NWGA Living May June Volume 15 Issue 3

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Inspiring, Informing, Enriching Complimentary MAY/JUN 2024 Volume 15 | Issue 3 NW GEORGIA AI 101 Creative ways to use artificial intelligence Adventure is Out There Books to inspire your next great journey Let’s Get Wild! 3 Reasons to love gardening with native plants
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4 Letter From the Publisher Counting Down the Days. 6 Calendar for Living Happenings in our ’hood. 16 departments contents MAY/JUNE 2024 | VOLUME 15 | ISSUE 3 features 24 The Coosa River Basin Initiative A legacy of advocating for clean water. 28 Cracking the AI Code 10 Ways it’s got your back. 32 Protecting Paradise Explore the wonders of the Pettit Preserve. Have some fun in the sun at Myrtle Beach. | Travel South USA 10 Dog Eared Inspirational reads celebrating adventures big and small. 12 Dollars & Sense Navigating the maze of college financing. 38 Robert’s World AI? I’m still on the fence. 40 Just Sayin’ A motto to remember. 14 Community Getting to Know Valerie Gilreath, co-founder of The Bookmobile: Reading to Go Places. cover story 20 Growing Native Harness the power of native plants to transform your garden and support the environment. 16 Wanderlust Unlock the magic of Myrtle Beach. 36 Get Cookin’ Summer fruit recipes to brighten your plate. 2 | NW GEORGIA LIVING MAY/JUNE 2024

Emerald views & Long Drives

The myriad of nature’s greens showcase the beauty of the North Georgia foothills and induce a yearning in avid golfers for an immediate tee time. Experience bentgrass green bliss for yourself at one of Braselton’s four stellar golf clubs and six unique courses.

While you reconnect with your driver, discover Braselton, a small town with big charm. Enjoy luxurious accommodations, world-class dining options, and a quaint historic downtown—all right at your doorstep.


Counting Down the Days

As the nurses wheeled me down the freezing halls in a gurney heading to the operating room, I didn’t know what to expect. Within seconds of receiving anesthesia, I was conked out and then awoke in the recovery area. The first surgery was over, with another scheduled in two days to finish the reconstruction of my spine and infuse it with titanium rods, fixing scoliosis and bulging discs. The two surgeries lasted over 11 hours and, according to the doctor, went as well as expected. It was only afterward that I felt like I was going to die. I’ve never experienced so much pain in my life! It was a hellish week at Northside Hospital Atlanta. My blood pressure dropped very low for a few days after surgery, and I had to be monitored and wasn’t able to take any pain medication. Interruptions were frequent, with nurses checking stats, taking blood, etc., so resting was nearly impossible. After a week, I went home and moved to the main floor of our home. Jerry set up a daybed in the den, and I had to move around the best I could using a walker. For weeks, I didn’t see much improvement, spending most of my time in bed. Thankfully, two of my dearest friends, Wannetta Beck and Susan Cooper, drove many miles each week to come to take care of me while Jerry was at work. Bringing food, grocery shopping, helping with chores, and being there for me meant the world to me. I’m a strong person and don’t like to ask for help, but this surgery knocked me for a loop, and I couldn’t be more grateful. The nights were the worst, but my new kitty, Sandy, slept by me. Last fall, after I lost my beloved Bobby, my resourceful husband found a ragdoll breeder in Anniston, Alabama, who was retiring a cat. I couldn’t believe how much she looked almost identical to Bobby, but she was petite and affectionate. She’ll move to the big bed when I move back upstairs. Sorry, Jerry. It’s been six weeks since surgery, and it’ll be several more weeks before I’m released to drive. I’ve left the house only once for my post-op checkup, and it was painful with the doctor’s visit dragging out 2 hours. Several weeks later, I’m getting around much better, but undoubtedly not well enough to work and do many everyday activities. There’s no bending, twisting, and picking up objects heavier than a gallon of milk. This means that Jerry has a lot on his plate, not only developing his new business but also having to come home to walk a dog, care for me, and manage to cook us something for dinner. Our favorite night is Friday night with takeout. Jerry asked me if I wanted to be bad, and I replied, “Uh, sure. What do you have in mind?” “KFC baby!” It’s funny that we’d get so excited over a bucket of Colonel Sanders’ decadent fried chicken with sides of mashed potatoes, gravy, and biscuits. Now, that’s a party!

I was very active once, swimming laps, kayaking, and hiking. Full recovery will take six months and will be completed around the end of August. When the doctor releases me, my goal is to hike to the Civil War cannons on top of the mountain at the Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park. I’ll invite friends, bring a picnic, and have Champagne to celebrate this journey. Taking a memorable photo is a must, with me standing triumphantly in front of the cannons with the valley below. We’ll raise our glasses and toast L’Chaim — to life!

Publisher and Founder


Laura Wood Erickson


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Creative Director Andi Counts

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Copy Editor

Elin Woods

Contributing Writers

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Elin Woods

Web Master

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Laura Wood Erickson


Contact us at: (706) 346-9858


NW Georgia Living P.O. Box 72546

Marietta, GA 30007

We welcome all contributions, but we assume no responsibility for unsolicited material.

NW Georgia Living is published bimonthly by L. Wood LLC.

Copyright © 2024. All rights reserved. No portion of this publication may be copied, scanned, or reproduced in any manner without prior written consent from the publisher.

MAY/JUN 2024 Volume 15 | Issue 3 4 | NW GEORGIA LIVING MAY/JUNE 2024

Residential Remodeling | General Contracting

• Kitchen, bath, and basement remodeling

• Interior & exterior painting

• Flooring

• Roofing

• Deck replacement/ repairs

• Window & glass replacement

• Concrete & masonry

Jerry D. Erickson Licensed General Contractor 678-755-2943 jerry@ericksonconstructionservices.com

“Working with Jerry was a great experience! He’s very knowledgeable about the materials needed and had lots of finish options to choose from. My clients were extremely happy with the work when it was finalized.”

— James Robbins, Realtor / Full Basement Remodel

ERICKSON construction


Steel Magnolias presented by Rome Little Theatre

May 3-5, 10–12

Historic DeSoto Theatre, Rome

In Truvy’s beauty salon, a group of lively Southern women navigate life’s joys and sorrows, offering each other support and humor amidst shampoos, free advice, and the impending wedding of Shelby, the town’s belle, in this heartwarming play. romelittletheatre.com

BBQ & Blues Festival/Car Show

May 4, 11am–9pm Logtown, Adairsville

Enjoy a sizzling barbecue

competition alongside food and craft vendors, a vibrant car show from 10am–2pm, and live entertainment. adairsvillega.net

Cave Spring BaconFest

May 4, 10am–3pm

City Hall, 10 Georgia Ave. Rev your engines and indulge in a day of food and craft vendors, plus a thrilling motorcycle and car show, all while savoring the star of the show — bacon! cavespring.ga.gov/events

Las Palmas Cinco de Mayo Party

May 4, 5pm-1am 311 Riverside Pkwy. NE.

Eat, drink, and party the night away under the big tent at this ultimate Cinco de Mayo celebration with a live DJ, giveaways, dancing, and more. laspalmasmexicanrest.com

May Market at Rose Lawn

May 4–5

Rose Lawn Museum, Cartersville Shop handmade arts and crafts plus bountiful garden products and savor delectable Southern cuisine against a backdrop of over 200 varieties of blooming roses. roselawnmuseum.com

RoFlo Fest

May 4, 10am Downtown Rome

Pop over to this free street festival celebrating Rome and Floyd County arts and culture. downtownromega.us

Euharlee Food Truck Friday sponsored by H&R

Block Cartersville

May 10, 6:30–9:30pm Osborne Park

Hear surf, rockabilly, and rock ’n’ roll hits covered by Carl & the Floorwalkers while enjoying a bite to eat from on-site food trucks.

Rock The Country

May 10–11

Kingston Downs, Rome

Get ready for a weekend of country and rock fusion featuring performances by Kid Rock, Jason Aldean, Travis Tritt, and others. rockthecountry.com

Legion of Comedy: The Mother of All Improv Shows

May 17, 8pm Legion Theatre, Cartersville Celebrate mom by watching the mother of all improv shows. pumphouseplayers.com

2024 Pond and Garden Tour

May 18, 9am–4pm Bartow County

Join the Magnolia Garden Club of Cartersville for a delightful garden tour across Bartow County, featuring four

host sites adorned with artists and musicians. facebook.com

Music by the Tracks

May 18, 7–9 pm

1 Friendship Plaza, Cartersville Rock out with Band X as they perform your favorite songs from the ’70s, ’80s, ’90s, and today. facebook.com/ downtowncartersville

Wings & Wheels Fly-In and Car Show

May 25, 9am–3pm

Tom B. David Airport, Calhoun Witness a thrilling mix of high-flying planes and hot-wheeled cars. calhounairport.com

Always… Patsy Cline

May 30–June 2

Harris Arts Center, Calhoun Step into the captivating world of country music legend Patsy Cline during this heartfelt tribute intertwining her timeless hits with the touching story of her friendship with a devoted fan, presented by the Calhoun Little Theatre.

harrisartscenter.com/ calhoun-little-theatre


Evening Lecture: Ron Goss

May 30, 7–8pm

Bartow History Museum, Cartersville

Discover the remarkable legacy of baseball legend

Rudy York with local preservationist Ron Goss, as he shares insights into York’s illustrious career and the ongoing project to restore his historic home on Tennessee Street. bartowhistorymuseum.org

Copper Creek Farm Summer Fest

June 7–July 27

1514 Reeves Station Rd., Calhoun

Bask in the golden glow of summer at Copper Creek Farm’s Summer Festival, where thousands of blooming sunflowers await along with 25-plus family-friendly activities like pony rides. coppercreekfarm.com

First Friday Concert Series

June 7, 7pm


Town Green, Rome

The free concert series returns for the season with Donny Hammonds and Brother Mojo. facebook.com/ downtownromega

Women and Girls in Sports Night with the Rome Emperors

June 7

AdventHealth Stadium

Join the Rome Emperors for a celebration of women and girls in sports, featuring a pregame plaza party, exclusive Q&A with female sports leaders, and pre-game parade, showcasing the invaluable contributions of women athletes across all sports. milb.com

Cave Spring Arts & Crafts Festival

June 8–9

Rolater Park

See stunning 2- and 3-D art before cooling off in the second largest swimming hole in Georgia. cityofcavespring.com/ events

Tellus Science Museum, Cartersville

With geology-themed activities and experiences for the whole family, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.


The Rome Shakespeare Festival

June 13–23

Town Green

Experience the magic of Shakespeare and Tennessee Williams at this festival featuring free outdoor productions of The (Real) Merry (House)Wives of Windsor and A Streetcar Named Desire. facebook.com/ romeshakespearefestival

Euharlee Food Truck Friday sponsored by Fischer Homes

June 14, 6:30–9:30pm

Osborne Park

Have an al fresco dinner while listening to country singer C.W. Smith.

Music by the Tracks

June 15, 7–9 pm

1 Friendship Plaza, Cartersville Dynamic soul, jazz, and

stage and showcase their rhythmic dance grooves and silky vocals. facebook.com/ downtowncartersville

TG Sheppard & Kelly Lang

June 15, 7pm

The GEM Theatre, Calhoun

See an electrifying performance by country music icon TG Sheppard, renowned for his 21 No. 1 hit singles, accompanied by his talented wife, singersongwriter Kelly Lang. calhoungemtheatre.org

Daylily Show & Plant Sale

June 22, 1:30–3:30pm

Cartersville Civic Center

See beautiful daylilies and pick up plants to take home at this sale sponsored by the Northwest Georgia Daylily Society. nwgeorgiadaylily.org


June 27–August 29

Rockmart Cultural Arts Center

See creations by artists exploring the theme of metamorphosis. rockmart-ga.gov/ RockmartCulturalArtsCenter.aspx

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Harvest MoonCatering Catering & Venues

Exquisite Events and Culinary Delights

Harvest Moon Cafe, a premier Catering and Event Planning business located in the picturesque city of Rome, Georgia, offers an extraordinary culinary experience that will leave a lasting impression on your guests. With a perfect blend of creativity and professionalism, we curate memorable events tailored to your unique vision and preferences. Our team of seasoned chefs expertly crafts delectable dishes, using only the freshest, locally sourced ingredients, to ensure a farm-to-table experience that celebrates the vibrant flavors of the region. Whether you're planning an intimate wedding, a corporate gala, or a social gathering, Harvest Moon Cafe provides impeccable service, attention to detail, and a warm, inviting ambiance that will exceed your expectations.

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Adventure is Out There

Books to inspire your next great journey — near or far.

Maybe you’ve seen the Pixar film Up, and the statement, “Adventure is out there!” spoke to you, as it did to me, a fellow adventurer who doesn’t abide by the Jane Austen quote, “There is nothing like staying home for real comfort.” If yes, you’ll love this issue’s collection of book suggestions. If not, and Austen’s quote speaks to you, don’t worry because adventure can happen right at home, and there’s something here for you, too. Perhaps these books will cause you to take your own journey or maybe just settle in for some armchair travel. I hope you enjoy the selections and discover a possibly unexplored genre for your collection.

A Cook’s Tour

When I travel, it’s obviously important to have a place to stay, but it’s even more important for me to know where we’ll eat. I’m an adventurous foodie. I have few lines I’ll draw when trying foods, and a big reason I travel is to experience new cuisines. I was no doubt inspired by the, unfortunately, late Anthony Bourdain to explore the world through my taste buds and, not surprisingly, in doing so, learn so much about the people, the place, and the history of a place simply by sitting down to a plate of delicious food. If you miss Bourdain’s programs and haven’t read any of his work before, or if you like the idea of traveling through food, you’ll love this one. Just… don’t read it on an empty stomach.

Lady Long Rider: Alone Across America on Horseback

By Bernice Ende

I grew up riding horses and was the stereotypical “horse crazy” young girl who couldn’t get enough of all things equine, especially book series. Very little has changed these days, although I rarely get to go riding as often as I might like to. This book is the true story of Bernice Ende, who, at the age of 50, began her first long-distance ride crisscrossing the United States and, at the

time of publication, had already logged more than 29,000 miles. With her constant companion, her dog Claire, Ende sees the nation coast to coast and learns to redefine home. It’s not always a place; it might even be places, but home is really somewhere within.

Gorge: My Journey Up Kilimanjaro at 300 Pounds

The outdoors has long been a place that feels like only certain people have access to. As someone who is plus size, people are often surprised to learn that I love hiking. The marketing campaigns for outdoorsy products rarely include folks who look like me, so it’s easy to believe that all kinds of people and bodies either a) don’t enjoy going outside or b) don’t belong in those spaces. Whitely had hit rock bottom. Depression and self-doubt consumed most of her life, as did a food addiction, but she loved exploring. She decided she wasn’t going to wait until she


had the “right” sort of body to climb Mount Kilimanjaro; she was going to do it, and she was going to inspire herself to keep going and others in the process. We can all do hard things and belong in all the places. Read this book and be inspired to get out there.

Rural Free: A Farmwife’s Almanac of Country Living

Written in the 1960s and an adventure of another kind altogether, this book explores adventure in Peden’s life living in rural Indiana farming country. I’m not saying she invented the staycation, but she certainly makes exploring your backyard quite interesting. She chronicles a year in the life of a farm, the highs and lows of that living, and transports you to a specific time and place that one might not consider adventurous, but that’s because they aren’t looking hard enough. Peden writes in gorgeous detail month by month and season by season, outlining the workings of a farm, long before Pioneer Woman, and I learned so much about rural life in this decade that I think I may have to come back to this book again because it’s quite the little spark of joy.

Neither Wolf nor Dog: On Forgotten Roads with an Indian Elder

Nerburn travels with an Indigenous elder named Dan, just simply Dan, and explores the world of Native Americans, discussing the present, past, and future. Full of interesting characters along the way, Neither Wolf nor Dog is a journey between two men who have frank conversations about all the subjects you’re told not to discuss in polite conversation. It’s a very honest book that goes into small Native communities, plenty of diners, and many backroads to get to the heart of the matter and shows us how interconnected we all are. We’re all in this life together, and maybe if we talked a bit more with one another, we’d get that. It also asks us to question our opinions and beliefs, which can be quite the journey itself.

Elin Woods is a librarian from the mountains of western Pennsylvania, now living in the mountains of northeastern Pennsylvania. When she’s not busy reading, she enjoys baking historical treats and exploring the East Coast. She balances her mostly nonfiction history reading with the occasional modern romance novel and plenty of cookbooks.

nwgeorgialiving.com | 11

Navigating College Financing

Understanding loans, repayment plans, and

private, and state-based loan options, selecting a repayment plan that aligns with their financial situation, and exploring forgiveness options if needed, students can navigate the path to higher education with greater confidence and financial security.”

As higher education costs continue to rise, college financing has become a significant concern for many students and their families. While scholarships, grants, and workstudy programs can help cover some expenses, many students turn to loans to bridge the gap between available funds and the cost of attendance. In this article, we’ll explore the various aspects of college financing, including where to get college loans, repayment plans, and forgiveness options.

Where to Get College Loans

When it comes to obtaining college loans, students have several options to consider:

Federal Student Loans – The federal government funds these loans and offers benefits such as fixed interest rates, income-driven repayment plans, and forgiveness options. To apply for federal student loans, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®). There are two main types of federal student loans: Direct Subsidized Loans (based on financial need) and Direct Unsubsidized Loans (available to all students regardless of financial need).

• Private Student Loans – Banks, credit unions, and online lenders offer private loans. Unlike federal student loans, private loans typically have variable interest rates and fewer borrower protections. They may require a credit check or a co-signer, especially for students with limited credit history or income.

• State-Based Student Loans – Some states offer student loan programs to residents. These loans may come with competitive interest rates, repayment terms, and state-specific benefits. Students should research loan options

available in their state and compare them to federal loans before borrowing.

College Loan Repayment Plans

After graduation, borrowers must repay their student loans according to the terms of their loan agreement. Here are some common repayment plans available for federal student loans:

• Standard Repayment Plan – This plan involves fixed monthly payments over a 10-year term. It’s the default repayment plan for federal student loans, offering the fastest repayment timeline but higher monthly payments.

• Graduated Repayment Plan – Payments start low and increase every two years over a 10-year term. This plan suits borrowers who expect their income to increase over time.

• Income-Driven Repayment Plans (IDR) – These plans cap monthly payments at a percentage of the borrower’s discretionary income and extend the repayment term to 20 or 25 years. There are several types of IDR plans, including Income-Based Repayment (IBR), Pay-As-You-Earn (PAYE), Revised Pay-As-You-Earn (REPAYE), and Income-Contingent Repayment (ICR). Borrowers must recertify their income and family size annually to remain eligible for these plans.

• Extended Repayment Plan – This plan extends the repayment term to up to 25 years, reducing monthly payments but increasing the total amount repaid over time.

Forgiveness Options for College Loans

For borrowers struggling to repay their student loans, forgiveness and discharge programs may offer relief under certain circumstances:

• Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) – Borrowers who work full-time


after making 120 qualifying payments under an IDR plan.

• Teacher Loan Forgiveness – Teachers who work full-time in low-income schools or educational service agencies for five consecutive years may qualify for up to $17,500 in forgiveness on their Direct Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans.

• Income-Driven Repayment Plan

Forgiveness – Borrowers on incomedriven repayment plans may be eligible for forgiveness of their remaining loan balance after 20 or 25 years of qualifying payments, depending on the plan.

• Total and Permanent Disability

Discharge – Borrowers who become totally and permanently disabled may qualify for the discharge of their federal student loans.

Borrowers need to understand the eligibility requirements and implications of these forgiveness programs before applying. In some cases, forgiven amounts may be considered taxable income.

College financing can be a complex and daunting process, but understanding the available options for

private, and state-based loan options, selecting a repayment plan that aligns with their financial situation, and exploring forgiveness options if needed, students can navigate the path to higher education with greater confidence and financial security.

Ande Frazier, CFP®, CLU, ChFC, RICP, BFA™, ChSNC, CDFA®, is an expert in behavioral finance and the author of Fin(anci)ally Free: 11 Conversations To Have With Yourself About Life, Money, and Worth

In addition to being a recognized thought leader, author, and speaker, she also serves as a partner at Peachtree Planning Corporation. To learn more, visit andefrazier.com.

nwgeorgialiving.com | 13

Getting to Know …

The Bookmobile: Reading to Go Places

This June and July, Douglas St. United Methodist Church, Faith Methodist Church, and other soon-to-be-announced sites will have a weekly pastel-colored visitor. The Bookmobile is a library on wheels with shelves of children’s books waiting to be plucked by the hands of young readers. Throughout the summer, it makes routine stops at specific locations so underserved children can continue to experience the magic of reading while school is out.

Run by the nonprofit Reading to Go Places, The Bookmobile is the brainchild of Cartersville resident Valerie Gilreath and her wife, Kim Dennis, and serves all of Bartow County. “During the school year, we don’t have a fixed route. We participate in community-based events and visit elementary schools, churches, childcare centers, and other opportunities as they arise,” explains Gilreath.

Since launching The Bookmobile and other complementary programs that provide children with new books and opportunities for book borrowing, literacy rates in the county rose from 36% to 40% between 2016 and 2022, says Gilreath, and are returning to their improved pre-pandemic levels after dipping.

Gilreath’s passion for getting books into disadvantaged children’s hands comes from her childhood. When her family couldn’t afford to travel or give her enriching experiences during the summer, she turned to books to fill the gap. A love of reading had been fostered in her from an early age thanks to her mother’s continual story times.

of helping others. As a kid, I loved the idea of little elves that showed up at night and did your work for you. There are days as an adult when I wish that would happen!

My latest obsession is...birds! Kim and I have become novice bird watchers.

“We want to help families make the connection between early childhood literacy and later success in high school and beyond and to be a resource for those families along that path.”

As The Bookmobile gains support, Gilreath says, “I want the program to continue to grow and serve more children. I want to continue to make inroads into areas such as mobile home parks and apartment complexes that are historically home to lower-income families. We want to help families make the connection between early childhood literacy and later success in high school and beyond and to be a resource for those families along that path.”

One of my favorite books from childhood is… The Elves and the Shoemaker. It’s a story about kindness, hope, and the magic

I’m known among my friends and family for… being routine-oriented and doing things the hard way — not on purpose. It just seems to work out that way. LOL.

My favorite place in Cartersville is… Noble & Main coffee shop.

Every day, I… write or draw. On great days, I do both. I try to get outside every day. It helps my mood immensely to take a short walk or get my hands in the dirt.

Other than literacy and books, I could talk for hours about… travel. I can also talk for a surprising amount of time about ice cream. People are surprised when I tell them… I worked at a textile mill named Spring City Knitting for a while in my late teens. It was in downtown Cartersville and has since closed.

One of the things on my bucket list is… to visit every national park in the U.S.

When I was a kid, I wanted to grow up to be… a baseball player.

My current-day hero is… Amanda Gorman. I’m a poet and poetry lover, and she’s elevating poetry in an accessible way into the national conversation and is making it relevant to new populations.

If I could have a do-over, I’d… learn to lighten up a lot sooner. I’d also buy stock in Amazon earlier. readingtogoplaces.org

(left to right) Co-founders of The Bookmobile: Reading to Go Places Valerie Gilreath and her wife, Kim Dennis.



Saturday, May 4:* BBQ & Blues (Logtown) 11:00am-9:00pm & Car Show (Downtown Square) 10:00am-2:00pm

Friday, May 17:* Logtown Concert Series (Logtown) 7:00pm-10:00pm


Farmers Market every Saturday beginning June 1 – August 31 (8:00am-12:00pm)

Saturday, June 1: Schools Out for Summer (Veterans Memorial Park) 1:00pm-5:00pm

Friday, June 21:* Logtown Concert Series (Logtown) 7:00pm-10:00pm

Thursday, June 27: Adairsville Up Front Town Hall Meeting (City Hall) 6:00pm-7:30pm

Saturday, June 29: Adairsville Celebrates America (Manning Mill Park) 5:00pm-9:30pm


Friday, July 19:* Logtown Concert Series (Logtown) 7:00pm-10:00pm


Wednesday, August 14: Coffee with a Cop (Adairsville Coffee Co.) 7:00am-8:30am

2024 GAME Safari Seekers

Friday, August 16:* Logtown Concert Series (Logtown) 7:00pm-10:00pm

Thursday, August 22: Adairsville Up Front Town Hall Meeting (City Hall) 6:00pm-7:30pm


Friday, September 20:* Logtown Concert Series (Logtown) 7:00pm-10:00pm


Great Locomotive Chase Festival: Friday, October 4: 10:00am-11:00pm, Saturday, October 5: 9:00am–11:00pm, & Sunday, October 6: 12:00pm-5:00pm (Downtown Square & Logtown)

Friday Night Movies (weather permitting)

Friday, October 18 & Friday, October 25 (Logtown) Time: 6:00pm-9:00pm

Thursday, October 31: Halloween on the Square (Downtown Square) 4:00pm-6:00pm


Thursday, November 7: Adairsville Up Front Town Hall Meeting (City Hall) 6:00pm-7:30pm

Monday, November 11: Veterans Day Ceremory (Adairsville Elementary School Gym) Ceremony at 9:00am


Monday, December 2: Christmas on the Square (Downtown Square) 4:00pm-8:00pm

*Special Events Permit required

Locations: Downtown Square/City Hall — 116 Public Square Logtown — 202 South Main Street Veterans Memorial Park — 17 Legacy Way
JUNE 10TH - JUNE 14TH Ages 5 - 7 Pirate PARTY JUNE 24TH
28TH AGES 5 - 7 ON LUJ Y 8TH- JULY 12TH AGES 8 - 10 lympians July 22nd - July 26th Ages 8 - 10 Register online at: bartowhistorymuseum.org nwgeorgialiving.com | 15

The Magic of Myrtle Beach

Slip away to this South Carolina hot spot for some fun in the sun.

The Myrtle Beach area is affectionately known as the Grand Strand — a fitting name for the 60-mile swath of South Carolina coastline that starts at the fishing village of Little River and travels south to the resort community of Pawleys Island. More than 15 million visitors flock to this oceanfront destination each year, all drawn to its sandy beaches, lively boardwalk, endless attractions, fresh seafood, and more. Peak season is June through August but anytime is great to visit the sunny shores of Myrtle Beach.


For many, the focus of a visit to Myrtle Beach is the beach itself, whether it’s to relax under the sun with a good book, build sandcastles with the kiddos, or bodysurf in the Atlantic. But there are plentiful off-beach activities as well, including catching a performance at the Carolina Opry, sampling delicious wines at La Belle Amie Vineyard, checking out the sea life at Ripley’s

Aquarium, taking a lunch or dinner cruise along the Intracoastal Waterway on the Barefoot Queen riverboat, getting wet and wild at the Myrtle Waves Water Park, or exploring the bustling Boardwalk. If you’re not afraid of heights, you’ll want to take a spin on the 187-foot-high SkyWheel, which affords spectacular views in every direction.

From its boat cruises to its butterfly house, Brookgreen Gardens has so much to offer that you could practically spend your entire trip there and not get bored. Opened in 1932 by philanthropists Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington, this not-for-profit outdoor museum sits on 9,000 meticulously landscaped acres, once the site of four working rice plantations. America’s first public sculpture garden, it features a noteworthy collection of more than 2,000 works by 430 artists scattered about the grounds, some of them dating as far back as the early 1800s.


In addition to being a beach lover’s paradise, Myrtle Beach is also a golf lover’s dream. With more than 90 courses, several of which have been named among the country’s 100 best public courses, it has links for every style and level of player. One of the top-ranked courses, Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club, just upped its game after undergoing a complete overhaul of the Jack Nicklaus-designed

layout, as well as the clubhouse.

If you think there are a lot of golf courses, you’ll be equally amazed at the number of miniature golf courses. Brand new on the mini golf scene is PopStroke, a family-friendly concept from the one and only Tiger Woods that includes two 18-hole putting courses incorporating fairways, bunkers, and rough just like you’d see on a traditional golf course, along with a full-service restaurant, outdoor beer garden, and games like ping-pong, foosball, and cornhole.

The region is famous for another kind of swing as well — the hammock. In Pawleys Island, about a half-hour south of Myrtle Beach proper, you’ll find The Hammock Shops Village, where you can pick up one of the area’s signature handmade rope hammocks as the ultimate souvenir of your trip. While there, visit the workroom of Marvin Grant, aka the Hammock Man, and watch him in action as he expertly weaves his creations just like he’s been doing for the past three decades.


When it comes to food, seafood is the name of the game in this part of the country, and the lively Wicked Tuna has a selection of items like lobster tails, Maryland crab cakes, and oysters Rockefeller, along with generous sushi choices. There’s a location in town as well as one on the MarshWalk, a stretch of docks, eateries, and bars lining the

Beach View | Courtesy of Travel South USA
Myrtle Waves Water Park | Courtesy of Visit Myrtle Beach

Murrells Inlet salt marshes. If you’d like an ocean view with your meal, consider Sea Captain’s House. A Myrtle Beach favorite for more than 50 years, it serves a menu of regional favorites, including its famous she-crab soup, as well as a hearty breakfast buffet that’s a fantastic way to start your day.

A favorite spot among the locals is Benito’s Brick Oven Pizza & Pasta, a cozy trattoria known for its wood-fired pies and other Old World-style recipes. The place can get crowded, especially on weekends, so if you don’t want to wait for a table, simply get your eats to go. The atmosphere is more low-key at the elegant Aspen Grille, where the chef expertly prepares locally sourced dishes like Cabernet-braised short ribs and coffee-rubbed double-cut pork chops. A unique newcomer on the dining scene is Mura, a Korean eatery delivering Asian staples like milk break and bibimbap to customers via a conveyor belt.


Myrtle Beach has more than 400 hotels, so you have plenty of lodging options to choose from. The Crown Reef Beach Resort, on the slightly quieter southern

end of the island, boasts 514 rooms, all of which are oceanfront and most of which have full kitchens. There’s a multimillion-dollar waterpark and entertainment zone on-site as well.

If your group is planning to hit the links while in town, consider a stay at the luxurious Marina Inn at Grande Dunes, which boasts its own great course, the par-72 Resort Club, as well as the private Grande Dunes Members Club. All of the rooms have terraces overlooking either the marina or the pool.

The area’s first boutique hotel, The George, just opened in March. Each of its 56 rooms is decked out with vintage furniture, bespoke wallpapers, and other well-curated details. It’s located in nearby Georgetown’s charming historic district and even allows direct marina access to guests arriving by boat.


To learn more so you can create your ideal Myrtle Beach itinerary, go to visitmyrtlebeach.com.

Jill Becker’s travel writing has appeared in dozens of magazines and websites, including more than 25 stories for CNN.com.

Pawleys Plantation Golf & Country Club | Courtesy of Travel South USA The Boardwalk Brookgreen Gardens | Courtesy of Travel South USA
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MarshWalk | Courtesy of Travel South USA

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Let’s Get Wild!


Reasons native plants help you save money and the planet.

Abeautiful garden is always a thing of joy. But what if, in addition to looking pretty, your garden could be ecologically diverse and productive? This is where native plants come in — they bring beauty and abundant benefits to the environment (and your wallet). In this article, I’ll cover a few of the many reasons to go wild!

11. Native plants are low maintenance. When we talk about native plants, we’re talking about common-sense gardening. Just because a plant is considered a “native” for your area doesn’t mean it’ll work in your yard. We want to work with Mother Nature, not against her. Native plant gardening means using the plants best adapted to your yard’s conditions. This eliminates the need to amend the soil in which they’re planted, thus retaining the natural soil composition and reducing the time and money spent trying to force a plant to grow where it wouldn’t naturally do so. When used correctly, native plants can reduce our workload in the garden because natives are remarkably self-sufficient: after all, they’ve been taking care of themselves for millennia. For practical and aesthetic reasons, it’s becoming increasingly popular for gardeners to tackle weeds with a ground cover of native plants. For instance, Cherokee sedge (Carex cherokeensis) is an evergreen, grass-like perennial that spreads slowly in dense foliage tufts, effectively crowding weeds and

Rain Lily (Atamasco lily)
Coral Honeysuckle (Lonicera sempervirens)

2stabilizing the soil. Additionally, it’s well-adapted to various soil types and light conditions, making it versatile for different areas within your landscape. Incorporating native ground covers into your yard not only helps to control weeds but also adds texture and visual interest to the landscape. No more daily weeding, mowing, watering, or buying and applying toxic herbicides or pre-emergents on a boring expanse of green turf grass, thus saving you time and money.

Native plants help the environment. Speaking of turf grass, did you know that Japanese beetles rely on turf grass as an incubator for their larvae? The beetles start as grubs, feeding on the roots of the turf. The adults then emerge in the summer months to feed on the leaves, flowers, and fruit of more than 300 plants, including ornamental Southern favorites such as roses, basil, marigolds, and fruit trees. So, instead of spending copious amounts of time and money each year trying to battle these destructive pests with toxic chemicals, we could replace some of the turf with native trees and shrubs that support local wildlife. And we can start small; adding just a few native plants to a garden can aid migrating butterflies and birds. Native plants support wildlife in ways that nonnatives simply can’t. They provide high-quality fruit, insects, and habitats at the right times of year. One native fruit-bearing tree in Georgia, the flowering dogwood (Cornus florida), attracts 34 known bird species, which are among the best natural pest controllers we can have in our yards. Ninety-six percent of our terrestrial birds raise their young on insects and spiders that eat insects. The mighty oak tree, another perennial native in Georgia, supports an astounding 534 species of Lepidoptera (butterflies and moths). Lepidoptera larvae, or caterpillars, are an essential food source for young birds. Even small adult birds, such as the chickadee, need 6,000 caterpillars to raise a clutch of young birds. So, no bugs, no baby birds! By integrating native species into our landscapes, we create an attractive environment for natural pest control. Using native plants provides food, shelter, and nesting materials for creatures, adding life and interest to your outdoor space. For example, clethra is a fantastic shrub with four seasons of interest. The fragrant flowers attract bees and butterflies in the late summer, and the seeds attract birds in the fall. Another great choice for your shrub layer is the stunning American beautyberry Callicarpa americana), which provides nectar for bees and year-round food for at least 40 species of mammals and birds. It also offers shelter for birds and small mammals. The deep magenta berries for which this shrub gets its name persist on the bare branches after the leaves fall, offering gorgeous fall and winter visual interest and supplying native birds with a bounty of berries on which to sustain themselves through the winter months. By layering our landscape with native plants, we create multiple habitats for native insects and pest-controlling animals and help our gardens act more like nature does. We think of the obvious pollinators, like bees, birds, and butterflies, but native plants can also support small animals and even microscopic organisms in the soil. All these living things have jobs to do; the natural environment promotes symbiotic relationships.

Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida) Above: Pink Muhly Grass (Muhlenbergia capillaris) Below: American Beautyberry (Callicarpa americana)
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Left: Example of a native garden bed.

3. Native plants can substantially benefit your produce this growing season. Ever notice how different flowers attract different insects? This is because native plants have evolved special features — like their shape and smell — to lure in specific pollinators. So, when you plant native flowers alongside your vegetable plants and fruit patch, you’re inviting native bees, butterflies, and other helpful pollinators to visit your garden, which will increase the size and yield of your crops. For instance, our Georgia native bees are actually more efficient pollinators than honeybees. Each flower on a blueberry bush must be visited by a native bee just one time compared to three times by a honeybee to make a berry of maximum size! Having a variety of native plants alongside your blueberry bushes and vegetable gardens will call in our native bees. Of course, they’ll no doubt find your food plants as well. A few dependable, longblooming perennials that would serve this purpose include Echinacea, Coreopsis, Monarda, and Rudbeckia species. Beyond their role in pollinator attraction, native plants also serve as beacons for beneficial insects, orchestrating a natural pest control operation within your garden. An environmentally safe and effective way to control pests that wreak havoc on Georgia food plots is to attract their predators through native plantings. Over time, your garden can become a self-regulating ecosystem with predatory insects present, eliminating the need for chemical pest

Right: Old Man’s Beard Fringe Tree (Chionanthus virginicus)

control. No more additional chemicals in our food or in our soil! And by adding native plants to your vegetable garden, you’re not just gardening — you’re cultivating a colorful and

As a result of the surge in popularity and demand for native plants in the last decade, most local nurseries now er an abundance of choices. In fact, some nurseries are now strictly devoted to native plants. There are also many websites online that help you decide the right native plant for your

An excellent online source of information about the best native plants for your zip code is Native Plant Finder by the National Wildlife Federation (nativeplantfinder.nwf.org). Once you have decided on some options for your yard, visit your

Some great local nurseries that carry native plants are:

Plant Life Nursery (plantlifenursery.weebly.com) in Rome

In the spring and fall, be on the lookout for native plant sales conducted by the Native Plant Society and various

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Tara Peace is one of the curators of the Hart County Botanical Garden. When she isn’t playing in the dirt, she enjoys traveling, reading, and

The Coosa River

Basin Initiative

A Legacy of Advocating for Clean Water

Through the pine trees and sycamores of the Southeastern United States flow the headwaters of the Coosa River. The watershed flows across three physiographic provinces including the Blue Ridge, the heart of the Southern Appalachians — the Ridge and Valley, with its ridges of sandstone and its valleys of fertile soils — and the Piedmont, with gently rolling hills east of the Blue Ridge. These unique environments foster an incredible amount of biodiversity that’s specific to the basin, including 12 species of fish as well as mussel and snail species that aren’t found anywhere else in the world. In addition to supporting vibrant wildlife, these waterways are also integral to daily life in surrounding

areas. Many people enjoy the waterways for sport and recreation, and around 1 million people call the river basin home and rely on its freshwater for their drinking water.

The upper Coosa River basin is one of the most biodiverse watersheds in North America, but like many watersheds across the globe, it has suffered greatly from the impacts of development and industrialization. It’s the site of one of the largest extinction events in modern history. A total of 37 snails and mussels have been lost from the Coosa River basin and currently, six species of fish and seven mussel species are listed as federally threatened or endangered. 30 years ago, in response to the critical need for protection of the watershed, a riverkeeper organization was formed to

Conasauga River

A total of 37 snails and mussels have been lost from the Coosa River basin and currently, six species of fish and seven mussel species are listed as federally threatened or endangered.

watershed. The Coosa River Basin Initiative, as the name suggests, protects the tributaries and rivers of the upper Coosa River basin, including the Chattooga River, the Conasauga River, the Oostanaula River, Etowah River, and the Coosa River. The 501(c)(3) nonprofit aims to protect, preserve, and restore the watershed through water monitoring, educational outreach, restoration projects, and advocacy. The team itself is small but e with the help of volunteers and taking in yearly interns. CRBI has achieved remarkable milestones, contributing significantly to the ecological health and resilience of the Coosa River basin and the communities that rely on it in their day-to-day lives.

CRBI is often at the forefront of legislation and advocacy to protect citizens’ right to clean water. During legislative sessions, representatives of the organization make their voices heard at the capitals of Georgia and Alabama where the watershed flows. Advocacy efforts that they’ve spoken on in the past have ensured that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) established and standardized a Total Maximum Daily Load on waterways in critical need, which limits the amount of non-point source pollutants allowed to enter already polluted waterways. They’ve also helped successfully pass a state constitutional amendment in Georgia that guarantees funds intended for environmental issues will be used

the nonprofit’s 30 years of restoration efforts have attracted millions of dollars to restore critical habitat for endangered species. With the help of partners across the basin, they’ve successfully replaced culverts, which blocked stream access to spawning grounds for endangered species. By replacing the culverts with bridges that allow these fish populations access to critical habitat for reproduction endangered species of fish have an opportunity to re-establish their populations. Additionally, CRBI has stabilized banks along creeks to prevent erosion and sedimentation in critical habitat and planted thousands of native plants in riparian buffers to help prevent

Getting the Community Involved

To accomplish goals related to clean water, the nonprofit works closely with partners like the Waterkeepers Alabama and Coosa Riverkeeper organization in Alabama, who protect the basin further downstream, and the Georgia Water Coalition, which helps unite environmental organizations to help work toward the overall safety of Georgia waters. CRBI is also greatly involved in their community, educating and expanding the community’s access to and knowledge of the watershed in the classroom and the field.

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increased tourism and benefits the local community. Additionally, throughout the summer, CRBI’s Swim Guide program provides weekly updates on E. coli in recreational waterways on their website at coosa.org/swim-guide. Interns from universities across the region sample water from 30 popular recreation sites and samples are processed in CRBI’s laboratory in Rome. The results are published every Friday from Memorial

Fry fundraiser at Downtown Rome’s Fiddlin’ Fest.

The Coosa River Basin Initiative works to serve their community and everyone who enjoys the rivers that travel throughout the basin. With a powerful message, a passion for activism, and a wide variety of action, their efforts continue to better the waterways they protect and ensure their use for many years to come.

Rylan Weaver is a student at Armuchee High School who interns at CRBI via Floyd County’s internship program. She participates in the Armuchee Winterguard as well as multiple clubs, and other extracurriculars. When not at practice or at a club meeting, you can find her reading, painting, or folding origami.

Courtney Altice, communications manager at Coosa River Basin Initiative, was born and raised in the Appalachian Mountains. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies and a PBA in Herbal Studies. Courtney currently lives in Rome, Georgia, with her two children, Zyena and River. She enjoys gardening, reading, and writing poetry in her free time.

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Cracking the AI Code

10Ways It's Got Your Back

Remember when smartphones seemed like something out of a sci-fi movie, and the idea of online shopping was a bit weird? Technology evolves, often leaving us feeling a little behind the curve.


Artificial intelligence (AI) might seem like the next confusing frontier, but it’s more accessible than you think. It can become your smart personal assistant and make your life easier. From organizing every aspect of your day-to-day to sparking creativity, AI has surprisingly practical applications that can boost your productivity, reduce stress, and even add a little fun to the mix.

You’re probably already familiar with AI, even if you don’t realize it. Things like the algorithms that curate your search results and social media feeds, the facial recognition in your phone’s camera, and the voice assistants in your smart home devices — all forms of artificial intelligence.

Generative AI takes things to the next level.

Rather than just analyzing information and serving the most relevant results, generative AI uses machine learning to actually create brand-new content, from text and images to audio and video. So, instead of finding generic dinner recipes, an AI-powered tool could create personalized menu ideas based on your dietary preferences, schedule, and the ingredients you have on hand. Or rather than finding you generic images on the internet, a generative AI tool could produce unique, visually striking graphics to jazz up your presentations, social media posts, or website.

The power of generative AI lies in its ability to create unique, personalized solutions specifically for you. You’re no longer just finding information — but collaborating with a creative and adaptable tool. And instead of being a complicated technology, it feels like simply talking to a knowledgeable human assistant or, sometimes, a friend.

The most popular conversational AI (also called a chatbot) today is ChatGPT — this groundbreaking AI language model, developed by OpenAI, currently has around 180 million users. Other tools worth mentioning are Claude AI and Google Gemini, and they all can do impressive things in mere seconds with just a little instruction (also known as prompting).

Forget about complex algorithms — this technology is meant to be your helper. Let’s look at 10 exciting (and sometimes silly) ways AI can become your personal assistant, adding a touch of magic to the everyday.

1 Kitchen Helper

Ever find yourself stuck, staring at your fridge, trying to think of something original to make with that hodgepodge of ingredients? Soon, our fridges will be smart enough to


scan what’s inside and suggest recipes based on that. In the meantime, you can just tell ChatGPT what you have, and it’ll quickly come up with a bunch of meal ideas you can make with those ingredients alone, no more food waste or boring meals. It’s almost like having a secret weapon in the kitchen that transforms leftovers into a feast.

2 Daily Planner

If you ever wondered what it’s like to have a life coach, you can now get close enough for free with an AI chatbot. Ask it to break down your exciting goal into bite-size steps. Get help with time management. Finally, discover ways to build those good habits. And my favorite way to use it — ask for a pep talk when you feel down.

For next-level planning, give Motion a try. This AI tool takes all your to-dos and fits them perfectly into your calendar based on deadlines and priorities, accounting for your appointments

and time for commuting. With an automatic planner like that, you can say goodbye to analysis paralysis.

3 Language Partner

If you’re a language-curious introvert like me, you always cringe at the thought of finding new language exchange partners. While AI can’t replace human connection, it can help you with grammar, correct mistakes, explain idioms and slang phrases, and much more. Chat with it in your target language, and it’s as patient as a saint. Before you know it, you’re almost fluent in Italian, planning your trip to Rome.

4 Gift Guru

We all have at least one person who is tough to find gifts for. Either they already have everything they need, or you exhausted all your ideas in the 20-plus years you’ve known each other. AI offers a fresh perspective as it taps into your person’s interests, your budget, and their personality quirks to suggest truly thoughtful presents.

To score major points for making someone’s day truly special, say something like this to ChatGPT: “Suggest 50 cool gift ideas for my daughter. She’s 30, big on hiking, loves reading about science fiction, and is always up for an adventure. I want to get her something awesome for her birthday, and I’m considering spending between $50 and $150. She’s really into stuff that’s good for the planet and loves supporting small businesses. Oh, and if any new or trendy gifts fit her vibe, throw those in, too!”

2 3
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Ascannio / Shutterstock.com
solutions specifically for you.”

5 Photographer

While ChatGPT isn’t the best on the image front, there are plenty of other AI tools you can use to create amazing images of yourself or anything else without splurging on a photographer. Need a professional headshot for LinkedIn? Easy. A pretty home office setup you had in mind? Piece of cake. A picture of yourself on a tropical island? Sure. And if you’re ever curious to know what you look like as Wonder Woman or with purple hair, dedicated image tools like Artflow.ai can make your wildest imagination into reality.

6 Summarizer

Too busy to read lengthy articles or watch hours-long videos your loved ones keep sending you? AI can condense the key information, giving you a quick and comprehensive summary. Perfect for staying informed, entertained, and one step ahead without spending hours scrolling or watching.

7 Travel Agent

As much as I love planning my next trip, sometimes I wish it didn’t take so long. Well, guess what? Your AI assistant can take over the process’s most stressful and time-consuming parts. It can curate a personalized itinerary based on your travel style (think beaches versus museums), suggest must-see attractions, recommend highly-rated restaurants, and find those hidden gems only locals know about. It’s like having a super-knowledgeable travel agent at your fingertips.

financial gibberish into plain English, offering personalized advice like a trustworthy, finance-savvy friend. It helps you navigate the money maze, from saving for a rainy day to investing wisely. While it’s not recommended to use its word for major financial decisions directly, it can still help you strategize and find efficient solutions based on your circumstances.

9 Knowledge Wizard

Ever wish someone could decipher the world’s mysteries without making your head spin? AI’s got this cool ability to break down complex concepts into easy explanations. It’s like chatting with a friend who can make rocket science sound like a bedtime story. Suddenly, you’re nodding along to quantum physics or the latest tech breakthroughs, feeling like a genius. My favorite prompt: “Explain it like I’m 10.”

Brainstorming Partner

Need to write an appealing bio for a dating app, find insightful talking points for your next book club meeting, or choose a lovely name for a new pet? AI acts as your creative co-pilot, offering a never-ending stream of ideas. The best part is that ChatGPT is always at your service — no downtime, no bad moods; it’s always ready to help you organize that next awesome thing and build new memories.

It’s time to take charge of this technology and make it work for you!

Juliet Dreamhunter is an AI strategist helping digital entrepreneurs optimize their work and scale their businesses. On her website, juliety.com, she writes hands-on reviews about popular AI tools and offers practical advice for making the most of the AI revolution without feeling overwhelmed.



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Protecting Paradise

Exploring The Wonders of the Pettit Preserve

The Margaret and Luke Pettit Environmental Preserve, Inc. in Dallas, Georgia, was founded in 1999 when Gay Pettit Dellinger donated 60 acres of woodlands in memory of her parents, Margaret and Luke Pettit. Her dream was for young and old to be able to explore the forest and lake and leave behind the technologyfocused world. Fittingly, the family named the property in honor of Gay’s parents who strongly believed in the need for places of unspoiled green space and protected habitat. The family also felt a strong responsibility to share and educate. A board was formed, and a vision was established. Since its founding, the Pettit Preserve has educated thousands of children and adults.

Dee Bishop, Gay Dellinger’s daughter, has served for 12 years as the preserve’s president. Dee grew up with her family relishing the land and the lake, which now are the preserve.

“I’ve enjoyed the preserve since I was a teenager,” she says.

“Some of my favorite memories are hiking, swimming, playing in the creek, and spending the night out there. All these memories were made with my mom, siblings, grandparents, friends, and, more recently, my children and grandchildren. It’s just a really happy place. My favorite spot at the preserve

is called the Boardroom for Planet Earth. It’s on the opposite end of the dam, and there’s such peace in that spot. There’s a beautiful rock amphitheater there where we now hold some classes, and it’s also where my youngest daughter got married. … My grandmother, Margaret (best known as Gigi), was a wonderful artist, and my grandfather, Luke, was an avid photographer, horticulturalist, and environmentalist. They both had such a love of the outdoors and what it could teach a child. In the last 25 years, the preserve has evolved from a raw piece of property to a beautiful nature preserve with almost 3 miles of hiking trails, two amphitheaters, a 36-foot swinging bridge, a 72-foot floating bridge, a new lakeside pavilion and fireside picnic area by the lake, and, most recently, our new indoor educational multipurpose building. The building is named in honor of my mom — the Gay Pettit Dellinger Nature Center.”

Gay longed to one day have this property equipped to teach environmental education to children and adults. For years, there was only an open learning pavilion, which got cold on some early morning field trips. Still, many students benefited from those chilly mornings as they began to learn environmental awareness and, hopefully, kindle their love of

The Margaret and Luke Pettit Environmental Preserve, Inc. in Dallas, Georgia, includes hiking trails and a 9-acre lake to enjoy.

the outdoors. The new 3,700-square-foot nature center named in Gay’s honor has allowed the preserve to house large field trip groups comfortably and to extend field trips into the early spring and late fall when the mornings might be a bit cold for classes held outdoors.

Field trips at the Pettit Preserve offer a range of environmental education activities tailored to different age groups and educational needs. Younger participants can engage in nature arts and crafts, plus conservation activities like creating earthworm farms for composting. Survivalthemed trips, such as one inspired by The Hunger Games novel, can teach practical skills like fire-building and item selection for wilderness survival. Each trip is customized to align with Georgia education standards, with topics selected in collaboration with teachers. Hikes, adapted to the age of participants, are integral to all trips, featuring activities like animal identification scavenger hunts and nature-themed poetry sessions.

Fulfilling its Mission

The mission of The Margaret and Luke Pettit Environmental Preserve, Inc. is to act as guardian and steward for land

under its auspices, to responsibly conserve the land, and to judiciously use the land for education and research. As a nonprofit corporation, in addition to school field trips, the Pettit Preserve offers quarterly programs, monthly hikes and children/youth camps, as well as a venue for business and family events. The hope is to give families a chance to connect outdoors, children an opportunity to learn and grow, and adventurers of all ages a place to relax and explore. It aims to reach as many people as possible in the areas of environmental studies and love of nature for its own sake.

With open space disappearing at an accelerating rate, the preserve offers an opportunity for children to experience the joy of land in its natural state in a living laboratory. All activities within its boundaries seek to limit the impact of humans and safeguard the natural balance of this area.

Funding by small grants, fundraisers, members, and corporate sponsors keeps the preserve going. An annual summer golf tournament is vital to the success of the preserve, and the preserve’s board is grateful to the businesses and individuals who help sponsor the event, especially Jessica Fleetwood, Nicole Hughes, Parnick Jennings, and James Hall who head up the annual event, and to the golfers who

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of programs for students of all ages. Even though they pay a small fee, it doesn’t cover the cost of staff, materials, and the wear and tear of the facilities and grounds.

The preserve has always had a wonderful relationship with the local school systems, Boy Scout and Girl Scout groups, 4-H, forestry and STEM programs, preschools, and homeschool groups, and serves pre-K through 12th grade with its field trips. This spring, more than 2,000 students, parents, and teachers have visited the Pettit Preserve for field trips.

A strong connection with Georgia Highlands College has also been built in the last few years. Many of its science classes use the Pettit Preserve grounds as an outdoor teaching facility. The board is particularly excited about the relationship with Georgia Highlands since it allows the preserve to reach college-age students as well.

The preserve’s latest adventure has been hosting its Earth Day Festivals. Earth Day was created in 1970 as a day of education about environmental issues, so the board felt the preserve’s mission coincided with the ideals of the holiday. In April 2023, it held its first Earth Day Festival. The gathering featured educational programs throughout the day, local food trucks, music, farmers market vendors, wildlife exhibitors, environmental demonstrations, a kids’ play area with slides, bouncy houses and environmental arts and crafts, and so

much more. These Earth Day Festivals are a fun-filled celebration with earthfriendly activities for the entire family. The preserve plans to continue hosting an Earth Day Festival each April on the first Saturday nearest to Earth Day and will post updates on this wonderful celebration of planet Earth on its website, pettitpreserve.org.

For as long as the Pettit Preserve has existed, its grounds have been open for hikers at least once a month. Free hiking access is currently offered on the second Saturday of every month. There are approximately 3 miles of switchback hiking trails and a 9-acre lake to enjoy.

The nature center, trails, and grounds offer a perfect place for corporate retreats, birthday parties, family reunions, and wedding celebrations – offering a beautiful setting with all the amenities for your group.

Come explore and learn about nature at The Margaret and Luke Pettit Environmental Preserve. The staff looks forward to seeing you soon!

For more information about the preserve, its amenities, and renting the new nature center for your next event, contact Executive Director Billy Fleetwood at 768–848–4179 or visit pettitpreserve.org.

The grandson of executive director Billy Fleetwood shows off his catch from a day of fishing at the preserve.

www.rivercity.bank | (706) 236-2123 L O C A L GNTC is accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges to award associate degrees A unit of the Technical College System of Georgia and an EOI H i g h D e m a n d C a r e e r s B e g i n H e r e ! GNTC.edu 866-983-4682 AVIATION MAINTENANCE nwgeorgialiving.com | 35

The meals pictured are variations of the recipes

Summer in Every Bite

Creative Ways to Incorporate Fruit into Your Cooking

Fresh summer fruit is a simple pleasure, a culinary treat, and a sign that my favorite season has arrived! Including seasonal fruit in your warm-weather menus delivers fresh tastes, adds extra vitamins, and provides pretty presentations. Serve these great recipes individually or make all three for a dinner that will leave everyone “s-peach-less.”

featured in this article.

Grilled Shrimp and Okra Kebobs with Peaches and Jalapeño-Bourbon Vinaigrette

Serves 4 | Bourbon adds a flavorful kick and acts as a tenderizer for the shrimp.

½ cup, plus 2 tablespoons canola oil, divided, plus more for grill grates

½ teaspoon lime zest, plus ¼ cup fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons shallot, finely chopped

1½ tablespoons bourbon

1½ tablespoons jalapeño, seeded and finely chopped

2 teaspoons maple syrup

1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped

1¾ teaspoons kosher salt, divided, plus more to taste

1 teaspoon black pepper, divided, plus more to taste

1 pound medium raw shrimp, peeled

3 ounces fresh okra, halved lengthwise (about 1 cup)

3 large fresh peaches (about 1 ¼ pounds), halved and pitted

1 tablespoon flat-leaf parsley, chopped

2 cups cooked basmati or brown rice, for serving

Preheat gas or charcoal grill to very high (500° to 550°). Whisk ½ cup oil, lime zest and juice, shallot, bourbon, jalapeño, maple syrup, garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a large bowl, reserving ½ cup dressing for finishing. Add shrimp to bowl with remaining dressing; toss to coat. Let stand 10-15 minutes.

Honey Ricotta and Summer Berries

Serves 6 | This easy dessert comes together quickly, but you must allow time for chilling.

2 cups whole-milk ricotta cheese

4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature

4 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons honey

¾ teaspoon vanilla extract

4 cups mixed fresh berries (such as blackberries, raspberries, halved strawberries, blueberries)

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

Mint sprigs and lemon rind slices, to serve.

Blend ricotta, cream cheese, 2 tablespoons sugar, honey, and vanilla in food processor until smooth. Transfer to bowl. Cover bowl and refrigerate until ricotta mixture is slightly set, about 2 hours. If making 1 day ahead, keep refrigerated and stir before using.

Combine berries, lemon juice, and remaining 2 tablespoons sugar in large bowl; stir. Let stand for 30 minutes at room temperature.

Divide ricotta mixture among six bowls. Top with berries, mint, lemon rind, and serve.

Toss okra with 1 tablespoon oil, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ⅛ teaspoon pepper. Remove shrimp from dressing and discard dressing. Thread shrimp onto four 12-inch skewers (presoaked if wooden) alternately with okra. Sprinkle skewers with ¼ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper. Brush cut sides of peaches with remaining 1 tablespoon oil, and sprinkle with remaining ¼ teaspoon salt and remaining ⅛ teaspoon pepper.

Place peaches, cut sides down, on oiled grill grates. Grill, uncovered, for 1-3 minutes until grill marks appear. Grill shrimp-and-okra skewers on oiled grill grates, uncovered, for 3-4 minutes until charred in spots and shrimp are opaque, flipping once halfway through.

Divide rice among four serving plates. Cut each peach half into four wedges, divide among the four plates, and top each with shrimp-and-okra kebabs. Drizzle reserved ½ cup dressing over kebabs, peaches, and rice. Top with parsley and season to taste with salt and pepper.

Arugula, Almond, and Mango Salad with Creamy Chive Vinaigrette

Serves 6 | A great taste and texture combination!

½ - ¾ cup sliced almonds

1 tablespoon butter

¼ teaspoon salt

Dash cayenne pepper

2 Honey mangoes (or Tommy Atkins mangoes or peaches)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

½ tablespoons whipping cream

⅓ cup fresh chives, finely chopped

8 ounces arugula, loosely packed

Melt butter in small skillet over medium-high heat, add almonds and stir. Cook for 4 minutes, shaking pan often, then add salt and cayenne. Continue cooking and shaking for 2-3 minutes more until nuts are fragrant. Remove from pan and let cool on a plate.

Wash mangoes. Cut off stems, stand upright on cut end and slice down along each rounded side, being careful not to cut the pit. Make tic-tac-toe hashmarks on the two pieces of flesh, turn each piece inside-out, and run knife next to skin to remove diced flesh. Place diced mango in large bowl.

Whisk lemon juice and olive oil in a small bowl; whisk in cream, then chives. Season with salt and pepper.

Add arugula to bowl with mangoes. Add dressing and toss. Season with more salt and pepper, if desired, and serve.

Kathy Patrick is a retired personal chef in Rome, Georgia. She loves cooking, travel, waterskiing, stand-up paddling, and bicycling with her husband, Berry College professor Martin Cipollini.

Kathy is a board member of Rome Little Theatre and vice president of the Georgia chapter of The American Chestnut Foundation.

nwgeorgialiving.com | 37

Artificial Intelligence?

Artificial intelligence (AI) seems to be all people are talking about these days. It’s infiltrated our homes, hospitals, and stores. The phrase “Hey, Alexa” is now commonplace and has ruined naming any child “Alexa” ever again. My daughter has a friend named Alexa. I asked her what the capital of Texas was, and she politely told me to shut up. She didn’t know, in case you were wondering. In fact, when she visits, we can’t even say her name without the AI Alexa answering, so we have to whisper it. What I find amazing is that I can whisper things from the other room, and the Alexa will answer, but I can yell “Alexa, today’s weather,” right at the dumb thing, and it says, “I’m sorry. I didn’t quite get that.” You noticed I said “it,” not “she.” The last thing I need at my house is another woman who is becoming self-aware and telling me what to do. I have found one good use for the Alexa in our home. It tells on my wife whenever a package arrives, so she and my kids can’t hide their shopping addiction anymore.

Back to the “They are listening” part. There has been a lot of talk about all your smart devices secretly listening to you when you aren’t even using them. I experienced this on a road trip once. We were talking about getting something to eat, and my whole car loves Zaxby’s. We just said the name out loud, and the next thing you know, my wife starts getting ads for Zaxby’s popping up on all her social media feeds. If that doesn’t send a chill down your spine, you need to wake up.

I’m still on the fence.

enough, but this is just silly. There was an article just this month on how young women are using AI to make themselves look as perfect as possible, and it’s messing with their self-esteem because no one can achieve that level of perfection in real life.

Now, I’m sure there are some positives to AI. I have doctor friends who say AI-powered robots are amazing at surgeries. They can do them faster and cleaner with less damage and quicker recovery times. I’m sure the sciences and NASA are making amazing breakthroughs and advancements with AI and its calculations. Even law enforcement is using AI to keep us safer, but shouldn’t we draw a line somewhere? Do we really want a refrigerator that’s smarter than we are and won’t open when we want ice cream because our BMI is slightly high? I mean, I already yell at the Roomba®, I’ll take an axe to a fridge that won’t let me get to my leftover pasta.

“What I find amazing is that I can whisper things from the other room, and the Alexa will answer, but I can yell ‘Alexa, today’s weather,’ right at the dumb thing, and it says, ‘I’m sorry. I didn’t quite get that.’”

While we’re on the AI social media subject, have you seen the latest trend where women are sticking their faces on an AI body and expecting us to think, “Oh, yeah, that looks just like them?” I’m sorry, but most of us know you and saw you at church on Sunday, and you sure weren’t wearing those size 2 jeans and a halter top posing with your HarleyDavidson in the Mexican desert. Filters are bad

The big argument among the talking heads is, “What happens when AI becomes self-aware?” and, “Will AI take over my job?”

The answer to the second is very sobering. You can Google a list of all the occupations AI might be doing soon, and it’s not a short list. One that stuck out to me was truck driver. Of course, my weird-wired brain went directly to an image of C-3PO in a trucker hat and puffy vest, asking for a cup of hot oil at the robo-truck stop. The answer to the first question is also scary. I see it going one of two ways. The first would be the Terminator route. Who knew an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie might actually become a documentary of the future? The second would be that AI realizes how completely messed up humans really are, and they build a spaceship and look for intelligent life elsewhere. That’s fine with me. Hope my Roomba® is the first on the ship.



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“Nature always wears the colors of the spirit.”
– Ralph Waldo Emerson




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