NWGA'S PREMIER FEATURE MAGAZINE / DECEMBER 2014
Love light shine The twinkling lights of the Floyd Heyman Hospice Christmas Tree shine brightly over the Seven Hills of Rome, helping us remember our loved ones this holiday season.
Never more than during the holidays,
We Care Completely
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Opinions LLow voter turnout, the never-ending election cycle and the political hurricane on the horizon is
J. Bryant Steele's
metaphorical lump of coal, but at least we can stop worrying about Ebola and towels from Kenya.
Features Medical Director for
Floyd Heyman HospiceCare, Dr. Jerry McCormick and 2014 CHPN Nurse of the year Amanda Broyles, and their dedicated team explain how they light up the lives of those patients in need of HospiceCare.
Teat, 24 Kathy Teacher of the Year
for the 2013-2014 school year, lets us in on how her role requires much more than making lesson plans, and why her colleagues have given her an A-plus.
Welcome to the abode of Debbie Oâ€™Connor and Holly Voss, as they walk V3
readers through the inspiration for their homeâ€™s Holiday trimmings. law firm can be called upon to guide 36 Any your way down a sometimes winding
attorneys at McRae, Stegall, and Peek legal road, but the
wish to share how over 100 years of lessons learned makes their case for a better community rock solid. me this. What is new, old and soulful 42 Fiddle all over? Local band members of
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PUBLISHER’S NOTE DEAR SANTA CLAUS,
It’s been a pretty good year at the Griffin household, the first in our new home. I know I haven’t written in a long time, so I suppose I should apologize for my lack of correspondence over the past few decades. I really appreciated the mountain bike, Sega Genesis and the Florida Gator Sugar Bowl T-shirt you gave me in 1992. I must have been a good boy that year. My mom gave me the Polar Express that Christmas and I figured it was time for me to let you take care of the younger girls and boys, so I quit sending my list that next year, but you know that already. Sometimes I forget you’re watching us all, which – now that I’m oldIan Griffin er – does seem a bit creepy to be honest (though your OWNER+CEO little Elf on the Shelf friend is way creepier). I’m sure you’re wondering why I’m writing, so I’ll cut to the chase and ask to be reinstated as a beneficiary of your oh-so-generous services. Being an adult is hard work, Nick, and this home-ownership gig is nice, but expensive. My file will need to be dusted off and updated as I don’t think my wife would approve of another “Saved by the Bell” Kelly Kapowski poster, but your elves should be able to handle my requests in a timely fashion. Twenty-two years is a long time between wish lists; you’ll notice my needs have changed but, collectively, I think I have a strong case to be placed on the “nice” list, so here it goes: • A new roof. With everything we have fixed in year one, I just know this is the next big expense. If your elves can’t spare the time, see if you can work with my insurance provider to include reindeer landings in my coverage. That would work just as well. • The ability to build/fix things. I suppose I should have asked for a tool set instead of a Nintendo but you know me, Santa, I’ve never been carpenter, and without some divine intervention that won’t ever change. • A robot handy man. I thought about my second request and realized I don’t really want to know how to do that stuff, so just send a robot instead. • Socks. I know, I used to complain about socks, but now they are one of my favorite Christmas gifts. • Another robot handy man. Two is always better than one. • A Kelly Kapowski poster. If you have one in stock, we shouldn’t let it go to waste, right? I tried to keep it short and sweet, old friend, and I understand if my expiration date has already passed, but I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask. You’re a good man, St. Nick, and I promise from now on I’ll stay in touch, gifts or no gifts. Sincerely, Ian P.S. Please tell the Elf on the Shelf to quit staring at me. I promise I’ll leave a few extra pieces of the Griffin Family Fudge out for you this year as a Ian Griffin, Owner token of my appreciation.
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Owner & CEO Ian Griffin
Mag Art & Design Ellie Borromeo
Editorial Manager Oliver Robbins
Contributing Editor Tannika Wester
J. Bryant Steele, Oliver Robbins, Erin deMesquita, Dan Tompkins
Photography Derek Bell, MFA 706.936.0407
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S NO CALL, NO SHOW. ometimes I wish I had a daily TV show so I could go off half-cocked on breaking news instead of having time to digest, evaluate and gain perspective on matters. The November election is over. Maybe you
presumptive Democratic nominee for president in 2016. Initially, pundits were saying the midterm results were damaging to Mrs. Clinton’s aspirations. If so, why is the right so scared of her now? Meanwhile, the left is pressuring her to state already that she will, indeed, run. The Washington
compromises with opponents. But I don’t recall when a president faced such open hostility. Still, if Obama digs in his heels over Boehner’s childish posturing, it serves no one. It’s all well and good to be the last defender standing at the Alamo, but after the enemy had prevailed there anyway, what was accomplished? A catchy slogan and more bloodshed. It turns out there will be 100 women in the House of Representatives after this election. It might as well be 99 or 101 for all that it matters. But 100 is supposed to be a celebratory number. It’s not. There are still 435 men in the House, so female representatives there still are nowhere close to the percentage of the population, and
Cents & Sensibility WITH J. BRYANT
voted; maybe you didn’t. Maybe you helped in a campaign. Maybe your side won; maybe it didn’t. But at least it’s over, right? No more ads or pleas for help for two years? Your phone isn’t ringing; your email isn’t dinging. It’s over. Not so fast, buckaroos. This is America, by cracky. There are livelihoods – and frequent flyer miles – at stake. There is no post-election cooling-off period. Welcome to the latest installment of the persistent campaign, where well-heeled Super PACs and their well-paid brow-beaters work their agenda while you sleep. Campaigning is no longer about persuading hearts and minds every election cycle. It’s a daily show and it’s about buying you. Well, before your head swells, it’s not about buying you, per se, it’s about buying whole lots of you, plural, because campaigns have lost any semblance of personal touch. Contrary to the love-child malarkey you bought into when you were still idealistic, you are not a Child of the Universe. You have no right to be here. You do, though, have a wallet. No sooner had the GOP secured control of Congress last month than operatives on the right began unleashing attacks on Hillary Clinton, the
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Post reported that a couple of dozen of Clinton’s staff affirmed – anonymously, of course -- that Mrs. Clinton is running. This was undoubtedly a planned leak, approved if not contrived by the boss lady herself, but it begs the question: Why, at this stage, would Mrs. Clinton feel the need for such a trial balloon? Meanwhile, her husband, speaking at the University of Southern California, predicted Congress “will do a boogie dance” for a few months, but, reflecting on his experience working with a divided government and intense partisanship, suggested Congress and the White House could still “get things done.” House Speaker John Boehner sounds like he wants to boogie dance far longer. Maybe he was just posturing for the loud, intransigent faction of his party, but within hours of the midterm results, Boehner crowed for the media, essentially saying President Obama will yield to Congress or else. And the 114th Congress hasn’t even been sworn in. That’s no way to “get things done,” but it’s nothing new with Boehner. Obama doesn’t have the skill or the charm of, say, a Bill Clinton or a Ronald Reagan to work out
the females in Congress are not advocates for women’s issues, by and large. Moreover, leadership positions, like committee chairmanships, held by women in the expiring Congress will be taken over come January by the male-dominated GOP. This election was actually a setback for representation of women in Washington, the number 100 notwithstanding. Meanwhile, the leader of the Log Cabin Republicans lamented the fact no openly gay Republicans were elected to Congress (there were two such candidates, in California and Massachusetts). I can’t understand why LCRs think their party was going to support those races, especially given that the GOP has firm control of the House without those two guys. The gun lobby lost one in Washington State, where voters overwhelmingly approved expanded background checks for prospective gun buyers. It was the only state with such a proposal on the ballot. Take this fact as you will: It was the lowest turnout for a midterm election since 1942. That was not quite a year after Pearl Harbor, and the nation was embroiled in World War II. Patriotism was fervent, yet voter turnout was low. Finally, one under-reported result was a true
victory for the people over big business. Voters in Malibu, Calif., easily passed a measure that would require a vote of the people for many new retail projects, prompted by a plan to build a Whole Foods market in the beach getaway for billionaires and celebrities. The measure had strong backing from Barbra Streisand, Tom Hanks, David Geffen and the like. Hey, entertainment moguls are people, too. I’m grasping for a silver lining.
Before the election, there was the dramatized, drawn-out Ebola scare. Some political types went to the airwaves and called for President Obama to appoint some kind of “health czar.” The funny thing is, we would have had one, called the surgeon general, but Congress has refused for months to act on the president’s nominee for the position. Pat Robinson, head Pharisee of The 700 Club on the Christian Broadcasting Network, has a new health warning for us: You can get AIDS if you touch a towel from Kenya. I guess ol’ Pat’s so senile he didn’t know the current health scare is Ebola. But AIDS still resonates with Pat
because you can contract it through sex. Through other means, too, but it’s mostly associated with sex, and sex, in most of its forms, is a sin in the eyes of Robinson and his acolytes. I’m not sure what Kenyan towels have to do with sex, but there it is: Touch a Kenyan towel and you could get AIDS. You’ve been warned. I can just see a run on made-in-America towels at the West Rome Walmart. The Christian Broadcasting Network issued a correction, but Kenyans have demanded an apology from Pat himself. And this was surprising to learn: The 700 Club is very popular in Kenya. Let’s tally the irony quotient in this: 1) There is absolutely no evidence that towels transmit AIDS; 2) the CBN actually stood up for accuracy; 3) Pat Robinson has managed to anger a large segment of his fandom without angering any minorities or liberals. That’s a trifecta, folks. V VV
J. Bryant Steele is an award-winning journalist based in Rome.
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If hospice is a calling, Floyd Heyman HospiceCare has filled it’s hallways with passionate staff members who picked up the phone. text: Ian Griffin photos: Derek Bell and Floyd Heyman HospiceCare
he holiday season is in full swing. From manger scenes to giant blow up Santas, we are reminded of it at every turn, zipping from here to there, on one errand or another. This time of year – and the decorations that come with it – evoke special feelings in all of us, remembering our past experiences and passing them on to the next generation. We have all become accustomed to the decorative traditions of families in our neighborhoods or businesses in the community, and one such celebration of the season sits high atop the roof of Floyd Medical Center in the form of a Christmas tree, now sparkling with lights against the night sky. This well-known holiday staple is known as the LoveLight Tree and with 8,415 lights shining brightly in remembrance of loved ones lost, or in honor of those who served them through Floyd
Heyman HospiceCare. It’s a holiday landmark that stands as reflection of life, giving us all a little more than a reminder of the season. Each year Floyd Heyman HospiceCare (FHHC) offers support to 500-600 families from all over the region, granting patients and caregivers relief after treatments are deemed helpless. For many who qualify for the transition to HospiceCare, the end of a long and grueling road draws near, where the medications make them feel worse than they already feel and hope has been given only to be taken away time and time again. While the public perception of HospiceCare may be all doom and gloom, what FHHC offers is, indeed, in stark contrast. “Our No. 1 goal is quality of life,” says Dr. Jerry McCormick, medical director. “So many patients who walk through our doors are living in fear – fear of pain and suffering, fear that their loved
v3 magazine 17
ones will abandon them and that if they are not taking treatment they won’t have a physician to take care of them. I get to assure them this is not going to happen. “I’ve been doing this for 24 years and have
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had to face the facts with patients time and time again,” he continues. “They know their bodies, they know they are at a crossroads, and where most doctors are so afraid to give up on treatment, I see the relief in the patient’s eyes when I level with them. They are relieved someone finally gave it to them straight and they can focus on making the most of the time they have left.” From that moment forward, the staff at FHHC shifts the medical strategy to treating the symptoms instead of the illness. “From the patient’s perspective, they have to be somewhat emotionally and mentally ready to make that step,” says Joy Jones, director of Floyd Heyman HospiceCare. “Part of our job is helping them accept that they are at a point where treatment is doing more harm than good. We hear patients say they don’t want to go back to the hospital or that they are tired of being poked and prodded with no results. When they acknowledge that they don’t want to go through the rigors of treatment anymore, we can begin to focus on treating their symptoms and getting the most out of the time they have left.” FHHC takes great pride in delivering the best care available to their patients and works to achieve this goal by choosing a dedicated, ex-
perienced staff to serve them. Not every medical professional is cut out for hospice work, so certain experiences and personality traits are paramount for prospective employees and volunteers. Jones does a fine job in finding the right people for the job, as it isn’t often positions are vacant at FHHC. “From our doctors to our volunteers, we are surrounded by people who have a calling to work in this environment,” says Jones. “I have never hired a nurse who wants to try out HospiceCare to see if they like it. They have to at least have taken care of people who are dying to know this is what they want to do. So, a passion for end-oflife care is certainly a prerequisite to work for us.” One employee who exemplifies that passion is Amanda Broyles, who was named 2014 Nurse of the Year by the National Board for Certification of Hospice and Palliative Nurses (NBCHPN). She was driven toward HospiceCare after watching several members of her family leave this world supported by machines while lying in a hospital bed. The opportunity to help others remain at home with their families, helping to provide relief for their pain, was something she couldn’t pass up. “I do believe it is a calling,” says Broyles, CHPN. “I have personal experience with loss that pushed me in this direction, so it’s something I’m very passionate about. To provide patients and their families with comfort and peace of mind in their final days is very rewarding work.” Broyles was nominated for the award by her
" it’s a reminder that we won’t be forgotten when we are gone. Ever y time I rode by, it put a smile on my face. It’s more than a tree;
And for those under our care, it reminds them their loved ones will be taken care of when their time comes.
peers and administrators at FHHC, and out of 30,000 nominees, the (NBCHPN) chose her as the winner. “To be completely honest, it was an award I accepted on behalf of everyone here at Floyd Heyman HospiceCare because we truly do function as one big team,” Broyles says, “and it’s because of our mentality that the care we provide to our patients is exceptional.” This team mentality is built on support for patients, caregivers and among the staff members themselves. Each case is assigned a nurse and a social worker, as there are many things that must be attended to when facing the reality of death. Caregivers are often overwhelmed by what is going on with their loved ones, so the counsel FHHC provides to these caregivers is just as important as the care they provide to the patients. It certainly helps to have someone with a
background in social work who is also a thanatologist (a person who specializes in the study of the phenomena of death and of psychological mechanisms for coping with them) and Marsha Atkins is one of two such people on staff at FHHC. “The study of death and dying is essentially the study of life and living,” Atkins says. “It is my job to help the families prepare themselves for the road ahead. Life goes on while our clients are dealing with all of these emotions, so we help them address personal and financial needs that might get neglected otherwise. I’m here to help them prepare for losing their loved one and to help them cope with grief and loss when they are gone. “When someone dies, their pain may end, but the sense of loss the family feels can be overwhelming,” she adds. “Being able to help people through what can be one of the most dark
Joy Jones & Dr. Jerry McCormick
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Dr. Jerry McCormick
" S o many patients who walk
through our doors are living in fear. Fear of pain and suffering, fear that their loved ones will abandon them and that if they are not taking treatment, they won’t have a physician to take care of them.
I get to assure them this is not going to happen."
and difficult [times] of their lives is a blessing. We form lifelong friendships with our clients because our staff invests themselves in to each and every one of our patients. So, we really are like one big family.” The staff continues to support the patients loved ones long after they are gone via their bereavement program, which remains open to the caregivers for 18 months after the passing of their loved one. This program helps family members and caregivers through issues ranging from coping with grief to re-entering social circles. FHHC
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also holds two memorial services honoring the patients they have lost each year, which allows the staff an opportunity to celebrate the lives of their patients with the caregivers they now call friends. Another example of FHHC’s quality is the fact that it is the only hospice provider in Northwest Georgia qualified to work with children in HospiceCare. While these cases are rare, they do arise, and knowing FHHC is equipped to handle them certainly provides peace of mind to hospitals like Scottish Rite and Egleston, who refer them. This trust stems from almost 25 years of
service to the region and is something that could not have been achieved without the support of Floyd Medical Center. “Having the support of Floyd behind our notfor-profit agency really allows us to be unique,” says Jones. “They enable us to do a lot for our patients while maintaining a small agency feel. People want to come [to] work here and that allows us to hire the best of the best.” As for the belief that HospiceCare is centered on death and dying, Jones offers a different point of view. “I don’t feel like I’m dealing with death, I feel like I’m dealing with life,” she says. “Every one of our patients is alive until the moment they die, and we get the honor and privilege of making the most out of that time while they are still here.” So this Christmas when your eye is drawn to the twinkling lights on the tree atop Floyd Medical Center, take great pride in knowing that each bulb represents love for someone lost or the love shown by someone willing to ease their pain as they left this world. “Last year was the first year we were able to have the tree on top of the hospital,” says Physician Liaison Art Lord. “Every time I rode by, it put a smile on my face. It’s more than a tree; it’s a reminder that we won’t be forgotten when we are gone. And for those under our care, it reminds them their loved ones will be taken care of when their time comes." VVV
For more info, call 706509-3200 or visit the web at www.floyd.org/ hospice
photo by Derek Bell
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Many Hats of Mrs. Teat Kathy Teat and Principal Phil Wood,
educators at Southeast Elementary School,are sending home far more than repor t cards for their students. text: Dan Tompkins
ho was your favorite teacher as a child? Go ahead and think on it for a moment; we will wait for you. Chances are you can remember their name, what they looked like and why they had such a profound effect on you. While we may not be able to recall what we had for lunch three days ago, when queried about our former teachers we suddenly find ourselves immersed in thoughts of days gone past. Andy Rooney summed up why this is true when he said, “Most of us end up with no more than five
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photos: Derek Bell
or six people who remember us. Teachers have thousands of people who remember them for the rest of their lives.” Today’s educators are tasked with a growing number of responsibilities and challenges. Standardized test scores, high dropout rates, broken homes and the emergence of technology are but a few of the balls a modern teacher must juggle successfully. Here in Rome City Schools (RCS), we are blessed to have an excellent school system staffed by dedicated and determined educators. RCS has established a reputation for high-quality education and a commitment to
meeting the challenges facing today’s students. Southeast Elementary (1400 Crane St., Rome) is blessed to have a number of unique and dedicated professionals who make a daily difference in our community. Principal Phil Wood, 2013-2014 Teacher of the Year Kathy Teat, and Support Person of the Year Aquila Askew are among a few of the many at Southeast who are making such a difference. As further proof of the commitment to their students, Askew was named Support Person of the Year for the entire Rome City Schools system on Oct. 15. Dr. Wood has worked for RCS in many ca-
mance Index) is one of the ways schools assess student performance. Initially scoring under the 50th percentile in fifth-grade reading when Dr. Wood took over, students tested at 71.7% by the end of 2013. He humbly gave his teachers all the credit for this dramatic turnaround; however, his guidance has likely been instrumental in the process. One of these amazing educators is Kathy Teat. A lifelong resident of Rome, Teat has been an educator all her life. Working as a paraprofessional for 21 years at Saint Mary’s Catholic School as well as RCS, she has touched the lives of generations of students. After her two children, Marla and Chad, graduated from the RCS system, Teat went back to school and earned her degree in special education. She would eventually study further and earn her master’s degree in 2010. Last year, she was honored as Teacher of the Year by her colleagues, who chose her to represent their school from among a number of worthy candidates. Teat works as a pre-K special needs teacher at Southeast Elementary, serving students with a variety of special educational demands. This wide range of students presents a unique challenge, as a typical class includes children with brain trauma, autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome, feeding tubes and severe learning disabilities. Dr. Wood describes Teat as “a miracle worker because of the progress those kids make.” As an ultimate compliment in her abilities, he adds, “I’d take a building full of Kathy Teats. She has the patience for the job and she has the positive mentality that is needed to work in that kind of position. She was born for this position; it is her calling in life.” Teat bubbles over with enthusiasm as she describes, in her typically disarming style, what she hopes to achieve for her students. “I teach them until they are ready to learn,” she says. Her program is designed to prepare students for everyday general classroom learning by helping them thrive in that environment. Her learning space at Southeast is warm, inviting and reflective of her caring personality. Students are pacities. A former history teacher at Rome High School, he has also spent time as an assistant principal at the middle school and elementary levels. Many Romans have been touched by Dr. Wood as a teacher, coach or even through his work as a participant in Civil War reenactments. As the leader of Southeast, Dr. Wood brings a wide range of experience and an unmatched passion to his role. Entering his third full year as principal, Dr. Wood has seen Southeast realize a dramatic upturn in the performance of its students. The CCRPI (or College and Career Readiness Perfor-
" Ever y day we have to put our
nurse’s hat, our physical therapists' hat, our teacher’s hat, occupational therapists’ hat,
and we always wear our mama’s hat." v3 magazine 25
taught the same curriculum as pre-K but with an added emphasis upon life skills. For example, while teaching students the basic ABCs, she also tackles important skills like eating and dressing without help. In her fifth full year at Southeast, Teat employs a wide range of non-traditional means to monitor the progress of her students. She uses observational notes, data collection and work samples throughout the year to ensure that students are developing at an appropriate rate. She is joined in the classroom by her assistant, Support Person of the Year, Aquila Askew. This duo makes a daily difference in the lives of their students. “Every day, we put on our nurse’s hat, our physical therapist’s hat, our teacher’s hat, our occupational therapist’s hat, and we always wear our mama’s hat,” Teat explains with a smile. “In the lunchroom, we are teaching them how to use a fork, teaching life skills; there is no down time. Every single aspect of the day is a learning opportunity.” Teat describes some of the challenges with a laugh that belies the seriousness of her position.
“In the hallways, I always walk backward, counting heads,” she says. “If one of my students gets ahead of me, they will often run.” And Teat’s work day does not end when her students return to their homes. The classroom must be cleaned daily, notes and observations documented professionally, lessons prepared for the next day, and special education paperwork completed to the letter. Her days are often long, with 10 to 12 hours being the norm. As a good indicator of how dedicated she is to her craft, Teat shared a brief story about traveling to students’ homes to hand out T-shirts for the upcoming school year. Although she only mentioned it in passing, it illustrated the true scope of her dedication to Southeast Elementary because she did it over the summer and many of the students were not even in her classroom. Visiting her students’ homes helps her touch the lives of families and better understand who they are, giving her perspective and helping her see how she can best help and support them. Educating students is more than a job for Teat and Askew. It seems to be a lifestyle.
Rome is blessed with many wonderful and hard-working educators. They have chosen a taxing and complex profession that requires dedication and love to become truly successful. Working with special-needs children requires its own unique skill set, and Southeast’s Kathy Teat and Aquila Askew rise to that challenge in a stellar fashion. Under the leadership of Dr. Wood, they are not only performing a job that others would find impossible, but they are doing it well with both fortitude and humor. In our own lives, we often have to wear many different hats – from parent, to employee, to coworker, to friend. Teat wears her many hats with style and grace, and she is Teacher of the Year because her colleagues and community recognize her outstanding efforts. Southeast Elementary School is on the rise in the Rome City School System because of teachers like Kathy Teat. We tip our hats to you all. VVV
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Boughs of Holly
As we approach the night
that ol’St.Nick plops down the chimney,let’s take a page from O’Connor and Voss’s book and give him some nice things to look at while he fills our stockings with goodies. text: Erin deMesquita
photos: Derek Bell v3 magazine 31
estled in the arms of Mount Alto, the home of Toles, Temple & Wright real estate agent Debbie O’Connor is wrapped and ready for an abundance of Christmas cheer. Currently adorned with a wreath on every window, this three-bedroom, traditional-style home, built in the early 90s, was a perfect fit for O’Connor, her daughter Holly Voss, and their 11-year-old Shih Tzu, Cosmo. “Homes and decor are passions for me. Finding a new property and making it your own is such a great feeling,” O’Connor smiles.
When she decided to downsize a year and a half ago, O’Connor knew immediately that the grandiose entrance into a columned foyer was meant for her. With hard work, lots of paint and a vision, O’Connor restored and recreated the home’s interior into a space upon which to rest her pride. “Mom has always had an eye for taking something mediocre and making it fabulous,” Voss says. With the help of head designer and owner of Pineapple Place (13 East Third Ave., Rome) Crandel Allmon, O’Connor has transformed her home into a lavish tribute to the Christmas season;
from entrance to sun porch every surface, mantle and shelf is embellished with extravagant bows, soft white lights and holiday relics reminiscent of a snow-covered fairy-land. “I love Crandel Allmon,” O’Connor beams. “He knows exactly what I want and where I want it. I don’t know what I would do without him.” Stories in the form of twinkling ornaments hang from tabletop pines throughout the rooms and O’Connor’s golden hardwood floors, rich Oriental rugs, colorful folk art, and eclectic mix of furnishings fit ever-so snug inside the glowing warmth of her holiday-ready home.
and decor are passions for me. " Homes
Finding a new property and making it your own is such a great feeling."
Debbie O’Connor and Holly Voss
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“It doesn’t matter how big or how small,” O’Connor smiles. “Everybody’s house is their castle.” V VV
For all your decorating needs, contact Pineapple Place at 706.314.9524
W. Jordan Knight
Thomas H. Manning
Law of the L
Now in their 115th year,
the attorneys of McRae, Stegall, and Peek
reflect on the histor y the firmâ€™s ser vice to local business, and with the guidance of their par tners past, they carr y a torch that lights the path of their community. text: Oliver Robbins
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photos: Derek Bell
ave you heard the one about the three lawyers, a dirt road and a conscience? While most of us have shared a good chuckle at the expense of the legally inclined, it is not at all fair to paint them all as sharp-tongued con-artists itching for the chance to stick it to the common stiff. Chances are you have likely shared a pew, grocery aisle, or picnic table with a litigator and come away with a new friend. Truth be told, Al Pacino does not recruit them all to spawn the devilâ€™s seed and most attorneys are hard-working neighbors with similar goals and dreams for our community. One such example is a firm deeply
Virginia Barrow Harman
rooted in the red clay of the North Georgia Mountains, and they wish to share their long and storied history with you. And rather than taking money from the masses, convicting the poor accused criminal—who is always innocent by-the-way—and exhibiting the morals of a sociopath, they are greatly responsible for facilitating Northwest Georgia’s growing economy while preserving the land we love and cherish. Folks, that’s no joke. After a short elevator ride to the fourth floor of the SunTrust building, you step into the 115-year old firm that is McRae, Stegall, Peek, Harman, Smith & Manning (100 East Second Ave., Rome). MSP has also expanded its reach to include a
location in Cedartown, located at 223 South College St., providing the same experienced legal brick house they have worked to build for over 100 years. Three of the many working attorneys in the firm sat down to tell us about some of the many things MSP has been able to accomplish over the years. A graduate of the University of Georgia School of Law, Virginia Barrow Harman started her career as an assistant district attorney in the Lookout Mountain circuit. “When another lady from my class went there to practice, we were the second and third female lawyers to ever practice in that circuit,” she explains. “The first was Bobby Lee Cook’s daughter, Kris, who is now Judge Graham on the bench in that circuit.” Harman only practiced there for a short time before heading south to Rome. She joined MSP in 1991, and in 1993 she became a partner in the firm. “I’m the attorney who gets all the really strange cases no one really wants to deal with,” she laughs while describing the areas of law that
are less talked about, but equally important. “One that’s not so strange, but was a different area of practice, was when tax incentives to place land under a conservation easement became a part of our tax code. There weren’t any lawyers in this area who were willing – at that point – to get into what were very new and untested waters.” Leading the charge in conservation law, Harman assisted land owners with much-needed tax relief while, at the same time, preserving the beauty of our little corner of the state. Now, she has passed her wealth of knowledge in conservation law on to new lawyers in her firm, continuing the efforts of restricting the depletion of our cherished natural resources. A Virginia Military Institute graduate soon joins the conversation, taking a seat at the long, mahogany-colored conference table. Thomas H. Manning gets a friendly poke from his two colleagues about his recent UGA game day pictures posted on Facebook, and it becomes apparent that he, too, is a graduate of UGA School of Law. Manning started with the firm in 1991 as well, and his major focus is the representation of the Floyd County government. “Our firm represents Floyd County and has for over 10 years. Many of us do work for the county, but I am the primary person who has done the most work for the county,” he says. “I attend the County Commission meetings … and my role encompasses a wide variety of work. I assist with zoning, contracts, tax issues or even lawsuits involving the jail. I also do some work for businesses and estate planners, as well as some litigation work.” While serving as the county attorney, Manning set a goal to tear down the walls separating the functions of city and county governments in order to ensure that both agencies work for the good of all residents. “As long as I have served in the role as county attorney, [the county] has worked well with the city,” he says. “Not all city and county governments work well together. There are sometimes differences in opinions about things, as far as interests served, but the great thing about the City of Rome government and the Floyd County government is they have worked, cooperatively, very well in the last decade. I think that has helped this community attract business, continue to attract business, and it has helped us to have local governments that others around the state look to and want to emulate.” Harman echoes Manning’s thoughts about MSP’s commitment to local business saying, “Supporting business, very established business as well as brand new start-ups, has been something our firm has always been proud to be part of.” She follows her statement with the story of four guys who wanted to start a software business
v3 magazine 37
called Universal Tax Systems. MSP helped the company grow into a publicly traded business, and it all started with an idea, a dream and a group of legal experts who wanted to see them succeed. A true local, Jordan Knight, was born and raised in Rome, graduated from Darlington and started his undergraduate degree at Berry College. After leaving Berry, he went on to finish his degree from…you guessed it, UGA. Maybe you too are beginning to see the trend here. And after obtaining his law degree from Samford University’s Cumberland School of Law in Birmingham, Ala., he joined MSP in 2006. Now, he works to be just as sharp and committed to his business neighbors as the senior partners he shares the table with. “When I was in high school, growing up in Rome, one of my biggest things was I wanted to get out of town; I had to get out of Rome. But, what’s funny is deep down, I knew I always wanted to come back,” Knight says. “I love the community and it’s big enough to offer plenty of things to do, but you can still see the people you know. It’s nice to have that kind of closeness in a community, and this is a great place to raise kids, in my opinion. After I met my wife, she still quotes me as saying, ‘If you really want to be serious, I’m probably going to go back to Rome.’ I was fortunate that the firm had an opening. I came to MSP and clerked here, so I guess I did enough for them not to want to kick me out,” laughs Knight. Harman and Manning smile as they look at Knight across the table, and it is clear they are proud to have him on board. And as he starts to explain his contributions to the firm, it’s apparent why he was made partner in 2012. Knight has fallen in lockstep with the
work ethic of other attorneys at MSP, and his passion for helping his community rings clear when discussing the goals of his firm.“The firm does a very good job of supporting our community. They expect you to be involved. Virginia is a board member for Cancer Navigators; Scott Smith, another partner, and I are on the board of the Boys & Girls Club; another attorney, Jason Sanker, has been the board chair for the Family Resource Center; and Chris Jackson, who just joined the firm in the last month or so, is the board chair for the Historic DeSoto Theater Foundation,” Knight says. “We are really involved with many
" We are blessed to still have
38 v3 magazine
a great group of lawyers
focus of our firm’s Christmas giving.” And to add a special touch to their friend’s and families’ mantles during the season , the children at the Boys & Girls Club design the Christmas cards mailed out by the firm during the holidays, a special little gift from MSP that is created by the hands of babes. Since the Maddox family started the firm in 1899, many attorneys have shaped the philosophy of MSP. Jo Stegall, Judge J.D. Maddox, Oscar Smith and Charles C. Shaw are men the three partners speak of with reverence and admiration. Though they are no longer with us, the lessons they embedded in the hearts and minds of the present-day attorneys stand as testament that their legacy is very much alive in the hallways of MSP. “Still within this law firm you see that culture. You will hear the stories about the people who came before us, and in those stories you find the way to practice law,” Manning says. “We are blessed to still have a great group of lawyers who are dedicated to the practice of law, dedicated to their families, and dedicated to their community. It has been that way the entire time I have been here.” Here’s to 115 more, MSP. V VV
who are dedicated to the practice of law, dedicated to their families, and dedicated to their community." different things in our community.” In the spirit of the holiday season, Harman adds, “For several years, we have made a donation to the Boys & Girls Club here in Rome and to Murphy Harpst in Cedartown, Ga. We do a tremendous amount of work with Murphy Harpst year-round, but those to charities have been the
Contact MSP at
Rome location: 706.291.6223 Cedartown location: 770.749.6723
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“The #1 staffing service for 7 years” The Historic Sullivan-Hillyer House c. 1868 | 309 East 2nd Avenue | 706-235-3408 | www.etowahemployment.com
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40 v3 magazine
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ANY type of cuisine. No event is too small. Will work with your budget.
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What Dreams m 42 v3 magazine
s may come No need to tr y and pin-point the style of these musically-gifted Nor thwest Georgians. Just put on your dancing shoes, and let them take you on a journey found only in dreams. text: Erin deMesquita photos: Derek Bell
he hazy onset of dusk casts shadows against faces and upon shoes; there’s a photo shoot underway. Sporadic bolts of flash illuminate each individual instrument clutching member of a six-man band that, together, forms one hell of a musical mitochondria. The name, The Kamikaze Dali, arose from the dream-world slumbers of first founding member, singer/songwriter and guitarist Jeremy Wells. For years, Wells, 37, played under various Dali-like aliases, but since the dawn of 2013, the name has discovered and rested upon a hexagonal harmony that consistently
experiences what singer Kara Headrick, 26, jokingly refers to as “Disneyland magic.” It only takes an amount of minutes with the band to see that it’s actually the perfect description for the Dali’s melodious chemistry. Rounding out the six-man circle are Jason Murphy, 37, mandolin and guitar; Kevin Weaver, 31; guitar and vocals; Chris Clark, 37, bass; and Adam Bowman, 31, percussion – none of whom are limited to the instruments listed. Poetic fire, feeding off the passions and poisons of life, makes for fierce songwriting and honest lyrical composition. That fire meets its fan with the Dali’s unique melodic arrangements and a three-part harmony that could
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serenely awaken a sleeping soul. To understand the convoluted way that the band finally merged their talents is to play a game of six degrees of the Dali. The truth is, they’ve all just been stumbling over each other since adolescence. Forming a wide circle around the room of the Dali’s practice space in Wells’ home, the band takes turns putting this into perspective. Bowman takes the first go at it, “It’s kind of weird; everybody has intertwined at some point. Chris jammed with Kevin who jammed with me, and then we jammed with Jason and Kara before I even knew Jeremy.” Headrick chimes in, explaining that Clark played music with both Weaver and Wells, separately, throughout high school. Weaver eventually joined the jam between Wells and Clark, about which, Wells says, “It clicked like nothing else.” Once Weaver brought Murphy and Headrick into the mix, the shining lights of The Magic Kingdom came into view. A percussionist was the last piece of the Dali puzzle, and they all wondered why they hadn’t brought Bowman in earlier (insert operatic soprano voice). As far as defining the Dali’s musical genre, they all echo her sentiment when Headrick expresses that this is their least favorite question
44 v3 magazine
to answer. She squints her eyes and widens her grin as she says, “Folk, Americana, Grass Rock…?” Bowman jumps in, “Every time someone asks me the question, ‘what genre of music do you play?’... It’s Bolivian Folk Death Grass, and you can figure it out from there.” “That’s our humorous take on our style,” Headrick smiles. Individually, members of the Dali all come to the stage in such diverse stride that the band hasn’t quite put their finger on the perfect descriptive words. “It’s all these styles kind of being funneled through our different tone textures,” Murphy says. “We each have our own instrument that we play and an approach that we take to it and whatever we play ends up sounding like The Kamikaze Dali when we sort of force it through that filter.” In mood and tempo, Dali tunes can range from slow and somber to foot stomping and skirt swishing. “The Creature,” written by Weaver, flows on solemn waters, creating eddies with the delicate rattle of the mandolin and the weeping twang of a lap steel guitar. Momentum elevates with songs like “We are the People,” into which they speak with tones of military and government fueled by the erratic modus of mankind. Headrick makes the point that so much passion, aggression and defensiveness have swelled around topics of politics and religion
that it’s difficult to engage in that conversation without the boiling of blood. “It’s easier to sing about those topics to somebody than it is to approach somebody and say ‘Hey, this is what we’re thinking; do you hate it or do you love it,’” she laughs. The Dali has found that despite the number of hands to be raised in opposition, the six of them actually agree on most planes of opinion and belief. So when Wells came to the group with “We are the People,” the hexad was in favor and, once again, in harmony. When it comes to crafting a song, each band member is able to put in, not only their two cents, but their own personal style. Influences for the band range from Nine Inch Nails and Radiohead to John Prine and The Grateful Dead (although the band agrees they could waste hours and a good bit of whiskey on the subject). Wells, Weaver, Headrick and Murphy all have lyrical creations in the Dali catalogue, and each songwriter brings something a little different from the last. Wells, although the most softspoken of the group, turns up the volume with his lyrics. Often times influenced by political factors, he takes a metaphorical approach to songwriting. Weaver goes with the flow of the moment. “It’s whatever I feel at the time,” he says. “I’ll come up with the melody first and then however the music makes me feel, I go for it.”
Headrick, completely outnumbered by beards and not in the least fazed, brings blazing fire and a whole lot of sentiment. She tends to take a more literal approach, appealing to emotions, influenced by family, drama and love. And Murphy, whose fellow Dali-mates have dubbed him “the spreadsheet guy” on account of his analytical attributes, brings to the page the stylings of a great storyteller. “That’s why I think it works so well between these four,” Bowman says. “Speaking as someone who is not usually involved in the lyrical process, it’s always fascinating to watch. You look at pages of everybody’s lyrics and while you can immediately identify who did what, everybody is actually so refined at how they do things; they’re so good at what they do that all the bases are covered.” Each personality shone, and each perception artfully expressed; an extraordinary collage crafted in verse. “Sometimes we are all just wowed,” Wells smiles. Ears can bear witness to an eccentric Dali collage with songs like “Mannequin Dance.” “Not every venue gets ‘Mannequin Dance,’ ” Headrick laughs. A smoky carnival waltz and ghostly harmonies give way to a fiery phantom voice range so high it could cradle the curve of the
couple (congratulations, Headrick and Murphy!) “We’re together because we are all really close friends,” Headrick smiles. “We’re not just a band, we’re family.” The band agrees that their highest time of tension is in the preparation and work that goes into setting up a show. “It is a production to put together a Dali show,” Bowman says. For a crew that is as musically versatile as they are vivacious, getting ready for a show is a lot of work. “That’s probably our biggest obstacle,” Headrick says. “We are six people who have a lot of different talents in a lot of places.” Point blank, she adds, “We have a lot of crap. “With every band, [lack of] money is something that keeps you from making life easier. If we had all the money in the world we’d have a trailer by now with a beautiful Kamikaze Dali logo on the side that would make our loading life a lot easier,” she continues. “But for right now, we end up with five cars to every gig to get everything in.” They all agree that for about an hour during setup, nerve synapses are firing and the haze of tension is thick, but all of that pressure is relieved by the time the last instrument is unloaded and in place and the last cable plugged in. Technically, the Dali’s first gig was in February of 2013, before they really got the chance
" We’re together because we are all really close friends. We’re not just a band, we’re family." moon. Deemed “creepy” by the band, “Mannequin Dance” must have the right environment for the Dali to reveal it; the song has become a traditional performance at the band’s Halloween celebration each year. Spread out and living in different cities (Rome, Dalton and Calhoun), Dali members find that when they come together for a practice, they must make the most of it. When they are not able to practice face-to-face, they utilize technology, sending emails back and forth and uploading riffs to Dropbox, an online storage site with a sharing option for collaboration. While melodic harmonies magically reveal themselves to the Dali, one has to wonder what goes into maintaining the congruous chemistry amongst members. Sitting in that wide circle in the practice space, observing their interaction, their laughter and their affectionately thrown insults, it’s clear that they are close. Rightly so, considering the friendships that reach as far back as high school and a freshly engaged
to dive into a practice session. One year later, they decided to start booking shows, but were pleasantly surprised by the amount of shows that came to them. They accredit their break into the Roman music scene, in large part, to their participation in the State Mutual Insurance Battle of the Bands last year at the Historic Desoto Theatre, which began weaving the Dali a web of connection and support amongst Romans and fellow local musicians. They kicked off 2014 with a charity event for the Philippines called Bridge the Sea, returned to the Desoto in August to win the People’s Choice Award in the Battle of the Bands (which raised more than $11,000 for Cancer Navigators), played their second year on the river at Rome Beer Fest, and graced the stage at the Wings Over North Georgia Air Show; these among many other well-received Roman appearances. The Dali has productive hopes for the year to come. “We definitely want to get in a recording
studio,” Headrick says, “because up to this point we’ve done a lot of DIY recording.” (The Dali has a three-song album featuring “H.D. Heart,” “Keeping Up” and “Melt” available for digital download at thekamikazedali.bandcamp. com as well as reverbnation.com/thekamikazedali). Branching out is a definitive goal for the band. They hope to venture into the music scenes of surrounding areas like Chattanooga, Birmingham and Athens and they look forward to getting their instruments in the door of the festival circuit, bringing a little “Bolivian Folk Death Grass” to the fields. With a catalogue of 50 to 60 original songs and roughly 30 covers, thus far, the Dali has been a production in themselves, handling their own contacts, promotions, bookings and recording. Helping and supporting the band every step of the way is the rest of the Dali family, ever so affectionately dubbed, “the Dali mamas.” Bowman’s wife, Jess; Wells’ wife, Kendra; and Headrick and Clark’s mothers can always be found in the audience, cheering them on and breaking in the dance floor. Kendra’s photography is also responsible for the majority of the Dali’s glamour shots. “We’re really lucky to have them. They really have been a huge backbone for us since we got started,” Headrick smiles. During this interview, as a part of the Dali’s circle, it was very evident that they – not just as musicians, but as people – are some fun-loving, joke-cracking fools. V3 picked up a little Dali knowledge, of which shall now be passed on: • They love a good storytelling crowd. • Conversations about facial hair can last a while, so sit a spell. • For questions about current pop culture or MTV shenanigans, ask Headrick; also, she’s the only Dali member that is allowed to freely partake of pre-show adult beverages. • If you’re at a Dali show, drink every time Weaver forgets the words; you may need a designated driver. All jokes aside, with collectively more than a century’s worth of musical experience, years invested in strength of solidarity and a talent pool that is oceans deep, The Kamikaze Dali perseveres into the unknown of the future, a harmonious hexad – a family. V VV
Book the band at kamikazedali @yahoo.com v3 magazine 45
MERRY CHRISTMAS FROM HENNESSY JAGUAR-LAND ROVER NORTH POINT! 1505 Mansell Rd, Alpharetta, GA | 770.587.2000 | www.jlrnorthpoint.com
46 v3 magazine
The Dish 100 Covered Bridge Road Euharlee, GA
PH: 700-383-3383 www.johnnymitchells.com Open everyday from 11am-9pm Johnny Mitchell’s has hand-cut steaks, fesh seafood selections and authentic barbecue slow-smoked over cherry and hickory wood. Come experience the fusion of Southern hospitality and fine dining.
Whatever you are in the mood for, you’ll find a homemade meal at our Smokehouse that will bring you back again!
2817 Martha Berry Highway Rome, GA 30165
Hours: Mon -Thu: 11:00am- 10:00pm Fri - Sat: 11:00am-11:00pm Sun: 11:00am-9:00pm
WOW strives to serve the highest quality of food with the freshest ingredients. You will leave saying “WOW! What a Place!” Famous for: Wings and over 17 signature sauces to choose from!
www.schroedersnewdeli.com 406 Broad Street Rome, GA 30161
300 Broad Street Rome, GA 30161
PH: 706-235-0030 www.partridgerestaurant.com
Hours: Mon-Thur: 11:00am-10:00pm
Hours: Mon-Sat: 11:00am-8:30pm
It’s the best in town... Ain’t nothin’
The Partridge Restaurant is like stepping back in time when families gathered at the table with real plates and silverware. Each group of patrons are seated at their individual table and served family-style.
mellow about it! (Draft and Bottled
With our variety of meats and
Beers also offered) Famous for:
vegetables, you are bound to find a delicious dining experience with every visit!
Schroeder’s menu includes sandwiches, calzones, soups, salads, potato skins, nachos, wings, and more. And don’t forget our pizza!
Their Roast Beef Relief!
www.getjamwiched.com 510 Broad Street Rome, GA 30161
Like us on FACEBOOK Mon-Fri 11:00am-3:00pm
Jamwich - Serving distinctive sandwiches, salads, and soups. Sandwiches built with the finest ingredients: Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, Zelma’s Blue Ribbon Jams and Jellies, fresh sourdough bread, premium Boars Head thick cut bacon and farm-to-table produce.
595 Riverside Parkway Rome, GA 30161
PH: 706-233-9960 Hours: Sun -Thu: 11:00am-9:00pm
Fri - Sat: 11:00am-10:00pm
Fuddruckers catering can help you feed just about any size group, anytime, anywhere. Our menu will please the most discerning tastes and meet the high standards you require. We know how to make your event spectacular with the WORLD’S GREATEST CATERING.
www.lascalaromega.com 413 Broad Street Rome, GA 30161
PH: 706-238-9000 Hours: Mon - Sat: 6:00pm-10:00pm 400 Block Bar & Lounge: 4:00pm-1:30am Live music each weekend.
La Scala offers both first-rate service and terrific Italian Cuisine in an upscale casual atmosphere. 50% off cafe menu from 4:00-6:00 p.m.
3401 Martha Berry Hwy Rome, GA 30165
PH: 706-291-1881 Hours: Sun -Thu: 11:00am-10:00pm
Fri - Sat: 11:00am-11:00pm Dine in, Take out, or delivery... Authentic Italian is what we do! We have enjoyed great success by providing our guests with a casual, friendly atmosphere and excellent service. In addition to the healthy portions of our food, you will see our entrees range from homemade sandwiches, pizzas and calzones to pastas, chicken, veal and seafood dishes. www.romamiagrill.com
Make it a meal worth remembering. Where to eat in Northwest Georgia. v3 magazine 47
His Healing. Our Calling.
My healing started with a phone call to Dr. Andrew Hester.
Running was an important part of my lifeâ€ŚI loved it. But when I started having pain in my hip, I was afraid I wouldnâ€™t be able to do it anymore. Dr. Hester worked with me to create a treatment plan with my love for running in mind. After a hip replacement and therapy with PT Solutions at Gordon Hospital, I was able to become the first total hip replacement athlete to finish the Umstead 100 mile Endurance Run and the Six Days in the Dome, running six straight days and logging 300 miles. I got my life back, on my terms. -Gregg Ellis Hip Replacement Patient
Andrew Hester, MD; Northwest Georgia Orthopedics & Sports Medicine
706.602.7800 48 v3 magazine
Matt Graziano, Physical Therapist, Pt Solutions
www.gordonhospital.com 1035 Red Bud Road Calhoun, GA 30701