s u m m er 2 0 12



a rts · entertainmen t · Des t i n atiOn s · peOple


Still the #1 place to celebrate a birthday
A birthday. It’s the day we celebrate our entire lives. Northside would be proud to be part of your baby’s special day. No one is more prepared or has more experience. We’ll make the big day a celebration from day one. Visit us online at www.northside.com.

Dear Readers, Actually, ‘making waves’ just about themes this summer issue of enjoy! Cherokee both metaphorically and literally. Take for instance the ‘ten in ten’ people recently named as the (under 40) chamber of commerce business and professional ‘rising stars.’ In their chosen careers they have already caught the eye of peers and employers alike and now so named as the award’s first draft choices. You’ll read about each recipient within our pages that follow. In so doing, perhaps you’ll be inspired to submit the name of a young professional or business person next year who is ‘making waves’ in our community. Someone we need to know about. We hope you’ll also take pleasure in reading about the Thompson children, now grown, who returned home to live in Cherokee...how the influence of their thoughtful parents inspired and encouraged them in their paths toward success and eventually back home. How, after work and on weekends, they make the waves of which all would-be sailors have long dreamed. With the snap of a sail and a push of the rudder, they cause the quiet waves to ripple across the water of Allatoona in practice for competitive events or just for fun. Isn’t it extraordinary to find so many events happening this summer in and around home? You just don’t have to drive very far to find art and entertainment, water fun or just family gatherings around the backyard barbecue or swimming pool. We hope your will find interesting things in enjoy! Cherokee to read that will motivate or inspire you to do or attend this summer. There is a lot going on. And, if you happen to see one of our photographers snapping away at happening around Cherokee, we hope you’ll say hello. Or, at least just wave. The Editors You are also invited to visit our website at www.enjoycherokee.com. Click to Enjoy!



On the Cover:

Dixie Regatta; photo courtesy of Jeffrey Martinroe.



Welcome Stay and Play! It’s Summer! eNJoY the Lake Cherokee County - The Top Ten in Ten For the Love of Art - The Ball Ground Art Gallery Star Student Tyler Litrel Pooling Your resources for Backyard Fun! A Quiet Place of homage - The Georgia National Cemetery Jump In To Summer Practice Makes Perfect Trail ride: Blankets Creek Mountain Bike Trail System Coming home - The Thompson Family events Calendar


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enjoy! cherokee TM magazine is published in partnership by WLJA Radio and Advertising Dynamics, Inc.
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enjoy! cherokee magazine reserves the right to edit all materials for clarity and space availability, and to determine the suitability of all materials submitted for publication. No reproduction of printed materials is permitted without the consent of the Publisher. enjoy! cherokee magazine is published in partnership with WLJA Radio and Advertising Dynamics, Inc., © Copyright 2012 by Advertising Dynamics, Inc. All rights reserved.


By rounding up your power bill, you can help contribute to local charities and make a difference in people’s lives.

See how it works! A monthly bill of $65.01 would be automatically rounded up to $66.00, with the additional 99 cents going to the Operation Round Up fund.

All funds are used for charitable and educational projects within our communities.

Start making a difference today!
www.cobbemc.com/roundup or call 770-429-2100.
No political organizations or individuals can receive donations from the Cobb EMC Community Foundation. Funds may not be used to pay electric or gas utility bills. All funds are administered by the independent Cobb EMC Community Foundation Board of Directors.


Jim Gibbs’ longtime dream was to open a world-class public garden. Gibbs’ dream became a reality earlier this year when Gibbs Gardens opened in Ball Ground in north Cherokee. Gibbs is the retired founder and president of Gibbs Landscape Company, one of the metro area’s top landscape companies. The property encompasses more than 290 acres, with the house and gardens occupying 220 acres, making Gibbs Gardens one of the largest residential estate gardens in the country. A stream flows the middle of the property, and literally hundreds of springs intersect with it. There are also 19 waterfalls and 24 ponds. Spring’s delightful daffodils and cherry blossoms have given way to acres of roses and rhododendrons. More than 150 varieties of rhododendron are in bloom in the early summer in all shades of pink, amethyst, ruby and lavender. Rose blossoms in shades of pink, yellow, and white are bordered by water gardens, waterlillies, and a replica of Monet’s Japanese bridge at Giverny in France. Azaleas and hydrangeas make the gardens pop with color from spring until fall, along with daylilies and crape myrtles, perennial Southern favorites. The 100 acres of valley gardens are designed for comfortable walking and are wheelchair accessible. The paths are wide, and there are many shady spots, even in the warmest weather to enjoy just sitting on a bench and drinking in the beauty of the landscape. The gardens’ staff estimates that visitors will need three to four hours to

...and play!

With the price of gas continuing to climb, many Americans are foregoing long trips, opting instead to seek out those destinations closer to home that they’ve been meaning to visit and just haven’t had the time—until now. Within a fifty-mile radius of home, Cherokee County families have a myriad of day or weekend trips awaiting them.
see all of the gardens or one to two hours to either the valley gardens or the manor house gardens on seven flowering terraces. The gardens change every two weeks as new flowers come into bloom. Two flower bridges lead to the Welcome Center. There, visitors will enjoy The Seasons gift shop and the Arbor Café for lunch or a cool treat on a summer afternoon. If you are looking for outdoor fun close to home that will thrill the young members of the family, look no further than Cagle’s Family Farm, just a “short country drive” away in Hickory Flat where five generations of the Cagle family have been farming. Here, the family can take part in hayrides, picnics, meeting “friendly” farm animals, dairy cow milking demonstrations, and watching the herding dogs at work. It is a farm, remember, so dress comfy, the Cagle family recommends. There is also a covered pavilion for all types of outdoor events. Cagle’s is an Ag-Venture for all ages! While the kids will enjoy their outing to Cagle’s, the adults in the family will want to drive a little farther north into Gilmer County to spend a relaxing day at Ellijay’s Cartecay Vineyards. Did you know that the Southern Appalachians of north Georgia are ideal for growing grapes? It’s the combination of soil and climate that produces grapes suitable for making fine wines. The Cartecay Vineyards were planted in 2008 with two varieties, Vidal Blanc and Merlot, and since 2008, four additional varieties have been planted. Located on

an Appalachian farmstead whose history goes back more than 100 years, the vineyard’s tasting barn, a circa 1890s barn, is one of the newest tasting rooms in Georgia with plenty of space to host special events. The Tasting Barn features a tasting bar, a sitting area around a wood fire stove, a covered porch, a deck and an events room, which was originally a hay loft, that can seat up to 45 people. To provide a full range of wines for guests to enjoy, Cartecay Vineyards has partnered with two other premier north Georgia vineyards to serve and sell their wines as well. Ellijay and Gilmer County are the gateway to the north Georgia mountains, which means these major vacation destinations are close enough for Cherokee families to visit on a day trip or a weekend getaway. In Blue Ridge, enjoy a spectacular view from the porch of your mountain cabin, hike to nearby waterfalls or go horseback riding on trails in the Chattahoochee National Forest. Or, perhaps you want a more excitement like the thrill of whitewater rafting or perhaps a ride on the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway. Fishing in clear mountain streams is a relaxing way to spend a warm summer afternoon, or perhaps your taste runs more to browsing and shopping in shops and galleries for local arts and crafts in charming mountain towns like Ellijay, Blue Ridge, McCaysville and Young Harris. Apple orchards and apple houses are scattered across Gilmer County, Georgia’s apple capital, where you can stop for apple cider doughnuts, fresh baked apple bread, or tasty jams and jellies. There are also great opportunities here for kayaking or tubing. At Carter’s Lake, you’ll find a beautiful and relatively undeveloped mountain lake setting. Mountain bike trails criss-cross as do hiking trails that include the Benton MacKaye and Appalachian Trails. Spend a day on beautiful Lake Chatuge boating, swimming or picnicking or a weekend at the rustic and charming yet elegant Brasstown Valley Resort & Spa. Experience Georgia’s Wine Highway which wends its way through the mountains or play a round of golf on some breathtaking mountain courses.

Booth Western Art Museum

Maybe your vacation compass points south from Canton and Woodstock. In Cartersville, families will enjoy two excellent museums, the Booth Western Art Museum and Tellus Science Museum. The Booth Museum has the largest exhibition space in the country for Western American art. Galleries include contemporary Western art, historic Western art, Civil War art, Presidential portraits and letters, Western movie posters and Western illustrations. In the Sagebrush Ranch Gallery, children can learn about Western art and history in an interactive environment. The museum also contains space for special and traveling exhibitions. From May 15 through September, visitors can view the works of Harry Teague in “Saddle Up: The Western World of Harry Teague,” and from June 14 through October 7, “The Indian Gallery of Henry Inman” exhibition, organized by Atlanta’s High Museum of Art, will display more than a dozen portraits of Southeastern Indian leaders from the early 1800s, including the Cherokees, Creeks and Seminoles. A number of important artifacts are also on view. The museum shop has a collection of books on art and the West, as well as prints and other items that feature Western American art images. The popular Café is a good place to stop for a light but tasty lunch. The Tellus Museum brings together science and fun. Tellus features four main galleries: the Weinman Mineral Gallery, the Fossil Gallery, Science in Motion and the Collins Family My Big Backyard. There is also a 120-seat digital planetarium and an observatory with a stateof-the-art 20-inch telescope. Children—and adults—will delight in seeing the 80-foot long Apatosaurus and a replica of Orville and Wilbur Wright’s first aircraft. Gems and minerals from deep in the earth’s surface displayed in the Mineral Gallery are guaranteed to catch the eye, while interactive exhibits demonstrate how the earth moves and changes. Whatever your daytime activities, you may want to end your day at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Located at the Cobb Galleria Parkway, the center is a premier venue for Broadway shows, ballet, concerts, educational shows, family performances and opera. The John A. Williams Theatre, the centerpiece of the facility, has been designed as a multi-purpose entertainment venue to accommodate shows ranging from opera and Broadway to comedy to pop music. The theatre has a seating capacity of more than 2700, with 14 private boxes. So, whatever you enjoy, chances are, it’s not far from home this summer!


the lake

(continued on page 20)

it’s summer!

Lake Allatoona is a busy place during the summer months, and there is no reason to believe that the summer of 2012 will be any different. “We have been set on go for about two months,” says Blue Evans, sales manager at Marietta Marine on Bells Ferry Road. “It has been very eventful so far. Sales are up and seem to be holding on.” Over at Little River Marina, manager Ira Smith echoes Evans’ thoughts: “We had a good year last year—a great year—but we’re expecting this year to be even better,” he says. Each year, approximately 6.5 million people visit Lake Allatoona. Linda Hartsfield, chief ranger of recreation for the United States Army Corps of Engineers, which manages the lake, is expecting that again. “I don’t foresee it being any different,” she says. “With gas and the economy the way that they are, people are staying close to home for vacation, and we have a huge playground here.” There is certainly a lot of lake to enjoy. When it is full, Lake Allatoona covers more than 12,000 acres and has 270 miles of shoreline. There are 14 Corps of Engineers day use parks for public use located around the lake, which spreads across Cherokee, Cobb and Bartow counties. The parks offer activities such as ball fields, fishing jetties, picnic tables, swimming beaches, horseshoe pits, volleyball areas and picnic shelters. The day use areas in Cherokee County include Fields Landing in Canton, Galts Ferry in southwest Cherokee, Sweetwater in Canton and Victoria in Woodstock. Hartsfield recommends that people who want to enjoy the day use parks arrive together in one car if they are in a group so that the lots do not get congested. She also suggests getting to the parks early. “On holidays, at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning, there are people waiting for the park to open,” she explains, adding that on normal days, it is good to get to the park at 8:00 a.m. Once the parking lots of the day use areas are filled, people are then turned away. “Week days on the lake are definitely more relaxed,” Smith agrees. “Week days are especially good opportunities for novice boaters; on week days, Allatoona is a very user-friendly lake, and overall, we have less traffic than

They’re capable, they’re energetic and they’re devoted to making Cherokee County the best possible place to live. They are the next generation of community leaders, and because they will be impacting your future, the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with enjoy! Cherokee Magazine, is spotlighting 10 up and coming young professionals that you will want to keep an eye on over the next 10 years.


Attorney, Law Firm of Barry Bishop, PC

Chris Bishop

Principal, Wetland & Ecological Consultants

Neil Blackman

President, Golden Home Services

Greta Foll

Manager-Commercial Marketing, Cobb EMC

Mark Goddard

Community Relations Coordinator Northside Hospital-Cherokee

Alison Higgins

Managing Editor, Cherokee-Ledger-News

Erika Neldner

Founding Partner, Everlast Synthetic Products, LLC

Jason Nelms

Director, Economic Development Services, City of Woodstock

Billy Peppers

Partner, Dyer & Rusbridge, PC

Jeff Rusbridge

CFO, Southeast Restoration Group

Jeremy Swafford

“The Top 10 in 10 initiative was created as a means of identifying, showcasing, and cultivating exceptional Cherokee County young professionals,” says Pam Carnes, chamber president and CEO. “The chamber anticipates this year’s honorees to make significant contributions to their professions as well as the community.” Chris Bishop could not resist coming back to the community where he grew up. When he was fresh out of law school, he was initially attracted by the lure of becoming a “big city lawyer.” “I considered working at a big firm in Atlanta,” he says, “but it just made sense to come back and work here.” Bishop notes how fast Cherokee County is growing and how that growth is affecting the local court system. “Cherokee has grown so fast,” he says, “that I foresee another superior and state court judge for the county in the next 10 years.” If an extra state court judge seat is added, Bishop feels like it would be a good opportunity to increase the impact he can have

in his community. “I’m thinking about throwing my name in the hat for that,” he admits. Bishop said he is eyeing the state court seat because it affords a judge the opportunity to have a positive impact in people’s lives, adding that “the state court judge can intervene after someone has made a small mistake in hopes that they will not make a bigger mistake later. “Bishop, 35, lives in the Sixes community. He has a finance degree from the University of Georgia and a law degree from John Marshall Law School. Being recognized as one of his community’s rising leaders makes Neil Blackman of Woodstock’s Wetland and Ecological Consultants reflect a little on his life and background. “I was surprised when I heard about the recognition,” he says. “But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. I have been blessed to be surrounded my whole life by great leaders.” Blackman says that being surrounded by great
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(Top Ten continued from page 9)

leaders has shown him the way to lead in his community: “It seems natural to lead by example and try to get the best out of the people around you. This recognition challenges me to find the things that I do best and make sure I do them more often.” Through his work coaching youth sports and serving on the Teen Leadership Cherokee steering committee, Blackman has had many opportunities to work with young people. “ I want my community involvement to continue to be youth focused,” he says. Blackman also would like to take his talents to the board of the county’s office of economic development. He thinks the tools he has honed in his professional career make him a good candidate. “It is a goal of mine to be on that board,” he says. Blackman, 36, lives in Holly Springs with his wife, Rachel, and children Jack and Jesse. He earned a degree from the University of Georgia in forest resources. Greta Foll said she sometimes likes to “slide under the radar” when working in the community. However, staying under the radar may not be easy, especially now that she has been recognized as an emerging county leader. Since moving to Canton a few years ago, she has started Golden Home Services, a home and personal care company. “I was in the corporate world and wanted to do something where I could lay my head on my pillow at night and feel better about it,” she says. Taking a more active leadership role in the county is

already on her mind. She said being from a small town in Indiana taught her to have deep roots wherever she lived.”I definitely want to strengthen my community roots through my career or church or even through running for political office,” she explains. “I am a type A personality. I don’t like to stop.” Foll, who lived in Kennesaw before making Cherokee her home, said this community is a good place in which to be a leader. “We moved to Canton from Kennesaw and we love that it is a little more laid back.” Foll lives in Canton with her husband, Curt. She is a graduate of Indiana University. Mark Goddard does not feel any pressure as a result of being named one of Cherokee County’s rising leaders but acknowledges there is some responsibility that comes with the recognition. “There is a responsibility to help lead the community in the right direction,” he concedes. “It is humbling and an honor to be part of this group.” Goddard is a native of Cherokee County and hopes to see future generations prosper. “It is the place I have chosen to raise my children, so I want it to continue to prosper,” he says. Goddard, manager of commercial marketing for Cobb EMC, is a past chairman of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors, promoting existing businesses and recruiting new businesses to the county. He believes that Cherokee County offers an ideal environment for business. “We have a great quality of life,” he adds. “We have

exceptional schools. We have a variety of recreational opportunities for adults and youth. We have a lot of people leaving the county for work, but, in the future, people are going to want to be employed closer to home.” Goddard lives in Canton with his wife, Jennifer, and children Billy and Caroline. He holds a marketing and professional sales degree from Kennesaw State University. Cherokee County has made an investment in Alison Higgins and she hopes she is paying it back with interest. “For my entire life, I have proudly called Cherokee County my home,” she says. “I was educated here from elementary school through college, and I have been blessed to be able to work here, attend church here and raise my family here,” she says with pride. “This award helps prove that the investment this community has made in me is being returned to them.” Having that kind of familiarity with her community serves her well in her volunteer duties, as well as her professional duties. Higgins works at Northside Hospital-Cherokee as community relations coordinator.”I feel that because of my ties to the community I have been able to better serve my employer as well as the civic organizations in which I am proud to serve,” she adds. Higgins plans to continue her professional growth through career advancement and continued education over the next 10 years. She also plans to stay involved in the civic life, with a focus on serving children. Higgins lives in Hickory Flat with her husband, Chris, and son Jackson. She received an associate’s degree from Reinhardt College and a bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia. One of the county’s future leaders, Erika Neldner, will be keeping her eye on Cherokee’s decision makers. As editor of the Cherokee Ledger-News, Neldner is helping the community keep up with what is happening locally.”To me, it is about doing good things, doing the right thing and holding the spenders of taxpayer dollars accountable,” she notes. While we can get all the news we need through digital media, one of Neldner’s priorities over the next few years is to “reach out to the children in our community to ensure that print journalism truly means something to them.” She and her staff give tours to children to show them how the newspaper is put together. “I would also like to keep the newspaper involved in the community and not just reporting on the community,” she adds. She grew up visiting grandparents in the Macedonia community and spent her summers here, so moving to Canton was a perfect fit.”Living and working in the county gives me even more reason to be involved, to donate my free time when I have it and to ensure that our county evolves in a way in which we are proud to leave it for our children and their children,” she explains. Neldner lives in Canton with her husband, Michael, and son Jack. She graduated from Kennesaw State University with a degree in communications.

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(Top Ten continued from page 11)

It should be easy to watch Jason Nelms over the next several years. He can be found on the first and third Tuesday each month at the county commission podium, representing Post 4. Nelms says that he is humbled by the recognition but knows that there is a responsibility now to live up to it: “I’m fortunate to be in a position of leadership. I have an opportunity to serve people and do good things. I am ready to bear that responsibility and do all I can to make this county the best that it can be. “In 10 years, Nelms hopes to continue to be in a leadership position in the private sector as well. He started his company, Everlast Synthetic Products, a leading manufacturer of vinyl sheet piling for sea walls, retaining walls and lake walls, in 2005. “I’m a lucky man,” he said. “I have a great business that I started in the county. Ten years from now, I hope I am still in the position of being a business owner and in a position to serve people.”Nelms, 39, lives in Woodstock with his wife, Christa, and sons Tate and Cooper. He studied wildlife and forestry at Abraham Baldwin College prior to obtaining an undergraduate degree as well as an MBA from Kennesaw State University.

Billy Peppers, director of economic services for the city of Woodstock and president of the Georgia Downtown Association, a non-profit group that promotes economic redevelopment of Georgia’s downtowns, appreciates being recognized as one of the people to keep an eye on in Cherokee County. However, he prefers to see the end result of his efforts receive the majority of the spotlight.”In economic development, we stay in the background as much as possible,” he explains. “We want the projects to get the spotlight. The number one thing for us is to make the community look good.” Peppers said the Woodstock community has some prime economic development opportunities in the near future, especially with a new outlet shopping mall expected to be open in the next two years at the Rope Mill interchange. “We can do even better at keeping money locally,” he says. “The hospitality and tourism industry can increase with the outlet shops, trails and the aquatic center. We have a good opportunity to have a lot of visitors.”Peppers feels his community can grow even more and has a vision of what can be done to improve Woodstock, such as bringing in more hotels and adding some conference space in the south end of the county. Peppers, 30, lives in Canton with his wife, Julie, and son Turner. He graduated from the University of Georgia with a degree in political science.

Jeff Rusbridge may have a different job title soon. An attorney in Canton, Rusbridge has set his sights on elected office, qualifying for the Cherokee County State Court seat being vacated by retiring Judge C.J. Gober. As of late April, Rusbridge had qualified and was unopposed. “I have always wanted to be a judge in this county,” he admits. “I have the experience necessary to do the job. I have handled all types of cases that are heard in state court. With that experience, I think I could do a good job.” Rusbridge said Cherokee’s legal system stands out, and he wants a chance to be one of its leaders. “We’ve got a good professional court system with a great number of very professional attorneys in town,” he acknowledges. He also praises the good job done by the county’s judges. “I’d like to do what I can to keep up that tradition,” he adds. Service in the community is something Rusbridge learned from his father, a Lion’s Club member. “I grew up being taught to serve the community,” he says. “I’ve always felt like it was my obligation.” Rusbridge also plans on having a leadership role outside of the courthouse in the next few years.”I can’t see myself not heavily involved in community and civic organizations,” he said. Rusbridge lives in Canton with his wife, Ashley, and sons Luke and Will. He earned a political science degree from Furman University and a law degree from the University of Georgia.
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(Top Ten continued from page 13)

Jeremy Swafford acknowledges that he, too, is grateful to be recognized as one Cherokee County’s rising leaders. “I wouldn’t have thought of myself in that category,” he says. Swafford, chief financial officer for Southeast Restoration Group, says the recognition of being a leader in his adopted hometown is an honor. He has lived in the county for approximately 10 years. “I absolutely love Cherokee County,” he says. “There is a vast array of things to do and see. The geography is breathtaking. You go to any corner of the county and see a mountain or a lake. That is hard to find in many other counties.” Swafford sees his professional leadership role increasing as Southeast Restoration Group, a general contracting company that provides structural repairs and emergency services in Cherokee County and north Georgia, grows. In the community, Swafford hopes to work on family-focused organizations and endeavors. “I consider myself a servant leader,” he explains. Swafford, 31, lives in the Buffington community with his wife, Carrie and daughters Caroline, Catherine and Callianne. He received his undergraduate degree from Berry College and MBA from Kennesaw State University. Whether they are Cherokee County natives or whether they have adopted the county as home, and while they come from diverse fields such as business and economic development, law and community service, they all have one common priority: making the county strong and viable economically without sacrificing quality of life.



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As the term “starving artist” suggests, the life of an artist is difficult at the best of times. In today’s rough economy, many artists – from amateurs to seasoned professionals— are finding it difficult to display their work to the public, much less make a living from it. Enter the Ball Ground Art Gallery, which offers display space and sales assistance to artists from every medium and level of achievement. Opened by Kim Komenda in 2010, the gallery rents wall and floor space to artists from around North Georgia and as far away as Florida.

For the love oF

the ball ground art gallery

Two of the gallery’s most popular artists are Henry Patton, a painter known for his “Blue Horses”, and Leslie Ballew, who is a talented photographer, despite being only fourteen years old. You’ll find a variety of wall art, including photography, paintings, and sketches, as well as a wide assortment of hand-made jewelry, much of it made using rock from the shops of the late Oscar Robertson, Ball Ground’s so-called “Rock Man”. While framed work and jewelry dominate, many other offerings are available, such as pottery, collectable stones, and wind chimes, and more functional items like clothing, wall hooks, and lotion. A lifelong artist, Kim ran her own photography business in high school, taking photographs for weddings and proms. She went on to study photography at the University of Georgia. Kim and her husband, Casey, fell in love with Ball Ground several years ago, when they attended the heritage festival. Kim was looking for a new photography studio at the time, and one vacant building, a former bakery, caught her eye. It was too big for a studio, but just right for a gallery. Now Kim, Casey, and their son Tyler live above the gallery and use the former bakery’s kitchen as their own. While Kim no longer takes pictures professionally, her work is still on display in the gallery and she is more than happy to recommend other photography services. The gallery really is a family affair; Tyler makes some of the jewelry that is available for purchase and the family dog, a pug named Penelope, has become the shop’s official mascot, with some customers stopping by just to see her. In addition to the artwork for sale, the Ball Ground Art Gallery offers a revolving schedule of beginner art classes for all ages. Regular classes include painting, photography, jewelry making, and pottery. Small class sizes and a rotating faculty of teachers mean that lessons are tailored to your needs and it’s easy to find a teacher with a style that suits you. Kim herself teaches classes in pottery and jewelry making. The Ball Ground Art Gallery is open seven days a week: Monday through Wednesday, 10 am to 6 pm, Thursday through Saturday, 10 am to 8 pm, and Sunday, 12 pm to 6 pm. You can find it on facebook and at http://theballgroundartgallery.com/, where you can see class schedules, rental information, and many pictures of the artwork. Whether you come to take classes or browse the selection of oneof-a-kind artworks from talented local artists, visiting the Ball Ground Art Gallery is a great way to support your local art community.

One question.
That is how close Etowah High School Senior Tyler Litrel came to perfection. One more correct answer and Tyler would have completely aced the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT). Tyler scored a 2,390 out of a possible 2,400 on the test. The SAT combines results from three different 800-point sections. These sections measure a student’s aptitude in mathematics, critical reading and writing. His score is the highest in Cherokee County history. Tyler said he was ‘reasonably confident’ after he finished the test, but admitted that he was somewhat shocked when he learned just how well he performed. “I was pretty surprised,” he smiled. “I didn’t think I did quite that well - there was some luck involved.” Not only was Tyler named Cherokee County’s Student Teacher Achievement Recognition winner, but the 18-year old senior was also named Cherokee County’s top STAR student. To earn a STAR nomination, high school seniors must have the highest score on the SAT through November of their senior year. The student must also be in the top 10 percent, or one of the top 10 students in their class, based on gradepoint average. Tyler named Etowah High School math teacher Veronica Lucking as his STAR teacher saying the Cherokee school system was extremely helpful in preparing him for the exam, providing necessary academic rigor. “I had some fantastic teachers along the way. Etowah certainly prepares you for college,” he said. Tyler is now looking forward to his next challenge, college. He will attend Georgia Institute of Technolgy in Atlanta where he will work toward a business degree with a concentration on finance, and looks forward to the college experience. Tyler is the son of Dr. and Mrs. Mike Litrel of Cherokee County.


ANd TheN There WAS

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(Enjoy the Lake continued from page 7)

Lake Lanier.” Novice boaters take note: Smith’s marina, Little River, has a popular boat rental program, with a frequent renter option. Ashley Berryman, leasing agent at Victoria Harbor in Woodstock, said the day use areas are a good place to have a family picnic without having to pack up the family and head out on a long trip. “It is five minutes away but it feels like you are an hour away from your house,” she says. “Some popular spots on the lake in Cherokee County include Illinois Creek, which can attract between 50 and 75 boats in one weekend, and Cruiser’s Cove, which can attract as many as 150 boats in a single weekend.” Evans points out that another nice spot in the lake area that not many people know about is the waterfall on Little River near Sixes Road. Berryman also notes that there are several big events held each year on the lake, such as the fireworks display on the Fourth of July. “People take their boats into the coves and hang out all day,” she says. “We’re becoming more event-driven at Little River,” Smith adds. “Traditionally, most people have gone to the Red Top Mountain Area for the scenery and the activities, but we’re beginning to see a lot more going on at our end of the lake.” A $4 facility use fee is charged at day use areas with beaches, and a $3 boat-launching fee is charged at day use areas with boat launching ramps. An annual pass can be purchased for $30 and can be used at Corps of Engineers properties nationwide. There are also a few public parks that can be accessed from the lake, including Cherokee Mills Park on the northeast end of the lake on Bells Ferry Road in Cherokee County. Shoreline fishing locations can be found all around Lake Allatoona without areas offering fishing

jetties. Along with the native fish found in the lake, fishermen can reel in various types of bass, bream, gar and catfish. “The fishing has been great from what I have been hearing,” Evans says. “In the spring and early summer, we’ve been above full pool, and that makes the fishing phenomenal,” Smith adds. Many groups of summer fun seekers, Evans indicates, enjoy taking a boat out on the lake to find a cove, drop anchor and hop in the water for a swim. The 12,000 acres of water give boaters a lot of room to take their craft out for a day on the Allatoona. There are boat launching ramps at 27 public recreation areas around the lake. There are eight privately operated marinas on the lake that provide fuel, storage, boat repairs, rentals, supplies and any other needs a boaters might have. After a full day of boating, swimming or fishing on the lake, the outing can be topped off with dinner on Allatoona with a view overlooking the lake. Spots such as the Sunset Grille on Victoria Landing Drive and Little River Grill and Sports Bar on Bells Ferry Road allow the fun on the lake to extend well into the evening. At Little River, plans are underway to revamp their rental cabins. “They’ll be ready next year,” he says. For those who want to extend their visit to more than a single afternoon this season, there are ample opportunities to camp out around the lake. Campgrounds can be reserved as many as 180 days in advance. Campgrounds in Cherokee County include Payne Campground off Kellogg Creek Road, Sweetwater Campground off Highway 20 and the Victoria Campground off Victoria Landing Drive. Reservations can be made at www.recreation.gov.

Edward Jones Financial Focus
Gen X’ers Must Juggle a Variety of Financial Issues
If you’re part of “Generation X” — the age cohort born between the mid-1960s and the early 1980s — you’re probably in one of the busiest phases of your life, as you’re well into your working years and, at the same time, busy raising a family. But just as you’re “multitasking” in your life, you’ll also need to address multiple financial goals. In seeking to accomplish your key objectives, you may be asking yourself a variety of questions, including the following: • Should I contribute as much as possible to my IRA and 401(k)? In a word, yes. Your earnings on a traditional Individual Retirement Account (IRA) and a 401(k) grow on a tax-deferred basis, so your money can accumulate faster than it would if placed in an investment on which you paid taxes every year. Plus, since you typically make 401(k) contributions with pretax dollars, the more you contribute, the lower your taxable income. And your traditional IRA contributions may be tax-deductible, depending on your income. If you meet income guidelines, you can contribute to a Roth IRA, which provides tax-free earnings, provided you meet certain conditions. • Should I put away money for my kids’ college education? It’s not easy to fund your retirement accounts plus save money for your children’s college education. Still, college is expensive, so if you feel strongly about helping to pay for the high costs of higher education, you may want to explore college funding vehicles, such as a 529 plan, which offers tax advantages. • Should I pay down my mortgage or invest those funds? Most of us dream of freeing ourselves from a mortgage someday. So, as your career advances and your income rises, you may wonder if you should make bigger mortgage payments. On one hand, there’s no denying the psychological benefits you’d receive from paying off your mortgage. However, you may want to consider putting any extra money into your investment portfolio to help as you work toward your retirement goals. Work with your financial advisor to determine what may be most appropriate for your portfolio. • Do I have enough insurance in place to protect my family? You may hear that you need seven or eight times your annual income in life insurance, but there’s really no “right” figure for everyone. You may want to consult with a financial advisor to determine how much life insurance is appropriate for your needs. • Am I familiar with my parents’ financial situation and estate considerations? Now is the time to communicate with your parents about a variety of issues related to their financial situation and estate plans. The more you know, the better positioned you’ll be to provide assistance and support if and when it’s needed. Just to name one example, you should inquire of your parents if they’ve designated a durable power of attorney to make financial decisions for them in case they’re ever incapacitated. By answering these questions, you can get a handle on all the financial issues you face at your stage of life. It may seem challenging, but taking the time now can help you better position yourself to reach your financial goals.

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When the family and friends get together in the backyard, nothing is more fun than a pool party. Whether your thing is to dive in to cool off or dive into entertaining poolside, the trick is not to stress out over the company or make a fuss over the fare. The idea is to have fun and store away the memories of such good times...‘had by all’...topped with delicious treats. With the great assortment of outdoor appliances, and sure-fire grills on the market, you can look and cook like a pro with little fuss or muss.


Cooking out does come with a warning, however. It may cause extreme envy within the barbeque crowd when they sample their first tidbit grilled on your new ovoid earthenware kamado cooker—known almost affectionately as the Big Green Egg. If you are fortunate enough to own one, you may be an ‘egghead,’ with membership to an elite and devoted group of grillers. Mostly men, they caress and pat ‘the egg’ in the same fashion as they do the drooling lab sitting anxiously for a handout. The patio itself is an expression of your own, whether you like it casual, formal, romantic or just fun loving. Depending on your budget, style and taste your blah backyard can transform not only the landscape, but your family’s lifestyle, too. Outdoor furniture has also made the scene with modern and colorful splash. Gone are the plain old wrought iron pieces of yesterday; the aluminum fold-ups that would fold-up with you in them. Gone are the out-of-date beiges, the hunter greens, and the orange stripes; gone are the ‘moldy’ one-season canvas covers. Today’s outdoor furniture looks good enough to go inside and you can barely tell the difference. A wide assortment of colorful, treated fabrics are available that are weather tolerant, requiring little care. Comfortable and cozy, outdoor porch and patio furniture has evolved, thankfully. (Who misses being “stuck” to the old webbers?) The pool itself can be a masterpiece. The artisans of stone and rock blend and create patterns that give natural tone to the terrain. Your favorite flowers decorate the boundaries by day and lighting enhances the mood for glistening night swims. And, with the warm climate we enjoy much of the year, the ‘pool open’ sign stays up. If the only pleasure you get from your backyard is when you’ve finished cutting the grass, maybe it’s time to re-think that unused space. New life in the great outdoors may be waiting right in your own backyard. Go ahead. Jump in!

A Quiet Place of Homage

Situated just at Canton’s western doorstep on 775 acres of magnificently landscaped grounds sits the beautiful Georgia National Cemetery. When visiting this place of honor, you are impressed with the surrounding rolling hillsides where trees seemingly stand in attention to salute the military veterans who rest there. It is graced by unparalleled views of Georgia mountains and valleys and the rambling Etowah River can be seen along with a glimpse of the smooth lake water of Allatoona. Except for the occasional jet passing high overhead, the only sounds here are the flutter of busy wings, the chatter of squirrels and a few unidentified sounds that belong within the natural habitat it has been for centuries. If you are lucky, a clear day may entice one of the nesting Eagles from Carter’s Lake to fly over; and, as if on cue, syncs with the gentle waves of Old Glory easily within its sights. Gloriously, the large flag flies high over this sacred spot sharing mutual experiences of service to country with those buried here. This is a peaceful scene and a perfect resting place for those who served their country when their country needed them the most. Not everyone resting here spent their military time in harm’s way, though many did. Colored ribbons and flashing medals left behind attest to the service they rendered to all Americans. In part, because many military families had no established “roots”—moving from post to post on call all around the world—our government saw it fitting to provided burial for our honored military for those who served in uniform and their loved ones. Only eight states do not



have a national cemetery—Wyoming, Rhode Island, North Dakota, Nevada, New Hampshire, Montana, Delaware and Connecticut. Virginia has fifteen and Illinois, ten. The National Cemetery at Canton is relatively new. Scott Hudgens, the late Atlanta World War II veteran, land developer and philanthropist, generously donated the property on which the cemetery rests. After much precise planning, the cemetery opened on April 24, 2006 and currently 2,000 people have been buried there for various service types and requests. The cemetery is one of the most recent of the 131 sites under the auspices of The Department of Veterans Affairs National Cemetery System, which includes 33 ‘Soldiers Lots and Monument Sites.’ The Canton project was number 123 in the system and is the second for Georgia. The first is the Marietta National Cemetery, established in 1866. It holds approximately 20,000 gravesites that include many men from both sides of Civil War battles. Virtually out of space and in the heart of the city, it no longer accepts burials except under certain rare circumstances for families with available space. Facts about the cemetery are noteworthy. The estimated time span for future burials in the Georgia National Cemetery is nearly fifty years. At maximum capacity, 330 acres of the site will be developed for burials; the remainder of the site is considered too steep to be used

for interments. In addition to an entrance area, an information center, administration and maintenance building, the grounds include public restrooms, flag plaza and shelters for committal services. The project includes a total of 33,000 gravesites, 3,000 in-ground sites for cremation and 3,000 columbaria niches for cremation urns. To make maximum use of space, a couple may be buried twodeep, with a lower casket and an upper casket. On a regular basis, graves are prepared so that no special pre-arrangements are needed, and ceremonies are limited to 30 minutes to facilitate numerous funerals in a given day. Graves within the cemetery attest to men and women who served in Vietnam, Desert Storm and in recent years, Afghanistan. But most will be from the period author Tom Brokaw described as ‘the greatest generation,’ encompassing the first great depression, and service in World War II. The people of Georgia – especially North Georgia – can be extremely proud of having this remarkable place on its map. If one ever needs to feel a special pride in a country and its people, a quick visit to the Georgia National Cemetery near Canton allows you to pay your tribute to those who served while enjoying the peaceful experience of this quite place of homage. You are welcome to drive throughout this truly beautiful cemetery. The gates are open sunrise to sunset any day of the year.


Having a YMCA in the community makes for stronger families and healthier lives.

Jump In

to summer

Indoor AND Outdoor Activities Abound At The YMCA(s)

Having a YMCA in the community makes for stronger families and healthier lives. Having two YMCAs in a community, an “indoor” and an “outdoor,” is even better and double the fun! In the summer, Y camps are the highlight of the season for many young people, attracting thousands of campers at both locations. The Cherokee Outdoor Family YMCA is located on the shores of Lake Allatoona and was the site of the first summer camp in 1992. This Woodstock location off Bells Ferry Road is situated on 225 acres along the lake. Often called “the hidden jewel of Cherokee County,” the outdoor Y is the outdoor camp of choice for many in the community, particularly for families in the Woodstock and south Cherokee areas. From the pool to the
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(Jump In continued from page 26) waterfront and from the activity field to the hiking trails, campers can expect a fun filled day. This outdoor venue offers campers ages 5-15 appropriate activities that entertain, as well as, build their leadership, teamwork skills, physical skills, stamina and overall physical condition. Camps should be chosen based on a child’s age at the start of the scheduled camp week: traditional day camps are available for ages 5-6 (Chipmunk Den); ages 7-8 (FoxDen); ages 9-10 (Bobcat Den); and ages 11-13 (Bear Den). Specialty camps are also available. Among the specialty camps are those that focus on leadership training, climbing, fishing, martial arts, crafts, horseback riding, outdoor adventures (camping), outdoor survival skills, mountain biking, swimming and water sports. Not all camps offer traditional fare. Hip Hop dance camp incorporates hip hop dance movements, and campers will work on a choreographed dance to perform for their parents at the end of the week. The new skate board camp teaches campers skills and a few new tricks. The camp is being taught by the Y’s own Greyson Beal, the 2011 Under 12 National Champ in Street Skating who was also voted “Best All Around Skater.” Does your child like paint ball but you hate the mess? If so, consider enrolling him or her in the laser tag camp. Campers will play laser tag on the Large Field, where they will be taught the fundamentals of teamwork, communication, accuracy and self-control. There is no mess, no paint from paint balls, and no running out of ammo—because it is all electronic! At the Y’s science camp, youngsters ages 5-10 will meet a pet tarantula, launch water rockets, identify local plants, insects, animals and reptiles as well mine for minerals and gemstones and dig for fossils. In the summer of 2012, the new gold rush camp will offer opportunities for young people to learn about gold and to try panning for it in local creeks and on the Y property. Also new is the junior cake boss camp for ages 7-10. Campers will spend time each day preparing different baked goods, and they will learn the art of decorating. At the conclusion of the camp, parents will enjoy a tasty treat at the junior cake boss show. For more information on all camps, including dates, fees, and transportation arrangements, call 770.345.9622. The “indoor” Y, the G. Cecil Pruett Community Center Family YMCA, is centrally located at the intersection of Waleska Street and Riverstone Parkway, overlooking Heritage Park in Canton. The building features an indoor pool, set in an open layout filled with natural light. Here, the Cherokee Y Camp – Canton for 5-10-yearolds, which began in 2005, gives campers an opportunity to swim in the state-of-the-art pool with fun water features. Campers will also experience the indoor basketball court, arts and crafts in the Reinhardt Room, play field games at Heritage Park and find out all about GaGa ball at the Y Courtyard.

At the indoor Y, like the outdoor Y, traditional camps with various activities are offered: ages 5-6 (Discovery Camp); ages 7-8 (Explorers Camp); and ages 9-10 (Pioneers Camp). Specialty camps here include swim camp, splash camp (no swim lessons—just fun in the pool), hip hop dance camp and the new laser tag camp. In addition to the summer camps, programs at this more traditional-style YMCA include youth sports, aquatics (swim lessons and summer swim team), teen leadership, wellness, group exercise classes and family events. In the second-floor fitness center, fitness center staff members are available to assist with training on the equipment and for help with the FitLinxx system, which tracks workouts. Each cardio machine has its own cable TV and headphone jack, while the weight training area includes stability balls, resistance bands and mats. There is a variety of adult group exercise classes from cycling to yoga as well as boot camp classes and gymnastics. This YMCA is more than a traditional gym; it’s a true community center with classes of all kinds for children, teens and adults. Participation in any Y programs at the Canton Y requires a YMCA membership. Program membership is a $35 annual fee, while facility members have full facility access and receive discounts on programs. To find out more about becoming a member, call 770-345-9622. Whatever your summer fitness needs, or your children’s, there is a YMCA facility in Cherokee with fun, safe activities near you! Serious swimmers and competition athletes will also enjoy the Woodstock Aquatic Center, which was built as a pre-Olympic training center prior to the 1996 Summer Olympic Games in Atlanta. Now owned by Chattahoochee Gold Swimming, the centerpiece of the complex is a competition pool with both 25-yard lanes and 50-meter lanes, as well as a lesson instruction pool. In 2004, the entire pool area was enclosed in a new building with a retractable enclosure over the 50-meter lanes. In April 2012, the center held a grand opening for its new, quarter-of-a-million dollar lesson pool. The entire facility is dedicated to swim lessons, swim teams (it is home to the nationally ranked Chattahoochee Gold swim team) and the fitness swimming needs of the community. The center is located at 1038 Arnold Mill Road, next to the Woodstock Downtown Park.

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The mantra “practice makes perfect” inspires many of the young swimmers who train at the Woodstock Aquatic Center, and three of these high performance athletes are on the early path to Olympic gold in the summer of 2012, having been invited to the trials for the U.S. Olympic swim team, which will be held in Omaha, Nebraska June 25-July 2. “It is unusual to have three swimmers from one area, and we feel very fortunate,” says Mark Schilling, who serves as head coach along with Pat Murphy, the owner of Chattahoochee Gold.


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Schilling’s three protégés (shown above) are Lauren Case, Hannah Martin and Zach Bunner. “Lauren is not even in high school yet,” Schilling explains. “She will be going into the eighth grade next year. She is, however, already a very talented swimmer and is a state record-holder.” At the trials in Omaha, Lauren will swim the 200-yard butterfly. Hannah Martin, a junior at Etowah High School, whom Schilling describes as a very good swimmer, will be participating in the 200-yard backstroke. Rounding out the group is Zach Bunner, who lives in Cobb County, where he is a junior at Lassiter High School, but trains at the Woodstock Aquatic Center, who will swim the 100-yard backstroke in the trials. “During the last Olympic training cycle, 2008, the swim trials were in Omaha, and they are returning there this year,” explains Schilling. “Actually, it is a portable pool that is being installed for the trials in the multi-purpose CenturyLink Center complex which seats about 40,000 spectators. Remember that this is not soccer or baseball. Swim meets are not, typically, highly attended, but the trials are sold out, so these swimmers will have a huge audience.” With about 100 swimmers involved, the top two in each event, in a total of 14 races/events in the trials, will go on to be a part of the U.S. team. “For the relay events, it is usually the top six, but for the other events, it is the top two,” Schilling adds. These competitive swimmers have been training at the center in Woodstock since they were six or seven years old, Schilling says. “They are very young, so we don’t expect that they will make the U.S. Olympic team this year,” he adds. However, they are taking a giant step—or stroke—forward in realizing that dream someday.

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Blankets Creek Mountain Bike Trail System

Whether you like to take it slow and easy and enjoy the scenery or whether you prefer to feel an exhilarating rush on a downhill slope, Blankets Creek Mountain Bike Trail System has a trail for you. The network of trails, one of the top mountain biking spots in the metro area, is located on 280 acres off Sixes Road. One of the trail system’s biggest draws is the number and variety of trails, from beginner to advanced riders. Mosquito Flats is just that—flat. It is a meandering single track trail that winds along the trail’s namesake, Blankets Creek, and through the woods. Riders cross some small, flat bridges and one gentle hill, but the trail is generally acknowledged to be a smooth and easy trail to ride. You may even see some bikes out here with training wheels! Now, there is also the recently cut Mosquito Flats Extension, which adds an additional .5 mile option to Mosquito Flats. While it is as flat as the original Mosquito Flats, it does have a few more bridges and there are some tighter turns and some rougher tread. Mosquito Bite, however, offers a little more challenge for the rider. There is a winding boardwalk, three elevated bridges, a switchback turn and some small, short hills. Riders will encounter a few areas of roots and rocks—a preview of the more demanding trails—so that they can get comfortable riding over these natural elements in the landscape. Dwelling Loop is the most popular and most ridden trail. It is a true contour-trail with rocks, roots and some elevation changes. This is a fast trail with a number of log crossings and tight tree gates that add some interest to the loop. Dwelling Loop is an excellent place for riders to develop their fitness level and to begin difficult combinations like riding over root-ledges during a climb. There is a new advanced AltLine trail on Dwelling, an optional trail, that has a fast berm turn, a tabletop and three small jumps.

South Loop is longer and more challenging, a hand-cut, technical trail that brings a backcountry feel to Blankets Creek. This trail is maintained as little as possible to keep it as natural as possible. This is a favorite trail of more experienced riders. Climbs are longer and steeper than those on the Dwelling Loop, but the major feature on South Loop is the rocks: rock gardens, rock crossings and rocky switchbacks. The trail also features switchbacks, creek crossings and a log ride. And then, there’s the Van Michael Trail, a longer trail with more challenging climbs and descents than Dwelling, a machine-cut trail that is relatively smooth but sweeps up and down several peaks on the west side of the park. Switchback and berm turns are everywhere. Technical features are limited primarily to some rocky sections near the infamous “Kevorkian Pass.” There is also a nice log ride carved out of a single fallen tree. Opened in 2011, Quehl Holler, a downhill trail, is the newest of all the trails. At 755 feet long, this trail is all downhill on hard-packed, smooth Georgia red clay. It is berm, drop, jump, berm, drop, tabletop down to the “Wall Ride.” It should be noted

that this is an expert trail and riders should scout out the trail completely because some of the gap jumps are deep and long. It is recommended that those who want to seriously tackle Quehl Holler wear helmets and armor. The trails are well marked and well maintained by the Woodstock chapter of SORBA (Southern Off-Road Bicycle Association). Because it is a popular trail system, it does get crowded, particularly on weekends, so if you are a first-timer consider off-peak times (week days). Jay Wilkes, president of the local SORBA chapter, says that Blankets Creek is one of the most popular trail systems in the entire Southeast: “There is not anything else like this in all of the northwest Atlanta area,” he adds. “Some people have moved here just to be near it.” The great natural beauty of the area is another reason the trails are so popular, says John Hicks, director of the G.Cecil Pruett Community Center Family YMCA. “This is an all wooded area surrounding Lake Allatoona. You can see deer and wild turkeys and other wildlife,” he points out. “Where else can you be so close to suburban homes and yet be in untouched 100-year-old woods?”

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When Mary and Gordon Thompson moved to Cherokee County in 1979, they did so with plan and purpose. Leaving their home in Sandy Springs, the intention was to also give the family the opportunity for two of their favorite things—horses and sailing. And yes, Cherokee County would conveniently offer access to both. As active members in the Atlanta Yacht Club, the Thompson children caught the sailing fever early in their lives— with talent and skills now passed down to grandchildren.

They wanted their three children to grow up in a community and environment that would enhance their lifestyle and interests yet still provide them opportunities for educational and hometown advantages. The couple busied themselves with Dr. Thompson’s dental practice and community activities. He became a member of the planning and zoning board, and would serve as its chairman. Mary would become involved with the Cherokee Clean Commission and become a Library trustee and was the first recipient of the Lamar Hailey Community Service Award from the Canton Rotary Club. She also was an “early” environmentalist of the 80s, recognizing the importance and impact of recycling. Through the years, both parents continued to work within the community and serve in many leadership roles. Their actions became inspiration for their children and instilled in them a lifelong sense of community.

The three children, now grown, have returned to their roots. Polished and accomplished, successful in their careers. “Our parents set a precedent for us to ‘give back’ to our community,” says daughter Dana, now an attorney and managing partner at Thompson, Meier & King. They are doing just that.
The siblings have completed, or are in the process of completing, Leadership Cherokee, a program of the Cherokee Chamber of Commerce designed to enhance awareness of local issues, discern perspectives and open dialogue to involve and solve challenges. Dana, her sister Judy and brother Alan have impressive resumes that not only make their parents proud, but also the community they have chosen to re-claim and embrace. Dana attended high school in Atlanta until the family’s move back to Cherokee. She received her Bachelor of Arts in English, with honors, from Randolph-Macon Women’s College in Virginia in 1983 and studied at the University of Reading, England. She received her Juris Doctorate from UGA, and clerked for the
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Family photos courtesy of JSG Photography of Woodstock, GA


(Coming Home continued from page 35)

Georgia Court of Appeals. After admission to the Georgia Bar, she came back to Canton and joined the law firm of McVay and Stubbs. In 1999, Dana established the firm Thompson, Meier & King, PC. She has been the City Attorney for the City of Waleska and was selected to serve as a Special Assistant Attorney General, a position she has held since being appointed in 1994. Dana has been a Georgia registered mediator for both domestic and civil cases since 1995, one of the first 100 registered in the state. She has chaired the Canton Downtown Development Authority and served on its board for ten years. As chairwoman of the DDA, she was instrumental in the financing, renovation and restoration of the Canton Theatre. She has chaired or served on many important civic boards such as the Cherokee Family Violence Board, the DUI Court Steering Committee and the board of the Cherokee County Friends of Recovery Foundation. She serves on the administrative council of the Fields Chapel United Methodist Church. Dana loves spending time with husband, Jud Alden and her daughter, Ally, whether it’s fishing, traveling or weekends in the North Georgia Mountains honing her photography skills. Judy Thompson Ross came home in 2001 to open the new AG Edwards office. She had received her degree in accounting from Clemson University in South Carolina where she also was a member of the Clemson Sailing Team. After college, she moved to Atlanta to pursue her career, living in the Buckhead area for a time. Judy later became a financial advisor under the independent brokerage arm of Wells Fargo Advisors Financial Network. Her extraordinary accomplishments led her to be named on the prestigious “Top 50 Independent Women Advisors” in the February 2012 issue of Registered Rep. magazine. Ross specializes in individualized asset management with assets totaling $140,000,000. In her acknowledgement of the honor, Judy didn’t forget to mention her hometown, Canton. “I am honored,” she said, “ to be included on such a prestigious list and proud that I am shining a light on Canton and Cherokee County. With the trust, support and referrals from our clients, J. Thompson Ross Investments has seen continued growth through the years. We feel truly blessed and grateful.” Judy has been a financial advisor for nineteen years. She is licensed to practice in eighteen states and has earned her Accredited Asset Management Specialist designation (AAMS). She founded J. Thompson Ross Investments in 2009. Ross is a member of the Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce, is a Reinhardt Ambassador and she and her family are members of NorthStar Church, and loves riding on the same farm she grew up on.

Dana Thompson Alden

Alan Thompson, the only son, chose an entirely different career and direction than that of his sisters. Upon graduation from Georgia Southern University in Statesboro, Georgia, he held his degree in Art with a minor in Journalism. Moving to the media mecca of Atlanta, he worked with the nationally acclaimed advertising agency, BBDO, long noted as one of the top ad agencies in the world. In 2002, Alan made the decision to move back to Canton and open his own company, Mojo Productions. He brought with him 21 years of large advertising agency experience from which to draw. A local marketing design group tucked in an alley among historic buildings in downtown Canton is now marking a milestone of 10 years in business, serving not just Cherokee but clients around the globe. MOJO Productions offers a wide range of creative solutions and services. Some of his clients have been with him since the company began. The strategic thinking and approach to each assignment is a reflection of two decades of experience. Thompson said he opened MOJO because he saw the opportunity to apply big-agency thinking, creativity and discipline to a smaller, more diverse group of clients without the big-agency cost. “I deal directly with the company president or marketing manager to arrive at a marketing solution, instead of going through the various levels associated with an ad agency,” Thompson said. “This results in work done faster, more economically and usually with greater appreciation from the client.” Though budget is always a large factor with every project, the driving force of MOJO’s work is quality. “I take great pride in my work and the positive light that puts my clients in. You don’t have to be a multi-million dollar company to look like one,” Thompson said. “I truly want to help my clients grow and prosper with the help of great marketing materials,” Thompson said. “Because, if my clients look good, MOJO looks good.” In 2007, the Cherokee Chamber named Alan Thompson as the Entrepreneur of the Year. Away from all the art design and layouts, his pastime is devoted to the family art and fun of sailing. Alan’s two daughters, Amy and Marie grew up in the sport and now are experts. Both are Laser sailors, which means accomplished at sailing a 13-foot, singleperson sailboat. Amy, 27, has sailed with him since she was a teenager before deciding she’d rather skipper than crew. Marie, 24, has been his “crew” for many years. Well skilled, she is in demand by other skippers, too. They have both competed nationally as well an in the Bahamas. Alan, Judy and husband, Mike, have also been ranked nationally in various regattas over the years. Amy has returned each summer for the past six years to be the lead instructor at the week long sailing camp at the Atlanta Yacht Club.

(continued on page 38)

Judy Thompson Ross

(Coming Home continued from page 37)

“What I appreciate about sailing is that kids gain a lot of self confidence. In competing with adults on the same racecourse, they learn how to converse with adults at a young age and can handle themselves most any place they travel. For that reason, I am very proud that my dad introduced me to sailing,” says Alan. “Now my girls, too, enjoy the sport. It’s always been something we’ve done as a family.” Alan says the proximity of Cherokee County has much appeal. “My wife Brenda and I find everything we need right here. We’ve lived here almost the entire 32 years of our marriage. We both own and operate small businesses and many of our clients are here in the area. We don’t leave the county for recreation very often, because we can spend time on Lake Allatoona on weekends more than seven months out of the year.” Each of the three Thompson children are pleased to have made their decisions to come back home to work, enjoy and raise their children in Cherokee County.

Dana, Judy and Alan give all the credit for their successes to wise and caring parents. It was their foresight that paved the path toward home again, and in so doing a warm welcome waited in return.

Alan Thompson


for SoMEthING to do?
here’s a great place to start...




Canton Farmers Market Every Saturday until September from 8 am-Noon. Located in Downtown Canton, rain or shine. 770-704-1500 www.CantonHDL.com


Woodstock Farmers Market Every Saturday until October 27th from 8:30am-11:30 am. Public parking lot on Towne Lake Parkway. www.WoodstockGA.gov

The Little Mermaid A perky mermaid with a beautiful singing voice wants to live on land to be with a handsome prince in this musical adaptation of the Hans Christian Anderson fairy tale. June 13-27 Wednesdays at 10am, Saturdays and Sundays at 2pm. All seats $9 online in advance or $11 at the door. Held at City Center, 8534 Main Street, Woodstock www.elmstreetarts.org 678-494-4251

June 13-27

mid-August - registration begins July 1st. For details and class descriptions go to www.elmstreetarts.org or call 678-494-4251 Held at City Center, 8534 Main St, Woodstock.

July 4

June 9

June 16

Woodstock Summer Concert Series featuring Blackberry Smoke Put on your dancing shoes for the best community concert series in the state! Celebrating its 15th year, we’ll be serving up a free eclectic musical brew of classic rock, current country, oldies, and rhythm & blues in the lovely Park at City Center (formerly City Park). Bring a blanket or lawn chair and come early; food vendors, a moonwalk, and face painting for the kids are standards at every concert! All concerts start at 7:30pm. Free admission, no ticket necessary. 103 Arnold Mill Road, Woodstock.

An Evening with Mark Twain Starring National Touring Actor Kurt H. Sutton. 7:30PM at The Canton Theatre, 171 East Main Street, Canton, GA, Adults: $12.00 Students/Seniors (65+): $8.00 Tickets Only Available at the Door. A Briandale Entertainment Production. 770-841-5330

City of Canton 4th of July Celebration Patriotism and fireworks at its finest. 4-7pm. Doggie Parade at 4 pm. Doggie costume contest, bounce house, games & kids activities. Cannon Park, Downtown Canton. Parade in downtown Canton begins at 6pm, fireworks display at RiverStone Shopping Plaza at dusk. 770.704.1500. www.CantonHDL.com

July 4


Fall Drama & Art Classes A variety of classes for the entire family whether you want to be on stage or create works of art, Elm Street has a something for you! Instruction begins in

Freedom Fest City of Woodstocks annual can’t miss 4th of July event. July 4th. Early morning Woodstock Freedom Run 5k road race. Parade through downtown Woodstock at 10am, followed by booths, food, fun and games for children in Woodstock City Park. Spectacular after-dark fireworks display at I-575 & Highway 92. 770.517.6788. www.WoodstockGA.gov

(continued on page 46)


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July 6

Teen Arts Night Sponsored by Elm Street’s Teen Arts Guild (TAG). Bring your guitar, your karaoke cd, your poetry, your artwork, your short stories to share with other creative, arts minded teens. $5 cash at the door provides a slice of pizza and a soda at intermission. Ages 13-15 will need to have a parent sign them in and out at the door. Friday July 6 from 6-8pm at City Center, 8534 Main Street, Woodstock www.elmstreetarts.org 678-494-4251

tax and gratuity. Be sure to call for reservations 770-516-2609. Held at Tea Leaves and Thyme 8990 S. Main St Woodstock, GA

July 6

Sundays at 2pm. All seats $9 online in advance or $11 at the door. Held at City Center, 8534 Main Street, Woodstock www.elmstreetarts.org 678-494-4251

Friday Night Live “Tour de Main” Spend the first Friday of every month in Downtown Woodstock and enjoy the many restaurants and stores that the area has to offer as the Downtown Merchants stay open late, 6pm-9pm, and celebrate with a themed downtown wide festival For each Friday Night Live theme participating Downtown Merchants will have activities going on at their stores and throughout the Downtown area related to the theme of the month. For July, it’s the 3rd annual Tour de Main featuring a bicycle parade down Main Street organized by Out Spokin Bicycles. For more information: 770-924-0406

July 10 or 17

July 6

iThink Improv Troupe Enjoy the food, music and fun of Woodstock’s Friday Nite Live then walk on over to City Center for some family friendly laughs with the iThink Improv Troupe. Friday, July 6 at 9pm at City Center, 8534 Main Street, Woodstock, www.elmstreetarts.org 678-494-4251

AUDITIONS Snow White and the Magic Mirror For “Snow White and the Magic Mirror” - for ages 8-Adult. July 10 or 17 from 7-9:30pm. Call for an appointment time. Be prepared to sing one minute of a folk song or Broadway show tune that shows off your voice. Cold readings from the script. Full schedule of rehearsals and September performances on the website. Held at City Center, 8534 Main Street, Woodstock www.elmstreetarts.org 678-494-4251

July 14

July 5 & 6

July 11-25

Aladdin Tea Party Enjoy flavorful teas and tasty treats and meet Aladdin, his Princess and the Genie! (bring your camera!) Thursday and Friday July 5 & 6 at 4:30pm. $16.50 includes meal,

Aladdin and the Magic Lamp Poor Aladdin meets the Genie of the Ring and the Genie of the Lamp while trying to win the hand of a princess. A comic telling of the famous fairy tale. July 11-25 Wednesdays at 10am, Saturdays and

Woodstock Summer Concert Series featuring A1-A (Jimmy Buffet Tribute Band) Put on your dancing shoes for the best community concert series in the state! Celebrating its 15th year, we’ll be serving up a free eclectic musical brew of classic rock, current country, oldies, and rhythm & blues in the lovely Park at City Center (formerly City Park). Bring



a blanket or lawn chair and come early; food vendors, a moonwalk, and face painting for the kids are standards at every concert! All concerts start at 7:30pm. Free admission, no ticket necessary. 103 Arnold Mill Road, Woodstock.

call 678-494-4251 Held at City Center, 8534 Main St, Woodstock.

august 3

theme of the month. For August, the Downtown Merchants celebrate the spirit of the 1969 Woodstock Music Festival with Friday Night Live “Summer of Love” Everyone be sure to wear your best hippie attire! For more information: 770-924-0406

July 14

1st Annual Collins Dixon Bend Your Knees 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk Come celebrate the life of Collins Dixon with us at the 1st Annual Collins Dixon Bend Your Knees 5K and 1 Mile Fun Run/Walk. The race will start and finish at the First Baptist Church of Canton and will be run on paved streets. Race day registration and packet pickup will begin at 7AM. First Baptist Church Canton, One Mission Point, Canton, GA 30114

Teen Arts Night Sponsored by Elm Street’s Teen Arts Guild (TAG). Bring your guitar, your karaoke cd, your poetry, your artwork, your short stories to share with other creative, arts minded teens. $5 cash at the door provides a slice of pizza and a soda at intermission. Ages 13-15 will need to have a parent sign them in and out at the door. Friday, August 3, from 6-8pm at City Center, 8534 Main Street, Woodstock. www.elmstreetarts.org 678-494-4251

august 7

august 3


Fall Drama & Art Classes A variety of classes for the entire family whether you want to be on stage or create works of art, Elm Street has a something for you! Instruction begins in mid-August - registration begins July 1st. For details and class descriptions go to www.elmstreetarts.org or

Friday Night Live “Summer of Love” Downtown Woodstock Spend the first Friday of every month in Downtown Woodstock and enjoy the many restaurants and stores that the area has to offer as the Downtown Merchants stay open late, 6pm-9pm, and celebrate with a themed downtown wide festival For each Friday Night Live theme participating Downtown Merchants will have activities going on at their stores and throughout the Downtown area related to the

Woodstock Police Department National Night Out Join us in The Park at City Center on Tuesday, August 7th from 6pm to 9pm at a location to be determined, as neighborhoods throughout the City of Woodstock are invited to join forces with thousands of communities nationwide for the “29th Annual National Night Out” crime and drug prevention event. National Night Out is designed to: (1) Heighten crime and drug prevention awareness; (2) Generate support for, and participation in, local anticrime efforts; (3) Strengthen neighborhood spirit and police – community partnerships; and (4) Send a message to criminals letting them know neighborhoods are organized and fighting back. National Night Out is sponsored by the National Association of Town Watch, co-sponsored locally by the City of Woodstock Police Department and is being supported

(continued on page 48)


(continued from page 47)

in part by TARGET, a national corporate sponsor. Please call 770592-6000 ext 1115 for more details.

at City Center, 8534 Main Street, Woodstock, www.elmstreetarts.org 678-494-4251

concerts start at 7:30pm. Free admission, no ticket necessary. 103 Arnold Mill Road, Woodstock. To be considered in future enjoy! calendars: submit your event date, time, location, details, photos and contact information at info@enjoycherokee.com.
Event listings are subject to space limitations.

august 10-19

Nunsense A variety of musical entertainment Back by popular demand! The Little Sisters of Hoboken return to Woodstock to sing and dance their way into your hearts as they try to raise funds for the convent. Make plans now to see this hilarious show! August 10 at 7:30pm, August 12 at 2pm, August 17, 18 at 7:30pm August 19 at 2pm. $9-11 in advance online, $11-14 at the door. Held

august 11

Woodstock Summer Concert Series featuring The Lovin’ Spoonful Celebrating its 15th year, we’ll be serving up a free eclectic musical brew of classic rock, current country, oldies, and rhythm & blues in the lovely Park at City Center (formerly City Park). Bring a blanket or lawn chair and come early; food vendors, a moonwalk, and face painting for the kids are standards at every concert! All

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