Short Takes: June/July 2015

STJJ20151-c33caf08Julie Boone

Petersburg Boat Operator

JULIE BOONE is both a teacher and a storyteller—and what a classroom she has. The education and programs coordinator for the Augusta Canal, Boone and her fellow guides lead tours of the historic waterway from the helm of a replica Petersburg boat, originally used to ferry cotton and tobacco to markets along the Savannah River.

With a bit of whimsy and an abundance of enthusiasm, Boone brings Augusta’s history to life as the broad, shallow boat drifts up and down the mirror-like waters of the canal, reflecting sites such as the Confederate Powder Works, historic textile mills, the Butt Memorial Bridge and its ties to theTitanic, the home of Declaration of Independence signer George Walton and more. The stories are home for the Augusta native, who still remembers the swooping feeling in her stomach when as a girl she’d ride over the Butt Bridge in a car or hear the sound of the water rushing at the 13th Street gate.

The waterway is also known for its turtles, great blue herons, hawks and other wildlife, including those a little more ferocious.

“The number-one question is, ‘Do we have alligators?’” says Boone. The answer? “Every once in a while,” she says. “The first year I worked here…a canoe went by and the couple in the canoe said, ‘Watch out for that alligator out there!’ We all laughed and thought they were joking, but we turned right at the raw water pumping station and there was an eight-and-a-half-foot alligator on a log!”

It’s been 10 years of nearly daily tours with school groups, local and international tourists, weddings and bachelor parties (and yes, even the occasional alligator), but Boone still thrills to the outdoor classroom she gets to work in every day. “To get paid to talk to people and to look at wildlife and ride on a boat,” she says. “It’s just a dream come true.”

The Augusta Canal’s Petersburg Boat tours run Tuesday-Saturday in the summer and winter and daily in the fall and spring. Special tours are also available. Visit

ST JJ2015 2Thumbs Up!

Wholesale Wave

AS EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR of Augusta Locally Grown and a partner in Grow Harrisburg, Kim Hines knows a thing or two about the benefits of fresh, locally grown fruits and vegetables. And she’s made a point of working to ensure access to fresh local food for everyone, including low-income families.

Thanks to the work of Hines and others with Grow Harrisburg, Augusta is the first community statewide to offer Wholesome Wave Georgia’s new Fruit and Vegetable Prescription (FVRx) Program. The program is coordinated through Harrisburg Family Health Care (Hines’ s husband Chris is a family physician there) and the Veggie Truck Farmers Market, which takes place every Tuesday afternoon in the Harrisburg community on Broad Street across from the Kroc Center.

For the pilot, 20 women from the community (and their families) agreed to participate for five months. The families visit the clinic weekly to learn about the importance of fruits and vegetables in their daily diet and are provided a prescription (just like a prescription for medication) to take to the Veggie Truck Farmers Market. Each prescription allows for a certain monetary value depending on each family’s size, so these moms can buy seasonal produce from the market every week.

The prescription program is piggybacking on a number of healthy food initiatives going on in the community, including gardening and cooking classes, neighborhood gardens, a composting site and more.

While the prescription program is currently being supported by Wholesome Wave, funds and volunteers are always needed. To find out how you can help, contact Kim Hines at [email protected].

ST JJ2015 4Music

Phillip Lee Jr.

by Mark Hodges

f you haven’t had a chance to catch Phillip Lee Jr. playing live around town, then you probably don’t get out very much. He seems to be everywhere these days, rising quickly to the status of a tried-and-true local music veteran after only playing in Augusta for the past year and a half.

Two years ago, Lee decided that he’d had enough of grad school and was ready to pursue his dream of being a full-time musician. So he made music his sole focus and started working hard to make his dream come true. Speaking of the hardest-working man in show business, his first performance in Augusta was appropriately enough with James Brown’s former guitarist, Keith Jenkins. After that initial gig, Lee ventured out and teamed up with other musicians and bands in Augusta, performing with such local notables as Ed Turner and Number 9.

Lee’s sound is based in classic rock and soul, with a dash of acoustic singer-songwriter influences thrown in for good measure. Think James Taylor and Van Morrison with an extra shot of adrenaline. He typically plays a mix of covers and original tunes, staying adventurous and eclectic in his song choices to keep the nightly set from getting stale. At present, he either plays solo or with a full band bearing his namesake, and he can often be heard performing with local guitarist Michael Baideme. One of the more notable recent shows includes an opening slot for Augusta’s extremely popular Rock Fore! Dough concert during Masters week.

Right now the plan is to cement his local fan base and complete his debut recording, an EP he hopes to release sometime later this year. After that, Lee’s looking to venture beyond the borders of the Garden City and tour the Southeast. It’s a long-term plan that he is dedicated to making a reality and he’s loving every minute of it.

ST JJ2015 55

As the owner of the Art of Gardening, Ashley Patterson Prochaska (a fine arts major) has been applying her creative eye to garden design for the past 12 years. Her approach includes using lots of texture and color—although green and white are a high-impact favorite combination—as well as plants that work equally well in flowerbeds and containers. So we asked her:

What Are Your Favorite Easy-To-Grow Flowers?

Torenia is a shade-loving, heat-tolerant annual that comes in a variety of colors and works well in containers and window boxes. It’s especially versatile since it’s available as an upright or
trailing plant.

Pentas loves the sun and heat and is a drought-tolerant annual, making it perfect for Augusta’s hot summers. Best of all, it attracts butterflies and it can be used in flowerbeds and containers. It’s available in a variety of colors and heights too.

Angelonia is an easy-to-grow annual whether you choose the upright, spreading or trailing variety. My favorite is the “Serena.” It comes in several colors and it is heat tolerant, drought resistant and loves the sun. Best of all, it’s long blooming, so it gives color all summer.

Succulents are beautiful yet forgiving plants for containers, on porches and decks. I think of succulents as living works of art with their sculptural shapes and colors. They are probably my favorite plant for creative works.

Little Lime Hydrangea is a versatile flowering shrub that fits easily into a small landscape as well as containers. It’s easy to grow and, best of all,, it’s great to cut and bring inside. Once established, it’s unlike other hydrangea macrophylla

ST JJ2015 6Getaways

Southern Grown Festival, Sea Island, Ga. • June 19-21 •

Why Go:  A celebration of all things Southern? Need we say more? The inaugural Southern Grown Festival is a three-day food, music and cultural festival—packed with Southern flavor—that takes place on the beautifully manicured lawns and beaches of Sea Island, Ga.

What To Eat: Food is at the heart of Southern culture and some of the South’s most prominent chefs will be serving up traditional and modern takes on Southern dishes, including the Southern Food Gallery that will feature Southern staples; an old-fashioned fish fry offering seafood, drink, music and storytelling; a Prohibition-style speakeasy with mixologist-crafted cocktails; a multi-course dinner; and even a traditional Southern brunch. Pass the biscuits and gravy!

What Else: On Saturday from 11 a.m. to 3:15 p.m., festival goers can choose from a wide variety of classes. Most, naturally, focus on food, including a culinary class with chefs John Currence and Mike Lata, both James Beard Award winners, as well as hands-on classes on how to roll homemade pasta, how to make cheese, how to smoke (barbecue, that is) and the craft of breadmaking. Other classes offer instruction on such artisan endeavors as songwriting, knife making, watercolor painting and more. The day culminates in an evening concert featuring the Avett Brothers.

Where To Stay: Accommodations are available at three Sea Island locations: the Cloister, the Lodge and the Inn. Non-Sea Island guests are also invited to attend
the event. 

Cost: The festival offers a variety of ticket options, from concert-only tickets to all-inclusive passes, from $65/person or $130/couple to $800/person or $1,450/couple.

Distance From Augusta: About three hours and 34 minutes or 205 miles

Faith Prince 2

On Screen/Off Screen

Faith Prince | Photo by Jenny Anderson

You may not recognize her name, but that face and bright red hair are unforgettable. Character actor Faith Prince has appeared in numerous television shows, from 1980s’ Remington Steele toSpin City with Michael J. Fox to, more recently, Drop Dead Divaand Melissa & Joey. But the Augusta-born actress may be best known by the theater crowd for her Tony Award-winning Broadway appearance as Miss Adelaide in Guys and Dolls.Prince can be seen next in a new musical based on the movieThe First Wives Club, which is set to open on the Great White Way later this year.

ST JJ2015 7Uber Cool

When twitter launched in 2006, admit it: You probably said Twittered or tweetered a time or two before you got the hang of it.

Enter Uber. The ridesharing app became part of Augusta’s lexicon in April when Uber launched in time for Masters week.

So what is Uber exactly? The concept is surprisingly simple: The app allows you to contact Uber-approved drivers to catch a ride to various locations. Fares fluctuate depending on demand and the drivers—all locals using their own passenger vehicles—undergo a stringent screening process and ongoing quality controls.

The beauty of Uber is that not only do passengers get to rate drivers, but drivers also rate passengers—which helps guarantee good behavior and a positive experience on both sides.

Based on a recent fare estimate, the cost for an Uber from downtown Augusta to west Augusta ranges from $15 to $21. 
The Uber app can be downloaded from the App Store, Google Play and the Windows Store. To learn more, visit Uber is also seeking interested drivers to become independent contractors. Visit the website to get started.

ST JJ2015 9Lavender Fields Forever

The fields of sweet purple lavender may not quite go on forever, but when you close your eyes and breathe in the sweet scents from Ooh La La Lavender Farm’s fields, it almost seems like it.

The Eatonton, Ga. lavender farm hosts its second annual Lavender Festival on June 13 to showcase its fields as well as its fresh lavender products. Attendees can picnic on the grounds (bring your own or purchase lunch onsite), enjoy lavender-flavored snacks such as ice cream, cookies or lemonade; shop for lavender-scented beauty products; or pamper themselves with yoga in the gazebo or chair massages.Meanwhile, the kids will enjoy hay and fire truck rides, a petting zoo and pony rides, catch and release fishing (bring your own poles and bait), inflatables and an obstacle course.

Cost is $10, $5 for ages 12 to 18 (children under 12 are free) and includes all activities except for massages. The festival begins at 9 a.m., with a 4 p.m. concert by the Rocky Creek Band, who will play until the festival ends at 7 p.m. For more, visit

ST JJ2015 10Anything Is Possible

Turner Simkins has been doing a lot of traveling.

Since the April launch of his book Possibilities, which chronicles his family’s journey during son Brennan’s cancer treatment, the Augustan has been on a whirlwind book tour up and down the East Coast, across the country with TV appearances on C-SPAN and Fox & Friends.

“It’s crazy,” says Simkins. “I don’t know what my expectations were, but this has exceeded them.” 

Possibilities after all started out as simple blog posts. They were written by Turner to express his emotions and chronicle the long years during Brennan’s fight against acute myeloid leukemia, which began in 2009 when he was just seven years old. The blog took on a life of its own, until a publisher contacted Simkins suggesting that it could become a book.

Over the past couple of years, Simkins has culled all 2,000-plus pages into book form and the result is a fast-paced read that people can’t put down. “The book reads like a thriller,” says Simkins’s wife Tara. “A lot of people have told us that they [start reading] and the next thing they know, it’s midnight.” 

Possibilities comes on the heels of a song of the same name recorded by former Hootie and the Blowfish frontman and country music artist Darius Rucker, released in December 2014 as a fundraiser for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where Brennan continues to go for checkups. Proceeds from advance book sales have also gone to benefit St. Jude’s through Press On, the nonprofit that the Simkins co-started to fund cancer research at pediatric cancer centers nationwide.

On a recent visit to the hospital, Simkins and his family reconnected with other children and families they’d met during Brennan’s treatment. Some of them had read Possibilities and expressed how much the book encouraged them. And that feedback is exactly what Simkins had hoped for as he was writing and editing—“that it was going to be embraced by people who went through what we went through…and that people feel it helps them, whether they have cancer in their lives or not.” 

Possibilities is available at the Morris Museum of Art Gift Shop, Design Images, the Book Tavern and Barnes and Noble and online on and and as a Kindle ebook. For more info

This article appears in the June/July 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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