NCM Jan/Feb 2021

Page 1

Wedding

THE

Planning in a Pandemic

Three Couples Who Said “I Do” JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2021 COMPLIMENTARY COPY

ISSUE

Aloha, Bonjour, Ciao!

Travel Destinations

Race

in Coweta

Locals Discuss Racial Reconciliation



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As we greet the new year, the health and safety of our employees, customers, and community continues to be our priority in 2021. We are also dedicated to the health of the planet. Part of our ongoing commitment to environmental stewardship includes an expanded recycling program, begun in 2020. Partnering with local organizations, schools, and businesses, we work to encourage recycling in our community.

For more information and resources, please visit: NewnanUtilities.org/recycle NewnanUtilitiesGA

@NewnanUtilities

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70 Sewell Road, Newnan, GA 30263 • 770-683-5516 • NewnanUtilities.org

NU coweta mag jan2021.indd 1

11/30/20 11:43 AM


100% Focused On Women’s Health Care A Publication of The Newnan Times-Herald

Introducing Dr. Alena Naumova, MD

Dr. Naumova was originally born in Moldova and grew up in the Washington D.C. area speaking both Russian and English. She subsequently attained proficiency in speaking Spanish throughout her education and travels. Dr. Naumova spent additional time during her training to gain expertise managing complex benign gynecologic as well as malignant pelvic pathology. Dr. Naumova specializes in a variety of conditions from adolescence to menopause, including management of infertility, contraception, adolescent medicine, pelvic pain, abnormal uterine bleeding and pelvic masses. She is trained and certified in minimally invasive surgery including robotic and laparoscopic surgery including the use of the DaVinci system. She is passionate about educating her patients and focuses on treating patients as a whole. She has a special interest in improving both obstetric and gynecologic patient outcomes through the use of enhanced recovery after surgery protocols with ultimate goals to optimize comorbidities and reduce complication risks.

President

Vice President

Publishers

William W. Thomasson Marianne C. Thomasson C. Clayton Neely

Elizabeth C. Neely

Editor

Jackie Kennedy

Creative Directors

Production Director

Contributing Writers

Sandy Hiser, Sonya Studt Debby Dye Misha Benson

Chuck and Barbara Cleveland

Susan Mayer Davis

Jennifer Dziedzic

Jenny Enderlin

Glenda Harris

Frances Kidd

Jill Whitley

Allyson Merchant

Photography

Emily Walker

Advertising Manager

Bonnie Pratt

Multimedia Sales Specialists

Misha Benson Jill Whitley

FOR ADVERTISING INFORMATION call 770.253.1576 or email advertise@newnan.com

Newnan-Coweta Magazine is published bi-monthly by The Newnan Times-Herald, Inc., 16 Jefferson Street, Newnan, GA 30263.

Our Doctors: W. Darrell Martin , MD, FACOG Elizabeth W. Killebrew, MD, FACOG Crystal Slade, MD, FACOG Benita Bonser, MD, FACOG Michlene Broadney, MD, FACOG Edwin Bello, MD, FACOGDeborah

Shepard, MD, FACOG Heather S. Turner, MD, FACOG Kristie Dyson, MD, FACOG Tanya Beckford, MD, FACOG Susan Thomas, MD, FACOG Alena Naumova, MD

Newnan-Coweta Magazine is distributed in home-delivery copies of The Newnan Times-Herald and at businesses and offices throughout Coweta County.

On the Web: newnancowetamagazine.com @newnancowetamag

(770) 991-2200 scwhobgyn.com Offices in Newnan, Fayetteville and Stockbridge

NOW ACCEPTING MOST KAISER PLANS

@newnancowetamagazine

Š 2021 by The Newnan Times-Herald, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited.


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CONTENTS JANUARY-FEBRUARY 2021 ISSUE

24 our features 24 | Pandemic Weddings In a year that was turned upside down, wedding planning took a few twists and turns, too. By Jennifer Dziedzic

42 | The Ring that Binds A local master jeweler dishes on engagement and groom rings. By Jennifer Dziedzic 12 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM

Photo by Allyson Merchant

44 | “We Did” Three couples defied the 2020 event cancellation odds and managed to exchange vows in dream weddings. By Jenny Enderlin

60 | Race Relations in Coweta How does Coweta stack up in regards to racial reconciliation? We take a look – and present essays from six Cowetans who share their views. By Frances Kidd, Beth Callaway, Herb Cranford, Debra Harris, JoAn Kinrade, Todd Slade, Derrick Teagle.


We are here for you! 70

28

70 | NCM Q&A Local pastors Chris Carlyle and Jimmy Patterson talk about race and breaking down barriers. By Jackie Kennedy

74 | Honeymoon Destinations Our new travel feature debuts with honeymoon destinations in Hawaii, Canada and Italy. By Chuck Cleveland

in this issue 14 | From the Editor 14 | Caption This 16 | Roll Call

17 | Georgia Bucket List 18 | Behind the Shot 19 | Coweta Quotes 20 | Book Review 22 | Coweta to Me 78 | #NCMstyle 79 | Ask A Mom 80 | Coweta Cooks 84 | Coweta Garden 88 | Coweta Prose & Poetry 94 | Blacktop 96 | Coweta Kids Care 98 | The Wrap-Up

➤ Cover Photo by Allyson Merchant

SERVING OUR COMMUNITY FOR MORE THAN 35 YEARS Our Doctors George Ballantyne, MD Michael Cushing, MD Michael Gruber, MD David Heinsch, MD Chad Kessler, MD Jayson McMath, MD Trevor Turner, MD David Love, MD Clark Walker, MD Our Physician Assistants Darron Baham, PA-C Dianna Bureau, PA-C Beth Fleming, PA-C Jared Shafer, PA-C Rusty Smith, PA-C

At Georgia Bone and Joint, we are open and are here to serve you and your family for all your immediate orthopedic needs. • Our Georgia Bone and Joint Surgery Center (ASC) is the only Coweta County ambulatory surgical center providing same-day total joint replacement procedures for patients. • Our Georgia Bone & Joint Physical Therapy is not only the largest practice in our area but our physical therapists’ have direct lines of communication with our Georgia Bone & Joint orthopedists while offering one-on-one therapy protocol to our patients providing the highest quality of care. • Our Georgia Bone & Joint’s Orthobiologics Center provides regenerative medicine options for our patients. • In addition, we have our Georgia Bone and Joint AfterHours Clinic to help our services fit your schedule.

Your safety is our top priority. We follow CDC infection-

prevention guidelines to keep you safe by rigorous cleaning and disinfecting of our clinics, ambulatory surgery center, physical therapy and MRI department. In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Georgia Bone and Joint is offering telemedicine virtual medical visits so you can see a provider from the privacy and safety of your own home or office.

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1755 Hwy. 34 E. Suite 2200 Newnan, GA 30265 (770) 502-2175

4000 Shakerag Hill Suite 100 Peachtree City, GA 30269 (770) 626-5340

Ankle | Back | Elbow | Foot | Hand | Hip | Joint Replacement | Knee | Neck | Osteoporosis Care Pediatric Orthopedics | Orthobiologics | Shoulder | Spine | Sports Medicine | Wrist


LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

Love in Action F

ew events illustrate love in action the way a wedding does. Whether vows are exchanged in a huge to-do with dozens in the bridal party or in a small ceremony with only the immediate family present, there's something special about witnessing the love between a couple as they tie the knot to enter marriage. In preparing for this, our Wedding Issue, one of the things we learned is that in an era of destination weddings, Coweta has become a popular wedding destination. So in these pages, you'll meet not only couples from Coweta County but also couples from other locales who chose to marry here. With a dozen wedding venues in the county – along with multiple vendors who specialize in wedding attire, rings, flowers, photography, catering or cakes – Coweta is well-prepared to entertain wedding parties of any size for a ceremony and reception sure to meet the highest standards. While individuals joining in matrimony provides a compelling picture of love, another way Cowetans demonstrate love in action is through their willingness to work together to address concerns. In recent years, a top concern has been race relations. Newnan proved to be no shrinking violet in 2018 when its citizens and law enforcement joined to keep the peace during a rally that could have led to violence. Since then, community members have worked to keep alive the love in action demonstrated on that April day. For this issue, we asked six community members to share their views on race relations in Coweta. They each write from different experiences and perspectives, but there’s a common theme: Whether or not it’s spelled out, the undercurrent winding through each essay seems to be a call for action, specifically: to put love in action. Lefty Frizzell wrote “That’s the Way Love Goes” and Willie Nelson sang it. It’s one of my favorite love songs, and I think it makes a perfect wedding song: “That’s the way love goes, Babe, that’s the music God made for the whole wide world to sing. It never gets old, it only grows.”

That’s the thing about love in action. It never gets old. It only grows. As we enter a new year, our goal at NCM is to continue sharing your stories, especially those with love at the heart.

Caption This! “This restroom visit comes with a free ‘cat scan.’”

In November, we asked our Newnan-Coweta Magazine readers and Facebook friends to caption this photo. We received numerous entries with the winning caption, above, submitted by Charlotte Webb of LaGrange. In January, we’ll post another photo for readers to caption. Winners receive an NCM 25th Anniversary T-shirt. Visit newnancowetamagazine. com or follow us on Facebook to submit your caption.

@newnancowetamag Jackie Kennedy, Editor magazine@newnan.com

14 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM


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ROLL CALL

Our Contributors Glenda Harris lives in Senoia with her husband and their Boykin spaniel, Buddy. A freelance writer and book review columnist, she worked many years as a medical editor and is creator of The Book Vault, a large online book club.

Allyson Merchant is a Newnan fifth grade teacher by day and photographer by night. When not teaching or photographing weddings, she enjoys spending time outside with her wonderful husband James and sweet son, Hudson.

Chuck and Barbara Cleveland of Newnan have been happily married for 44 years and enjoy travel, especially to Italy. Barbara is a retired social worker/ counselor who likes photography. Chuck has contributed articles to local publications, including NCM and The Newnan Times-Herald.

Emily Walker lives in Grantville and is a freshman at LaGrange College. Originally from Texas, she’s a photographer who has covered an array of sports for her own business and for The Newnan Times-Herald.

Jennifer Dziedzic lives in Newnan with her husband and young daughter. In their free time, they love to ride bikes, swim and go hiking. They have chickens and two sweet and spoiled rescue dogs.

Jenny Enderlin graduated cum laude from Florida State University with an English degree. She lives in Newnan where she’s involved with the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society, Coweta County Democrat Party, One Roof and Backstreet Community Arts.

Misha Benson is a Newnan resident and multimedia sales specialist with NTH Media. Reading and abstract painting are her favorite pastimes, and she loves fried green tomatoes. 16 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM

Susan Mayer Davis lives with husband Larry and golden retriever Mariah. What she enjoys most about writing for NCM is meeting great people when she researches articles and then sharing their stories. “It’s fun,” she says, “but it’s also a privilege.”

Frances Kidd is a Newnan native who spent most of her adult years working as a nonprofit and marketing consultant. Although she’s an avid traveler, she never lost her Southern accent. If she’s not in Georgia, you can find her out in the country in Italy.


GEORGIA BUCKET LIST

What’s on your

Georgia

at an Affordable Price!

Bucket List?

H

ave you ever walked the rim of Providence Canyon or hiked to the top of Stone Mountain? Jet-skied at Lake Lanier or taken the ferry to Cumberland Island? Watched penguins waddle at Georgia Aquarium or run the Fourth of July Peachtree Road Race? Maybe you haven’t scratched these things off your bucket list. We want to help! Let Newnan-Coweta Magazine know what’s tops on your Georgia Bucket List, and your dream may become reality. We invite you to submit your top bucket list wish that’s doable in Georgia. We’ll pick five and make them happen in the coming year. So, tell us what’s tops on your to-do list. It doesn’t have to be tied to visiting a Georgia tourist attraction. Maybe there’s a restaurant you’ve heard about but never tried. Or maybe there’s a certain someone you’ve longed to meet in person but never had the opportunity to do so. Let us know what bucket list item you haven’t been able to mark off your list and why it’s important to you. If we choose your entry, we’ll make it happen and share that story with NCM readers in an upcoming issue. Submit your entry online at newnancowetamagazine. com, or fill out the form here and mail to Newnan-Coweta Magazine, 16 Jefferson Street, Newnan, GA 30263, or drop it by our office at the same address.

The Barn @ Big Oak is a rustic, family owned, special events venue that sits on 19.5 acres in Heard County, Georgia. Our goal is to meet all of your venue needs at a fraction of the cost.

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The item I’d most like to scratch off my Georgia Bucket List: ___________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________ Why is this important to you? ___________________________________________________________________ ___________________________________________________________________

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BEHIND THE SHOT

Creating Our

Wedding Cover

O

18 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM

Photo by Sandy Hiser

Bridesmaid-to-be Payton Thompson shares cellphone snaps with her friend, bride-to-be Mikayla Morelli.

nnedy

ant, center, enjoys the Photographer Allyson Merch dens. Gar an Lilli at oot styled photosh

Payton Thompson our bride, Mikay , left, and Jill Whitley, right, assis la Morelli, with he t r gown.

Photo by Jackie Ke

n October 28, our creative team met with local wedding vendors in hopes of capturing the perfect cover shot for this issue of Newnan-Coweta Magazine (NCM). The weather was a bit warm for late October, but everything else was as close to perfect as it comes – the goal every bride strives for when planning her own perfect day. Our cover subjects, engaged couple Mikayla Morelli and Shamon Thomas, had planned their wedding for September 2020, but they opted to postpone it amid COVID-19 concerns and crowd restrictions. They haven’t set a new date, but they expect to exchange vows later this year. In the interim, NCM presented the charming couple with a preview of what their big day might look and feel like. Taking part in a styled photoshoot to achieve our cover portrait, Thomas was fitted for a tux, and Morelli landed in a stylist’s chair for makeup and hair. As usual, NCM staffers were on hand, this time acting as bridesmaids to calm and assist the bride while facilitating the photoshoot. Payton Thompson, receptionist at The Newnan Times-Herald and one of Morelli's bridesmaids, got a preview of her wedding day duties. When the day was done, we came away with intense respect for wedding vendors who pour their heart and soul into creating memorable ceremonies. Our deepest gratitude goes to Ashley Keely at Lillian Gardens for the use of the event venue; Allyson Merchant of Fitzography Photo+Video, in Senoia, for the fabulous wedding photos; Amber Bibler of Bedazzled Flower Shop, in Sharpsburg, for arranging the lovely bouquet and boutonniere; Brittany Young of B Young Beauty Studio+Spa, in Newnan, for her expertise in hair and makeup; and Lynda M. Johnson, of Celebrate Tuxedos in Newnan, for handsomely fitting our groom. And to the future Mr. and Mrs. Shamon Thomas, we thank you for letting us share in your love, and we wish you many years of wedded bliss. NCM

Photo by Jackie Kennedy

Written by JACKIE KENNEDY


COWETA QUOTES

Love suffers long and is kind;

love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. THE HOLY BIBLE

1 Corinthians 13:4-7

Now  join your hands, and with your hands your hearts. SHAKESPEARE

“King Henry V”

Love is an

irresistible desire

Maybe you don’t need the whole world to love you, you know. Maybe you just need one person.

to be

irresistibly desired. ROBERT FROST

THE MUPPETS

poet

I love being married. It’s so great to find that

one special person you want to annoy

for the rest of your life. RITA RUDNER

comedian

puppet characters created by Jim Henson

You know you’re in love when you can’t fall asleep because reality is

finally better than your dreams. DR. SEUSS

author

Marriage is like a game of chess except the board

is flowing water, the pieces are made of smoke and no move you make will have any effect on the outcome. JERRY SEINFELD

actor

Member of The KNOT Hall of Fame Voted Best Caterer in the Southern Arc by Lifestyles Magazine Readers for 7 consecutive years!

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 19


BOOK REVIEW

‘Ariel's Island’ A legal thriller by Newnan attorney Pat McKee

Reviewed by MISHA BENSON

W

e’re told from the beginning of our educational experience to not judge a book by its cover. However, in this particular instance there were two reasons I chose to read “Ariel’s Island.” It was written by a local author, Newnan attorney Pat McKee, and I absolutely love the cover. I really didn’t understand why until I finished the book. A legal thriller, “Ariel’s Island” opens with a body discovered in the fountain in front of Strange and Fowler Law Firm in Atlanta. An attorney has been impaled on the fountain, the victim of an apparent suicide. Perhaps his huge workload had gotten to him. Or maybe his personal life wasn’t all it appeared to be. There is much speculation among his coworkers at the firm, along with general acceptance of his loss. The role of lead attorney on the important and fractious Placido case is handed over to the dead man’s assistant, Paul McDaniel. Now in charge of one of the most important cases in his firm’s history, Paul believes he’s on the fast track. Coming from a lowly background complicated by a homeless mother he continuously tries to help, he thinks this is the beginning of the good life. Little does he know that there’s no good in this case or anyone involved with it. The basic question is mounted: Is Paul being used as a legal pawn, or is he really on his way up the ladder? The case at the crux of this novel is a patent dispute between the Milano Corporation, namely Anthony and Placido Milano, versus SyCorAx Ltd. This leads Paul to a coastal island resort, which seems to be a tropical paradise and a second chance for romance with Placido’s daughter. The twists, turns and even a high-speed chase demand 20 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM

the reader’s undivided attention: Who and what to believe? It’s all topped off with Placido Milano’s overly efficient and mysterious executive assistant named Ariel. The story makes for perfect intrigue and leaves the reader guessing what may happen next. “Ariel’s Island” is a cacophony of literary genres – part legal thriller, adventure fiction and romance novel with a twist of futurism featuring artificial intelligence. At first glance, the cover of “Ariel’s Island” is visually appealing. The eyes in the water jumped out at me and made me want to pick it up. Upon completing the novel, I understood what those eyes are telling me. McKee’s first novel is compelling. You seriously will not want to put it down, and you’ll be more than ready to pick up the sequel as soon as McKee graces us with it. I believe Ariel has a whole lot more to tell us. NCM “Ariel’s Island” is the first novel by Pat McKee, a Newnan attorney. Published locally by Southern Fried Karma in March 2020, it was named Best Legal Thriller at the 14th annual National Indie Excellence Awards; 352 pages. ★★★★★

Read a good book lately? Share your favorite new read with NewnanCoweta Magazine by writing a book review for possible publication in an upcoming issue. Keep your review at 350-450 words and please include the author’s name, page count and date of publication. Send your review with your contact information to magazine@newnan.com or mail to Newnan-Coweta Magazine, 16 Jefferson Street, Newnan, GA 30263.


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COWETA TO ME

Thirty Years Written by SUSIE BERTA

I

just had a funeral for a close associate I’ve known for more than three decades: my JennAire cooktop. That cooktop was pristine and beautiful when it came to our new house 32 years ago. We had just purchased our “forever” home in 1989. Because the house had been on the market for a while – and I had aesthetic vision beyond the awful gold shag carpets, heavy gold drapes and teeny tiny linoleum-floored kitchen – we got it for a song. That made it possible for us to add on to the back half of the house, creating a roomy kitchen, laundry room and main floor bedroom. My knack for seeing the value of the good bones of a house, the proceeds from the sale of our starter house on Dixon Street, and money from our share of the sale of Rick’s mom’s house in Atlanta the year before made it all possible. I think of her every time I step foot in my kitchen. How many appliances last for more than 30 years? Very few. But this one did. It was a stalwart. And like Rome, all roads in our house lead to the center, the kitchen and the cooktop that sits in the center of the kitchen island, the center of activity. It saw us through decades of family meals, parties, holidays; 31 years of boiling tea kettles, baby bottles, and small pots of hard-boiled eggs; big pots of homemade soup and chili; large stock pots of boiling water with just a touch of sugar for our summers of Silver Queen corn; and heart-shaped Sunday pancakes on the griddle for our children and then our children’s children. 22 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM

Around that island where our cooktop sits are the memories of friends and loved ones gathered around it, talking, laughing, crying, fighting, apologizing, confessing, celebrating, busily cooking, drinking and toasting, eating, even singing together, and holding hands to say grace encircling the island and that cooktop. If an inanimate object can capture the place of a home, this one did. But nothing lasts forever, and our cooktop didn’t either. It was dead, and it was time for it to go. After its unceremonious removal by the expert technicians, I bowed my head and said farewell to a dear friend as it went out the door, into the back of their truck, and onto the pile of other discarded appliances from the day’s work orders. And when they came back through the door, I welcomed the installation of a brand new cooktop in its place. It was a thing to behold. Different, new and beautiful. Modern and once again, pristine. I wondered if this new one would last another 30 years, and what it – and the world – would look like if it did. I knew in that moment that I would never know the answer to that question. Sobering thought: I turned 71 this year. Alas, I am too damn old to survive it. But I also know that the old

What is Coweta to You?

Susie Berta and her husband, Rick, a veterinarian, have lived in Newnan since 1977. They raised two boys here and have two grandchildren. Susie is a retired vocalist/performer who sang with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus and Chamber Chorus for many years. cooktop was beneficent in its retreat. When it gave up the ghost, it did not take with it all the spirits and the memories. It kindly left them all in the room, in the air, in the hearts, in the minds, and in the very fiber of all who were here in our kitchen, around our island. So what will the next 30 years bring, and how much of it will I get to see? The past 32 have certainly been eventful. By the end of 1989, when I was 39 and my husband 40, the Berlin Wall came down, there was a massacre in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, the World Wide Web was invented and we bought our forever house. Our boys were little. Last year, in 2020, a wall at our southern border was partially up, there were protests in Hong Kong for their

Whether you’ve lived here all your life or only a year, we want to hear your personal Coweta story. Email your “Coweta to Me” story to magazine@ newnan.com or mail to 16 Jefferson St., Newnan, GA 30263. We look forward to hearing from you.


COWETA TO ME lives to matter, we started experiencing a global pandemic, and more than one million people died worldwide. For the first time in my life, we experienced lockdowns, quarantines, isolation and a general disruption of normality; politically, things got really messy and polarized; wearing protective face masks became political; people protested in the streets of the U.S. for black lives to matter; it seemed everybody was angry, and a wild presidential election in November was the most impactful in my memory. Now 2021 is here, and we live in the same forever house, with landscaping and a garden we have tended over the years, a few new furnishings, some new playground equipment, a playhouse for our grandchildren, which they are quickly outgrowing, and a new cooktop. The house is minus two children who grew up here but still visit, one often, the other only periodically. One of our boys is approaching his mid-40s and the

other is in his late 30s. The one who often visits lives in Newnan. The other lives in Hong Kong. We have grandchildren, and my husband and I will celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary in June. We are retired. We are happy. We are in our very early 70s (emphasis on “very early” for my sake). We worry for our world and wonder about a future 30 years from now that we won’t live to see. What will the world look like in 2051? It is my fervent hope it will be good – for everyone’s sake. Everyone’s. But I wonder if that’s even possible. Will we all find common ground after all our schisms, enough to heal the separation and wounds we all suffer today? Have we ever? The human condition is comprised of every second of a man’s life, from birth to standing around a kitchen island to leaving the building forever. Or, from birth to a homeless shelter or a premature visit to the morgue. Austrian neurologist,

psychiatrist and Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankl says, “The meaning of life differs from man to man, from day to day and from hour to hour.”

Historically, all mankind has never

been on the same page, and I don’t know that another 30 years will change that.

But what is a goal except something to

strive for? Even our goals are different. But I wish, I pray, I hope with all my

heart that mankind can find a common

decency that is kind, accepting, inclusive and unselfish. Is that too much to ask? If you will, in 30 years, come to our

house, knock on the door, tell them we

sent you. I’ll leave a memo on the island

telling them to expect you. Please gather ’round the cooktop and hold hands, sing

together and say grace for mankind. That would make me so very happy.

And I’ll know, because I’ll be in the air,

in the room where it happens. NCM

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 23


COWETA FEATURE

Wedding Planning

PA ND EMIC

TRYING TO SAY, ‘I DO’ WHEN THE UNIVERSE SAYS, ‘YOU WON’T’ Written by JENNIFER DZIEDZIC Photos by ALLYSON MERCHANT


JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 25


COWETA FEATURE

“In all the world, there is no heart for me like yours. In all the world, there is no love for you like mine.”

— Maya Angelou

N

ewnan residents Mikayla Morelli and Shamon Thomas had their dream wedding planned, vendors paid and decorations purchased. But just weeks after they mailed the invitations, the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

Photo by Christa Summers Photography

In March 2020, they made a difficult decision shared by engaged couples across the nation: They canceled their wedding. “We were supposed to get married September 19, 2020, but I have a lot of family flying in from out of town, a lot of different states, and they’re older; they couldn’t do that,” Morelli says. “As a bride, what are the odds? You dreamed of this day your entire life and a pandemic hits.” Shamon Thomas and Mikayla Morelli plan to marry in Admittedly, dealing with a canceled the fall of 2021. wedding and a pandemic has been challenging for many. Thankfully, the families of both Morelli and Thomas offer support. Morelli says, “We were worried about people being upset, the bridesmaids being upset, but I think everybody knew it’s not a joke. It’s serious, this whole COVID thing.” One difficulty the couple encountered was in rescheduling their venue. “The venue didn’t work out because there were a lot of people postponing, and they started to

26 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM



COWETA FEATURE

add a fee to postpone,” says the bride-to-be. “We had already paid our full balance, and we didn’t have the money at the time because my hours got cut and we still have bills to pay. So we decided to go ahead and cancel until COVID’s over.” The couple sympathized with vendors trying to stay afloat during the lockdown. It was in the contracts that payment was not refundable, so Morelli and Thomas were understanding, even though it was hard letting go of that much money. “That’s a lot of money to just give somebody, hoping that they’ll do right by you,” says Thomas, who encourages engaged couples to keep the pandemic in mind when shopping for wedding venues. “Something like this is not in the contracts. You may want to negotiate it to be in the contract, or you’ll be getting the short end of the stick, just like we did.” A silver lining to the cancellations was — Mikayla Morelli the relationship they developed with their photographer, who gave them full credit for the payment they’d made and now takes their son’s pictures and their family photos. For other couples dealing with the same struggles, Morelli says, “I think they should do what makes them truly comfortable. If you are family-oriented and you want everybody you love there to see you marry the love of your life, I think you should wait for that day. But if you are just so ready to get married and it doesn’t matter to you who’s there or who’s not, go ahead and go for it. Go do it.” Thomas adds: “If you don’t care about having a big fancy wedding, what’s stopping you from just going to the courthouse and getting married and taking a little mini honeymoon somewhere?” Candace Frank and Jennifer Gowing, of Evermore Weddings and Events in Newnan, have worked with couples caught in the pandemic wedding storm and feel the clouds are parting. “I think brides now understand the climate, the situation that we’re in,” says Gowing. “They know that going into a wedding, there’s going to be a lot of things that may pop up and decisions they have to make that aren't what that dream wedding was maybe a couple years ago. Our job is to make sure that it’s just as special and just as beautiful and just as meaningful. They’re just going to have to think about things that a year ago no one would have imagined thinking about.” Frank adds: “At least brides now have the advantage of not being blindsided like so many were last spring. We’ve got nine months of working in this environment under our belts. We’ve learned a lot. I think everyone is giving each other a lot of grace and understanding and flexibility and patience.” Morelli fits the description of grace under pressure and hopes her experience can help other couples who have to postpone their big day. She encourages brides to get pictures of themselves in their dresses if they are holding off on the ceremony. “I think these brides want to wear their dresses,” she says. “Go get pictures. The groom doesn't have to see. Get pictures alone if you want to. I was so excited to wear my dress.” Morelli had the opportunity to do just that when she posed for photos during the NewnanCoweta Magazine cover photoshoot in October. The day wound up being the perfect prelude to her ceremony as she got ideas for hair and makeup, photographs and flower arrangements. The couple agree that when they do have their wedding, they want it to be a big celebration. “I’m looking forward to the reception part of it,” says Thomas. “It’s like a big family reunion almost, but you have some of your best friends there, too.”

“As a bride, what are the odds? You dreamed of this day your entire life and a pandemic hits.”

— continued on page 32. 28 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM


Hair and Makeup

Brittany Young, of B Young Beauty Studio+Spa in Newnan, reviews photos from brides with a specific look in mind. "For this shoot, we made sure everything we did suited Mikayla's skin tone and hair type," says Young. "Her makeup was skin-focused with a subtle smokey eye to pull attention to her beautiful eyes." For hair, Young used a curling wand to create a soft wave. byoungbeautystudio.com.


Photography

Fine Arts wedding photographer Allyson Merchant was impressed with the natural chemistry between Mikayla Morelli, shown above, and Shamon Thomas, which was reflected in her photos. Getting to know her subjects helps Merchant create an authentic photography experience, whether the big day culminates with a barn ceremony or a ballroom wedding. fitzographyphotovideo.com.


The Tux

Celebrate Tuxedos, in Newnan, dressed Shamon Thomas in a Michael Kors Ultra Slim Legacy Performance Tuxedo with Expressions plum vest, bow tie and black wingtip shoes. The tuxedo features a satin notch lapel, besom pockets, two buttons, side vents and CoolMax performance stretch fabric, which is breathable and cooler than most material. celebratetuxedos.com.


The Bouquet

Bedazzled Flower Shop, in Sharpsburg, created the wedding bouquet using fuchsia phalaenopsis orchids, burgundy mini calla lilies, cool water (lavender) roses, and white majolica spray roses. Accompanying greenery included cedar, seeded eucalyptus, ornamental kale, succulents and dusty miller. bedazzledflorist.com. — continued from page 28.

The pair say they don’t want to postpone too long and are eager to get married, but they want to give the pandemic a bit of time to see where things go in the new year. Morelli says she has accepted that though she has the pictures in her head – and now some in print after the magazine photo shoot – of what their day will be, there may be some compromises to their original plan. The couple’s main objective is to have a wedding with everybody from their family in attendance. With that goal in mind, Thomas says the key to getting through the pandemic delays is to stay supportive of each other. Morelli wants other women who had to delay a wedding to know this: “Do not give up on your big day,” she concludes. “As a woman, don’t just give up, thinking all your wishes are out the window. Pray for that day that you’ll get your fairytale wedding.” NCM 32 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM


The Venue

Lillian Gardens, a full-service event venue in Newnan, gave us the run of their space for our styled shoot. Specializing in professional planning, they work with couples to bring vision to life and accommodate weddings and receptions in their beautiful antebellum mansion and private garden. lilliangardens.com. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 33


COWETA FEATURE

• Make a list of guests. Then make a list of those

Wedding Planners’

whose presence you feel you must have in order to get married. Then make the list shorter. Venues don’t allow the number of people they used to because of the pandemic, so don’t invite everyone from the office.

Top Tips

• Take temperatures before guests enter the venue and hand out masks to guests. This is a great opportunity to offer custom masks with the wedding hashtag or wedding colors.

for normal times and pandemics, too!

• Stay calm. Even as stressful as it is right now, don’t lose hope.

Written by JENNIFER DZIEDZIC

C

athy Robinson, owner of Anointed Creations, a wedding and event planning business in Newnan, has been helping couples plan their perfect day for almost 20 years. Her best tips for those planning a wedding now include:

Candace Frank and Jennifer Gowing, co-owners of Evermore Weddings and Events in Newnan, have planned more than 200 weddings. They provide helpful advice for keeping things running smoothly at the ceremony and reception:

• Call guests by table numbers for dancing at the reception. This limits those on the dance floor.

• Use a seating chart for the ceremony and reception to keep family groups together with those who traveled together.

• Hire a planner to help couples stay informed. “You don’t always want a planner when things are going right,” says Gowing. “You want a planner when things are going wrong.” This aids with navigating contracts with venues and vendors as well as rescheduling issues that can occur. Erin Walton runs Next Level Agency, in Newnan, a wedding and event planning company that offers multiple services and packages for couples. She shares cost-cutting ideas:

• Be realistic with the budget and what you are spending. There is no reason to go into debt for a wedding.

• Encourage groomsmen to invest in suits instead Photo by xxiii Photo Studio.

of spending $200 on a rented suit or tux.

Taking temperatures as guests enter the wedding is a sign of these times. 34 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM

• Brides, stop providing wedding favors. It’s an unnecessary added expense.

• Brides are into chalk art wedding signs these days. Jessica Pope of The Barn Chick and Erin Kate Designs, both in Newnan, will design name signs that include the wedding date. Couples use these as guest books as well.

NCM


COWETA FEATURE

GOODBYE, 2020

What's Trending

in Weddings for 2021 Written by JENNIFER DZIEDZIC | Photographed by LISA MARIE PHOTOGRAPHY

E

very year, new wedding trends emerge. With the event planning chaos that resulted from COVID-19 last year, many of this year’s new trends are related to the pandemic.

When guests can’t attend the ceremony, there are new options that keep them included, according to Candace Frank and Jennifer Gowing of Evermore Wedding and Events in

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 35


New bride Rachel Brittian enjoyed photography utilizing inside furnishings at her outdoors wedding.

36 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM


Photo by Hannah Lozano Photography

Experience boxes are packed with items for wedding guests not able to attend the ceremony in person.

Newnan. Partnering with Grice Grove gifting company, they offer the Evermore Experience, which is basically a virtual wedding in a box. Guests open the box as the ceremony gets underway while watching the wedding via a videographer’s live stream, enabling loved ones to enjoy the experience from afar. There’s no reason this new trend couldn’t continue beyond COVID-19, according to Frank. “We’ve always had instances in weddings where Grandma can’t fly in or a best friend is a nurse and can’t get off work,” she says. Wedding planners are also seeing a trend that shifts toward spectator entertainment instead of guests dancing at receptions. One example is dueling pianos, according to Frank, who says guests enjoy watching a performance. Another offshoot from the pandemic is that couples are beginning to opt for smaller weddings, which are more manageable. “I think they are spending the same amount of money; they are just making the event more special and more

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 37


COWETA FEATURE

BELOW Newlyweds Chris and Rachel Brittian celebrate their vows.

intimate,” says Frank. “The climate’s different and it has affected everyone, so it’s not just a singular wedding industry issue.” Erin Walton, of Next Level Agency in Newnan, says the trend toward rustic barn scene weddings continues. “Everyone is into the farm tables and lace, mason jars, wood slab pieces and simple floral arrangements,” she says. “Throw in some white draping and chandeliers, and it becomes a separate feel.” Recently, Next Level Agency created an entire scene for a weekend wedding party. “This was to take place on a family farm of over 490 acres in Monticello,” says Walton. “The farm has 38 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM


COWETA FEATURE

“. . . we’ve come up with ways to have the wedding safely and have the day that you want. It just may look a little bit different.” — Jennifer Gowing

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LEFT At an outdoors wedding in Monticello, the bride and her attendants are, from left, front: Kayla Kauffman and Rachel Brittian. Back: Christine Roberts, Kathryn Weller, Rebecca Barron and Emily Yarbrough.

remnants of old homeplace chimneys as well as small hunting cabins that are super rustic. I had to create a scene from the bride’s vision by bringing in furniture for a styled photoshoot, tents because of the chance of bad weather, farmhouse tables, mobile bar, portable bathrooms – you name it.” Gowing encourages brides-to-be to take heart in the age of coronavirus. “This is going to be with us a while, but as a wedding and event community, we’ve come up with ways to have the wedding safely and have the day that you want,” she says. “It just may look a little bit different.” NCM

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JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 39


Top 10

Tuxedo TIPS

Written by LYNDA M. JOHNSON Director of Operations, Celebrate Tuxedos Photographed by ALLYSON MERCHANT

1. A tuxedo is formal, traditional and timeless with satin lapels. A suit is casual, versatile and trendy with material lapels.

2. Formal or Informal: Formal is usually black, white, ivory or navy. Informal is gray, tan, maroon, lighter colors or patterned material.

3. Groom and groomsmen: They should complement one another with the groom being just a little unique.

4. Fits: Ultra slim, slim, modern and traditional. 5. Colors: Black, white, ivory, grays, blues, maroon, tans and patterns.

6. Accessory options: Windsor knot versus bow tie, pleated or flat-front shirt, vest, cummerbund or suspenders, loafers versus laced shoes, belts and pocket squares.

7. Details: One-quarter to one-half of sleeve showing; neck snug against skin; break of pants.

8. Rent versus Buy: The price point is typically from $200 to $600-plus. Consider how often you’ll wear the tux or suit, and remember that your height and weight may fluctuate over time.

9. Have fun: Use patterns, fun socks, different textures, unique cufflinks or tie bars, and be sure to add personal touches.

10. When do I order? It’s recommended to order three months in advance, but some shops can accommodate same-week orders. RIGHT Our cover model groom, Shamon Thomas, rocks a tux from Celebrate Tuxedo in Newnan. 40 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM


Top 10 TIPS FOR FINDING A BRIDAL

Gown

By AMY WARREN Owner, An Affair to Remember Bridal Boutique, LaGrange

1. Establish a timeline. It can take up to six months for some dresses to arrive after being ordered, and you’ll need to consider additional time to make necessary alterations.

2. Establish your budget. Whether you’re having a backyard wedding or a royal ceremony, there’s a dress to fit your budget. Knowing ahead of time what you can spend will help make the experience go smoothly.

3. Establish your vision for your wedding, but don’t limit yourself. All gowns are beautiful, and you could end up loving something completely different than you imagined.

4. Try on different silhouettes and be willing to go out of your comfort zone.

5. Make an appointment. Most bridal boutiques run on an appointment basis. Also, boutiques now need time to factor in COVID-19 deep cleaning and precautions.

6. Decide who to bring to your appointment. Some shops are allowing fewer guests, so choose carefully. Bring your biggest supporters and those who will encourage you to find the perfect gown. If you can’t bring everyone, try Zoom or Facetime.

7. Consider buying off the rack. Some designers keep dresses in stock.

8. Be yourself. This is the most self-expressive garment you’ll ever wear. Let it be exactly who you are.

D o w n To w n G o w n s Where we celebrate you!

9. Be prepared to say “Yes” to your dress at your first appointment. Don’t bog yourself down with too many dress appointments; that could take away from the magic.

10. Most of all, have fun! It should be one of the best days of your life.

Like us on Facebook & follow us on Instagram @dtgowns_carrollton 306A Rome Street, Carrollton GA

*

770-702-0530

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 41


COWETA FEATURE

T H E R I N G T H AT B I N D S

Popping the Question with the

Perfect Ring Written by JENNIFER DZIEDZIC

C

hoosing the perfect engagement ring is a difficult challenge, especially if you’re attempting to surprise your partner on a sleigh ride while tucked away in a cozy, snow-covered mountain town during the holidays.

Blame the Hallmark channel for making us think we have to live up to those standards. Luckily, according to Brides.com, 62% of couples now shop together for engagement rings. Doing so eliminates the need of getting her ring size from a friend as choosing the right size and style comes down to trying on rings in person. As trends go, there’s been a shift back to the classics, according to Amy Harrelson, master jeweler at Morgan’s Jewelers in downtown Newnan. With nearly 20 years of experience working alongside other

ABOVE Sunburst setting diamond engagement ring by Kim International. 42 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM

master jewelers, she brings a wealth of knowledge back to the community where she grew up. Harrelson has created numerous double haloes and kite-set, princess-cut-style rings, which are proving popular these days. Since joining the Morgan’s team in September, she says she’s noticed solitaire engagement ring designs making a comeback as well as a few unusual center stone cut choices like the oval. She’s sold a few with marquise, which are an elegant stone cut that elongates the fingers. Substantial cast rings with delicate side stones in pave settings require a lot of maintenance, according to Harrelson, who says a ring that offers easy day-to-day wear and care will last longer. Fitting the ring to the bride is important, and the master jeweler has done a lot of peghead changes that lower a setting when the main stone is set too high. “Maybe she’s a nurse and has to put on 20 gloves a day that are always catching, so we’ll try to lower the stone,” says Harrelson, noting that medical gloves are notorious for plucking pavé stones off settings. “Thinking of one’s lifestyle while shopping for a ring is helpful.” While diamonds are still the most popular choice for engagement rings, Harrelson says she’s seen a few other colored stones incorporated in engagement ring settings, including sapphires and emeralds. Sapphires in engagement settings stand for faithfulness and sincerity and offer a more affordable option for a center stone while remaining elegant, according to the master jeweler. Emeralds represent self-acceptance and self-love as well as love for others. As for engagement ring metal types, brides are opting more for yellow gold and rose gold than she’s ever seen, says Harrelson, noting that the popular rose gold complements warm and cooler skin tones. Custom ring design is an option for brides who want the perfect ring that no one else will be wearing. Harrelson enjoys talking with couples about designing their rings, getting into their minds to determine the ideal design for their lifestyle and what they would be comfortable wearing. Trends with men’s engagement rings are going vintage to “plain bands, plain yellow gold and also the hand-carved look,” says Harrelson. “They


COWETA FEATURE

1

is so

2

much more

3 4 5

6

provides comfort, compassion and dignity while enhancing the quality of life for patients during their final journey.

1. Princess cut center diamond in kite setting accented with halo and sidestones by Stuller. 2. Emerald cut center diamond with halo and accented with páve sidestones by Gabriel & Co. 3. Oval cut center diamond accented with halo and páve sidestones by Gabriel and Co. 4. Marquise cut center diamond accented with halo and sidestones by Kim International. 5. Princess cut sapphires accented with diamonds by Allison Kaufman Rings. 6. Oval cut center diamond with Art Deco inspired scalloped halo and shank by Kim International.

mainly stick to white and platinum and yellow gold. It was about a decade ago that titanium and all that was a big thing, but people’s finger sizes change, and you can’t size those.” For 2021, Harrelson predicts that one engagement ring design to make a splash will be the sunburst style. The revival of this unique design features a main center stone fanned by baguettes, recalling the Art Deco style from a century earlier. To truly complement the look of this ring, a bride could incorporate a family heirloom diamond for an authentic antique cut stone in a design to match. Bottom line, weddings rings symbolize eternal love, so choosing the right one is worth the effort you put into the hunt. NCM

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For more information visit affinishospice.org


COWETA FEATURE

“ We Did ” Couples who Tied the Knot in Twisted 2020 Written by JENNY ENDERLIN

W

hile COVID-19 caused many couples to postpone their weddings last year, others took the pandemic plunge by exchanging vows in 2020. Whether the nuptials took place in a local venue or a faraway destination, couples managed to plan and have weddings in a year of countless canceled events. And in the process, some new wedding trends emerged.

Ashley Keeley, owner of Lillian Gardens, an event venue in Newnan, says that half of her wedding clientele comes from metro Atlanta and beyond. “They are enticed by the authentic Southern charm, convenient airport access for out-of-town guests and affordable amenities,” says Keeley. “The 44 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM

Newlyweds Melyza and Aaron Anderson greet their guests.


COWETA FEATURE

Photo by Ravina Kumar JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 45


COWETA FEATURE

historic downtown is very attractive. It’s an experience in itself.” With a dozen event venues in Coweta County to accommodate the influx of weddings, Keeley recently expanded her own location to include Honey Boutique, Coweta’s first bridal shop. After working with hundreds of couples through the years, Keeley has observed several evolving trends: Because of its cooler weather, October has emerged as the most popular month to get married in Georgia. One tradition that’s losing appeal is the garter toss, which Keeley says only occurs at about half of the receptions she facilitates. Though still popular, the bouquet toss is also no longer a staple. Instead, more brides are opting for the anniversary dance in which the longest married couple is asked to pass on a piece of wisdom to the newlyweds, and then the bride presents her bouquet to the matron. Ultimately, Keeley says the biggest shift is the avoidance of anything resembling cookie-cutter weddings. Instead, it’s all about customization. “Couples are prioritizing personalization over tradition,” says Keeley, who delights in adapting ceremonies and receptions to fit each couple’s culture, orientation and personality. From tailored menus to live entertainment incorporating stilt walkers, samba dancers and fire performers, Keeley says there’s no end to the creative lengths couples are willing to go. Read on to learn how three couples recently chose to make their nuptials unique.

“Couples are prioritizing personalization over tradition.” — Ashley Keeley

Melyza Daniel + Aaron Anderson August 8, 2020

T

hough Melyza and Aaron Anderson’s original plan of a 300-person Fourth of July destination wedding in Puerto Rico was interrupted by the pandemic, the couple were nevertheless pleased with how their wedding turned out. “Be flexible,” Melyza advises bridal couples. “Your wedding will come out the way it needs to be.” The Atlanta-based couple instantly fell in love with the antebellum Lillian Gardens, viewing it as the perfect way to give their out-of-state families a taste of Southern hospitality with a modern twist. “We don’t have anything like that in Miami,” says Melyza who was born and raised there. “It definitely says ‘Georgia’ to me.” Originally from Chicago, Aaron is the owner of Merit Hospitality Services consulting firm in Atlanta. With the hospitality industry in his DNA, he was particular about the venue but ultimately impressed by Lillian Gardens owner Keeley’s willingness to provide the “Wow” factor he and his bride sought. “I don’t think there was a single thing she said no on,” says Melyza. The couple envisioned an over-the-top interactive experience for their 50 guests, and it included everything from a photo booth to fire performers, a nod to the bride’s father who grew up in a circus family in Cuba. However, it was the youngest members of the bridal party who stole the show. Rather than traditional ring bearers, Aaron came up with the idea to have their nephew and family friend serve as “ring security.” The boys wore matching sunglasses and earpieces while “guarding” the rings in secure boxes. Not to be outdone, the couple’s 7-year-old daughter Savannah, who served as flower girl, spontaneously broke out into a series of balletic twirls as she sauntered down the aisle, much to the enjoyment of guests. 46 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM


Photo by Ravina Kumar

While they all adored Melyza’s wedding gown, her bridesmaids each chose the style and color of gown that suited them best.

THE DETAILS Rings: Obtained from Gold Tech Inc. in Atlanta, the bride’s ring is a delicate yellow gold band with a diamond solitaire. The groom’s ring is black titanium coated with yellow gold on the inside. Flowers: The couple selected white hydrangeas and blush-colored roses from Roswell’s Flowers 4 Us. Cake: Netflix’s “Sugar Rush” winners Not Your Nana’s Bakery, in Atlanta, created the four-tiered cake containing three flavors: key lime with coconut icing, chocolate with Dutch chocolate icing, and white velvet with strawberry and cream icing. Food and Drink: Knife & Stone, in Newnan, catered the meal, which consisted of duck-fat fried Brussels sprouts, smoked chicken, Angus beef meatloaf and aged cheddar macaroni and cheese. Venue: Lillian Gardens was chosen for its amenities and indoor/outdoor charm. Photographer: Ravina Kumar of Wild Shoots was secured through theknot.com. Honeymoon: The couple honeymooned at Sanctuary Luxury Resort in Paradise Valley, Ariz.

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The reception spread for the couple's big day is warm and welcoming.


TOP LEFT Not to be mistaken for ring bearers, L.J. and Nicholas sport sunglasses and sealed cases while serving as ring security at the Anderson wedding.

Photos by Ravina Kumar

TOP RIGHT Melyza and Aaron Anderson share the love of the day with their daughter Savannah. CENTER RIGHT Wedding decor at Lillian Gardens includes a decorated chandelier. BOTTOM LEFT Melyza and Aaron Anderson leave the ceremony under a canopy of sparklers. BOTTOM RIGHT A fire performer entertains guests.

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COWETA FEATURE

Sarah Cemini + Tyler Sellers September 26, 2020

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o reflect their rural upbringing in Coweta County, Sarah Cemini and Tyler Sellers wanted a down-home, country, rustic wedding. The entire bridal party – including the bride, bridesmaids and flower girl – wore cowboy boots. The groom wanted his groomsmen in jeans, and Sarah agreed as long as they wore matching ones with white dress shirts and vests. The couple chose autumn colors to complement their fall wedding. Most important to the couple was the celebration of family. Sarah pinned her great-great-grandmother’s pearl starfish brooch to her bouquet as her “something old,” a necklace from her grandmother was her “something new,” her mother’s 25th anniversary ring served as her “something borrowed,” and the garter provided by her mother-in-law was “something blue.” Sarah feels the most poignant moment of her wedding came from her mother, who is blind. Prior to the wedding, her mother was diagnosed with dementia, and the combination of that and her failed eyesight had left her unable to walk for most of the year. When her daughter became engaged, she made it her goal to walk down the aisle at the wedding. With intensive therapy and a determined spirit, she succeeded.

THE DETAILS Bride’s dress: The bride wore a lacey, spaghetti-strapped dress beaded with pearls. The gown, from J. Andrew’s Bridal in Peachtree City, has a sweetheart neckline and extended train. Rings: With the aid of Morgan Jeweler’s at Thomas Crossroads, the groom custom designed a cushion-cut diamond halo ring made of white gold for his bride. She selected a gray-black tungsten metal ring for him. Flowers: Florist Lori Strange, of the Bullsboro Drive Kroger, placed a special order for the fall floral arrangements, and wedding day coordinator Erin Walton, of Next Level Agency in Newnan, assisted with assembly. Cake: Beth Blevins, a local baker, created a cake topper for the ceremonial cutting and an assortment of mini desserts and cupcakes for guests. Tabitha Clements of Grantville’s Fluff’s Enough Bakery made individual servings of strawberry shortcake and banana pudding served in mason jars. Food: The groom’s family prepared homemade BBQ, Brunswick stew, potato salad, and macaroni and cheese. Venue: The couple had their ceremony at Macedonia Hills, an event venue in Newnan, and the reception at the Tyrone Train Depot. Photographer: Maggie Gilbert, of Thomaston, photographed the ceremony and reception. Honeymoon: The couple honeymooned in Hilton Head, S.C.

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Sarah and Tyler Sellers celebrate matrimony at their September wedding. Photos by Maggie Gilbert


COWETA FEATURE

Lasandra Warner + Micaiah Raheem June 21, 2020

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ewnan resident, artist, actress and Basketball Moms of Atlanta founder Lasandra Warner always knew after living in North Miami Beach that she wanted a beach wedding. It was her heart’s desire to return to south Florida for a laid-back destination wedding with her fiancé, rapper and entrepreneur Maicaiah “Raheem the Dream” Raheem, who she met at his mother’s recording studio in Atlanta. “The ambience of the beach is so pure,” says the bride. To complement colors in the beach environment, the bride chose white, ivory and royal blue at the suggestion of her 12-year-old son and 15-year-old daughter. The wedding party opted to go barefoot in the sand. After the beachfront ceremony in Miami, the bridal party and guests boarded a luxury yacht for a reception and water cruise view of a nearby lighthouse. During the reception, the couple played music recorded during their respective music careers. Guests were treated to the groom’s hip-hop song, “The Most Beautiful Girl In The World,” and the bride’s song, “Queen of my Castle.” Avid card players, the couple honeymooned in Las Vegas where they participated in a poker tournament. Lasandra and Micaiah Raheem are joined by her daughter Amiyah, left, and her son, Justin.

THE DETAILS Brides dress: The beach princess dress was a custom creation by MeMe More, of Paper Doll Bridal, an Atlanta designer who hand-stitched the Venetian Guipure lace, beaded organza accents, illusion bust and satin piping sourced from New York and Toronto. More also made the accompanying two-tier organza cathedral veil and the bride’s floral and rhinestone bouquet. Rings: The couple’s white gold rings are from Belk’s His & Hers Tiffany Design Collection. Flowers: The couple chose Miami Florist of Fort Lauderdale to supply the white rose arrangements. Cake: Their three-tiered white cake, from Publix, was adorned with a cluster of royal blue flowers. Food and Drink: The couple served Publix fried chicken, shrimp, salad, deviled eggs, lemonade, and macaroni and cheese. Venue: The wedding ceremony was at Fort Lauderdale Beach in Miami, and the reception took place aboard a friend’s luxury yacht. Photographer: Trish Maldeney of Ganasha Photo served as photographer. Honeymoon: The couple honeymooned in Las Vegas where the bride surprised her husband with a private helicopter tour of the city.

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A beach wedding was their dream come true for Lasandra and Micaiah Raheem. Photos by Trish Maldeney of Ganasha Photo


COWETA ART

The

Art

of ‘I Do’

CAPTURING THE WEDDING IN PHOTOS Written by FRANCES KIDD

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That’s what wedding photographs looked like in the 1800s. Photography equipment was not mobile, so pictures were taken in the photographer’s studio. There were no photo albums and fewer wedding photos because many couples couldn’t afford them. Wedding photography started changing in the beginning of the 20th century and has continued evolving exponentially as technology has advanced. There was the introduction of black-and-white film, location shooting, color film, digital photography and videography. The art of lighting changed as well – from flash powder, which produced a bright light and a loud noise, to flash attachments with bulbs that had to cool before you could touch them. Though a lot of wedding

Photos by Allyson Merchant of Fitzography

here may be one somewhere in your house – a sepiatinted photo of two people, dressed in their best clothes and posing stiffly while not looking particularly celebratory.

ABOVE Capturing the cake in photos is essential. OPPOSITE PAGE Shamon Thomas and Mikayla Morelli share a romantic kiss.

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Photo by Allyson Merchant of Fitzography | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021

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COWETA ART

photographers today prefer to shoot in natural light, they also have more sophisticated methods to light their work when necessary. Couples have many tools to help them identify and locate wedding photographers – whether in their home town or for a destination wedding. The popular wedding website, theknot.com, offers guidance for couples such as “10 Steps to Finding a Great Wedding Photographer” and “Important Questions to Ask Photographers before You Book.” Even with this extra help, couples usually have their

than a photo album stuffed with dozens of prints, photographers today may simply send a link to an online album with hundreds of shots. Photographers sometimes are called to shoot destination weddings for couples who choose to travel outside their hometown for the ceremony. One of Merchant’s clients flew her to Utah for a wedding. “It was great,” says Merchant. “Photographers crave inspiration, and working in a new place is a challenge but one I enjoy.” One of Crutchfield’s favorite jobs dealt with different backdrops that proved challenging. Two of her clients, best friends and both brides-to-be, asked Crutchfield to tour around Atlanta with them for a “Rock the Dress” day. The photographer obliged and took photos of the friends in their wedding dresses at fun and funky spots throughout downtown — Paige Paul Atlanta. Josh Watson and Noah own set of questions. Paige Paul, a wedding planner Wilbanks, of Watson Wedding Videography in and recent bride herself, looks for certain things when Newnan, produce videos of weddings, usually working considering a wedding photographer. in tandem with a still photographer. Wedding “I look first at their Instagram page to get a sense of videography has progressed also with the ability to use the overall look and approach to their work,” says Paul. drones for aerial shots, according to the duo. “Then I look at specific things like whether their work “In the beginning, drones were a game-changer, is light and airy or warm and dark.” but now it’s just expected,” says Watson, noting that Couples have more decisions to make: black-andsome of their bookings were rescheduled due to the white versus color, digital versus film, a specific list of pandemic. “A wedding planner’s client had to reduce photos or trust the photographer to capture the day, the guest list from 175 to 50 and the planner asked if and to add videography or only take still photos. we could live stream the wedding.” Photographers have choices to make, too. Coweta Watson and Wilbanks assembled a production County photographer Allyson Merchant says she team, put microphones on everyone in the bridal party, primarily shoots in color. “But there are some times and set up a dedicated website so that all guests on you realize a shot would be perfect in black and white,” the original invitation list could watch and hear the she notes. “You just sense it.” ceremony. They produced four livestream weddings in Delivery of wedding photos also has transformed 2020 and have several booked for this year. with technology. Merchant takes her laptop to each Despite the different styles and methods these wedding she shoots and shows a few teaser photos to photographers use, they have a few important things the couple before they leave the celebration. Newnan in common, most importantly that they all take time photographer Susan Crutchfield offers a sneak peek to get to know the couple to get a better sense of their for the couple a few days after the wedding. Rather style and what they want in a wedding.

“I look first at their Instagram page to get a sense of the overall look and approach to their work. Then I look at specific things like whether their work is light and airy or warm and dark.”

OPPOSITE PAGE Bride-to-be Whitney Hoffman-Bennett strikes a pose during a “Rock the Dress” photo shoot in downtown Atlanta. 56 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM


Photo by Susan Crutchfield JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 57


Photos by Josh Watson and Noah Wilbanks

“I couldn’t imagine doing it if I’ve only met them one time,” says Crutchfield. “We need to be able to connect and to trust.” They all express love for what they do. As Watson says, “We get to capture the best day of people’s lives.” Wedding photography has come a long way from the stiffly posed photos of yesteryear. Today, it’s all about telling a story. NCM

ABOVE Watson Wedding Videography used a drone to capture these panoramic views of the wedding day. BELOW LEFT The best photographers capture drama as it unfolds.

Technology brings loads of equipment to today's wedding shoots. 58 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM


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Race and Reconciliation Coweta's Response Written by FRANCES KIDD Photographs Courtesy of THE NEWNAN TIMES-HERALD

#NEWNANSTRONG was the message in April 2018.

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onversations about race relations have always been complex. Because it is so complicated, it is often difficult for people to talk about, even more than 50 years after Jim Crow laws ended.

Coweta County’s history is not that different from other areas in the South. Built on cotton, agriculture and railroads, all of which involved slavery, historically white and black communities remained mostly segregated into the mid- to late-1960s. However, in the last few years, communities here have come together in ways many long-time residents might not have expected even as recently as 20 years ago. Part of the evolution in attitudes can be attributed to growth and a change in demographics. From 2000 to 2019, Coweta’s population grew 66%. Population growth along with an increase in cultural diversity signals change in a community, and that’s been evident in Newnan and Coweta in recent years. In March 2018, two local churches got together for a Oneness March with racial reconciliation the topic of the

day. The Rev. Chris Carlyle of Purified Living Ministries and the Rev. Jimmy Patterson of First Baptist Church in Newnan became friends through their involvement with the Newnan Kiwanis Club. The two pastors led the walk from a hot dog lunch in Willie Lynch Park to Carlyle’s church and then on to First Baptist. And they weren’t shy about it: The walk was accompanied by The University of Mobile’s RamCorps’ 35-member brass and percussion ensemble. A month later, the National Socialist Movement held a rally in Newnan on April 21 in Greenville Street Park. At first, some were upset that a permit had been granted to the group; the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Va., in 2017 was still on their minds. But Newnan got busy. Many businesses around the court square decided to close the day of the rally out of concern over potential damage. Upon hearing this, local businessmen JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 61


Nathan Brain and Derek Riede proposed a plan for businesses to stay open late the Friday before the rally in order to make up for business they might lose the next day – and to show the community’s tight bonds, regardless of race or cultural background. They called the effort “NewnanStrong.” That Friday evening, the court square was filled with individuals and families strolling, shopping and dining. Children and their parents covered the sidewalks with chalk paintings of rainbows and messages of peace. “One of the things I took from that Friday night,” says Brain, “was that, ultimately, so much unity and community came together that it could make me forget what was happening the next day.” As it turned out, the Saturday rally drew more anti-protesters than protestors. Although groups from outside Georgia – including a small group of Antifa members – were in Newnan that day, the biggest response was from local residents. Hundreds showed up carrying signs proclaiming “No Hate in My City” and similar phrases. They gathered for a peaceful response across the street from the park. About 700 local law enforcement officiers from neighboring counties were on hand to help keep the peace. On the same day, there was a full house at St. Smyrna Baptist Church for an Interfaith Service designed to promote love. The idea of unity didn’t stop that day; in fact, it was just the opposite. Newnan City Councilwoman Cynthia Jenkins and Coweta District Attorney Herb Cranford started talking about how to capture the sense of unity evident that day. Cranford wanted to develop a program in Coweta County based on a successful pastor’s lunch series in Carrollton. Their motivation was to focus on continuing to build connections rather than risk people becoming disengaged when the memory of that Saturday in April began to fade. A few months later, Coweta’s first Pastors and Leaders Lunch took place. Initially, the lunches were held the first Monday of every month at different locations, but the program eventually found a permanent home at Bridging the Gap on First Avenue. The lunch is provided by a different church each month and the event gives attendees an opportunity for food and conversation. Since COVID-19, the meetings have been virtual, but the schedule – and the enthusiasm – hasn’t changed. 62 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM

Conversations about race and action toward good relations continued into 2019. In March, members of Newnan Presbyterian Church hosted an event featuring Heval Mohamed Kelli, a Syrian refugee, and Chris Buckley, a former U.S. soldier and white supremacist. Unlikely friends, the men give talks across the country, sharing their story of overcoming different backgrounds to understand and appreciate one another. The event was another opportunity for residents to learn about reconciliation. It was practically impossible to miss the next big event, the installation of “Seeing Newnan,” New Englander Mary Beth Meehan’s oversized portraits that were installed in spring of 2019. Meehan became familiar with Newnan after spending time here as an artist in residence through the local ArtRez program. An independent photographer who specializes in large-scale public installations, she hoped her exhibit would spotlight citizens who otherwise might not be “seen.” The larger-than-life portraits were hung on exterior walls throughout downtown Newnan and depicted a broad array of people of varying race, age, culture and gender. An interesting reflection on Coweta, the exhibit caused many to ponder their beliefs and preconceptions of others, as evidenced in a massive social media response to the portraits. People who might never have gotten to know others in the community started talking to each other, sometimes with difficult conversations. The portraits were used in college classes at the University of West Georgia, and they inspired a group of women, racially mixed from ages 20 to 82, to gather once a month for a potluck lunch. The women who started the group met during a discussion about pimento cheese, so they named the group The Pimento Cheese Sandwich Society. “Sitting around a table sharing good food can help get a conversation going,” says Helen Berry, the subject of one of Meehan’s photos and co-founder of the group. “As we ate our first sandwich together in early June of 2019, we started talking – and haven’t stopped yet.” By the summer of 2020, the world had changed. The coronavirus was becoming a pandemic, and large and small gatherings were being restricted. In the middle of this, the country witnessed the death of George Floyd while in police custody in Minnesota. His dying words broke hearts all over the country when he called


for his mother. Like many communities across the country, Newnan responded, holding peaceful Black Lives Matter gatherings around the square where people could talk about their own experiences with racism while working together to change old beliefs, actions – and outcomes. In July, Derrick Teagle’s Empowered 4 Life nonprofit organization held its first Connecting the Dots seminar, a program for teenagers with focus on improving race relations between the community and local law enforcement. Just as similar organizations worked to continue their missions despite upsets brought by the pandemic, the Newnan Cultural Arts Commission produced their first virtual event with the 2020 Friends of Wadsworth concert. Later in the year, as Commission members watched the nation focus on issues of racism and violence, they felt it important for the Arts to speak out as well by showcasing the work of black artists. Their idea came to life in September with a virtual performance called HOPE: Healing, Openness, Passion, Empathy. The program included spirituals performed by renowned soprano Indra Jones and showing a video, “Everyday,” produced by Paulo Manso de Souza, artistic director of Newnan’s Southern Arc Dance Company. A short video on “Seeing Newnan” was shown, along with “Power of Place,” a documentary film by local filmmaker Jonathan Hickman, which tells the story of Howard Warner School, originally Coweta County’s black high school and now home to a Boys & Girls Club. “The arts can shine light on the darkness,” says Phyllis Graham, member of the Cultural Arts Commission. “And that’s our intention with the HOPE program.” The compelling September program is available for viewing on the Cultural Arts Commission’s Facebook page. Ongoing conversations are one part of this process, but action is also important. Last July, the City of Newnan announced plans for a series of community forums on diversity, equity and inclusion with intentions of moving forward the important conversations and events of the last few years. “It is an unprecedented move to have all these government organizations working together to address these issues,” says Jenkins. “And it is a very good thing for the community.” NCM

FROM TOP Children cover the sidewalks at Greenville Street park with chalk drawings before the National Socialist Movement rally in April 2018; Newnan residents hold signs promoting harmony on the day of the rally; Mary Beth Meehan poses in 2019 with one of her “Seeing Newnan” outdoor portraits; Chris Buckley, left, and Heval Mohamed Kelli discuss reconciliation in spring of 2019.


Newnan-Coweta Magazine asked a few locals to share their thoughts on race relations in Coweta County. Here are their essays.

Be The Change Written by BETH CALLAWAY

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e recently closed an unusual and emotionally charged year. Last year, amidst a pandemic, was riddled with everything from natural disasters to controversial cultural clashes, all wrapped in the tension of a presidential election year. What did we learn from the events of 2020? For the sake of this essay’s topic: that racial tension is still very high and easily ignitable. Why? How do we correct it? Sadly, it doesn’t take much accelerant to ignite hatred. And, yes, here in the Deep South racial intolerance and racial ignorance can still be found. It is a slow process to continue to push racism back. By not giving it attention through acceptance, we keep it from gaining traction and bleeding back into local communities. I was born and raised in Carrollton. During my lifetime, over the course of 50 years, progress has been made, albeit painfully slow, from segregation at the onset of my lifetime to now. I have seen how our sleepy, small towns have grown and become part of Atlanta’s urban sprawl. Embracing and incorporating our history, I think, keeps the character and charm of small towns and their comfortable feel. With no collective history there is no backstory, no cast of colorful characters, just merely a pop-up town that feels sterile and lacking in personality. The uniqueness that is built through the years, our history, is what makes us and our small towns more attractive, engaging and personable. With that character building, history comes – history, which always repeats itself. So here we are facing the familiar repeating history. It’s been discussed. It’s been protested. It’s been rioted. It’s had T-shirts made. It’s had millions of dollars thrown at it. It’s had walks, marches, sit-ins and shutdowns. All of it, yet here we are. The next step is individual racism manifesting into systemic racism, which is basically societal systems: economic, educational, health care, judicial and more founded on racism. This term ranges from the president of the NAACP’s definition as “systems and structures that have procedures or processes that disadvantage African Americans” to Merriam-Webster’s definition: “a doctrine 64 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM

or political program based on the assumption of racism and designed to execute its principles.” To my way of thinking, it would also be nearly impossible to separate racial discrimination from its fuel: a politically driven agenda. All racism seems more apparent in larger cities where social stratification is more diverse and demographically concentrated. I do understand how the herd mentality can override mindsets and take control of individuals’ freethinking. Is it wrong? Yes. Do I agree? No. History, even just yesterday, contains struggle, pain, suffering, sacrifice and consequences. Let us honor each trial, each tribulation, by bettering ourselves through understanding, empathy and compassion. We can respectfully honor our history and through it, teach our future generations acceptance and tolerance. We have to preserve our history, with its reminders, so that we can continue to move forward and not backward. We should stand proudly on the shoulders of our ancestors. At our country’s onset were a group of varied rebels seeking freedom from oppression. At our crux, our commonality is, in fact, our differences. Do you see the irony? We, the United States of America, were and are a melting pot. Our uniting factor – our differences – is what pulls yet sometimes drives us apart. Across the board, we are not just a skin color, a religious belief, a sexual orientation, a cultural variation, a political affiliation, a mental or physical ability, an elder or infirmed. Let’s be united by our differences, not divided by them. We are all human. Period. This is an “us” problem. In my heart of hearts, I believe we are each accountable and responsible for our families, our communities, and ultimately ourselves. The responsibility is ours – acceptance of each other, tolerance within our community, taking a collective stand against forces that come to divide us. We have heard it a million times: Change starts with you. That’s each and every one of us – each beautifully unique individual. Make the Change. Be the Change. Beth Callaway is mom to a 23-year-old daughter with special needs and a 26-year-old daughter who attends law school at Georgia State University in Atlanta.


Trending in the Right Direction Written by DERRICK TEAGLE

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’m a local family man who has lived in Coweta County for more than 40 years. I am blessed to have raised three males in this diverse community. I am the director of Empowered 4 Life where we have mentored more than 500 students since 2007. I would like to share my thoughts on race, racism, racists, racial tensions and systemic racism. I love to see when so many races unite as it’s a glimpse of heaven. I love to see it in our downtown area, the local markets and sporting events. I dislike racism as I feel that’s what divides us as a city, a community and a nation. I truly believe that racist behaviors have been accepted on a national level, which has led to severe racial tensions in our nation. I truly believe that systemic racism is real. The housing market, lack of job opportunities, low wages, mass incarcerations and number of deaths of African Americans are real. I think as a country we have been too silent and have swept this under the rug for way too long. I feel until we truly listen to everyone, this problem will still be a ticking time bomb. I truly believe that racism or racial injustice resides in our community, but I honestly feel that it’s not the same as it is in other areas in our state or country. I think we have a good collection of leaders who are open-minded to listening as well as change. A few years ago, I remember being a part of a city

community forum. I was listening to Chief Buster Meadows talk about changing the culture of the Newnan Police Department. He stated that being involved with community groups as well as having a more diverse police department were among his goals. I can honestly say that he has achieved both of those goals. I think our city’s response to race relations has been good, yet there is room for improvement. I love the fact that community groups, including Empowered 4 Life, have been protected to share their emotions on race. The city truly was all in on the Connecting The Dots seminars. Connecting The Dots is a four-part seminar to educate all sides on race relations. The first seminar on July 11 at the Wadsworth Auditorium focused on a roundtable discussion on race. It allowed everyone in the audience to anonymously ask community leaders, coaches and teachers questions regarding race. This seminar truly stepped on some toes, but that was needed. The second seminar is scheduled for January 23. I hope to see you there. I truly believe that our community is trending in the right direction in regards to race. I would love to see more community meetings on this topic, and I’m looking forward to assisting in the future growth of our Coweta County community. Derrick Teagle is director of Empowered 4 Life, a nonprofit organization that focuses on mentoring youth. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 65


Coming Together in God’s Love Written by DEBRA HARRIS

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et us have a conversation about a needed topic: race relations. How do we define race relations? It is a relationship being built and cultivated among the many races of God’s people. How can we cultivate and build relationships with other cultures of people? I will answer from a pastoral view, which will be from the lens of our heavenly father. As we look at racial relationships from the eyes and heart of God-Elohim, we see a father loving his children, a father who desires that all be lovers one of another. The father is love. He shared his love with his children and desires that we love each other as he has loved us. The best way to build, restore, renew any relationship is to operate through the love of God. As his children, we are to imitate his love for each other, regardless of ethnicity, race or religion. This kind of love can only be accomplished through the spirit of Christ. Unfortunately, we will always see systemic racism among all people groups if we do not look from the eyes of God. God gave us a guidebook (called the Bible) for living, loving and unifying. If we choose to ignore the guidebook, we will operate from our carnal nature, which speaks of a rule from a different master. The guidebook was written by a loving father 66 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM

who sent his loving son who died for us and sent a loving spirit to keep us connected with love and to be loved. This is our only answer to solving a worldly problem – systemic racism, hate, antiChristian and cultural indifference. Many attempts have been made and to no avail. We came back to the same place because we made plans without Christ. Our only hope is Jesus. I believe examples are needed to show the true love of our heavenly father, such as the community and its people. Newnan has set examples to others how it should be across the nation. Newnan set standards when the white nationalist, antifa, and Nazis came to create chaos and confusion in 2018. We made national news on how we stood in the love of Christ, regardless of their agenda. If we want racial relationships to work across the board, we need to apply the same strategies, to stand together in love through the spirit of Christ. Newnan can be the example for other cities and counties. During the summer months of this COVID-19 season, churches, ministries, the school system and individuals worked together to feed students who were in danger of not eating their regular planned school lunch. This type of coming together has always been welcoming and needed. These are the acts of kindness that help to build relationships and express the love of God. I work with a group of wonderful men and women of God through Summit Ministries Newnan, which is a conglomerate of several churches and ministries connecting to serve, pray and express God’s love to different culture groups. Our goal has been about cultivating race relations from God’s perspective. We started in 2016 building, praying and cultivating relationships from the heart of God. Bridging the Gap is another community ministry that acts as the hands and feet of Jesus, expressing his love and heart towards all mankind. Community volunteers meet, work together and love on the recipients in need of groceries and household items. So much love is being shared and expressed during these outreach activities, and this helps to promote unity and race relations. One of my favorite acts of building and improving racial relationships was the installation of photos of many different cultures placed strategically around downtown Newnan to show acceptance and oneness in community. This was a bold move of race acceptance. I am grateful to be a part of a welcoming community where love is colorblind and responds through the eyes of Jesus. I am not an original Newnanite; however, I’m currently a citizen in Newnan, Georgia, Coweta County, and I am honored to call it my home. I have been here for many years and observed how Newnan has grown and cultivated her love for people and the community. Local leaders have worked together to bring about change to build relationships among the cultures. I see businesses, churches and individuals working hard to cultivate relationships and be helpers one to the other. I thank God for his love being spread around. Debra Harris is founder of Kingdom Connected Ministries International and the Ignite the Fire Movement, both based in Newnan.


Building Trust in Order to Break Racism Written by HERB CRANFORD

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ddressing race relations in a word-limited column is a difficult task, and I know what I say here does not adequately address the depth and complexity of this topic. I have chosen to use my limited space to explain how we conduct business at the District Attorney’s Office to ensure that we are positively contributing to our community rather than causing racial injustice. At the outset, I acknowledge I have not walked in the shoes of minority members of our community, and I understand that many have experienced racism. I write here as the district attorney of the Coweta Judicial Circuit, the local elected official most responsible for seeking justice for violations of the laws of the State of Georgia. What I discuss here is meant to help the public understand the character of our office. It is the sacred duty of the District Attorney’s Office to enforce the law equally for all members of our community. Because some crimes are motivated by prejudice, which deserve an increased level of punishment in my view, I supported passage of Georgia’s new Hate Crimes Bill. To prevent disparities based on race in our cases, we review each case on its merits to determine what justice is for the specific case, regardless of any victim or defendant’s race, ethnicity, nationality, religion, sexual orientation or wealth. We also abide by general guidelines meant to ensure that the resolutions we pursue for each case are consistent when considering the nature of the crime committed, the prior record of the accused, and the strength of the evidence we have to prove the crime. In order to get as close as humanly possible to perfect justice, we make a conscientious effort to treat every victim and defendant as an individual with inherent dignity. We honor the constitutional rights of the accused and we only pursue cases where we believe we can prove our case beyond a reasonable doubt. To do otherwise, in my view, is to risk a wrongful conviction. We have an open case file policy, which means we make available to the defendant the entire contents of our case file except for legally privileged material. We do this to ensure that the adversarial process works as intended to achieve a just and fair outcome – and to ensure transparency in the process. In order to treat all parties as human beings and to make

decisions based on the facts and the law, our office endeavors to receive all of the information relevant to the case and the parties involved. We meet with victims and their families to try to understand what they have experienced and what we can do to make them safe and whole. We communicate with law enforcement about their thoughts on how to resolve the case appropriately. We try to understand why the accused did what they did and to what extent they are a danger to do it again. I and all of the prosecutors in our office will take any meeting with any member of the public, including family and friends of the accused, who want to share their thoughts about how any particular case should be resolved. In addition to all of these measures, which are meant to ensure that justice is done without regard to irrelevant factors such as race, our office emphasizes transparency with the public. Part of our mission is to maintain the trust of the people we serve. This means every member of our community. Engaging with the public and being as transparent as possible are necessary to build trust in our criminal justice system, and public trust is necessary for the functioning of the criminal justice system. Victims must have such trust in order to call for help; witnesses must have such trust to be willing and unafraid to tell the truth; and defendants must have such trust to be able to take responsibility for their crimes and choose a different path in life. From speaking with members of our community, I know that some have experienced racism in some form and are suspicious that the criminal justice system and its participants are prejudiced. To dispel the wrong beliefs some may have about the Coweta Circuit DA’s Office, I try to speak to the public as much as I can and any time I am invited to do so. I understand I must be proactive in helping the community understand my heart and motivations. If we continue to operate this way, I am confident that the public will increasingly trust that justice for all, not prejudice, motivates the District Attorney’s Office of the Coweta Judicial Circuit. Herb Cranford is district attorney of the Coweta Judicial Circuit, which serves Coweta, Carroll, Heard, Meriwether and Troup counties. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 67


Pastor Todd Slade and his wife, Jennifer, pose with their children, from left, Phoebe, Joshua, Jonathan, Judah and Jeremiah.

The Answer is Love Written by TODD SLADE

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ow are our local race relations? Wow, what a question.

It’s a question my wife, Jennifer, and I have dealt with for

more than 10 years. As a white, conservative, Christian male in my 40s, I am the first to realize my words may come across to some as tone deaf. I get that. I am, as some would say, in the “privileged” class. However, as a dad in a multiracial family, I would hope my words carry with them a sense of understanding, peace and calm to a subject full of hate and violence. I would daresay there are few subjects that cause as much consternation as the subject of race. To be frank, I don’t get it. This is really not hard. When I think about race and all that goes with it, I think the answer is simple. It comes from something I was taught as a child but did not fully understand until we adopted our two oldest sons. The answer to the question of race is found in a rule I was taught 40 years ago. Some would call it the Golden Rule: Do unto others as you would have them do to you. Put another way: Treat people the way you want to be treated. 68 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM

I understand we tend to make the subject of race much more complicated. Throw in the idea of systemic racism, police brutality, income inequality, discussions about affirmative action, slavery and all the evils slavery entailed, and the conversation gets considerably complex. I get it. And I’m not nearly smart enough to attempt to unwind the complexities of that conversation. What I do know is this: If we could all live by the Golden Rule, this conversation would vanish almost overnight. A little more than 10 years ago, Jennifer and I were led to adopt a 6-month-old black infant who needed love and affection. Almost a year later, we were led to adopt a newborn Guatemalan child. Adopting our oldest two sons was not a difficult decision for Jennifer and me. Sure, we knew raising a black and a Hispanic child in a white home would have its challenges. We also knew we had what these little boys needed most. As simple as it may seem, all they needed was to be loved and cared for. As infants, they had not yet learned – and “learned” is the most important word here – what racism was. They had not learned what police brutality was. They had not learned that people are full of hatred toward one another. And as far as my wife and I were concerned, the best way for them to never learn those things was to not teach them those things. Instead, we teach them about love. We teach them about acceptance. Most of all, we teach them about Jesus Christ. Jesus said, “By this, all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” ( John 13:35 ESV) I believe that is the answer to our race problem. We need to learn to love one another. Sure, all races have their distinctions, and those distinctions should be celebrated when appropriate. But one thing I know for sure: All races need love. When we love one another it is impossible to hate. We teach our children about the evils of slavery. We teach our children about the evils of brutality. But in teaching them these things, we teach that these actions were not right and certainly were not from a heart that loved. Love teaches me to put others above myself. Love teaches me to look after your needs before mine. Love teaches me that racism is the total complete opposite of love. If we could all love one another, questions about race relations would be nonexistent. You might say that oversimplifies this entire discussion. I would ask, does it really? Is it hard to love a 6-month-old baby or a newborn baby of a different race? Of course not. It’s easy to love those babies. Looking back, it was in the adoption of my now 11-yearold and 9-year-old sons that I realized the answer to the race problem in our culture: Love. Todd Slade is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Moreland and the father of five children.


A Bridge to Real Relationships Written by JOAN KINRADE

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he blinders fell off the eyes of my heart about a year ago when I realized just how much was missing in my commitment to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and to love my neighbor as myself. With the deaths of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, among others, I vowed to become an antiracist, one who takes a stand in their sphere of influence to oppose racism. This will be a life-long journey for me as I continue to learn as much as I can by reading, researching, uncovering compelling stories that are excluded from textbooks and listening to the narratives of black friends and colleagues. As I have listened more intently to these friends, admittedly with personal discomfort, I have realized that, while beautiful progress has been made through working and praying together, there is much more to be done to break down systemic racism. I remember my years of teaching first grade classrooms of allblack students and being told as a newcomer to Newnan that the Civil War “is alive and well” and, as a Yankee, I could never truly “call Newnan home.” I’m proud to say that Newnan truly is home for us, the only home our adult daughters have known, and where our granddaughter thrives. Yet, I believe structures of hierarchy are still in place, especially around power, prestige and race. These are realities that I cannot continue to dismiss. In our community, I’ve noticed a respectful racism where whites and persons of color coexist within unwritten yet defined boundaries. I’m becoming aware of microaggressions and biases and am also aware of prevalent racism, systemic gridlocks that plague society. Last year, before COVID-19 was a reason to keep distance, this reality became personal. One afternoon, three generations of black men – a grandfather, son and grandson – came to our house selling pine straw. Just that morning, I’d mentioned how we needed to do that work, so when the men pulled up with their big trailer, I welcomed them. The two older men waited at the top of our steep bank while the youngest, probably in his

early 20s, came down to knock on our door. When I unlocked the door, a glass door still separated us. We greeted one another, and I was struck by the young man’s beautiful smile. I immediately began to open the glass door, but he raised his hand saying “Oh, no ma’am. You don’t have to come out.” I did anyway, and when I opened the glass door, he instinctively cowered a bit, backing down the stairs. In that moment, I recognized his movements were a reaction to me, a white woman. I knew that he backed far away in an effort to make me feel safe. That deep knowing brought tears to my eyes. It was a life-changing moment for me. Due to the color of his skin and my white status, he felt the need to distance himself from me. I did what I could to bridge that distance, physically and emotionally, but the chasm remained. Now that I’ve seen, I cannot unsee. It can feel offensive and divisive to talk about race or to examine white privileged systems, but I believe we must open our eyes and address the condition of our hearts. I offer a challenge to readers who take personal offense to the statement that we may be, each in our own way, participating in systemic racism. I’ve learned that taking personal offense is a spiritual matter where entitlement, self-righteousness, pride and a bent for control are at work. I find it much easier to blame others than to assess how I might be contributing to the problem. Loving one’s neighbor, whoever they may be, is hard and mandates humility and the willingness to face our human imperfections and the ways we are at fault. It’s a matter requiring honest dialogue, repentance, forgiveness and action. To try to love as Jesus loves is messy, counter-cultural and risky, yet it’s the bridge to authentic relationships and healing, with liberty and justice for all. It’s a move of faith that I believe is worth the risk. Won’t you join me? NCM Newnan resident JoAn Kinrade is a United Methodist pastor who serves as a chaplain, spiritual director and retreat leader. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 69


THE NCM Q&A

Shared Faith, Shared Vision Pastor duo talks race and reconciliation Written and Photographed by JACKIE KENNEDY

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Newnan pastors Chris Carlyle, left, and Jimmy Patterson have formed a friendship that transcends race and differences to focus on what they and their congregations have in common.

ince 2018, Newnan pastors Chris Carlyle, of Purified Living Ministries, and Jimmy Patterson, of First Baptist Church, have shared a friendship bound in Christ’s love and a quest to better understand each other’s experiences regarding race. A native of Newnan and 1983 graduate of Newnan High School, Carlyle lived in the Atlanta area during most of his 20s. While working with the Clayton County Recreation Department, he coached a young Cam Newton from the time the future football star was 6 years old until he entered high school. When Carlyle was 16, he was fired from a job bagging 70 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM

groceries after a white woman accused him of not double bagging her items. Until then, says the pastor, he had not experienced negative relations with white people. “But that turned something on in me, and it took me a while to turn it off,” he says. “I didn’t like white people.” Carlyle says his disdain lasted “until I got saved when I was 29.” He returned to Newnan shortly thereafter and has served as pastor at Purified Living Ministries, a nondenominational church, for the past 12 years. Originally from Brownwood, Texas, Patterson began his career as a preacher in Florida and moved to Coweta County in 2006 as senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Newnan. In the past two years, he and Carlyle have spoken to groups regarding local race relations. Last summer, Patterson took part in the funeral service for Carlyle’s father by reading a Bible passage – a gesture that cemented their bond, according to the pastors.


NCM: You have been pastors of your churches for about the same amount of time. What are your congregations’ views on race relations as a whole? Carlyle: My congregation is at a pretty rough place right now. They are in a place where they want to be heard. They’re in a good place also because they’re talking with their kids about certain things – that all white people are not prejudiced. They want to be seen as individuals, not put in the same category as all black people. Unfortunately, we’re stereotyped like that. They just want to live. As Christians, we just want to live. Some of the things we do we cause on ourselves. We can’t blame another race for something that we perpetuate on our own. I’m a realist. I say whatever you put out of your house, that’s what you put out on the world. You can’t expect someone to give you a job if you come in with your jeans hanging down. If you want a job, you’ve got to go through the protocol and look the part like you want to work, not like you just got out of jail. We don’t want everybody to put us in one basket, and we can’t put everybody else in one basket. What my congregants are saying is, “Pastor, it’s difficult because we’ve always been in that basket. No matter how many times we try to get out of the basket, everywhere we go, it always seems like we get put back.” For example, I dress nice and everything, but if I go into a high-end store, I’ll get followed around. People look at me a certain way when I come in. NCM: You’re talking about employees following you – and they’re not following you to help you? Carlyle: Right, and it just makes me feel awkward. It’s that feeling we want to get rid of because the majority of us want to live right. It’s like our color is a weapon. When we come out of the house we have to act a certain way, we have to be a certain way. White people don’t necessarily have to; they can live however they want to live. NCM: You said you quit caring for white people from the time you were 16 until you had a reckoning. When did you come out of that? Carlyle: It was actually when I got saved at 29. I didn’t have trust for white people. NCM: Was it getting salvation that brought that trust back? Carlyle: Yes. Everything had to be on an even playing field because once you get saved, everything is wiped away. But that transition is still hard for some. Not me. I heard him call me. I was standing under an exit sign when he told me to exit. It was clear that he was saying, “I’m going to heal your heart so you can be an effective leader in the community.” We don’t have all the answers for everything, but we

can, by walking hand in hand, show the healing of this community and that we’re here to make a change and to be brothers and sisters in Christ. It ain’t going to be the government, it ain’t going to be Trump, it ain’t going to be Biden. It’s going to be the churches. If anything’s going to get healed, it’s going to start with the church. As black and white churches on Sunday, when we start that segregated day interacting with each other, that’s when the world will start seeing that there’s a change. NCM: Reverend Patterson, how about your congregation? What are the issues they deal with as far as race relations? Patterson: As a Southern Baptist church, we were founded with the stain of racism on our denomination. We were conceived in sin with regard to the issue of slavery, but in recent years, as a denomination, we have repudiated every form of prejudice. On the issue of racial reconciliation, we’re far from being where we need to be, but we are growing. In the time that I’ve been here, we’ve had five African Americans, including Chris, preach in our pulpit, and that has been a very positive experience for our church. I have to commend Chris. We would not have this relationship if he did not take the initiative. We are both members of the Kiwanis Club. One day he approached me and asked if I had ever preached in a black church and asked me to come preach in his. Carlyle: That was 2018. NCM: What are some of the things First Baptist has done to promote racial reconciliation? Patterson: Well, after Chris invited me to preach in his church, I wanted to reciprocate, and so we had the Oneness Walk in 2018. Our congregations met at Willie Lynch Park and had hot dogs. We walked from the park past Purified Living Ministries Church to our church where we had a worship service. Carlyle: We picked up people as we were going. It was beautiful. Patterson: At one point, I looked back and I could see nothing but people all the way back, and someone said the line of people was a mile long. NCM: In the current state of affairs with Black Lives Matter and protests, what do you feel are misconceptions that some people have about race and each other? Patterson: I think we make the issue of racial harmony much too complicated. I think it’s very simple, and Chris has already alluded to it: We must put Jesus first. I think it’s just that simple. Jesus is the prince of peace. At his birth, the angels announced, “Peace on earth, goodwill toward men.” Jesus taught us to love our neighbor as ourselves. The Bible says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Colossians 3:28). Jesus makes the JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 71


NCM: That is racial reconciliation in a nutshell.

THE NCM Q&A

Carlyle: Yes, it is. NCM: Jimmy how do you feel about those statues?

playing field level for all of us. These are complicated issues, but I think the solution is much simpler than we’re willing to admit. NCM: What would you add Pastor Carlyle? Carlyle: There is a misconception on black lives matter – not the organization Black Lives Matter but just that black lives matter. NCM: Explain that to me. Carlyle: If you look up the history of Black Lives Matter, what they stand for, I don’t ride with what the organization does. I’m not with any group that wants to hate anybody; I’ve been delivered from that. I hear people talk about it, saying “We can’t even say ‘Black lives matter’ without being lumped with their organization.” Some of the things the organization does I don’t agree with, but the slogan stands out for me. NCM: How do you feel about the Confederate statues on court square in Newnan? Carlyle: If Newnan really wants to show that we’re healing, let’s just get rid of these statues – not tear them down but remove them to a place where it’s just not a reminder. Every time I drive by, it’s like it’s saying, “You were in bondage, you were in slavery.” I don’t know that guy. All I know is that he was a Confederate soldier and fought for slavery. I don’t want to talk about that. I’m trying to get past that, but it’s a constant reminder. It just does something to me, you know what I mean? It just takes me to a bad place in my mind. No disrespect to people who want to remember that, but it affects us in a totally different way than it affects you all. The Bible says we should follow God’s statutes, not statues. We should be committed to his statutes, not statues, because those are just monuments. If people want to see us heal, let’s make an effort to remove some of these things. When I preached here at First Baptist, a man walked up to me afterward and told me that he hated black people. But the message I preached was “Who really is your neighbor?” He asked that I pray with him the prayer of salvation that he might be saved. NCM: You’re kidding? Carlyle: No, I am serious. We cried on that altar down there. He got saved, he turned his life over to Christ. That hatred got out of his heart. 72 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM

Patterson: First and foremost, I love my brother. He is the blood of my heart. When I hear about the hurt that he has personally been through, it hurts me deeply. And I’m growing in this particular issue and want to talk more about it. My ancestors owned enslaved people. I discovered this not long after I moved here when I was doing some family research. It was like a knife in my heart. I didn’t tell anybody except my wife. Carlyle: You told me when I preached here. Patterson: Yes, that was the first time I’d ever told anyone else, in 2018. NCM: The same day you prayed with that man, Pastor Carlyle? Carlyle: Yes. Patterson: And I confessed that my family has been a part of the problem. My denomination has been a part of the problem. The stain of racism is on us, but we’re doing everything we can now to repudiate any form of prejudice. The stain of racism is on me personally. I have had prejudices. We all have a past. Just like in the Bible: Abraham was a liar, Noah was a drunk, Jacob was a thief, Moses was a murderer, Rahab was a prostitute and David was a murderer and an adulterer. Yet they all are listed as examples of faith in Hebrews Chapter 11. These are people who had terrible pasts, and I don’t want to sanitize their history because it encourages me. I look at them and say, “I’m a failure, too. I’ve got a past that I am ashamed of, but I’m learning from that past and God has given me a future.” In Christ, every saint has a past, and every sinner has a future. So I look at that Confederate statue and think that is a symbol of the past that we can learn from. This is where I’ve been, but I am very open to what Chris is saying. I don’t want to sanitize things, but I would rather see a memorial for an African-American, maybe Martin Luther King Jr., put in a prominent place, too. God has put this on my heart, I don’t know how you feel about this Chris, I’ve never mentioned it to you, but I’m aware of three African Americans who were lynched in Coweta County over our history. I think it would be nice if we could do what they’ve done in Montgomery where they have the National Memorial for Peace and Justice. They’ve memorialized lynchings that happened in Alabama, and it’s beautifully and tastefully done. It’s very moving. My thought is to put up a memorial to remember those people who were unjustly killed, and it will be a signpost to the future that we need to have peace. And put that in a prominent location. Carlyle: I’d like to meet with your staff and your people on that, brother.


Patterson: I think the more people included, the better. Carlyle: When the church makes a statement as significant as that, and we get on the same page with that and we stand hand in hand, that’s going to flip everything around, I guarantee it. NCM: Where are we wasting time as far as racial reconciliation and where should we refocus our efforts? Patterson: I think that we shouldn’t focus on the past but on a bright tomorrow. Carlyle: Exactly. No past. Get off social media, stop getting your opinions from the news. The best way to reconcile is through conversations face to face with people. Patterson: Sometimes people will ask me why I focus so much on racial harmony, and I say because it’s a gospel issue. My black brothers and sisters bear the same image of God that I do, and Jesus died for them on the cross just like he died for me. It’s a gospel issue. Carlyle: I’m not a Democrat or Republican. I’m an Independent. Nobody owns my vote. We’re supposed to be Americans. And I think when we get closer to being Americans that’s when we’re going to show the rest of this world how Americans are supposed to live – with brotherly love, helping each other and really coming together. And it’s time past being afraid of each other. I think that’s the biggest problem with race relations – that we’re afraid of each other. Patterson: It reminds me of what MLK Jr. said: “The reason we hate each other is because we fear each other. And the reason we fear each other is because we don’t know each other. And the reason we don’t know each other is because we don’t talk to each other.” Chris took the initiative in this relationship by reaching out to me and talking to me and including me in his church. That broke down any barriers of fear or hatred I had. NCM: Is the answer to racial reconciliation simply relationships? Patterson: Yes, and we have a relationship. Carlyle: We’re just talking the truth and that’s where friends and relationships come together. And I’ll say it again, the churches are going to be what fixes this whole thing. When they see us walking hand in hand, and even though we still might disagree about some stuff, guess what, we’re still together. That’s what God is looking for, I believe. Patterson: Just like the Bible says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens the countenance of another.”  That’s what our relationship has been. But when you sharpen iron against iron, sparks are going to fly. And you can’t sharpen an ax on a pound of butter. You’ve got to have some friction – but in a Godly way. You’ve got to disagree in a Godly way and then come to a place where you’re one, where you’re unified.

The Rev. Chris Carlyle, left, and the Rev. Jimmy Patterson shake hands in agreement to move forward on their mission to heal and enhance race relations in Coweta County. The friends agree that while talk is good, actions are necessary to move the community toward sustained racial reconciliation.

NCM: Where do you see this change beginning? Carlyle: Let’s get to some kind of point to where the community sees that the church is doing black and white together to make a serious change. We’re doing a lot of talking, but something tangible must be put in place. We need to do something physical instead of just having conversations because conversation without action is really just conversation. The hard thing should be the easy thing to do, especially in love. Especially in church. This thing is hard with that monument out there, I know it is. We need to do something that’s really going to say that these churches in Coweta County are down here to make a movement. As long as you keep telling me the truth and I tell you the truth, that’s where we’re going to really break all of this old stigma about white and black. Patterson: We could make a difference in our world, and it could emanate from Newnan, Georgia. I believe that. We could be the role model and example for racial harmony for the entire world. Carlyle: Yes, that’s been my prayer, pastor. You hit it right on that nail and went straight into that wood. That’s been my prayer – to let the world know that this town believes in reconciling racial relationships. It’s the right thing to do. This is the right time to do it. Patterson: Amen. Let’s partner on changing the world, brother. Carlyle: Yes, sir. God bless you. NCM JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 73


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Dream Honeymoon Destinations Pack up and take off Written by CHUCK CLEVELAND Photographed by BARBARA CLEVELAND

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ravel plans for 2020 were largely curtailed, but let’s think optimistically about 2021. Here are three distinctly different alternatives from around the world for your vacation contemplation. Steeped in beauty and history, Venice, Kauai and Banff each make for an outstanding honeymoon destination. My wife Barbara and I recommend each and provide tips on where to stay and what to see or do based on our travels there. We wish you a great getaway and a wonderful marriage.

ABOVE A newlywed couple rejoices in Venice. FAR LEFT A gondola ride allows visitors to see the city up close. LEFT Chuck and Barbara Cleveland prepare to launch.

Venice

Venice, Italy, has long been recognized as highly romantic, and a few years ago Travel and Leisure Magazine named it “the most romantic city in the world.” Not surprisingly, we saw couples everywhere, all seemingly in festive moods. Usually, they were celebrating anniversaries, but one day we encountered two young people in wedding attire rejoicing on their special occasion. They even allowed Barbara to snap their photo. Speaking of weddings, when in Venice, we stayed at the Ca’ Sagredo Hotel, which received the Love Travels award for Best Wedding Hotel in Europe for 2017 and earned the Conde Nast Johansen Award for Excellence as Best Hotel for Weddings, Parties and Celebrations in 2021. A former 15th century palace on the Grand Canal, Ca’ Sagredo is relatively small with 43 rooms and suites. To add to the romance, there’s a gondola stand just outside the hotel doors. Visit their website at casagredohotel.com or call the hotel at 39.041.241.3111; remember, there’s a six-hour time difference. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 75


Kauai

If relaxation among natural wonders is your top criteria for a vacation, Hawaii’s Garden Isle is an excellent choice. With majestic cliffs, a colorful canyon, lush vegetation and gloriously blazing sunsets, Kauai offers a sensational collection of visual delights sure to inspire newlyweds. We opted to stay on the sunnier south tip of the island at the Grand Hyatt in Koloa (hyatt.com/en-US/hotel/hawaii/grandhyatt-kauai-resort-and-spa/kauai, 808.742.1234). With 50 acres overlooking the sea, the hotel affords its guests breathtaking landscapes, spacious accommodations and outstanding restaurants. At the top of the island, the Na Aina Kai Botanical Gardens are inviting. Within these 232 acres, you’ll find waterfalls, pools, gazebos, a lagoon with spouting fountains, Japanese teahouse and spectacular birds and plants as well as a path along bubbling streams leading to the ocean. As impressive as the gardens are, Kauai’s top attraction is a 15-mile stretch of shore on the northwest corner of the island. Along the Na Pali Coastline, you’ll see multicolored carved cliffs rising as high as 4,000 feet above sea level. They produce an intriguing combination of majesty and danger. The site can be observed by air via helicopter or by water, and we recommend trying both.

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ABOVE and BELOW The breathtaking scenery at Kauai is reason enough to consider honeymooning in Hawaii.


A vacation in Banff, Canada delivers mountain beauty.

Banff

The small Canadian town of Banff is located 78 miles west of Calgary and offers a nice contrast to Hawaii’s proximity to the ocean. However, you should know the waters of world-famous Lake Louise (only 36 miles away) are still frozen at the end of April. The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel (fairmont.com/banff-springs, 403.762.2211) originally opened in 1888, but the wooden structure burned to the ground in 1926. Reconstruction took only two years, and the facility has grown over the next almost 100 years to now house more than 750 rooms. The most important distinction between the facility in 1888 and in 2021 is that the building is now located so as to afford some guests a gorgeous view. We recommend paying a few dollars more to obtain this stunning sight. We visited in late June when the mountains behind us still had snow. Millions of people visit Lake Louise each year to see the vivid shade of turquoise water. The tour we took from Banff also went to Moraine Lake, more than 6,000 feet above sea level. The Banff area is beautiful, and the national park of the same name makes for an excellent excursion. NCM

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SHOP COWETA

#NCMstyle This New Year, 2021, change is inevitable! We would love to make it change for the better – physically, mentally and financially. I think we can all agree that taking care of ourselves and others is of the utmost importance. Newnan-Coweta Magazine has a few recommendations.

CASA CowetaCASA.org

Looking for a volunteer opportunity? Become a voice for children in the foster care system by becoming a Court Appointed Special Advocate with Coweta CASA.

Burn Boot Camp 21 Market Square Newnan 678.457.9361

Burn Boot Camp is a lifestyle fitness facility that inspires, empowers and transforms the lives of busy women and their families.

House of Light 29 Jackson Street Newnan 470.414.6711

The House of Light is a sanctuary of peace and love nestled in downtown Newnan. Experience tranquility in an environment of love, healing and acceptance.

Start the year with a financial portfolio review. Jennifer E Camp, AAMS® Financial Advisor

Newnan Coweta Humane Society

53 Main Street Suite B Senoia, GA 30276 770-599-3981

DONATE.VOLUNTEER.ADOPT nchsrescue.org

Newnan-Coweta Humane Society (NCHS) is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to reducing the number of pets euthanized in Coweta County. Through rescue, foster programs and community awareness, the goal is to one day eliminate the euthanization of healthy, adoptable animals in our area. 78 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM

e dwa rdjon e s .com MKT-5894K-A

Edward Jones


ASK A MOM

This issue's Ask a Mom expert:

@ newnan.com

Whether you’re single or married, working or staying at home, there’s no easy path to raising a happy, healthy child. Ask a Mom at Newnan.com can help. Send your concerns to askamom@newnan.com. It really does take a village, and we are here to be your village with judgment-free, real-life answers.

Jill Whitley is a former courtappointed child advocate for Coweta CASA and has navigated widowhood, single parenting and blending a family. She lives in Coweta County with her incredibly patient husband and two kindhearted, hilarious children.

Advice for New Stepparents Dear Mom,

I’m getting remarried this summer, and my young children are having trouble adjusting to having a new stepparent in their lives. Do you have any advice on how to help them cope with such a big change? Sincerely, A Newly Engaged Mom Dear Newly Engaged Mom, I am far from an expert in such matters, but I’ve been in your situation and can pass along advice that helped our family adjust after my first husband’s death and my subsequent repartnering. As a single mom to my son Henry, I was widowed, not divorced, so I didn’t have to worry about sharing custody or parenting decisions. My late husband’s family was involved and supportive of my choices both as a single parent and when I met Pablo. Shortly after we began dating, my washing machine broke while filled to the brim with soapy water. I knew I would eventually marry Pablo when he showed up at my doorstep with a pump and a bucket after working a 12-hour shift. While the washing machine was ultimately unsalvageable, my relationship with Pablo grew stronger and, six months later, he moved in. I had introduced Pablo and Henry slowly and I truly believe they loved each other deeply by the time we became a family, but there was still a chaotic adjustment period. Within the first six months of Pablo moving in, Henry mooned his entire pre-kindergarten class, cut a classmate’s hair with safety scissors, and threw a public tantrum so huge that the security team at Ashley Park thought he was being kidnapped. I was heartbroken. Had I made a mistake? Did I selfishly put my own happiness before my child’s wellbeing? Would it be better to remain single and raise Henry alone? I didn’t have the answers to those questions, so I enlisted help from a single-mom cousin, a recently remarried friend, the school counselor and a family therapist. My village rallied around me, and these three tenets remained the same no matter who I asked: 1. Remember that your kids are used to having you to themselves. When we repartner, we find that the time and energy we’ve devoted to our children now has to be shared with our new spouse. Recognizing and acknowledging that your children might feel some frustration over having to share their mother will go a

long way towards easing tension. Reassure them that love is not pie – there’s plenty to go around. 2. Let your new partner be the good guy. Don’t rush to have your spouse assume full control of parenting duties. Instead, focus on spending quality time together as a family and let your children get to know and care for the new grown-up in their lives. You will establish a foundation of mutual affection and respect that discipline will naturally grow from. 3. Be patient. Understand that children are sensitive to change. They could still be grieving the loss of a parent or dealing with the sorrow of divorce. Or they could feel resentment over a new house or different routines. These feelings require big words, and when a child doesn’t have the means to express them, they act out. Work on recognizing the underlying need behind the misbehavior. Consider consulting a counselor to help you navigate those feelings as a family. This is what worked for our family. By exercising compassion and respect for ourselves and each other, I got the immense joy of watching my son form a loving bond with Pablo, and it gets stronger each day. In fact, when Pablo recently lost his own father to COVID-19, Henry was the first to comfort him. He and Pablo provide comfort to each other over the pain and anger of losing a dad far too soon. The past 10 years haven’t been perfect, and neither have we. Like any normal family, there are arguments and tears and, lately, a glimpse of the teenage rebellion that is headed our way as a Category 5 storm. But far more often, our home is filled with love, gentle teasing and genuine, full-throated, can’tbreathe belly laughs. Kids sense change and can find it terrifying. You and your new spouse have the opportunity to strengthen your own relationship by coming together to reassure your children that family means no one gets left behind – that no matter what changes, your love for them is constant. NCM JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 79


Photo courtesy of McCormick.com

COWETA COOKS

Asian Lettuce Wraps, recipe listed next page.

Win the New Year with Healthy Eating Written by GLENDA HARRIS

F

inally, 2020 is behind us. Everyone seems happy about that as we anticipate better days in the New Year. Let’s get it started with some healthy eating tips and recipes. To some, the term “healthy eating” has a negative connotation, as in healthy food must be bland and boring. But nothing could be further from the truth. Delicious healthy food is easy to prepare when you're aware of fat content, where your calories come from, and what constitutes quality meats and vegetables. The payoff is more energy, better digestion, likely weight loss – and feeling fabulous. Making the change is worth it.

Eating healthy begins with a few common sense basics: •

• • • •

Drink a full glass (8- to 12-ounces) of water before or with each meal. You’ll eat less, stay hydrated and digest your food more efficiently. Eat slowly. You'll eat less. Strive for a balance of proteins, carbs and good fats. Snack healthy. Think fresh fruits, cut-up veggies and nuts. Try smoothies. They are reliable and delicious treats that are healthy when made with Greek yogurt, fresh or frozen fruit and low-fat milk.

Along with paying attention to eating habits, it’s also important to develop cooking habits that lead to healthy 80 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM


COWETA COOKS eating. The methods and ingredients you use when cooking can make a difference. Cooking equipment like air fryers, multi-cookers and certain grills make it easy to cook healthy and in less time. Meats and vegetables fried in an air fryer use little to no oil, so it’s the same as baking but the result is crisp, evenly cooked food. The Instant Pot is a multi-tasking machine that's a pressure cooker, rice cooker, slow cooker and yogurt maker all in one. Plus, it consolidates tasks and saves counter space. Cooking with healthy oils is highly recommended with extra virgin olive oil, canola and safflower oils considered the most health-friendly. Olive oil lends its flavor to the food cooked and is best in medium-heat frying. Use vegetable oil for highheat frying without adding the oil's flavor. Of course, no New Year article related to healthy eating would be complete without sharing information on dieting. Not all diets are created equal. For any diet to be successful, it must be sustainable. You need an eating plan you'll stick with for the long term. Healthy eating, after all, is not a fast fix but a lifelong practice crucial to optimizing health and wellness. Check with your health care provider before starting a new diet to assure it includes nutrients, vitamins and minerals necessary for your unique needs.

Here are a pair of diets that promote a healthy eating lifestyle: Plant-based diet. When followed with common sense and customized for your lifestyle, this way of eating has many benefits. Plant-based diets focus primarily on meals derived from plants like fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, oils, grains, legumes and beans. While not considered a vegetarian or vegan diet, this approach means that more of your food comes from plants, which are often higher in fiber and provide a healthy balance of protein, fats, carbs, vitamins and minerals. Whole food approach: A less drastic healthy change is to focus on eating more whole foods. The more a food is processed or added to, the less healthy it tends to be. Choose brown rice or whole potatoes instead of macaroni and cheese. Cook fresh vegetables and top with seasoned crushed croutons and/or a few drops of lemon juice. Keep fresh fruits in your kitchen as much as possible to add to salads, eat as a snack or use in a fruit smoothie. Healthy Recipe Websites: Allrecipes.com Mayoclinic.org Recipes.heart.org foodnetwork.com/healthy

Asian Lettuce Wraps Boston bibb or butter lettuce leaves 1

pound lean ground beef

1

tablespoon cooking oil

1

large onion, chopped

Âź cup hoisin sauce 2

cloves fresh garlic, minced

1

tablespoon soy sauce

1

tablespoon rice wine vinegar

2

teaspoons minced pickled ginger

1

dash Asian chile pepper sauce

1

8-ounce can water chestnuts, drained, finely chopped

1

bunch green onions, chopped

2

teaspoons Asian (dark) sesame oil

Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry, being careful not to tear them. Set aside. Heat large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook/stir beef and cooking oil in the hot skillet 5 to 7 minutes until beef is browned and crumbly. Drain and discard grease; transfer beef to a bowl. Cook and stir onion in the same skillet used for beef 5 to 10 minutes until slightly tender. Stir hoisin sauce, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, ginger and chile pepper sauce into onions. Add water chestnuts, green onions, sesame oil and cooked beef; cook and stir about 2 minutes or until onions just begin to wilt. Arrange lettuce leaves around the outer edge of a large serving platter and pile meat mixture in the center. Spoon meat mixture into lettuce leaves and roll up like a burrito to make lettuce wraps.

Healthy Food Blogs: naturallyyella.com thelemonbowl.com skinnytaste.com cravebowl.com

JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 81


COWETA COOKS

“This is a great mix of quinoa, cucumbers or kale or spinach, feta cheese, kalamata olives, and pepperoncini. Build your bowl based on what you like.”

Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce Cooked quinoa Spinach, kale or cucumber Feta cheese (or white beans for vegan) Kalamata olives Pepperoncini Thinly sliced red onion Hummus Fresh basil or parsley

Oven-Roasted Salmon with Avocado Citrus Salsa

Olive oil, lemon juice, salt, pepper Roasted Red Pepper Sauce (recipe below) Cook quinoa according to package directions. You can do this in a rice cooker while getting everything else ready. When quinoa is done, build your Mediterranean Quinoa Bowl with your favorite ingredients. Store leftovers in separate containers and assemble each bowl just before serving.

Roasted Red Pepper Sauce 1

16-ounce jar roasted red peppers, drained

1

clove garlic

½ teaspoon salt, or to taste

Juice of one lemon

½

cup olive oil

½

cup almonds

Pulse all ingredients in a food processor or blender until mostly smooth with thick texture.

82 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM

1

ripe, fresh avocado, halved, pitted, peeled and diced

3

tablespoons fresh lime juice

1

ripe navel orange, peeled and diced

½

cup diced, seedless cucumber

¼

cup finely diced scallions

1

jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely diced

2

tablespoons chopped, fresh cilantro leaves

½

teaspoon salt, divided

4

2-ounce skinless salmon filets

In a medium bowl, combine avocado, lime juice, orange, cucumber, scallions, jalapeno, cilantro and 1/4 teaspoon salt; set aside. Heat broiler. Season salmon with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Arrange filets on a lightly greased, foillined rimmed baking sheet. Broil salmon 4 inches from heat source until cooked through, 8 to 10 minutes. To serve, place filets on a platter; top with salsa.


COWETA COOKS

Bone Broth for Soup One organic, leftover chicken carcass or 1 pound organic chicken parts (such as wings and thighs) or 1 pound beef bones, knuckle, neck and marrow 2

tablespoons apple cider vinegar

1

teaspoon sea salt

2

garlic cloves, peeled, smashed

1

cup chopped carrots, celery and onions (optional)

8

cups filtered water, more as needed

Place chicken carcass or beef bones in slow cooker with vinegar, salt, garlic and vegetables, if using.  Add enough water to cover the bones. Set slow cooker to low and cook 8 to 24 hours. The longer you cook, the more gelatin or collagen you draw out of the bones, giving greater gut-healing properties. Broth is done when it begins to gel at the top or has been cooked the desired length of time. When done, use a slotted spoon to remove bones. Pour broth through a fine mesh strainer into a large saucepan. TIP: Refrigerate up to 4 days. Before reheating, use a spoon to scrape off surface fat. You may freeze individual portions for later use. NCM

“There’s nothing better than homemade soup on a winter day and making your own broth is more flavorful and cost-efficient than store-bought. Bone broth is known for helping with digestive issues and healing the gut. Make up a large batch so you can freeze some for future use.”

Call to tour our beautiful community... Insignia Assisted Living of Newnan is nestled on a beautiful setting, offering gracious hospitality in a comfortable and elegant atmosphere. Please call us today to schedule your personal tour. Brenda Mitchell, Executive Director • 24-hour access to trained friendly associates • Delicious home-cooked meals • Laundry and housekeeping services • Fun and meaningful activities • Scheduled transportation

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COWETA GARDEN

The Great Pool at Dunaway Gardens was originally carved out as a swimming pool for Hetty Jane Dunaway. 84 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM


COWETA GARDEN

Dunaway in Winter Written and Photographed by EMILY ROSE WALKER

D

unaway Gardens, a historic venue that first opened in the midst of the Great Depression, is located in Roscoe, about six miles north of Newnan. With 25 acres of lush gardens and trails, it’s a magical place where you can walk for hours and enjoy the silence away from the hustle and bustle of the city.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the gardens were established at the family plantation of Wayne P. Sewell whose wife, Hetty Jane Dunaway, founded the venue in 1934 as a training ground for theatrical artists. Performers, producers and directors traveled to Coweta County in the 1930s and ’40s to train or relax here. Big names who spent

Owner Jennifer Bigham, left, and her son, Director of Operations Josh Fisher, relish life at the gardens.


COWETA GARDEN

The Glass Haus provides a climate-controlled venue space amidst the greenery.

Stairs lead to the Great Pool.

86 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM

ample time at Dunaway Gardens include Walt Disney and Minnie Pearl. After its Hollywood heyday, the gardens were left unattended, and eventually vines and kudzu covered the once-pristine rock and floral gardens. About 20 years ago, Jennifer Bigham purchased the property and her family brought it back to life, peeling away choking vines to uncover the garden’s stone waterfalls, hand-laid rock paths, staircases and spring-fed ponds with a mission to sustain the garden’s unique ecosystem. Dunaway Gardens reopened in 2005 as a venue for weddings, receptions and other social gatherings. Its newest addition, the Glass Haus, opened last summer as a climate-controlled, covered gathering spot with a 100-foot-long wall of glass. NCM


Walking through Dunaway provides an enchanting view of small tucked-away gardens, rock paths and a mysterious aura. JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 87


COWETA PROSE & POETRY

Weird and Wonderful Writer draws on personal experience

M

egan M. Hunnicutt lives in downtown Newnan where she writes picture books and middle grade and young adult books. She draws on her weird and wonderful experiences to inspire her stories, poems and poetry.

Megan M. Hunnicutt

Underground River There is a time to float in your underground river. The one that flows under all those smiles. To float away in its rough water and drown yourself off its stony shores. Sometimes the water is so warm it’s hard to climb out. It’s easier to just stay there. Eyes just over the waterline and watching the above-ground world go by, ducking under when they look your way. But the river is greedy and jealous. It wants you there in its depths. So when you find a place where the water is calm, you have to climb out. Sit on its shore for a bit. Enjoy the quiet. But climb out. Climb out and see the above-ground world. The world where you left your home. The river makes you forget home. But home is there. Above ground. And home is waiting for you. With a fire in the hearth and something warm to eat. And someone to love. And fields to explore. Some days you will go to your underground river. But now you go for the moment of quiet. To see the water rush and rage. Or to see the water glide past like glass. But now, instead of walking into the water, you come home. Home to the above-ground world. Home to me.

88 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM

Kingdoms Here I am, a promised man Weighed down by dreams that couldn’t stand Chasing down demons, my Kingdom laid bare I as Ozymandias, my broken throne there Turning away from glory’s glare Away into the dust, I ran Away into the dust Through the sands and into the wood Looking for anything left that was good. Stumbled to my Waldon Baptized by its humble chord Exiled I become my only lord I woke to only quiet I woke to only me I woke to my own story Clean and washed and free. No one can build their private palace Or lost ideas on me No one fills their own cup, Draining my own private sea. My own kingdom come My own will be done. I’ll sit on this broken throne by the sea Alone in the quiet, until she finds me.

Hidden Hidden in the shadow days Desperate to illuminate All the things we grasp grow cold Freezing fingers bandage broken hopes Can’t keep up Can’t catch you Hidden Hidden from view Hidden Hidden from you Swimming in some stranger’s pool Creeping sunsets blind to light Followed down an aimless path Hoping truth would make a pass Can’t keep up Can’t catch you Hidden Hidden from view Hidden Hidden from you Breathless from failing planted here Rushing rage it brushes past Leaving you behind and me ahead Off my knees and onward home Onward home.


Hope Was My Gun Standing here staring at you My back against the driving rain Not much to offer Plenty to give Empty hands to hold you up And lift you to the sun again

All those words get lost somewhere But look in my eyes you’ll find my tell Keep watching me Keep watching I’ll bring you home My back breaks to carry you across Over the rage and the loss Over the space and the empty time

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See past the wilds the forgotten and dark See past the others and the broken hearts Now it’s my turn to reach and pull you Out of the sea into the new Hope was my gun Hope was my gun Empty hand to hold you up To hold you up to the sun again To hold me up to the sun again

Sense Memory Cinnamon. Bergamot. Wet dogs. Burning dust. Ginger tea. Nicotine gum. Muddy roads. Christmas lights. Silk. The sound of your stride across the porch. Watching you pull back the covers and climb inside. I feel like a pomegranate. You broke me open and all my seeds fell out. I watch you. I watch you walk and smile and look at me and I know. I know but I can’t seem to find any words. I want to say everything. And I stumble and the wrong things fall out. But then you touch my back and look in my eyes. Everything you say makes another seed fall.

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Share Your Prose Are you a closet poet? Or a creator of short fiction? Share your best work with us and we may publish it in an upcoming issue of NewnanCoweta Magazine. Submit your work along with your name, address, email address and daytime phone number to magazine@newnan.com or mail or drop by our office at Newnan-Coweta Magazine, 16 Jefferson Street, Newnan 30263.

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Empty then full hidden then here Empty then full hidden then here Strength where there’s none Hope was my gun

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92 | WWW.NEWNANCOWETAMAGAZINE.COM


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Southerners have always been known as great storytellers. So, when you combine this treasured art form with a dose of folklore, small town secrets, and things that go bump in the night, you know you’re in for a treat. This is what you get on Troup County Historical Society’s Strange LaGrange walking tour. Led by the gregarious Southern spirit guide and docent Lewis Powell, it’s a combination haunt jaunt, history lesson and an overall great way to get to know the city, up close and personal. Tours are Friday nights at 7:00pm at Legacy Museum on Main at 136 Main Street, LaGrange, GA. Tours walk rain or shine (unless the weather is dangerous) so bring an umbrella and wear comfortable walking shoes.

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ALL ROADS LEAD TO COWETA

Blacktop Photo by Beth Neely on a cks of a great blue heron Anna Neely follows thewitra . co warm nter day in Arn

Photo by Chance Mirabile Noemi Poncini poses with her children, Maria Victoria and Dominic, during a photoshoot at the Historic Train Depot in downtown Newnan.

The sun s

hines brig

Photo by

ht in dow

Jodi Ast in

ntown Ne

submit your

wnan.

photos

Email us your photos of life in and around Coweta County and we may choose yours for a future edition of Blacktop!

Photos must be original, high-resolution (300 DPI) digital photos in .jpg format, at least 3”x 5” size.

Sally Ray Photo by

aturally d berries anlly Ray re d n a y r Greene te the home of S decora in Moreland.

Please include your name so that we can give you credit for your photo in the magazine! Email your photos with the subject “Blacktop” to the address below.

magazine@newnan.com


Photo by Laurie Mattingly

A Japanese magnolia and star magnoli a bloom on Margarita Trail in Coweta County.

n is a n w n Ne w o t Down

N E OP

! S S E SIN U B FOR

Esquenazi y d e L y b o Phot

ence kes its prews indow in a m k c ti s g A walkin usiness storefront b known in a downtown Senoia.

A backyard on Marga

Photo by Gary Wils on

rita Trail invites sprin

g to Coweta County .

Check out our website for a list of businesses! www.mainstreetnewnan.com JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2021 | 95


COWETA KIDS CARE

An Ambassador’s Heart to Help Written by SUSAN MAYER DAVIS

A

bby Collins, a senior at Northgate High School in Newnan, feels called to use her life to help others. The daughter of Jason Collins, teaching pastor at Community Christian Church in Sharpsburg, and Helga Collins, an AP calculus teacher at Northgate, Abby serves her fellow students through the Northgate Ambassador’s program. With students attending both virtually and in-person since the onset of COVID-19, the instability in routine has been especially hard on some high school students, particularly freshman, according to Abby. “As school ambassadors, we reach out to students one-on-one and offer help when they return to in-person learning or any time they need us,” she says. That help may take the form of mentoring, homework assistance or simply listening. Another project the Northgate Ambassadors address head-on is bullying. Since the ambassadors are not currently allowed to enter elementary schools due to health concerns, they recently put together a virtual program that they shared with the younger students. Over the holidays, they worked with other organizations to provide food and gifts to families in need. The senior class president at Northgate,

Know a Kid Who Cares?

Abby Collins serves as an ambassador who aims to help others.

Abby is a member of the National Honor Society, Beta Club and the swim team and serves as president of the crosscountry team. She also teaches a K-3 Sunday school class at her church. Although she hasn’t decided on her career

choice, she’s leaning toward becoming a speech pathologist. “I know I want to help people,” she says, “and speech pathology is a way to do that by improving lives through individual attention and caring.” NCM

Help Newnan-Coweta Magazine give a shout-out to children and teens in Coweta County who demonstrate their care for others through volunteer work or charitable giving. Nominate a child age 5 to 18 who has put forth time and effort to help someone outside his or her own family. Send a 50-100 word nomination to magazine@newnan.com and be sure to include the child’s name, age, parents’ name(s) and contact information as well as your own phone number and/or email address. We look forward to hearing about the impact caring kids have in our communities.


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THE WRAP-UP/TOBY NIX

Love, Marriage and Perfect Vision I

didn’t do so well with the proposal to my loving lady.

I woke up one day and decided she was who I wanted to spend my life with. I went and bought a ring, taped it to the bottom of a card and wrote “Will you marry me?” on the card, and handed it to her. Not the most romantic proposal. I wasn’t thinking when I picked out her ring either. The guy showed me a small diamond which was “flawless.” He even let me look at it through the little eyepiece they carry around so I could confirm the clarity. I chose that diamond with the thought of “nothing but the best for my lady.” I could have gotten a much larger diamond, with flaws, for that price. We chose an American wedding, thankfully, because Cambodian weddings last upwards of three days and we were getting married on a budget. On June 21, 1997, we got married at the church we attended at the time, Buffington Road Christian Church in College Park. Phov and Toby Nix exchanged vows on June 21, 1997. Les Shell married us, the greatest preacher man ever. I told Les I only wanted to say whatever was legally required for me to say. I had no desire to be the center of attention for any longer than necessary. I’d seen way too many tuxedoed guys fainting on “America’s Funniest Home Videos” to test my luck. I think our wedding video, from the moment I walked in as a single man to the minute we walked out as a pair of Nixes, was 17 minutes total. Not a bad time. My wife wanted to walk down the aisle to “Nothing Else Matters” from Metallica. If you listen to the words, it’s the perfect wedding song. But Les opted against Metallica blasting through his church’s speakers. We understood, but to this day I still regret her not walking out to “our” song. For the reception, my mom and aunt threw down in the kitchen with some of the best Southern food around. My bride’s family did the same with authentic Cambodian cuisine. I remember her father carrying in fresh-cooked egg rolls in large plastic tubs. We had quite the eclectic smorgasbord that day. I’m pretty sure there were no leftovers. Hindsight is 20/20. I did a few things in the planning of the big day that I’d love to do differently. I’ve done more than a few things after that wedding that I’d love to have another chance at as well. The one thing I’d never change, in 100 years, is who I stood beside as I sped through my legally required lines as quickly as possible. Thankfully for me, my vision was perfect when I chose who I’d walk through life with. NCM Southern-born and Southern-bred, Toby Nix is a local writer who works in law enforcement.

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