoubleTree Is All About the Upgrade


When COVID-19 threw a major curveball at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Atlanta – Marietta, the management team took action to create a safer, more sanitized customer experience.





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

LakePoint Sports has worked tirelessly during the COVID-19 pandemic to reopen a safe campus for athletes and guests.


Some school districts and other organizations are breathing a little easier thanks to equipment manufactured by Marietta’s Aguair.


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

Your retirement plans may not be complete without long-term care insurance.


A local business owner’s passion for aviation leads to partnership with Marietta’s Aviation History & Technology Center.


16 tips to help you get your home organized

Since its inception 10 years ago, the Literacy Week Program from Cobb EMC and Gas South has benefited more than 135,000 students.

On the cover: DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Atlanta – Marietta GM Gregory Brown (standing) and Paul Woodley, director of sales at the hotel. Photo: LaRuche Creative 2


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foreSight COBB


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

We’re almost there, folks. The year is almost over! 2020 finally is coming to a close; we just need to get through the holidays. That’s easier said than done, I know. Many of you will be missing recently passed loved ones at your dinner tables — if you even decide to gather at all. I, for one, won’t be getting together with family or friends. I’m still choosing to avoid assemblies of any kind until COVID-19 is no longer spreading and/or there’s a proven vaccine. If you are hosting or attending an event, please exercise the upmost caution and follow established safety protocols. And consider this: Just because it is Thanksgiving or Christmas doesn’t mean you have to go anywhere. There’s always next year; do whatever you feel is safest. Speaking of being safe, there’s obviously added incentive this year to get that annual flu shot. If you haven’t done so, put this on your to-do list. You can get them at most of the chain drugstores, at grocery store pharmacies, or at your regular physician’s office. By the time you read this, I will have received my flu vaccine. I’m not taking any chances in 2020. And as you read this issue, I hope you find the content as enriching as I do. We have a great collection of stories for you, including our cover feature on the renovated and reopened DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Atlanta – Marietta, the re-opened LakePoint Sports complex, the new (and thriving) Aguair company, the Aviation History & Technology Center, and much more. However you decide to end this year and to celebrate the start of an expectantly much better 2021, I hope you remain healthy, happy, and ready to tackle a new decade with gusto and a refreshed perspective. I know I certainly will.

Photo by LaRuche Creative

Contact Cobb in Focus We want to hear from you! Share your story ideas and comments with our editor. Visit cobbinfocus.com or send your suggestions to: cory@newsouthpublishing.net 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 Lindsay Field Penticuff, Writer Katherine Michalak, Writer Jennifer Morrell, Writer LaRuche Creative, Photography Production Coordinator/Circulation Amy Fine Controller Marilyn Walker cobbinfocus.com @cobbinfocus facebook.com/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 afine@cobbinfocus.com.


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

SafePath Achieves Partner in Prevention Designation

Cobb Galleria Centre Named One of the Best North American Convention Centers For the second year in a row, Cobb Galleria Centre has been named one of North America’s best convention centers for trade shows and events by EXHIBITOR magazine. “We are honored to be chosen among an elite group of venues — and the only venue in Georgia — as a top convention center in North America,” said Michele Swann, GM and CEO of the Cobb Galleria Centre.

CareSource Commits Millions to Affordable Housing Investments in Georgia CareSource, a nonprofit managed care plan, is committing $3.5 million to affordable housing projects in Atlanta and Savannah. This commitment is part of a $50-million investment CareSource is making to housing projects across the U.S. The COVID-19 pandemic has only worsened the number of families who are housing insecure. “[We] understand the impact that safe and affordable housing has on the health of our members,” said Bobby Jones, president of CareSource Georgia.

SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center has achieved Partner in Prevention status, a designation awarded by the nonprofit Darkness to Light to organizations that take extra steps to protect the children they serve by training staff to understand the issue of child sexual abuse, identify unsafe situations and practices, and react responsibly in the best interest of the children they serve. Partner in Prevention was created as a national standard to help parents and caregivers recognize organizations that take child protection seriously by implementing policies and training staff to prevent child sexual abuse.

Credit Union of Georgia Donates $12,000 to Marietta High School Basketball Program Credit Union of Georgia recently donated $12,000 to Marietta High School so it could purchase a much-needed LED scores table for not only their basketball season, but also all Winter Sports. Additionally, the table would allow the Audio-Visual Department to showcase their talents. “We would like to thank the Credit Union for their consistent support of Blue Devil basketball, which has truly made a lasting impact on our student-athletes,” said Coach Markus Hood.

Annual Thanks For Giving Event Reimagined due to Pandemic The Center for Family Resources is asking the community to help them reach their goal of providing 1,000 Thanks for Giving Food Boxes for this year’s reimagined Thanks for Giving event. Rather than hosting food drives throughout the area, supporters are asked to pack family food boxes themselves using a premade shopping list. Learn more at thecfr.org/t4g.

Chattahoochee Tech Practical Nursing Program Ranked in Top Two for Georgia The Chattahoochee Technical College Practical Nursing program has been ranked as one of the top two Practical Nursing programs in the state. Earning the second-place score of 99.54 in an assessment by practicalnursing.org, the Chattahoochee Tech ranking was based on pass rates for the National Council Licensure Examination. Southeastern Technical College received the top score of 99.58, with Georgia Piedmont Technical College receiving the third-place score of 98.06.

Cobb EMC Flocks to Help Raise Breast Cancer Awareness October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and Cobb EMC’s annual Pink Power Flock the Yard campaign celebrated the thousands of brave, resilient women who have been impacted by breast cancer every year with a small army of flamingos. The pink flamingo flock was an eye-catching display to raise awareness that the local community can sponsor. Participants can send the flock to a friend or neighbor’s yard, or sponsor a flamingo at the YMCA. Learn more at cobbemc.com/pinkpower. 4


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Town Center Community Alliance Completes Plane Installation The Town Center Community Alliance, nonprofit partner of the Town Center CID, has completed the installation of a restored and refurbished 1964 Beechcraft A-23 Musketeer airplane at Aviation Park. The plane was donated by Hawthorne Aviation, then restored by DLK Aviation Incorporated. Engineering, design, and installation was provided by DeNyse; other partners include Fly LBI, Priority Jet, and Brahma Marketing.

Wellstar Facilities Receive Emergency Cardiac Care Center Level II Designation Wellstar Health System reported recently that Wellstar Douglas and Paulding Hospitals have been designated Level II Emergency Cardiac Care Centers by the Georgia Department of Public Health, Office of Cardiac Care. The designation signifies that the facilities provide outstanding advanced emergency cardiac care aimed at improving survival rates for heart attacks and cardiac arrest. “Wellstar has a robust network of cardiology experts and services across our system so people can get the right care at the right time — no matter how routine or complex,” said Dr. Barry Mangel, chief cardiology officer for Wellstar.

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

11/7 – 8


Big Shanty Festival

AHTC Veterans Appreciation Day

The 44th annual Big Shanty Festival will be held in downtown Kennesaw with entertainment, arts & crafts, and great food. More info: kennesawbusiness.org

Join the Aviation History & Technology Center for a veterans appreciation day with live performances in an outdoor setting. Free admission. More info: AHTC360.org


Veteran’s Day Ceremonies Join the Cobb County community in honoring United States military veterans. Event details and start times will vary by municipality. Acworth: acworth.org Kennesaw: kennesaw-ga.gov Marietta: mariettaga.gov Powder Springs: cityofpowderspring.org Smyrna: smyrnaga.gov


The 12th annual Acworth Turkey Chase is an exhilarating 5K run through Historic Downtown Acworth and along the shores of beautiful Lake Acworth. More info: acworth.org

11/21 – 1/3/21 11/26


Six Flags Holiday in the Park

Cardinal’s Nest Luncheon Join the Davis Direction Foundation (DDF) and Credit Union of Georgia for this fund-raising event for DDF. More info: davisdirection.com

Get the holiday magic started. More than 1 million LED lights and dozens of Christmas trees will create the perfect, magical atmosphere. More info: sixflags.com/overgeorgia



Stop by the Youth Services Desk at the Smyrna Public Library and pick up a packet of “to-go” crafts for kids ages 3-8. The packets will contain at least four crafts and includes instructions. More info: smyrnaga.gov

Help raise money for MUST Ministries’ 18th annual Gobble Jog by participating in a 10K, 5K, 1K, or a Tot Trot. More info: gobblejog.com

Gobble Jog


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Lace up for a cause and honor America’s veteran community. The 6th Annual Veterans Memorial 5K Run is presented by American Legion Post 29. More info: post29marietta.org/5krace

Acworth Turkey Chase

Running with Autism Speaks in Piedmont Park will provide you an exciting, memorable, and fulfilling experience where you can help enhance lives today while accelerating a spectrum of solutions for tomorrow. More info: autismspeaks.org


Veterans Memorial 5K


Autism Speaks Mid-South 5K




Lights of LIFE One of metro Atlanta’s best lights displays kicks off on Thanksgiving Day. Just $10 per car. More info: life.edu/lights-of-life

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



Santa’s Arrival in Acworth

Coming Home for the Holidays Smyrna kicks off its holiday season with this annual tradition — including Santa! Festivities begin at 5 p.m. around the Village Green. More info: smyrnaga.gov

The City of Acworth welcomes Santa Claus to downtown on Friday around 5:30 p.m. More info: acworthtourism.org



A Day With Santa

The Marietta Pilgrimage

Santa’s arrival in Kennesaw begins at 2 p.m. with a Main Street parade featuring decorated floats, vintage cars, and costumed characters. More info: adaywithsanta.com

For the 34th annual Marietta Pilgrimage Christmas Home Tour, this year’s event will be self-guided. Get a glimpse inside private Marietta homes decorated for the holiday season. More info: mariettapilgrimage.com


Southern Pieces Gala The gala has been re-imagined as a virtual chef event led by Chef Shaun Doty. Celebrate your dedication to the autism community with a delicious meal personally prepared by a distinguished chef in the comfort of your own home. More info: autismspeaks.org


14th Annual Light the Night Tree Lighting The Wellstar Kennestone Regional Medical Center campus hosts its 14th annual Light the Night event and ushers in the holiday season. More info: wellstar.org


Golden Eagle Luncheon Join more than 1,000 of the Atlanta Area’s top business and community leaders as they celebrate the Boy Scouts of America and pledge to support its future. More info: atlantabsa.org


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Focused On Safety, Not Maximizing Capacity

By Lindsay Field Penticuff

LakePoint Sports has worked tirelessly during the COVID-19 pandemic to reopen a safe campus for athletes and guests.



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arch 12, 2020, at 4:08 p.m. “That’s when we announced that LakePoint Sports would be postponing all sporting events on campus until further notice,” recalls Mark M. O’Brien, who was named President and CEO of LakePoint Sports in early 2019 and appointed to the Board of Directors in 2020. “We may have made our call to postpone our events and activities hours or moments before any other callssimilar decisions were made across the professional, collegiate and amateur sports landscape, but that’s because we wereLakePoint was in the throes of potentially hosting ana major gymnastics event and we wanted to make sure we were doing the right thing for all involved.” On that date, and at that time, O’Brien


and his team decided to take a step back, much like everyone else across the country, and try to assess the situation surrounding COVID-19. “We were trying to understand the dynamic in which we were not only navigating as a business, but navigating with our team members, and the community in which we live and the sports industry we serve.” For O’Brien, it always starts with people. And as a private business, LakePoint Sports wanted to make sure they were in lockstep with national, state, and local leadership as to how they would manage their business during a global pandemic. “We were very, very cautious and sensitive as to when and how we would reopen,” he adds, “and we took our time.” That doesn’t mean operating a business

that has a nearly $100-million economic impact on the area during a pandemic hasn’t come with a few uphill battles. “It’s been a challenging year for everyone, and we are no different,” O’Brien says. “But the thing we’ve focused on is opening up and re-emerging in the safest way possible. We are focusing on safety first.”

campus,” he shares. “We tapped into 50 different resources — individuals, federal, state, local guidelines, contacts — to help guide and inform a thoughtful and safe approach to our re-emergence.” With the safety of the LakePoint Sports team, as well as visiting athletes and guests in mind, an internal task force helped put together hundreds of safety guidelines based on the sport, event, or venue. They met daily to discuss protocols, all while making important changes for facilitating a reopening plan as they learned more and garnered more feedback. In turn, the task force created the LakePoint Sports Phased Re-Opening Playbook, which leverages internal, external, and expert resources. “On May 21, we began opening up the campus very slowly, and with outdoor practices only,” O’Brien says. “We started with individual and team workouts, and it’d be one individual athlete or one team at a time working out with a coach.”

Following the playbook LakePoint Sports is a beautifu1,300acre campus located just north of Cobb County that hosts more than 1 million guests annually. It serves 30 sports year-round and features state-of-the-art venues, including the 170,000-square-foot Champions Center, eight Major-League-sized baseball fields, three multi-use fields, a 10-court beach volleyball pavilion, and a three-lake wakeboarding park. O’Brien says they first looked internally at their team of approximately 200 part-time and full-time team members — none of whom they’ve had to lay off

“It’s been a challenging year for everyone, and we are no different.” — Mark M. O’Brien, President/CEO, LakePoint Sports or furlough during the pandemic. “We wanted to really assess how we could create a safe environment for our team members. Then, we assessed how we could create a safe environment for any guests on

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Business Visitors and team members have done a great job of respecting the new protocols, and have expressed gratitude for all that LakePoint Sports is doing to keep athletes and guests safe. “It’s been an act of humanity by everyone involved; respecting people’s space, wearing a mask, following the sanitation guidelines that we made very visible to patrons. It hasn’t been about maximizing our capacity on campus. It’s been about maximizing a safe and positive experience, and that’s why I believe the response has been overwhelmingly positive from athletes, coaches, the industry, and families.” Over the course of the following couple of weeks, and as LakePoint Sports team members and guests got more comfortable, they started to open up a little bit more, hosting their first tournament — a baseball tournament — on June 4. Beach volleyball, soccer, lacrosse, and football followed throughout the month of June. “We were hosting tournaments at or near capacity in compliance with the limitations put in place and safety protocols put in place,” O’Brien says. “Everything we did was through a lens of safety first. We would not compromise on that. If at any

point we felt like we couldn’t take that next step in our phased reopening playbook, we wouldn’t take it.” They remained in Phase 1 for a month. In July, and coinciding with Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp’s leadership and advisement regarding the pandemic, LakePoint Sports moved into Phase 2 in which they

began hosting events in the Champions Center. “We started out at approximately 10 percent of our normal capacity by venue,” O’Brien says. “Over time, we have gradually moved to 20 percent capacity by venue; and even at this time, we are only operating at 20-percent capacity venue.” This progress was based on daily

Operations highlights since March: •  LakePoint Sports reopened its campus on May 21, hosting outdoor workouts for baseball, soccer, lacrosse, beach volleyball and football athletes and individual teams. •  LakePoint Sports started hosting baseball, beach volleyball as well as soccer, lacrosse and football tournaments, showcases, workouts and combines on its campus on June 4. •  LakePoint Sports launched its first esports virtual event in partnership with the Electronic Gaming Federation (EGF) and sponsored by Hawks Talon and Hyperice. •  The Champions Center hosted basketball tournaments starting July 10, as well as the summer futsal league and summer camp series. •  The LakePoint Hoops Live Showcase basketball event



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was hosted in July and August. It featured the top players from around the country, and more than 60 colleges and universities from across the U.S., and several mid-major conferences streamed the showcase. •  This summer hundreds of student-athletes across multiple sports received college scholarships immediately following their tournament play at LakePoint. •  The state-of-the-art campus features the best in technology, including LakePoint Live powered by PlaySight, which has garnered more than 20 million impressions and more than 1 million engagements. There are over 130 HD-cameras across campus for livestreaming and video-on-demand; seven cameras on every baseball field across the baseball village and more than 80 cameras inside Champions Center. •  LakePoint Sports hosted the Area Code Games Aug. 7-19, which relocated this summer from Long Beach, California and featured the best high school baseball players from across the country. All 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) clubs were on campus for the preeminent baseball event of the summer and two games were broadcast live on mlb.com.

“Everything we did was through a lens of safety first. We would not compromise on that.”

analysis by the LakePoint Sports team to determine how they could do better or differently to safely serve guests on campus. They also paid close attention to guidance from the governor’s office, Georgia Department of Economic Development, Georgia Department of Public Health, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). “The team has worked so hard, and they have worked tirelessly,” O’Brien adds. “They deserve all the credit for creating a safe environment for one another and our guests.”

A national spotlight And because of how well LakePoint Sports has reopened its venue to athletes and guests, events like the Area Code Games relocated from Long Beach, California, to Georgia. This was the first time in more than 30 years that the Area Code Games were held outside California. It was held in early August and welcomed the best high school baseball players from across

summer. “We created our own events to fill the void and gave these athletes an opportunity to show their talents when otherwise that may not have existed. The mental toll these kids have faced during the spring, sum— Mark M. O’Brien, mer, and now fall is challenging. President/CEO, LakePoint Sports I just love that kids have been able to come back on our campus and compete at the highest level the country. All 30 Major League Baseball in youth sports — supporting (MLB) clubs also were represented, and their mental health, collaboration and two games were broadcast live on mlb.com. teamwork, competition, and social inter“It was great that we could open our action,” adds O’Brien. doors and host the Area Code Games. So with an emphasis on culture, as They chose to have their event at Lake- well as their mission, vision and purpose, Point because of our focus, planning and O’Brien and his team at LakePoint Sports execution on safety,” O’Brien says. “Secur- are proud of what all they’ve been able to ing the Area Code Games is a great exam- accomplish the past several months. But, ple and testament to why it always comes it’s not over. back to our three core business pillars; “We will continue to focus on making people, planning and execution.” progress every day by putting plans in LakePoint Sports also created addi- place, executing those plans, and adjust tional branded events for basketball the dials to ensuring we are providing a when major brands like Nike, Under safe environment and the best guest expeArmour, and Adidas canceled theirs this rience,” he concludes. n

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Clearing The Air Some school districts and other organizations are breathing a little easier thanks to equipment manufactured by Marietta’s Aguair. By Cory Sekine-Pettite


ast year, Marietta-based Aguair, a manufacturer of engineered systems for agribusiness and other markets, was doing business as usual. Aguair’s ClensAir™, SaniCart™, Aquatronics™, and other products are used widely to extend the life of perishables from farm-to-fork, through factors such as air sanitization, humidity control, aeroponics, water treatment and biosecurity in greenhouses, storage facilities, processing centers, transportation and retail store backrooms. Aguair and its parent company, Prodew Inc., have been operating successfully in Georgia for a combined 25 years. Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. But this isn’t a tale of woe that so many industries and individuals have experienced in 2020. This is a tale of ingenuity, adaptability, and triumph. Aguair leadership saw an opportunity to help, a chance to assist with re-openings, including helping schools conduct in-person learning while keeping their students safe. With its equipment already in use across the food industry, Aguair knew that it could help shuttered businesses and schools to reopen with a broad sense of security and assurance by disinfecting indoor environments and limiting the spread of pathogens. “What we realized is that there is a growing need for this kind of equipment in public spaces and for public safety, for public health,” said Nadya Merchant, Ph.D., Aguair



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scientific director. “Aguair has seen a huge increase in demand for its equipment over the last few months, as people have started to try to get back to normal. You have dentist offices, veterinarians, you’ve got schools, hotels, fitness centers, restaurants, everyone scrambling to make their facilities safe.” All of these industries and companies were calling for information regarding two Aguair products that are effective at fighting the spread of pathogens, the company reports — the mobile SaniCart and the ClensAir. While interest has been shown from customers from across the United States, Aguair has gotten particular traction in the State of Nevada. Word began to spread last spring following reports out of Nevada of the successful use of SaniCart to help the Boys & Girls Clubs there to reopen following closure due to the pandemic. Executives there conducted extensive research to ensure safety, removing shared equipment such as computers and game tables. They also wanted to find an effective and efficient way to sanitize the facility for staff members and the hundreds of children they serve every day. When leadership there found Aguair, they knew they had located the right solution. Mike Wurm, executive director of the Boys and Girls Club at Truckee Meadows in Reno, Nevada said that through the pandemic, their staff has reevaluated and improved their disinfection protocols. The

thorough sanitization procedures put a big demand on staff, who at the beginning of the pandemic were spending hours wiping down surfaces. “SaniCart is great because it allows for more thorough disinfection without too much manpower.” His staff is using the equipment in close to 20 Boys and Girls Clubs through Reno and elsewhere in northern Nevada. “SaniCart has been really good in our daycares,” Wurm said. His staff would completely bleach down all surfaces in the daycare centers every two hours. “With SaniCart, you roll in the machine and completely sanitize everything in the room in just 20 minutes. You don’t have to wipe down each toy or each block, because of the science behind the fogging machine that gets the disinfectant on every surface.” In the computer labs, Wurm said, “We are no longer worried about electronics getting wet. We can sanitize keyboards and mics.” The Boys and Girls Cub centers purchased SaniCart with CARES Act funding and are using it throughout their buildings and even on their buses. “SaniCart makes good sense, especially in our larger buildings,” Wurm said. “It goes a long way in replacing manpower. When kids leave an area, we roll in the machine, plug it in, turn it on, close the door, and the room is completely sanitized by the time the kids return. Before, we had a whole layer of staff disinfecting, now we just have one person

working the SaniCart. It is efficient and also more thorough at disinfecting.” When local community leaders heard about the successes at the Boys & Girls Clubs, a Nevada foundation stepped in to help many schools in rural northern Nevada that couldn’t afford such equipment on their own. This particular foundation assists northern Nevada communities with healthcare, education, medical research, and community service funding; and over the past few decades has funded millions in grants to northern Nevada non-profits and schools. The foundation has provided grants to six school districts, two charter schools, and other Nevada non-profits to purchase sanitization solutions, including Aguair systems. Additionally, the foundation worked with Aguair to obtain deep discounts on SaniCart and ClensAir for the school districts that received foundation grants. The foundation wanted to make sure that as schools reopened, they were adding additional layers of protection to keep students and teachers safe. All of the school districts opted to purchase SaniCart — one unit per school building, and about 90 percent of the school districts also purchased ClensAir for their nurses’ offices and COVID-19 isolation rooms. Harman Bains, director of business services at Lyon County School District near Reno was looking for efficient and convenient disinfecting solutions so that his staff could get away from manually disinfecting surfaces with a rag and spray bottle at the 18 schools in his district. When he heard of SaniCart as a sanitization solution that could be rolled around and put in a classroom, he was thrilled. His district has received funding from the local foundation to purchase SaniCart and ClensAir. Bains said, “The convenience aspect of SaniCart is huge. We initially looked at electrostatic backpack sprayers, but the idea of carrying around 20-pound backpacks all day long was a hinderance.” Bains also likes the fact that the SaniCart disinfectant tank has a larger capacity, so it doesn’t need to be refilled as frequently, and that unlike with other sprayers, his staff doesn’t need to wipe down surfaces after using SaniCart. The dry micro-fog leaves no wetness behind. The school district is using ClensAir air purifiers in each of their nurse’s offices. “We placed ClensAir on top of the doors


to keep the air clean as kids who might not be feeling well come in and out of the nurse’s offices.” Harman thanks the local foundation for funding this disinfection equipment that will “not only help fight this pandemic in our schools today, but will continue to make a positive impact on our students’ lives for years and even decades to come.” The foundation hopes to inspire other organizations and school districts around the country to invest in technologies that help reduce airborne and surface transmission of pathogens and reduce missed school days among students. Other organizations and businesses in Nevada including a community college, an arts and cultural center, and a museum have also invested in Aguair technology. SaniCart is a wheeled unit that can be used with several disinfecting agents to deliver air and surface sanitization. The SaniCart emits a dry fog of disinfectant that leaves no moisture behind. “This spray basically covers the entire room, cleaning surfaces, and disinfecting the air. You have disinfectant settling on all the surfaces, underneath, behind, and in between. Nothing is left untouched,” Dr. Merchant said. ClensAir is an air purifying system that uses a six-stage air sanitization process, including technology that was developed for NASA. The unit consisting of particulate and antimicrobial filters, UV and photocatalytic lamps, an odor control filter, and a surface decontaminant. Independent lab tests have shown ClensAir to be over 99.9-percent effective in removing viruses and bacteria. All of this from a small, rectangular container about 42 inches long (and weighing 15-20 pounds) that is easily wall-mounted or placed on a shelf and can be left to do its job until it requires a filter change. And the ClensAir has built-in filter monitors to remind users when those items need to be


changed — based on the environment in which they are placed. Dr. Merchant says that combining SaniCart and ClensAir creates a complete sanitization package for businesses like restaurants, hotels, airlines, and medical offices, as well as churches. Other areas where Aguair products are now being used and installed include office buildings, co-working spaces, and other commercial properties. The company has steadily increased production to meet this growing demand. “We have hired many more people; we are trying to work as fast as we can,” she said. “And remember,” she added, “this pandemic won’t last forever, but there always will be the annual flu, and other viruses — such as the common cold — to deal with on a regular basis. Looking at it that way, commercial sanitization equipment is well worth the investment.” Locally, schools still are working out how such equipment might fit into their budgets, or where they could find funding, but there are spaces in metro-Atlanta that have installed Aguair equipment for patrons, including the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta and the City of Refuge Innovation Hub. “We are humbled to collaborate with this foundation, who chooses to remain anonymous, and the Boys & Girls Clubs in Nevada, to help safeguard children in rural Nevadan communities. Aguair, and its parent company, Prodew, are also indebted to the City of Marietta and to Cobb County for supporting our growth over the last two decades,” Dr. Merchant said. “It is with this local backing that Aguair has been able to research and develop world-class sanitization equipment such as SaniCart and ClensAir.” n COBB

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Even During a Pandemic, Cobb EMC and Gas South Are Still Inspiring Students By Lindsay Field Penticuff


ince its inception 10 years ago, the Literacy Week Program has supported more than 135,000 students in schools across Cobb, Paulding, Cherokee, Bartow, and Fulton counties. Launched by Cobb EMC in 2010 and followed by Gas South in 2015 as a co-sponsor,



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Literacy Week was created to encourage students’ love of reading and creative writing. “The program supports the efforts of the schools, and the author and illustrator visits bring real-world examples to the classroom. Literacy Week inspires imagination and promotes lifelong reading habits,”

explains Mark Justice, director of education and community relations at Cobb EMC. “Reading is one of the most important components of a successful education, and literacy supports successful STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] education.”

Literacy Week was started with New York Times Best Selling Author and Illustrator Brian Lies visiting just three schools. Justice says the response to Lies’ visits was so positive that Cobb EMC decided to make Literacy Week an annual event. Today, the program impacts students in 30 to 46 schools across five metro Atlanta counties. It is offered to students in kindergarten through 12th grade, and starting this year it also will be offered to college students. The number of authors who participate changes each year, but they are expecting 12 authors to share their books and illustrations the last week in October during this year’s Literacy Week. “Literacy Week is more than inviting an author into a school to read one of their books,” Justice adds. “Instead, it is a focused time for students to be inspired to love reading and writing. Students learn about the process of writing and editing. A few of our authors are also illustrators. The students get to see live demonstrations and learn tips about how to draw.”

“Reading is one of the most important components of a successful education, and literacy supports successful STEM [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] education.” — Mark Justice, Director of Education and Community Relations, Cobb EMC Justice adds that Literacy Week has become one of their most popular school programs and is one of Cobb EMC’s most important community efforts for education. “It is also probably the most demanding week of the school year for us, but we love every minute.”

profits back to the community, specifically to children in need in three areas: basic needs, education, and illness and disability. “Cobb EMC has a strong education component to their community giving, so we thought co-sponsoring Literacy Week would be a great avenue to collaborate on,” shares Carley Stephens, community affairs program manager at Gas South, adding that this year alone, Gas South will be giving more than $1.2 million back to the community.

Impacting the community at large Gas South’s involvement in Literacy Week goes back to the company’s annual commitment of returning 5 percent of its





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A large portion of Gas South employees have personally experienced the good deeds of Literacy Week, as their children are students at one of the participating schools — Norton Park Elementary School in Smyrna. “We know that we are not only impacting our communities, but we are bringing a really great program to the children of our own employees,” Stephens says. “One of the things we strive to do is to put people first, and that doesn’t just pertain to our customers. Taking care of our employees — our own family — is really important and impactful for the company to be able to touch everyone in that way and provide that support.”

A pandemic didn’t slow them down This year’s program was held virtually to be respectful of social distancing rules and regulations instituted by many of the metro area’s school systems in light of COVID-19. “We normally have a kickoff

event for schools on the first Monday of Literacy Week, giving media specialists and principals a chance to meet the authors and illustrators in advance of scheduled presentations,” Justice says. “We will not be able to host a kickoff dinner this year, though, because all of the presentations will be virtual.” But, Cobb EMC’s mascot, Wattson the Red-Tailed Hawk, will visit close to 30 schools during this year’s Literacy Week. He also will be seen during virtual visits this year. Stephens added that hosting this year’s event virtually will give presenters an opportunity to speak to smaller groups of students. “Kids will be able to interact in different ways with the authors and illustrators and ask more questions, which I think is really beneficial. …I think this will be a great opportunity for [them] to share their presentations and maybe be more focused on what the skills of a specific class or

“We know that we are not only impacting our communities, but we are bringing a really great program to the children of our own employees.” — Carley Stephens, Community Affairs Program Manager, Gas South 16


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grade is learning at the time.” To learn more about the community programs at Cobb EMC and Gas South, visit cobbemc.com/content/partnerseducation and gassouth.com/givingback, respectively. n

Highlights of Literacy Week: •  Held the last week of October every year since 2010. •  Two Spotlight on Excellence Awards from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association • Business-to-Business Partnership Impact Award – Corporate Volunteer Council of Atlanta •  New York Times Best Selling Author and Illustrator Brian Lies has participated since year 1. •  Georgia School Superintendent Richard Woods participated in Literacy Week in 2015. •  NASA author, speaker and space historian Andrew Chaikin has participated in Literacy Week for several years.

TEACHERS OF THE YEAR This year, our educators certainly had an inordinate number of challenges, but that didn’t stop them from performing above and beyond the call, and helping their students make the best of the school year. During a remote address back in August, Cobb Superintendent Chris Ragsdale announced the district’s 2020 Teachers of the Year: Darline Douangvilay, City View Elementary School; Michelle Gottenberg, Mabry Middle School; and Beth Foster, Osborne High School. Douangvilay, who teaches fifth-grade, enjoys incorporating her students’ cultural backgrounds into her lessons. Gottenberg is a seventh-grade English teacher. She has an ability to connect with students and is a positive asset to Mabry. Foster teaches English as a second language, as well as history. She works well with her high school students, is supportive of her colleagues, and is willing to pitch in wherever she is needed — from completing tasks or necessary paperwork to giving ideas for classwork and projects. Congratulations to all three educators.

Darline Douangvilay

Beth Foster

Michelle Gottenberg

Cobb Chamber Names 2020 Public Safety Award Winners The Cobb Chamber honored Cobb County’s finest Monday, October 5, during its annual Public Safety Appreciation Luncheon, presented by Cobb EMC and Wellstar, at the Coca-Cola Roxy. The hybrid event drew a sold-out, sociallydistanced crowd and kicked off Public Safety Appreciation Week, a community-wide effort to say “thank you” to the men and women who work tirelessly to keep Cobb County safe. Vic Reynolds, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, served as keynote speaker and awards emcee, honoring each of the nominees and presenting the 2020 Public Safety Awards. Nominations for the Public Safety Awards were solicited from public safety agencies throughout Cobb County, including police, fire, sheriff’s office, campus police, and EMS. Congratulations to all of the winners: •  Public Safety Employee of the Year — Deputy Tyrone Reid, Cobb County Sheriff’s Office •  Awards of Merit — Officer Matt Smith, Kennesaw Police Department; Office of Victim Services, Kennesaw State University Police; MPD Crime Interdiction Unit, Marietta Police Department •  Distinguished Achievement Award — Battalion Chief Stephen Westbrook, Smyrna Fire Department; Training Manager Krista Tillman, Puckett EMS •  Outstanding Community Contribution — Firefighter Ron Presley, Marietta Fire Department; Lieutenant Michael Goins, Marietta Police Department; Detective Evan Wallace, Acworth Police Department •  Medal of Valor — Officers Andrew Abernathy and Quinius Lyles, Cobb County Police Department


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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 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?

Photo by LaRuche Creative

Leaders of Cobb THE STORY: I was born in Decatur, and my family moved to Cobb shortly thereafter. I attended Georgia Southern University. After college, I went to work for my father’s business, which included real estate investments. I gained confidence and inspiration from working for him and aspired all the while to be as successful as he was. Therefore, I started a small office furniture, space planning, and project management business. My clients consisted of Fortune 100 companies, Atlanta hospitals, and private medical offices. As my business grew, my tireless work ethic and dedication to deliver the best service became evident to my clients and colleagues. Eventually, I made the decision to put my career on hold to start a family. I was a stay-at-home mom for 17 years to four amazing children. As my children got older, I made the decision to re-invent my career and myself. In 2010, I got my real estate license, joined Dorsey Alston and never looked back. My first full year in real estate, the Atlanta Realtors Association recognized me as “Rookie Of The Year.” Since becoming a realtor, I have been a Top Producer with the Atlanta Realtors Association. In 2019, I was the #3 agent in sales volume company-wide at Dorsey Alston. WHY I CHOSE TO WORK IN COBB: Dorsey Alston opened the East Cobb office in 2014. The transition from the Buckhead office to Cobb County was a natural progression for me in 2016. I have come to really appreciate all the Cobb community has to offer. It feels like a big city with the abundance of shopping and dining, but in reality is a small community. Cobb is a great place to live and work. Since the pandemic, I have been working from home. I truly miss going into the office and seeing all my fellow East Cobb Agents. WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB? I am passionate about working with people and maintaining lifelong relationships. Helping my clients navigate the home buying or selling process seamlessly is important to me. Success is not about the price of the home, but rather, understanding the current market and helping my clients achieve their real estate goals through my market knowledge and strong negotiation skills. What I also love about the real estate business is that every day is different, each transaction is unique, and there’s always a new opportunity. LEISURE TIME: I enjoy spending quality time with my family

Dawn Anderson

Realtor, Dorsey Alston Realtors

and friends, cooking, traveling, playing tennis, volunteering, and all things outdoors. My guilty pleasure is playing tennis and being a member of ALTA and USTA leagues. BEST ADVICE: Believe in yourself, don’t be afraid to re-invent yourself, and always use a Realtor! WHAT’S NEXT? Throughout my years in the real estate industry, I have seen a lot of change. 2020 has certainly reshaped the real estate culture. Virtual open houses, Facetime showings, video marketing, virtual sales meetings, and Zoom calls have become a part of our day-to-day business. I am looking forward to continuing to establish new relationships and growing my network in the Cobb community. Staying loyal to my clients and focusing on their goals always will be a priority. I believe in creating exceptional experiences in every market.

1000 Johnson Ferry Road, Marietta, GA 30068 • dorseyalston.com/agents/dawn-anderson • 404.433.7849 COBB

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Is All About the Upgrade

Photos by LaRuche Creative

When COVID-19 threw a major curveball at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Atlanta – Marietta, the management team took action to create a safer, more sanitized customer experience. By Jennifer Morrell

Pictured left to right going around the table: Gregory Brown, General Manager; Alicia Smith, Accounting Manager; Lamin Sarr, Executive Chef; Cerissa Stewart, Convention Services Coordinator; Omar Mendoza, Executive Housekeeper; Robin Snyder, Controller; Mai Jallow, Director of Human Resources; Wendy Jettmar, Corporate Sales Manager; Andre Hill, Chief Engineer; and Paul Woodley, Director of Sales. COBB

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ne of Marietta’s most notable establishments is the DoubleTree (DT) by Hilton Hotel Atlanta – Marietta. The DT became a Hilton – DoubleTree in 2006, and today is a full-service Hilton brand hotel with 224 guestrooms. If you’ve had the pleasure of visiting the hotel, you are probably familiar with the signature chocolate-chip walnut cookie offered to guests. In addition to warm cookies and warm service, the hotel offers king, double and suite guestrooms, complete with breakfast, lunch, dinner, and in-room dining. The DT is known for its Southern hospitality and Atlanta access. Located just off I-75 at Windy Hill, it is close to family-friendly restaurants and is just one block from Windy Hill Hospital. A free shuttle is



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offered to Truist Park for Braves games and The Battery Atlanta. “In 2018, we completed a multi-million dollar renovation, upgrading the breakfast area, a brand-new fitness center, and an indoor/outdoor pool with hot tub,” says General Manager Gregory Brown. “The hotel has 10,000 square feet of meeting space for board meetings, weddings, and other functions.”

Back in 2019, the DT hosted more than 50,000 guests, but the hotel isn’t just a convenient place for people to lay their heads. The DT’s management sees the hotel as a community partner. Along with offering foods, beverages, and other contributions, Brown said the DT works with MUST Ministries, American Red Cross, and the American Cancer Society. The hotel is also a Dobbins Airforce Base partner. “We feel that the hotel’s contribution has been quite impactful,” he says.

The unforeseen event To be sure, the DT spoils guests with endless amenities and offerings, but like nearly every business in Cobb County, the COVID-19 pandemic created new challenges that led to new ways of thinking and doing business. Prior to the pandemic, the hotel employed about 85

“In 2018, we completed a multi-million dollar renovation, upgrading the breakfast area, a brand-new fitness center, and an indoor/outdoor pool with hot tub.” — General Manager Gregory Brown. people, contractors included. By the end of March 2020, hotel management found themselves unable to accurately assess the days to come, and they wanted the staff and guests to feel safe. Thus, they opted to suspend the operation of the hotel for six weeks. “The generous owners decided that we would send everyone home with pay during this time, and the managers would maintain the structure and cleanliness of the building,” Brown said. “We extended this time for two additional weeks. On June 15, we reopened the hotel with 27 associates, managers, supervisors, and additional personnel in housekeeping.” The onset of COVID-19 affected the DT in numerous ways, but also provided opportunity for growth and reassessment of hotel operations. Brown and his team consider the hotel to be corporate, for the most part. “Our hotel is unlike an airport property, where you have business and leisure travelers who book adjacent to where they land, as they feel this is convenient,” he says. “Here, we have corporate travelers whose company and/or business is in the area throughout the week, such as General Electric (GE), Home Depot, Dobbins Air Force Base, Manhattan Associates, Lockheed Martin Corp., Graphic Packaging, NAPA, HD Supply, and Wellstar. Many of these companies are contracted through the Hilton brand. “As we all know, corporate traveling was suspended, and many of these companies are traveling very little, even

today,” Brown continues. “Of course, we lost 90 percent of our corporate guests. Although we are noticing a small, but steady, increase in corporate travels and guests presently, we have more weekend traffic. This is the case for most properties today.”

Keeping guests safe The DT philosophy for keeping guests safe in the COVID-19 “new normal” is simple: Vigilance is key, and availability is the win! “All of us are asking, ‘What should I be doing to remain safe?’ and ‘If I choose to go someplace, what are they doing that



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Pictured left to right going around the table: Omar Mendoza, Executive Housekeeper; Mai Jallow, Director of Human Resources; Cerissa Stewart, Convention Services Coordinator; Andre Hill, Chief Engineer; Wendy Jettmar, Corporate Sales Manager; Robin Snyder, Controller; Alicia Smith, Accounting Manager; Lamin Sarr, Executive Chef; Paul Woodley, Director of Sales; and Gregory Brown, General Manager.

helps me to believe that things are clean for my safety?’” Brown says. “We are not confronted with a pandemic often. It’s a new day; nothing is the same.” Brown shared with his staff that the business has been forced to shift gears into another realm of “drive.” During the hotel’s suspension period, he and his team wanted to assure that when the doors reopened, every single component of operations was upgraded. This meant that whatever request guests or even staff members had, the DT could genuinely convey that an upgrade had taken place. Changes had to be made. “If we were doing everything the same as we had before, I considered it a problem,” Brown says. “Fortunately, the Hilton brand became the trendsetter in this industry, and Chris Nassetta, Hilton’s CEO, implemented a clean, strict road for us to drive with cleanliness in mind. Each shift, I have a person who maintains our public spaces, constantly cleaning. This is all they do during their shift.” The DT set a few best practices and new habits into place for the housekeeping staff to make strides toward better safety. Executive Housekeeping Manager Omar Mendoza says new training on how to clean and disinfect the rooms and public areas, 24


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including the 10 most-used spots, was a necessity. In every room, areas that are given special attention include lights, lamps, switches and electronic controls; handles and knobs; major bathroom surfaces; the climate control panel; the remote control, telephone and clocks; beds and bedding; tables, desks and nightstands; irons and safes; and food and beverage amenities.

Partnering for safety DoubleTree developed a partnership with Lysol when Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta gathered information from the World Health Organization, Mayo Clinic, and the Centers for Disease Control, with an attempt to tackle cleaning material that would handle COVID-19 and any other viruses. Nassetta learned what it would take to maintain the proper cleanliness for COVID-19, and then met with Lysol. “Everyone knew that Lysol and other disinfectants were unavailable,” Brown says. “Although stores were getting shipments, studies showed that the merchandise would [sell out] less than 15 to 30 minutes after arrival. An agreement was made with Hilton that would place all Hilton hotels on automatic shipment for the upgraded Lysol products for commercial cleaning. I

sincerely believe Mr. Nassetta works with great diligence in maintaining good rhythm and harmony in the flow of hospitality.” Hilton created the CleanStay program, which went into effect June 15, 2020. The program consisted of many components. Examples include the use of the new, commercial Lysol spray and wipes, and CleanStay seals for guestrooms. Hilton quickly became a trendsetter in this regard. Brown rolled out the program with the word “upgrade” in mind, since he and his team had to upgrade everything after being confronted with COVID-19. Mendoza is a fan of the partnership with Lysol. “I think it has been great, because it not only provides security to travelers, but also to employees, by having the necessary tools to do the job,” he says. “We can also provide personal protection, especially in moments where nobody knows how to act with new procedures that should be performed in cleaning ours rooms and public spaces. These are important advantages that this partnership brings to Hilton.” Mendoza says the key Lysol products that the DT is utilizing are Lysol Commercial Use Disinfectant Spray and Lysol Disinfectant Wipes.

Brown reiterates the importance of vigilance and availability. Having a dedicated person, in addition to the staff, to maintain a superior cleaning level is important. The DT has a person on each shift who walks behind each use of areas in our public spaces. If something is brought to the staff’s attention, this dedicated person allows immediate interception of any potential issues and concerns. Brown says that, to date, the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Atlanta – Marietta has had no issues, for which he and his staff are grateful. “It is a new day, and many things have happened around us. We have upgraded our training on unconscious bias and proper decisionmaking in an ongoing effort to prevent misuse of decisions made in our new world. It’s the thought of knowing we need each other, in more ways than one.” Mendoza furthers this mentality. “As the

type of travelers change during this time and are more transient than the executive, the main challenge is to keep a deep cleaning on every single room,” he says. “This is not only because of the overall condition of the rooms, but because we must disinfect them properly. It takes more

time to get the rooms clean, disinfected, and ready to sell.” Brown’s final take on the measures being taken by the DT are clear. “My background is compliance, and I like to ascertain that those around me understand the small difference between rules and guidelines,” he says. “In this, we need to understand that empathy and genuine spirit of servitude always stamps success on those who we welcome here at our hotel. “Things happen, and seasons change,” he continues. “However, we are giving our guests the view that we understand what is around us, and that where there is a need, we are available. Our hotel won the 2019 Hilton DT CARE Award. This is an award based on compliance, service, and cleanliness rankings. I remind our team in empowerment that we can maintain this honor. We just need to upgrade.” n

During these challenging times, A.G. Rhodes continues to provide safe and compassionate care for our community’s older adults. Learn more:

www.agrhodes.org/coronavirus COBB

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Senior Living

Are You Fully Prepared For Your Golden Years? Your retirement plans may not be complete without long-term care insurance. By Cory Sekine-Pettite


o, you think you’ve done everything right in order to live out your golden years comfortably? You’re living in your “forever home.” You are retired or nearing retirement. You have savings and a well-funded retirement account. You have great healthcare coverage, and once you reach a certain age, the government will pick up the slack through Medicare, right? Well, it turns out there’s at least one more to-do item if you want to live worry-free into old age. Start looking into long-term care insurance. First, you are to be commended if you’ve saved enough for retirement; most Americans are not in your position. In fact, according to Bankrate, most Americans



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between the ages of 55 and 64 only have about 12 percent of what they’ll need in order to retire. And Fidelity reports that an average retired couple age 65 in 2020 may need approximately $295,000 saved (after tax) to cover healthcare expenses in retirement. Of course, Fidelity notes that the amount you’ll need will depend on when and where you retire, how healthy you are, and how long you live. Second, your healthcare coverage could leave you short-changed when it comes to care for certain health conditions such as cognitive decline or physical disabilities. This is where long-term care insurance is beneficial. “Health insurance is there to help you get better. It’s delivered by

somebody with a lot of training — a medical doctor, a physical therapist, a nurse — and they use things like ‘skilled care,’ practices designed to help you get better,” says Corey Rieck, MBA, CLTC, president and founder of The Long Term Care Planning Group (LTC) in Marietta. “And health insurance is used when there’s an expectation of improvement. Long-term care is used when the client is not going to get better and the care is categorized as ‘nonskilled care.’ …They’re like bookends. One helps you when you’re getting better; one helps you when you’re not getting better. And a lot of people don’t understand that Medicare is just like private health insurance. It exists to help people 65 years of age

and greater get better. And long-term care helps when you’re not getting better.” Rieck knows first-hand about the costs of healthcare in retirement, having assisted both of his parents through long illnesses. That’s why in 2001 he decided to devote the remainder of his career to helping others avoid the potentially high costs of healthcare at a time when they should be enjoying their freedom and independence. His company, LTC, specializes in delivering long-term care education and coverage to companies, high-net worth individuals, and large organizations. “I’ve tried my best to help people understand what [long-term care insurance] is and if they should do anything about it, and what the issues are,” Rieck said. “We use all the [insurance] carriers. We’re not tied to anyone. We’re neutral.” The cost for long-term care insurance depends on a person’s age, their overall health, and the type of plan chosen. In any case, the peace of mind it could provide is nearly priceless. At LTC, clients are educated on all of their options and never are coerced into buying anything.

The decision is theirs. Rieck just wants everyone to be properly informed. A longterm care issue, he says, can completely unravel one’s financial plan. “[For some people], the time is not right for them to do this, but the timing is always right to get your questions answered,” says Rieck. “And if you don’t realize that [typical insurance doesn’t pay] for long-term care, if you don’t realize that the exposure for somebody that has a long-term care issue can be as bad as $250 a day, that’s $90,000 a year.” You may be asking yourself, “wouldn’t my disability insurance cover these costs?” Put simply, no. “[Disability insurance] is geared to replace a certain portion of a client’s income while they’re working, should they become disabled and meet the qualifications of that disability contract,” Rieck said. “And it usually ends when the client is 65.” If you have more questions about longterm care insurance and whether or not it is right for you, Rieck has provided a brief guide on the next two pages. He also has created an educational video, which could help inform your decision. You can find

Corey Rieck

that brief webinar on YouTube at https:// youtu.be/NC5uAugAwf4. November is Long-Term Care Awareness Month, so now is a good time to start planning for your future. Enjoy your golden years with additional peace of mind. “We want to be respectful of budgets. We want to be respectful of risk and what a client’s position toward risk is,” said Rieck. “And, you know, the only way you can do that is if you have an open discussion with them.” n


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Senior Living

Understanding the Impact and Costs of Long-Term Care Two Important Long-Term Care Considerations by D. Corey Rieck, MBA, CLTC


hat would be the impact of a prolonged period of healthrelated struggles on your family, income, personal assets, and investments? You cannot fully assess the impact unless you understand the costs of long-term care. An unfunded or underfunded long-term care event can do irreparable harm to your family’s plans, investment performance, current and future income, and overall financial plan going forward. There also is the emotional, mental and physical stress that long-term care can put on family relationships. Without a plan, long-term care is almost always provided by a person’s family. What is long-term care? Put simply, long-term care can be required because of a prolonged illness or disability. It also can include caring for a family member who needs help or support because they are living a long life. The need for long-term care can be triggered at any stage of life by an accident, stroke, disease, or the onset of Alzheimer’s. Examples include a grandmother with dementia or a parent with multiple sclerosis. More specifically, long-term care is required when a person needs help with two or more of these six activities of daily living (ADLs): 1. Bathing – The ability to wash oneself and perform personal grooming (i.e. shaving, brushing teeth). 2.  Dressing – The ability to dress oneself, including buttoning and zipping as needed. 3.  Eating – The ability to feed oneself. 4.  Transferring – The ability to either walk or physically transfer oneself from a bed to a wheelchair and back again. 5.  Toileting – The ability to get on and off the toilet. 6. Continence – The ability to control one’s bladder and bowel functions. Or, long-term care can be required when a loved one needs help because of cognitive impairment. For example, a person needs daily help when they struggle with one or more of the following: 1.  Orientation as to person, place or time. 2.  Issues with abstract or deductive reasoning. 3.  Judgment as it relates to safety awareness. 4.  Frequent or complete loss of memory. Why consider long-term care planning? The financial cost of long-term care will impact your other financial plans. Long-term care can cost more than $250 per day in cities like Atlanta in the United States today. That is $7,500 per month and $90,000 annually, of which your health insurance will cover little to none. Long-term care costs vary by service and the city and state where you are receiving care. These costs can increase 3-5 percent annually. The ongoing cumulative costs can be even more significant. If long-term care 28


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expenses are unfunded, they quickly undermine a financial plan and can negatively impact retirement planning. Why consider long-term care insurance? Your health insurance or Medicare will not pay for long-term care expenses. Private health insurance or Medicare only covers expenses to cure a person using skilled care delivered by a licensed medical professional. Examples of skilled care can include tube feeding and physical therapy. Long-term care expenses incur when a person needs assistance with the activities of daily living or cognitive impairment. Long-term care is not provided by licensed medical professionals, home health aides, or personal care attendants. This distinction between skilled and non-skilled care is critical. Consider your health insurance and long-term care insurance as book ends. One helps you with skilled care when there is an expectation of you getting better. The other helps you when there is no expectation of improvement using unskilled care. Here are the next steps you need to take: • Sit down with a long-term care planning professional to educate yourself further. • Learn the costs for long-term care in the city and state where you currently reside. •  Identify your ideal retirement location and learn the costs of long-term care in that city and state. •  Work with a long-term care planning expert who has access to multiple insurance carriers and coverage options to provide you the best recommendations based on your individual health and preference of long-term care.

Corey helps people in these ways: About Corey Rieck, president & • Review an existing personal founder of The Long Term Care long-term care policy. Planning Group • Discuss personal options for Corey Rieck helps high net worth long-term care funding. individuals better manage long-term care expenses •  Create a long-term care employee benefit as part to avoid sacrificing their financial plans and family of an executive compensation plan. relationships. • Assist financial advisors and insurance agents Corey became focused on long-term care planning with a review of their clients’ existing long-term care after managing his parents’ finances as they aged policies or discuss their funding options. and needed long-term care. He realized there had to be a better way for people to receive the best possible We have arranged for you to set up a free, no-obligation long-term care without forfeiting assets and depletCorey Rieck LTC Consult with Corey Rieck. Corey will confidentially ing their bank accounts. Corey knows how to help protect your financial assets and and personally evaluate your family’s specific needs and answer all wealth management with a funding strategy for long-term care. your questions on long-term care. This consult fee, normally valued He can answer your questions and explain why you should not at $99.95, is waived when you mention that you saw us in Cobb In rely upon government programs or only your family members Focus magazine. Visit www.purchaseltc.com to schedule your free consultation for long-term care. When a person decides to explore long-term care financial or sign up for Corey’s free webinar on long-term care. To reach solutions, Corey takes them step-by-step through a highly confi- him personally, call 678-814-5088, or send an email to corey@ n dential and systematic process to optimize their funding options. thelongtermcareplanninggroup.com.

3 Things to Never Ask a Veteran in the Workplace Veterans law attorney cites critical questions to avoid when engaging with a veteran.


ccording to retired Army Lieutenant Colonel John Berry of Berry Law Firm, you can improve your veteran hiring and retention by making small changes to your interview process and to your work environment. Berry, whose firm became the first to ever receive the Department of Labor’s HIREVets Platinum Medallion, has filled his staff with veterans by following a few simple rules. Among them are a list of questions to NEVER ask, including: 1.  Do you have PTSD? – First, in an interview situation, it’s illegal to ask this mental health question before a job offer has been made under the Americans With Disabilities Act, and even after unless certain conditions are met. Second, it’s just disrespectful. The veteran will likely think they’re

being stigmatized and labeled as “damaged goods” in some way or regarded as a stereotypical “unstable veteran,” which will make it difficult to maintain a sustainable, professional relationship. 2.  Have you ever killed anyone? – Most veterans who served in combat don’t want to discuss the

details of their military service with a civilian. This question can be offensive, disconcerting, or generally uncomfortable to the veteran. The notion of taking another human being’s life in the line of duty is a highly sensitive and emotionevoking topic that demands the utmost courtesy of privacy. 3.  Have you ever been shot? – While the veteran may not have a current disability from an injury, you don’t want to take the chance of touching on what could be deep-seated emotional wounds and traumatic memories of physical distress. Furthermore, the veteran who was not in combat is likely proud of his or her accomplishments in the military, and, whether or not they’ve engaged in gunfire and/or been hit, may perceive the comment as belittling.


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Arts & Recreation


The Wild Blue Yonder

Lockheed AC-130 Spectre (a variant of the locally built C-130 Hercules)

Local business owner’s passion for aviation leads to partnership with Marietta’s Aviation History & Technology Center By Katherine Michalak


esar J. Caceres, regional president of Nexterus Atlanta North Georgia. To Caceres, faith and service are inherent values, Northwest supply chain management company, keeps his and he sees travel as a vital part of education. Additionally, aviation eyes on the road ahead while also letting his mind wan- has always been a fascination for Caceres, so he became a Marine der up into the clouds. He plots his course and assesses air traffic controller, which he notes “is basically logistics in the air.” his direction with deference to the greater journey we all travel. “Joining the Armed Forces was always part of my dream,” he He knows he owes his own place in the world to the travelers who stresses. “I wanted to serve the country and see the world, to forged ahead before him. In building his business in Cobb County, enjoy different cultures. The Marines allowed me to see about 50 Caceres cultivates connections and partnerships that help others countries.” also find their path. After his time in the Marines, Caceres earned a college degree “My grandfather immigrated in business then began a career to the U.S. during World War in logistics and management, II,” Caceres recounts. “My parworking for a variety of compaents were originally from Brooknies. By 2019, he became famillyn where they were high school iar with the Nexterus company sweethearts. My father served in and decided to go into business the Army and I was born while for himself as a franchise subsidhe was stationed in Germany.” It iary in Cobb County. “Nexterus was there that his father felt the is one of the largest privatelycall to Baptist ministry, headed owned logistical companies, to seminary in Calhoun, Georand their principles mirrored gia, and then served a decade my family values,” he explains. as a missionary in Puerto Rico “I purchased rights to use their Thorp T-18 Tiger kit-build plane before settling permanently in proprietary software, taking



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Grumman OV-1 Mohawk

freight into the 21st century through new systems and technical advancement. As an air traffic controller looking towards the future, this projects advanced ideas into an industry that has tended to do things the same way. Cobb is one of the top counties in the U.S. for growing supply chain logistics. Due to the pandemic, many industries figured out that they needed to re-evaluate their supply chain management. People are more open to talking about changes. …They see the need to investigate new technologies.” That curiosity about technology combined with his passion for aviation led him to Marietta’s Aviation History & Technology Center (AHTC). When Caceres attended a museum Cockpits & Coffee networking event, he felt immediately comfortable in the environment. “I’ve probably slept more hours in and around aircraft than in a bed,” he jokes. So, he met with board members and decided to get involved. “They need businesses in the area to know they exist and to understand the way the museum benefits the community as a whole,” he explains. Divested off the Marietta Museum of History, the AHTC now stands as a unique institution honoring local aviation history through 21st century methodologies. Center director Brad Hawkins joined the staff in 2017 and says, “I feel like a kid again here, being around the aircraft, hearing the stories of guests, watching kids come in saucer-eyed as they see the machinery. Most people’s world view of aviation is through a tiny window on the plane, but this [AHTC] is a gateway to explore our world.” He goes on to summarize their mission: “It’s about “preserving a legacy through education to showcase what [aviation] history has meant to the community,

Cockpit from a Lockheed C-141B StarLifter

to appreciate where our community has come from and where it is going, to provoke critical analysis and thought in the younger generation and encourage aviation future development. And we’re doing so with some of the most passionate volunteers in the Metro area — veterans, former aviators, former Lockheed employees, et cetera. Our internal support comes from them [volunteers] and staff and corporate groups… such as Nexterus, a veteran-led organization that believes in the power of transportation.” Both Caceres and Hawkins view the AHTC as more than a traditional museum space. Programming builds on the resonance of a face-to-face audience with massive aircraft and explores the larger influences of aviation in the region. “The museum helps veterans and military,” says Caceres, “as well as projecting toward the future by taking an active role in education with STEM groups, homeschoolers, and scouts.” Hawkins elaborates, “Humankind was inspired to fly by looking at birds, and we can look at how that curiosity of our relationship with the Earth develops. [We are] learning teamwork from the example of a multiengine aircraft, learning roles of different aircraft models. Understanding all of it can

Republic F-84F Thundersteak (1950s attack jet)

make for a more wholesome experience.” For Caceres, supporting the AHTC means helping to foster a love for aeronautics within a community long recognized for its strong presence in the aviation industry. “I could spend hours listening to their [museum] experts with so much knowledge about these aircraft. This is personal history for me, too, so I decided to be a part of development with the marketing committee to help bring the strategic plan to fruition.” Hawkins concurs: “Aviation gave Marietta a global recognition, aviation is in Cobb County’s DNA, tracing back to the Bell Bomber Plant, to Lockheed, to Dobbins. Where the base is now was once woods and pig lots, but in the 1940s the war transformed the labor landscape and people were coming to Cobb County to work on planes, starting a culture mix. Cobb County Water System developed to serve the plant; the school system developed to serve the families of plant workers. We want people to come in voluntarily to learn about all of it, to go far beyond the capabilities of the internet.” To both Caceres and Hawkins, the history of conquering our wild blue yonder lends real insight to keep us all grounded in promise. n

Locally built C-141B StarLIfter COBB

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Final Focus

Getting Organized By Cory Sekine-Pettite


his year, we’ve all had much too much time at home, as we’ve telecommuted and tried to limit our time in crowds or in busy, enclosed spaces. Thus, it has been harder to ignore all of those home improvement projects and organizational needs that once were all too easy to put off. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Well, when you’re looking out across your living space from your seemingly permanent work-from-home station, your eyes eventually start to focus on the room you had been planning to redecorate, or the flooring you no longer admire, or — for me — the many sections and collections of “things” that I have wanted to organize or reorganize. You see, I’m a bit of an aspirational super-organizer. Not quite a Marie Kondo type, but close. Spending hours on end at The Container Store is my

idea of heaven. But it seems that no matter how many organization projects I complete, there are others ready to take their place in the front of my mind. And now that I’ve been at home for the better part of a year, all of those to-do list projects are screaming for attention. There’s an endless number of online resources to help you get your home organized. A recent one I ran across from UK-based retailer Wren Kitchens offers an entire library of organizational tips, including how to get started. So below I’ve summarized their “16 Amazing Tips for Organizing Your Home”: • Tackle decluttering first — You can’t organize your home until you’ve had a good declutter first.

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• Keep your surfaces clean — Make it a rule! • Identify danger zones — These clutter danger zones are often in key areas such as near the front door. • Organize your cupboards with baskets — Using the basket system makes it far easier to organize things into categories. • Sub-divide your drawers — There are lots of things that you can repurpose into dividers, including shoe boxes. • Use vertical sorting — Works well for pot lids and cutting boards. • Turn your paperwork digital — Opt for paper-free billing; get a scanner. • Store your instruction manuals together — You never know when you may need these. • Consider when you’ll actually need items — For example, cupboards near the dishwasher can house your plates. • Invest in stackable storage solutions — And stick to one system for easy stacking! • Maximize and multiply your shelf space — There’s more room in your cupboards than you think. • Regularly stock-take and rotate — Take note of what’s in your pantry before you shop. • Keep one drawer empty — Use it instead of that pile of gently worn clothes you have now. • Set up organization station — Keep track of shopping lists, meal plans, and upcoming events. • Let your space define what you allow yourself to buy — It means that if you want to make a new purchase, you’ll likely have to declutter other items to make room. • Use microwave minutes to stay organized — Microwave minutes refer to small pockets of time that can be squeezed into your day. n

Powering young minds As a co-op, Cobb EMC is committed to giving back to the community where we began. One way we deliver on our mission is by supporting our future generation. We’ve given more than $600,000 in scholarships to local students. And, through internships, outreach activities and partner in education programs, we continue to power bright minds.


We’re proud to power your lives


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Profile for New South Publishing

Cobb In Focus November/December 2020