WellStar Vinings Heath Park Opens Surgery Outpatient Center

The final piece of the new WellStar Vinings Health Park fell into place with the opening of the Outpatient Surgery Center in April.

The 20,000 sq. foot surgery center includes 17 private prep and recovery rooms, three operating rooms and three procedure rooms.

The new center will also provide onsite treatment and testing, pharmacy and pathology support and   a private patient discharge elevator.

“Tonight is special because it another event in the yearlong celebration of the 50th anniversary of Cobb Hospital allowing us to serve our community closer to home,” said Callie Andrews, President of WellStar Cobb Hospital.

The Vinings location opened in September of 2017 as the third Health Park in Cobb. A fourth will open in Cherokee County in February.

Dr. Bill Mayfield, WellStar chief surgical officer, “what we have done here, is that we have reinvented the future of surgery.”

The new facility is “designed for patient safety, patient experience and patient flow. (The center is) packed with technology and connected by one electronic medal record.”

“Opening our Vinings Health Park Outpatient Surgery Center will allow us to meet the growing demand for outpatient care in the local market,” said Joe Brywczynski, senior vice president of WellStar Health Parks Administration & Development. “This addition allows us to offer a variety of outpatient medical services and procedures to patients close to home, in one location for increased convenience.”

The addition will create 25 new jobs, increasing the total employment at the Vinings Health Park to more than 175 team members.

From the May 2018 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Belmont students Name K9 Max

The Smyrna Police Department’s newest officer got a rousing reception from students at Belmont Hills Elementary School May 2.

K-9 Officer Max is a chocolate Labrador that will be sniffing out drugs and searching for missing persons.

The Smyrna Police Department purchased Max after retiring K-9 Officer Paco.

Officer Travis Seller, a four year veteran of the Smyrna Police Department is partnered with

K-9 Officer Max and they will be assigned to the Special Operation Division of the Smyrna Police Department.

K-9 Officer Max is trained in illegal narcotics detection and scent detection for people and articles. K-9 Max will also play a vital part as a community relations tool because of the Labradors fun loving temperament.

The students at Belmont Hills Elementary held a name contest last fall when the Smyrna Police Department first purchased its new canine and the students came up with the name “Max.”  “Max” was the first choice of four classes and second choice in three.

Police Chief David Lee said his first call after hearing the name choice was to Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon to see if approved of the name.

“I love it,” said the mayor.

For all of their enthusiastic support and help, the Smyrna Police Department treated all of the classes that helped in naming Max to a pizza party as well as the opportunity to interact with Smyrna Police officers.

K9 Max has been in training for several months in Gainesville, Ga. and he and his handler Officer Seller still have another week of training before being on the job.

K9 Max was born in October 2016. “He still has a little puppy in him,” Seller said.

From the May 2018 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Smyrna Hosts Spring Jonquil Festival

Smyrna will host the annual Spring Jonquil Festival on the Village Green, April 28 and 29.

This free event, presented by Superior Plumbing, features more than 175 Arts & Crafts booths, 15 food booths, an entertainment stage, and a variety of children’s activities.

Bring the family and shop, play, eat, drink and just have a great day together.

Artisans from all over the southeast feature their own hand-made crafts, paintings, clothing, furniture, jewelry and much more.  The festival foods include: cotton candy, candy apples, corn dogs, hand-dipped ice cream, snow cones, polish sausage, chicken sandwiches, and BBQ.  The huge interactive children’s area includes big and small inflatable activities, sand art, and more.  So whether it’s your child or the child in you, there are plenty of food and activities for the whole family to enjoy.

New for 2018 is an educational Grizzly Bear Show and exhibit. The Show brings an in depth into the life of North America’s most prestigious predator, the Alaskan Grizzly Bear. Tonk, the 13-year-old 700-pound grizzly and the two juveniles, Yogi and Maggie delight crowds of all ages with their impressive sizes and amazing behaviors. Throughout the day patrons will witness Tonk, Yogi & Maggie interacting with their handler and showing the amazing bond between grizzly and man.

Wildlife Wendy is an informative and interactive bird show containing birds from all over the world. Gaze in wonder at their vibrant colors & fun personalities. Wendy’s tropical birds will provide an up-close and personal encounter with the most entertaining species of the bird world.

Lady Houdini, an escape artist who has successfully performed thousands of public feats and broken Harry Houdini’s record for the most water escapes ever. Kristen Johnson is no “lovely” magician’s assistant. She is currently the only female anywhere in the world attempting the water torture cell.

Robocars are unique and fun brightly colored, life-size, transforming robot vehicles currently featuring Cars, Trucks, Motorcycles and Tractors. Operator driven, they walk and drive creating endless excitement and photo opportunities for the whole family.

Kids and adults alike will be thrilled to hear Scott Thompson of Peachtree Station performing all the songs you know and love on the Veteran’s Memorial grand lawn adjacent to the Spring Jonquil Food Court. Bring a blanket, sing-a-long, and relax in a beautiful setting with the family.

The Jonquil Jog will kick the festival off Saturday morning at 8 a.m., with the 5K Run/Walk. The jog will be held at the City of Smyrna Municipal Building next to the Village Green. Registration is required. Call 770-319-5401 or on-line at www.smyrnacity.com.

The festival hours of operation are 10 a.m. – 6 p.m., on Saturday, April 28, and noon – 5 p.m., on Sunday, April 29. Admission is FREE.

The festival is a wonderful experience for the whole family! The Village Green is located just off I-75 to  (Windy Hill Rd.) head west approximately 3 miles to Atlanta Rd., turn left onto Atlanta Rd. and the festival will be one mile on the right. For more information call Tod Miller or Bill Watson at 770-423-1330.

From the April 2018 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Campbell Retires Lautsch’s Jersey

Campbell High School retired the jersey of Christie Lautsch, the all-time leading basketball scorer for the Lady Spartans, in a ceremony Jan. 9.

Lautsch averaged 20 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks per game while at Campbell. She was named to Georgia Class 5A all-state first team and Street & Smith honorable mention All-America honors in 2003.

Christie was a second team all-state selection in 2002 and as a freshman, was an Adidas Top Ten Camp Underclass All-Star, also earning all-county and Street & Smith honorable mention All-America honors. Breakdown Magazine rated Lautsch the ninth best post in the nation and the No. 40th player overall. She entered the 2004 season ranked nationally as No. 51 by Blue Star Index and No. 65 in All Star Girls Report.

In 2004 Christie was awarded Marietta Daily Journal Player of the year, 5A State Player of the Year, 5A All-State Teams-First Team, and Atlanta Tip-Off Club Naismith Trophy. She is the all-time leading Lady Spartan with 1,907 points, second in Campbell history to Brian Oliver. Christie’s record high game was scoring 45 points and a career total of 1,137 rebounds, and 407 blocks.

According to Randy McClure Sr., Varsity Lady Spartans basketball Head Coach, Lautsch earned all type of basketball accolades through her high school and college careers.

“Christie’s story is a true heart string type story,” McClure said. “What everyone did not know is that before she came to high school her father had died of cancer and all the time she was in high school her mother was battling cancer.

“Her mother, Janet Lautsch, would lose her battle with Cancer just before graduation. In a truly great gesture, Principal Kehl Arnson and Florida State head Coach Sue Samurai held a private graduation ceremony at her home before she passed so that Christie’s mom could see her actually graduate.

“She was well aware of her condition, but was determined to see Christie, the youngest of her three children and a basketball superstar, graduate from high school. Coach Samurai also promised that she would make sure that Christie would graduate from Florida State.

“I am very happy that we can honor this great young lady who certainly helped lift our program into one of the best in the state of Georgia and especially in Cobb County where the basketball has always been very competitive statewide,” he said.

Lautsch lives in Smyrna and works nearby. She said the honor is “bittersweet” without her mother, but was awed by the honor.

“It’s an awesome feeling to know that hard work does pay off,” she said.

From the February 2018 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Jacobson Named Smyrna Citizen Of Year

She is a jewelry professional by day and a philanthropist around the clock. For that reason and many others Rhonda Jacobson was named Smyrna Citizen of the Year.

The award was presented in November by the Smyrna Division of the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.

“Rhonda does so much good for her community,” said Dan Byers, division chair. He noted that she is active on boards and organizations such as the WellStar Foundation Board of Trustees and co-chair for WellStar Foundation – Women in Philanthropy as well as a member of the advisory council for the WellStar Vinings Health Park where the meeting was held.

In her “day job,” as Buyers put it, she is vice president, human resources and graduate gemologist at Cumberland Diamond Exchange in Smyrna.

She gives her time to the liveSAFE Resources board and is chair-elect/VP, SafePath Children’s Advocacy Center, Cobb Executive Women and Cobb Chairman’s Club.

“As co-owner and founder of Cumberland Diamond Exchange, the businesses involvement in the community and partnerships with non-profits are key differentiators. Their Cufflinks +Charms 4 Charity makes custom designed jewelry for resale and recognition with proceeds benefitting the corresponding charity,” Byers said. In FY2016 the business made $79,593.98 in gifts, merchandise and cash donations.

The family-owned store was founded by Rhonda and Mark Jacobson in 1982. It has been named “Jeweler of the Year” in 2016 and was named Cobb Small Business of the Year in 2015.

According to her nomination, it was said, “Rhonda has the biggest heart and truly cares about others. Jewelry is her business but philanthropy is where her heart is.”

“I am overwhelmed,” Mrs. Jacobson said. “It is all about giving back.”

As a surprise, she was joined by family members, friends and staff of the business who revealed themselves after she was announced as the award winner.

From the December 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Silva Is Smyrna Business Person Of The Year

Charles Silva was named the Smyrna Business Association Business Person of the Year at the September meeting.

Silva, who currently serves as secretary of the group had a long tenure as treasurer.

Presenting the award are, left, Dennis Harding, last year’s recipient and Jabar Dozier, right, president.

A native of St. Louis, Silva grew up in St Louis Missouri and spent most of his career as a banker, working his way up to bank president. After volunteering for the Arthritis Foundation, Silva headed the Arthritis Chapter of Eastern Missouri and came to the Atlanta area as CFO of the National Arthritis Foundation in 1997.

“Today, Charlie continues to use his financial and consulting skills to assist small businesses in the Smyrna area,” Harding said. “We are fortunate that Charlie has brought his experience and talent to serving as a Board member of the Smyrna Business Association.”

He and his wife, Katie, have two grown children.

From the September 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

‘Twisted Cyclone’ Roller Coaster Coming To Six Flags In 2018

Six Flags Over Georgia—the Thrill Capital of the South— announced the all-new Twisted Cyclone hybrid roller coaster will arrive in 2018. Twisted Cyclone will offer guests the best of both worlds—a classic wooden structure combined with a modern, steel track for multiple inversions and a smoother, more thrilling riding experience.

“Six Flags was the first in the industry to introduce this hybrid technology and Twisted Cyclone is a shining example of Six Flags innovation at its very best. Year after year, our park keeps delivering unique thrills for all ages and this state-of-the-art hybrid coaster is an absolute game-changer,” said Park President Dale Kaetzel. “Our guests are going to be blown away by the unbelievable features of this coaster.”

Twisted Cyclone highlights include:

  • An insanely steep 75-degree initial drop from nearly 100 feet into a jaw-dropping reverse cobra roll sending riders perpendicular to the ground;
  • Three hair-raising upside down inversions and 10 airtime moments along 2,400 feet of track at speeds of 50 miles per hour;
  • The feeling of weightlessness through a 360-degree zero gravity roll;
  • One-of-a-kind custom coaster trains modeled after a classic 1960’s sports convertible; and
  • A smoother, sleeker, more intense ride than ever before.

Construction on Twisted Cyclone is underway and the ride is expected to debut in the spring of 2018. For more information about next season at Six Flags Over Georgia, visit www.sixflags.com/overgeorgia/newfor2018.

Six Flags Over Georgia is also announcing the start of 2018 Season Pass sales with its special Flash Sale through Labor Day weekend featuring the best deal of the year— savings up to 70% off on a 2018 Pass!

August 31 through Sept. 4, guests will receive a free upgrade to a Gold Combo Season Pass with every Pass purchased. Gold Combo Season Passes include admission to Six Flags Over Georgia and Six Flags White Water, and any other Six Flags theme park, as well as free parking and special admission offers for friends.

Campbell Is Now Cobb’s Largest High School

Campbell High School opened the school year with some 2,957 students enrolled, making it the largest high school in Cobb County.

“We are bursting at the seams,” said Principal Jeannie Walker. Rooms that had been converted from classrooms to other purposes have been reconfigured as classroom space to accommodate new staff, she said. With some no-shows after the first day’s count, the student population is at 2,800 “but that continues to grow, and will do so again after Labor Day,” a school spokesman said.

Campbell had 2,664 enrolled in March, and by August 1 had increased nearly 10 percent. North Cobb was the largest school in Cobb in March’s count with 2,851.

“We’ve got more bodies crammed into the same space,” she added. The classrooms were built in the 1960s and are not as adaptable as newer construction.

Campbell has added 6.5 new teaching positions for the upcoming year and has 38 new employees.

“The Spartan staff is strong and keeps appositive attitude” she said.

“Campbell High School exceeded the previous year’s performance in all areas on the end of course test last year,” said Walker. Not only did they have the highest SAT, ACT & CCRPI gains for 2016, they achieved a 93 percent IB diploma rate and 92 percent of the seniors enrolled in 2017 graduated on time.” Other notable Campbell accomplishments are listed on page 9 of this issue.

Other changes coming to the school include a new football coach who arrived in the spring and will lead the Spartans on the field this fall. Kyle Adkins comes from Pope High school. His wife April is also a teacher at Campbell.

Parking space will also be an issue this school year as construction of a new gymnasium has removed a parking lot in front of the Nash Gym. It is expected to open in January.

The reduction in parking will be felt during sporting events and open houses and only seniors will be allowed to park on campus.

From the August 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

‘Everybody Wants To Live In Smyrna,’ Mayor Says

Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon welcomes Jean Brannon, his fifth grade teacher, to the State of the City address in July.

Smyrna is the hottest spot to live in the metro area according to Mayor Max Bacon.

Bacon addressed an overflow crowd at the annual state of the City Address for the Smyrna Business Association and Smyrna Division of the Cobb Chamber in July.

“We’ve always had great people, even the Braves moved out of Atlanta to be next to Smyrna,” he said. “Everybody wants to live in Smyrna. We were strong before the 2008 blip on the economy.”

“We will not raise taxes,” the mayor told the crowd. Smyrna will maintain the millage rate of 8.99 mills for 2017. This rate has been in effect since 2007. Homeowners who maintain a primary residence in Smyrna and have filed for the floating homestead exemption will not see a tax increase on their 2017 property tax bill.

“We are as fiscally sound as any government anywhere,” Bacon said. “We show that in our bond rating.”

Smyrna has a AAA bond rating, one of only six in the state. The city’s $92 million budget is broken down by: public safety, 38 percent; general government, 21 percent; Public works, 18 percent; debt 9 percent; parks and recreation, 8 percent; community development, 3 percent; library, 2 percent and Keep Smyrna Beautiful, 1 percent.

“We have a great police force and fire department,” Bacon said. “We have superior service.”

Early this year Bacon admitted that he had a heart condition. After being referred by his family doctor, Bacon said, “My doctor was wrong, I had not had one heart attack, I had two,” he said.

He had two stents installed and has since recovered.

The health scare has brought up questions of whether Bacon, who has held the mayor’s job since 1985, will run for another term.

“Am I going to run again? Right now I’d say yes, because I’m not going to tell you no,” he said.

“I know that I will finish this term (through 2019) then I’ll make a decision,” he said. “My health’s good for 68.”

“I thank Jack Halpern and Halpern Enterprises for hanging in there with us,” Bacon said. “They donated the land for the Smyrna Elementary School and what we got back was a great investment in or city.”

Bacon noted that the Belmont and Jonquil developments are essentially done, although some storefronts are still being built out. Belmont is a 48-acre mixed-use development with homes, apartments, retail, restaurants and Smyrna Elementary. The Belmont Physicians Center is under construction on Windy Hill and David Weekly homes will build a second phase of houses along Atlanta Road. Jonquil, anchored by Publix, is an 11 acre mixed-use site in downtown Smyrna including apartments and retail and restaurants.

“Concord Road is finally finished,” he said.

The $12 million SPLOST road widening project on Concord Road is complete, he reported. The Downtown Development Authority sold one property to a restaurant and many parcels on the north side of Concord is being developed as a passive linier park.

The next road project is the Windy Hill Road improvement that will begin next year from South Cobb and Atlanta Roads.

“Windy Hill will be an express route,” he said. Four express lanes will move east-west traffic with frontage roads on each side.

“It’s going to be a mess for the next five years,” he said.

“The Reed House will top my list of things I am proud of,” he said. The city purchased the home on Atlanta Road for $18 million and will spend $1.3 million renovating it to use as an event facility.

“This is going to be a great addition once it is finished,” he said.

From the August 2017 issue of The Bright Side, Cobb County Georgia’s Newspaper covering Smyrna, Vinings, Mableton, Powder Springs and Austell, GA.

Golf Cart Parade Honors Fourth, Veterans

 

  Presbyterian Village in Austell held its annual golf cart parade to honor the Fourth of July with more than two dozen golf carts decked out in patriotic bunting. Where in previous parades there has been a Grand Marshall seated in the lead car; this year some 14 World War II veterans were honored as Grand Marshalls, riding in individual carts.

Among them was, below left, Navy veteran Bill Smith, a pharmacist’s mate 3rd class, who served aboard the USS Wyoming in WWII.

Hilliard Pouncey, right, an original Tuskegee Airman, rides in the lead car as one of more than a dozen “Grand Marshalls” at the annual golf cart parade at Presbyterian Village in Austell on July 3.

 

 

 

 

Bringing up the rear in a 1915 Model T, below right, are Robert and Bryant Brough of Mableton in vintage uniforms to honor the veterans.

At left, Ike Strueusee, an Infantry Staff Sgt. during the war, fought at the Battle of The Bulge in the Army.