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Publisher's Note So, my son just turned two and, while I’ve been down this road before, I think Carter Quinn Griffin is going to be a test like none of my children before him. Parenthood is a beautiful chaos and having a teenager, a ten-year-old and a toddler has given my wife and I some serious perspective on the stages of raising children. I know one day I will wake up and they will all be gone, leaving me to miss the noise, the mess and the never-ending schedule of events. In my heart, I know that will be a harsh realization, but in the OWNER & CEO Ian Griffin present moment, I long for a little rest and relaxation. I think about what it would be like to come home from work, throw my feet up and only worry about my needs. Sounds selfish, right? It is. But I think any parent who doesn’t have those thoughts either has children with halos over their heads or the patience of Job. Despite what those whiny first few paragraphs might portray, my children are the backbone of my existence. When my first son was born, I wrote him a letter during our hospital stay. Something for him to read one day when I’m no longer here to let him know how much I loved him. With new policies in place, Carter slept and stayed in the room with us, leaving me no time to pen such a note. I’ve been meaning to do it ever since and figured instead of using pen and paper, I would just use V3’s ink instead. Dear Carter, You just turned two on the 22nd of September 2017. From your arrival as the fifth member of the Griffin clan, you have been loved by us all. As an infant, you and I bonded in the wee hours of the morning. You had a heck of a time going “number two”, and it worried your mother and I to death. One morning, you had a breakthrough session in which you squeezed my fingers until relief came your way. It was more than your diaper could handle, but all I cared about was the fact that you were finally going to feel better. The look in your little eyes (a beautiful blue, like your mothers) told me you understood at that moment that I was there for you through thick and thin. You were born during football season and, as I’m sure you now know, your old man is an avid fan. You taught me how to react to games with little or no volume, both from the TV and my loud mouth. In the two seasons since, I’ve watched my teams win and lose at the last minute while you slept beside me. My reactions would have been video gold had a camera been in place. But regardless of your consciousness, I celebrated or mourned those games with you. You have always been fearless, but have grown into a strong-willed toddler that can best be described as sweet and sour. You love to play rough and it’s your brother and I that take the brunt of that play time. However, when a boo-boo or naptime occurs, you’re a momma’s boy without a doubt. You make me laugh, you make me smile, at times you have made me cry (from pain, or just sheer exhaustion), but most importantly you make me proud. Like your brother and sister before you and each of you in your own unique way, you make your mother and I complete. So, no matter how many times I ground you, raise my voice in anger, annoy you with the same life lessons and how to apply them moving forward, etc. just know that in your highest and lowest moments in life, your father will always love you. Daddy Ian Griffin, Owner


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OWNER & CEO Ian Griffin EDITORIAL MANAGER Oliver Robbins MAG ART & DESIGN Ellie Borromeo WRITERS Oliver Robbins, Erin deMesquita, Holly Lynch, J. Bryant Steele, Lauren Jones-Hillman, Jim Alred, Emory Chaffin, Abbie Smith EXECUTIVE PHOTOGRAPHER Cameron Flaisch AD SALES + CLIENT RELATIONS Chris Forino AD DESIGN Laura Allshouse Ellie Borromeo PUBLISHER V3 Publications, LLC CONTACT 417 Broad Street Rome, Ga. 30161 Office Phone 706.235.0748 v3publications@gmail.com CREATOR Neal Howard


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THE OFFICIAL SHOOK his head and tried not to listen to the vociferous voices and cacophony of noise descending on him as he stood on the sidelines. The play before, he whistled the offensive team for a holding penalty, negating a long touchdown run. While not keeping an accurate count, I noticed somewhere between 10 to 15 people rise from a sitting position in the stands and direct tirades in the officials’ direction. Many of the words uttered with boisterous explosion can’t be printed in this magazine. I waited for a break in the action on the field and for the catcalls from the stands to die down before approaching the official. I tapped him on the shoulder and told him he made a great call. The video footage I recorded showed three offensive linemen holding on the play. The official got it right. The call did affect the game, as the team whistled for holding lost by five points and was eliminated from the playoffs. The official shook his head for a moment and sighed. “Thanks. I’m still not sure why I continue to put myself through this.” I’m not often at a loss for words, but at this moment I was. I recognized the official but didn’t know him well enough to know his name. I wanted to say something positive to reassure him, and as I tried to open my mouth two spectators came onto the field and began barking at him again. All of this over a correct call in an eight-yearold football game. I have no idea if that official still calls games, but statistics tell us the ranks of officials continue to shrink across the United States. The usual litany of long hours and low pay along with the need to

spend time with their family is offered up as an excuse for the lack of officials. Training officials takes time and the national trend shows that fewer than 50 percent of new officials make it through their three years of calling games. But what’s not to like? Lots of travel, working games three to five nights a week, dealing with angry coaches, fans and players - the list of job perks goes on and on. But even with all of that, officials can still be comforted by the fact that everybody hates them. Some local officials, who have been calling games for as many as three decades, say the vitriol they encounter on the sideline rates as some of the worst they’ve ever encountered. Just imagine what a late-round high school playoff atmosphere must resemble if parents of eight-year-olds lost it over the correct call in a youth game. I witnessed the police have to escort a group of officials out of the field house following a closely contested state semifinal football game. The police were called, because more than 200 fans had surrounded the field house wanting a word with the officials. Trust me. I know how tough it is when a close call doesn’t go your way, whether you’re a player, a fan or a coach. I would love to say I’ve always taken the high road, but I haven’t. And one particular sideline outburst I made still haunts me. Since that day, I’ve tried to change my ways. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. The problem we face is simple. If we continue to scream and yell and treat officials like second-class citizens or worse, our children could find themselves not being able to play the sports they love.

The older officials tell me about the dearth of younger, talented officials and issue an ominous warning. A lot of the pool of officials remains older and will be retiring within the next 10 years. An officials’ shortage already squeezing associations in several states will not only get worse but also turn dire. So, what can be done? In the words of my great grandmother, one simple thing can help change the current dynamic. “Treat other people with the same respect that you want to be treated with.” I know some officials act jerky. I also know plenty of fans, coaches and players do as well. Parents, and I am a serious offender as well, need to be better about how and when they critique officials. If attitudes and treatment of officials fails to improve, fewer and fewer people will choose to become officials. Maybe next time a close call doesn’t go your way, before you react think how you would like it if the roles were reversed. And if you can’t get over how bad that one official is, then go through officials’ training yourself and help fix the issue. If you do, I hope you’re not on the receiving end of a verbal tirade like the youth football official or stuck in a field house because an angry mob lets a high school football games’ outcome work them into a tirade. The next time you get the urge to let loose on an official, pause a second and think. What example are you setting and are you helping fuel a problem that could decimate sports in the next decade? You just may view that one call in a different light. *The views expressed in this column are those of the writer, and do not represent the opinions of V3 Magazine.

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I Will Remember You TEXT Abbie Smith PHOTOGRAPHY Cameron Flaisch

In a place this beautiful, it’s easy to see why families are seeking alternative ways honor the ones they love.


S OCTOBER 31ST draws near, families carve jack o’ lanterns and Halloween enthusiasts outfit their homes with the creepiest of décor. It’s a time to celebrate all things spooky and deathly. However, while spiders and skeletons start cropping up in neighborhoods, the family behind Henderson and Sons Funeral Home are creating a beautiful, serene memorial garden to celebrate life after death. “We’ve just opened the cremation garden,” Wesley Henderson, one of the sons behind Henderson and Sons, says. “We’ve dedicated a section of our cemetery, which has traditionally been for burials, for families that choose cremation. As I explain to people, cremation is a form of disposition, like burial, and shouldn’t take the place of a service. We just say that if you’ve lost someone you love, you should honor them. And that’s not only for them, but for the person that’s experienced a loss.” The garden itself honors both the dead and the living. Bestowed the title, the Sanctuary of Memories, the space is currently a small portion of Rome Memorial Park, the Henderson and Sons’ cemetery. What was once a blank portion of land is now a lovely, serene green space outfitted with various benches, walls and other structures

featuring blank spaces to later be emblazoned with the names and memories of those lost. “In this section, there are many different types of memorialization,” Henderson says. “For cremation, the cremated remains in the urn are placed in what’s called a niche. A lot of times, these niches can hold two sets of cremated remains for spouses that want to be laid to rest together. “This area was specially designed with our cremation families in mind, offering the latest and most personal in cremation memorialization options,” Henderson says. “We offer fountain niches, entry trellis niches, corner trellis niches and mission-style columbaria. We also have private family alcoves. A family could purchase it and there’s four niches inside.” Walking through the garden, a brick path unites four sections featuring the various structures Henderson names. All paths lead towards the center gazebo. Painted a bright white, the gazebo has plenty of space for family and friends to gather for committals. The trickling of a nearby fountain further transforms the space into a haven for families and friends who are hurting or looking for a place to reflect on sweet memories passed. “We think it’s a very sacred place, so we want to give it that care. We’re very blessed to have

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“We’re a part of this community and we see these families as our own. We try to put ourselves in their shoes by thinking about how would we feel if we lost our father or if we lost our spouse.”

Wes, Nancy, Barry and Garrett Henderson

folks who do a good job and keep it clean and well-maintained.” Working with a professional in the funeral planning business, the Hendersons were able to design the Sanctuary of Memories in a clean, contemporary style to honor Roman families and allow for plenty of personalization options. However, there is more to come. “This is phase one of a four-phase design. As we fill this garden, we will add on,” Henderson says. “There will be some enhancements as we see fit, but the general layout has been set. We know that there’s going to be at least one additional fountain to come, but we’re really waiting to see what families want. Many of our additions will be based on orders for the families we serve. If a family wants a certain number of spaces or if a family wants a cross or a specific design or style, we’re constantly watching what our families prefer and that’s how we’re looking to grow the memorial in the future.” The addition of a memorial garden of this type came from a surprising shift in funeral planning. “The cremation rate in the country has just passed 50 percent; I think this was back in 2016 and that’s the first time in history that’s ever happened,” Henderson says. “When our family started seeing these statistics, we knew we had to offer those 22

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families who choose cremation just as many options as families who choose burial. We didn’t really see this service at the forefront in Rome. “A lot of people don’t know that,” Henderson continues. “Though services vary greatly, you can do just as much for a family that chooses cremation. You can do anything you want for your loved one.” For those wary of cremation, Henderson and Sons have spoken to families who choose this option for various reasons. Depending on the service families want, some people think that it’s a more cost-effective option. Others find comfort in the convenience. Unlike traditional burials, there is a much looser timeframe. People who are cognizant of their carbon footprint may opt for cremation as it is a greener type of disposition. “What’s becoming the norm now are a lot more cremations with a lot more celebrations like

catering, music and things like that,” Henderson adds. “Traditionally, you had a service at the funeral home or the church, then you had the burial at the cemetery. Nowadays, you’re having a lot more informal services and a lot more secular services. It’s non-traditional; people enjoy just having a gathering of friends and they want food catered. You have companies in the hospitality industry servicing funerals now. They’re using their gathering rooms, their conference rooms and offering them to people who’ve lost someone.” For those planning ahead or in need, it is easy to have niches reserved for themselves or for their family members. “We have a saying around here: Every family, every option, every time. We don’t try to influence the types of service, we just want to let them know their options. We’re open every day of the week, so a family just has to give us a call and set up an appointment. A lot of times, we will meet them at the cemetery to show them exactly what they’re getting,” Henderson emphasizes. It is always difficult to discuss matters surrounding death. Come Halloween, ghost stories will be told, costumes will be donned and death becomes a trivial matter, almost a way to cope with the uncertainty of our lives. Those who are experiencing pain, however, will be comforted knowing that the caring professionals at Henderson and Sons will be with them every step of the way. And with the option of a memorial garden that allows families to reflect in a peaceful green space, there is no reason not to focus on the beauty of a life rather than the sting of death. “The main thing for us is that we provide personal service from a family that cares,”

Henderson says. “Right now, my mother, Nancy, my father, Barry, my brother, Garrett and myself all work for the funeral home. So, it’s truly a family business. We’re a part of this community and we see these families as our own. We try to put ourselves

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Not ever yone bu ys a t icket ,

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TEXT Lauren Hillman-Jones PHOTOGRAPHY Cameron Flaisch

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L I N G E R I N G Legends of the DeSoto Theatre You feel a shiver down your spine, from a whisper you swear you heard. In the dimly lit backstage hallway, you catch an unmistakable glimpse of a shadowy figure in the corner of your eye, running past, but just barely out of sight. For frequenters of the Historic Desoto Theatre in Rome, these experiences are anything but rare. In fact, actors and artists of the Rome Little Theatre - the DeSoto’s resident theatre group, describe a plethora of paranormal encounters which have happened over the course of decades in droves. As one of the oldest buildings in the Historic Between the Rivers District, the DeSoto has had a nearly century of film and theatre enthusiasts pour in and out of its vast four walls. And it seems some never quite left.

The Legend of Ruby The most notorious phantom haunting the DeSoto Theatre is the ghost of a child named Ruby. Through Ruby’s eyes, the DeSoto towered over other buildings on Broad Street, dazzling passersby with its glittering, art deco marquee.

The theatre was constructed by H.C. Lam, who had purchased the run-down building in 1908 from the Freedman’s Bureau. Lam worked tirelessly, transforming the building until its completion in 1927. It was the pride of Rome, Ga., the first theatre in the Southeast designed for “talkies.” During the 1930’s, Ruby rode the trolley down Broad Street to the DeSoto and would spend the day watching as many films as her heart desired. One day, Ruby dismounted the trolley and was hit by a car.


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“A crowd gathered around her and she was perfectly still, then suddenly, she sat up and the crowd applauded,” says RLT Office Manager Mary Ortwein, keeper of Ruby’s Legend. “Ruby quickly got her child’s token to come into the theatre.” Sitting up in the balcony, Ruby watched film after film that day. At night, when patrons were heading toward the exits, Ruby didn’t stir. An usher discovered that during the course of the day, Ruby died in her seat. “She died in a place that she loved, enjoying the magic of film,” says Ortwein.

Childish Antics After the DeSoto closed its doors to showing feature films in 1982, the Rome Little Theatre moved in to take the stage. Throughout the years, numerous reports of childlike pranks pester both the backstage area and second story hall of the theatre, and RLT actors and volunteers point their fingers at Ruby, believing her ghost lingers at the DeSoto. “She has locked me outside of the backstage door several times when I was the only person at the theatre,” chuckles Ortwein. “I blame Ruby for that.” Perhaps it’s because she was a child at the time of her death, but numerous reports suggest Ruby is most active during RLT Jr. shows. Her tricks involve hiding and stealing costume pieces and props from RLT folks from right under their noses. Mandy Maloney, who has acted, directed and served as a costumer for years, details several of these experiences. During the production of RLT Jr.’s The Little Mermaid in 2014, Maloney was in the upstairs dressing room backstage working on costumes. “It was one of those days I’d been at the theatre all by myself, working away,” she says. “I laid some blue ribbon out on the couch, walked into the other room, went back and it was gone. I spent an hour looking everywhere. It was completely gone.” Also in 2014, Maloney recalls when a child’s shoe went missing during RLT Jr.’s production of Beauty and the Beast.

“We looked everywhere for it backstage. Finally, the shoe was seen by someone so high up on top of an open door. It was balanced perfectly, right on top, in plain sight. No one in the cast could have reached it; no one could have put it there. That wasn’t normal.” Back in the early 2000’s, Quentin Brown had a similar occurrence. “Back then, the costumes were kept in the rooms upstairs behind the auditorium,” Brown explains. “We were trying on costumes for a show, and when I had something that fit, I left all my street clothes crumpled up off to the side, and went down to the stage to get my costume approved.” Brown says when he got back up to the costume shop, his t-shirt was missing. After looking everywhere in piles of clothes, he decided to call it quits. “Before I left the hall, I looked around and said, ‘You know what? It’d be really nice if you gave me that shirt back.’” However, at the end of the show’s run when the actors were putting their costumes back in the shop, Brown had an eerie surprise. “I see my t-shirt I had worn sticking out from a pile of clothes that had been untouched, neatly folded up,” he says. “I just take it, look around and say ‘thank you’ and I take it back home with me.” But Brown’s paranormal experiences peaked when he says he says he once saw Ruby with his own eyes. “It was late and I was heading to the backstage exit door to close up, when, at the proscenium, I see a little girl in this dress and her face did not

look real,” he says. “It looked almost doll-like. I saw it from the corner of my eye and all the blood runs out of my face. I turn to face this thing and the minute I do, I don’t see it anymore.” Death records in Floyd County from 1930’s reveal only two children fitting Ruby’s description and both are cited to have died of natural causes. Ruby Ricks, 14, died in 1934 of a ruptured appendix and Ruby McGinnis was 8 when she died of a stroke. Neither certificate specifies the deceased having been killed in an accident. Could Ruby have been a nickname of the child who passed away in the DeSoto? Or could she simply be a theatrical legend?

Ghoulish Gabbing Though Ruby is the most well-known ghost of the DeSoto, there seem to be more sinister presences moving through the rows of seats. Several people report having seen the shadow of H.C. Lam lurking in the projection room as well as paranormal activity happening near that general area. Andi Rouse Beyer and her husband moved to Rome in 1986, where they rented office space upstairs in what would later become the costume shop. “All kinds of weird stuff would happen all the time,” Beyer says. “Doors would be open one minute and closed the next.” Beyer also says voices could be heard in the corner of the theatre to the left of the old projection booth, if you’re facing Broad Street.

“I was standing at the first door. Toward the far end of the shop, past that third door, a wedding dress was upright. It was just standing on its own.”

“You’d hear whispering in the corner near where the projection room used to be,” she says. “There wouldn’t be anybody there but you could hear what sounded like people whispering.” The whispering Beyer remembers possibly belongs to two resident ghosts. Affectionately nicknamed Statler and Waldorf after the ornery Muppet duo, Mark Van Leuven calls them the most reliable pair of DeSoto ghosts.

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“If you sat in the seats at the theatre at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m. as producers often do, and it’s dead quiet, you could absolutely hear not one, but two distinct voices up near the projection booth, down to the left a little bit,” Van Leuven says. Occupying the balcony where seats T4 and T6 are currently today, Van Leuven says the voices were audible, but not discernible. “It could audibly be perceived as distinct human-formed words, but not quite where you could figure out what they were saying,” Van Leuven says. “But they would talk back and forth, deliberating about the show or having a giggle or sometimes growling about something.”

Hostile Hauntings “When you work on theatre productions, you have to go everywhere in the building,” says Van Leuven. “You’d go up on the catwalk to hang lights; you’d go into the basement to find old props. But the one place you didn’t want to go to by yourself was the old costume shop.” The costume shop, he says, was jam-packed with fabrics, as dark as a crypt and absorbed every iota of sound. It was a sequence of three, claustrophobic equally-sized rooms, each with its own door. “I was just trying to get stuff done one day and I went up there without thinking,” Van Leuven says. 30

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“I was standing at the first door. Toward the far end of the shop, past that third door, a wedding dress was upright. It was just standing on its own.” Van Leuven merely thought it was propped up on a wire mannequin of sorts and continued to rummage through costumes. “I look up a few minutes later and it wasn’t there,” he says. “But I saw what looked like the tail end of it being swooped up toward the rafters.” Whenever he’s had a paranormal experience at the DeSoto, Van Leuven says he wasn’t aiming to have one. He was preoccupied when those moments would strike. “I wasn’t thinking ‘I’m ready to see a ghost.’ I was always busy, only thinking about what I had to do, and it would happen,” he says. “I’m a skeptical person; I’m not a harem scarem kind of guy.” For Brown, it’s the same story. Never was he looking to have an encounter when he actually experienced one. He describes one instance where during the production of Camelot, he saw eerie orbs. “We would see floating lights in the basement of the theatre,” Brown says. “There was no source for them, but they were distinctly there.” Brown isn’t the only one to describe this phenomenon. In late December of 2015, Dalton Urda was at the theatre by himself, hanging and programming lights for a show, as he’d done dozens of times in the past.

“I went up above the stage on the catwalk to get down where the lights hang,” he says. “As I was walking, I noticed in the far left corner of the catwalk what looked like a flashlight hovering at about waist level.” Urda says at first, he tried to ignore the colorless light, but it began moving closer toward him. “I got hives up and down my back, a chill literally went up my spine, the hair on my arms stood up. I got out of there, and when I started to leave the catwalk, the light disappeared.” Urda says he doesn’t consider himself a believer of other-worldly activities, but that instance haunts him. “It was menacing; it chilled me to the bone. I got out of the catwalk and made a beeline to get out of there. I did not want to be in that space anymore.”

The Ghost Light Stays On “Sometimes you get this feeling,” says Beyer. “The hair on your neck stands up and you’re just like… I’m getting out of here. I’m done.” But despite these haunting encounters, one thing is for certain: theatre lovers keep coming back to enjoy performances regardless of whomever else may be lurking just out of sight. “I will always support Rome Little Theatre,” says Urda, adding, “but I’d definitely never bring a ouija board to the Historic DeSoto Theatre.”

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No Stone Unturned This home is nothing short of living the dream. text OLIVER ROBBINS


ust past the clubhouse at Stonebridge Golf Course, around the corner from the rafter of wild turkey and built on a corner lot of wooded bliss is a custom home in one of Rome’s most desired neighborhoods, the Fairways. At 158 Nelson Blvd., Rome, interested home buyers will find a new construction that has been designed with family in mind. Perhaps what is most attractive about this potential purchase is the peace of mind new owners will have knowing that the builders are also the current residents. Mike and Lisa Hackett share this lovely space with their two sons, Jake and Leo, and the itch to start another project has led to their decision to sell. The exterior of the house is wrapped in HardiePlank siding, accented with stacked stone and cedar finishes. Mature hardwoods border the lot in the rear and on the right side, creating a nice natural buffer since the home sits on a corner lot. “When we decided to build here,” says Lisa Hackett who is responsible for designing most of the home’s features, “we purchased


the adjacent lot as well. We wanted the extra privacy and we wanted future owners to have the option of putting in a pool if they wanted to. What we have found is that many neighborhoods don’t leave the space you’d need if you wanted options. I enjoy having a nice view of the trees, which is a bonus.” Adding to the curb appeal of the home are cedar shutters that were cut and crafted onsite. Seasonal flowers line the bottoms of first and second story windows in flower boxes that are fashioned from the same cedar logs. And since some of the second story windows do not open, the Hacketts have added a handy feature that makes caring for the flowers much easier. “We have installed a watering system in the flower boxes,” she says.“I really love the splash of color they give the house, but we saw that watering them would be a problem. So, we have a system in place that allows us to push a button and water the plants in the flower boxes. “This home stands tall compared to the others,” Hackett continues, “because of the


14/12 pitch in the roof. Also, by adding nine-foot ceilings to the second story, we’ve added some height to the roofline. I remember gasping as I pulled up on the job site as the framers were working on it.” Inside the eight-foot front doors is where Hackett really shows the attention to detail that went into planning and designing the space. A two-story foyer welcomes visitors, and a massive wrought iron chandelier with crystal accents lights the staircase. To the left, is a dining room with floor-to-ceiling windows facing the front of the lot. The four-inch planks of the red oak floors, finished with a Jacobean stain, add a pleasing contrast to the warm color palette of the room. The oak floors continue into the great room and kitchen where many changes were made to the original plans the Hacketts selected during the build. “Originally, the plans had a catwalk that opened to upstairs. We decided to close it off and added 16-foot vaulted ceilings. My oldest son is a musician, and he has just left for college. While he was here, we wanted him to

be able to practice and have some insulation from the sound,” Hackett says with a smile. “It really did help with the noise.” A stacked-stone fireplace, built-ins and more windows looking out at the surrounding forest makes this room perfect for relaxing or catching up with family after a long day. “This is my favorite part of this home,” Hackett says as she points to the kitchen. A center island with a pearl-white marble top gleams in the natural light that pours in through large windows over the breakfast nook. The marble continues around the sink and counters, and on the backsplash. The clean look carries throughout the space with white cabinets that start just above the counters and finish at the ceiling. Framing the kitchen are two large cedar beams that mirror some of the details outside and add just the right amount contrast to the crisp lines of the marble counters and stainless-steel appliances. “I stained the beams so that they would look like reclaimed wood. I really love the way the beams fit into the overall design of the kitchen,” she explains.


“When we picked the appliances for the space, we did some research. I really don’t like to match brands when it comes to kitchen appliances. I know that Whirlpool makes a great dishwasher and Samsung makes a great range,” Hackett points out when asked about her choices for appliances. “We really just wanted to make sure that the quality of the build was there. We know that these brands have worked for us over the years. I really wanted to create a look that was timeless and less trendy.” What was once a powder room on the original blueprints is now converted into a pantry next to the fridge, accessible through a French door. Inside, the Hacketts store dry

goods and other kitchen necessities, while the exterior wall that was once a door serves as a homework station. This is another change to the original plans of the home, making the best use of the space in the kitchen. On the first floor, just off the great room, is the master bedroom and en suite bath. Flanking the king-sized bed is a wall of windows looking out on the back wooded lot, and the soft natural tones of the walls and décor create the seamless feel of a peaceful mountain retreat. The master bath continues the warm and relaxing tone with a corner tub beneath a window, offering owners a stress melting spot to finish the day. “The floor is a feature I really love in this master bath. It has a polished- hardwood look, but it is tile,” Hackett points out as she moves through the space. We also continued the white marble in the master bath. However,

what I love most is the lighting. I always blow our budget on lighting.” Rather than the harsh fluorescents normally found in baths, Hackett has chosen fixtures with shades and crystal accents. Much of the lighting in the home has been handpicked by Hackett to fit the overall look she desired. A walk-in closet has ample room for the man and woman of the house to store hats, shoes, shirts and more. To the right of the front door is a stately office with tall ceilings and a side porch attached that Hackett says she uses to bring in the day with her husband and something warm to drink. Upstairs, her design prowess continues in three additional bedrooms and a bonus room that was the central gathering spot for her teenaged son, Jake, who is now off at college and skateboarder, Leo, who hasn’t left the nest. Still thinking ahead, Hackett has left a room plumbed for an upstairs laundry, or a third bath. “We wanted to make sure our boys had plenty of space, but we still wanted to feel connected. So, most people are surprised to find that Leo, my younger son, has a room that is the size of most master bedrooms,” she says. “We moved the wall out several feet to allow him room to enjoy his video games, read or just relax. And as for Jake, we used most of his space for his studio. Just off his


room, we put in flooring that was good for acoustics and made sure he had the space to set up his instruments. They each have their own baths and walk-in closets, and Jake even has a separate entrance to his studio in the rear of the house.” A three-car garage, three-unit HVAC system and tankless water heater are other elements Hackett added to the home to make it family functional. “We can all four take a shower in the morning and never run out of hot waterbecause of our tankless water heater. That’s really important for me because I’m usually the last one in,” she laughs. Hackett has always loved building and designing homes. And as she recalls scribbling on blueprints as a child, it becomes clear that she has a passion for making things beautiful.

“We’ve built several houses and sold them to other families. We’ve actually built a few here in the Fairways. The last few homes we’ve built, we’ve sold to people who are now our neighbors and friends. They always tell us how much they are enjoying the homes we design, and that always makes us want to do this again, and again,” Hackett says.

So, if watching the sun set through the trees from your back deck or being minutes from an afternoon tee time is your idea of home, this abode is hard to beat. For additional information about the property or to schedule a showing, please contact Hardy Realty at 706-291-4321.

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SCREEN PASS Filmmakers are flocking to this corner of the state in hopes of securing a showing at one of the industry’s hottest film festivals.

TEXT Emory Chaffin PHOTOGRAPHY Cameron Flaisch, Derek Bell and Courtesy of RIFF

SUMMER IS WINDING down and the relentless heat is fading farther from mind. The leaves are beginning to turn and a chill is working its way into the air. Thoughts are turning to pumpkin pies and hot chocolate, and for the people of Northwest Georgia, film reels as well. Nestled deep among the Seven Hills, Rome also holds down a spot in film history that not everyone may be aware of. The Desoto Theater on Broad Street was built in 1927 as the first cinema in the Southeast capable of showing “talkies”, or movies with 40

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sound. A lot may have changed in the 90 years since its construction, but once a year the Desoto still draws crowds from not only the Southeast, but from all across the world. Our home has become the annual site for the Rome International Film Festival (RIFF). Named as one of MovieMaker Magazine’s "top 20 movie festivals worth the submission fee," RIFF brings a selection of local and international film-makers, producers, industry insiders and film fanatics from all over to share in the one-of-a-kind silver screen experience. Founded in 2003, the festival has managed to thrive among the vibrant community of artists in Rome and across Northwest Georgia, growing larger each year. Drawing anywhere from 1000 to

1500 people over years, this installment of the festival is growing once again and expecting even higher turnouts than ever before. Cameron McAllister, the executive director of the 2017 festival, is hoping to double those numbers. “My goal for this year is to top 3000,” McAllister muses. With over 600 submissions to this year’s event and roughly 60 films making the final selection, the City Auditorium will be joining the

Desoto as a premiere feature venue in 2017. Seth Ingram, the 2017 creative director for the festival, is also excited to see an increase in the positive economic impact the festival has for the community. “We’ve added a venue this year that gives us more opportunities for screenings,” says Ingram, “Last year, we estimated around an $80-90,000 economic impact, and this year I think it will be substantially more.” Over the course of four days in November, the festival will show selected films out of the 600 plus that have been submitted, as well as hosting panels and workshops around the films. “We don’t want to do the same panels that you’ll see at any festival around Georgia. We want to give our audience the kind of practical tips and education, and great experiences with really skilled, unique filmmakers and professionals,” says McAllister. With the explosion of talent and material coming out of Rome, as well as the stampede of industry professionals from around the world, it comes as no surprise that Georgia is quickly becoming the “Hollywood of the South”. It’s the hospitality of Romans and the surrounding communities however, that keeps folks coming back for the festival. “We want to show off Rome as a viable location, and we want to showcase

these beautiful resources we have architecturally, geographically and the community who will bend over backwards to facilitate making a movie here,” McAllister continues. A big part of organizing for RIFF each year is finding accommodations for dozens of international visitors and film professionals for the four day event. Hotels fill well in advance, and many are inconvenient for the visiting filmmakers. With the event centered around Downtown Rome, the RIFF International Filmmaker Housing Program finds willing host families between the rivers - usually within walking distance for the visiting artists. A huge aspect of the event is showcasing Rome to the industry and all the viewers, but almost equally so, the festival experience is geared towards showcasing diverse cultures, customs v3 magazine


“We want to show off Rome as a viable location, and we want to showcase these beautiful resources we have architecturally, geographically and the community who will bend over backwards to facilitate making a movie here.” and style to Romans as well. “It’s not every town that has a film festival, especially an international festival like this. It’s a real opportunity for Romans to rub elbows with industry professionals and get exposed to films you can’t get exposed to without searching them out”, says Ingram. Anchored around the DeSoto and the City Auditorium, the vibrant array of shops and restaurants along Broad St. and in the downtown area will surely see a cash injection as well - and one never knows who will be sitting next to you eating lunch during the festival. The booming film industry has planted roots in Georgia, and events like RIFF make it abundantly clear why. The raw potential of the places and people that the festival showcases, the hospitality, and the sense of camaraderie that the community provides are the cornerstones of the experience that have become widely revered among industry professionals who visit. It’s a sense of brotherhood that develops between those taking a part in the festival according 42

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to Ingram, “It’s been a great experience; it’s opened up a world of new connections for me in the film industry. I think that’s the real beauty of it, form a filmmaker’s prospective.” Whether you are a local Roman with some time to kill, a visiting artist or a film fanatic on the hunt for the next big thing the RIFF experience will have something unique in store. This year the festival is being held November 9-12. With each passing year the festival has garnered more respect and enthusiasm from professionals and fans alike, and is well on its

way to becoming the next premier film festival. Being mentioned in the same sentence as Cannes and Sundance is a sure sign that the festival has planted roots and movie buffs are taking notice. Hands down, the experience is a must for anyone who enjoys cinema, so mark your calendars and get ready for RIFF to reel you in for another year of cinematic intrigue and excitement in the heart of Rome.

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