Monthly Archives

March 2011


By | Augusta NewsWIRE | No Comments

(AUGUSTA, GA) Five additional house sales in the works at Heritage Pine. Coming close on the heels of the first house sale in Laney Walker/Bethlehem’s flagship development, Heritage Pine, The Augusta Housing & Community Development Department has announced five imminent sales, the first of which took place this past week.

(AUGUSTA, GA) New Bethlehem Community Center offers a Senior Citizen Congregant Meal Program every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. A variety of activities, community resources, exercise classes and meals for senior adults 60 years and older. Call (706) 722-0086 for more information.

(AUGUSTA, GA) Community-wide meeting slated for Tuesday, April 26, 6 pm at Beulah Grove Baptist Church. All are invited to hear an update on revitalization efforts for Laney Walker/Bethlehem, including an update on Heritage Pine, future development along Wrightsboro Road, and the upcoming BLOCKS ARE BEAUTIFUL celebration slated for Saturday, May 7

(AUGUSTA, GA) Scientists at Georgia Health Sciences University (GHSU), located in downtown Augusta’s Master Plan Area, are isolating treatment for traumatic damage to the eye that results in blindness. They are finding a way to protect the optic nerve when the eye takes a blow on the battlefield or in a car wreck.

(AUGUSTA, GA) BLOCKS ARE BEAUTIFUL, The first annual Laney Walker/Bethlehem revitalization celebration will be held May 7 from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on Pine Street. The event will feature live entertainment, family fun, a Southern Soul Food Cook-Off, a raffle, and tours of the Heritage Pine development.

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Ocean Plaza Beach Resort on Tybee Island to serve as Title Sponsor of the 7th annual Turtle Trot

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(TYBEE ISLAND, GA) The Ocean Plaza Beach Resort on Tybee Island is pleased to serve as Title Sponsor of the 7th annual Turtle Trot, a 5K beach run that benefits the Tybee Sea Turtle Project. This year’s run takes place Saturday, April 30 at 8:30 a.m. Immediately following the run, the Georgia Sea Turtle Center will deliver a rehabilitated sea turtle to Tybee Island, which will be released back into the ocean.

In addition to raising funds for the Tybee Sea Turtle Project, proceeds from the Turtle Trot benefit the maintenance of the loggerhead hatchling housed at the Tybee Island Marine Science Center.

During the months of May to October, loggerhead sea turtles nest on the beaches of Tybee Island. Sea Turtle Project volunteers check the beaches daily and protect the sites where the females have laid their eggs, ensuring that the hatchlings make their way safely to the sea.

“We at Ocean Plaza Beach Resort are very pleased to be this year’s title sponsor for the Turtle Trot 5K Beach Run,” says Harry Spirides, Ocean Plaza’s owner and Chief Executive Officer. “I admire the noble efforts of the Tybee Island Sea Turtle Project volunteers who annually volunteer hundreds of hours of their time patrolling the beach at dawn every day during turtle nesting season looking for loggerhead sea turtle nesting activity.”

Spirides, a former U.S. Coast Guard officer, says he is impressed with the way the volunteers use an elaborate geographical tracking, reporting, and communication system to protect sea turtles.

“I have noticed that the Sea Turtle Project volunteers conduct their operations in a manner similar to what we did in the Coast Guard,” he explains. “They employ a command and control organizational structure, utilize computers, communications, some intelligence collecting and analysis, surveillance, reconnaissance, and they save lives.”

Over the past couple years, the Ocean Plaza Beach Resort and Tybee Island Marine Science Center, which are located next door to one another, have developed a close symbiotic relationship.

“The Marine Science Center allows our hotel guests to visit their center and learn about coastal Georgia’s marine ecosystem and its inhabitants, and we at Ocean Plaza are happy to support the Marine Science Center by allowing them to use our conference center’s meeting rooms to host learning symposia for their students, and we also allow their visiting instructors and marine science experts to stay in our hotel, all free of charge,” Spirides says. “We look forward to continuing this relationship for many years to come.”

The Ocean Plaza Beach Resort has also taken steps to help protect sea turtles by turning off porch lights on the top three floors of its hotel buildings, thus reducing area illumination and providing the darkness necessary for nesting sea turtles and their hatchlings.

Registration for the Turtle Trot 5K Run is $20 for members of the Tybee Island Marine Science Center and $25 for non-members. Those who pre-register by April 24 will receive a free T-shirt. Sign-in starts 7:30 a.m., followed by the run/walk at 8:30 a.m. and the sea turtle release around 10 a.m. For more information, please visit

Whether it’s for weddings, business meetings, or family vacations, the Ocean Plaza Beach Resort offers a variety of packages and specials for customers to choose from. Ocean Plaza’s award-winning restaurant, the Dolphin Reef Oceanfront Restaurant and Bar, serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Its menu offers a fusion of American, Southern, and Caribbean cuisine. There has been a resort hotel continuously operating on the Ocean Plaza Resort property for more than 120 years. The property is located on Tybee Island, about 20 minutes east of historic downtown Savannah. For more information on the Ocean Plaza Beach Resort, call (912) 786-7777, email or visit

SAVANNAH-Convention Center Hotel Preferred Developer Journeyman Austin, will hold a Panel Discussion

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(SAVANNAH, GA) Members of the development team and financial consulting firm overseeing the Hutchinson Island convention center hotel project will hold a panel discussion at the Exchange Club of Savannah’s weekly luncheon on Wednesday, April 13 at noon. The discussion will include a question-and-answer session with members of the panel and a video presentation titled “Savannah: Continuing the Experience.” The meeting is open to Exchange Club members and will be streamed live for the public at .

Plans to expand the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center campus to include a 500-room hotel on Hutchinson Island were announced last year, and the Georgia International and Maritime Trade Center Authority selected Journeyman Austin Holdings, Inc. as the developer.

Panelists will include Ruben Rodriguez, Journeyman Austin Holdings’ vice president, and Peggy McCue, the company’s director of client services, as well as Bob Swerdling, president and founder of Swerdling and Associates.

“We appreciate the opportunity to meet with Savannah’s business leaders and provide further details regarding this project,” says Rodriguez. “Savannah remains a top attraction for conventions. It truly is a jewel known nationally. Our job now is to continue to work with the Authority to make the desire for a dedicated convention center hotel a reality. It is time for the Trade Center campus to expand and provide such facilities as part of what effectively is Phase Two of the Trade Center.”

During the Exchange Club meeting, the panelists will address the following topics:

– The expansion of the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center campus and the need for a dedicated convention center hotel

Savannah is currently losing convention bookings to other cities because it does not have a dedicated convention hotel that can guarantee room blocks two to three years in advance. Studies indicate that the proposed hotel will double Savannah’s convention business, induce 83,000 new room nights in area hotels, create 1,170 new permanent jobs citywide, add $83 million in local spending per year, bring $29 million in earnings to the local economy, and generate several hundred local construction/supply jobs over the next two to three years.

In addition to serving the needs of the convention industry and feeding the local economy, the proposed convention center hotel will have a LEED Silver certification, with construction materials used from local sources to reduce transportation mileage and emissions. The hotel would be the first LEED Silver hotel in Savannah.

– The benefit of the convention center hotel to the community

A local Community Participation “Task Force” will be created to interact with the developer, designers and builder. Journeyman Austin Holdings, Inc. is committed to working with local vendors, suppliers, subcontractors and tradespeople and will sponsor training in tandem with Step Up Savannah’s Construction Apprentice Program. In addition, a mentor protégé program will be established by the Task Force with the ultimate goal of leaving local small businesses, minority-owned businesses and women-owned businesses stronger and better equipped to compete in all markets.

Journeyman’s outreach plan will also provide a framework for community participation to include local schools such as Savannah Technical College, Savannah State University and the Savannah College of Art and Design.

– A financing structure that will ensure the best possible public/private partnership and will benefit the Trade Center, all local businesses and the community at large

Journeyman will raise substantial private funding as the major share necessary to take the hotel into private ownership. Chatham County will provide the tax-exempt public financing for the remainder of the public phase, which will include all public spaces, among them the parking garage, the central physical plant and meeting spaces. The county will lease those public spaces to the hotel, recouping the debt service amount each month that it has put forth to finance that part of the project.

About the Panelists

Ruben Rodriguez has more than 35 years of experience in development, construction and business development, with extensive experience in hospitality and mixed-use development. He has worked extensively with Hilton and Hyatt Hotels and has significant international experience with projects in Asia, Mexico and Europe. For the past several years, Rodriguez has directed high profile construction projects including pre-construction of the Hilton Austin Convention Center Hotel and the Jack S. Blanton Museum at the University of Texas. In addition, he has taken the lead on projects in Albuquerque, Fort Lauderdale and Portland.

Peggy McCue has over 20 years experience in strategic planning, market research and client relations within the design and construction industry. Over the past decade, she has focused exclusively on the hospitality sector, including select-service and full-service hotels, resorts, convention centers, mixed use, multi-family and senior living developments. In this capacity, she has cultivated relationships with public-private stakeholders, joint venture partners and consultant teams to secure business in more than 10 countries. In addition, she has directed numerous branding and imaging campaigns.

Bob Swerdling has 25 years experience in public finance and has been providing services to municipal clients for more than 15 years. During his career, he has successfully provided financing for more than $4 billion in state and local government projects and initiatives. He has worked from all corners of the public financing business; from a client’s perspective as an official of the State of New Mexico, as an investment banker and as a credit analyst.

About the Exchange Club

The Exchange Club of Savannah meets every week at the Coastal Empire Fairgrounds at 4801 Meding Street in Savannah. Lunch is served at noon, and the program begins promptly at 12:30 p.m. For more information on the Exchange Club, please visit www.savannahexchange

(ISLE OF HOPE, GA) Isle of Hope, Georgia to celebrate 275th Anniversary

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(ISLE OF HOPE, GA) Isle of Hope, Georgia will celebrate their 275th Anniversary on Saturday, October 15, 2011. A parade will begin on Bluff Drive at 10:30 AM. The celebration is free and open to the public. There will be food, an Art Show at the pavilion, entertainment, activities for children, historical lectures, a historical display of Bluff houses, re-enactors, and vendors. Congressmen Jack Kingston and Ben Watson will give closing comments.

The committee is looking for old photographs of the island and for folks to be in the old fashion parade. To participate or for more information, please contact Mary at (912) 355-6951 or


By | Augusta NewsWIRE | No Comments


(AUGUSTA, GA) The first annual Laney Walker/Bethlehem revitalization celebration will be held May 7 from 11:00 a.m. to  3:00 p.m. on Pine Street. The event will feature live entertainment, family fun, a Southern Soul Food Cook-Off, a raffle, and tours of the Heritage Pine development.

(AUGUSTA, GA)  Young Professionals of Augusta, Young Lawyers of Augusta, and First Saturday Crew to clean up Downtown Augusta and Golf & Gardens. All three organizations have partnered together to make a difference a few weeks before Augusta once again hosts the Masters. Saturday, March 26, 2011 8am at the Augusta Common. The community is invited to come and join. Please bring lawn mowers, rakes, shovels, and gloves.

(AUGUSTA, GA) Paine College’s International Opportunities Seminar, “Competing in the 21st Century: Navigating the Global Marketplace,” will take place March 31 from 9 am to 4 pm. The event, free and open to the public, is one in a series of one-day business seminars, was developed by the Dept. of Commerce, the Economic Development Administration, and the Minority Business Development Agency.

(AUGUSTA, GA) New Bethlehem Community Center offers a Senior Citizen Congregant Meal Program every Tuesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. until 1:00 p.m.  A variety of activities, community resources, exercise classes and meals for senior adults 60 years and older.  Call (706) 722-0086 for more information.

(AUGUSTA, GA) The Augusta Canal Authority is taking another major step forward in its multi-year master plan with the restoration of the Third Level canal located south-east of the new Judicial Center on Walton Way. The newly-renovated portion which will assist with an overall plan for greater connectivity of greenspace throughout the City, complements  the Canal Authority’s overall mission to promote the area’s history and wildlife.

(AUGUSTA, GA) Southface Institute, under a three-year grant from the National Homebuilders Association, announces a partnership with the Augusta Housing Department to assist with design, energy modeling and monitoring for high-performance, affordable housing in Laney Walker/Bethlehem. Southface, based in Atlanta, is a nonprofit organization that for more than 30 years has promoted energy-, water- and resource-efficient workplaces, homes and communities throughout the Southeast.

(AUGUSTA, GA) The Lucy Craft Laney Museum and Paine College are jointly sponsoring a retrospective exhibit of visual artist Malaika Favorite, now through March 31. Favorite, currently residing in Augusta has been widely exhibited throughout the United States.

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(SAVANNAH, GA) Southpoint Media Opens New Office on Broughton Street

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(SAVANNAH, GA) Southpoint Media, a local leader in website development and web marketing, is pleased to announce the opening of its new office at 220 West Broughton Street.


“Everything we do revolves around using the web to grow our clients’ businesses. We work closely with our clients, monitoring their websites’ performance and suggesting and implementing ways to make them perform better.” says Brad Morrison, founder of Southpoint Media. “Having an office in Downtown Savannah allows us to deepen the relationship we have with existing clients and provides a central location for meetings.”


Southpoint Media was founded in 2004 by Morrison, a web specialist with more than 15 years experience in the industry. Over the past seven years, Southpoint has built hundreds of successful websites for businesses and organizations of all sizes around the country.


Southpoint Media’s clients include Deemer Dana & Froehle LLP, Finger & Associates Plastic Surgery Center, Kole Management Company, United Way of the Coastal Empire and Pursuit Real Estate Group, among others. For more information, please call 912-330-4353, email or visit

Proceeds from 2011 $50,000 Savannah Challenger Pro-Am to Benefit Special Pops Tennis, Savannah

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(SAVANNAH, GA) The $50,000 Savannah Challenger Tennis Tournament is pleased to announce that proceeds raised during the 2011 Pro-Am Tournament will benefit Special Pops Tennis, Savannah.

Special Pops Tennis is an adaptive tennis program designed to share the lifetime sport of tennis with children and adults with intellectual disabilities. The nonprofit organization began in the Atlanta area and expanded to Savannah in the spring of 2010 with the help and support of the Savannah Area Tennis Association. The program is offered free of charge to all skill levels. The Landings has served as the home base for Special Pops Tennis, Savannah, providing courts, racquets, gently used clothing, a host of volunteers, and the financial support to send several athletes to adaptive tennis tournaments in Atlanta and South Carolina.

“Special Pops Tennis is thrilled to be the recipient of this year’s Challenger Pro Am,” says Mary Smith, director of Special Pops Tennis, Savannah. “Sharing the game of tennis with these special needs athletes is a win-win for all of us—it’s a great way for volunteers to give back to the game, and our athletes love learning the game. The Landings tennis community provides a great example for other Savannah tennis facilities to follow!”

This is the third consecutive year The Landings on Skidaway Island has hosted the $50,000 Savannah Challenger Tennis Tournament. This year’s tournament will take place April 30-May 8 at the Franklin Creek Tennis Center. The tournament is open to the public and will feature 32 world-ranked tennis professionals vying to win highly coveted ATP ranking points in addition to the prize money.

The Pro-Am will take place Sunday, May 1 from 3-5 p.m. and is limited to the first 16 entrants. The entry fee is a minimum of a $150 donation per person. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the Pro-Am will go directly to Special Pops Tennis, Savannah.

For more information on the 2011 Savannah Challenger Tennis Tournament, please visit To learn more about the Pro-Am or to register, please call The Landings Club Pro Shop at 912-598-3500. For more information on Special Pops Tennis, please email

2011 Play It Forward Concert

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(SAVANNAH, GA) The Rotary Clubs of Coastal Georgia are nearing their Second Annual Rotarians Play It Forward Concert to be held on April 23 at the Morris Center at Trustees Garden in Savannah, GA from 4:00 to 7:00pm.

The title sponsor for the 2011 Rotarians Play it Forward concert is Wells Fargo. This very generous sponsorship allows virtually all other funds raised by sponsorships and ticket sales to go directly to the Rotary Foundation and its worldwide humanitarian efforts, including the eradication of polio. In addition, funds raised by the concert will be more than doubled by the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation. With the Bill and Linda Gates Foundation match, a total well over $80 thousand is possible.

The 2011 PIF Concert will feature an array of performances by talented local Rotarians backed up by prominent local musicians. The evening’s line up will include a presentation by the Rotary Dancers. There will be a silent auction featuring artwork by local Rotarians and as well as food and beverages. Sponsorships are still available. The Rotary Foundation is a 501c3 organization.

“Music is the worldwide language,” says Dave Legasse, chair of the 2011 PIF concert and a member of the Savannah West Club. “This year’s Rotarians Play it Forward concert will feature talent from the 10 area Rotary Clubs. The proceeds of these efforts will include the ongoing worldwide Rotary effort to eradicate polio. And, we’re this close to that goal.”

The Rotary Clubs of Coastal Georgia comprise of over 600 members from the Effingham Sunrise, Effingham County, Richmond Hill, Savannah (downtown), Savannah East, Savannah South, Savannah Sunrise, Savannah West, Skidaway and Pooler clubs.

For more information on the Rotary Clubs of Coastal Georgia and their 2011 Rotarians Play if Forward Concert, please visit, the Rotarians Play it Forward Facebook pages, or email

Armstrong Atlantic State University to kickoff the annual 3 Days for Armstrong Campaign

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(SAVANNAH, GA) Armstrong Atlantic State University and the Armstrong Foundation will kickoff the annual 3 Days for Armstrong Campaign on Tuesday, March 29. Serving as this year’s campaign co-chairs are Danny Pinyan, president of The Pinyan Company and trustee of the Armstrong Foundation Board, and Ray Gaster, owner of Gaster Lumber and Hardware and Armstrong alumnus.

Now in its eighth year, 3 Days for Armstrong seeks annual gifts from businesses throughout the region, alumni, and individuals in support of academic scholarships and critical university programs. 

“Armstrong is vital to Savannah and our region because it offers a first rate education and provides highly skilled professionals who meet local workforce needs and strengthen our economic vitality,” said Pinyan.

The university’s College of Education, College of Health Professions, College of Liberal Arts and College of Science and Technology enroll more than 7,600 students with more than 1,400 students residing on campus. 3 Days for Armstrong will run through Thursday, March 31. Gifts of all amounts are meaningful and tax deductible. Pledges made now can be paid through December 2011. For information on campaign events or to make a pledge, contact Suzanne Ansley, annual fund coordinator, at 912.344.2870. For more information visit

About Armstrong Atlantic State University:

Armstrong Atlantic State University, part of the University System of Georgia, was founded in 1935. The university offers more than 100 undergraduate and graduate academic programs in the College of Liberal Arts, the College of Science and Technology, the College of Education, and the College of Health Professions. Armstrong Atlantic serves more than 7,600 students at its main campus in Savannah and a regional center in Hinesville. Its diverse student population comes from nearly all 50 states, the District of Columbia, and 80 countries. For more information visit

Staci M. Donegan has joined Celia Dunn Sotheby’s International Realty as executive assistant

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(SAVANNAH, GA) – Staci M. Donegan has joined Celia Dunn Sotheby’s International Realty as executive assistant to Celia Dunn. She is also studying to earn her Realtor’s license.

As executive assistant, Donegan will be responsible for assisting in the management of day to day operations, stewardship reporting as well as the execution of marketing strategies.  She will be able to use her leadership, planning and problem-solving skills, as well as her financial knowledge.

Prior to joining Celia Dunn Sotheby’s International Realty, Donegan was a financial and business consultant.  She served as Controller for Savannah College of Art and Design and chief of staff in the office of the president at SCAD. She also previously worked for The Coca-Cola Company in Atlanta and was the executive assistant to the global vice president of the Burger King account, financial services manager and financial analyst. Donegan was also a Certified Public Accountant in the audit department at PriceWaterhouse Coopers (formerly Coopers and Lybrand LLC).

A sustaining member of Junior League of Savannah, Donegan is also a member of Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church. She is a member of Savannah Downtown Neighborhood Association and Telfair Museum of Art, and a volunteer with Historic Savannah Foundation.

Donegan who attended Clemson University and University of Delaware, has a bachelor’s degree in accounting. 

Known for its tradition of integrity, Celia Dunn Sotheby’s International Realty specializes in residential and commercial properties in Savannah and the Low Country of Georgia and South Carolina. Founded in 1981, Celia Dunn Sotheby’s International Realty is noted for outstanding service to its clients, thorough knowledge of Savannah and the South Carolina Low Country, and excellent staff, in addition to having one of the region’s top property management departments. Celia Dunn Sotheby’s International Realty is a member of Who’s Who in Luxury Real Estate. The owners are natives of Savannah who have more than 60 years’ combined experience in real estate. The offices are located at 9, 13, and 17 West Charlton Street on Madison Square in Savannah and 336 Buck Island Road in Bluffton, S.C.

For more information, call Celia Dunn Sotheby’s International Realty at (912) 234-3323 or visit To contact the Bluffton office, call (843) 836-3900.