Immerse yourself In Butterflies This July

By Jon Copsey

Have you seen butterflies sleep? They hang upside down under leaves and branches during the night. When the temperature warms up, they unfold their wings and start fluttering.

Experience the flying butterflies all month long at the Butterfly Encounter at the Chattahoochee Nature Center. This newly improved and expanded, enclosed space features hundreds of butterflies flitting around the native plants they love to eat.
It’s easy to get up close to the butterflies, and you even have a chance to feed them using a nectar stick. Each of the species in the encounter is native to Georgia, so you are sure to walk away more familiar with our local species and butterfly biology! Be sure to bring your camera, the Butterfly Encounter is an exhibit where memories are made, and photos that will become your personal keepsakes are taken.

The popular Monarch butterfly is just one of the colorful species you will find in the Butterfly Encounter. This butterfly is the only one known to migrate, from northern American down to Mexico, each year. What you may not know is that it only likes to lay eggs on the milkweed plant. If there are no milkweed plants available, the butterfly will not lay its eggs, leading to population decline. Like other pollinators, like bees, butterflies have an important role to play in our ecosystem.

The Butterfly Encounter outdoor exhibit is open daily until July 31, and is included with general admission to CNC and free to CNC members. For more information, visit

Veggies Steal The Show At The Local

By Frank Mack

The Local Wood Fired Grill is my latest discovery. It’s small, efficient, and the staff is a pleasure to watch. And most importantly, the food is simply superb. 

Parked at 5315 Windward Pkwy. in Alpharetta, you would never see it—it’s tucked away in a small strip center. In a word, it’s nondescript. Out front they have a little sign and I had not a clue as to what’s behind it, and no reason at all to find it. But I did.

The Local Wood Fired Grill has been around for over a year and is owned by local folks Diane and Danny Kim, a perfectly matched pair. These two have the harmony game down pat. And boy does it show. This place is calm, no matter what, because they have got it handled, a system that works. You walk in and line up and order off the menu that is beautifully handwritten on the wall. They feature very simple choices of grilled proteins and a host of vegetable options that change often, and in my opinion are the real stars of the show.

Now stop please and note that this is not you average “grill.” This is real, honest, grilled, and smoked meat on a wood-fired grill. Their day starts at 5 a.m., and that makes all the difference in the world. With cooks that have real skills and work with real food, which is cooked over real wood, means you get real flavor. They feature chicken, pulled pork, and grilled or smoked wings. These guys serve a completely grease-free meal that explodes with flavor. Who knew?

The sides, oh my god, the sides. Now here you’re going to call me a liar. Because I am going to call them the best ever! Everything, absolutely everything, is fresh. That’s the first thing… if it was fresh at the market, fresh when they cook it, and fresh when they serve you… well you get the point.

Beyond the freshness it’s the seasoning as well. A quick flip where they add just the right touch, the pow, the wow, and the mmmm oh boy! Is that the secret? I think it’s not a secret exactly. It’s more that they are willing to bring in and train up a staff properly. To do it their way, which is honest cooking featuring real ingredients.

I am utterly amazed when chefs get a shot at real food. What happens to corn on the cob when it’s been wood-grilled and perfectly seasoned? It’s like the world ended and it’s just me and that ear of goodness. I go after it with gnashing teeth, like a starving glutton. Their carrots, perfectly done carrots, at a fast food place? And that’s another thing, is this really fast food? I’m confused, it’s fast alright, real fast. But it’s just to darn good to be called fast food.

What will the choices be daily? Who knows, whatever is fresh so they change frequently but they feature at least a dozen choices. This place is a vegans best friend. And that corn on the cob, oh my, I hope it never runs out. Did I mention the corn on the cob?

At The Local Wood Fired Grill they also serve wraps and salads to go along with their meals that feature meats and proteins. This is the one place that could drop the proteins and go straight up veggies. It’s that good. But I hope they don’t because I do love the wings.

Another great feature is the unique beverage offerings. Take note of the soda machine because it’s an experiment and as far as I know, there are very few like it anywhere. They are bringing back the old time soda flavors. They have also added in some organic sweet tea and you get it. It’s a throwback, brought forward, and they are leapfrogging the grease merchants with freshness. 
Congrats to the Kims. They have really brought a new style of cooking. They translate their desires, their standards, into action every day, every meal, and every customer. You’ll feel it and taste it. There is something different in what they do, and how they do it. They push every day for excellence. And I am here to tell you, they achieve it. ❍

Concert Season Is In Full Retro Mode

By Hedley Lamarr

We have a lot of opportunities to see great music without traveling very far. I love many of our outdoor venues, such as the Riverside concert series in Roswell and at the Chattahoochee Nature Center they do some great stuff at their concert pavilion. Beyond the local spots there are some big shows in the metro area coming up soon that are of note and if you love retro 80s rock, then Chastain Park in Atlanta is going to be your go-to place for concerts in the coming weeks.

On July 11 the Retro Futura tour hits the stage at Chastain. This is a tour featuring some of the biggest acts from the 80s such as Modern English, ABC, Belinda Carlisle, and more. On July 18 two legendary acts Violent Femmes and Echo & the Bunneymen perform. This will be a great double act as both of these bands contain most of the original members and in all honesty they have aged pretty well. If you went to college in the 80s you still have that Violent Femmes anthem “Blister In The Sun” ringing in your ears. Then on July 22 they feature the Life Tour that has Culture Club and our own B-52s performing. I can say that without a doubt the B-52s are still one of the best live acts I’ve seen. Going on four decades now and I dare you to not dance during “Rock Lobster.”

But wait there is more! The retro theme just motors along at Chastain. In early August they have the Lost 80s Live tour hitting the stage on August 5. This show features A Flock of Seagulls, Naked Eyes, Wang Chung, and Berlin. Each of those acts were in heavy MTV rotation back in the day so for those of you over 50, take your vitamins and relive high school. If you want, let’s meet at my house, play some Atari, then head down for the show. Come on, you know you want to. For info on Chastain shows visit

Okay so maybe the 80s new wave wasn’t your thing. I have options. At the Atlanta Botanical Garden they have an outdoor concert series called Concerts in the Garden. In July they feature a show on the 13th with Bruce Hornsby & The Noisemakers. I’m not sure what happened to The Range but I’m sure Bruce will be bringing out all of the hits. On July 27 they have everyone’s favorite Doobie Brother Michael McDonald. McDonald has, of course, produced many hits with both the Doobie Brothers back in the late 70s and then as a very successful solo career. Each of these shows promises to be a great fit for the relaxed setting. For info and tickets visit

American Pasta Factory Offers A New Take On Pasta

As I’m sure you are well aware, Roswell is home to many great restaurants. Most of these places are closer to fine dining but there is a new restaurant on the landscape called American Pasta Factory. Doing freshly-made pasta in a fast-casual concept, this place is anything but ordinary. Located at 1123 Alpharetta Highway in Roswell, American Pasta Factory is operated by Octavio Malheiros, a Brazilian with Italian influences, and his son Victor who bring this innovative concept to Roswell.
They make fresh pasta and sauces in-house and allow you the opportunity to build your own meal by choosing from a variety of toppings.

The process starts as you enter and begin to build your meal. First, you choose from four types of pasta: Rigatoni, Fettuccine, Spaghetti or the house specialty Zoodles.
At American Pasta Factory, freshness goes beyond their pasta and sauces, as they also feature nearly two dozen fresh ingredients such as baby arugula, spinach, squash, and green peas, plus traditional options like tomatoes, olives, basil, and mozzarella. With each order you are free to choose up to six ingredients for the flavor profile you crave. Then, you pick your sauce, each one house-made, they feature Pomodoro (tomato), Bolognese (meat sauce), Alfredo, Pesto, Vodka or Aglio and Olio (garlic and olive oil). From there you can add meatballs, Italian sausage, or chicken to your dish. Once you are finished you see your order prepared right before your eyes. You are ready to experience some of the best pasta you’ve ever had!

Beyond the ability to create your own pasta, American Pasta Factory also features an array of house specialties if you would like them to do their thing. Two types of Mac & Cheese, Spaghetti Bolognese, Alfredo Four Cheese Ravioli, Zoodle Pesto, Spaghetti and Meatballs and the Mediterranean make for easy ordering. Should you not be in the mood for pasta there are other options on the menu to choose. And don’t forget to end your meal with a delicious Tiramissu or Limoncello Mascarpone cake!

American Pasta Factory
1123 Alpharetta Street

Roswell, Georgia 30075
(678) 599-7301

The Housing Market For 2018… So far it’s all good

By Kirsten Ricci

It’s hard to believe that 2018 is half over and our real estate market is still hot and momentum is not showing signs of slowing. Here is my state of the market update for 2018.

While national statistics state that pending sales are slower than expected, the deep dive into the data reveals that lack of inventory is the cause. Home prices are on the rise and in our northern suburbs some areas are seeing 5% increases from January to June. Inside the perimeter the market is experiencing even greater growth in high demand areas such as ones with beltline accessibility.

Homes are taking slightly longer to sell in the mid $400s to $650,000 price point, if you fall in that category and are considering making a move you will need to win the beauty contest, with homes needing to be move-in ready, sporting the latest stylings. That is the key, otherwise, you get lost in the mix and end up having to reduce the price to win the buyer. There is less than one month of inventory of homes priced under $400,000. This is having a great effect on neighborhoods that were once considered less desirable; they now see real gains in value due to location and affordability.

The luxury market with homes over $750,000 has over ten months of inventory, which does not include builder shadow inventory. This is a buyers market for the high end, and represents a wonderful opportunity to move up into this arena.
I am asked all of the time about what is driving this demand and if a correction is coming. While I don’t have a crystal ball, there are some facts to consider. We have over 100,000 people relocating to the Atlanta metro area every year, and that trend has been happening for nearly a decade. During the recession builders stopped building and when the recovery began there was a frenzy to purchase and there were low prices, low interest rates and new buyers who absorbed what was available.

So now we have thousands of new people looking for homes, people who lost their homes during the recession are now able to purchase again, and we have the two largest population segments of mature adults and millennials in the home buying market. Also, people are more hesitant to move if they have been in a home less than five years, while on paper they have gained significant equity, the trade-up home could erode the gain due to the rise in home values plus rising interest rates, thus leaving the potential seller to stay put longer. So supply and demand continue to be the main headline along with the fact that our homes have been a great investment.

Kirsten Ricci is a Roswell resident and a Berkshire Hathaway Agent who specializes in residential real estate in the north metro Atlanta area. She can be reached at 678-472-3832, ❍

Meaningful Conversations about Money

The Silver Lining for Required Minimum Distributions

By Robert Fezza and Steve Siders

Are you a retiree either approaching or in the thick of required minimum distributions (RMDs)? Do you have a parent who is age 70 ½ or older? If you are or you do, keep reading…

For retirees with qualified retirement accounts, age 70 ½ is an important IRS milestone, as these accounts are subject to required minimum distributions (RMDs). This is when Uncle Sam catches up to you by requiring a withdrawal with taxes deducted. To avoid a hefty penalty, your RMD must be taken from your retirement account on an annual basis, by calendar year-end.

But what if you don’t need the income for current living expenses, or taking the income will result in paying higher taxes or increase your Medicare insurance premiums? 

If you’re over age 70 ½ , you have the option of making a Qualified Charitable Distribution (QCD). Instead of taking an RMD, a QCD permits a direct transfer of up to $100,000 from your IRA to a qualified charity or multiple qualified charities. Depending on the amount of your RMD and the size of your donation, QCDs can automatically satisfy part or all of your required minimum distributions (RMDs) for the year when the QCD is made. It’s important to know that funds that have already been distributed from an IRA to the IRA owner, and are then contributed to charity, don’t qualify as a QCD.

Here’s the silver lining: The amount of the QCD is subtracted from the RMD amount on your taxes, thereby reducing your adjusted gross income (AGI). You have not just reduced your taxable income, but you also may have reduced your Medicare premiums. Medicare premiums for Parts B and D are determined by your modified adjusted gross income (MAGI), which is adjusted gross income plus tax-exempt municipal bond interest, calculated for two years prior. If your MAGI is even one dollar over a premium threshold, you’ll pay the higher premium. But since you’ve lowered your AGI, you also may have lowered your MAGI and thus, your premiums are calculated on a lower income base.

Giving a portion of your RMD to a charity through a QCD allows you to reclaim the lost charitable deduction that the new tax laws eliminated. However, this strategy is nuanced and you should have meaningful conversations with your financial advisor and CPA to ensure you’ve complied with all the requirements. If you have questions about your RMDs or the opportunity for QCDs, let us know, we’ll be happy to help.
Life’s a journey—navigate it wisely!

Robert Fezza and Steve Siders.

Robert Fezza, CFP® and Steve Siders, CFP® own Odyssey Personal Financial Advisors, 500 Sun Valley Drive, Suite A-6, Roswell, GA. Their firm specializes in working with people who are serious about making progress toward financial goals. Odyssey manages portfolios greater than $250,000. 770-992-4444, Securities offered through Cetera Financial Specialists LLC, member FINRA/SIPC.

Georgia Ensemble Theatre And The Stories They Tell

As many of you know, Georgia Ensemble Theatre (GET) had a huge loss last year when Bob Farley, their Artistic Director, passed away quite suddenly. During my interviews for this article, it was obvious that the loss is still felt quite deeply, but the whole company is determined to carry on and expand on his vision for the future of their theatre that is based out of the Roswell Performing Arts Center.

Farley’s legacy will be a lasting one on the local theatre community to be sure. There is no better way to sum up GET’s purpose than by looking at their mission statement: “Georgia Ensemble Theatre’s mission is to provide excellent professional theatre experiences to captivate the current generation of theatre-goers and nurture future generation. We fulfill this mission through the selfless ensemble collaboration of our artists, audiences and students.”

This is obviously more than just a theatre company. Farley’s vision was always bigger in that he wanted to reach new audiences. Their goal goes beyond putting on excellent shows for their attendees, but also to educate and nurture the public about the experience of theatre. To accomplish this goal, they offer many different ways to engage our community by doing five seasonal main professional stage productions. They also do summer productions in an outdoor setting such as the Chattahoochee Nature Center. The outreach to expand their audience is accomplished by their Family Stage Productions that are geared to entertain families and children alike. They also have their GET Conservatory, which encompasses summer camps for kids and they do over 150 Arts in Education shows each year at various schools throughout Metro Atlanta. And lastly, they have an Apprentice Company for emerging artists who can study for nine months to hone their theatre skills as profession.

It takes a talented team of directors, supported by top-notch board members, to carry out such a wide range of performances and programs. I was lucky enough to interview some of their team to find out their feelings about GET and the upcoming season.
James Donadio is a founding member of GET and will be the new Associate Artistic Director. He will also be directing the comedy, Moonlight and Magnolias this coming season. When I spoke to Donadio, he explained that it’s important to engage and develop an audience and challenge them with great works and stellar performances.
“Theater is a singular, personal experience between the actors on stage and the audience,” Donadio stated. “It’s meant to be provocative and to provoke thought and discussion.” He wants the audience to leave the play needing to discuss issues, characters, and feelings that they experienced. He also believes that a good Artistic Director will want to shape a season and have a vision for the future and what they aspire their theater to become. I’m looking forward to seeing how he will shape the future of GET.

Bob’s widow, Anita Farley, will be working closely with Donadio, as she will be the Producing Artistic Director of GET. She has been the Managing Director since the theater started in 1992.

“I’m finding right now that I’m having so much fun with the artistic end of it,” Farley stated. “I believe that every single night there is a moment and there is a communion between the artist and the audience and every night is different and it’s always magical.”
She is excited for the future because the first part of the new season is very female-centric with interesting roles for women as they work toward more diversity in their shows.

Another team member is Laurel Crowe, Farley’s daughter, who is the Education Director. Under her auspice their Theater for Young Audiences had over 32,000 students in attendance this year. She also explained that she was excited and proud to direct Driving Miss Daisy in the coming season.

There is symmetry in that performance because Bob Farley made his mark in the Atlanta area when directing this show for the Alliance Theater. It played for over two years and now it’s his daughter’s turn to helm this production as her directing debut for the main stage. It’s a 90-minute show with three actors and is about brevity and simplicity.

“What we do (in theater) opens conversation,” Crowe explained. “Driving Miss Daisy is about what it means to be human and to care for one another, even if you don’t come from the same background or same point of view. It’s an important idea, especially in today’s world.”

The 2018-19 season theme is “The Stories We Tell” and it begins in September with the hit 9 to 5, The Musical, which will run Sept. 13 through the 30th. Dolly Parton wrote the music and lyrics for this show, which is based upon the movie version in which she starred. Yes, I’m old enough to remember it. It’s refreshing that this musical has three good, solid female leading roles and a huge hit as the theme song.

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti is the next performance and it runs October 25 through November 11. Spaghetti is a comedy based on the memoir of Giulia Melucci and will star Jenny Levison (Founder of Souper Jenny, a collection of four cafés in Atlanta). She is a wonderful actress and a fantastic cook and will be preparing a three-course meal (with pasta from scratch) on stage. Don’t miss this one!

In the new year Moonlight and Magnolias runs from January 10 through the 27th. This play is based on actual incidents that we know about during the making of the movie, Gone With the Wind. It’s a hilarious comedy about the producer, David O. Selznick, director, Victor Fleming and playwright, Ben Hecht. James Donadio will be directing this show and says that one of the themes he will explore will be the “stages of exhaustion.” Intriguing, eh?

In February, the aforementioned Driving Miss Daisy will run from the 28th through March 17. According to the late Bob Farley this is “the perfect play.” It’s written by Alfred Uhry and is all about relationships. The Farleys’ daughter, Laurel Crowe, will be directing this show, passing the torch to a new generation. Let’s go see it

The season ends with a bang in Bullets Over Broadway, The Musical, which runs April 11 through the 28th. Bullets is a 1920s flapper-style musical, written by Woody Allen. With showgirls, gangsters, singing and dancing, how can you go wrong!

While the passing of Bob Farley left a big gap in the local arts community it is nice to know that people touched by his lasting legacy are filling it. In my opinion, after 25 years of performances, theater education and audience outreach in our community, GET has truly become part of the fabric of Roswell and the surrounding areas. Let’s support them by attending their shows this coming season and participating in their many educational programs. For more info on GET and all their programs and performances visit

Local 4th Celebrations

July 4th Is A Great Time To Celebrate Family And History

By Cornelius Fusco

Yes, that summer classic celebration of all things red, white, and blue is just around the corner. I’ve already got my summer grillin’ down to perfection and can’t wait for the 4th of July and our traditional backyard BBQ and neighborhood party. Part of that celebration is ending the evening by watching fireworks and locally we have plenty of options to see some fantastic displays.

In Roswell, the 4th of July celebrations start with a Barbeque & Bluegrass event on the grounds of Barrington Hall. Barrington King, the original owner of Barrington Hall, threw a 4th of July barbecue every year for his family and friends. In 2015, the staff of Barrington Hall revived this fun, patriotic tradition. Barbecue, beverages and desserts will be available for purchase from the Mill Kitchen Restaurant and Bar. The Smokerise Bluegrass Band will provide music. This starts at 11am and will run until 4pm. Barrington Hall is located at 535 Barrington Drive in Roswell. Additionally, the fireworks display in Roswell is held at Roswell High School and those festivities begin at 5:30pm.

Alpharetta has their fireworks display at Wills Park. Those events begin at 6pm with the Alpharetta City Band performing traditional patriotic tunes. Live bands and DJ’s spinning your favorite tunes afterward will provide the music. For the kids they will have inflatables, face painting and a children’s area with wristbands available for nominal fees. Food is also available from vendors throughout the park who will be serving a wide variety until 10pm. Wills Park offers plenty of places for viewing but a lawn chair is a must.

If you’re looking for a more full day of activities then Marietta Square is just the place for you. Celebrations begin early at 10am with a parade and celebration on the square. Over the course of the celebrations city officials anticipate over 75,000 people will attend the festivities that include food concessions, arts and crafts and carnival games.

The Marietta Independence Day parade is scheduled to include more than 115 entries with more than 40 floats and approximately 2,000 participants. Entries include marching units from the City of Marietta, civic organizations, beauty queens, scouts and local businesses. The parade begins at 10am at Roswell Street Baptist Church and travels west on Roswell Street, north on East Park Square past Glover Park and the Square, down Cherokee Street and ends at North Marietta Parkway. And don’t forget the fireworks that begin at 9:30pm.

Ring of Fire, The Music of Johnny Cash

Georgia Ensemble Theatre And Chattahoochee Nature Center Bring Back the Man in Black

Georgia Ensemble Theatre (GET), the North Fulton professional theatre company, is partnering once again with The Chattahoochee Nature Center (CNC) to bring great music to summer nights in Roswell. Back by popular demand, GET will remount Ring of Fire, The Music of Johnny Cash on the Ben Brady Pavilion stage this summer at the CNC. Performances will run Thursdays through Saturdays from July 12-28, 2018 at the Chattahoochee Nature Center, 9135 Willeo Rd., Roswell, GA 30075.

Fresh on the heels of GET’s Buddy Holly: the Buddy Holly Story, the world’s most successful rock-n-roll musical, the supremely talented cast from last summer’s hit production of Ring of Fire is back. Chris Damiano (Million Dollar Quartet, Ring of Fire 2017), Christopher Kent (Million Dollar Quartet, Ring of Fire 2017) Scott Depoy (Almost Heaven John Denver’s America, Ring of Fire 2017), Mark W. Schroeder (Buddy Holly, Ring of Fire 2017) and Laura Lindahl (Ring of Fire 2017) will perform the rock-n-roll concert-version of Ring of Fire, The Music of Johnny Cash.
From vintage country to rockabilly, and rock-n-roll to searing ballads of love and deep faith, Ring of Fire tells the story of the Man in Black through his music. Over two dozen classic Cash hits including “I Walk the Line,” “A Boy Named Sue,” “Folsom Prison Blues,” and of course “Ring of Fire” will all be performed by the cast. With musical direction by Chris Damiano, GET continues its special partnership with The Chattahoochee Nature Center for a fourth consecutive summer.

In addition to the show, audience members will have the opportunity to enjoy all of the amenities of the Nature Center and bring a picnic to dine on site. There will be a cash bar available before and during the show. Patrons may reserve seating either at a table under the covered pavilion, or enjoy general admission lawn seating under the stars. The Chattahoochee Nature Center will open at 6:30pm on performance nights for ticketed patrons to enjoy the exhibits and grounds, with show time starting at 8:00pm. (Please no outside alcohol or glass in the nature center.)

Tickets are $16.50 per person for general admission lawn seating, $36.50 for reserved table seating under the Pavilion, $365 for a whole table under the Pavillion (seats ten). Seating is limited, so advance ticket reservations are strongly encouraged. No group discounts available for this venue. Tickets are on sale now at or by calling GET at 770-641-1260.

Roswell Hires New Recreation and Parks Director

The City of Roswell has hired Jeff Leatherman to be its next Recreation, Parks, Historic and Cultural Affairs Director. Leatherman is currently the Director of Regional Parks for Sacramento County, CA, overseeing the operation and management of 15,000 acres of parkland, including 62 active parks, more than 30 miles of trails, a nature center, 3 community centers and the American River Parkway.

Leatherman said he is excited to be named Roswell’s new Recreation, Parks, Historic and Cultural Affairs Director. “I am looking forward to joining a dynamic team that provides award-winning parks, facilities and programs for the City of Roswell.”

Prior to leading the Sacramento County parks system, Leatherman was the general manager for Valley-Wide Recreation and Park District in Riverside County, CA. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Recreation Administration from California State University with a Minor in Marketing and is a Certified Parks and Recreation Professional with the National Recreation and Parks Association.

Roswell City Administrator Gary Palmer said Leatherman’s background and experience make him a perfect fit for Roswell. “Jeff will be a great leader for Roswell’s Recreation, Parks, Historic and Cultural Affairs Department. He has the experience and energy to take the department to the next level. I’m looking forward to working with him.”

As Roswell’s Recreation, Parks, Historic and Cultural Affairs Director, Leatherman will oversee the operation and management of more than 900 acres of parkland, Roswell’s historic house museums, the Cultural Arts Center, Roswell’s trail system, and multiple special events for our community each year. Leatherman will start in the position early to mid-July.