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Author: Ashlee Duren

Publisher Notes: August/September 2018

  Happy 50th Birthday to the Greater Augusta Arts Council! August marks the Golden Anniversary for the non-profit, which was ironically the result of a speaker at a monthly Junior League of Augusta meeting. To learn more about how the Greater Augusta Arts Council was founded, visit and read the story written by Don Rhodes.  We thought it was incredibly timely and the perfect opportunity to celebrate given that this issue is all about Augusta’s vibrant arts scene. We always include our annual Arts Calendar in the this issue. Let it serve as your guide to all the great cultural happenings in the area. Whether you are hoping to attend a concert, play, ballet, musical or gallery exhibition – our city has something for everyone! We also honor our annual Arts Council Award winners, beginning on page 35. These individuals have made significant contributions to these arts in our area and we join the Arts Council in applauding their efforts. The 2018-2019 Arts season will officially kick off in our area with the 38th annual Arts in the Heart of Augusta held September 14-16 in downtown. In case you missed it, Augusta has a thriving arts scene. So get out your calendar, it’s going to be a busy year!  -Ashlee   Article appears in the August/September 2018 issue of Augusta Magazine. Subscribe to Augusta Magazine Have feedback or a...

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Publisher Notes: June/July 2018

  Three years. I celebrate my third anniversary as publisher of Augusta magazine with this issue. When I took the reigns as publisher, I will admit to being less than confident in my ability to guide this publication.  I felt like a change was needed, but I wasn’t sure that the readers would embrace it. I now know I was wrong. I would like to take a moment to thank you, our readers, for sticking with us. Not only, did we change the aesthetics of the magazine, but we’ve changed the tone as well. We’re a little more progressive, but that is not simply due to my desires and convictions. It’s more of a reflection on our city and its residents. The landscape of the area is changing, and the changes are not just in the construction of new buildings and renovations, but in our people. The June/July issue affords us an opportunity to highlight the next great group of Augustans – poised to lead us into the future. A colloboration between our magazine and the Augusta Metro Chamber of Commerce, now celebrating our 10th year, the Top 10 in 10 Young Professionals to Watch program was designed to feature the next generation of leaders. These young professionals are determined to make their mark, not only in their chosen profession, but in the Augusta area. They are truly invested...

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Publisher Notes: May 2018

  Benjamin Disraeli, a former British Prime Minister once said, “The secret of success is to be ready when your opportunity comes.” I was not ready, or at least I thought I wasn’t. Back in the fall, my friend Brittany Johnston, who also happens to be an extremely talented interior designer, came to me with an idea for the magazine. She thought it would be a great idea for Augusta Magazine to host a design showhouse. At first, I loved the idea until she divulged the time frame. Six months! My reaction suddenly became, well, shall we say, less than favorable. In fact, I thought my friend had lost her mind. Who in their right mind would dare tackle a project of this size in such a short time frame? Not to mention, I had never done anything like this before and did not even know where to begin. Needless to say, I needed a moment to seriously consider it. Within 24 hours, I called Brittany back to tell her, “I’m in.” I mean, I would have been insane to turn down this opportunity. When, if ever, would I have the chance to be a part of something like this again? Carpe diem! From that moment until the moment we held the opening cocktail party in early March, life seemed to move at warp speed. The home itself has...

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Publisher Notes: April 2018

  Spring has arrived in Augusta! If you had any doubt, the yellow pollen that has draped itself on every surface is sure to let you know. Here in our fair city, spring means only one thing to most residents – The Masters. Augustans, native or not, spend months getting ready for golf patrons to flock to the Garden City for their chance to set foot on the sacred grounds of Augusta National. I must admit, it is truly something special. A heavenly oasis lies just beyond the gates. The grass is greener, the colors of the flowers more brilliant, the staff is the most polite of any. The entire experience is first-class. It’s not just the grounds of the National that are top class though. Augusta is a great city. I’ve heard the comments made about Washington Road and how “awful and dirty” it looks. Sure, not everything in our city is picture perfect. But I could argue that no city is. The one thing that does make Augusta unique, outside of the National, is our residents and their Southern hospitality. I hope that if you’re here just for the Tournament, that you take a moment to experience Augusta. I can promise you, you won’t be disappointed. -Ashlee   Article appears in the April 2018 issue of Augusta Magazine. Subscribe to Augusta Magazine Have feedback or a story idea?...

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Publisher Notes: February/March 2018

  Sixty-nine years – that’s how long my grandparents were married. At 90 and 84, respectively, Papa and Nana shared a lifetime of friendship, trials and tribulations, but most of all love. As their eldest grandchild, I feel blessed to have witnessed their love and devotion, not just to each other but also to their children, friends and most of all, the Lord.     As the publisher of a magazine, I often allow you, the reader, to see certain facets of my life. I want you to know me, but it’s rare for me to be so open with my feelings. I want to share this moment with you and it seems fitting that I write about their love story in this issue. After all, February is the month of love.    The son of a farmer, James Chesley Blackwell Sr., grew up poor in rural South Carolina. The second of four siblings, he never dreamed of moving to a big city, chasing dreams of grandeur. He sought the simple life. Marrying the love of his life, Carolyn White, building a modest home on family land and raising a family. It was a good life.    When I began writing this column, my Papa was still clinging to life, somewhere between this earthly world and heaven. He has since joined heaven’s angels. And while the pain of watching...

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