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PROFILES people, places and businesses in the Golden Isles and Coastal Georgia


People who help make the region sparkle Island locations worth preserving

Foundations being laid for the future

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From C.H. Leavy IV President and Editor, The Brunswick News editor@ thebrunswicknews. com 912-265-8320

Welcome to The Brunswick News’ second issue of PROFILES. This year’s issue builds on an evolving narrative we started last year that tells the stories of the people, places and the businesses and institutions that provide the essence of what makes the Golden Isles such a special place to work and live. This is a story that never will get old, because when we think of our coastal area, we all share sentiments of what makes this place great, while at the same time we identify some of our own. Is it the beautiful sunsets, the moss-draped oak trees, the unique history, the undulating marshes or the plethora of recreational activities? The list is long, and you will see we intend to continue to expand on these backdrops as we further our coastal story. But in the true spirit of discovering a community and to always keep it rich, we go straight to

the heart with the exploration of our people. This year, we have collected the perspectives of 65 individuals, some familiar faces and many new ones. Each gives testament to how his or her role makes the Golden Isles great. So, we hope you enjoy, as some unique and relevant developments mark our greatness – a re-energizing Jekyll Island, schools and colleges developing a next wave of leaders and workers, athletes who put the area in the big leagues of play, faith that forms a bedrock of the community, health care that strengthens everyone and the commerce that shapes the economy. Important thank-yous are essential with this year’s PROFILES. We first thank our advertisers who enable The Brunswick News to showcase the Golden Isles in this fashion. Next, a large thank-you is in store for The News staff. It amazingly manages to work from

early December on this project on top of all the daily duties at a newspaper to produce the extra photos, stories, layouts and advertisements. Finally, thank-you to those who helped with our cover. The order of the day was water, and much had to be in perfect harmony for the photo. Time, tide, weather, sunlight and important cooperation among our participants – especially the 55,000-ton car-carrier ship that was in the right place at the right time and at the right speed. Thank-you, paddleboarders Kristin Orendorf and Craig Stalnaker for setting up a great shot, and thank-you Henry Wynn, Bar Pilot’s Association operations manager, for telling us precisely when the big boat would arrive. And a big thank-you to whoever was piloting the ship. He appeared to stop in one place so we could get all the pictures we needed. He is one more notable person shining for the Golden Isles.



Robin Mainor

Entry point crucial 27

New look pays off

Jim Crandall

Transformation is under way 5

Helping is a ministry 28

Dion Davis

Elizabeth Rush

Funding expands plans 7

Opportunity expands 29

Jennifer Johnson

Howard Sepp

Staff helps pave way 8

Common vision 30

Kimberly Andrews

Eddie Byrd

Wildlife gets boost 9

Caring pays rewards 33


Students on College of Coastal Georgia campus | HIGHER EDUCATION

Doors open

New building a highlight 10

Toriano Gilbert

Focus on learning 12


Brian Brewer

College in new era

Success is reward 13

Foundation is strong 19

Renee Crane

Greg Aloia

Carla Cate

Matthew Raiford

Montessori is enriching 15 Dedication looks ahead 16

Goal is to do right thing 20 Recipe for new leaders 21


ENVIRONMENT Area teems with life Spud Woodward Ashby Nix

River important to coast 37


Clay George

History still stands


Focus is on whales 38

Jan Cutforth

Skip Mounts

Programs help community 21


Land stays untouched

Scott Spence

Breanne Herrin

Hospital expands


Changes ahead 17 Emphasis is on quality 17

Student leadership counts 22

Sites, services grow 26

Kristin Orendorf is a St. Simons Island paddleboarder, riding the current in the St. Simons Sound. Photo by Bobby Haven.

Land, water are ‘eco-soup’ 34 Nature in balance 35

Preserve will invite visitors 24


Nature takes priority 40 CONTINUES ON PAGE 4

PROFILES is one in a series of annual special publications of The Brunswick News, 3011 Altama Ave., Brunswick, Ga. 31520. It is produced by The Brunswick News staff and distributed as a bonus magazine with the daily newspaper. Information on other special publications and advertising opportunities is available from The News at 912-265-8320.

PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 3




More than numbers

Outdoors a playground

Residents give character 42

Land, water beckon 80

Duane Harris


Coast, past connect 43

Ed Hose

Festivals abound

Life draws on whimsy 44

Range along coast 81

John Girton


Albert Fendig

Training aids business

Lucy Lynn Bryson

Rick Townsend

Service adds fulfillment 45

Schools boost workforce 82

Isles life is perfect picture 48 Staging for a new cast 49

A Golden Isles Career Academy welding class | CAREER EDUCATION

Phil Morrison

Global sounds start here 51

Developing talent 83

Senetra Haywood

Students see role model 83

Joyce Bason

John Kenneally

Pamela Mueller

C. Craig Hartzog

Michael Browning

Doug Vaught

Todd Rhodes

Abe Brown

Economy more regional

Garrett Cook

Marcia Cochran

Bill Weeks

John Rogers

Listening key to managing 73

Community gives support 86

Jack McConnell



Workforce aids area 87

Vision is shared

Pros plan, live here

Jodie Morgan

Juile Martin

Gerald Cox

William Stembler

Mike Hulsey

Jozsef Szasz

Scott McQuade

Faith spreads out

Bill Brunson

Welton Coffey

Bob Miller

Bob Brearley

Cornell Harvey

Time to move ahead 68

Olivia Melvin

Bud St. Pierre

Area rich in traditions 59

Rachael Bregman

Neal Jump

Mike Cook

Bill Gross

Cooperation extends reach 61

Helping makes city rich 51 Stories bring past to life 52

Goal is to build core 62

Foundation is firm 63

Willing to help others 55 World calls on port 56

Maureen Ahren

Outreach begins at home 56

Gene Threats

Others can draw on experience 57


Teamwork step to solutions 64 Teamwork aids city 65

Employers get guarantee 84


Michael Alexander Vision leads to progress 87 Movies go bigger screen 88

Winning chances double 77 Teams are family 78

Progress needs protection 68

Faith shows depth 61

Area home to stars 74

Young fighters get training 76

Planning builds future 66

Lonnie Roberts

Highways bring workers, buyers 85

Returns to service 72

Coaching teaches life 76

Education is legacy 66

Worship, mission link 58

Children are motivation 70 Working together is key 72

Two missions are helpers 63

Area stars in movies 54

Hank Yeargan

Area is tourist magnet 88 Autos drive up port 89 Island life part of resort 90

Career is an ace 78

Community building up 90

STAFF PROFILES The Brunswick News staff members who wrote, edited and photographed PROFILES

Michael Hall

Bobby Haven

Buddy Hughes

Jasmine Hunter

Gordon Jackson

Dave Jordan

Bethany Leggett

Sarah Lundgren

Nathan Deen

Local Reporter


News Editor

Copy Editor

Local Reporter

Sports Editor

Life Editor

Local Reporter

Sports Reporter Local Reporter

4 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

Kelly Quimby

Martin Rand III

Brittany Tate

Local Reporter

Life Reporter



PROFILES | The Brunswick News

A former winter retreat for turn-of-the20th-century industrialists and financiers, Jekyll Island has been on a multimillion dollar path of revitalization for several years. At the center of it is a new convention center that was opened in 2012, with adjacent hotels under construction and preparations being made to begin construction on the Beach Village retail area. Other hotels have been built or renovated. While the 20th century millionaires’ “cottages” remain a throwback to another time that serve as a central draw for the island state park, some of its hotels and facilities had become trapped in an unwanted time warp. “The island became distressed and ‘tired,’ which perpetuated the decline in visitation,” says Jones Hooks, executive director of the Jekyll Island Authority that operates the park. “This harsh reality became apparent with a series of hotel bankruptcies and closings from 2002 to 2006. The reason for the decline was clear – there had not been any significant investment on the island since the renovation and opening of the Jekyll Island Club Hotel in 1987.”

Because the island receives no money from the state and relies heavily on its visitors for revenue, something had to be done. “Already we are seeing visitation improve,” Hooks says. “As more guests return or discover Jekyll Island, they are impressed by the new infrastructure, including the convention center, Great Dunes Park, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, the many historic district improvements and the miles of new and rehabilitated bike paths. They, in turn, will spread the word, as well as become repeat visitors, and the trend in visitation is now on the rise.” The new Jekyll Island Convention Center continues to attract more conventions each year. Work on an adjacent $41 million, 200-room Westin hotel began this past May. Lodgings like the former Oceanside Inn and Suites, now becoming the Holiday Inn Resort, and the Beachview Hotel, are getting make-overs. “As more resources become available as visitation continues to increase, we will start attacking the long list of other projects, which include more public works, like the golf course improvements and the amphitheater, as well as more historic preservation and conservation projects,” Hooks says.

Amber Swal of Gainesville, Fla., and her dog Darby visit the Jekyll Island beach at Great Dunes Park.

PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 5

Atlantic National Bank Board of Directors


We’re proud to call Glynn County home! With so many changes in local banking during recent years, local decision makers are becoming a thing of the past. But not at Atlantic National Bank. Our board of directors is composed of local business leaders who understand the importance of being involved in banking decisions that affect Glynn County. We’re a locally-owned bank – managed by local people. And we’re proud to be the only one! Member


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6 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014



Foundation drives funds to interests


Bobby Haven photo

skeet house relocated from ion Davis wakes MY STORY the woods of Jekyll Island up excited about and transformed into space going to work Why I live here for exhibits and an informal everyday, because “This has been classroom for environmental she believes her job is making one of my favorite and history programs in the a difference. places to work. The historic district of the island. As executive director of JIA has a clear diThe foundation is also the Jekyll Island Foundation, rection as to what purchasing an all-terrain Davis holds the reins of an they’re looking for.” vehicle for the Georgia Sea organization responsible for Turtle Center – which it funding projects that will What I tell others helped to establish in 2007 – generate interest and money about life here to aid researchers in tending for Jekyll Island. “There’s a huge to sea turtles living on the The foundation was created conservation efbeach. “We are separate 15 years ago as a private fort here to keep entities, but it’s a symbiotic fundraising source to assist in nature.” relationship,” said Davis the conservation of land and on how the foundation and preservation of history on the Jekyll Island Authority that island state park. A key part oversees the island state park of that is working closely with work together. the Jekyll Island Authority On top of having fun at the helm of a that operates the park without regular state fundraising organization, she enjoys her funding. time outside of the workplace. “We look at the Jekyll Island master Since moving to the Golden Isles in 2011 plan, and we look at how we can work with – after living in nine other states – Davis the Jekyll Island Authority to accomplish says this is the best place she has ever that master plan,” Davis says. “We have lived. capital projects in progress that will be As an avid bike rider, she enjoys riding used for people who come to visit.” around Jekyll Island after a day at the One of those projects, which Davis office and taking in the scenery. hopes will be completed this summer, “I LOVE – with capital letters – living is the Horton Pond Project, a wildlife here,” she says. “Everyday I drive across viewing platform on the north end of the the Sidney Lanier bridge and I think, ‘I island that should aid in conservation can’t believe I live here’.” initiatives. – Martin Rand III A preservation project will see an old PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 7

JEKYLL ISLAND MY STORY Why I live here “I love the Golden Isles. I have great friends here. I live 15 minutes from the beach, and I work on an island.�

What I tell others about life here “There is a nice balance to living in the Golden Isles. It’s not too big and it’s not too small, and compared to many other places, the commute to work is not riddled with traffic congestion. I also appreciate the strong sense of community here. Just look at some of the events that take place.�

JENNIFER JOHNSON | Workforce can lead into future


ince her arrival to the Golden Isles in 2001, Jennifer Johnson has been a busy woman. Over the years, she’s worked in the media realm, engaged in nonprofit work, thrived in workforce development roles and then made a trip to Jekyll Island. It has been a fun few years, and she has enjoyed all of it. During her beginning years in the area, she says she was heavily involved with helping the American Cancer Society. “I was also involved with the Golden Isles Children’s Advocacy Center, where we created the Holiday Hope program that collected toys for local children during the Christmas holiday.� Now the director of human resources for the Jekyll Island Authority, Johnson oversees the areas of benefits, recruitment, employee relations, staff development and risk management. As Jekyll Island continues on its path of revitalization, she plays a critical role in making sure employees can make that journey as successfully as possible. “I believe workforce development starts with hiring the right person with a great attitude and the knowledge and skills necessary to succeed. As an employer, we

have the job of developing those skills and the knowledge the individual needs to be successful in our organization,� Johnson says. “I feel it is an honor for me to serve those employees and be a part of making their work experience better.� Johnson says working for and on Jekyll Island has shown her just how much people care about the place in which they live. Being a part of the revitalization project has been a true delight. “I believe revitalization benefits all of us through increased visitors to the area and an improved recreation area for everyone. The activities you can enjoy on Jekyll Island, from riding bikes to playing golf to relaxing on the beach, allow each of us an opportunity to unplug and unwind from our busy lives,� she says. Most recently, Johnson has expanded her efforts beyond the island to become a member of the Golden Isles chapter of the Society of Human Resource Management. “This year, I will serve as the workforce ready chairperson. I’m excited about the opportunity to work with contacts at the local high schools in preparing our teens for the workforce,� she says. – Sarah Lundgren

Bobby Haven photo

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JEKYLL ISLAND MY STORY Why I live here “There is a limitless amount of things for me to do in the Golden Isles, both professionally and personally. The ecological diversity (plants and animals) is exceptional. The landscapes are breathtaking. Our community is active and involved in the world around them. People are happy, and that makes it a really fun place to live.”

What I tell others about life here “I can’t get enough of it. Every day lends a new adventure.”

KIMBERLY ANDREWS | Friend to wildlife


hough she’s only been in the Golden Isles since 2011, Kimberly Andrews has been a busy woman. The wildlife biologist works jointly for the Jekyll Island Authority, Georgia Sea Turtle Center and the University of Georgia. She also began a wildlife research program that implements some of the island’s directives in its conservation plan. “Our research focuses on assessing the state of our wildlife populations on Jekyll in order to develop management plans that will ensure the persistence of our native wildlife species that are not only critical to the functioning of healthy ecosystems, but attract many people to the Golden Isles every year,” Andrews says. “Initiating and managing this conservation program has been, and continues to be, a huge accomplishment. This program could not have experienced success and long-term viability without the establishment of a diversity of partnerships.” She has certainly established some partnerships over her three years in the area. She holds faculty status at UGA and started a graduate student program there, and received adjunct faculty status at College of Coastal Georgia, where her program has implemented internships, independent studies and senior thesis opportunities. She has also helped facilitate collaborations with agencies like the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, the National Oceanic and

Atmospheric Administration and the Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, S.C. “I am a wildlife biologist because I am passionate about the need to manage our habitats and landscapes so that wildlife can continue to call Jekyll Island home, as well. My job also appeals to me, because I get to see and experience a lot of amazing things in the outdoor world and because

Bobby Haven photo

it challenges me,” Andrews says. “This work sustains my inner child, who was drawn to observing and interacting with wildlife, but has evolved to where I am now as an adult professional who actively engages in translating these observations and scientific data into actions that can make a difference.” – Sarah Lundgren




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PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 9




PROFILES | The Brunswick News

It’s been nothing short of a banner year – or couple of years – for the Glynn County School System. Accelerating graduation rates and increasingly rigorous currciula for students are just some of the recent notes that characterize the school system’s momentum. Of course, the crown jewel for the district and the county itself is the new Brunswick High School on Altama Avenue, directly opposite the main gate to College of Coastal Georgia. The 354,000-squarefoot facility, for which construction began in February 2012, opened to students Jan. 8 and made its public debut Jan. 31. A state-of-the-art media center, gymnasium with indoor track space, a performing arts auditorium, high-ceilinged cafeteria with eight themed serving areas and a geothermal heating and cooling unit are among the stand-out features of the building. Paid for by taxpayer dollars through an Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, the building cost $57 million and instantly became a beacon of pride for the community. With a dedication and ribbon cutting ceremony and a public open house, more than the students and staff have had an opportunity to walk its spacious halls and classrooms. Overall, sentiments from the community demonstrate how thrilled people are not just to have such a great school, but what it means about the dedication of the school system to the students educated inside it. Across the street, the college serves as a waving flag to students about what their future could hold, too. With increasing graduation rates at both Brunswick High School and Glynn Academy, it appears more Glynn County pupils are determined to take hold of their own future. The new Brunswick High School

10 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

With a combined graduation rate of 81 percent for 2013, the two high schools eclipsed the statewide graduation rate of 71.5 percent by almost 10 percentage points. It was almost a 7 percent increase at both schools from 2012 to 2013. On the other end of town, Glynn Academy is also receiving facilities attention. A several-phase series of renovations has begun and will continue for the next several years, pending funding. Some of the upcoming changes on campus include the addition of 10 tennis courts – giving the school the ability to host tournaments – and a new cafeteria and kitchen building. A mar on the positive string of events for the school system is continually declining ACT and SAT standardized test scores at both public high schools. However, more students are taking both tests as well as the Advanced Placement courses and exams, expanding the reach of rigorous courses to more students. In general, though, Glynn County public school students are performing better than previously. The majority of the county’s schools out-scored the state in the Criterion-Referenced Competency Test, administered to pupils in first through eighth grades, and the College and Career Ready Performance Index, the overall scores given to individual schools and districts by the state. In addition to its public school system, the Golden Isles has a wide range to offer in the private school sector. On St. Simons Island are Frederica Academy, St. Simons Christian School and Lord of Life Christian Montessori School; the mainland has Heritage Christian Academy, Brunswick Christian Academy, and St. Francis Xavier Catholic School. The schools range in grade level offerings – some only through primary or middle school while others reach through high school – and sizes of enrollments.

PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 11





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Bobby Haven photo

gym and shiny new surfaces t has been a whirlwind of MY STORY are great, but Gilbert’s job change the past two years is to make sure students are for Toriano Gilbert, the Why I live here taking advantage of all that principal of Brunswick “As transplants to is given them to advance and High School. After starting the Golden Isles, succeed beyond the walls of a his new role in the 2012-13 my family and I new high school building. school year, he was able to While being a high school say goodbye to one building – feel it is important for us to have the principal, or educator in the original Brunswick High general, can be a challenge, School on Habersham Street – opportunity to exGilbert says he has what it and walk his students through perience all of the rich history of the takes. the doors of the gem of the Golden Isles.� “I feel I have the skill, Glynn County School System energy, desire and work ethic during the second half of the What I tell others to motivate today’s youth. I 2013-14 school year. about life here have always wanted to not The new Brunswick High “I enjoy tellbe someone who is part of School building, situated on ing people Glynn the problem, but the solution. Altama Avenue acrosss from And, the solution is educatCollege of Coastal Georgia, is County is a place ing our youth,� he says. “I a $57 million facility designed on the move. One only needs to look have been fortunate to have for the future of the Golden at how the graduachieved success as an adminIsles. With enough room to istrator as a result of a lot of grow inside physically, Gilbert ation rate has increased at both hard-working people.� hopes the students within the of the public high Gilbert says he looked walls will continue to grow schools within the forward to becoming both an mentally. county.� employee of the Glynn County “As the principal of School System as well as the Brunswick High School, my principal of Brunswick High responsibility is to provide School. This, he says, is a chance to be a for, protect and lead the Brunswick High School’s learning community and create an positively contributing piece of the Golden environment to maximize student learning Isles and its future. “As principal, I strive to build relationand teaching excellence,� Gilbert says. ships and grow professionally with all “I strive to be a great agent of change for Brunswick High School by focusing on stakeholders. It is great to be a Pirate; within every Pirate is a graduate,� he says, the main thing – student learning. I have citing a mantra built on the school’s athletto make sure to ‘keep the main thing, the ics mascot. main thing.’� – Sarah Lundgren State-of-the-art equipment, a sprawling


BRIAN BREWER | Reward is in seeing students succeed


MY STORY Why I live here “My wife and I got married on St. Simons. We have always loved the Golden Isles, and enjoy the people, climate and relationships that we have built here.”

What I tell others about life here “I tell them of the beautiful weather and places in the Golden Isles.”

Bobby Haven photo

o one has ever said being a teacher is easy. Increasing demands from the state, long hours and, sometimes, frustration are just some of the stresses of the job. But instilling a passion in a child can be a reward that quickly reminds a teacher that the job is worth the hard work. There are many examples of dedicated teachers in the Golden Isles – one of them being the 2013 Glynn County Teacher of the Year, Brian Brewer. For more than a decade, Brewer has inspired freshmen in his American government and Advanced Placement human geography class at Glynn Academy. He has watched as many students have passed through his door and gone on to success, as he’s heard from parents and past students alike. “I seek to teach them and help them to become better students. I hope that my efforts encourage them to work hard and be successful in their future endeavors,” Brewer says of how he hopes to

impact Golden Isles’ students on a daily basis. Like many teachers, he hopes to instill in his students an understanding that hard work now will continue to pay off, and that continuing that dedication in other aspects of life will pay off even more. Brewer was thankful to receive the Teacher of the Year award, but he knows there are many other teachers who care just as deeply about their students and every individual’s education. He also knows that a teacher’s dedication in the classroom can have far-reaching, positive effects in the greater community. That’s something he hopes for in the Golden Isles. “Teachers want their students to learn and do well in the future. Students appreciate when adults take an interest in them and their future. I hope that our efforts have great positive effects in the lives of our students outside the classroom,” he said. – Sarah Lundgren

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14 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014



RENEE CRANE | Montessori classes enrich entire child


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in the United States. After passion for education MY STORY starting as the local school’s has taken Renee head the beginning of this Crane around the Why I live here school year, she has a chance country, and now it “I chose to work to expand its reach. has brought her to the Golden and live here partChristian Montessori Isles. time because of School serves preschool-age Born in Vidalia, the head the lovely environchildren, ages 3 through of Lord of Life Christian ment and the won6, and pupils in traditional Montessori School on St. derful people.” grade levels one through six. Simons Island, splits her Crane hopes to increase the time between the island and What I tell others enrollment by adding more Fernandina Beach, Fla. Though about life here toddler classes and an entire she’s apart from her husband, “St. Simons branch of middle school. Joey, and two dogs, Milly has many hidden “Christian Montessori and Charley, during the week treasures with a School offers a unique and her daughter is enrolled beach. What more education that allows at Brewton-Parker College could you ask for?” children to grow socially, and playing golf there, the emotionally, spiritually and opportunity this past year to academically. As the head become head of the Montessori of school, I will continue school was something Crane to offer a quality education by providing couldn’t pass up. “I chose Montessori (schools) because this continuous training and education for the staff,” she says. philosophy teaches the child to learn at his “We will make sure that the individual or her pace, and it teaches independence. needs of each child are met. Through our It allows children to become life-long education, we will enhance the student’s learners,” Crane says. confidence through academics and the arts, Having been an educator for 25 years, which, in return, will create productive Crane has been a teacher, curriculum citizens.” coordinator, Montessori trainer and head of – Sarah Lundgren school at three different Montessori schools

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CARLA CATE | Dedication to students leads them to future

MY STORY Why I live here “We get a taste of all seasons here, and everything is just a little more relaxed in a coastal town. Nothing beats hearing, seeing and feeling the ocean whenever you choose.�

What I tell others about life here “Life here is casual, tranquil, and exhilarating, all at the same time. Everyone feels comfortable with each other. Telling others about my life here reminds me how fortunate I am to be surrounded by such an awe-inspiring environment.�


eing a mother and an educator are essential parts of Carla Cate’s life, the fifth-grade teacher at Frederica Academy says. After six years of teaching in Glynn County, she decided to take a break to stay home with her own children, but it didn’t last too long. “Because I looked for any opportunity to help at their school, I soon realized that I was ready to return to the classroom. Education is such a gratifying world of which to be a part,� says Cate, now in her second year at Frederica. “Seeing the future being built firsthand is thrilling, and inspiring these young minds is the ultimate goal.� Being able to help a child feel his or her own worth and a sense of satisfaction through providing educational opportunities is a real love for Cate. Watching a child want to learn is an experience many teachers in Glynn County, like Cate, appreciate day in and day out. But she tries to make herself a bit different than most teachers. Dane Oremus

“Students seem to appreciate that I think out of the box with my lessons. They come in daily wondering what I am up to. I believe that a gentle demeanor with reasonable expectations works wonders. Children love to be nurtured and led in a positive way,� she says. Being an educator in the Golden Isles is an honor, Cate says, and she knows just how important of a role a dedicated educator plays in the lives of individual children and the future of this community. “Dedicated teachers – teachers who are wholly committed to the education of their students – provide effective teaching methods and are productive in their classrooms. Everyone benefits from teachers who are devoted to children,� Cate says. “They are the ones who prepare the future with the most up-todate information and technology. Dedicated teachers also keep in mind that each child is an individual, and seek to support their mind, body and spirit.� – Sarah Lundgren

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JAN CUTFORTH | Teaching is chance to be agent for change

MY STORY Why I live here “My parents decided to move here from California when they retired, and I believe that it is my responsibility to support them as they become older. The second reason is that it is simply a great place to live. My children have thrived here.”

What I tell others about life here “I tell my friends and family in California that besides the bugs, I love it here. I am able to live with real people who are more concerned with the person.”



etting to the Golden Isles has been a long and interesting trip for Needwood Middle School teacher Jan Cutforth. Born in Montrose, Pa., her father’s service in the United States Army took her all over the country, finally settling down in Los Angeles. Cutforth finished high school in the bustling city and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in political science and constitutional law from UCLA. With her diploma in hand, she jumped from the West Coast to the East Coast, starting her career in the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. While there, she served as a health care reform intern for then first lady Hillary Clinton while researching crime and panhandling laws for the Cato institute. So how did she become a technology, Model United Nations and engineering teacher in Glynn County? “Once I attended the Republican National Convention, I realized that politics were not the realm for me. I wanted to enact change, and Washington, D.C., was not the place to do it,” Cutforth says. “I decided at that point to become a teacher and try to enact

change and make a difference from there.” After earning a master’s and educational specialist degrees in educational technology, Cutforth moved into the world of educating young minds. Upon her parents’ retirement to St. Simons Island, she joined them and is now leading classes in the area and also working on her dissertation. Through classes like engineering and technology, Cutforth says she helps put the power to create change right in the hands of her students. “Instead of simply accepting the world as it is, I challenge them to envision how the world can be, as well as design the infrastructure that needs to exist in order for that future to come to fruition. It is through the children that we will be able to continue our legacy and maintain our history of pride patriotism and ingenuity,” she says. “I think that the community needs to remember that teachers spend their lives trying to enhance the lives of those that they teach. We want to open their eyes to the possibilities that exist and the future that only they can create.” – Sarah Lundgren

SCOTT SPENCE | Mission is quality learning experiences


Middle to be the principal for four hen his sophomore MY STORY years, and then to his current posiyear of college artion at Glynn Academy. rived, Scott Spence “Why did I choose to become a decided it was time to Why I live here “I was born and principal? That was never really an give some real thought to his future raised here. When aspiration of mine. I was perfectly career. Thinking about his mentors, I graduated from happy teaching and coaching. I was images of educators and coaches college, I rememjust sort of guided in that direction popped into his head, and it didn’t ber thinking that by mentors and school administratake long for the Glynn CountyI could not wait tors,” he says. born-and-raised Spence to turn to to return to Glynn Looking at the four years he has education. County. I am happy been principal of one of Glynn “I knew I wanted to do something that I did.” County’s two public high schools that I enjoyed, and not something offers a positive flashback for him. that was mundane. Teaching is far What I tell others Serving students is a passion and a from that. No two days are the same about life here privilege for Spence, and he hopes in education,” says Spence, the “I enjoy spending he’s made an impact on students, principal of Glynn Academy. This time with my family along with the rest of the faculty and school year marked his fourth year and friends. I enjoy staff at Glynn Academy. as principal there and his 24th year boating, fishing “Our mission at Glynn Academy in education – all in Glynn County. and golfing. Glynn is to provide our students with qualSpence was a mathematics teachCounty is a great ity learning experiences that enable er at Glynn Academy for 10 years, place to be if you them to meet the challenges of followed by two years as assistant enjoy those activitomorrow. We expect to be globally principal at Jane Macon Middle ties.” competitive in academics, the arts, School. He moved on to the former athletics and service to the comRisley Learning Center, serving as munity,” he says. “If we are successprincipal for two years. Spence shifted gears for his next position, when ful in our mission, then we will have a positive impact on our community.” he was the school system’s athletic director for – Sarah Lundgren another two years. He returned to Jane Macon PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 17


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PROFILES | The Brunswick News

Just as its Mariner mascot would want, College of Coastal Georgia has had smooth sailing through a sea of change. After serving as the college’s president for five years – almost unintentionally – Valerie Hepburn stepped down in the summer of 2013 to join the University System of Georgia staff. When the two-year Coastal Georgia Community College began its transition to the four-year institution of College of Coastal Georgia in 2007, Hepburn was assigned as interim president, with no intention of staying beyond a transition. Instead, she transitioned to president and over five years helped build the college, literally, from the ground up. Construction of the Miriam and Hugh Nunnally Health and Science Building, the Correll Center for Teacher Education, Lakeside residence hall and the Campus Center, plus renovation of every existing building but one, occurred during that time. This past summer, Gregory Aloia became the second president of the baccalaureatelevel College of Coastal Georgia. While Hepburn’s role was centered on building up the campus, Aloia’s task will be building it out and bringing more in. “The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia, the state Legislature and taxpayers have invested more than $55 million dollars in new buildings and renovations of existing facilities on campus since 2008. But it is about more than the money we spend,” Aloia says. “The real worth is the education: a talented, skilled, multi-faceted workforce; students educated to be good citizens, leaders and community volunteers; graduates in sciences, technology and mathematics – degrees associated with economic development, prosperity and the well-being of the community.” The college has recently expanded its out-

reach and recruitment, hoping to attract more students from beyond its 12-county region. Expanded degree offerings, student housing, activities and sports are just some of the appeal for expansion. “Some of the things emerging through the new American Studies degree program exemplify that – internships with Monticello through the Thomas Jefferson Foundation and scholarships tied to undergraduate academic research, for instance,” Aloia says. “There are many things we are doing to expand the opportunities for students to enjoy this area – everything from off-campus outdoor adventure programming, with activities unique to this part of the state, such as paddleboarding and marsh kayaking, to exciting sports programs, such as golf and tennis, where the Mariners are already achieving national standing within just a couple of years of starting.” Programs that prove attractive to international students, military veterans and students starting college later in life than right after high school are blossoming as part of Aloia’s initiatives at the college. Making the campus as student-friendly as possible is his determination, no matter what type of student attends. The college is also seeking to expand upon how it interacts with the community and how it can better serve and partner with businesses and residents of the Golden Isles. “We’re expanding programs, such as hospitality management and culinary arts, naturals for a region that is a favored vacation destination,” Aloia says. “We have strong partnerships with FLETC and the Southeast Georgia Health System that translate into superlative hands-on application of the classroom material. “We’re keeping education affordable, due in large part to the efforts of the College Foundation and the generosity of this community in funding and endowing scholarships. While it’s not just about the beach, the sunshine and the golf course greens, it sure doesn’t hurt.”

The College of Coastal Georgia campus

PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 19

MY STORY Why I live here “Mary (my wife) and I were truly excited at the prospect of becoming involved with this unique jewel, the College of Coastal Georgia, which embodies so many of our personal values.�

What I tell others about life here “First, I tell them I’m truly a blessed and lucky man. Then, I invite them to come tour the campus and visit Brunswick and the Golden Isles if they’re looking for the pot of leprechaun’s gold at the end of the rainbow.�

GREG ALOIA | Goal is to do right thing in right way



hough he has only been a resident of the Golden Isles a little more than six months, Greg Aloia has immersed himself in it completely. And for the new president at College of Coastal Georgia, that means becoming one with the campus and spreading from there. Aloia, who has carried titles such as dean and professor for decades on college campuses, can be seen routinely walking the grounds of the college’s Brunswick campus. “I believe the ultimate expression of successful leadership is dignum et justum est – it is right and just,� Aloia says of his presidential philosophy. “Our goal is to do the right thing, for the right reason, in the right way, the first time. And as we are doing that, we extend our hands and say, ‘Join us for the journey.’� But Aloia admits he will be the first to say that if someone else has the right idea to take the college forward, he will happily admit he had the wrong idea. He supports a sense of shared governance and ownership in the school, moving forward on the essential points of civility, candor, reflection and counsel, he says. “That is what people can expect in their relationship with the college and with me.

‘trust me.’ We are focused on the quality of the student experience – not only the quality of the academic education, but also the quality of campus life.� To that end, Aloia and his wife, Mary, seek to be examples of action for the growing campus. Their efforts have included the inaugural gift to a special giving society recently established by the college’s foundation. “The College Foundation sought to establish, as an initiative to strengthen continued annual giving and promote broader-based support across the region, the President’s Society, representing a $25,000 gift to the Foundation in $5,000 increments over the next five years. Gifts at that level are empowering for programming and scholarships that benefit students and inspire faculty,� he says. Whether it’s with actions, words or just a listening ear, Aloia is dedicated to College of Coastal Georgia and its mission: The College of Coastal Georgia will be a college of choice for students within Georgia and beyond, providing an outstanding education Bobby Haven photo for tomorrow’s leaders and citizens through It also means that we are open to new and service learning, global awareness and different partnerships across the community,� engaged entrepreneurship. Aloia says. “I prefer ‘watch me’ rather than – Sarah Lundgren





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           20 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014



MATTHEW RAIFORD | Preparing new leaders

fter a 20-year cooking career that took him around the world, Matthew Raiford finds himself back where he started, in his hometown of Brunswick. The 46-year-old doesn’t see any reason why he should ever leave the Golden Isles again. With his family, friends, students and his family farm – owned with his sister, selling MY STORY organic vegetables to the local merchants – located on Blythe Why I live here Island being right here, he has “I am a homeeverything he needs to keep his town boy who has feet grounded in the Golden returned to the Isles. family farm and be“I am a Golden Isles native,” came an assistant he says. “With the family farm professor at the up and running, I do not beCollege of Coastal lieve there will ever be a reason Georgia.” to leave.” Raiford, a Brunswick High What I tell others School graduate, moved back about life here to the Golden Isles in 2011. He “I have always joined the College of Coastal spoken on the Georgia faculty in July 2013 beauty of our area as director of the culinary and how it is the arts program and an assistant pearl of the southprofessor. As program director, ern coast line.” he will be responsible for a new student-operated restaurant at the beach on Jekyll Island. The restaurant is scheduled to be opened this summer, and should give culinary students a sense of what a workplace environment will require of them

HIGHER EDUCATION MY STORY Why I live here “I find the quality of life here to be amazing.”

What I tell others about life here “That it’s awful so they stay away because if they come it gets crowded … just kidding. I say that they really don’t know how wonderful it is, it seems like it’s a well-kept secret.”

after graduation, Raiford says. Helping shape those students into restaurant leaders is Raiford’s ultimate goal and contribution to the college and the Golden Isles. “I believe once we are open, the restaurant will give the students the ability to work in a real-world environment, while learning the business of restaurant and hospitality,” he says. “My personal benefit is the ability to create a legacy of the next generation of culinary and hospitality

Michael Hall photo

(workers) that will be able to become leaders within the community and abroad.” Aspiring to be leaders for the next generation is part of his plan. “I want to be able to lift up the talent and leadership that lies within the Golden Isles and show that leadership can come from within a community and does not have to be imported from abroad,” he says. – Martin Rand III

SKIP MOUNTS | Programs help change community


ow in its fifth year at College of Coastal Georgia, the School of Business and Public Affairs is thriving. As the college grows, so does this part

of it. Since 2011, William “Skip” Mounts has been at the helm of the school, helping to expand its presence at what seems like an ever-expanding college. Also a professor of economics at the college, Mounts has gotten to know the students who come through the school and move into the greater community. “I think the School of Business and Public Affairs is one of the major units in the college to have an impact on the community at large,” he says. Combining business and public affairs creates a unique opportunity for those students to develop strengths in policy analysis while having a solid foundation in business practice, Mounts said at the beginning of his time at the college. As he’s watched it change from a two-year institution to a four-year college, he’s been proud. “It was the opportunity to build something from the beginning. (Now) we’re trying to find alternative ways and partners who want to be engaged with the school. We’re going to enhance

community engagement with current and new programs,” he says. As the rest of the college continues to reach out into the Golden Isles, Mounts encourages the same thing in the business and public affairs school. He encourages service learning wherever possible and hopes the future students under his lead will continue to thrive as he’s watched so

Bobby Haven photo

many come through the past few years. “I think this college and this program change the community in a lot of ways. A four-year college has a lot of ways to embrace the community. You can see it through service learning, through other programs open to the community and through our internship program,” Mounts says. – Sarah Lundgren

PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 21


HIGHER EDUCATION MY STORY Why I live here “I chose to live in the Golden Isles because it has everything I want in a town. Here you have the smalltown feel and close community, but on the other hand you have so many activities right at your fingertips. Of course, the college was what attracted me here.”

What I tell others about life here “Living in the Golden Isles provides me the opportunities to visit the local beaches and historic sites.”

BREANNE HERRIN | Leadership starts on campus

esup native Breanne Herrin stepped onto the College of Coastal Georgia campus as a freshman in the fall of 2011 and felt an immediate pull toward the Student Government Association. The now 21-year-old junior is SGA president, continuing to spread her love of the college and all its activities with as many people as she can. “The Student Government Association stood out to me, because I was interested in making a difference on campus during my time at CCGA. I started on the Senate and worked my way up to now being president,” Herrin says. “In just three short years, SGA has made a huge impact on our campus, and we continue to serve our students and make sure that every voice is heard.” The public affairs major started her journey at the college as a student assistant for the Student Life office. There was no shortage of activity for Herrin. Working in the office, she started getting involved with several campus clubs and organizations. “Getting involved outside of the classroom was one of the best decisions I could’ve made. I began to attend extracurricular activities, and through my involvement with clubs and other activities

on campus, I have made friendships that will last a lifetime,” she says. “The relationships I have built with peers and with the faculty here at CCGA are constantly growing. The people around me have helped me develop as a person, and help to keep me focused on my goal to obtain my degree.” Herrin ignites enthusiasm in other students as the SGA president, encouraging them to find something in which to get involved. A thriving student life and vibrant campus make the outside community take note – and students can truly make a difference. “Through the involvement at the college, you have the privilege of working in the community through volunteer services and public relations with many elected officials. “CCGA faculty, staff and students are like a family. Once you are involved, you strive to make your family stronger and help them in any way you can,” Herrin says. “We all pull together to make CCGA and the community a more positive place for individuals to further their educations and experience the beautiful scenes of the Golden Isles.” – Sarah Lundgren

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STILL STANDING (after all these years) A coalition of philanthropists and St. Simons Land Trust donors unite to preserve Cannon’s Point and its remnants of a Colonial plantation and 4,000-year-old settlements

St. Simons Land Trust Executive Director Ben Slade walks near the towering chimney remains of the plantation overseer’s cabin at Cannon’s Point. 24 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

Michael Hall photos

Live oak trees and palmettoes flank a service road leading from tabby ruins at the northern tip of Cannon’s Point on St. Simons Island. By MICHAEL HALL

PROFILES | The Brunswick News


ALKING THROUGH the more than 600 acres of maritime forest on the northeast side of St. Simons Island, it is easy to forget that golf courses, houses and restaurants are just a few miles away. The silence of the woods is broken only by the calls of birds and an occasional deer that scampers by, then disappears into a thicket. For Stephanie Knox, preserve manager of Cannon’s Point for the St. Simons Land Trust, the swath of pristine marshfront land will be her new home away from home. When Cannon’s Point opens to the public later this year, Knox will oversee operations at the wildlife preserve that will allow the visitors a view of a pristine environment in their own backyards. She hopes Cannon’s Point will ignite a passion for preservation and conservation for future generations. “You can’t expect people to want to protect a habitat if they can’t experience it,” Knox says. “It’s a whole different world out here.” The Land Trust sees a future for the preserve as a place for conservation and environmental education accessible to the public, schools and colleges. That is

A tabby cabin of undetermined age and usage is near a former fish camp at the south end of Cannon’s Point.

A recently installed fence surrounds the tabby foundation ruins of the former plantation house at the northern end of Cannon’s Point.

why it built the education pavilion at the south end of the property. The land where the preserve now occupies was once squarely in the sights of developers who were eager to build houses along the tract’s prime, marshfront property. But being the object of developers’ desires was short-lived for the land, which had been surrendered by the former owners of Sea Island Co. to settle a debt on a nearby golf course community. In 2011, the Land Trust became the beneficiary of the land, named Cannon’s Point after an early European settler there, after the Bobolink Foundation of Chicago acquired an option on it through a longterm purchase agreement with Wells Fargo Bank. The foundation has ties to former U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson and his wife Wendy, coowners of privately owned Little St. Simons Island, situated across the marsh from Cannon’s Point. After a debut planned for Land Trust members in early March, the land is to be opened this year to the public as a nature preserve that will include walking trails, an education pavilion and the chance to see the remnants of thousands of years of civilization. Archaeologists have said there are shell middens, or piles of shells, related to native Americans that date back as far as 4,000 years. They have also said only about 15 to 20 percent of the anticipated ar-

chaeological sites on the land have been discovered. As time went by, European settlers, such as Daniel Cannon and his family, farmed the area in the 1730s, building European-type houses and structures. By the 1740s, the Cannons had moved on and Scottish immigrant John Couper had moved in and operated a large plantation. Couper is known as the most colorful of Cannon’s Point’s residents, and left the most visible trace of what life was like there in Colonial times. The tabby foundation of his home and its chimney stand on the north end of Cannon’s Point, and will serve as a prominent feature at the preserve, offering visitors a glimpse into what life may have looked like 260 years ago. Knox says archaeologists have said the tabby site, built atop a shell midden, is rich with artifacts that workers shoring up the chimney of the Cannon house find often. But the tabby ruins are old and have required some work to remain standing. That is why the Land Trust worked to raise the $25 million needed to buy the land outright, which it did in October 2012. Major contributors for the purchase included Pete Correll, a Brunswick native and former chairman of Georgia-Pacific. Other major contributions of as much as $5 million were made anonymously.

A marsh and creek near a newly constructed education pavilion will be part of a living shoreline project.

PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 25



PROFILES | The Brunswick News

Southeast Georgia Health System has come a long way in 13 years. It has grown from one hospital with financial health issues at the start of the century to a health system that offers more services and more places to receive them. Improvement and expansion started with the arrival of Gary R. Colberg as president and chief executive. “He’s basically reshaped the health system and brought it into this century,” says Mike Hodges, one of nine members of the board of directors of the Glynn-Brunswick Memorial Hospital Authority that operates the health system. “He has done a wonderful job.” The system has its base hospital in Brunswick and another in St. Marys, and senior care centers in both communities. Other facilities include family care centers in Glynn, Brantley and McIntosh counties and immediate care centers on St. Simons Island and the Glynn County mainland. Specialty centers, which focus on particular health issues close to the flagship hospital in Brunswick, include the Endocrinology and Diabetes Care Center, Infectious Disease Care Center, MRI and Imaging center, Sleep Management Center, Summer Sports Medicine and Orthopedic Surgery and its latest addition, pediatric services affiliated with Wolfson Children’s Hospital at Jacksonville. The health system’s metamorphosis started in earnest with the decision shortly after Colberg’s arrival to begin planning for the $33 million Ambulatory Care Center, the five-story structure that features 135,000 square feet of medical office and diagnostic space connected to the Brunswick hospital. This past year, the health system opened its new four-story Medical Plaza across from the hospital. It

The Southeast Georgia Health System hospital at Brunswick

26 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

includes pediatric services offered by Wolfson. By the numbers through 13 years, the health system has grown in: • Employees, from 1,436 in 2001 to 2,229 in 2014. • Physicians on staff at the Brunswick hospital, from 95 in 2001 to 248 in 2014. • Physicians on staff at the St. Marys hospital, from 30 in 2001 to 158 in 2014. • Number of facilities operated, from 13 in 2003 to 36 in 2014. • Total square footage of facilities operated, from 738,000 in 2003 to 1.2 million in 2014. But the health system is more than numbers. It is the doctors, nurses, aides, orderlies and administrative staff who keep it working. In addition to recruiting physicians and other health care professionals, the health system is a strong supporter of the nursing program at College of Coastal Georgia and is participating in another program that brings medical students to the hospital. New equipment is also a factor. At the beginning of 2011, the health system began treating cancer patients with one of the most advanced tools available, the $4 million Cyberknife Robotic Radiosurgery System. The hospital in Brunswick was said to be one of three in Georgia at the time to offer the noninvasive treatment. The health system is currently building, thanks to the anonymous donation of $4 million, accommodations to house out-of-town families whose loved ones are in the hospital and medical students at the hospital as part of Center for Education Development. Southeast Georgia Health System is also creating partnerships with other health care systems and hospitals. It announced a partnership with Bacon County Hospital and Health System in 2013 and is working now with forming a partnership with Flagler Hospital and Baptist Health of Northeast Florida.



Robin Mainor | First contact sets tone for healing

obin Mainor knows her job as emergency room registrar at Southeast Georgia Health System’s Camden County hospital is much more than simply signing people in or out of the hospital. MY STORY “We are the first face people Why I live here see, so we set Camden County the tone for the has a small-town entire visit,” feel, and as it Mainor says. grows, there are And because opportunities to emergency meet new people. room visits are not often What I tell others made under the about life here best of circum“I tell people that stances, Mainor we are a caring knows how community.” important it is to make patients and their families feel as comfortable as possible. She knows well that a smile and a helping hand can sometimes be just what a person needs to lift his or her spirits in the face of what might be a dire situation. “I don’t look at what I do as a job,”

Mainor says. “It’s more of a ministry for me.” That is why she was named the health

Gordon Jackson photo

system’s Star of the Year, an annual award given to the employee who most exemplifies the kind of care and assistance the

hospital strives to provide. Through her job, Mainor says she often becomes a de facto counselor for people who are going through a rough time as their loved ones, or even they, are hurting. That is why she says her “peopleperson” personality is integral to what she does. She would not have it any other way. “I enjoy my job,” Mainor says. And she also enjoys where she lives. Mainor, a native of Fernandina Beach, Fla., says the small-town pace of Camden County and the strong sense of community make Georgia’s coast an ideal place to live, work and play. Working at the hospital provides her ample opportunities to meet a cross-section of the diverse community that often welcomes new faces. Whether it is a Camden County native or a transfer, new to the town to work at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Mainor looks forward every day to greeting whoever she may meet. Since living in Camden County, Mainor says she has met many new and interesting people and looks forward every day to meeting more as the county continues to grow. – Michael Hall

PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 27


Jim Crandall |

Ministry turns to physical healing In an ever changing healthcare environment, Advance Rehabilitation and their Physical Therapists go above and beyond to ensure patient satisfaction. Advance Rehabilitation has been a presence in the Golden Isles since 2002. Known for their personal attention and ability to make each treatment fun and functional, the Physical Therapists not only treat patients they become a part of their lives. Carla Rozier is just one of the dedicated therapists at Advance Rehabilitation. Carla is originally from Jesup and moved to St. Simons Island in 2010 to join the Advance team. She received her Bachelor of Science and Masters of Physical Therapy in 2007 and her Doctorate of Physical Therapy from Shenandoah University in 2009. “The patients in the Golden Isles have been incredible to me” Carla says. “They fill a typical work day with joy and entertainment.” Carla specializes in manual therapy and sports rehabilitation with particular emphasis in golf. She received Titleist Performance Institute Level One Certification in 2011. Since then has worked individually with some of the country’s most notable golfers. “She is excellent at her work and I always feel like I have accomplished the goal of getting better...she really makes the therapy more relaxing with her upbeat attitude.” –Tom Kitchens In addition to serving her patients, Carla has devoted much of her time to supporting her local community. As an experienced runner and golfer and she has supported multiple local charities through Advance Rehabilitation. She is also a dedicated member and volunteer of St. Simons Community Church. “It is rewarding to be a part of these patients’ lives and see them in the community participating in the activities they love” “Carla was my physical therapist following double knee replacement surgery last year and her warm and uplifting personality were a great encouragement to me. Her sense of humor kept me laughing even as I endured the pain of recovery! She’s an extremely knowledgeable therapist but beyond that, you feel that she genuinely cares about you and the progress you are making. She’s a terrific motivator!” – Frances McCrary, Former Patient

Carla Rozier, DPT is a Physical Therapist at Advance Rehabilitation in St. Simons Island, GA. Brunswick ~ 912.280.9205 / St. Simons ~ 912.638.1444 28 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014


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and helping out wherever im Crandall did not MY STORY he could around the area, find himself being Crandall found himself given Southeast Why I live here facing retirement and the Georgia Health “We have so prospect of having more time System’s Volunteer of the many wonderful on his hands. Year award at the Brunswick people here.” Without surprising those hospital by accident. who know him best, Crandall The 76-year-old pastor at What I tell others began volunteering at the the Jekyll Baptist Chapel has about life here hospital, following in the spent much of his life using “I tell them that, footsteps of his father, who his time to help others. It is to me, this area is did the same thing before a dedication to volunteering a hidden jewel. We him. that began in the 1950s as have a community “So when I retired, I a college student at North that is very friendly, decided that is what I was Georgia College, when his very supportive going to do,” Crandall says. fraternity decided to help a and very encouragFor the past 14 years, he needy family at Christmas. ing.” has been spending much of “From then on, it became his time doing whatever is a part of my life,” Crandall asked of him as a volunteer. says. But his work helping in the The 1954 Glynn Academy central prep and recovery graduate then found himself area of the hospital, aiding people who helping youth at First Baptist Church, are going into or coming out of surgery, Brunswick, and doing whatever he could has little to do with gaining notoriety or to serve those in need. recognition. “The main thing for me is “I’ve always been eager to be around being a servant,” Crandall says. people,” Crandall says. “It’s a wonderful Even something as simple as a short thing to help others.” interaction with a smile may make the After a while, he decided that Jesus’ difference in a patient’s day, week or call to be a servant was pulling him month, Crandall says. And with a smile toward seminary, where he found his is always how Crandall approaches his passion as a pastor. service. Decades later, after being one of the – Michael Hall founding members of Manna House

HEALTH CARE MY STORY Why I live here As a Kingsland native, the Georgia coast has a smalltown feel.

What I tell others about life here “I feel that we are a very caring community, and we welcome them.�

Elizabeth Rush | Opportunity to help grows with area


olunteering at Southeast Georgia Health System’s St. Marys hospital is what 88-year-old Elizabeth Rush says keeps her

young. “I may be 88, but I am still on my feet,� Rush says. And the hospital hopes that does not stop anytime soon, especially after she was given the hospital’s Volunteer of the Year award for her service at the system’s Camden County hospital. Since retiring in 1995 from a career as a school teacher, Rush says she has turned her attention to helping others wherever she can. At the St. Marys hospital, she helps by pointing people in the right direction from the front desk when they visit. Although it may seem like a small task, Rush says ensuring people find their loved ones at the hospital or the care they are seeking is as fulfilling as anything she has done. “I just enjoy seeing all the different people that come in,� says Rush, who has always been a social butterfly. Being a “people person� has meant that during the past 10 years, she has been pleased to see the area grow. “I’ve seen a great deal of growth here over the years,� Rush says. She says that has led to a more interesting and diverse set of new people to meet in Camden County.

Gordon Jackson photo

With Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay keeping a steady flow of newcomers in the area, Rush is happy to know that she will continue to have plenty of new people to meet. As long as she is volunteering at the hospital, Rush says she is sure she will continue to develop new relationships that will enrich her life. She also looks forward to continuing to build the relationships she has already developed with hospital staff and patients. – Michael Hall


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creation of the Cancer Care oward Sepp is MY STORY Center at the St. Marys proud of the hospital. Doctors come from growth he has Why I live here the hospital in Brunswick seen during his 11 “The beauty of and work part-time in the years as a Southeast Georgia the Golden Isles is center so cancer patients in Health System vice president certainly an attracCamden County don’t have and the administrator of the tion.” to travel far from home for Camden County hospital at diagnosis, treatment and St. Marys. What I tell others follow-up care. His responsibilities also about life here The health system include oversight for the “We love living completed construction strategic planning and here. It’s a wonderof a new medical plaza business development ful place to raise several years ago, and function for the health a family. People administrators are constantly system. And he must be select this area for adding new technology and doing something right. the quality of life.” making improvements to the The hospital at St. Marys St. Marys hospital, keeping has been named the 2013 Sepp busy. Small Hospital of the Year Sepp, who has worked in by the Georgia Alliance administration positions in hospitals of of Community Hospitals. Sepp says it’s all sizes, says the timing was right when the second time the hospital has won the he accepted his current job. award in the past four years. “In my career, I’ve had the opportunity “We love being recognized for what to work in small, medium and large everybody does,” he says. hospitals,” he says. “I prefer to work in a There is no jealousy or rivalry smaller hospital in a small community. between the health system’s hospitals You won’t ever hear someone say, ‘it’s not in Brunswick and St. Marys, Sepp says. my job.’” In fact, the two facilities work together Sepp says the health system’s reputation to offer health care for patients in both as a great place to work in a community Camden and Glynn counties. with good schools, recreation, shopping “We have a motto: Working together and transportation makes it a good selling works,” he says. “We do things as point when recruiting medical staff. efficiently as we can. We want to be able “We have a very modern, state-of-theto serve the people of Camden County.” art medical facility,” he says. One example of how staff at the health – Gordon Jackson system’s hospitals work together is the

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EddiE bYRd | Caring for people returns friendly rewards

After caring for many of f there is one thing MY STORY the area’s sick and injured Eddie Byrd has learned during the past four years, during his time as a Why I live here Byrd has learned that he gets nurse, it is that compas“I love the beach many of those hellos from sion is always good medicine. and being able to people he served at the hosThe Metter native who relax.” pital, something that reminds found his way to Glynn him that people remember County when he got a job at What I tell others those who show them comSoutheast Georgia Health about life here passion. System seems to have struck “Through it all, Of course, he says he could the perfect balance of experyou always get that never do his job as well as tise and compassion, and has hometown feeling.” he does without the quality been putting it to good use at people and resources availthe hospital. able to him at the hospital. He was named Southeast That goes for everyone from Georgia Health System’s the valets at the front entrance to Chief Nurse of the Year for 2013, something he said has validated his choice to get into the Executive Gary Colberg, Byrd says. “We are more like a family than anything else,” field of health care. Byrd says. “It was a great feeling being recognized Passing that family feeling on to his by my peers,” Byrd says. patients is something Byrd looks forward Now, in his fourth year living and to every day. It is just one of the reasons he working in Glynn County, Byrd says he is loves what he does. happy God answered his prayers to open Byrd may never have planned on landing the proper doors in his life. in the Golden Isles, but now that he has, he Coming to the tight-knit community has wouldn’t have it any other way. Having the been a natural progression for Byrd, who beach and the area’s natural beauty nearby enjoys the small-town aspects of the area. certainly helps, too. “It is a community where everyone says – Michael Hall ‘hello’ to each other,” he says.

Bobby Haven photo

                                

  

PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 33


thE EnViRonMEnt


PROFILES | The Brunswick News

The soft morning light of a spring sunrise over Coastal Georgia offers only a glimpse of the natural beauty created by the complex ecosystem, from ocean waters to maritime forests. From the microorganisms in the tidal mud flats to the giant North Atlantic right whales that migrate here each winter and spring, Coastal Georgia offers one of the unique environmental experiences in the world. The roughly half million acres of salt marshes in Georgia make up approximately one-third of the total marshland that exists along the eastern coast of the United States. Cutting through the marshes is a snake-like system of tidal creeks that, from the window of an airplane, resemble a maze. In the creeks, hundreds of species of fish, shrimp, turtles and dolphins thrive, thanks in large part to water that is rich with nutrients. Scientists often refer to the water in the

creeks and on the beaches of the Golden Isles as an eco-soup, because of the volume of life, both visible and microscopic, that exists in it. Much of the eco-soup can be attributed to the geographic location of Coastal Georgia. Because Brunswick and St. Simons Island are the western most points of the East Coast, the continental shelf in Georgia is long and shallow, meaning the waves are small, the water is warm, rarely clear and always full of life. But the environmental attributes of Coastal Georgia are not limited just to the water. The area is widely regarded as a premier place to spot rare and majestic birds. Everything from shore nesting birds, such as plovers, to raptors, such as bald eagles and ospreys, frequent the area and thrive off its ample fisheries. On land, swaths of maritime forest are covered by palmetto thickets and sprawling live oak trees. With their massive branches reaching outward, covered in resurrection fern and Spanish

A marsh near U.S. 17 and Howard CofďŹ n Park in Brunswick 34 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

moss, the live oaks are, perhaps, the most recognizable symbol of the coast. Rivaling the trees in popularity are miles of beaches stretching out along Georgia’s barrier islands, which range from the nearly untouched and totally wild shorelines of Cumberland Island National Sea Shore and the privately owned Little St. Simons Island to the developed resort areas of St. Simons and Sea islands. In between them all is Jekyll Island, a state park that is partially developed and partially covered in hundreds of acres of maritime forest and miles of constantly evolving dunes. The islands provide a chance for visitors and residents to see all the environmental aspects of the area come together in a pleasing mix of history, mystery and ever-changing splendor. Whether one is in search of a relaxing day at the beach on St. Simons Island, a kayak fishing trip through the creeks or a backpacking trip on Cumberland Island, coastal Georgia provides a one-of-a-kind environmental experience that makes living and visiting here special.



SPUD WOODWARD | People, nature strike a balance

balance between societal and f there is one thing Spud MY STORY scientific interests. Woodward has learned Maintaining a healthy about the Golden Isles Why I live here balance is crucial, because since first visiting the The area offers much of the area’s culture area in the 1960s to camp on excellent outdoor has grown out of the natural Jekyll Island with his parents, world. it is that the natural world here opportunities combined with an Oyster roasts, Lowcountry makes it unique. “Our whole coastal economy easy-going lifestyle. boils and fish fries are all food-oriented lifestyles is based on our natural assets,” “Complementing the natural world connected directly to the says Woodward, the director are our cultural asenvironment of the Golden of the Georgia Department of sets.” Isles, Woodward says. Natural Resources’ Coastal Other traditions, such as Resources Division. What I tell others kayaking through tidal creeks, Whether it is tourism, about life here fishing along the marsh flats fishing, the port or the “This is a place and spending a day at a beach, sprawling live oaks draped with a great quality have also developed out of with Spanish moss, the human interaction with the marshes, creeks and ocean are of life.” natural world. essential to almost all aspects “None of those would exist of life, he says. without the natural features we have here,” And the spectrum of life here is vast, Woodward says. Woodward adds. His hope is that by working to protect “The sheer diversity of life here is the natural features, future generations will unbelievable,” Woodward says. continue to have the opportunity to take As director of the Coastal Resources advantage of what he says makes Coastal Division, Woodward is happy to oversee Georgia special. the state’s management of many of those “It’s always a tough balance to strike,” assets. Woodward adds. But it is not always an easy job, because – Michael Hall he and his colleagues must try to strike a

Bobby Haven photo

Simple lines aspiring for traditional status.

creative ideas. always flowing.

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PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 35


36 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

ENVIRONMENT MY STORY Why I live here “Because of the unique environment and ecology the coast has to offer.”

What I tell others about life here “Life moves a bit slower here because people know how to take their time and enjoy their beautiful surroundings.”

ASHBY NIX | Protecting a river protects a coast, too


he decision to live in the Golden Isles was an easy one for Satilla Riverkeeper Ashby Nix. As a child growing up in Canton, 40 miles north of Atlanta, Nix frequently came to Glynn County to visit her grandmother, former Brunswick state representative Virginia Ramsey. It was during those visits she developed a passion for the unique natural aspects of Coastal Georgia that eventually grew into a career focused on protecting them. “If we don’t have healthy rivers, we don’t have healthy coastlines,” Nix says. After working for several years with the University of Georgia Marine Extension Service restoring oyster beds in the coastal esutaries, Nix earned a master’s degree from Louisiana State University and returned to Glynn County. In 2013, she was hired as Satilla Riverkeeper, a watchdog for an environmental group of the same name that monitors the Satilla River watershed. Today, the river on which she spends much of her time feeds the Atlantic Ocean between Jekyll Island and Cumberland Island, two of the most pristine barrier islands on the East Coast. Maintaining habitats on both of the islands relies heavily on protecting the entire watershed that feeds the river, Nix says. But her passion to preserve the coastal environment may come from a partially selfish

place. Nix enjoys living in Glynn County largely because of the ample outdoor recreational opportunities created by a coastline that has been less affected by the type of development that has grown up in places such as Florida. “We have some really great public areas where we can enjoy what we have,” Nix says. It certainly helps that there are so many friendly and caring people in the community as

well, people who know how to enjoy their lives, she adds. “Life here is a little bit slower, and I think it’s because people are enjoying their surroundings,” Nix says. Avoiding the hustle and bustle of big city life has allowed Nix to find her own place among the natural world she loves so much. – Michael Hall

PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 37



CLAY GEORGE | Life by sea monitors endangered whales

tons, yet the fact they come here to have childhood in Winston-Salem, MY STORY their calves wasn’t discovered until 1979,” N.C., with a few trips to CaroliGeorge says. na beaches was not what pulled Why I live here George knows well how interesting his Clay George to the Golden Isles. “We feel a sense job is and understands the whales add to A backpacking trip to Cumberland Island of community the intrigue of the area. as a teenager was nice, but it still did not living in Old Town It is a place where George is happy to blossom the seed that eventually sprouted Brunswick that live. when he was in graduate school at the we haven’t expeHis wife and daughter enjoy the opUniversity of Georgia. It was then, when rienced anywhere portunities afforded them by living in George spent entire days on beaches studyelse we’ve lived, such a unique place. George is able to ing shore birds along Coastal Georgia’s and the quality of live in a home in the Brunswick Old beaches, that he fell in love with the area. life is excellent.” Town neighborhood, an area listed on the “I spent each day by myself, boating National Registry of Historic Places, have from beach to beach, counting shore birds, What I tell others access to numerous beaches and coastal monitoring the nests,” George said. about life here habitats and enjoy a tight-knit community For the past 10 years, George has lived Many people filled with close friendships he and his and worked here in one of the more unique don’t even realfamily have made in the decade he has jobs in the area. George is a marine bioloize this part of lived in Glynn County. In fact, in 2007, gist who heads the Georgia Department the coast exists. his parents liked the area so much, they of Natural Resources marine mammal “Coastal Georgia is bought a house a few blocks away and program. One of his primary duties each a real gem.” moved here. November to April is monitoring the an“We’ve been here for 10 years, and now nual migration of the North Atlantic right it’s hard to imagine living anywhere else. whales that swim off the coast of Georgia I go to Cumberland Island a few times a to give birth to their calves. year for work, and each time I step foot on that island, With about 450 of the critically endangered right I think about that backpacking trip I took as a teenager whales remaining, the waters here are their only known and the random sequences of events in life that brought calving habitat. me back to this place. I couldn’t be any happier about “What happens in our backyard is critical to whether the way things have worked out,” George said. this species will thrive or disappear. It’s amazing to me – Michael Hall that these animals are 40 feet long and weigh over 40

38 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

Michael Hall photo

Covering The Golden Isles Since 1902



Coastal Cuisine


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A walk along the unspoiled side A boardwalk on Little St. Simons Island leads to a platform that overlooks Norm’s Pond, named for the 11-foot alligator that lives there. 40 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

On Little St. Simons Island, the privately owned preserve is a step back to a land untouched by modern development

If there were a bridge over the Hampton River (and there is not), this is where the road would end and nature begins By MICHAEL HALL

PROFILES | The Brunswick News

The 10-minute boat ride to Little St. Simons Island from the Hampton River Marina on the northern tip of St. Simons Island seems like it should have been much longer after arriving at the destination. This is a world away from the golf courses, restaurants and traffic of St. Simons Island. With several employees of the all-inclusive Little St. Simons Island retreat aboard, the ferry drifted softly to the dock as the morning sun began to cut through a thick fog that had shrouded from view the marsh that surrounds the 10,000-acre island. One step off the boat, and it becomes abundantly clear that all this island shares with its big sister island is a name. Just off the dock are a circa 1917 hunting lodge, a few cabins and a barn that has been Shorebirds at the Atlantic Ocean. converted to meeting and environmental education space. Together, they make up the bulk of development on the island. “What we offer is a unique outdoor experience,” says Scott Greene, general manager of the privately owned island. And that experience is exactly how the island’s majority owners, former U.S. Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and his wife Wendy, want it. With a history that began about A.D. 700 with Guale Indians, progressed through European discovery in 1562 by French explorer Jean Ribeaut – who named the island – and private ownership by plantation owner Pierce Butler in the 1800s, the Eagle Pencil Co. around the turn of the 20th century and private ownership again by Eagle’s president Philip Berolzheimer, Little St. Simons Island has survived the centuries virtually untouched. Despite Eagle’s intention to cut red cedar trees for pencils (which never happened), Butler raising cattle A sign points the way to the beach, beyond island dunes. for a short time and Berolzheimer bringing in exotic game to hunt, Little St. Simons Island remains one of the few places on the East Coast where human beings can experience a barrier island in its unbridled, original splendor. The Paulsons have taken that idea and run with it. In recent years, horses that had been kept on the island for use by guests were removed, because they disturbed the native plants and animals. At the dock, a seawall that had prevented erosion at the bank adjacent to the lodge was removed in favor of a living shoreline project that is in the process of creating an oyster reef for natural erosion control. The outcome is what Scott Coleman, A lodge, built in 1917, is one of only a few buildings on the island. the island’s ecology manager, says is

one of the most untouched wilderness areas in the country. “As a result, we have incredibly intact habitats here,” Coleman says. Driving a truck along one of the few sandy paths on the island that are used as roads, Coleman points out areas where work is being done to restore a creek to its natural state that was altered when cattle grazed on the island. He stops the truck and tromps down a skinny boardwalk to a wildlife viewing blind and points to Norm’s Pond, a spring-fed freshwater pond, where cattle once drank. Beside it, Norm, a nearly 12-foot-long alligator, bathes in the warm sun, covered by duck weed from the water. Coleman explains that the small pond, although not a natural feature, has been there for more than a century and is a prime habitat for migrating birds. Aside from a few places like Norm’s Pond, though, the vast majority of the island is virgin maritime forest, which is best seen from the miles of hiking trails that crisscross the island. To enhance and interpret the experience, one of the naturalists on the island will often walk with visitors and act as a tour guide, pointing out interesting aspects of the island and telling stories about its natural history. On a walk with a small group under the clearest of blue skies, a naturalist stops and points out everything from the massive Treasure Oak, an ancient live oak that shows off some of the old growth on the island, to a group of mushrooms growing on a fallen log, and bright green fungi emerging from the forest floor. Michael Hall photos Taking the Untouched sand dunes. time to notice the smallest aspects of the ecology of the Golden Isles is an opportunity perhaps best found on Little St. Simons Island, where an ecosystem of marshes, creeks, maritime forest and beach habitats is on full display.

The island Little St. Simons Island, which wraps over the northern tip of St. Simons Island, is a privately owned island that is accessible only by paid reservations at designated times. Details about day trips and overnight accommodations are available at 638-7472 or email to

PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 41




Population, 2012 Glynn 81,022 Camden 51,402 Brantley 18,587 McIntosh 13,839 Percent under 18 Glynn 24% Camden 26% Brantley 26% McIntosh 20% Percent 19-64 Glynn 60% Camden 64% Brantley 60% McIntosh 60% Percent over 65 Glynn 16% Camden 10% Brantley 14% McIntosh 20%

To look at the people of Coastal Georgia as a census number can be both accurate and incomplete. The number of 164,850 people living in Glynn, Camden, Brantley and McIntosh counties is accurate (at least as far as a U.S. Census Bureau estimate for 2012 goes). What is incomplete is what it does not say about the overall character of those people. Among them is a mosaic of individuals who trace their roots to the early days of the Georgia colony, people whose families remained after the Civil War, newcomers who have moved from urban centers of the Northeast and Midwest, and some who are as new to the nation as were those early colonists. Together they comprise what Dana Haza, president of United Way of Coastal Georgia, describes as “coastal radiant warmth.” “The members of my community, the Golden Isles, exude this. It shows in how I see we embrace each other and the opportunities in this community,” she says. “I am often inspired by this community’s togetherness. It is ageless and is found in every corner and sector. Whether it is at work, play or doing a project to enhance the quality of our community, the outward beauty of our region is

Source: U.S. Census Bureau estimates

42 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

PROFILES | The Brunswick News

an outward expression of the inner spirit of our citizens.” Former Brunswick Mayor Bryan Thompson felt it personally when he decided to move to Brunswick after a short visit for business in the mid-1990s. “It felt very warm. It felt very genuine and felt very much like home,” Thompson says. Thompson had spent much of the previous two decades hopscotching among cities in the Midwest and Southeast, so the welcoming nature of the people here stuck with him. “You spend two nights here and you are part of the community,” he says. After he moved here permanently in the late 1990s, he quickly learned how accurate his assessment of the people was. “This is not a stereotypical Southern community. It is truly a melting pot,” he says. That assessment of a community formed by a mosaic of people proved to be even more prescient when he was elected mayor in 2005. Thompson became mayor with no ties to the area other than a deep passion to serve the community with which he had fallen in love. After serving the maximum two terms, his feelings about the community in and around Glynn County are as strong as they have ever been. “If you make this your home, you will not be alone. This community will stand by you,” he says.


DUANE HARRIS | Connections to the coast and the past

MY STORY Why I live here “The marshes, the beaches, the marine fisheries — it doesn’t really get much better than Coastal Georgia.�

What I tell others about life here “If they’ve been here, I don’t need to bring anything up. All I need to say is, ‘Look around you.’ All it takes is someone to come down here and live here for a while, and they know how special this area is. It’s really a great place to live.�


uane Harris became interested in marine science while living on Guam during high school. That passion brought him to the Golden Isles on July 1, 1970, when he was hired fresh out of Colorado State University by the state of Georgia. For the final 18 years of his career with the Department of Natural Resources, he served as director of the Coastal Resources Division. “We feel like we did a pretty good job of managing our marine fisheries in Coastal Georgia,� Harris says. Now retired, Harris still finds ways to stay involved with the Isles’ natural beauty, through Sea Georgia Adventures. “I’ve been involved in a lot of different things,� Harris says. “Now I’m a fishing guide, and I do some ecotours and some environmental consulting. But come June 30, I’ll stop all of that.� Harris also fills his time by giving back through various foundations. He has served in the past as chairman on several boards, including the St. Simons Land Trust and the College of Coastal Georgia Foundation. While Harris has pared down some of his board workload, he is still heavily involved with the college foundation, which develops private resources to support the college. “Moving from a two-year to a four-year

school was high on a lot of people’s bucket list of things to see happen in this community,� Harris says. “The (Brunswick-Golden Isles) Chamber of Commerce was promoting it, and I was very involved with the chamber at that time. We all worked together to make that happen. “The community has embraced it, they’re proud of it and they support it. We’ve just been fortunate to have two great presidents during this transition.� Harris is also involved with Friends of Coastal Georgia History, a small organization of about 100 members that supports various history-related projects in the area. “We’ve supported things at Fort King George, Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation and at the Coastal Georgia Historical Society. We simply get together and talk about history,� he says. “People know we donate funds, so they apply for grants to do various things.� One of the group’s recent successes is publishing a pamphlet that locates all of the historic markers on St. Simons Island. “There was no such guide, so we did some research and came up with a bi-fold pamphlet that people can pick up at the welcome centers or various other locations,� Harris says. “If they are interested in historical markers, this is a road map for them.� – Buddy Hughes

Bobby Haven photo

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ED HOSE | Life is grand, even without mermaids along coast

fter living in the area 13 years, Ed Hose has made a name for herself as a go-to artist for something unique. The work of the prolific Brunswick illustrator can be seen dressing up vacant storefronts, on menus and in the decor of a downtown restaurant. Hose loves having the challenge and opportunity to develop new ideas while helping a local business with its branded identity. “Nothing thrills me more MY STORY then a phone call of someone requesting a dancing pig in a Why I live here polka dot bikini or a family of “The supermarfish in a golf cart,” says Hose, ket. I cannot go who has been doing freelance there without runartwork for 15 years. “The ning into people I chance to think conceptually know. Personally, I and develop new icons, love that.” characters, menus, maps, products and illustrations for a What I tell others company is a passion for me. about life here “I would also relish the “I think this is a opportunity to illustrate more great place to raise books for local authors. I see children. I am glad a wealth of opportunity every to raise my boys time I open my eyes here, and in an environment I love that.” While Hose loves that I feel nurtures the area, most people she who they are.” knows who are not from the Golden Isles can’t understand

We are excited to be part of the St. Simons Island The one dream for Hose would be to create murals why she would live in “the middle of nowhere.” “I can’t community! At BrandMortgage, believe in the secret reflecting Coastalwe Georgia’s beauty, thus letting tell you how many times I have heard, ‘I didn’t know out of the bag. Georgia had a coast’,” she says. providing our possible service “My dream is to create a series of whimsical murals That apparent lack of knowledge aboutclients the geographythe best of the area may be an added incentive for why the mother dotted along the coast,” she says. “Most of my drawings traditional mortgage are intended to be printed large, and I have a grand vision of two has and stayed forloan so long. products. We offer for a series of mermaids intermingling with local wildlife “That might be part of the attraction. Living in the financing as well as a variety of exclusive portfolio in our amazing habitats.” Golden Isles feels like a beautiful secret, especially to – Martin Rand III those who don’t have a map,” she products sosays.your mortgage needs are always covered. Michael Hall photo


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223 Rose Dr. Brunswick, GA


Bobby Haven photo

the ability to produce music is hen John Girton MY STORY “unbelievable.” celebrated his “I played in the band first Christmas Why I live here growing up. We had music in in the Golden “There is just a schools when I was growing Isles in 2005, the former peaceful feeling up,” Girton says. “It’s one of Cincinnati resident found the first things we’re cutting in himself the envy of his former here. It took me back to when I the curriculums, and I think northern neighbors. was growing up. that’s really sad. It’s a healthy “My first Christmas here I Especially on St. outlet. Not everybody is was grilling salmon steaks on Simons, people sports-oriented, but when you the deck and had Christmas look at you in your have your bands and choirs jazz playing,” Girton said. “I eyes and speak for kids, it’s another fantastic took a picture of myself in to you. It’s just a outlet for kids.” shorts and sent it back home. wonderful spot.” Girton also plays a role in I got a lot of snide comments, helping people who need food but I loved it.” What I tell others get it. He spends quite a bit of Girton had retired from about life here time at Manna House, a comCincinnati Bell telephone “We’re located in munity meals programs, and company and wanted to retire a great spot. I love also delivers bread to a variety in Georgia to be closer to his the weather and of organizations, including mother, who lived in Athens. like being near the Sparrows Nest, Salvation But Girton also wanted to be ocean. There are Army and Second Harvest. near the water. So after com“I deliver bread all over the paring the Savannah area with just so many positives about being city, and I’m meeting some the Golden Isles, he moved to in this area.” fantastic people that way, as St. Simons Island. well,” Girton says. “All of the “I thought I had moved to boards that I’m on are workutopia at first. Being on St. ing boards. They’re not just Simons Island, everybody making decisions. You have to be handswas so nice. It just seemed like the perfect on.” place.” Girton picked up his dedication to comGirton, who now lives in Brunswick and works at the 911 call center, integrated him- munity service while in Cincinnati working self into the community with the help of his with groups such as the African-American Leadership Conference and Urban League. church, Lord of Life Lutheran Church on He brought that same desire with him when St. Simons Island. He says he was embraced by the church the moment he began he moved to the Isles. “When I moved to Glynn County, one worshipping there and through the church, of my first goals was to find a good church Girton found a way to give back to the community and to get involved with the community. community in some way. Sitting on the His love of music made serving on the boards has really fulfilled my desire there.” Coastal Youth Symphony board a natural – Buddy Hughes fit. He says helping young people develop

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PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 45

Help Us Save the Skeet House We invite you to help preserve part of America’s history.

The Jekyll Island Club Era Skeet House is in a state of disrepair and is in need of your generous support. The Jekyll Island Foundation is raising funds to relocate and rehabilitate the building for educational purposes.

Help us save the Skeet House for generations to come.


46 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

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PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 47


ALBERT FENDIG | Life in Isles paints a perfect picture

MY STORY Why I live here “I think it’s the magic of the area. It’s captivating and makes you want to improve it and help it succeed. There’s also a good change of climate. It’s just a beautiful place.”

What I tell others about life here “It’s a solid place to live and raise a family. If you come here with the right values – preserving and protecting what we have – then we’re able to hold on to some aspect of true life.”


here’s so much more to Albert Fendig than his 40-year tenure as a lawyer or his deep-rooted love for the Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation. Just look inside his shed. Located outside his picturesque home, you will find a sea of portraits, landscapes and plein air depictions along the walls. The ones that capture the Golden Isles’ beauty, from moss-covered live oaks to tall grasses of the marshes, are ones that draw his attention. There’s no doubt about it: When it comes to the Golden Isles, Fendig has a particular soft spot for his hometown, and that’s why he continues to help whenever he can. Born into a family of lawyers, Fendig began his road to law at the University of Georgia at Athens in 1949, where he played football and later met his future wife, Joyce. Fendig entered the United States Naval Academy on a football scholarship, but after breaking both knees, his football career was over. He once again pursued a law degree. Soon after receiving his degree, he began his own practice in 1958, which required that he take on litigation abroad. While law absorbed much of his time

in the Isles and overseas, Fendig turned to his other love: painting. Something he’s been fond of since he was 13 years old. “After I retired in 2000, my art became my vocation,” Fendig says. It was combined with his love of history. Whether he’s setting oil paints to canvas or taking part in community affairs, Fendig is always looking to promote what the Golden Isles has to offer. He established the Coastal Georgia Historical Society, a group dedicated to preserving and maintaining the area’s past, and Friends of Hofwyl, a volunteer group to support Hofwyl-Broadfield Plantation, where he is a former trustee. “There’s a lot of history here, and I think it’s important that we preserve and protect what we have for future generations,” Fendig says. As for the art community, Fendig won’t be putting down the paint brushes anytime soon. “(Joyce) and I have played tennis, have scuba-dived and traveled to many places in the world, but painting is something I can always come back to and enjoy, because I’m creating something. I enjoy capturing the area’s beauty and sharing it with others.” – Brittany Tate

Bobby Haven photo

The Golden Isles’ true Private Country Club is available for Catered Events accommodating groups of up to 300. Established in 1920, with a golf course designed by the legendary Donald Ross and recent restoration by Love Golf. Amenities include the beautiful and spacious clubhouse with dining rooms, two bars, private meeting rooms, fully stocked golf shop, locker rooms, swimming pool, fitness center, resident teaching professional and an excellent staff. Club Members enjoy a lively social calendar and active golf associations. Membership categories include Full Golf, Social, Non-Resident, Winter, Corporate & Junior - each with a reasonable dues schedule. For membership information dial 912-2644377 X5. For Catered Events Dial X8 or email

48 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014


LUCY LYNN BRYSON | Stage lights shine on new generation

MY STORY Why I live here “It feels like home. This might be weird, but I love the smell of the marsh (and) I love the fighting, supportive spirit of the area.”

What I tell others about life here “We will surprise you. So many people say you have to live in a big city if you want to have things to do, and the fact of the matter is, on any given day or weekend I’m constantly annoyed because there are so many things to do that I can’t be at them all.”


orn and reared in the Golden Isles, Lucy Lynn Bryson knows well what this city is made of. But still, she’s amazed at how her hometown continues to grow for the better. Bryson ventured out of the Golden Isles shortly after her high school graduation, attending Columbus State University for her undergraduate degree and then University of Central Florida for graduate school. During her time away, she worked in theater and arts programs in Georgia, Florida, Massachusetts and Kentucky, and directed at the Orlando Repertory Theatre. Bryson moved back to Brunswick permanently at the end of 2011, when she was offered a part-time position with Golden Isles Arts and Humanities. On stage herself, Bryson has acted in several productions of the Brunswick Actors’ Theatre, Golden Isles Arts and Humanities and Island Players. Her part-time job became full-time, and as education director of Golden Isles Arts and Humanities, Bryson is excited about her role in promoting literacy. “I love using everything I’ve learned – sometimes with some serious pushing by wonderful mentors – about theater, art and education pretty much every day. I’m

always kept on my toes, and working on a variety of things simultaneously,” she says. Since she has been with Golden Isles Arts and Humanities, the organization has added the Young Actors Ensemble, a program for teenagers focused on the craft of acting. “I love that every week I promote literacy, design and implement programs for young people, create silly memes for our Facebook page, and teach/play with students, ranging from 3-year-olds to 18-yearolds. What’s not to love about that?” While she feels honored to have helped create some of the programs, Bryson – who is on the board of Heather House of Glynn and St. James Lutheran Church, on the reading committee for Island Players and volunteers monthly with Manna House – says she’s nowhere near done pushing the organization to academic and theatrical excellence. “There’s a frightfully long list of things I want to do, (but) continuing to find ways to make our current programs better is certainly on the short list,” she says. “It’s a unique and rewarding experience to help create something that other people love to come participate in.” – Brittany Tate

Bobby Haven photo

PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 49


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PHIL MORRISON | Global rhythm reverberates from Isles

hil Morrison’s music has won him awards and helped him travel the world, but he will always have a special place in his heart for the Golden Isles. Having lived here the past 20 years, the 79-year-old finds that the MY STORY Golden Isles gives him a Why I live here tranquil vibe “As a composer like no other and songwriter, city in which he I find the atmohas lived. sphere conducive He has lived to creativity.” in Boston, Atlanta, Tokyo, What I tell others Rio de Janeiro about life here and Shanghai, “The upside of but none of living in this area is them managed the relaxing atmoto grab hold of sphere, the moderthe coastal jazz ate climate and musician and general warmth of get him to settle the people.” down like the Golden Isles has. While he enjoys working in other parts of the world, he says he always finds great relief when he gets back to the peaceful environment of the Golden Isles. The serenity that it has brought to his life helped him create songs like “Sunset by the Sea” and “Take Me to the Coast of Geor-


gia,” which was named the official song of Coastal Georgia by a Brunswick City Commission. “(That song) captures the feeling I have for this area and, apparently, many of those who have heard the song feel the same way,” Morrison says. Morrison usually performs with The Phil Morrison Trio, a jazz band whose tunes can be heard at events around the area, especially during summer. He always wants

his music to have an uplifting and positive effect on people who are listening. In addition to playing with his band to give people a good feeling about life, Morrison uses his music to try to bring people together who may think, live or act differently. He is a member of the Robert S. Abbott Race Unity Institute and the Bahá’í of Glynn County. A key principle of the Bahá’í faith is the

Michael Hall photo

unification of all people, and Morrison, having also written songs about the life of Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela, is all about unifying people. “I hope to contribute to bringing about greater unity between people of different backgrounds,” Morrison says. “(My organization and faith group) strives to contribute their efforts in that regard.” – Martin Rand III

JOYCE BASON | Helping others makes life rich in small city

MY STORY Why I live here “My husband and I moved to St. Marys because we both came from small towns, and we wanted to get away from the business of Jacksonville. There are so many things you can do because of our location.”

What I tell others about life here “It’s a wonderful place to live. The climate is fantastic, the community is terrific.”


oyce Bason had a decision to make 13 years ago when her husband died. She considered moving back to Jacksonville, where they had lived before moving to St. Marys two years earlier. She also considered moving closer to other family members in Chicago or Atlanta. Instead, she decided to remain and become an active member of the community. It’s a decision she does not regret. “When we lived in Jacksonville, I didn’t have an opportunity to give back to the community,” she says. “When you’re retired, you’re looking for things to do.” She volunteered to help with the Meals on Wheels program for the St. Marys United Methodist Church and became an active member of Camden Area Players, a group that works to bring live theater performances to the city. She joined the Guale Historical Society and now is a board member for the organization that works to preserve local history. “I didn’t realize we were such an old city until I got involved,” she says. She is also the scholarship chair for the Kings

Bay chapter of the Navy League, a citizens advocacy group for naval force, and an active member of the Kiwanis Club of St. Marys. “I totally support all their activities with the festivals,” she says. Bason says her decision to remain in Camden County was the right one. “I don’t think anyone should say they’re bored

Gordon Jackson photo

or don’t have anything to do,” she says. St. Marys is close enough to Jacksonville and Glynn County to visit friends and attend cultural events when she isn’t volunteering for civic organizations. She tells her friends St. Marys is her home, and she can’t imagine living anywhere else. – Gordon Jackson

PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 51


PAMELA MUELLER | Lives from past tell overlooked stories


Bobby Haven photo

disappointment when I discovered that no amela Mueller and her husband Mike MY STORY one had written his epic journey. I quickly fell in love while students at the Fedlocated his descendants living on (St. Sieral Law Enforcement Training Center, Why I live here mons Island) and Brunswick, went to them in 1988. They also became intrigued for their permission to write about him, and with the area surrounding FLETC. “Living in Coastal gratefully accepted their assistance in findThey got a chance to move back to the area in Georgia is magical. ing the research to write his life-affirming 2000 when Mike Mueller became an instructor Where else can story.” at FLETC. Pamela Mueller, who had spent 18 you have perfect Mueller was also named Georgia Author years working as a flight attendant and 12 as weather for eight of the Year in 2008 and 2009 to go along a U.S. Customs inspector, was focused on her months of the with three Mom’s Choice Awards. She is career as an author when the couple returned to year?” also a silver medal winner in the Indepenthe Golden Isles. What I tell others dent Publisher’s Book Awards. Mueller, who lives on Jekyll Island, was a about life here Inspiration has come in many forms for children’s author before moving to Georgia, but Mueller. For her past two novels, people she began focusing more on historical novels “Southern have suggested characters she might find soon after arriving to the area. people are warm interesting. She followed up on the sugges“As a writer, I find that the rich history of and hospitable tions with her own research. this area intrigues me to delve into the lives of – something I “I have two prerequisites when choosing the people who lived here before us,” Mueller yearned for after my historical characters,” Mueller says. “I says. “I think I’ve just begun finding intriguing living 18 years want to find a person whose story needs to protagonists whose stories need to be told.” in Mexico City, be told and has not been written in novel Mueller’s change of focus has brought her Mexico.” form. I need a person that young adults will national acclaim. She was named Georgia Aurelate to and also learn some history from thor of the Year three times, including in 2006 reading the story. for her first historical novel “Neptune’s Honor.” “I must admire and like this person as well, warts and The idea of writing about Neptune Small, a Civil War slave all. By the time I’ve finished my research, my new characwho remained loyal to his plantation owner’s family, was ter has become my best friend, and I will live with her/him planted during a trolley tour on St. Simons Island. forever, so it’s very important that I find my characters to “I listened passionately as I heard the story of Neptune be exhilaratingly human.” Small and immediately set out to find and read books – Buddy Hughes about him,” Mueller says. “Imagine my surprise and

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Serving buyers and sellers of property on St. Simons and Sea Island Joe Wills strives to understand his clients’ goals and stays current with trends, opportunities and market conditions. He finds it rewarding to help people find their dream home on the Georgia Coast. Joe brings marketing, statistics, and research disciplines to real estate. His conviction that the South and the Georgia Coast is the best of all places to live is infectious. Joe has been been honored by Hodnett Cooper Real Estate as Agent of the Year. Prior to launching his real estate career in 2001, Joe spent over 25 years in high-end hospitality and private club operations with nationally known landmarks including Augusta National Golf Club, Sea Island Resorts, The Concession Golf Club and Brunswick Country Club. This experience has provided Joe with an energetic work ethic, service heart, and marketing and development expertise. Joe is active in both professional organizations and personal pursuits. He is President of the Friends of Coastal Georgia History, volunteers with Manna House, St. Simons Land Trust and serves as Committee Chair for The McGladrey Classic. Joe is an Elder at St. Simons Presbyterian Church and has ridden in the Bicycle Ride Across Georgia (BRAG) twice. When not working Joe enjoys golf, cycling, fishing, kayaking, cooking, music and reading.

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Joe and wife Stacy make their home on St. Simons Island where they live with their three sons and sweet yellow lab, Maggie.



PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 53


DOUG VAUGHT | Alliance tries to put area in the movies

MY STORY Why I live here “I live in St. Marys because I like the small-town atmosphere, all the people and the Southern hospitality. I like the lifestyle of a small town.”

What I tell others about life here “The weather’s great out here. While everyone’s covered in snow, we’re in shortsleeves. It’s a golfcart friendly city. I can’t find anything not to like about it.”


oug Vaught learned the importance of community service when he served as a public affairs police officer in Wayne County. He accepted a similar job at the St. Marys Police Department in 1986 and later worked in Kingsland, where he had the same responsibility. He taught safe home, personal safety and DARE programs and helped establish neighborhood watch programs in Camden County. He has also been a member of the St. Marys Downtown Merchant’s Association and has been involved with planning local festivals. His communications skills led to a stint as a radio reporter until it moved to Jacksonville in 2001. Then, he was a morning show disc jockey. He is often seen behind the mic as master of ceremonies at festivals, fundraisers and other public events. But his involvement in the community doesn’t stop there. Vaught has been busy with three major activities that challenge his time management skills. He is chairman of the Coastal Georgia Film Alliance and also serves as a location manager and location scout. The film alliance works to attract movie producers to the region and them helps scout locations, find actors and extras for minor roles and get the permits necessary for a film project. The alliance has played a role luring producers

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to make three full-length movies, more than a dozen short films and three TV shows in the area. Vaught and his wife, Jeanne, also bought the train depot building at the Gilman Paper Co. site, which closed in 2002, and transformed the building into the Theatre by the Trax, where the St. Marys Little Theatre performs plays, and where concerts and other events are held. And he works as station manager for St. Marys Railroad, which operates a tourist train

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ride from the depot, and is at the mic as narrator during the themed rides. He came to St. Marys 28 years ago because it was a “sleepy little village” he thought would be a good place for him and his son. When he tells people about the region, he offers friendly advice. “You have to slow your pace down a whole lot,” he said. “You won’t find a friendlier place in the Southeast. People make friends fast.” – Gordon Jackson



Sea Palms Resort & Conference Center

Helping others keeps life on course






Garrett Cook. left, at Boys and Girls Club

A year ago, as a Glynn fter graduating MY STORY Academy student, Cook won from high school, the Boys and Girls Club a lot of teenagers Why I live here Youth of the Year Award for dream of going “I toured the the southeast district. It was a away to college. campus (of College recognition of his success in But when, like Garrett of Coastal Georgia) school, community service, Cook, you have a growing and after researchmoral character, public college in your hometown ing, I saw it was a speaking and other accolades – with a $500 scholarship good school.� from the Boys and Girls Club awaiting if you enroll – center. warm weather nearly all year What I tell others With the new challenge of long and beaches on barrier about life here college, he has not been able islands, why choose to leave “It’s extremely to help at the teen center as the Golden Isles? hot in the summuch as he would like. That is what led Cook to mer.� “I’m not there as much, enroll at College of Coastal because of my college work Georgia this past autumn to now, but I visit when I can to begin his collegiate career. see if any help is needed,� he says. “What Now deep into his second semester, he the teen center has done for me, I’ll be couldn’t be happier with his decision to glad to give back anytime.� stay in the city he’s known his whole life. Even outside the Boys and Girls Club, Not only does he have the satisfaction Cook continues his helpful ways, always of passing all his first-semester classes in displaying his ear-to-ear smile while doing pursuit of an associate degree in physical it. He spends a lot of time volunteering at therapy, he can still hang out with his childhood friends and visit his family on a the college library as a computer technical aid. daily basis. “It’s great to help people, because I An added bonus for Cook is that he can needed help when I got (to school), so now visit The Boys and Girls Club’s Elizabeth that I know how to use the system, I can F. Correll Teen Center in Brunswick, an return the help,� he says. organization he has been involved with – Martin Rand III since he was 10 years old.



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JACK McCONNELL | World sails in and out of port

MY STORY Why I live here “It is a generous place. It may not be a rich town, but there is always someone willing to give.”

What I tell others about life here “That they will be surprised by the depth of the arts here. Between the symphony, youth symphony, all of the artists and acting troupes in the area, it is surprising. You expect it in a major city, but you don’t here.”



ack McConnell had lived in port cities before, during his time in Alexandria, Va., and the District of Columbia. But it was not until he moved with his wife back to her hometown of Brunswick that he realized how special living near an international port really is. As a board member and former director of the International Seafarers Center in Brunswick, McConnell spends much of his time helping the seafarers who call on Brunswick get supplies they may need, make a trip to a store and make phone calls home. Working with people from so many different countries eventually sparked a new idea for McConnell: Bring school children to the Port of Brunswick for a cultural and economics lesson. “We are able to expose children to people from other cultures,” says McConnell, director of the Port as Classroom Project. “It gives them a chance to see what it is like. A lot of people have no idea what goes in and out of the ports here.” And there is plenty to see at the port terminals. Whether it is a ship carrying agricultural products such as wood pellets to Europe or a car-carrying ship coming to Brunswick hauling hundreds of automobiles from Japan or Korea, the Port of Brunswick’s connection to the international community makes it one of the most unique aspects of the Golden Isles, McConnell says. For the men and women aboard the ships

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calling on Brunswick, though, home is often thousands of miles and several months away. That is why McConnell says he enjoys helping them so much. When at sea, a quick trip to the store is not an option for essential items, such as toothpaste and a toothbrush. In addition to the international connection,

the combination of the Colonel’s Island and Mayor’s Point terminals is responsible for thousands of jobs, he said. For McConnell, Brunswick and Glynn County would be a very different place without the port. – Michael Hall

MAUREEN AHERN | Hometown is place to reach to world

MY STORY Why I live here “The generous giving spirit, beautiful surroundings and the pace of life.”

What I tell others about life here “It’s paradise. You have to visit it to believe it.”


aureen Ahern had no plans to start a mission in Africa while she was living on Georgia’s coast. In fact, she had no plans of staying here for good when she moved to the area from Boston nearly 25 years ago with her husband to manage Little St. Simons Island. Today, thinking about the past two decades from her home in McIntosh County’s Shellman’s Bluff community, Ahern now says she would not want it any other way. Ahern quickly learned how giving the Glynn and McIntosh county communities were 10 years ago when she started Our Journey, a nonprofit organization working to address the desperate situation of orphans and vulnerable children affected by HIV and AIDS in Kenya and Zimbabwe. “I didn’t realize just how much help I would need,” Ahern says. Luckily, Ahern says she was able to help those in need on the other side of the world, thanks primarily to the generous attitude of

56 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

the Golden Isles. “It is a supportive community like ours that makes Our Journey possible,” Ahern says. She says every year the mission has been in operation, grants and gifts from sources such as the Episcopal Church Women of Christ Church, Frederica and its annual tour of homes, as well as others from around the community, have kept alive her dream of helping children with no way to help themselves. The generous spirit, combined with opportunities to help locally through Manna House, a community meals program, and other charities has made the area the perfect place for her, she says. “This is now home,” she says. “It’s the big hearts that make it all possible.” The coastal pace of life and the beauty of the area’s natural landscape only make life here for Ahern even better. A place where she expected to be temporarily turned out to be the perfect place to live. – Michael Hall



GENE THREATS | Return to art helps others find expression

itting along the walls and the a banker. MY STORY floor of Gene Threats’ apart“My mother would say, ‘Son, I didn’t ment are matte board paintsend you to college for art to work in a Why I live here ings of people and historical bank.’ But it taught me so much. I learned landmarks. Some are steeped in how to be professional and how to dress “I think BrunsAfrican-American history. Others give wick, with all of professionally. Things that you need to a snapshot of life in the Golden Isles. learn for other jobs. I learned everything the islands, is But they all utilize a tool that not many becoming an art you need to know about the bank,” Threats artists in the area use: color pencils. says. town, and I would Threats has been interested in fine In 1996, his life changed when he was like to produce my arts for as long as he can remember, diagnosed with kidney failure. He had to artwork here if I crediting his passion for drawing to quit his job as a banker and spend most of can. And there are his mother, a seamstress and designer. his days at the hospital in dialysis. different things to “While she was sewing, I would sit at “I spent four hours, three times a week capture here.” the foot of the sewing machine and in dialysis, and one day while I was in the draw,” Threats says. What I tell others hospital, God called out to me and said, He and his mother moved from ‘Now you have all the time in the world to about life here Butler to Brunswick when he was a work on your art,’” he says, adding that he “There are a lot teenager. He attended Glynn Academy, received a life-saving kidney transplant at of historical things where his love for drawing flourished the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta here that showafter spending some time with Bill in May 2000. case the Golden Hendrix, a local artist who became Threats turned to color pencil illustraIsles.” a source of inspiration. Shortly after tion, something he had learned at Valdosta graduating in 1976, Threats, who is State. He worked part-time as a freelancer inspired by Norman Rockwell and photographer and is now an adjunct art French impressionism, began his journey to a career instructor at College of Coastal Georgia. “Everybody in art when he attended Valdosta State University. It can draw. It’s your version of what you see and how was there that he fine-tuned his craft in printmaking you see it. You can express how you feel, and we all and received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in art. have our own way of expressing ourselves. I want to However, with few job openings available in his help others with their perspective and show them they field of choice and his mother’s health in poor condican do anything they put their minds to,” he says. tion, Threats returned to Glynn County and became – Brittany Tate

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PROFILES | The Brunswick News

Faith Chapel in the Jekyll Island historic district

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Religious congregations have been gathering along the shores of the Golden Isles since the days when John and Charles Wesley roamed the oak-covered grounds near Fort Frederica in the 1730s. Communities of Methodists, Presbyterians, Baptists, Catholics, Episcopalians and others have grown from small pockets of members to building sanctuaries that house many. Some established churches are celebrating big milestones – such as St. Simons United Methodist Church celebrating its 75th anniversary – while younger churches such as St. Simons Community Church and The Chapel in Brunswick expand to make their own mark in the community. Ecumenical missions feed the hungry, clothe the poor and provide rehabilitation services for the needy. Organizations such as the Gathering Place build programs to develop the youth as tomorrow’s disciples, while FaithWorks Ministries opens emergency shelters on cold nights as part of its homeless initiative. “It’s only through mission and ministry, caring for one another, accepting people and sharing the love of Christ that we are able to foster relationships with others right where they are,” says the Rev. Craig Hartzog of Northside Baptist Church. Twice a year, on St. Simons Island, many of these faith communities gather for community services at Thanksgiving and Easter, showing a bond of unity while celebrating differences. “We have a vibrant faith community here that represents many styles of worship and a wide range of theologies. We don’t all worship in the same way, but we do have a history of this oneness of faith that, hopefully, will continue on,” says the Rev. Bob Brearley, senior pastor at St. Simons Presbyterian Church. One of the unifying factors for many people in the Golden Isles can be found on the sandy shores, where walks along the beach can cause some to contemplate God’s grand designs in their lives, says Rabbi Rachael Bregman. “I love just walking outdoors, and I am outside as much as possible. Sunset is a very spiritual and special time ... that transition from day to night. It’s a powerful moment for the soul to stop, breathe and witness the majesty of God’s hand,” says Bregman, who this past summer became the first resident rabbi for Temple Beth Tefilloh in more than 50 years. Bregman, who moved to the Golden Isles from Atlanta, has enjoyed getting to know the Golden Isles. She is part of several faith-based study groups as well as a women’s ministry group that includes women from a variety of faith backgrounds. “The people that live here are really engaging, and there’s a vitality to what they do,” she said. The Rev. Marcia Cochran, senior pastor of St. Simons United Methodist Church, agrees that a community is only as vibrant as the people that join together in worship. “The diversity of the people’s experiences and backgrounds adds a lot to a church. Lots of people have moved here from other places and bring with them their own perspective,” she says.


BOB BREARLEY | Area rich in different faith traditions

MY STORY Why I live here “I had been pastoring at White Bluff Presbyterian Church in Savannah for 12 years when a search committee from St. Simons Presbyterian Church came to visit me. They invited me to pastor here once I was finished in Savannah. So, I prayed a lot and decided it was the best thing for me and my family.�

What I tell others about life here “I really love the diversity of people. They come from all over the nation and intentionally choose to live here.�


he Rev. Bob Brearley wanted to make sure his choice to go into ministry was his own and not because he came from a long line of Presbyterian ministers. So he studied history and English literature at Presbyterian College in South Carolina with the intention of becoming an English teacher. But midway through an English literature master’s program, he felt a calling to the clergy. “I always knew ministry was an option, but I wanted it to be a real choice and not because of my family,� the senior pastor at St. Simons Presbyterian Church says. “Midway through getting my master’s, I had another conversation with God and realized that I wanted to go into theology for myself and for my family.� Brearley moved to St. Simons Island in June 1998 and has led the Presbyterian congregation in worship at 205 Kings Way, St. Simons Island, ever since. One of the many aspects that Brearley continues to find exciting about the Golden Isles is the strong history of faith found across the island.

“This area has a rich tradition of supporting different expressions of faith, and we can’t forget that. We have to be intentional about working as one large faith community,� he says. Two examples of that ecumenical attitude are annual services at Thanksgiving and Easter, when many island churches converge to worship together. For Brearley, who organizes the logistics for the Thanksgiving services each year, the shared moments of faith are a beautiful tradition, but more could be done throughout the year. Describing himself as a “stewardship fella,� Brearley says he hopes St. Simons Presbyterian Church, in particular, will continue its outreach programs and take on active roles within the community. “I feel that for several years now, churches have been in survival mode rather than a generous mode. I hope we continue to grow in our generosity and keep trying to be a church that involves its laity. We are more involved in each others’ lives and in the community, which is a good thing, but there’s always more we can do,� he says. – Bethany Leggett

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60 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014


RACHAEL BREGMAN | Deepening faith reaches into area MY STORY Why I live here “The congregation is amazing. That’s why I came here … They have crafted a faith-based community for a century and a half, and I wanted to be a part of that.”

What I tell others about life here “This is a beautiful place to live. I was telling a friend in Atlanta about all the concerns I have with social justice issues, and he looked at me and said, ‘At least you get to think about this while walking on the beach.’ He’s so right.” Bobby Haven photo



alking into Wake Up Coffee on St. Simons Island, Rachael Bregman settles into a corner table where she spends many an afternoon meeting with friends, neighbors and members of Temple Beth Tefilloh. Bregman, the first female rabbi in the temple’s history, says it was the hospitality within the congregation as well as meeting others outside the synagogue’s walls that made her transition this past summer from Atlanta to the Golden Isles a smooth one. “I really enjoy the people I interact with. I feel at home no matter where I go, and everyone is so warm and friendly. People know who you are wherever you go. It’s like the bar in ‘Cheers,’” says the native Bostonian, who became the first rabbi to live fulltime in the Golden Isles in the past 50 years. And she’s been quite busy in her first year leading the Jewish community that meets at 1326 Egmont St., Brunswick. She has held a Shabbat service at her home, presided over the High Holy Days and celebrated Hanukkah with friends. She also con-

tributes to an interfaith study group and remains connected to friends and young adults in Atlanta. “There’s an exciting energy here. People are really showing up and being brave and getting involved with activities that may be outside their comfort zones,” she says. In particular, Bregman has felt a calling to social justice concerns, including human trafficking, homelessness and downtown revitalization projects. “It’s that idea if you teach a person to fish, you feed them for life. We should be instituting effective interventions that allow for self-sufficiency through all levels of the community,” she says. Bregman says she hopes the next 50 years sees the Jewish community continuing to deepen its faith with serious Judaism practices while also branching out into these other service areas. “We live in a beautiful area, and most of us are very lucky, but there are still important aspects to look at,” she says. – Bethany Leggett

JOHN KENNEALLY | Cooperation helps ministry expand

MY STORY Why I live here “In our particular tradition, you serve at the pleasure of your bishop … but more than likely, I will retire here. Once you get established someplace, it’s hard to leave, and it would be hard to leave the Golden Isles.”

What I tell others about life here “How beautiful this area is in terms of the varieties of marshes, rivers, trees, the ocean and just its physical beauty. Also, how gracious people are here in the area.”


or more than 45 years, Monsignor John Kenneally has helped hundreds of Catholics establish a relationship with Christ and prepare themselves for his coming. And while it may have taken him a few years to get to the Golden Isles, Kenneally is happy to call St. William Catholic Church, and the Golden Isles, his home. Born and reared in Cork, Ireland, Kenneally attended primary and secondary school there until he attended University College Dublin at Dublin, Ireland. There, he majored in philosophy logic and minored in English and Latin. It was at this point Kenneally began his religious journey. Shortly after receiving his degree, he attended All Hallows College at Dublin, where he received a degree in theology. Ordained in 1969, Kenneally continued his search for God’s truth on American soil in Savannah, nearly 3,900 miles from Dublin. It was in Savannah that Kenneally became a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Savannah, which stretched to Augusta, Macon and Columbus. During his time in Savannah, Kenneally assumed many roles and responsibilities. “By 1970, I was chancellor and I (held that role) until 1978. I became the priest of Holy Spirit (Catholic Church) in 1978 until 1986 when I was assigned to the St. James

Catholic Church in Savannah until 2001,” he says, adding that the church, parish hall and elementary school were all renovated during his time there. Shortly after the 150th anniversary of the diocese and the 100th anniversary of the rededication of the church’s Cathedral, Kenneally was assigned to St. William Catholic Church on St. Simons Island, and served as vicar general for 10 years under Bishop J. Kevin Boland, the man responsible for his arrival to America. By 2008, Kenneally was given the clerical title of monsignor by the pope for his work. Kenneally stays focused on setting an atmosphere of cooperation and purpose for his congregants. “This will help us establish a closer relationship with God and with others. I’ve always tried to bring that atmosphere to every community that I’ve ministered to,” he says. But why he does it has more to do with unifying members through ministry. “It’s important to involve others in your ministry because ... it may help in terms of outreach, study and ecumenical relationships. I’m a catalyst for the people of this parish, and I’m here to help them exercise their ministry. It relieves me of a lot of stress of my ministerial life,” he says. – Brittany Tate

Sarah Lundgren photo

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C. CRAIG HARTZOG | Goal is to strengthen core church

MY STORY Why I live here “The diversity of the area. From the beaches to the islands, the mix and variety of the area and the good people that live here are what keeps me here.�

What I tell others about life here “The uniqueness of this place. People don’t realize that we have famous tourist destinations. I also talk about some of the positive things, like the College of Coastal Georgia and some of the growth that we’ve seen here.�


eflecting on his 30 years in ministry, the Rev. C. Craig Hartzog never expected to make as big an impact as he has on the many congregations he has served, but it is an honor he continues to uphold with humility and pride. It is through God’s guidance that Hartzog has been able to carry on his will, and as senior pastor of Northside Baptist Church in Glynn County. Born and reared in Newberry, Fla., Hartzog was called to gospel ministry at age 16. It was then he began looking for a college that would satisfy his thirst for knowledge about the Lord, and his love of football. Hartzog found that and more at Mississippi College at Clinton, Miss., a Christian university affiliated with the Mississippi Baptist Convention. With a major in religion and a minor in psychology, Hartzog became a pastor at age 19. “I pastored at small churches in north Mississippi and would travel 82 miles for two years to pastor at Mount Pleasant Baptist Church in west Mississippi,� Hartzog says. Shortly after graduating, he attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary at Fort Worth, Texas, for a master’s degree in divinity. Ten years later, he received a Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary at New Orleans. After receiving his degree, Hartzog returned to Florida and pastored several churches until he was called in 2004 to be the senior pastor at Northside

Baptist Church. Though he has faced cultural indifference in ministry over his 30-year tenure as a pastor, the past 10 years, Hartzog says, have been steadily focused on encouraging members of Northside Baptist to have fervent perseverance in seeking after God in prayer. “It is through a relationship with God that we try and encourage our members to reach out and


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show love, to encounter God in worship, to experience growth through discipleship and to exercise their faith through mission work and ministry,� he says of his desire to serve Christ, proclaim the gospel and develop disciples. “I just want to build the core of our church, strengthen our ministries and minister to our areas and beyond.� – Brittany Tate


OURFUTUREREADERS Ferst Foundation is mailing over 525 books a month to Glynn County pre-schoolers. To learn more about the Ferst Foundation of Glynn County, like our page Glynn County Ferst Foundation for Childhood Literacy or call 270-4000

62 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

Journey into yesteryear through scenic woodlands and marshlands on the St. Marys Express with great entertainment all along the way. Trains leave from Theatre by the Trax in St. Marys, Georgia. Visit for schedule and to purchase tickets.

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TODD RHODES | Helping people follows different missions

MY STORY Why I live here “The people. There’s so much opportunity here. There’s opportunity for barriers to be torn down and bridges to be built between races, creeds and various socioeconomic statuses. I love the beautiful sunsets here, as well.”

What I tell others about life here “I like to share that the Golden Isles is a wonderful place to live, work, play and raise a family. We’re not a huge metropolis, but the community, as a whole, has a huge heart.”



idding streets of crime is only part of Brunswick Police Officer Todd Rhodes’ mission. He is also pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church, 1200 Egmont St., Brunswick. Reared by a single mother with help from his uncles, Rhodes, who is referred to as the Rev. Todd Rhodes by his congregation, began his journey with Christ around the third grade, when he was attending Sacred Heart Catholic School. “I had a really strong desire to be a priest, so I approached one of my nuns and told her what I wanted to be. She said, ‘Todd, that’s wonderful. Just stay in school and be blessed, and you will be,’” Rhodes says. As he continued to grow, so did his devotion to God. It eventually led him to First African Baptist Church at Savannah, where he became a Baptist. In September 1996, Rhodes received his official call to ministry – though he admits he had not been very receptive at first. “God was just calling me and calling me, and I was trying to avoid it,” he says. By July 2001, he was an ordained minister under his pastor’s leadership as a pastor’s assistant, all while working as a police officer for the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department. Having served 21 years with the police force and several years under the leadership of his pastor, Rhodes received the break of a lifetime when he was called to minister at Shiloh Baptist

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Church. That was nearly five years ago. “It was a weighted responsibility, but very rewarding to be utilized by God to help his people be the best they can be through him,” he

says, adding that he joined the Brunswick Police Department at about the same time. “Every day is not joyful, but with God’s help, it is joyful. It’s an honor to work for him.” As for having to share that passion with his duties as a police officer, Rhodes says it just works. “It’s a form of ministry, just a different form. I’m helping people that aren’t at their best or something terrible has happened to them, and I’m able to assist them. It’s the same as a pastor,” he says. “I’ve heard in the past: How can you be a pastor and carry a gun? And I say, ‘The Lord has been blessing me.’ “I’ve been a police officer for over 25 years, and I thank God I haven’t had to use my service weapon to hurt anyone or have been harmed. It’s a job and something that I do, and when the Lord calls me to do something else, I will do it.” While he’s satisfied with the work being done in his own congregation, Rhodes wants Shiloh, as well as other congregations in the area, to grow spiritually and physically. “There are so many denominations. They’re God’s way of providing humanity an opportunity to work with one another. Each one of us isn’t the same. We were all created differently, but we weren’t created to be indifferent. We were created, with God’s help, to come together and make a difference,” he says. – Brittany Tate

MARCIA COCHRAN | Future being built on firm foundation

MY STORY Why I live here “In the United Methodist Church, pastors are appointed, they don’t choose, but I had been the Waycross District supervisor, which included Glynn, so I knew about the area.”

What I tell others about life here “It’s certainly a beautiful place with a diverse population. For us in the church, it’s an interesting place, because so many in our congregation have interesting experiences and different backgrounds.”


t’s been a year of looking both to the past and to the future for the Rev. Marcia Cochran. The senior pastor at St. Simons United Methodist Church helped lead the church’s 75th anniversary celebration in November. And while highlighting the history of the Methodist community is important, Cochran has led the church in focusing on children and families as a place of growth for the future, including starting a full-day preschool. “Celebrating the 75th anniversary was a lot of fun. It was a wonderful celebration to remember all that has happened up to this point, and how the children are our bold future. The children participated during the services, and it was a beautiful combination of old stories and what the church means to everyone at this point,” Cochran says. Cochran has spent decades involved in various positions within the South Georgia Conference, becoming the first woman to be ordained an elder in the conference in 1978. She previously served as superintendent of the Waycross District, overseeing 80 churches, including those in Glynn County, before leading the Methodist congregation at 624 Ocean Blvd., St. Simons Island, since June 2011. She says the congregation makes her job easy. “The members of this church are a growing, creative congregation. They are always doing something somewhere,” she says. “My job is to

guide them. It’s not about me, it’s about them and their vision.” She hopes anyone who exits the sanctuary on Sundays has his or her faith renewed like those who started the church more than seven decades ago and built the strong foundation that continues to grow today.

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“When people leave St. Simons United Methodist, I hope they feel stronger for the week ahead and to deal with the daily struggles,” she says. “We are a worshipping community and that’s beautiful.” – Bethany Leggett

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PROFIILES | The Brunswick News

Ask government leaders across Glynn County about the key to success in the coming years, and they pretty much agree – it’s teamwork. It is going to take a team effort to show prospective residents, businesses and industries the benefits of locating to Glynn County. Part of that involves promoting what is here, the shops and restaurants in downtown Brunswick, recreational opportunities at the county’s beaches and parks, offerings of Glynn County’s schools and postsecondary institutions, and the knowledge and training of the area’s workforce. Newly elected Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey says he has plans to open up communications with Glynn County to share responsibility for the city’s parks and recreation offerings, as well as to team up with the Brunswick and Glynn County Development Authority to work on revitalization. “I talked with (Development Authority Director) Chuck Scraggs, and he is going work to help Brunswick,” Harvey says. “Together, we’re all going to do good things. It’s one hand washing the other. We’ve got to always realize that.” Brunswick City Manager Bill Weeks says the best ideas for redevelopment and growth have come from open dialogue between the city and its constituents. Com-

munication and teamwork have been vital to the city’s survival during the past national economic recession. Glynn County Commission Chairman Michael Browning agrees with that assessment. Communication and cooperation, he says, between the county commission and other county boards – the airport commission, planning commissions and development authority – are the best way to run government. Bill Brunson, a member of both the airport and mainland planning commissions, learned a lot about that communication while serving a year as chairman of each. The airport commission was facing a tumultuous turnover in early 2013. The executive director and some board members had resigned, and some of the board’s airport tenants were disappointed and threatening to leave. But new life and new blood came on board in late 2013, more negotiations and discussions took place, and by early 2014, Gulfstream Aerospace and Stambaugh Aviation had both planned expansions at their Brunswick airport sites. Coroner Abe Brown, who reprised his role in the position in 2013 after the death of Coroner Jimmy Durden, says nowhere else on Earth has provided the opportunities for success, and willingness to cooperate and assist than Glynn County. “There are good people here,” Brown says. “There are great opportunities here in Glynn County.”

The Glynn County Commission meeting room

64 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

GOVERNMENT MY STORY Why I live here “There’s so much opportunity and potential. I’m willing to roll back my sleeves and do something. The core of who I am is wrapped up in this city. I would love nothing more than seeing it live up to its potential.”

What I tell others about life here “People are very friendly. They look out for each other. We have a very keen sense of community. It’s a front porch community with variety and quality of life.”

JULIE MARTIN | Teamwork moves city forward


f anyone knows how to sell the city of Brunswick, it is City Commissioner Julie Martin. A Glynn County resident for nearly 20 years, 13 of which she has lived in Brunswick, Martin has learned a lot from her life in the Golden Isles. She knows that nothing is accomplished by simply wishing for it, that it takes a team effort to move her city in the right direction, and if that team has a shared vision for the future, nothing – not even money – can stand in the way. “My philosophy is, you should never let funding stand in the way,” says Martin, a real estate agent with Signature Properties Group and director of Signature Squares of Brunswick, a nonprofit group restoring the pocket parks in the city. “In this particular time, you’re never going to find a single source of funding. I understand pulling and forming partnerships.” The 2013 municipal election provided a new opportunity for the city Martin loves, she says. Each commissioner has his or her own strengths to bring to the city’s leadership, and it’s already clear to Martin, who is halfway through her first term, that the current commission has a shared vision for improving Brunswick. First and foremost, the city’s neighborhoods could benefit from revitalization, a task that requires more active building code enforcement and moving forward with some of the city’s

plans. “We’ve got projects on the table, at the ready. We can’t afford to be at a standstill anymore,” Martin says. “We have too many under-utilized resources.” The commissioner envisions a thriving downtown community with a thriving waterfront park that draws in visitors. More offerings, recreational opportunities, dining and shopping,

Bobby Haven photo

would be a start toward bustling, she says. It is all about creating a reason for people to visit, and that starts with the city itself. “I think the important thing is, if people from the outside don’t see the city invest, they won’t either,” she says. “Once they see the city moving forward with key components, that would start the rest.” —Kelly Quimby




MIKE HULSEY | Carrying on a legacy of public education


Sarah Lundgren photo

GOVERNMENT MY STORY Why I live here “I can’t imagine a more wonderful place to live in the country. It has everything you can possibly want, as far as a wonderful environment to raise kids.”

What I tell others about life here “Come put your foot in the water. If you don’t like this place, you’re going to have a hard time finding anywhere to go. Come see what I believe is a lot of opportunity down here. There are not many places like that.”

Irrigation Supply,” Hulsey says. orn and raised in the heart MY STORY Members of St. Mark Episcopal of the Golden Isles – BrunsChurch, in Brunswick, he and his famwick – Mike Hulsey got an Why I live here ily are familiar faces in the community. early glimpse at education “I can’t think of Hulsey enjoys being a part of the area as a child: Both his parents were local a better place to and, even more importantly, enjoys educators. raise a family.” helping a community that has nurtured His father, Derrick Hulsey, a wellhim. known figure in the Glynn County What I tell others “I see my service on the Glynn School System, served as county about life here County Board of Education as a way schools athletic director at one point, “I tell folks about for me to give back to this wonderful and also was his son’s principal at how the area community. As the son of two educaBrunswick High School. His mother has never lost its tors, I’ve always been a strong propowas an English/language arts teacher Southern charm. nent of public education,” he says. at both the former Glynn and Risley The amenities here Hulsey isn’t just a dedicated church middle schools and taught at Needare true assets, and school board member. He demwood Middle School in its beginning but the people that onstrates his support of the public years. reside here make school system by getting involved in It seems Mike Hulsey, a Glynn it a very special the lives and education of his children. County Board of Education member place.” He frequently attends sporting events for almost a decade and former board and practices, and signed up for the chairman, was destined to find a place Watch D.O.G.S. program at C.B. Greer in the realm of education. Following Elementary School, a group of fathers his graduation from Brunswick High and other men who serve as extra eyes on the school School, he graduated from Mercer University at grounds. Macon and returned to Brunswick to start a family For Hulsey, being on the board of education is and his own business. part of a civic trust of being a dedicated parent and a “I have a beautiful wife, MeMe, and four wondercommunity member. ful sons that are enrolled in Glynn County schools. – Sarah Lundgren And my brother and I own a small business, Atlantic

BILL BRUNSON | Good planning helps growth take off


ill Brunson doesn’t like to talk about it, but he plays a key role in the Golden Isles’ future. In his dual roles as a member of the Glynn County Airport Commission and Mainland Planning Commission, of which he served as chairman in 2013, the Albany native and U.S. Air Force veteran is charged with keeping a watchful eye on business and industry, both current and prospective. The airports in Glynn County have proved to be large economic engines, drawing industry and jobs to the region, Brunson says, and the planning commission accomplished a great deal in development by thinking ahead on the county’s infrastructure. Now, he says, both boards must continue the work to keep up the momentum. “We have a magnificent (airport) facility that can accompany an airline and Air Force One. There are not many towns that size that have that kind of infrastructure,” he says. “And planning and zoning is really the heart of the growth in any community. It’s important to plan – to have water and sewer for outlying areas, particularly. If you don’t have water and sewer, you have a train wreck of growth.” Brunson says the Brunswick Golden Isles Airport runway project, which includes the renovation of a decades-old strip of pavement, has already proved the foresight of the airport commission and its present and former

66 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

directors. A snap of cold weather in early January could have seriously damaged the runway, but the repair work prevented such a crisis. The McKinnon St. Simons Island Airport has also proved to be a community boost in recent months, he adds, pulling in renewed interest in general aviation and island tourism. Brunson says his work on both commissions

Bobby Haven photo

has taught him a valuable lesson about growth and development in Glynn County – it must be managed. “The most important thing is to always look at what is in the best interest of the greater good,” Brunson says. “You just play it right down the middle. You don’t want to inhibit good future growth.” – Kelly Quimby


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PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 67

GOVERNMENT MY STORY Why I live here “Brunswick is a great town, great city, great place to be and a great place to be from. It’s my home, and I love it. I’ve been all around the world in the military, and there’s no better place than home.”

What I tell others about life here “Give it a shot for a couple of days and see how happy you’ll be, how warm and friendly this place is.”


CORNELL HARVEY | Now is the time to move forward


runswick Mayor Cornell Harvey doesn’t take for granted that his city chose him to lead. When he won the mayoral race with 60 percent of the vote in the Dec. 3 runoff, he realized that many people in his hometown wanted him to be a beacon, a shining light to lead Brunswick to greatness. His goal for the next four years, he says, is to ignite and then keep that light ablaze. He hopes to inspire younger generations, citizens of every race and represent all of them the same. He wants to move the city beyond a status quo, redevelop and bring in new business and industry. The new mayor sees his role in all this as a liaison — between the city and its residents, between the commission and its employees as well as between Brunswick and beyond. “I’ve always seen the mayor position as a role model for a lot of people, as the spokesperson for the city,” Harvey says. “It’s my responsibility to do some good things for our city. It’s my responsibility to bring some fresh thoughts about how to do things, to steer the commission, to listen, understand and to move our city forward.” For several years, the mayor says he has watched as Brunswick officials formed plan after plan to eliminate blight, draw businesses and fight crime, only to have those plans shelved be-

cause neither the money nor the willingness was there. It is time, he says, to put plans into action. The key, Harvey says, is to work slowly and deliberately toward a common goal. “We’re not in such a rush to get there, because we know we’re going to get there,” he says. “We’ll be slow and steady, because the race is

Bobby Haven photo

not given to the fast or the swift, it’s given to those moving along. “The city of Brunswick is poised for greatness. The city commission, the staff are ready to go. They’re just waiting on good leadership to go ahead and move forward.” – Kelly Quimby

NEAL JUMP | Seeing progress drives desire to protect it


Bobby Haven photo

68 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

And that includes inmates in lynn County MY STORY the jail he runs. Sheriff Neal Jump “They still have families was not born in Why I live here that love them, too,” Jump the Golden Isles, There is a diversays. but after 34 years of shaping sity of people to Jump says by taking a a tightly knit family here, he meet, but “the proactive approach to the can certainly claim native best part about livposition he assumed in Janustatus. ing here is that my ary 2013, he plans to not just Since moving to Glynn grandchildren are maintain the quality of life in County in 1979 as a Georgia here.” Glynn County, but to enhance State Patrol trooper, Jump it. said he has seen the commuWhat I tell others But he knows he cannot do nity grow up in ways that he about life here it alone. So Jump says he renever expected. lies heavily on a well-trained “We have seen a lot of “I live in the best staff at the sheriff’s office change,” says Jump, who was of Georgia’s 159 that help to make his aspiraelected Glynn County sheriff counties.” tions attainable. in 2012. “It’s been an awe“We’ve got a great bunch some experience to see it.” of people who work at the While watching the Port sheriff’s office, from the front desk to the of Brunswick expand, a mall get built and corrections officers at the jail to the depuroads get paved, Jump also watched the ties out there serving warrants and protectpopulation grow and make Glynn County ing the courthouse,” Jump says. better than ever. After a law enforcement career nearing All of that is why he ran for sheriff. four decades, he understands how integral “First, I am here to serve the people,” a well-trained and dedicated staff is to enJump says. suring the communities of Glynn County He wants to look at himself in a mirror are safe for the growth that is sure to come. and know that he is doing all he can to – Michael Hall keep the community as safe as it can be.

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PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 69


HANK YEARGAN | Opportunities for children drive efforts MY STORY Why I live here “There is no better place in the state of Georgia than Brunswick and Glynn County. We have the best people, nicest climate and are poised to be the leaders in the state for education and economic development.”

What I tell others about life here “I tell people to come here and visit. The history is rich but our future is what is exciting. We have very bright people here that are capable of doing some amazing things.” Sarah Lundgren photo


uch like his friend and previous Glynn County Board of Education chairman Mike Hulsey, current chair Hank Yeargan began his life in Brunswick. Reared in the area, Yeargan graduated from Glynn Academy in 1993 and started his college career here as well, at then Brunswick Junior College, now College of Coastal Georgia. Moving on, he made it to West Georgia College where he met his wife, Rachel, whom he married in 1997. Yeargan decided he wanted a job with security and took inspiration from his father – he graduated in 2000 from the Medical College of Georgia School of Dentistry. “I decided I would follow in my father’s footsteps and become a dentist. The rest is history,” he jokes. Bringing his new wife and degree home with him, Yeargan became a dentist in the Golden Isles, and welcomed twin sons a few years later. The two now 10-year-olds have served as another inspiration for him, encouraging him to join the local school board and make a

difference in their education. “I got interested in public education a few years after our boys were born. I felt by being a member of the board of education I could serve our community while being a voice for special education,” Yeargan, the father of twins with Down syndrome, says. Being a part of the board, Yeargan says, is a way to reach out in more than one way in the community. To begin with, he believes the area’s future depends on the children of today, and that means ensuring that these students receive the best educations the community can give. “The more opportunities we can give our children to grow, the more our community will benefit. We, as a county, are all in this together,” he says. “Being on the board of education has given me an opportunity to work with many different people from all walks of life. The ability to help bring folks together for a common cause to better our community is one of the most enjoyable aspects of being on the board.” – Sarah Lundgren

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GOVERNMENT MY STORY Why I live here “I was born here. I’ve traveled enough, and I’ve seen a lot of beautiful places, but Glynn County is in my blood, and I just love this place here.”

What I tell others about life here “I think it’s a very sociable community — maybe not in the New York social variety, but people will speak to you and give you the time of day. That’s the ‘Southernness’ of this community, and it’s one of the things that makes us very appealing to a lot of people.”


MICHAEL BROWNING | Working together is best


hen Michael Browning was in the military some 40 odd years ago, he thought he would move to Colorado Springs, Colo., when he got out. It was a gorgeous place, he says, but when it came down to it and he finished his time in the military, he came back to his hometown in Glynn County. “I didn’t miss a beat getting back here. I just love it here,” says Browning, who is chairman of the Glynn County Commission. “There’s a flavor this community has that a lot of places have lost.” Browning says he just couldn’t get past the slow and peaceful pace of Glynn County, and the hospitality and charming conversations with strangers. It’s the perfect place for people who love people, like himself, he says. After a while, Browning says he wanted to make his beloved community better, and he ran for the county commission. Now that he is chairman, he says he wants to foster an environment in which everyone with an interest in Glynn County works together toward a common goal. Two of the utmost responsibilities of the county’s governing bodies, he says, are to run things and work together. “In the end, all these different boards and commissions, what they should have is the best interest of Glynn County as a whole,” he says. “We need to have open dialogue among ourselves. There’s no way all of us can be on the airport commission or the Glynn County Board of Commissioners, but that doesn’t mean we can’t

talk.” Working as a leader of the place that raised him has turned out to be a fulfilling task, Browning says. It provides him an opportunity to help his friends and neighbors, and keeps him well

Michael Hall photo

acquainted with his home. “I’ve always been interested in Glynn County. I’m born and raised here,” he says. “I can’t think of a better place to live.” – Kelly Quimby

ABE BROWN | A first for the state returns to familiar role MY STORY Why I live here “There are great opportunities here in Glynn County. There are good people here. You can be whoever you want to be. The thing is to never forget where you’re coming from, and what you want from life.”

What I tell others about life here “It’s a nice place. It has beaches, islands, golf courses. Come to the Golden Isles. It’s here for everybody. We have everything there is to offer.” 72 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014


be Brown is good with first impressions. The interim Glynn County coroner says he can learn just about anything he needs to know about a person he meets at first glance, a handy trait for someone involved in the community as he is. Since the former McIntosh County resident moved to Glynn County after mortuary school in the late 1970s, he has worked as a policeman, started his own business, served on numerous civic boards, owns Hall, Jones & Brown Funeral Home, and was the first black coroner in Georgia. Though he never expected to reprise that latter role, the death of coroner Jimmy Durden left Brown once again in the job he had moved on from more than 20 years ago. While he would like to retire and spend some of that time traveling and relaxing, he won’t just yet. “I believe in helping somebody,” he smiled, chatting from one of the many rooms at his funeral home. “Any time you can reach out and help somebody,

other people will help you.” Brown has lived his life by that mantra. When he moved to Glynn County, he only expected to stay a couple of years, get some experience and then go back home. He has stayed for the rest of his life. Nowhere else in the world could he have stumbled upon the good fortune he found in Glynn County. He was entrusted to run his first funeral home here. He met many lifelong friends here. He raised his family here. Among the roles Brown has served in Glynn County, the best, he says, is pastor of the First Anderson Grove Baptist Church. There he can continue to reach out to his community, and especially its young members, who still have so much to make of their lives. “My favorite thing I’ve done was when I was called to preach,” he said. “I like doing it, and I’m going to try to help people until I can’t go any further. I, personally, believe if I can help one child stay out of the system, I have achieved a goal for life.” – Kelly Quimby



Listening is first step in managing


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Bobby Haven photo

the residents of Brunswick. ipping his mornMY STORY Everyone has ideas on how ing cup of coffee in to improve things, through his corner office at public works, economic Brunswick City Hall, Why I live here “I like the coast development or teaming up City Manager Bill Weeks is because I like the with the county and school at home. water and water board to make things happen. Since he assumed the top activities. I was Whatever the issue, there are administrative position with involved in history about 10 others that follow the city about three years and archaeology. right behind. ago, Weeks has been workAfter vacationing So he says the best way to ing at his mission to improve here for five or six address it all is to open up the lives of the people of years, my wife and the lines of communication Brunswick. I decided that’s between the city and its resiIt is a task that goes well where we want to dents, and among officials beyond providing services live.” from all around the Golden such as trash collection and Isles. Sometimes what is road work, he says. What I tell others said is not what he wants to At a basic level, the city about life here hear, but it is exactly what is is a nonprofit organization “I’m here beneeded. aimed at providing a better cause of all the “We want to hear what the quality of life for its resithings this area citizens’ interests are, and dents. It wasn’t his first cahas to offer. Not we want to be responsive to reer choice, but now it seems only do I enjoy those,” Weeks says. “A lot of being city manager is where them, but you want what I do is triage, getting he was meant to be. to share them with people together. There are a “I ended up where I could your friends.” lot of good ideas that come make a difference,” says out of that, they even come Weeks, who holds one degree out of citizen complaints.” in aeronautical engineerAs the city works its way ing and another in business. out of a period of economic recession that “Once you get past the infrastructure, my has plagued the whole country, there are challenge is to get the right people in the still areas in need of improvement. But right places. I was hired to do a job, and Brunswick’s city manager says he will I’m going to do the best for the citizens.” make sure every possibility is considered. Sometimes the challenge comes from – Kelly Quimby his bosses — the city commission and

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Brunswick Brunswick Location Location JekyllJekyll IslandIsland Location Location IslandIsland Location Location NorthNorth GlynnGlynn Location Location 3440 Cypress 3440 Cypress Mill Rd. Mill Rd. 531 N.531 Beachview N. Beachview DriveDrive 3811 Frederica 3811 Frederica Rd. Rd. 5340 New 5340 Jesup New Jesup Hwy. Hwy. Brunswick, Brunswick, GA 31520 GA 31520 JekyllJekyll Island,Island, GA 31527 GA 31527 St. Simons Island,Island, GA 31522 GA 31522 Brunswick, Brunswick, GA 31523 GA 31523 St. Simons 912.267.9500 912.267.9500 912.635.9014 912.635.9014 912.634.1270 912.634.1270 912.264.9699 912.264.9699 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 73



Davis Love III at the McGladrey Classic on St. Simons Island.


PROFILES | The Brunswick News

Even without a major league sports franchise, the Golden Isles is still playing in the big leagues. Nine current members of the PGA Tour, a Major League Baseball pitching ace and an NFL cornerback call this slice of Georgia home. Chief among the golfing pros is 20-time PGA champion Davis Love III. A North Carolina native and one of golf’s most respected players, Love III moved to the Isles with his family as a teenager and attended both Frederica Academy and Glynn Academy, eventually starring at Glynn with brother Mark Love under legendary golf coach Herman Hudson. Along the way, Love’s trumpeting of the Golden Isles and his affiliation with the prestigious Sea Island Golf Club drew the attention of other PGA players. Veteran players Jonathan Byrd, Zach Johnson, Matt Kuchar, Charles Howell III and Lucas Glover all now call St. Simons Island home, as do up-and-coming pros Harris

English, Brian Harman and Hudson Swafford. All told, the “Golden Isles Gang” has racked up more than 50 PGA Tour wins, including major victories in the Masters, U.S. Open and PGA Championship. Also in the Golden Isles’ fold is one of baseball’s best pitchers, Adam Wainwright. Born and reared on St. Simons Island, Wainwright was drafted out of Glynn Academy in the first round of the 2000 amateur draft by the Atlanta Braves, where he shined on the mound in the club’s minor league system. A trade in December 2003 sent the 6-foot-7 righthander and his deadly curve ball to the St. Louis Cardinals, where his career blossomed. Now 32 years old and a nine-year MLB veteran, Wainwright was the pitching hero of the 2006 postseason, which the Cardinals capped off with a World Series victory over the Detroit Tigers. Wainwright’s resumé entering the 2014 season includes 99 career wins, two All-Star Game appearances, two Gold Gloves, two World Series rings and three top-three finishes in the voting for the Cy Young Award for the best pitcher in

74 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

each league. Among the hardest working players in baseball, Wainwright brings that same devotion and dedication to local causes, working with area youth on their athletic and life focus, and with the Golden Isles chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. The Golden Isles has also produced scores of talented gridiron stars, from former Georgia and NFL standout Willie McClendon to current Detroit Lions cornerback Darius Slay. A four-year starter on both sides of the ball at Brunswick High School, Slay starred in junior college before moving to Mississippi State University to become one of the Southeastern Conference’s most feared and productive defensive backs. In the 2013 NFL draft, the Brunswick native was selected with the 36th overall pick by the Lions and saw considerable playing time during his rookie season. Names like Love III, Wainwright, Slay and scores of others who first made names for themselves in the Isles dot the sporting landscape and provide a source of pride for fans who call the Golden Isles home.


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1505 Richmond St. Brunswick, GA 31520 912-265-6629 Fax: 912-265-9460 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 75



GERALD COX | Coaching sends athletes into game of life

eared in North Carolina, Gerald Cox didn’t set out to make the Golden Isles his home when he began his basketball coaching career. But the men’s hoops coach at College of Coastal Georgia says he’s grateful circumstances landed him in the place he’s called home for more than 30 years. “I got a chance at a job here that I liked,” Cox says of what MY STORY brought him to Glynn County. “After you get here, it’s hard not Why I live here to like it.” “I got a chance Cox, who began at Coastal at a job here that I Georgia in 1982 when the liked. It’s hard not school was Brunswick Junior to like it here.” College, coached at TruettWhat I tell others McConnell College in Georgia and in high school in his native about life here North Carolina before moving “The restaurants, to the coast. Despite other job the people, the options that arose during his beach. There are now 32-year stint at Coastal very few downGeorgia, Cox says the pull of sides.” the area was too strong to leave. “Family, having kids in school, in particular, the weather,” he says of what kept him here. “We just didn’t want to move. There are a lot of people who want to move here, I can tell you that. There are very few downsides.” Cox, who retired at the end of this past season, says he brags on his school as much as he does the area itself when


people ask about the Golden Isles. “I talk about the restaurants. I haven’t found any that are really bad. I could eat oysters one evening, shrimp another evening, fish another evening, crab the next evening. I also talk about the people at the college and the people in the area. I don’t go to the beach much anymore, but our kids loved it from the get-go.” He says seeing children grow up in the Isles and do well in their adult lives has been a great satisfaction to him. “Our kids graduating from high school here and going on to college, and winning our first region championship in

Bobby Haven photo

junior college (in 1984) are fond memories,” Cox says. “I’d put those at the very top. Then, of course, all the people I have met here and know here as a result of being here. I’ve got players scattered all over the world now.” Looking back on 43 years in coaching and his more than 600 wins at the college level, Cox says he’s enjoyed every minute of his time on the sideline. “It’s really hard to say I go to work. I really don’t. I go do something I really love doing. Best I can say it is, life is good in the Golden Isles.” – Dave Jordan

JOZSEF SZASZ | Training young fighters keeps eyes on prize

MY STORY Why I live here “When I first got here, I loved the weather. I grew up in a big city in Romania and I found the Golden Isles to be a nice and quiet place. I liked that people were friendly from the first meeting.”

What I tell others about life here “I always brag about life in the Golden Isles. Besides the wonderful, helpful people I’ve met so far, I like the beach and the weather. It’s growing every day, and it’s a good place to raise kids.”


ozsef Szasz came to the United States hoping to make it on boxing’s biggest stage. The 45-year-old owner of Brunswick Boxing and MMA grew up as a Hungarian national in what was then the communist nation of Romania. Szasz was a junior champion who started training at the age of 12. He would train twice a day, every day, and made a one-hour commute by bus across the city of Tirgu Mures to do so. After the country revolted against the Romanian government in 1989, Szasz moved to neighboring Hungary, where he remained for 10 years as a national champion who represented the nation in numerous international events. In 2000, he came to Brunswick to work for a Hungarian company as a manager. The job required extensive hours that didn’t allow Szasz to train properly. After he won the 2000 Georgia Games, Szasz wanted to train full-time. However, he was never able to get that one fight that could have been his breakthrough. In 2005, Szasz

76 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

opened his own gym and has been working with up-and-coming fighters ever since. “I told myself, if I couldn’t make it as a fighter, I would open a gym,” Szasz says. “My time is done. I couldn’t be a world champion. But I want one of my guys to be a world champion.” Right now, Szasz says he is training about 25 fighters. The youngest is 7 years old. He says he likes running his business in a place like Brunswick and is working to promote boxing and mixed martial arts in the area. “I love this place,” Szasz sad. “It’s quiet. I grew up in the big city in Romania. I like these smaller places. Especially if you want to raise kids, it’s the best place.” Szasz recently helped bring to the fore the Battle at the Beach, a professional mixed martial arts event, which was held at the Jekyll Island Convention Center and drew about 700 spectators. “Everybody loved it,” he said. “I think it’s the best thing that’s happened to me since I’ve been here.” – Nathan Deen

Bobby Haven photo


WELTON COFFEY | Winning opportunities are on, off field

of families still live in this area. Everyone knows everyone — just really good, down-home folks. They Why I live here enjoy their town, take pride in their “My wife, daughlifestyle and love their Camden he answered. County Wildcats.” The head football coach at Camden ter and I really enjoy the ‘easiness’ Being part of one of the state’s County High School at Kingsland of the area. It’s winningest football programs for says he feels lucky his career journey great for family.” a number of years has led to many brought him to such a wonderful fond memories, the coach says. place. “We have been part of two football “Moving to Coastal Georgia was What I tell others state championships, national telenever in our family plan,” Coffey about life here vised games, region championships, says. “We left Jacksonville in the “I brag quite my daughter’s dance competitions, spring of 2003 because I was prewatching my wife make new friends, sented with a wonderful teaching and often about the closeness of family and being named the head coach coaching opportunity (at Valdosta). It in this community. of a great football program such as was a win-win situation for my famEveryone knows Camden County. ily and coaching career. Then a posieveryone — just “However, my fondest memory tion opened up in Camden County really good, downwas upon being introduced as the that also proved to be awesome. home folks.” new head football coach (in spring “Living in the Coastal Georgia 2013). An older couple came up to area has afforded us to be close to me and said, ‘Coach, we are so exfamily in Jacksonville and live in cited because you are our coach. We a small, tight-knit community. My will be praying for you and the team. Thank you wife, daughter and I really enjoy the ‘easiness’ of for being here.’ My mother, grandmother, grandthe area. It’s great for family.” father, mother-in-law, aunt, wife and daughter witCoffey says that easiness and small-town feel nessed that moment. That is what this community is something he talks up when people ask about is all about. I am humbled. There is nothing in my Coastal Georgia. life I could have done to deserve this blessing.” “I brag quite often about the closeness of family – Dave Jordan in this community. Generations and generations elton Coffey didn’t plan to set up shop in south Georgia, but opportunity knocked and


Julie Martin

ABR, GRI, CDPE Circle of Excellence - Life Member



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• Resort & Second Home Property Specialist • Historic & Coastal Properties PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 77


OLIVIA MELVIN | Teams become family away from home

MY STORY Why I live here “It’s closer to home. The surroundings are great. This is a small campus. I could never get lost. I thought this would be a great place to start off.”

What I tell others about life here “The school is great. It’s not the biggest place, but because it’s so small, everyone knows you. They treat you like family here. You’re not a stranger.”



livia Melvin can go to the Olive Garden restaurant up the street from the College of Coastal Georgia campus and not feel like a stranger. Chances are, she probably knows someone inside. That’s why the junior point guard for the Coastal women’s basketball team enjoys going to school in the Golden Isles. “I tell people that the school is great,” Melvin says. “It’s not the biggest place, but because it’s so small, everyone knows you. Everyone is very friendly. They treat you like family. You’re not a stranger.” Melvin, who is the leading scorer for the Mariner women, is from Statesboro, and chose to come to Coastal Georgia because it was close to home, provided a small-town atmosphere, and had a beach. Melvin arrived on the Coastal Georgia campus the first year the school expanded its women’s basketball program, and that excited her, too. “It’s close to the beach. That’s a big advantage. That’s our go-to place. The whole team will go to the beach and hang out. “The surrounding was great,” she says. “It was the first year that they had a women’s basketball team. It was a small campus and I knew I wouldn’t get lost.” The college has also served her academic needs well, and the availability of the profes-

sors have been a great asset for her as she works toward a degree in mathematics. “The professors can have a closer relationship with you. I wouldn’t have picked another college after experiencing the type of help I’ve had from the professors.” Camaraderie is something Melvin has had no trouble finding since she arrived in the Isles, and it goes far beyond her teammates.

Bobby Haven photo

“We’re familiar with each other. We can hang out with the volleyball players and the tennis players. We’re all a big family. Your volleyball team is coming to (your games) to support you and your tennis team is coming to support you, and you’re going to support them. When you’re a freshman coming in, you need somebody to be your family.” – Nathan Deen

MIKE COOK | Isles is a ‘hole-in-one’ for golf career


Michael Hall photo

78 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

Island, and that’s where I am now. e took a rather circuitous MY STORY Those two jobs and coaching the golf route, but it was inevitable team at Coastal Georgia are the only Mike Cook would wind up Why I live here jobs I’ve ever had.” living in the Golden Isles. Cook says he could likely make a Cook, who oversees the golf pro“It’s the nice nice living in golf at a big city club, grams at College of Coastal Georgia people and a nice but says living in the Golden Isles is and is a full-time instructor for Sea place to raise a pretty tough to beat. Island Golf Club, grew up in Cartersfamily.” “You have to start with Sea Island ville and went to college in Athens, What I tell others and the great golf there and the resort. but a connection to the area led to his about life here Most people know about Sea Island.” putting down roots. Great memories, too, have enhanced “Both my parents went to Glynn “The weather Cook’s love for the area, he says. GetAcademy, so I kind of had my roots here, the climate, ting to play with a 20-time PGA Tour here,” Cook says. “My father was an is great, the food champion Davis Love III and fellow optometrist and started his practice is good with all the St. Simons Island resident is one of in Cartersville. I went to Georgia and great restaurants. them. played golf there and was playing on You’ve got every“Watching my kids grow up here mini tours after college. In 1985, I thing you need: a has become very special to me. In came here for a family reunion on St. hospital, the colSimons Island. I was at Sea Palms and lege, good schools, golf, one thing that stands out was the first time I played with Davis Love III hit some balls, and Tommy Cason was not a lot of traffic.” in the Golden Isles Invitational. He the head pro there and offered me a was 14 years old, and I’d heard how job as assistant pro. I told him I didn’t far he hit it. That was memorable, want to be behind a counter, I wanted especially knowing how far he’s come since then. to play. So I thanked him, but about a week later, I “But my fondest memory was winning the Georcalled him back and was thinking, ‘St. Simons is gia PGA Professional Championship in 1998 at the not a bad place,’ so maybe I ought to try that, and I old St. Simons Island Club, which is now Retreat. I took him up on it. “I was assistant pro and instructor there for seven sank a 35-foot putt on (No.) 18 to win by one shot.” – Dave Jordan years, then was offered a position to teach at Sea

PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 79


Craig Stalnaker and Kristin Orendorf, both of St. Simons Island, paddleboard in the St. Simons Sound.

Outdoors recreation is calling Bobby Haven photos


PROFILES | The Brunswick News

The Golden Isles and Coastal Georgia are known for natural beauty and pleasant weather, a combination that makes it perfect for all types of outdoor recreation enthusiasts. Golf is among the most popular outdoor activities for many residents and visitors. Glynn County alone has 270 holes of public, semi-private and private golfing available, spread across 15 courses. Rick Mattox, general manager and head professional at King and Prince Golf Course-Home of the Hampton Club on St. Simons Island, says the Isles’ location and scenery makes it a unique golfing experience. “We have four season changes, and it’s just so different from going any farther south,” Mattox says. “I think it has all the components that a person would want, from the oak trees, to the water, to the ocean and the marshes. You just can’t ask for much more.” The entire nation gets a good look at what the Golden Isles has to offer in the fall, when the PGA Tour comes to town for the McGladrey Classic. The event, hosted by Sea Island touring pro Davis Love III, has become a fall tradition since it came to Sea Island Golf Club’s Seaside Course in 2010. The tournament, along with the nine PGA pros who call the area home, are also great exposure. “I think it’s been terrific to hear those guys talking about St. Simons and all those guys being from St. Simons,” Mattox said. “If you’ve watched it, we’ve all probably appreciated what a beautiful place we live in after seeing it on TV.” It doesn’t hurt having a course like Seaside, which Golf Digest magazine ranked 36th on its list of America’s 100 Greatest Public Courses for 2013-14 (classifying Seaside as


Amateur golfers in the Golden Isles Invitational

“public” because patrons of Sea Island Co. resorts can play there without being Sea Island Club members). While tournaments and great courses help bring in tourists, Mattox says there are plenty of people living in Glynn who love to hit the links. “I think you can truthfully say we

80 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

have an across-the-board mix of people throughout Glynn County that love golf and love to play every opportunity they get,” Mattox says. “There are some great players here. There are people who play because they enjoy the game, and people who play for business. The big thing is, you’re starting to see people play and bring their families out, and that’s going to help the future more than anything.” But there is more than golf that brings people to the area. The intricate waterways of Coastal Georgia provide outdoor enthusiasts with a plethora of opportunities to explore. “You’ve got the ocean and beaches, but there’s hundreds of miles of sheltered waterways and rivers — not only saltwater, but nearby freshwater,” says Michael Gowen, owner of SouthEast Adventure Outfitters. “You have a huge variety of ecosystems to choose from. I always say that we have a huge trail system, it’s just all wet.” For people visiting the area, the isolation of a kayak tour can be surprising. “We go out on many of our trips and won’t see anybody else on the water. For a lot of our visitors, it’s something unheard of where they are from,” Gowen says. “There’s so much more density in other places, it’s kind of refreshing to see our area through the eyes of visitors through that reason. The remoteness of our coast and the wildness of it is always interesting to show the folks.” Exploring the area via kayaks or paddleboards also allows families to not only be more active on vacations or weekends, Gowen says, but also gives them a chance to create more memories. “After a day or two just on the beach, they look for something a bit more active to do,” Gowen says. “Also, they’re on vacation to spend time with their significant others and their families, and it’s a way to experience something together.”


Brunswick Rockin’ Stewbilee

St. Marys Mardi Gras



PROFILES | The Brunswick News

Glynn, Camden and McIntosh counties host signature annual events throughout the year to celebrate the history, culture and ways of life that make their communities distinctive. The first major event of the year in the region is the St. Marys Mardi Gras. The date fluctuates each year on Saturdays, from late January through early March, beginning on or after the Epiphany or Kings Day. St. Marys’ festival, held March 1 this year, is a much tamer version of the festival in New Orleans. The one-day event typically draws at least 10,000 people. It features a parade that lasts about 90 minutes and includes marching bands, military honor guards and lots of creative floats. It includes about 100 arts and crafts booths, food vendors, a children’s play area and live entertainment. The day culminates with a Mardi Gras ball, where participants dress in costumes and a king and queen are named. Roger Rillo, one of the festival organizers from its early days, says the 2005 Super Bowl at Jacksonville helped the festival earn a “Top 20 in the Southeast” designation. “That festival put us on the map,” he says. “That made it easy for us ever since. They must like something about us, because they keep coming back.” In early April, the Blessing of the Fleet is held at Darien. This year, the three-day festival is held April 13 through 15. The event celebrates McIntosh County’s biggest industry – shrimping. The festival in-

Darien Blessing of the Fleet cludes an art show, arts and crafts booths, car show, marine show and live entertainment. On the final day, shrimp boats are blessed for a safe and prosperous season. It’s considered the largest blessing on the East Coast and attracts about 30,000 visitors. The last Friday night and Saturday of April is when Woodbine celebrates its annual Crawfish Festival. The arts and crafts booths are erected along the scenic Woodbine Riverwalk and the Coastal Georgia Rail Trail. The booths are set up under trees, with food booths and entertainment at the Satilla River Park. Thousands of generous servings of

crawfish etouffee or bags of cooked crawfish are sold at the event each year. The largest one-day crowds for a festival pack into downtown St. Marys for the annual Kiwanis Club Fourth of July Festival. Like all the festivals at St. Marys, it has a parade featuring floats, fire engines, golf carts and bands, cheered on by thousands of people lining the parade route. After the parade, the sea of people converges into the downtown area, where a day-long festival featuring entertainment, arts and crafts booths and food vendors gives visitors plenty to do. The Kingsland Labor Day Catfish Festival is a three-day event over the holiday

weekend that attracts about 30,000 visitors. It features a parade, arts and crafts booths, live entertainment and food vendors. Jekyll Island jumps into the mix later in September with the Shrimp & Grits: The Wild Georgia Shrimp Festival. This year, the event will be Sept. 19 through 21. The festival focuses on two of Georgia’s celebrated foods – shrimp and grits. It features a cook-off, shrimp boat tours, cooking demonstrations, book signings, arts and crafts vendors, entertainment and a kid-friendly fun zone. The next large event of the year is in St. Marys, the annual Rock Shrimp Festival. Arts and crafts booths, food vendors and entertainment are featured throughout the day. The annual event organizers describe as “the Olympics of the stew world” is held in Brunswick, at Mary Ross Waterfront Park. The Rockin’ Stewbilee features entertainment, a classic and antique cars show and arts and crafts booths. The highlight for many is the samples of Brunswick stew. Ron Adams, one of the early organizers of the event, says the festival was not large at first, but it grew when different organizations decided to pool their resources to create a regional event. “We got a lot of organizations involved,” he says. The festival, which this year will be Oct. 18, is popular because Adams says it is filled with great stew and good entertainment. “We make the best Brunswick stew, right here in Brunswick, Ga.” he says. “We do it with a smile on our faces and good cheer. It’s a winning proposition all around.” Exactly what people would say about any of the annual festivals.

PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 81



PROFILES | The Brunswick News

On-the-job training in the Golden Isles and Coastal Georgia begins even before there is a job. Golden Isles Career Academy, a public charter school for high school students, and Altamaha Technical College, soon-to-be with its own campus separate from the career academy, where it leases space, are part of a linkup between training and working, designed to supply employees to existing employers and to lure new ones with a trained workforce. Golden Isles Career Academy at 4404 Glynco Parkway, Glynn County, was opened in the 2009-2010 school year, and has seen an increase in the number of high school students attending each semester. The school, with an enrollment of 560 students, offers classes in such fields as welding, auto repair, health care, agriculture and broadcast technology. Sharing space at the school is the Golden Isles campus of Altamaha Technical College, one of 25 colleges in the Technical College System of Georgia. Its courses include automotive technology, computer technology, medical as-

A welding student at Golden Isles Career Academy 82 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

sisting and practical nursing, industrial systems and criminal justice. Shortly after the college combines with Okefenokee Technical College in July to become Coastal Pines Technical College, students will see a new Glynn County campus next to the career academy through state funding. Having both high school- and technical college-level training is an advantage for the community, says Mel Baxter, chair of the Brunswick and Glynn County Development Authority. “We need to continue to strengthen the area’s workforce, and that’s why these are so important. They work with local businesses and even work with someone we are courting to bring in, and they can structure their curriculum around that,” Baxter says. Surveying community needs to design curricula is one feature of the career academy, and Baxter is happy to see it and Altamaha Technical creating programs geared toward local industries. “We have the perfect storm – Career Academy, Altamaha Tech and then the four-year college. We cover all those bases, and its just going to help us create a stronger workforce for the companies looking for these,” he says.



RICK TOWNSEND | Developing homegrown talent

ick Townsend has his goal set on seeing Golden Isles Career Academy at its full potential as a training center for the next generations of workers. To do that, Townsend, chief executive officer of the public charter school for career education, has to help students at the school reach their own full potentials. Townsend looks at this goal as both challenging and rewarding for the students, the vocational school and the MY STORY community. Once a student understands Why I live here what he or she wants to do “It’s been a good in life, the student will be in place for my family a better position to pursue a to settle.” postsecondary degree or utilize What I tell others those skills acquired within the community, Townsend says. about life here “If they find out what they “Life is what you want to do in life at a young make it down here. age, it’ll help them find their It has great repath in life, especially in postsources and great secondary education,” he says. people.” “That’s what drives the career academy.” For him, operating at maximum capacity also means the vocational school is producing not only people who are ready to work in their fields of choice, but people who will stay in the Golden Isles and put their skills to use at home. “I want the students to get postsecondary training and then live in Glynn County and work,” Townsend says. “We need to increase our workforce. I feel like that’s my

CAREER EDUCATION MY STORY Why I live here “I grew up in Decatur. Coming from a metro area, it’s a very good place to raise a family.”

What I tell others about life here “It’s a hidden secret, especially to my family in Atlanta. It’s never really too hot or cold.”

job here.” Townsend doesn’t see how any of the students – or anyone else for that matter – who have walked through the doors of the academy wouldn’t want to stay and work in Glynn County. After working at Golden Isles Career Academy the past four years, Townsend – the father of two daughters at

Bobby Haven photo

Glynn Academy and the husband to a wife who teaches in the Glynn County School System – sees the area as a great place to live and have a family. “There are a lot of good people in Glynn County. It’s nice to be in a community that supports education,” Townsend says. “It’s just a beautiful area.” – Martin Rand III

SENETRA HAYWOOD | Leading as a role model


s principal of Golden Isles Career Academy, the public charter school, Senetra Haywood has authority to tell people what to do. But she considers herself a servant to the teachers, students and the community. “As principal, my job is serve the students, parents and teachers,” she says. “It’s not something I take lightly. I want teachers to have all the resources they need to help students learn and grow.” Since becoming principal in 2010, Haywood says the job has been difficult at times, but she finds it easier – and rewarding – to accomplish goals with the amount of community support behind the school system in the county. “The support the community shows to the school system is incredible,” says Haywood, who has two young children enrolled at C.B. Greer Elementary School in the public school system. “You don’t see that a lot in many other communities.” In addition to serving the school’s needs, Haywood wants to be an inspiration to minority students at the school. Being a black woman in a principal’s position is not something that happens all that often, she says.

“I’m able to show them that they can attain anything they want. We want them to see that they can do it,” Haywood says. “People blazed a trail for me, so I want to blaze a trail for them.” Haywood also tries to change the cultural misconception of a school principal. When Haywood was in school, going to the principal’s office was seen as a bad thing, so she tries to change that line of thinking by talking to stu-

Bobby Haven photo

dents and building a relationship with them. While the Golden Isles feels like home to her now, Haywood admits that she never heard about the coastal gem until she attended Georgia Southern University as a freshman, in 2000. Now, after years of living and working here, Haywood couldn’t imagine being anywhere else. – Martin Rand III

PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 83



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vocational school is living up onnie Roberts, the MY STORY to its mission. acting president at â&#x20AC;&#x153;To me, that speaks volAltamaha TechniWhy I live here umes about our commitment cal College, has â&#x20AC;&#x153;I can see the to the workforce of Glynn two main concerns moving benefits that we County,â&#x20AC;? Roberts says. forward into this year. Roberts has been the acting The first is making sure the provide for the citizens. I can see the president of the college since merger of Altamaha Technidirect impact we July, previously serving for cal College and Okefenokee have in studentsâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; 12 years as vice president for Technical College to form lives.â&#x20AC;? institutional effectiveness. In Coastal Pines Technical that role, Roberts obtained College goes through as What I tell others a deep understanding of the smoothly as possible July 1. about life here various operations within the The other is continuing the â&#x20AC;&#x153;I tell them school. mission of Altamaha Technithereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no other â&#x20AC;&#x153;I oversaw a lot of decal College to train and place Iâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;d rather live partments, so I had a good prepare its students for jobs than in this part of idea of peopleâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s roles at the in the workforce throughout the state.â&#x20AC;? college and what they do,â&#x20AC;? Glynn County during his Roberts says. time as president. The 56-year-old lives â&#x20AC;&#x153;The primary mission is in Jeff Davis County and workforce development,â&#x20AC;? treasures the time he spends in the Golden Roberts says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Then our students can Isles, whether heâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s coming to represent the become assets to the community. In every program we have, we see thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s a need for college or simply enjoying some leisure time. it in the community.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;With the coast, beaches, small-town The collegeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s guarantee to retrain friendly atmosphere, thereâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s no other place anyone who graduates from the school if like this,â&#x20AC;? Roberts says. an employer finds the person canâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t do the â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Martin Rand III expected job is proof for Roberts that the



PROFILES | The Brunswick News

Commerce in Brunswick and the Golden Isles is stronger and more diverse today, thanks to government and private investments the past two decades. Four-lane highways like U.S. 82 and U.S. 341, part of the state’s developmental highway system, and the new higher, fixed-span Sidney Lanier Brdge make the trip to the coastal community a quicker drive for beachgoers and out-of-town shoppers, who, thanks to private investment, have more retailers and restaurants from which to choose these days. Investors see the potential. Golden Isles Plaza and Glynn Isles Market joined Glynn Place Mall in the past two decades, bringing in more retailers and national chains, such as Target, Books-A-Million and Staples. “If you had told someone 20 years ago that we were going to have a Lowes, a Target and a Home Depot in the same town, and all these coffee shops, they would not have believed you,” says Woody Woodside, president of the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce. “We’ve seen a curve where we are getting more national retail chains. I think it has a lot to do with regionalization.” The overall success of retail is reflected in the number of jobs it produces. In 2013, according to a study by the Georgia Labor Department, retail trade in Glynn County was responsible for about 14 percent of the community’s employment, or 4,800 jobs. It increases the significance of the four-lane highways, which connect Glynn County to smaller communities, such as Waycross and Jesup. “We’re depending on other counties around here for a lot of our workforce,” Woodside says. “These high-

ways make it a lot easier to attract them. It’s an easier drive.” The number of motels and restaurants, especially those clustered at Interstate 95 exits, is on the rise – a clear indication that more travelers are staying overnight in Glynn County and taking their meals here. But shopping and an expanded menu of restaurant choices is not all that is bringing more visitors to Glynn County. The destinations of Jekyll, St. Simons and Sea islands are a major drawing card and economic stimulus for the community, attracting tourists to the coast from short and long distances for extended stays. Sea Island Co. resorts continue to hold top-tier Forbes FiveStar ratings for amenities and service; St. Simons and Jekyll islands continue to offer places to relax, unwind and enjoy the amenities of coastal living, including bicycling on miles of paved paths across golden marsh or under the shade of sprawling oaks, or golf on one of many courses. Lodging and food service are providing the greatest number of employment opportunities in Glynn County – about 17 percent of overall employment, or 6,000 jobs. The aviation industry is experiencing a growth trend, a fact that includes the recent announcement by Gulfstream Aerospace of plans to build a new hangar at Brunswick Golden Isles Airport and hire more workers. “That sets the pace for future aviation-related businesses,” Woodside says. The Port of Brunswick is reporting record tonnage gains, a major boost to the economies of Glynn and the state, and other industries are looking forward to post-recession gains. The Brunswick port imports more new cars than any other port in the nation, and is No. 2 in the export of cars. In addition, agricultural products and wood pellet shipments to Europe for heating use are also driving up traffic.

A cargo ship passes beneath the Sidney Lanier Bridge at the Port of Brunswick

PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 85


JOHN ROGERS | Bank thrives on community support ATLANTIC NATIONAL BANK

Michael Hall photo


shows him that â&#x20AC;&#x153;we are part of the tlantic National Bank MY STORY community,â&#x20AC;? he says. President John Rogers That community is what drew learned again in recent Why I live here Rogers back to the area after spendyears how important the Living here offers ing a few years working in Atlanta community surrounding a locally the perfect mix after graduating from the Univerowned and operated bank is during of good people, sity of Georgia with an accounting rough times. unique environdegree. As the Great Recession struck in ment and history. Growing up in Baxley, Rog2007, Rogers leaned on his decades ers says he frequently visited his of banking experience to guide What I tell others grandmotherâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s beach cottage on St. Atlantic National, for which he was about life here Simons Island. When the hustle and the founding president in 1998, It is a very generbustle of Atlanta became tiresome, through the tumult and emerge still ous and giving Rogers said he and his wife made very much alive. area. â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think there the decision to move to Glynn Doing so would not have been are a lot of people County. For the past 35 years, he possible without the loyal local here who care for built a banking career that gave customers with which the bankâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s this community.â&#x20AC;? him the tools to see Atlantic Natellers and officers have spent the tional through the recession, somepast 16 years developing relationthing he attributes to the strength of ships, Rogers says. the community in the Golden Isles. â&#x20AC;&#x153;Everybody came through it â&#x20AC;&#x153;I think there are a lot of people here who care bruised. We were not exempt from that,â&#x20AC;? Rogers for this community,â&#x20AC;? Rogers says. says. Outside of the bank, he has seen that caring in But the strength of the local customer base was what the bank needed to survive when others did action through his involvement with Hospice of the Golden Isles and the St. Simons Land Trust. not. Today, Atlantic National is the only Glynn Rogers says the generosity of residents is County-headquartered bank in the area. The experience reminded Rogers that the bank enough to make the Golden Isles an attractive place to live, work and play. is here to stay. During the past two years, Rogâ&#x20AC;&#x201C; Michael Hall ers says Atlantic National has turned a profit. It




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MICHAEL ALEXANDER | Growing workforce aids area

MY STORY Why I live here “King & Prince Seafood brought me to the area. The people I met at the company and the vision they shared made me want to become part of the team.”

What I tell others about life here “The people I’ve had the privilege to meet – too many good things to say about the people here and the great commute. Life is too short to spend in traffic, and the view on the causeway is magnificent.”




ing & Prince Seafood brought Michael Alexander to the Golden Isles in 2010. Hired as a category manager, he rose quickly through the company and was named King & Prince’s new president and chief executive this past year. Since his arrival, Alexander has discovered the myriad of things that makes the Golden Isles stand out from the rest of the country. Mother Nature plays a big role in the Isles’ appeal for Alexander. The sounds of nature, from silence to a cacophony of frogs and birds, and the picturesque views of the stars and sunsets make this a great place for a nature-lover. “Light pollution in other parts of the country has dimmed the view, so we are especially fortunate here,” Alexander says. “I am an early morning runner and cyclist, and have nearly crashed my bike from staring up at the heavens. (And) the sunsets — what a great close to the day.” But Alexander says this area has more than nature on its side. He also says the people make it a great place to live. Restaurants also offer great meals, no matter what the cuisine. He says those advantages can carry

over to helping the area grow, as a whole. “I think that the Golden Isles has untapped potential. I see thoughtful growth that preserves the beauty of the area, while providing new opportunities to the current workforce, recent graduates and transplanted seasoned professionals. There is a can-do attitude throughout the area that is very appealing,” he says. Alexander’s role at King & Prince is to build a team and provide the tools and focus to help it be successful. He says he inherited a great team from his predecessor, and that has made for a smooth transition that has allowed the company to continue making a positive impact on the area. “(We want) to continue to grow our business and provide more employment opportunities, (and be) a good corporate citizen by striving to make our slice of the world better than it was the day before,” Alexander says. King & Prince helps by assisting various charities, including United Way and the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life — to which he says more than 75 employees donate their time. The company also donates seafood to food banks. – Buddy Hughes

Bobby Haven photo

JODIE MORGAN | Vision keeps longtime firm moving up

MY STORY Why I live here “I really enjoyed working with the Pinova team and when the opportunity arose to work with the company on a day-to-day basis as the president, I immediately said yes.”

What I tell others about life here “Many people know that the scenery is beautiful and the location wonderful, but the people really make this area what it is today.”


odie Morgan got her first impression of the Golden Isles when she was a part of the due diligence team looking to acquire the former Hercules plant. After Canadian investment firm TorQuest bought the plant in 2009 and renamed it Pinova, Morgan joined the board of directors and visited the company every quarter. Her stay became permanent when she was named president and general manager of Pinova in 2013. “I really enjoyed working with the Pinova team, and when the opportunity arose to work with the company on a day-to-day basis as the president, I immediately said yes,” Morgan says. “Pinova is a wonderful business with a unique legacy and bright future. It is not often that you get the chance to work with a company that is doing something totally different. Pinova is the world’s only manufacturer of wood rosin products, which makes it both exciting and rewarding to lead.” Morgan says her job at Pinova boils down to three key elements: providing vision, establishing goals


to measure progress and working to remove obstacles that stand in the way of achieving those goals. The plant is an Isles institution, having provided jobs to the area for more than 100 years through its predecessor firm. Morgan says Pinova’s impact on the area goes beyond employment opportunities. “I believe that the positive impact

Bobby Haven photo

from Pinova is felt in many different ways, and this is important, as we want to be good members of the community,” Morgan says. “Some tangible contributions are the financial impact of employing over 240 people, our charitable activities and, of course, the ripple effect that comes from this input. We’re here in the same location where the business

started for many reasons. One of the most significant is that Brunswick is a great place to have a business. We have a solid workforce who loves to call the Golden Isles home.” As much as the Isles is known for its natural beauty, Morgan says it is the people that make this a special place. “I get to work with individuals who are passionate about our business and their community,” Morgan says. “They make it easy to become attached. I have run a number of companies, and worked in a few more, and I have never found people more dedicated to each other and the company they work for each day.” As far as the future goes, Morgan sees growth and success for both Pinova and the Isles. “The Golden Isles has a big group of diverse businesses that have been here for generations,” Morgan says. “That longevity breeds loyalty and trust, which goes hand in hand with growth and success. I see nothing but good things in the future for both Pinova and the Golden Isles.” – Buddy Hughes

PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014 87



WILLIAM STEMBLER | Big screen has big paybacks GEORGIA THEATRE CO.

f you have been to a movie theater in Georgia, chances are you have stepped inside one of William Stembler’s theaters. Stembler’s company, Georgia Theatre Co., owns and operates 29 cinemas in the state, including Glynn Place Stadium 11 Cinemas in Glynn County, Island Cinemas 7 on St. Simons Island and Kings Bay Stadium MY STORY Cinemas 9 at St. Marys. “I hope people feel we have Why I live here provided quality entertainment “It’s a tie (behere over many decades,” says tween) the people, Stembler, president of Georgia who have a warm, Theatre Co. “Our citizens work friendly attitude, or hard, but also know how to have simply the beauty of a good time. That’s what Georgia Theatre Co. and the (Georgia the Golden Isles.” Theatre Xtreme) auditorium are all about — bringing to our area What I tell others about life here the best movies and just letting “The open vistas folks have a good time.” of marshland Moviegoers will have a new fringed with giant theater experience when the oak trees and other GTX auditorium arrives in beautiful foliage. I Glynn County. The auditorium don’t think it’s necis being built on the site of essary to amplify the former Kmart building at how beautiful this the Glynn Place Mall, and is area is, it’s simply expected to be completed later my favorite place on this year. The company is also Earth.” renovating its Glynn Place Stadium 11 Cinemas to incorporate


the design of the new attraction into the setting. Stembler says the large-format presentation will bring a new movie experience to the area. “The new GTX auditorium will have the latest technology in theater exhibition presentation,” he says. “It will feature a screen over 70 feet wide and approximately four stories high, with digital projection and advanced stereo sound. It will be the only large-format presentation below (Interstate 16) in Savannah, above (Interstate 10) in Jacksonville and south of Warner Robbins.” The company does more for the community than offer entertainment. Stembler says many of its employees are

Bobby Haven photo

involved with charities and civic endeavors. One of the company’s biggest charitable contributions is Cinema for a Cause, which observed its 10th anniversary this year. Theaters donate all the money they take in during the Cinema for a Cause weekend to local charities of the staffs’ choosing. “I am proud of our Cinema for a Cause day that we hold in September of every year,” Stembler says. “We give all of our sales to local charities from that Sunday, and the gifts over the past 10 years just in the Glynn County area exceeded $100,000.” – Buddy Hughes

SCOTT McQUADE | Tourism makes Isles feel like home

MY STORY Why I live here “It is the incredible natural backdrop, the historical assets, and also the sense of place … When you’re a resident, you understand it’s the fabric of the people who live here – the values they uphold. It feels like you’ve gone back in time, and that isn’t a bad thing, that’s a compliment.”

What I tell others about life here “It isn’t overdeveloped… This is a more natural resort community.”



f anyone would know what the Golden Isles has to offer, it is Scott McQuade, executive director of the Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau. McQuade has lived in eight states. He was reared in New England. He has traveled across the country, and before he came to live in the Golden Isles, he lived in this area’s exact opposite – at least for climate and elevation. “I spent the last five and a half years before moving here in Telluride, Colo.,” he says. “People ask a lot, ‘How is it different?’ In almost every way. Still, although this area is larger than that one, it still has the smallness and the close-knit community of it. I’ve seen a lot of different communities – what has worked and what hasn’t worked. I feel like this area has a great opportunity.” Most of his working life has involved looking at a community’s assets, and his time in Glynn County is no different. As head of the convention and visitors bureau, it’s McQuade’s job to promote the community he chose to make his home to the state, the nation and the world. Each year, McQuade’s office presents a vision of the Golden Isles to millions of

88 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

people, many of whom will decide to visit. “We are still very much a secret,” he says. “But then when it comes down to marketing the assets, certainly, we have tremendous assets to market. Since 2011, tourism, as far as accommodations, has grown exponentially, to the tune of 7.5 percent per year. We feel like we’re doing our job well.” Tourism is Glynn County’s No. 1 industry, McQuade says, and it creates more than 20,000 jobs for area residents. But tourism is competitive, especially for a community only an hour north of one of the largest tourist destinations in the nation: Florida. It presents a challenge for McQuade and his staff, but in remaining competitive, the convention and visitors bureau has also helped to change its community’s face. “It would be hard to do this job if you don’t believe in it,” McQuade says. “It’s not just that we’re out there promoting tourism. We’re very invested in the community and the community’s potential, its gateways and festivals. The nice thing is, though it is a tourist economy, it also greatly benefits the residents. We have great tourist amenities, but they’re also shared by the residents.” – Kelly Quimby

Bobby Haven photo



BOB MILLER | Vehicle traffic helps power Brunswick port International Auto Processing

that â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;differentâ&#x20AC;&#x2122; can also mean â&#x20AC;&#x2DC;better.â&#x20AC;&#x2122; or nearly 30 years, InterMY STORY For instance, smaller can mean less national Auto Processing, traffic, shorter lines and more free the largest business of its Why I live here time,â&#x20AC;? he says. kind on the East Coast, has â&#x20AC;&#x153;The warmth and It also meant that Miller would been receiving cargo ships full of hospitality of the become part of a huge industry in the vehicles at the Port of Brunswick. Coastal Georarea that prepares inbound vehicles IAP employs 250 people from the gia people â&#x20AC;&#x201C; our for delivery to dealers and outbound Golden Isles and surrounding areas, coworkers, busivehicles for shipment overseas. He and aided the Port of Brunswick in ness associates, would help to create jobs and make a becoming the No. 1 importer of new neighbors, shop name for Brunswick and the Golden vehicles in the country during 2013. cashiers â&#x20AC;&#x201C; have all Isles. Each year, U.S. Customs colBehind IAPâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s wheel is President Bob lects $350 million in duties from Miller, who started steering the com- made us feel more than welcome. We cargo coming through the Port of pany after the retirement of president enjoy the beauty Brunswick and another $12 million Jim Showalter. of the coast and in harbor maintenance taxes. Miller moved to Glynn County the marshes, the â&#x20AC;&#x153;We are proud of the role IAP from Los Angeles for the job, and it clear skies and, plays in the Brunswick port and with was definitely an adjustment, he said. of course, the the local economy,â&#x20AC;? Miller says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;My wife, Suzanne, and I decided shrimp.â&#x20AC;? â&#x20AC;&#x153;Port businesses provide thousands that it was time to set off on a new of direct and indirect jobs, and those adventure, so we happily took the What I tell others workers are spending their money job and came to the Golden Isles,â&#x20AC;? about life here on goods and services in Glynn and Miller says. â&#x20AC;&#x153;It was a huge change â&#x20AC;&#x153;Yâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;all come visit!â&#x20AC;? surrounding counties. I am honored for us. Moving across the country and grateful to be working with IAP. meant leaving behind our three We employ 250 of the best associates adult sons, our granddaughter and a around, and the great job they do has earned the lifetime of friends. business and respect of our customers. That makes â&#x20AC;&#x153;And it meant learning to adapt to an environit easier for us to entice additional clients.â&#x20AC;? ment that is different than that to which we had â&#x20AC;&#x201C; Kelly Quimby become accustomed. But we very quickly learned

Bobby Haven photo

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BUD ST. PIERRE | Resort hotel offers link to whole island KING AND PRINCE BEACH & GOLF RESORT

t would be easy for Bud St. Pierre to encourage the guests he attracts to the King and Prince Beach & Golf Resort on St. Simons Island to never leave the resort. With a newly renovated atrium lobby featuring a new restaurant and bar with a beachfront view, named Echo, and an array of pampering services at the resort, patrons of the hotel could easily leave the grounds only to visit the beach adjacent to it. But as director of sales and marketing for the resort, St. MY STORY Pierre knows that bringing visitors to the King and Prince Why I live here means they are visiting the “Southern hosisland as a whole. pitality is a real There are a multitude of thing, and it’s alive beachfront resorts up and down and well here.” the East Coast. What sets The King and Prince apart from What I tell others those is its location, he says. about life here “We’re an oceanfront resort on this really cool, unique island,” “It’s an island, he says. and it’s small, but That is why the hotel has it has everything created partnerships with island you need.” businesses to offer services and to encourage visitors to experience all that St. Simons Island has to offer. Since moving to the island 12 years ago, St. Pierre and his family have fallen in love with that same experience. Whether it is paddling a kayak through the creeks, eating at a nearby seafood restaurant, playing golf or taking a dolphin or shrimp boat tour, he knows that both living and



visiting the Golden Isles offers much more than many other beach communities. “We realize that people don’t just want to eat and hang out only at the hotel,” St. Pierre says. Of course, when it comes to hanging out by the beach, he also knows that his hotel offers one of the few truly beachfront experiences on St. Simons Island. The recent renovations and the addition of Echo have re-energized the hotel, and it is now an even better place for visitors and Golden Isles residents to enjoy their unique surroundings. Echo has completely reshaped the resort with

Bobby Haven photo

the removal of an indoor swimming pool that had occupied about half of the atrium. The space now offers a spacious, sleek and modern beachfront dining area. St. Pierre says the hotel enjoys being part of the residential community in the area, as well as a destination for tourists. With traditions like a Thanksgiving feast, a New Year’s Eve celebration and the Taste of Glynn event, St. Pierre says the resort has been successful in connecting with residents. “We want this to be a place where people want to come and hang out,” he says. – Michael Hall

BILL GROSS | Building a community requires involvement W.H. Gross Construction Co.

cided to bid on the project. “We needed ill Gross has been involved MY STORY a landmark that could double as office with major building projects space.” along Coastal Georgia from Why I live here Gross also believes it is important to St. Marys to Savannah. “I think there’s play an active role in the community, His Kingsland-based business, W.H. something special where he is a board member for Camden Gross Construction Co., builds everyabout Camden Partnership, Camden County Chamber thing from homes in upscale developCounty. Camden of Commerce, Habitat for Humanity, ments, such as Cumberland Harbour and County evokes a Southeast Georgia Health System and Osprey Cove at St. Marys, to the Village good emotion.” First Baptist Church of Kingsland. of Winding Road, a senior complex surHe is also an organizer for an anrounded by a walking trail with exercise What I tell others nual chili cook-off and other charitable stations, edible shrubs and citrus trees. about life here events. The senior complex earned his company “I tell them it’s “If you want change, if you don’t make Georgia’s Development Team of the the best-kept it happen, it won’t happen,” he says. “If Year award from the Atlanta Builders secret on the East you don’t like the environment you’re in, Association. Coast. It’s not change the environment.” He built Kings Grant, an apartment Mayberry. You want As a third-generation resident of complex to provide affordable housing to come back here Camden County, Gross says he can’t several years ago in Kingsland. “It’s not to where it’s safe, imagine living anywhere else. When he HUD,” he said. “It’s a public/private friendly and has a meets people unfamiliar with the area, partnership.” great climate.” he prepares them for what to expect. He is the contractor for the ongoing “Folks are not used to the friendliness Norwich Street improvement project in of people here,” he says. “Having joy Brunswick, and in Kingsland, the man in your life in Camden County is easier responsible for transforming a group of than most places in the world. It’s the best-kept secret small city-owned buildings into a municipal complex for the city that looks like a city block from the 1940s. on the East Coast.” – Gordon Jackson “It was an idea that evolved,” he says of when he de90 PROFILES The Brunswick News / Saturday, March 29, 2014

Gordon Jackson photo


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