Liberty Life Magazine Dec.- Jan 2017

Page 1


Wreaths for Warriors Walk We’ll Never Forget Your Fallen Loved One

Matthew vs. the Coastal Empire

Come on &

Rescue Me Finding Animals Their Forever Homes

And How We Won

Dining Along

The Bluff Dock-to-Dinner Delights off the Beaten Path

And Then There Was


Decluttering and Downsizing to Freedom

Voted Best of Liberty 3 Years Running

A special thank you to the Fraser family for allowing us to use such a historical part of our community. Leigh Smiley Managing Broker REALTOR® (912) 977-3401 George Holtzman e-Pro, GRI, CRS, ABR Broker (912) 572-4300 Marilyn Knowles 2I¿FH 6FKRRO Administrator (912) 368-4300 Kallie Breningstall 5HORFDWLRQ 0DUNHWLQJ 'LUHFWRU (912) 368-4300

David Cargill Jr. REALTOR® (912) 271-0138

Jeanne Evans GRI, MRP, ABR, $VVRFLDWH %URNHU REALTOR® (912) 977-4230

Brigitte Shanken CIPS, RSPS, $VVRFLDWH %URNHU REALTOR® (912) 222-8279

Dagmar Madden REALTOR® (912) 572-6005

Brian Maike $VVRFLDWH %URNHU REALTOR® (912) 271-7281

Margarita Fell GRI, REALTOR® (912) 492-8764

Jimmy Shanken CIPS, RSPS, $VVRFLDWH %URNHU REALTOR® (912) 977-4733

Crystal Gaddy *5, $VVRFLDWH Broker, REALTOR® (912) 271-3646

Skyler Wingate REALTOR® (912) 387-3076

Helene Peterson REALTOR® (912) 271-7263

Justin Zieman REALTOR® (912) 572-3747

Luis Lopez REALTOR® (912) 977-4321

3DWULFN 6RXOH REALTOR® (912) 332-8839

730 General Stewart Way Hinesville, GA 31313 912.368.4300

Drew Davenport REALTOR® (912) 602-4917

Jennifer Driggers REALTOR® (912) 213-2935

$QQLFN /H %URQ REALTOR® (912) 271-1012

'DYLG 0F1LFKROV REALTOR® (515) 556-3396

/LQG\ %ODQFKDUG REALTOR® (912) 402-1222

1LQD 0F&RUPLFN REALTOR® (912) 655-9644

Pok Smith REALTOR® (912) 492-1587

$OLFLD )RUG REALTOR® (904) 219-7756

Nikki Gaskin REALTOR® (912) 610-8304

Angie Kinzer REALTOR® 912.271.4649


©201 Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC. All Rights Reserved. Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC fully supports the priciples of the Fair Housing Act and the Equal Opportunity Act. Each Office Is Independently Owned And Operated. Coldwell Banker and the Coldwell Banker Logo are registered service marks owned by Coldwell Banker Real Estate LLC.



JOJ Jones Osteen Jones Concentrating in personal injury cases including: ¾ 18 Wheeler Wrecks

¾ Product Liability

¾ Car Accidents

¾ Wrongful Death

J. Noel Osteen Billy N. Jones Charles M. Jones (1930 – 2007)

¾ Premises Liability


% /GLETHORPE (WY Hinesville, GA 31313


Linnie L. Darden, III* L. Kelly Davis Jeffery N. Osteen, PC Richard E. Braun, Jr. Carl R. Varnedoe Aimee Harris Davis

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Out with the Old, in with a Few From clutter and chaos to order and organization


Local Animal Rescues it takes a village… to rescue local animals

Facing the Storm


Warriors Walk


Resiliency in the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew

A tree planted for the ultimate sacrifice


Our Faves Things to enjoy this December & January


Hot Happenings Events in Liberty


Faces & Places Candid shots from Liberty’s recent events


Coastal Cravings Dock-to-Dinner Delights Off the Beaten Path


An Apple in a Peach Basket A Christmas Day Topple




ART DIRECTOR Ekaterina Wilkerson



Krystal Hart

Ben Bradley

Caitlin Kenney


Patty Leon

Lawrence Dorsey


Victoria Phillips Tiffany King

Joanna Ng

Brent Zell

Caitlin Kenney

Johnny Brown

Liberty Life magazine: 125 S. Main St., Hinesville, GA 31313 912-876-0156 Published by Morris Newspaper Corporation of Hinesville, Inc. Liberty Life magazine is a publication of Morris Newspaper Corporation of Hinesville, Inc. For SUBSCRIPTION INQUIRIES, BACK ISSUE ORDERS and ADVERTISING INQUIRIES call 912-876-0156 For EDITORIAL INQUIRIES, email We welcome your news. Please send press releases and media kits to Copyright 2017 by Morris Newspaper Corporation of Hinesville, Inc. All rights reserved. This publication may not be reproduced in any form without written consent of the publisher.

Where every meal is like Sunday dinner…… NOW ACCEPTING RESERVATIONS FOR YOUR HOLIDAY SEASON Holidays are hectic enough, let us take care of your holiday meal planning. With a vast selection, Occasions’ takes the guesswork out of your holiday dinner and event planning, allowing you more time with family and friends. Elegant presentations that satisfy the palette. Our southern hospitality and attention to detail will assure that your event will flow smoothly and to your specifications.

Lynn S. Cannon • Midway, GA 912-884-5584 • 912-271-2107 6



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104 Sandy Run Drive Hinesville, GA 912-368-9229 (Behind Enmark Highway 84)

Monday - Friday 9AM to 7PM • Saturday 9AM to 6PM • Sunday 12PM to 5PM •

Editor’s Letter


appy Holidays everyone! We hope that you have a wonderful time with your family and loved ones this holiday season. Take some time to relax and enjoy creating precious memories that you will cherish for a lifetime. In this issue of Liberty Life, we take a trip to Warriors Walk on Fort Stewart to honor those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice. This year marks the 10th anniversary of Wreaths for Warriors Walk, where trees planted in honor

of fallen soldiers are decorated with love and care for the holidays. One family shared with us what the annual tradition at Warriors Walk has meant to them. Giving a pet as a present for Christmas might seem like a good idea at the time but there’s so much more that goes into adopting. Pets deserve to find their forever home and some organizations are doing just that. We spoke to local animal rescues about how to take


care of our four-legged companions, their process of adoption and the importance of making sure the right pet finds the right family. It’s New Years and you know what that means — resolutions. We always see the beginning of a new year as a time to start over and do something different. Well how about tackling your home this year. We all have things and junk we need to get rid of. Decluttering and organizing your home not only helps you find that rug buried underneath piles of paper, but frees up your mind. We spoke to people who not only decluttered but downsized their home, making space for what really mattered to them. Liberty County really proved its resilience in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. The hurricane came with heavy, fierce winds and rain, knocking down power lines and trees. Trees fell onto homes, fences and onto roadways, causing much damage. After the storm passed the community was right at work, clearing their properties and helping neighbors. The community really came out to help those in need and continue to do it till this day. Hurricane Matthew tested our resolve and we won. We highlighted one resident, out of many, who has this winning spirit and how she came out of the storm with a valuable lesson in love. What a year it has been. So much has happened. It seems like we just started 2016 and now we’re already at the end. Let’s remember to love and cherish one another — not just for the holidays but all year long.

Love, Liberty and Happy Holidays to all, Tiffany King Managing Editor


On the Cover

A local Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet holds a wreath in front of a tree on Warriors Walk at Fort Stewart.

Photography by Caitlin Kenney Cover design by Ekaterina Wilkerson

C O M I NG T O N E W S S TA N D S I N A P R I L 2017

Liberty Life magazine will give you an exclusive and closer look at this year’s brightest graduating high school seniors from: Bradwell Institute, Liberty County High School, Long County High School and First Presbyterian Christian Academy.

125 South Main Street, Hinesville, GA 31313 | 912-876-0156 |

A WORLD-CLASS MILITARY SCIENCE FACILITY RIGHT HERE AT GEORGIA SOUTHERN Georgia Southern is proud to unveil our state-of-the-art, 32,000-square-foot Military Science Building opening this spring. Our commitment to educate mirrors our military students’ commitment to serve — ensuring all active-military members, veterans and those preparing to go into the military have a place to help them reach their goals.

A New Home The new building is home to one of the most outstanding ROTC battalions in the nation. Eagle Battalion: •

is a three-time recipient of the prestigious MacArthur Award, honoring the top ROTC program from among eight brigades nationwide

has met or exceeded the required number of Army Commissioned Officers for the last decade — one of only a handful in the country to do so.

has the largest ROTC Nursing program in the country, recognized nationwide for its excellence.


If you asked me for my New Year Resolution, it would be to find out who I am.”


- Cyril Cusack


CHRISTMAS TREE LOTS Christmas tree lots are like winter mazes of holiday cheer. Kids run around through rows and rows of trees trying to find the perfect tree for their home. These seasonal lots unite a family with a special tree, to light up their home, be the center for presents and the backdrop to lasting memories. How do you find the perfect Christmas tree out of hundreds or thousands on a lot? You can make sure it is the right size, shake the tree to see if any pine needles fall or check to see if the trunk is straight. No matter your method, in the end only one thing matters — it has to feel right. You can pick out your own tree locally at Brewer’s Christmas Tree Farm in Midway. For information on open hours, call 912-884-5292.


KEEPING NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS 2016 is over and 2017 is here, so get ready for all the resolutions and promises. We are inspired to reinvent ourselves and face the New Year with a different attitude. However, within a month or less those resolutions seem to disappear. Here are some tips on keeping your New Year’s resolutions: write it down, just pick one thing, plan ahead, tell a friend, set mini-goals, anticipate problems, have positive reminders of why you set the goals and reward yourself. If you fail, don’t worry —  you have all year to get it right.




One of the most beautiful and fun things about Christmas is seeing all the lights and outdoor decorations in the neighborhood. These dedicated, holiday buffs go all out and create imagined, winter wonderlands with colorful light shows and displays. Some neighbors allow visitors to walk on the property and experience the spirit of the season up close and personal. The electric bill may be high but so are the warm feelings that fill the hearts of children and adults alike as they stare in wonder.

One never seems to grow out of enjoying hot chocolate. A warm cup of hot chocolate to chase away the cold seems oh so right. There are hundreds of recipes that turn this famed hot beverage on its head, such as milk chocolate peanut butter hot chocolate, white hot chocolate, gingerbread hot cocoa, peppermint hot chocolate, orange pisco hot chocolate, salted caramel hot chocolate and more. So cozy up with your favorite type of hot cocoa and enjoy the season.


January 16 celebrates a man who stood for peace, equality and tolerance. Martin Luther King Day is observed on the third Monday in January, close to Dr. King’s birthday on January 15. MLK Day celebrations include parades, teaching students about the life of Dr. King and focusing on equal rights for all people. MLK Day is also considered a service project day, where people volunteer and give back to their community, and transform Dr. King’s life teachings into action. Join us for our annual MLK Day parade in downtown Hinesville.


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1 Christmas-tree lighting ceremony

3 Christmas in the Park

Get the holiday season going right with this free community event at 5:30 p.m. in Bradwell Park in Hinesville.

The festivities start at 10 a.m. in downtown Hinesville and include craft-making for children, singing, dancing, cookie decorating, a petting zoo, train rides and pictures with Santa. Vendor booths will also be available. The event is free. For more information or to register a booth, go to libertycounty. org/christmasevents/.

1 Holiday 5 Extravaganza 6 Nights Hit the Liberty County Performing Arts Center in Flemington for this event, which will run from 6-8 p.m.

2 Illuminated Christmas Parade This free annual event is in its 20th year and has the theme of “Christmas in Your Pajamas” for participants and spectators to attend in appropriate night wear. The parade will start at 6:30 p.m. in downtown Hinesville. To register a parade entry or for more information, call 912368-4445.

3 Colonial Christmas Fort Morris will host a yule log, bonfire, 18th-century music, caroling, Colonial refreshments, dancing and firing of Christmas guns. Activities run from 5-8 p.m. at the fort, 2559 Fort Morris Road in Midway. For more information, call 912-884-5999.

BRUNCH WITH SANTA Have a holiday meal with the jolly one from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Club Stewart, 1020 Hero Road, Building 405. Call 912-767-4717 for information on tickets and reservations.



Holbrook Holiday Hayride and Light Festival Each night at 5 p.m., attendees can take a boat ride across Fort Stewart’s Holbrook Pond to see Mr. and Mrs. Claus for photos, as well as go on a hayride through the woods and see decorations. Cost is $15 per carload. Call 912-767-5145.

Midway Museum Christmas Tea Come have an English-style tea, homemade desserts and finger sandwiches, and enjoy a house tour. Cost is a $15 donation for adults and $5 for children younger than 12. Sittings will take place at 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. Reservations are required. Call 912-884-5837 or go to

Bowl with Santa Knock down a few pins with Kris Kringle from noon to 2 p.m at Marne Bowling, 54 Steele Ave., Building 402, on Fort Stewart. Cost is $1 per game; no registration is required. Call 912-767-4866.

LONG RANGE SHOOTING Bring any caliber of rifle to shoot distances from 100 to 1,000 yards at Red Cloud Echo Range from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Fort Stewart. Weapons will need to be registered on Fort Stewart. Cost is $15 cash only on-site. Call 912-435-8061 or go to

DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING 5K WALK/RUN Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc., Sigma Theta Lambda Chapter will host their 1st Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. 5K Walk/ Run from 7 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. at Olvey Field in Hinesville. Proceeds collected will be used for the Chapter’s Local Scholarship Fund. This event will be the kick off to the city’s Annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. Race registration will be from 6 a.m. - 6:45 a.m. ***T-Shirts will be given to the first 100 registrants!!! Please email if you would like to become a sponsor.

2017 WARRIOR COMPETITION Commander’s Scramble Gear up for New Year’s Eve with some golf on Taylors Creek Golf Course, 1766 Gulick Ave., Building 2150 on Fort Stewart. Cost per player is $45, which includes cart and green fees, range balls, mulligans, lunch, prizes and more. Call 912-767-2370 or go to


This Fort Stewart event is open to area CrossFit civilians as well. There will be several age divisions for men and women, including Masters. The competition will run from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Caro Fitness Center, 1592 William H. Wilson Ave., Building 708. Cost to participate is $35; register online through Jan. 19 at Call 912-767-4763 for more information.


Blues, Brews and BBQ September 24, 2016 { Downtown Hinesville } 1. Jaimie Phillips, Kacey Davis and Torrey Gray 2. Lewis Levine and Annie Torres

Bradwell Institute Color Prowl 5K Prep September 26, 2016 { Bradwell Institute } 3. Lucas Brandon and Elon Trotter 4. Brandon Soakasem, Maree Miles, Elena Santa, Cayden Neal and Madeline Ruff

Bradwell Institute Color Prowl 5K October 1, 2016 { Bradwell Institute } 5. Angelique Hutton and Chabriel Martinez 6. Janet Thayer and Lea Bailey 7. Rebecca McGarrah and Laura Kupres

Scarecrow Stroll and Beggars Night October 28, 2016 { Downtown Hinesville } 8. Natalie Jackson and Robin Denney 9. Tiffany Hart, Michelle Reid, Miranda Sikes and Leslie Heath

Long County Block Party November 1, 2016 { Oglethorpe Highway } 10. Barbara Narcarti, Nelly Nightranger, Victoria Whitesnake and Jo Santiago


8 16





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Southern Living in Liberty County

Liberty County Board of Commissioners Donald Lovette, Chairman Dist. 1, Marion Stevens, Sr. Dist. 2, Justin L. Frasier Dist. 3, Connie Thrift Dist. 4, Pat Bowen Dist. 5, Gary Gilliard Dist. 6, Eddie J. Walden

Left to Right: Bowen, Stevens, Gilliard, Chairman Lovette, Thrift, Walden, Frasier.

Liberty County is not only blessed with an abundance of southern beauty, charm, and history, but it is blessed with being home to Fort Stewart and the soldiers of the 3rd Infantry Division. The fact that Liberty County is rich with recreational opportunities, industrial parks for industry, a regional airport, and great schools that include two colleges, is only part of what makes Liberty County such a great place to live. Come visit us and see why so many have discovered that Liberty County is a place to live for a lifetime.



Coastal Cravings


story & photography by PATTY LEON


he best thing about Coastal Georgia is the easy access to fresh local seafood. Locals tend to know where you can find the tastiest places offering up fresh dockto-diner delights. Some of these best kept secrets are nearby, tucked away off Highway 17 near Shellman’s Bluff. These no frills diners have been around for quite some time, a testament to the scrumptious meals they place before their patrons. Some are well-known to visitors from around the world, simply by word of mouth. You may have to ask for directions and be willing to venture a little bit further off the beaten path but the meals, atmosphere and southern hospitality makes it all worthwhile. We stopped in and had a meal at two of


LEFT The front entrance of Fish Dock is colorful and inviting. This restaurant has been pleasing palates since 1986 when Michael Phillips opened the eatery that sits on Blackbeard Creek. RIGHT The diner is expansive and the decor is what you would expect for a place on Blackbeard Creek. The pirate and nautical theme was reminiscent of a few places we’ve dined at along the ocean in the Florida Keys.

these hidden gems. We also spoke to a few locals who offered up a few more suggestions within the area.

The Fish Dock at Pelican Point Formerly called Pelican Point Restaurant, The Fish Dock has been pleasing palates since 1986 when Michael Phillips opened the eatery that sits on Blackbeard Creek. The big draw then, as it is today, is the all-you-can-eat buffet offering up locally farmed clams and oysters, fish, Georgia shrimp and even choice cuts of prime rib, snow crab legs and scallops. The buffet also offers a salad bar and desserts. The restaurant is currently owned by Charlie Phillips who bought the place in 2015 from his dad. He is also the co-founder and current owner of Sapelo Sea Farms, Georgia’s oldest clam farm established in 1997. It’s pretty much


guaranteed that Phillips is hand picking the best clams and locally caught fish and seafood for his diners’ experience. We visited during lunch time on a weekday. The diner is expansive and the decor is what you would expect for a place on Blackbeard Creek. The pirate and nautical theme was reminiscent of a few places we’ve dined at along the ocean in the Florida Keys. Being lunch time, the buffet was not open but after perusing the menu we opted for an order of fried pickles and a cup of crab stew as an appetizer. For the entrée, the half-pound order of fresh, steamed Georgia shrimp was reasonably priced. The waiter brought out the stack of fried pickle chips with a side of Ranch dressing. It was an ample order. They were lightly battered, crunchy and the perfect amount of tangy tart-

TOP Spectacular views of the Julienton River await the patrons of Hunter’s Cafe. BOTTOM LEFT The walls of the secondary dining room and bar were covered with one dollar bills from all around the world. RIGHT As expected, Hunter’s Cafe has a welcoming yet rustic exterior and warm and welcoming staff.

ness as well. The crab stew was thick enough to hold up a spoon. The creamy stew was full of chunk claw and lump crab meat. It was delicious and with a hit of Texas Pete it could cure the common cold. The view can’t be beat and customers can watch as the fishing boats arrive with the day’s catch. The buffet is only available Wednesdays through Fridays from 5 p.m. until closing, Saturdays from noon until 10 p.m., and Sundays from noon until 9 p.m. But the restaurant offers an array of menu items, with lunch, dinner and children options, in addition to the buffet. Dinner prices range from $12.95 to $32.50 for the adult buffet. There are buffet prices for children ages 11-14 and a child buffet price for ages 4-10. The restaurant has a full bar with specialty drinks and an extensive beer selection.

Hunter’s Cafe The dirt road to tasty paradise stops at Hunter’s Cafe on River Road in Shellman’s Bluff. This place has served diners since 1967 as a restaurant but has been delighting taste buds for even longer. During our visit our server Marie Harn says the bungalow style building was originally an old Fort Stewart barrack that was brought to the location. When it first opened in 1951, Harn says the owner served coffee and ice cream to the fish dock workers. “And it just grew from there,” she says. In addition to an extensive lunch and dinner menu, Harn places a hand written appetizer list on the table. The first item that catches our eyes is the Boom-Boom shrimp. She may have noticed our curious looks and explains that it was shrimp covered in a secret spicy sauce. We decided to try a few seafood items, as well as their version of crab stew

and fried pickles for comparison. Of course we had to try the Boom-Boom shrimp appetizer and also got the grouper sandwich, fish taco appetizer and chicken tenders. The main dishes also came with a side of their famous Bluff battered fries. As we waited for the food we scanned the building. The walls of the secondary dining room and bar were covered with one dollar bills, all bearing little messages and stapled to the walls and roof. “We’ve been written up twice in the New York Times and we’ve had customers from Denmark... well just from all around the world,” Harn says. The fried pickles and Boom-Boom shrimp were brought out, soon followed by the cups of crab stew we requested. The Boom-Boom looked like what you normally get when you order buffalo style shrimp



TOP LEFT Some of the menu specials are posted just outside the front door of Clay’s Sapelo Station offering up clues as to the day’s special meal. RIGHT The only way to tell you are at Speed’s Kitchen is the small sign hanging from the tree outside the double-wide mobile home turned culinary, delightful diner. BOTTOM LEFT The white picket fence and home-style appearance is actually the home of Clay’s Sapelo Station on U.S. Highway 17 in Eulonia. RIGHT Clay’s Sapelo Station is currently rated the top diner in the Townsend, Eulonia area on TripAdvisor.

or wings. But the taste was quite different. There was a sweetness to the sauce that was pleasant and unexpected. The heat was not overwhelming. Instead it crept up from behind the sweet sauce and was a flavor I had not tasted before, but knew would want to come back to try again. The crab stew had hints of that same sweet, secret sauce without the spice. It was a little less thick than Fish Dock’s but more creamy with its own distinctive flavor notes. Hunter’s Cafe has their own unique take on the fried pickles too. Instead of pickle chips these were entire pickle wedges deep fried in a crispy herbed batter. The crunch factor of the batter and wedge cut pickles was superior. 20

When ordering your fish and seafood you can get it fried, grilled or blackened. The fish tacos were made with grilled grouper, the sandwich with fried grouper. The grilled fish tacos laid on a lightly, grilled, flour tortilla and were topped with red and green cabbage. “The best thing is to take some of that Ranch dressing and mix it with some of that leftover Boom-Boom sauce and put it on your taco,” Harn says. Following her advice we mixed a small batch of Boom-Boom and Ranch and topped the tacos. The softness of the grilled grouper and the crunch of the cabbage and grilled tortilla was elevated by the creamy Ranch and sud-


den punch of Boom-Boom. The Bluff battered fries, chicken tenders and grouper sandwich were all delicious and nothing was left behind. Hunter’s Cafe overlooks Julienton River. The diner sits across from the waterway and offers views of Harris Neck and Blackbeard Island. They have a full bar and a large beer list. While dining, a couple spoke with us saying we need to come back to Hunter’s Cafe as they also have the best hamburgers on the Bluff. It’s a challenge we plan to accept. They also asked if we had ever eaten at Speed’s Kitchen. It has been a few years, but we were happy to hear that the local landmark was still going strong.

Speed’s Kitchen Unlike the name, there is nothing speedy about the food service at Speed’s Kitchen. But that is part of the novelty of this trailer turned diner. It serves as a reminder that food should be made to order and nothing that has sat under a heat lamp gets served here. They serve steak and seafood and offer broiled platters of fish or scallops or stuffed shrimp. The crab au gratin and deviled crab casserole are unique to Speed’s kitchen. Unlike our previous two eateries, Speed’s Kitchen does not serve alcohol, nor do they accept debit or credit cards. It is strictly cash and carry here. If you truly need to have a beer with your oyster stew and combination platter then you need to bring it with you. The we-take-things-slow-here approach is a great way to get absorbed with good conversation among friends before indulging in mouth-watering and massive servings of food. Speed’s Kitchen is not waterfront but just three blocks away from the Julienton River and Hunter’s Cafe. The same couple then asked us if we’ve ever been to Clay’s Sapelo Station.

Clay’s Sapelo Station We didn’t get a chance to dine at Clay’s Sapelo

Station during this trip. It was still early and they primarily open for dinner service, except for Sundays. The diner which sits on Highway 17 is highly rated by TripAdvisor. We definitely plan to try it out and compare their version of Boom-Boom shrimp to that of Hunter’s Cafe. Clay’s is a steak and seafood eatery offering up seared tuna salads, po’boys, shrimp and fish tacos and even a low-country boil. And that is just part of their menu. The day we drove up they had a poster naming Sunday’s special, which included pecan crusted shrimp, shrimp and fried grits, crab cake sandwiches, potato skins and a bacon barbecue burger. The chalk board by the front door noted Thursday’s specials of local blue crab, fresh mussels and clams, flounder and shrimp alfredo. Although still full from our previous meal, we were disappointed that it was too early to go in and grab a taste. But it is sure to be our next adventure and we recommend, based on what we’ve heard, you stop by Clay’s Sapelo Station and give them a try. There are likely a few more hidden gems along the coast to explore. Next time you seek a seafood feast be sure you stop and ask a local. They are likely to point you in the right direction. p





The Fish Dock at Pelican Point 1398 Sapelo Ave, Crescent, GA 31304 (912) 832-4295 Sunday- Thursday, noon until 9 p.m. Friday-Saturday noon until 10 p.m. All major credit cards accepted.

Hunter’s Café River Road, Townsend, GA 31331 (912) 832-5771 Open Monday through Friday 11 a.m. until 2 p.m. and then for dinner from 5 p.m. until 2 a.m. Saturdays from 8 a.m. until 2 a.m. and Sundays from 8 a.m. until 11 p.m. All major credit cards accepted.

Speed’s Kitchen 1191 Speeds Kitchen Road NE, Townsend, GA 31331 (912) 832-4763 They have special hours during the winter making it best to call ahead for service hours. Cash only.

Clay’s Sapelo Station 15600 U.S. Highway 17, Townsend, GA 31331 (912) 832-2013 They are open Wednesday through Saturday 5-10 p.m. and Sundays from noon until 10 p.m. All major cards accepted.

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Out with the Old, in with a Few story by KRYSTAL HART /// photography by JOANNA NG

Minimalism. What does that mean? The concept is simple: Get rid of physical, financial or emotional things taking up space, to make room for things of more value. However, identifying clutter and letting go is harder than it seems. ABOVE Kari Coons is a lover of all things design. Through her business, she helps individuals organize and style their homes for their personal needs. To ďŹ nd out more about Organized Style by Kari, call 918-277-9429 or email You can also view some of her work on Instagram @karicoons or Pinterest Kari Coons - Organized Style by Kari.


have always been a minimalist. Before I even knew what the word was I found comfort in having less. In college, my friends joked that they could never tell whether I was moving in or moving out of my apartment. Years after I purchased my first house, family members would ask why I hadn’t bought more stuff to fill it. Pictures on the wall, rugs covering the floors, pillows on the beds and couches does nothing for me. At work, a few of my coworkers would tease because a simple black dress and black shoes wasn’t just a staple, it was my wardrobe. Over the years, I found myself pressured to indulge more. It didn’t take long to realize that all the clutter in my life increased my stress levels. In 2015, my new year’s resolution was to declutter my life and get rid of the extras. All of 2016 was spent reading books and blogs about minimalism. I enjoyed learning about how people from all over the world were applying the lifestyle to different areas of their lives. Now that 2017 is almost here, it is time for a

new resolution. Personally, my resolution is to put all of that reading and research into action. I plan to get rid of 50 percent of my personal possessions and downsize my digital subscriptions by 25 percent. I know I’m not the only one looking to get rid of the old and live with fewer things. That is why I reached out to some locals who are also happy living with just enough. Maybe their stories will help you figure out just how much you are willing to eliminate and how you can declutter, downsize or de-stress to make room for the simple things that make life great. If you look around your home, office, car, cellphone or computer right now, I’m sure you have things you don’t need. For example, an outfit that you are hoping to fit one day, a book you hope to read sometime soon, an app that you haven’t tried after downloading a year ago or an email newsletter from last month that you are going to read when you get some time. All of these things are costing you in one way or another. “When you walk into your closet and you want to cringe from all the chaos, well that can

wreck your whole day and you don’t even know it,” says Kari Coons, owner of Organized Style by Kari. “You are carrying around the weight of those clothes that used to fit, those shoes you never wear, or that shirt that just doesn’t look right on you. I have always found that when I finish a client’s house they are lit up with a new sense of weight lifted off their shoulders, and most never knew that weight was there.” Some people keep these things for sentimental reasons and others just feel overwhelmed by the process of getting rid of stuff. I’m guilty of both. No matter how many trips I make to Goodwill, I still feel like I have too much stuff. After a year of purging my home, I asked Kari to help. Kari is an organizer and home stylist in Midway who is quick to note she is not an interior designer. She explains that she is organized by nature and happens to love pretty things and beautiful spaces. The first thing Kari told me to do was pick at least one day to dedicate to completely decluttering and stay home the entire day. “The source of most people’s clutter is not

ABOVE Kari Coons has helped many families turn cluttered, chaotic rooms into functional spaces with a new purpose. Photos provided by Kari Coons.



having any time to devote to it,” she says. “Use that time to sort through items to identify favorites and things you simply can’t part with. Put everything else into a trash or donate pile.” Once I got rid of the final round of extra things, I needed to figure out what to do with the items that remained. Repurposing and rearranging my belongings was an exciting feat. It was like a makeover for my home without the high price tag. When I asked her secret for finding inspiration based on the things that are left, Kari says, “Shop Pinterest for inspiration! It is my personal favorite tool for this. I make all kinds of ‘boards’ to get ideas. It is cheaper than buying home magazines and tearing out pages all the time. Then from those ideas I decide what we can afford. I make them for my friends and clients based on their style.” The results are amazing and clients love the feeling of finally having control over the material things in their home. Being organized adds a sense of calm and confidence that is priceless. Stacy Mojica knows this process well. She experienced the same sense of mental suffocation that I did in 2015 and went through steps like Kari’s to move her family of four into a tiny home. Stacy and her husband, José, were stationed

at Fort Stewart with their daughters Mia and Josephine. After relocating, they watched the documentary “Tiny” and were so inspired by it that they immediately decided to go tiny. “We just looked at each other and knew we were going to do it immediately,” Stacy says. “The very next day we started looking for smaller places to rent. The smallest we could find was a 900-square-foot house, so we moved there in less than a week!” One of the first things they had to do was get rid of their large furniture. “Over the course of nine months I purged and purged and purged,” Stacy says. “I would fill up our living room with stuff and then have a garage sale. Whatever was leftover, I would try to sell the valuable things and then donate the rest. After a week break it was time for another purge. I would fill up the living room and do it all over again. I did about six purges over that time. It shocked me every time because I would always fill up the room with only what I was willing to part with at the time, and it felt like nothing else could go, but then a month later I would be able to fill up the whole room again. Little by little our attachments loosened their grip. Finally, one day I was lying in bed looking up at bare walls in a sparse room, and I felt like

I breathed for the first time. I finally felt free.” Around that time, they also were accepted to “Tiny House Nation.” The network does not build the house; it only films the process so the Mojicas had to find a contractor quickly. “We had it built super fast because of the show, about two months, but I would not recommend rushing a build like that,” she says. “The house in total cost us $45,000 and is 330 square feet. I would caution anyone building any house, big or small, to get to know their contractor as well as possible first and read reviews.” After moving into their tiny house. Stacy said she enjoyed the quality time with her family exploring the outdoors. She compared it to camping because they used the propane tank to cook and there was no plumbing at first. Eventually it was time for them to relocate back to Fort Stewart and José was suffering from complications from degenerative cartilage in his knees, so he had a hard time going up and down the stairs and maneuvering in the small space. The tiny house is now for sale in Hinesville. “Although we can’t keep our 330-squarefoot house, we moved into a 700-square-foot apartment,” Stacy says. “We have retained our tiny mindset and mindfulness. We still can fit everything we own into a 6-by-12 trailer. I can’t

ABOVE The 2 bedroom/1 bathroom house comes with A/C, heater, composting toilet, washer-dryer combo unit, built-in tables, 4 stools, a teal settee that sits on top of the water tank, fridge and a vintage steel stove/sink combo. DECEMBER 2016 / JANUARY 2017 /// LIBERTY LIFE MAGAZINE


see us ever going back into large spaces.” Long County resident Nate Fowler feels the same way about living with excessive material things. Unlike Stacy, Nate didn’t have to worry about decluttering or downsizing because he started out small. After graduating from Long County High School in 2016, Fowler wanted some independence but wasn’t looking forward to moving into a big house our apartment, so he decided to keep it simple and start small. “The overall price of the build and the fact that I don’t require much space, being so young made me want to go small,” Nate says. “I’ve not had time to have ‘collected’ much stuff.” Nate and his father, Andy Fowler, spent just under $9,500 to build his 10-by-20 home. It is 260 square feet of living space with a loft. They built it in about two months right before he graduated from high school. Having his own space has been rewarding,

but Nate does admit that it becomes difficult to entertain or have many people over because of the small space. “If I have more than one friend over we have to hang out outside, which still isn’t bad,” he says. Entertaining friends in the small space isn’t the only thing that Nate had to learn how to handle. One of the most important lessons he learned was to pay attention to what material things are important. By moving into the tiny space with fewer storage, his belongings include only the things he truly needs to live each day and the items that are important to him. “It has taken a lot of getting used to but it’s nice to have a place of my own and it’s really easy to take care of,” he says. For Nate, it was the right decision. Living in his tiny home has taken away the stress of being on his own and allowed him to spend time and money on things other than bills. He makes sure

to point out that this may not work for the average family. You have to figure out what is important for you and how far you want to take the minimalism lifestyle. Whether your New Year’s resolution is to spend less, be more organized, lose weight or any of the other popular picks, these lessons on minimalism are a great start on your journey. It can be applied to all areas of your life. Don’t wait until Jan.1 to start, any time is the right time. To give you a jumpstart, try the 30Day Minimalism Challenge by Anuschk Rees, owner of I redo this challenge every quarter and keep a journal of the outcomes. It helps me create a habit of decluttering my spaces and being aware of any bad habits that are resurfacing. I’m sure you will discover some things about your lifestyle too that would benefit from minimalism. ¶

LEFT Nate Fowler’s tiny house sits on property next to his parent’s home in Long County. TOP RIGHT Nate Fowler enjoys his tiny space designed with all the essentials. BOTTOM LEFT & RIGHT Although tiny, Nate Fowler’s home has everything he needs styled to his liking. The space is complete with a full-size bathroom and closet space separate from the living area. BOTTOM CENTER Nate Fowler (left) and his father Andy Fowler (right) spent three months working together to building his tiny house. They completed the 260-square-foot home just in time for Nate to move into after graduating from Long County High School in May 2016.



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Local Animal Rescues Help Our Four-legged Companions story by PATTY LEON /// photography by LAWRENCE DORSEY

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, there are about 13,600 independent community animal shelters nationwide. The ASPCA approximates 7.6 million companion animals, approximately 3.9 million dogs and 3.4 million cats, enter shelters nationwide each year.

They also estimate that each year 2.7 million animals are euthanized while another 2.7 million are adopted. About twice as many animals enter shelters as strays compared to the number that are relinquished by their owners.

ABOVE Summer lays in the grass and enjoys the Paws in the Park event at Bryant Commons.


rmed with a small team of devoted volunteers, local animal rescues have made big strides in stamping out animal abuse and neglect. As the saying goes… it takes a village. And this particular village aims to seek an end to the suffering of unwanted animals in our area. The Liberty Humane Shelter was among the first rescues in the county to facilitate the task of taking in stray and neglected animals. Founded in the late 1970s and early 1980s the no-kill shelter has helped hundreds of neglected dogs and cats find their new forever homes. Currently the Liberty Humane Shelter shares the same building as the county-run Animal Control facility. Liberty Humane Shelter Director Sandra Frye says it is sometimes a double-edged sword. On the plus side she says being in the same complex allows the shelter to try and rescue those from Animal Control that are about to be euthanized. The down side is that people

often have the misconception that the Liberty Humane Shelter receives county funds. Frye says

SHELTER NEEDS Bleach Dawn Dish Detergent Blankets Towels Linens Cat litter Cat/kitten food Dog/puppy food Tarps

Pillow sheets and pillows Dog/cat treats Pet toys Leashes Collars Cleaning rags Paper towels Trash bags

that hurts their ability to raise funds at times. Despite many financial drawbacks and economic recessions, Frye and her volunteers managed to make vital improvements in building better kennels for the dogs and building an indoor/outdoor living area for their cat population. But being housed in an older building also means they need a constant flow of funds to

keep up with the associated maintenance costs. Safe Hollow Animal Sanctuary was founded in 2005 by Debbie Calicutt to serve the needs of stray and neglected animals in Long County. She says that 11 years ago there were no rescues in Long County and there was no Animal Control Office. “There was nothing for the animals. It broke my heart to ride around the streets and see all the stray dogs,” she says. “They would be around in big packs at the time and they would be eaten up with mange and worms and were starving to death. They needed help… they needed something. I started going to city council meetings and proposed that I wanted to start up a non-profit to be able to help the animals.” Calicutt says local attorney Richard Phillips helped her with the paperwork to incorporate Safe Hollow. “He did everything pro-bono for us,” she says, adding it was a long two year process. “But it was well worth it and we were the first rescue in the area.”

LEFT Kelly Wiggins and her dog sit with Lynn Edward’s dog Bruno at Bryant Commons. RIGHT Community members came out to Paws in the Park to raise awareness for local rescues and to get their beloved pets vaccinated at a reduced rate. 30


Safe Hollow sits on two acres of land which she says is sufficient, but she notes they are at their maximum capacity for cats. “We have 150,” she says. “We have 20 dogs right now.” Calicutt says they have a building to specifically house the felines. “We have eight different cat rooms. We have a trailer and that has heating and air, and that is for when they go and get spayed and neutered so they have a place to recover. Or if they get sick it provides a place where that cat can be pulled from the population and placed in quarantine.” She adds they are currently working on upgrades to the kennels and the facility’s septic system. She says there were able to get sponsors to cover the costs of pouring the concrete foundation for the kennels. But they still need funds. “We need $2,000 to put into the septic system,” she says. Recently Safe Hollow and the other local rescues suffered damages from Hurricane Matthew, which hit Coastal Georgia Oct. 7. Thank-

fully most just had minimal damage and no animals were reported hurt. But Calicutt says the storm blew away or damaged most of the tarp which covered the outdoor kennels. She says those will need to be replaced to give the dogs adequate protection. Meike Wilder founded Carpathia Paws in 2009 after she saw an overwhelming need to assist the animals in Hinesville and the county. “I started out like everybody else… picking up one stray dog at a time… and that’s still our motto…we can save them one at a time,” Wilder says. Wilder is originally from Germany where stricter laws on spaying, neutering and animal cruelty are strictly enforced. “But I come here and it was overwhelming… strays everywhere... injured and starving… and puppies everywhere…everybody needs to do their part and I am doing my part,” Wilder says. Each organization may have a different approach in how they run their rescue and relief efforts, but they all share the common notion

that together they can improve the quality of the lives of our four-legged companions. All three rescues are no-kill facilities, and all three have the hope that the animals they house will soon find families willing to adopt them. The local rescues all have adoption fees which covers the costs of medical care already provided to the animal. Normally it includes the fees they paid to have the animal spayed or neutered and up-to-date on all necessary vaccinations. Calicutt says people sometimes question why rescues have an application process and often visit homes before adopting out an animal. “We don’t want the animal to end up back in the same situation that they came out of,” Calicutt explains. “We have an adoption process. You have to fill out an application. We do an inhome visit and you have to have references. If you rent we need to speak with your landlord. If you own your home we need to see that it would be a good house for a pet. And then we do visits afterwards to see if you are doing a good job

LEFT Sammy Espada of K9 Battle Buddies and his wife stand with rescue dogs that were trained to be service dogs for combat veterans. TOP RIGHT Kayla Spicer, of K9 Battle Buddies, Daniela Jones, Justin Jones, owner of Southern Homes Solutions, sponsor of the event, and Meike Wilder, founder of Carpathia Paws, teamed up to provide an event for local pet lovers. BOTTOM RIGHT Jacob, Martin and Natalia Marinov, Ashley Grimm, Angie Holman and her dog Luna, are supporters of the unique and mutually beneficial relationship between humans and animals. DECEMBER 2016 / JANUARY 2017 /// LIBERTY LIFE MAGAZINE


with the animal and that everything is OK. If for whatever reason, it does not work out the animal comes strictly back to us… it doesn’t go to another shelter.” She says they’ve had several issues in the past which has led to their current adoption policies. The policies at Carpathia Paws and the Liberty Humane Shelter are similar wherein those looking to adopt are placed through an application process and interviews. Calicutt says it is done for the safety of the animals and recalls one incident that offers a perfect example. She says someone wanted to adopt two small dogs. They filled out the application and all seemed well during the initial interviews and phone calls. Calicutt felt it was the right fit and went to deliver the dogs for the adoption. She says when she pulled up to the house she noticed two dogs in a small pen outside the home. The two dogs were in the direct heat with barley any water. The little bit of water in the bowl was tainted. The homeowner explained she had adopted the dogs from another rescue but their behavior wasn’t what they expected and the dogs could not be kept indoors. Calicutt says she denied the adoption and brought her dogs back to Safe Hollow. “That is why it is important to do in-home

visits…to know what is happening at that home,” she says. “And if people are leery about you coming and have an attitude about it… most of the time that is a red flag.” Monetary donations are essential in order for these rescues to keep functioning and more specifically to keep their animals healthy. All of the rescues work with local veterinarians who are just as compassionate about the animals’ care. Most of the local veterinarians offer the rescues reduced rates on services. Even with reduced rates the cost of care is among the top expense these rescues bear on their fragile budgets. “Dr. Hall of Wolfe Animal Hospital in Jesup, he is our veterinarian,” Calicutt says. “He is also on our board of directors. He is a wonderful veterinarian and does an excellent job with the animals.” Calicutt says Safe Hollow spent $13,000 last year in veterinarian bills just to care for sick animals. She notes that fee didn’t include the costs they incurred for spay, neuter and shots. “Vet costs are huge,” Wilder agrees. “All the animals we take in need extensive vetting. They all need to be spayed and neutered and a lot of them are heartworm positive because people don’t give them heart worm prevention and all of that is very expensive.”

Frye says the high cost of treating their shelter population is what led her and veterinarian Dr. Rachel Peeples to open the Coastal Community Veterinary Clinic in October of 2013. Dr. Peeples has been a veterinarian for 16 years and for many of those she has worked directly with the Liberty Humane Shelter in treating their population. “Across the nation millions of animals lose their lives every year simply because there are no responsible homes for them,” Dr. Peeples says. “Many measures exist to help combat this tragedy but the one that has repeatedly been proven the most successful is low-cost spay and neuter.” “We know that the need is great for affordable animal care,” Frye adds. “We want our services to be affordable so that families do not have to make a choice of paying a mortgage/rent or having their animal fixed or providing basic or sick care for the animals.” Frye says when the clinic first opened, they only provided low cost spay and neuter services. “Since then we’ve added non-surgical services such as vaccinations, heartworm and flea medication, routine bloodwork, and treating non-critical illnesses, such as skin or ear infections and wellness exams, as well as sick visits,” Frye says. “We have added an X-ray service and have a groomer onsite. And when a

ABOVE Both cat and dog lovers alike were at the park, with some in interesting costumes and carriers. 32


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family chooses to euthanize their beloved pet, we provide compassionate low cost euthanasia and cremation services.” Dr. Peeples says most pet owners want to properly care for their pets but are often unable to do so. “A low-cost clinic was needed to help bridge the gap and help these families provide health care for their pets,” she says. “Rescues operate on donations and often have to deny help due to limited financial resources. More affordable veterinary care for rescue animals allows more animals to be helped and more lives to be saved.” Dr. Peeples says they also offer dental cleanings now, noting that it is an important part of protecting the overall health of the animal. She says they recently hired a part-time veterinarian to help with surgery and now have gas anesthesia. But Dr. Peeples says the clinic has a limited staff. “One of our current struggles is communication,” she says. “To help address that we are hoping to hire someone whose primary job will be answering the phone several hours a day and returning messages. And we have plans to add future services and expand the care we can provide to our patients. We have changed a lot since we have opened and we tremendously appreciate everyone’s patience over our first three years. We look forward to the changes that are to come. Throughout it all, however, our commitment to providing quality veterinary care at affordable prices has not changed.” And neither has their commitment to help the local rescues meet their medical needs, Dr. Peeples adds. In October Dr. Peeples, representing Coastal

Safe Hollow Animal Sanctuary To send monetary donation by check: Make checks payable to Safe Hollow Animal Sanctuary Inc., P.O. Box 732, Ludowici, GA 31316. For online donations visit: For more information call (912) 424-0305.

Carpathia Paws For online donations, adoption forms and contact visit:

Liberty Humane Shelter To send monetary donation by check: Make checks payable to Liberty Humane Shelter, 279 Briarwood Circle, P.O. Box 1481, Hinesville, GA 31310 For online donations visit: For more information call (912) 876-3647 Open Tuesday-Saturday 1-5 p.m.

K9 Battle Buddies For online donations, service dog applications and more visit: For more information call (912) 432-0116

Coastal Community Veterinary Clinic For information on services and hours of operation visit: For more information call (912) 448-2282 or (912) 662-2282 (text messaging).

Community Veterinary Clinic, partnered with Carpathia Paws and K9 Battle Buddies for Paws in the Park. The day-long event was to educate the community about the needs of the local rescues, introduce K9 Battle Buddies and provide vaccination shots at a reduced rate to the public. K9 Battle Buddies was formed in 2015 by

Patricia Durham and her husband Tony. Their unique mission is to take in rescue dogs from animal controls and shelters and train them to become service dogs for veterans with post traumatic stress disorders or traumatic brain injuries. Most of the dogs they take in would be considered unadoptable dogs due to their breed and age. “We work with Carpathia Paws and some of the other local rescues,” Durham says, noting they match the dogs and veterans according to lifestyle. She says their services essentially saves the life of the rescue dog and the veteran they match it up with. “Everybody in the rescue community want the dogs to find good homes and there is no better home than being a service dog for a veteran,” Durham says. “We are all volunteer,” Wilder adds. “We are not funded by the state or county and we have no staff. We do all this work on our free time… so we can only do so much. It is often very exhausting… draining but also very rewarding. When you see them healthy and going to good homes… it’s rewarding.” “Safe Hollow is not just one or two people…it is truly a village of people who pull together… we all have the same goal in mind…. and we all do it for the animal. We are so blessed,” Calicutt says. “People used to ask us how we felt about other rescues opening up around us… It’s wonderful. The animals need as many rescues as possible… that is the goal… all of us work together to help the animals.” p

ABOVE (Left to right) Veterinarian Dr. Rachel Peeples, Carpathia Paws founder Meike Wilder and Patricia Durham, founder of K9 Battle Buddies, are all dedicated to making sure rescue animals live happy, healthy lives. 34


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We Weathered the Storm, We Banded Together story by PATTY LEON, TIFFANY KING /// photos provided by PORTIA PATRICE, PAT WATKINS, DAN SCOTT & LAWRENCE DORSEY

On Oct. 7, Liberty County and the coastal regions of Georgia felt the wrath of Hurricane Matthew, a powerful Category 2 storm. Bashed by hurricane force winds and hours of pounding rain, trees — some centuries old — snapped like twigs, collapsing to the ground. The storm hit our area in the dead of night. Occasionally a spark of brightness lit up the dark sky. A transformer blowing or a tree knocking down a power line. ABOVE A view of Interstate 95 looking south from the Isle of Wight overpass shows the gloominess and dark clouds of Hurricane Matthew.


y daybreak the worst of the storm had passed. Left in its wake was a tangled mess of downed trees and power lines. Nearly all of Liberty County was left without power. Roadways were impassable, homes were damaged, some neighborhoods were left with standing water and everything, for a while, was eerily quiet. The silence was soon replaced by the rumblings of chainsaws as the community banded together. First responders working side-by-side with residents in clearing the roadways. Neighbors came together to clear trees from homes and yards. Yes there was damage, but we were fortunate. There were no reported deaths attributed to the storm in Liberty County. Matthew claimed the lives of at least 43 people in North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia and Florida. Yes there were power outages and for some

it was for a few days or more. But hours after the storm a convoy of workers representing Coastal Electric EMC, Canoochee EMC and Georgia Power charged into action. Residents soon had power. Businesses soon opened. Food soon served. A sense of normalcy restored from the temporary chaos. Several suffered severe damages and help was needed. But within days the Federal Emergency Management Agency was in the county offering assistance and resources. If nothing else, Hurricane Matthew served as a reminder of just how resilient our community is when we work together. Here we are, roughly two to three months after the storm. Outward appearances, for the most part, leave little evidence that such devastation occurred. We weathered the storm, we banded together. And out of this we became a stronger community. And we realized that love and help is there, whether we realize it or not.

Hinesville resident Portia Patrice came out of the storm with this revelation. She witnessed firsthand the community’s capacity for compassion and support, and ultimately realized how much she was loved by others. The howling wind and rain enveloped Liberty but Patrice wasn’t scared. She even posted about it on Facebook that night around 11:30 p.m. “Oh a little wind, a little rain. It’s good I’m going to bed,” she wrote but little did she know that Hurricane Matthew was about to challenge her words and resolve. At 2 a.m. a 50-foot pine tree located next to her house fell through her home, crushing the chimney, going out towards the front of the house and landing on top of her car. The main support beam was broken and wires hung down from the ceiling. “The dogs and I were sleeping in the back. Then at 2 a.m. my dogs and I were awakened by the sound of a tree falling against the house, but all of a sudden it didn’t stop and I heard it crashing through the house,” Patrice said. “I just

LEFT Linda Doolittle’s mobile home of 17 years in Long County is destroyed by a tree that fell onto her home, crushing the roof. RIGHT The roof over a front porch lays against the side of a home in Lake George. 38


remembered saying, ‘Oh my gosh that’s inside the house!’ So I ran to look at it and by the five seconds it took to get me from the bedroom to the living room, all the insulation in the attic had fallen down into the living room.” She described her home as a “white, wonderland filled with rain, beams and wires.” The fallen tree also damaged Patrice’s car. She said it looked like one of the tree limbs punched the back of her car. The branch smashed the windshield and somehow also hit the back of the car, which she found to be very odd. Patrice called her son, who told her to call 911, which she did, even though she knew they would not travel in the storm to her house. She called anyway to make a report. She then stayed at a neighbor’s house across the street for the rest of the night. Patrice made a video of her damaged home and sent it to WTOC, where it was seen by over 85,000 people on Facebook. Many people who she hadn’t heard from in months contacted her,


- Portia Patrice

asking if that was her home they saw.

A neighbor from around the corner, who Patrice and her dogs later stayed with for a time after the storm, rushed over to the house when she heard about the news. The neighbor looked for Patrice, worrying that she was still stuck in the house. When the neighbor found Patrice across the street, she was relieved and took her out for breakfast. “It’s been a daily struggle of going from her house to my house to get clothes, figuring out where I’m going to put the dogs. Whereas I would just leave them at home, now I have to build blockades to the front of the house,” Patrice said. “The dogs keep wanting to jump in the fluff, and they’re white dogs, so I can’t find them in the fluff. But there’s also wood underneath there. I can’t keep the electricity on because there’s wires hanging from the attic and I don’t know where they go to. I have to shut the whole house off when I leave.” One thing that Patrice has been able to rely on in the wake of the storm is her community. One neighbor in particular — a new neighbor

LEFT A large branch brings down a wire and debris litters the ground at Bradwell Park in downtown Hinesville. TOP RIGHT Kevin Butler (left) and Bruce Newton (right) work on removing a large, fallen tree blocking Isle of Wight Road. BOTTOM RIGHT A customer gets gas under the twisted roof over gas station pumps at Kwik-Way along E.G. Miles Parkway. DECEMBER 2016 / JANUARY 2017 /// LIBERTY LIFE MAGAZINE


as a matter of fact — took initiative — Christine Oatsvall Krause. Patrice and Krause were still not formerly introduced when Krause did everything she could to help Patrice. Krause got her church involved to help, contacted contractors and found someone to groom Patrice’s dogs for free. “She’s amazing. She’s such a go-getter. She was a godsend. It’s like when someone dies in your family and you’re in shock and you don’t know what to do and somebody takes over all the funeral arrangements. That’s exactly what she was to me,” Patrice said. “I remember looking at that and saying ‘God I don’t know what to do.’ I knew who to call, but I’ve never dealt with anything like this before and she set it up, step by step by step. She would put people in my path that would lead me to the next thing. It’s been just amazing, the people that have helped and come out the woodwork.” And it did not stop there. Patrice works at


- Portia Patrice

Cracker Barrel in Savannah after retiring as a school teacher. An ex-server of the restaurant saw her video on Facebook and tagged 30 people, posting “This is our Portia. We have to help her.” Patrice’s sister, who lives in Pennsylvania started a GoFundMe account to help pay for the damages. Her sister’s friends heard about what

happened and wanted to help. “In one day 22 people raised over $1,500 to take care of my deductible,” Patrice said, calling it the goodness of people. Until the storm Patrice looked at life differently. Her children lived far away and she was alone. “I have been very lonely. Even though I have friends, everyone has their own thing. I have felt so empty and so lonely for a long time and when this happened, it filled my love tank like I can’t tell you. My friend even said, ‘Besides all these things that will happen to your house — you’re going to get a new kitchen, a new living room — besides all that, I think you needed this the most, to be reminded of how loved you are.’ And that meant more to me than anything.” Patrice came in contact with American Red Cross workers at her job. They came into eat and she approached them, explaining what happened. They wrote down her information and

ABOVE Portia Patrice’s home is damaged by a large pine tree that crashed through the roof bringing down wires, insulation, debris and allowing in rain. 40


Patrice received cleaning supplies, meals readyto-eat, water and an extra tarp. “I have a tarp for my house, which didn’t cover everything. So they gave me a huge one that covers everything else. That’s what I mean, the things I don’t think about, God puts it in someone’s heart to think of ahead of time,” Patrice said. Patrice went to an insurance fair at Home Depot and spoke to a representative from Georgia Farm Bureau. He told her to bring her receipts and that her property will be valued at what it was worth when purchased. He said the entire process of repair will probably take months because contractors were booked. Patrice needed structural engineers, roofers, carpenters, etc. — basically a brand new house. She was told to make a list of damaged items with prices, but there are some things she can’t put a price on. Patrice received a beautiful, green, glass oil lamp that she saw in her grandparents’ house while growing up. The priceless, family heirloom was buried underneath the rain and rubble. Even though she was told it would take months to repair and exhaustion has already set it, she is determined to take it one day at a time. Patrice also started a GoFundMe account, Hurricane Matthew House Fund. “I have no idea what that (the repairs) will cost. So I’m putting all the money that people are giving me into an account to wait and see,” she said. Patrice is in need of gas cards and gift cards to grocery stores to help her restock her home once construction is complete. Patrice has since moved from her neighbor’s home into a hotel room and is now staying in an apartment until her home is done. She is still looking for a contractor willing to work within her budget. But despite her losses, all the headaches and tiredness, Patrice said she has been well taken care of. And that’s how many people like Patrice are winning in the Coastal Empire. That is how we beat Matthew — by not giving up. Out of the storm came stories of churches providing meals for the community, people offering their services free of charge to cut down trees, linemen working all hours of the day and into the night restoring power and schools providing fun activities to give families a break from all the fuss. We showed compassion, supported our neighbors and wholeheartedly embraced the lessons we learned. We are roaring back at the storm through our pain in triumph. p



Warriors Walk story and photography by CAITLIN KENNEY

“There is a place / That I must go / And speak to soldiers / That I don’t know / I go there often / Just to talk / On this sacred ground / Called Warriors Walk.”


oon on Dec. 17, 2016 will be the 10th anniversary of the Wreaths for Warriors Walk ceremony. This annual event was inspired by the wreaths that are placed on the headstones at Arlington National Cemetery during the holiday season. The families of fallen 3rd Infantry Division soldiers from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, as well as comrades, friends and residents of the surrounding community, came out to lay a wreath at the base of the 468 trees on the walk. The Dec. 12, 2015 ceremony marked a significant milestone as no additional trees were planted on the walk for the first time since the annual wreath event began. Fort Stewart also is the only installation in the country to have a living memorial, according to Wreaths for Warriors Walk co-founder Bruce Muncher.


Muncher said the organizers hold the wreath ceremony each year to honor the families of the fallen. “They are our guests of honor,” he said. “They’re the ones sitting in the main grandstands. It’s all about them.” The ceremony is held on Cottrell Field, which the walk borders on both sides and is the site for major ceremonies and homecomings at Fort Stewart. Families of the fallen wear name badges that say who they are there to represent on the walk. The Gold Star they wear signifies that their family has felt the impact of a soldier’s ultimate sacrifice. The poem “Another Tree Planted” by Reese Bishop was read during the ceremony. It speaks of coming to Warriors Walk to reflect on the lives and sacrifice of the fallen. “We take for granted / So very much/ Like reaching out / Being able to touch / So I go there / My thanks to give / I’m grateful to them / For

ABOVE Wreaths are seen at the base of trees planted on Warriors Walk on Fort Stewart. Each tree memorializes a 3rd Infantry Division solder who was killed in the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. 44


the life I live.” Maj. Gen. James Rainey, the commanding general of the 3rd Infantry Division, said, “There’s nothing that I could say that would be worthy of the significance of the sacrifice and the loss and the commitment that you all have made.” He then read aloud the famous Bixby letter that is attributed to President Abraham Lincoln, written in 1864 to a mother whose sons were killed during the Civil War. Rainey concluded by saying that any family who needed anything need only ask. “We’ll always be here for you,” he said. “And we’ll never forget your fallen loved one.” After the ceremony, the family members were escorted to their soldier’s tree by 3rd Infantry Division soldiers, including Brenda and Leonard Luxmore, the parents of Cpl. Bryant J. Luxmore. The Luxmores make the trip every year to

take part in Wreaths for Warriors Walk. Their son Cpl. Luxmore of New Windsor, Illinois, was killed June 10, 2012, in Afghanistan at age 25 by small-arms fire as he was walking the point during a dismounted patrol. He had a wife, Jaimie, and son, Lane. Cpl. Luxmore had deployed in March 2012. He was posthumously promoted to corporal and awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and Combat Infantry Badge, according to his memorial website. Waiting for his parents on Warriors Walk was a Georgia Youth Challenge Academy cadet holding a wreath for them to lay at the base of his tree. The trees had been decorated with Christmas ornaments by Gold Star mother Linda Lamie and volunteers the day before. Lamie has been decorating the trees for years, starting with her own son’s, Sgt. Gene Lamie, on the first year

of the wreath ceremony, according to Muncher. The colorful orbs hung from the tree above Leonard Luxmore as he grasped the wreath. His wife and Cpl. Luxmore’s former comrade, Staff Sgt. David Campbell of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 64th Armor Regiment, 1st Armored Brigade Combat team, looked on. He placed the wreath at the base of the tree and then walked back to the group as they looked at the tree. Cpl. Luxmore was “just a kindhearted young man that since 9/11 just always spoke of going to the military,” his father said. “Finished high school, finished college and still chose that direction. That’s what he just felt he needed to do. “Certainly miss him, terribly, but it was something that he wanted to do and felt he needed to do, and I certainly respect that,” he said. Campbell said Cpl. Luxmore was “a great soldier.”


A local Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps cadet holds a wreath in front of a tree on Warriors Walk, waiting for the fallen soldier’s family. A tree on Warriors Walk is decorated with a personal marker and mementos left by visitors. A wreath was placed at the base of Cpl. Bryant J. Luxmore’s tree on Warriors Walk by his father. The personal marker at his tree features a photo of Cpl. Luxmore with his wife and son. DECEMBER 2016 / JANUARY 2017 /// LIBERTY LIFE MAGAZINE


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“I consider him one of the guys that was fast-tracking to go ahead and do great things for the Army,” he said. “It’s just, his life got cut short defending this country.” Campbell, who was injured when Cpl. Luxmore was killed, said the Luxmores helped him deal with his fellow soldier’s death, and he now considers them like family. Brenda, Cpl. Luxmore’s mother, said that after her son graduated college and still wanted to join the army, “We accepted his wishes and prayed every day.” “He was a good soldier for the short time. But this is what he wanted to do, and we’re thankful and very proud of that,” she said. “He was kind of the center of our family.” “I think one of the fears of any parent that loses a loved one like this is just the fear of people forgetting,” Leonard Luxmore said. “And when you come to things like this and see what people do, what organizations do to make everyone aware of what this is all about, it’s pretty heartwarming.” At Cpl. Luxmore’s tree is a black stone marker the family made with a picture of him with his wife and son.

Brenda Luxmore said that on Memorial Day, two weeks before her son died, his wife and son had visited Warriors Walk. When they were told later about the tree that was to be planted for him, his wife told her, “I want a marker with his picture on it because I want everybody to know his face.” The Luxmores have gained a close circle of friends from Warriors Walk, made of families who understand the loss each other has felt. “B.J. brought us all together and they are so good about coming and taking care of his tree since we live so far away from here,” she said of her friends. “We are just overwhelmed with people that this tree ceremony has brought to us. Every year we just gain one more circle of friends. We’re very, very blessed.” Brenda Luxmore said that every year when she visits Warriors Walk, she has “…just peace of knowing that somewhere else he’s honored.” “Somebody else is walking by and seen his face and knowing the sacrifice he made. ... It’s hard, but it brings us peace that one more person walking by will know his name.” ¶ A previous version of this story was published in the Dec. 16, 2015 Coastal Courier.

ABOVE Brenda Luxmore, mother of Cpl. Bryant J. Luxmore, touches a stone memorializing her son at his tree during Wreaths for Warriors Walk on Fort Stewart. Cpl. Luxmore was killed at age 25 in Afghanistan in June 2012.

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An Apple in a Peach Basket



grew up in New York and particularly miss it around Christmas time. I loved watching the snow fall silently down, blanketing the ground, all to the tune of “All I Want for Christmas” or while watching “A Charlie Brown Christmas”. So when we moved to Liberty County, I knew those days of winter, snow dreams were long


gone. However, one thing we did bring with us from our Christmas days up north was our old, green, plastic Christmas tree. I don’t remember a time where we didn’t have that tree. My sister Ebony and I would put down the three-legged base, slide in the pole and place the branches in the designated, color-coated slots. We then separated the branches to give it a fluffy, fuller look. Over time that tree


was wearing down but I didn’t notice — and most likely didn’t care. It was a piece of my childhood. Waking up on Christmas Day wondering if my mother got me that Barbie doll I wanted and running to that tree. It was going to stay with us forever — or so I thought. Mom was getting tired of the old tree and its outdated decorations. It seems I was having a hard time letting go of those too. She

bought some porcelain-like ornaments in the shape of angels and holiday phrases. The tree looked odd, having old, faded, late 80s and 90s decorations, and Looney Tunes character ornaments with missing eyes and hands, hanging there with porcelain angels. Poor Sylvester the Cat was missing his face and the Roadrunner only had one leg. But hey it was our tree and I loved it. We had the tree cater-cornered in the living room. That year it was my task to assemble and decorate the tree while my sister decorated the living and dining room. While putting on the ornaments, I thought to myself, “Why should I put ornaments on the back of tree, where no one will see them? I’ll just decorate the sides and front.” That was my mistake. On Christmas morning, my mom, sister and I were getting ready to open our presents. I was standing next to the tree, my sister was sitting on the arm of the couch and Mom was sitting in a chair in front of the tree. We heard a crack. The room went dead silent and we all stared at the tree. Then another crack. The tree crashed onto the living room floor.

Everything seemed to happen in slow motion and I was able to see everyone’s reaction to the toppled tree simultaneously. My mom sat there, mouth wide open in shock. My sister ran into the hallway as the tree fell towards her. As for me, all I kept thinking was, “What?! I can’t

WHAT?! I CAN’T BELIEVE THIS. THIS IS THE KIND OF STUFF YOU SEE ON AMERICA’S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS. WE SHOULD RECORD THIS. believe this. This is the kind of stuff you see on America’s Funniest Home Videos. We should record this.” It came crashing down, lights and ornaments still on it. There was a moment of si-

lence as we were still in shock. I then busted out laughing. It was the funniest thing that ever happened to me on Christmas morning. I tried to stand the tree back up straight but the base was cracked. It was no use. I realized that I didn’t distribute the weight of the heavy porcelain ornaments evenly around the tree. The weight was mostly in the front, making the tree go down. I repositioned the heavy ornaments all around — especially in the back — and all the others and leaned heavy boxes around the base for support. Miraculously it worked and continued to stand the rest of Christmas day and days later. Charlie Brown and the gang would be so proud that I didn’t give up on that tree. But after that I knew it was over. The Christmas tree from my childhood, from my winter memories in New York was thrown away. Mom finally got the new tree she wanted and modern ornaments. When I look back, that old tree served its purpose well. It lit up our home for over 20 years. That tree gave me one of the best presents of all after brightening up my Christmases—the most memorable, laughable, best, goodbye I’ve ever had on Christmas Day. ¶

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