Short Takes: February/March 2015



Johnny Moretz

Lighting designer Johnny Moretz still remembers his first job after college graduation: painting the old Bon Air Hotel. During that hot summer, he spent a full month up in a crane with a brush and rollers, swiping paint back and forth over the old beauty. 

It was also the summer when he got his first work phone number—listing him not as painter, but artist. “It might have been a premonition of some sort,” he says with a laugh.

Moretz soon began picking up odd jobs as a stagehand for arts groups such as the Augusta Opera and the Augusta Ballet, building sets and learning firsthand the fine art of lighting. He saw the closing of the Bell Auditorium in the late ‘70s, then helped open and rebuild the Miller Theater before becoming a founding partner—in other words, a jack-of-all-trades—at the Imperial Theatre.

He might have stayed on in the exciting but low-paying world of show business had not a call changed his life. His wife was at a doctor’s appointment—“She called up and said instead of one heartbeat, there’s two.” So Moretz knew he needed work that would support his growing family. He moved into freelance lighting and staging, real estate, furniture refinishing—anything

he could do with his hands. 

The wedding lighting side of his business launched 20 years ago with another impromptu call—from a wedding planner. The subtle but transformative effects Moretz can create at the altar, on centerpieces, on the cake have put him in high demand by wedding planners who know the difference good lighting makes for this most special day.

On any given day, Moretz might be lighting a wedding, staging a production, refinishing an antique—but “I am nowhere near through being done,” he says. “There is too much to do nowadays. There’s a lot I want to do that I’ve never done before. That’s what I look forward to.”

Bill FulcherBill Fulcher: 2015 Inductee

From the Academy of Richmond County to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame

When Bill Fulcher was a freshman at Richmond Academy, many could likely already see his potential on the field. This month, Fulcher’s many accomplishments in football are recognized as he joins the 2015 class of inductees to the Georgia Sports Hall of Fame.

After graduating from Richmond, the Augusta native would go on to be named captain of the freshman team at Georgia Tech, where he was a defensive lineman and lettered all three years on the varsity team. From there he played professionally for three seasons in the NFL for the Washington Redskins before turning to coaching. He led high school teams for Screven County, his beloved Richmond Academy and Waynesboro before he was tapped to be the head coach at the University of Tampa in 1971 and at his alma mater Georgia Tech in 1972 and 1973.

The 2015 Induction Ceremony will be held on Saturday, February 21, at the Macon City Auditorium, Macon, Ga. To order tickets, visit 

FundraisingFit for Fundraising

TIRED OF BUYING CANDY to support your local school? Why not invest in your child’s fitness and leadership skills instead?

The national Boosterthon Fun Run program is happening in two local schools—Riverside and Brookwood elementary schools—in early spring to help teach children the importance of fitness and help raise needed funds for school programs.

During the nine-day program, students learn about fitness, leadership, character development and building community. The program culminates in a Fun Run event where students are invited to run, on average, 30 to 35 laps to showcase what they’ve learned about fitness. Instead of selling a product, students gather pledges from family and friends for the number of laps they plan to run. On the day of the event, parents, educators, fellow students and Boosterthon team members cheer these students on as they race toward their goal.

Upcoming Boosterthons are scheduled at Riverside Elementary in Evans on February 19 and at Brookwood Elementary in Grovetown on March 6.

by the numbersby the #s


Ah, weddings! The flowers, the cake, the dress—and so much more. February is the key month in the planning process if you’re set to be a June bride. As you finalize your details, consider these stats on weddings both here and across the U.S.

Average amount spent on a wedding dress.

Weddings that took place in 2013 in Augusta-Richmond County.

Average number of bridesmaids.

1 in 8 
Couples who spent more than $40,000 on their weddings.

Percent of brides who take their spouse’s last name.

Average marrying age for brides. For grooms, the age is 31.

$21,111 Cost of an average wedding in Augusta-Richmond County. In Georgia, the average cost is $23,879 and in the U.S. it’s $28,671 (not including the honeymoon!).

Cost for just the flowers at an average wedding.

Percent of receptions that featured signature cocktails. Also popular for receptions are interactive food stations, which 15% of couples opted for.

Average number of guests in attendance at a wedding in Augusta-Richmond County.

Percent of couples who have church weddings.



by Mark Hodges

Heading for the Big Time

Ray Fulcher

Harlem native Ray Fulcher never planned on being a full-time musician, but he hasn’t let that stop him. His original dream was to be a football coach and he spent six seasons as a student assistant to former University of Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo from 2004 to 2009. As a matter of fact, he didn’t even pick up a guitar until he was a 20-year-old student in Athens and even then it was only for fun. 

After moving back to the Augusta area in 2010, Fulcher began collaborating with fellow musician Alex Hintz and they called themselves County Line. The duo soon turned into a full-blown band and started making big waves on the local country music scene. It became apparent to Fulcher that music could become more than a hobby and he began looking into it as a possible career.

So in the past year, he moved to Nashville and is currently shopping songs around to publishing companies as a songwriter. Fulcher is also promoting himself as a solo act, having released two singles on iTunes under his name. He’s living the life of a traveling musician, combining networking, touring, recording and writing into a full-time effort. And even though his home base is now in Tennessee, he still makes it back home to Augusta every month to play gigs with County Line. 

   Fulcher describes his music as falling somewhere between traditional and modern country, combining the influences of artists like George Strait, Jason Aldean and Eric Church. It’s a custom blend of musical styles that gives a nod to the past, all while staying relevant and contemporary. Whatever his formula is, it is surely getting him noticed throughout the South.

5 faves5 Faves

We Asked Randall W. Hatcher
President, MAU

Success is more than just a matter of luck. Just ask MAU President Randall W. Hatcher, who has built the workforce solutions company into a national leader—in fact, MAU was recently named to INC’s list of the 5,000 fastest growing companies in the U.S. 

What are your five habits of success?

Honor God in all you do. Ask God to help you do the best you can every day and then ask him at the end of the day how you did. One of the ways we encourage this at MAU is by offering a trust-building program to help our employees become more trustworthy people.

Make lives better.

When you encounter people every day at work, home, in the store, etc., make it your ambition to treat them in such a way that they would say their life is better because they were in your presence.

Treat everyone with respect.

Our goal is to treat our applicants, clients and employees in the same way you would want your mother, father or child treated. Talk to people, not about people.

Live safety.

At MAU we believe that you should not only work safely, but also live safety every minute of the day, at work and at home for both you and your family.

Continuously improve the quality of your service delivery system.

Provide for and encourage employee growth and development around achieving key performance indicators that measurably improve the service to our applicants, clients and employees.


Booth Western Art Museum

Cartersville, Ga.

Why Go: The spirit of the Old West is alive just a stone’s throw away in Cartersville, Ga., thanks to the Booth Western Art Museum. Little and big cowboys and cowgirls alike will thrill to sculptures, paintings and more depicting horses, wranglers and Western scenes—all at the only Western museum in the Southeast.

Don’t Miss: The museum houses the largest permanent exhibition space for Western American art in the U.S., featuring Western artists of the 20th and 21st centuries, including Frederick Remington, whose detailed sculptures, paintings and illustrations of cowboys, American Indians and the U.S. Calvary are synonymous with the Old West. 

On View Now: This month, go behind the lens to experience what it’s like to be a White House photographer, with photographs from nine White House photographers (since 1961) on display. Kentucky Derby poster artist Susan Easton Burns and her daughter Julia will exhibit paintings of wildlife, domestic animals and figures. And painter Thom Ross shines a spotlight on the Civil War from his “Unexpected Perspective” of bright colors and stylized forms. 

Distance From Augusta: Distance from Augusta: About 188 miles or a three-hour and 15-minute drive. 

What Else: While you’re in Cartersville (voted one of the
16 Friendliest Towns by Blue Ridge County Magazine in 2011), take a side trip to the majestic Etowah Indian Mounds, which date from 1000 A.D. The largest of these burial mounds/religious sites is three acres and climbs 63 feet into the air. 

Staying the Night: For close proximity to the museum and other attractions, consider staying at the Etowah Heritage Bed
& Breakfast, which offers spacious guest rooms and a full
Southern breakfast. 

What the Health?

“Where do you want to eat tonight?”

Augusta natives Chris Peoples and Jake Van Dyke have created an app to help answer that question. “What the Health” shows the health scores and background details on any violations by restaurants during inspections from the public health department. 

The idea behind the app came when Peoples and Van Dyke were driving around downtown trying to answer the above question, when they began searching for health inspection scores. Their app now brings that information to the public right at their fingertips.

The app uses location sensors to identify and bring up scores of restaurants near you and it also offers a search function. You can also easily share your finds with friends on Facebook. 

Since launching in Georgia, Peoples and Van Dyke have now created similar apps for South Carolina, Washington D.C., Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi. 

The free app is available in the App Store and on Google Play. To find out more,

on screen off screenOn Screen/Off Screen

Brennan Simkins: “Possibilites”

After young Brennan Simkins received his third bone marrow transplant for leukemia at St. Jude Children’s Hospital, his father Turner along with family friend Joe Stevenson were inspired to write a song about the family’s experience. That song, “Possibilities,” has now been recorded by country and pop star Darius Rucker—with an accompanying video featuring the Simkins family. “It’s about gratitude and the gifts we always have, regardless of our circumstances,” says Turner. “It’s a song about faith, friends, family and possibilities.” The song was released in December as part of a holiday promotion for St. Jude. To watch, visit

wildlifeGive Wildlife a Chance

Teachers and students across Georgia are invited to honor Georgia’s wildlife and students’ artistic interests by participating in the 25th annual Give Wildlife a Chance Poster Contest, where kindergarteners through fifth graders are invited to depict their favorite nongame wildlife or native plant on a Georgia license plate.

The goal of the competition is to generate a greater knowledge and appreciation of Georgia’s diverse and increasingly threatened nongame wildlife and their habitats.

This year’s theme, “Georgia’s WILD Animals & Plants—A Natural Investment,” underscores the value of these natural resources as well as the funding needed to keep wildlife populations thriving. Projects to conserve the state’s rare, endangered and other nongame wildlife, as well as native plants and natural habitats, are not funded by state tax dollars. Rather, the Nongame Conservation Section relies on grants and donations to manage the 95 percent of species in Georgia that are not hunted or fished for. Most contributions come from the sale and renewal of wildlife license plates, which were reduced in price to $25 last July, with a larger portion supporting nongame wildlife.

Students in public schools, private schools and homeschool groups can participate by entering their drawings and paintings at the local school level. Top school-level entries then proceed to the state contest at the State Botanical Garden of Georgia in Athens. First-, second- and third-place winners are chosen there for four divisions: kindergarten, first and second grade, third and fourth grade, and fifth grade. The deadline for schools to submit state-level entries is April 10, 2015.

The top 12 state-level winners’ artwork will be showcased on the DNR Wildlife Resources Division Flickr ( and Instagram websites (, as well as displayed at the State Botanical Garden in Athens from May 5 to May 12.

encountersInspired Encounters

Salon: A gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation. 

Wikipedia isn’t always right, but in this case, its definition is spot on. Since last February, jazz musician Karen Gordon and the Greater Augusta Arts Council have hosted sa*lon: music | ideas | art | conversation, a unique gathering of Augustans from all walks of life who are interested in sharing ideas, making connections, starting conversations and creating change. 

Artists, business leaders, entrepreneurs, musicians, raconteurs, chefs and more are the kind of eclectic audience you might meet at a sa*lon gathering, but there’s a common thread. “From groups of people in different pockets, I hear a lot of the same sentiment about the way we should talk to our leadership, get involved in our communities and [other] ideas about initiatives that probably should be taking place,” says Gordon. She hopes that through these monthly gatherings, those ideas will take hold and create real change in this community. 

Because Gordon’s goal is to keep the gatherings intimate and the conversations meaningful, sa*lon’s events are invitation only, but don’t be surprised if you get a Facebook invite—it’s very likely you know someone who’s attended a sa*lon event. The semi-monthly gatherings typically feature one or two speakers, but many, many interesting conversations. To find out more, visit 

This article appears in the February/March 2015 issue of Augusta Magazine. 

RSS Augusta Magazine’s Front Porch

  • Episode 11: Jay Jefferies
    Jay Jefferies stops by to deliver the weather and much more!
  • Episode 10 - Nesia Wright
    We had the pleasure of sitting down with Nesia Wright, owner and CEO of the Georgia Soul Basketball Team. Ashlee and Nesia discuss life as the owner of a basketball team, retirement and more.
  • Episode 9: Venus Morris Griffin
    Venus Morris Griffin, one of the top real estate agents in the Augusta area, stops by our front porch to talk about her success and her upcoming book. This episode is sure to set a fire in you to go for your dreams!
  • Episode 8: Michael Romano
    Michael Romano, self-proclaimed carbohydrate king and executive pastry chef for Edgar's Hospitality Group stopped by our front porch to chat with Ashlee.


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