Fall Festivals Fairs and Fun

Roswell Arts Festival

September 15 and 16
Historic Town Square
Roswell Arts Festival
The Roswell Arts Festival returns for the 52nd time with fine arts, original crafts, a fun lineup of entertainment and children’s activities, and a healthy dose of small town charm to capture the interests of everyone on the square on the third weekend in September.

A variety of food trucks will park to satisfy hungry appetites. Access to the festival is easy and visitors are encouraged to take advantage of the free shuttle running from City Hall to Town Square. The shuttle will be running for the duration of the festival, and will have space for your purchases.
Presented by the Roswell Recreation Association, an all-volunteer group, the festival raises funds (over $1 million so far) that benefit the Recreation & Parks programs in Roswell. So if you’re feeling the stress leave you at Serenity Garden (2016), enjoying the shade covers at the sprayground (2010), or remember the construction of Waller Park in 1967 (wow, you’ve been kicking around awhile!) just know those projects are a couple of the dozens of ways the Festival funds have benefited recreational needs in the area.

Marietta StreetFest

September 15 and 16
Marietta Square
Marietta Streetfest
The 26th Annual Marietta StreetFest, held September 15-16, focuses will boast free family activities including arts & crafts booths, the Hubcaps and History Car Show on Saturday, a kid-friendly activity zone and Tiny Tot Town. Ten bands comprise the Marietta Grassroots Music Festival on Saturday and Sunday. Each year, the festival draws more than 21,000 attendees to the Marietta Square, amid a variety of local shops, dining options, and historic sites. The Marietta Museum of History will be open with free admittance.

Milton Wine Festival

September 23
Milton City Hall
Milton Wine Festival
Where can you sip fine wines and meet some wonderful people on an aromatic and fruit-forward September afternoon? Try the beautiful Milton City Hall Courtyard, where Children’s Charities, along with Pinnacle Beverage will host the Second Annual Milton Wine Festival on September 23. You can taste over 100 wines from around the world and discover your favorite regions.
VIP starts at 2 p.m. and general admission begins at 3 p.m. General admission ticket holders will receive unlimited wine sampling, live music, and a commemorative glass. The beer will flow from four craft breweries. Food will be available for purchase from Dukes Bar & Grill, Olde Blind Dog, Cousins Main Lobster, and featuring Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails in the VIP area. The festival is a fundraiser for Children’s Charities with 100 wines to try. (See article on page 4 in this issue of The CurrentHub.

Gibbs Gardens Arts Festival

September 22 and 23
1987 Gibbs Drive, Ballground
Gibbs Gardens Arts Festival
50+ select artists and artisans will offer their work for purchase during this two-day arts festival. Visitors will have a unique opportunity to stroll through 220 acres of spectacular gardens and attend the Arts on the Great Lawn. The juried show includes 2-D Mixed Media, 3-D Mixed Media, Clay, Drawing, Fiber/Leather, Glass, Metal, Painting-oil/acrylic, Painting-watercolor/pastel, Photography, Sculpture, Wood and Jewelry.

Fall Folklife Festival

Saturday, September 22
Atlanta History Center
Atlanta History Center
Celebrating our exhibition Barbecue Nation, this year’s Fall Folklife focuses on barbecue traditions of Native Americans, African Americans, and European Americans. Smith Family Farm provides the ideal backdrop for exploring our Southern foodways traditions with chef demonstrations and discussions in our open-hearth kitchen. Hands-on demonstrations explore Southern crafts such as corn husk dolls, blacksmithing, pottery, food preservation, and candle dipping. Sip local brews while listening to the sounds of Georgia folk musicians, visiting with regional folk artists, and exploring signature exhibitions, and the fall foliage in our Goizueta Gardens.

Sandy Springs Festival

September 22 and 23
Heritage Green and the surrounding streets
Sandy Springs Festival
The Sandy Springs Festival offers two days of art, live music, cultural performances, a pet parade, chalk walk art competition, 10K and 5K race, children’s programming, classic rides, gourmet and festival food options, and much more. What started as a picnic is a major event. 20,000 people can’t be wrong.

Scarecrow Harvest

September 29, 2018
Milton Avenue
Scarecrow Harvest
Alpharetta will come alive with colorful and creative life-size scarecrows at the Scarecrow Harvest. K-5 schools design and create over 120 scarecrows each year which are displayed throughout downtown Alpharetta. Businesses, non-profit organizations, civic groups, neighborhoods, families and individuals also design and display scarecrows. The festival includes live music, hay rides to the Log Cabin, quirky face painting, festival food, artsy activities, stimulating story-telling, inflatables and the aforementioned scarecrows!

North Georgia State Fair

September 20–30
Jim R. Miller Park, Marietta
North Georgia State Fair
Going on its 86th year, the annual North Georgia State Fair is coming to town! The largest fair in Atlanta, it has been a Cobb favorite among guests who look forward to it every year attracting more than 300,000 people every year from North Georgia and neighboring states. The fair features live music, free attractions and shows, blue ribbon competitions, flower shows, live farm and exotic animals, dancers and performers, fun food, and rides on the Great James H. Drew Exposition—one of the largest carnival midways in the U.S. The fair offers free concerts with big names hitting the stage which this year include Colt Ford, Montgomery Gentry, and Riley Green, to name a few. A covered arena guarantees concerts rain or shine. Check the concerts and daily specials tab at the website for a plethora of free, dollar off, trade you for some canned goods specials, and such like that. The artistic, craft, baking, and gardening talents of local exhibitors will be on display in true fair fashion, in youth and adult entries. Maybe you’ll witness the phenomenon known as the Walking TreeMan!

Duluth Fall Festival

September 29 and 30
(Carnival only on Sept 27 and 28)
Duluth Fall Festival
The Duluth Fall Festival begins with a Saturday morning parade through the streets of Duluth (more than 3,000 participants!). The parade is followed by an opening ceremony with entertainment taking over the two stages for the rest of the day. With more than 375 booths, the life of the Festival is found on the streets of Duluth. You will find handmade crafts of every description, including clothing, linens, fall and Christmas decorations, furniture, jewelry, and toys among others. Sponsors present services for improving your life, home, and family. Separate areas contain kids’ games and rides, a full-fledged carnival, and a Man’s Corner, to boot. In Man’s Corner, (women are welcome too), don’t miss live college football games broadcasting under the tent. It’s guaranteed…no lace!

Cumming Country Fair

October 4 – 14
235 Castleberry Rd., Cumming
Cumming Country Fair
Heritage Village, a living history exhibit, will feature working demonstrations of authentic farm machinery such as a cotton gin, saw mill, corn mill, syrup mill, grist mill, blacksmith shop, steam engines exhibit center, cider press and chicken house. Even the forbidden moonshine is on display, but no sampling please! This reproduction of a turn-of-the-century town is complete with a one-room schoolhouse, a working post office, barbershop, doctor’s and dentist’s offices, Baptist and Methodist churches, and a quilting house. Plus, the general store will be stocked with homemade items to enjoy!
Cherokee Indian Village, Olympic High Dive show, Lady Houdini and other daily attractions round out the carnival rides and food. Concerts are Confederate Railroad on October 9, and Trace Adkins October 11. Admission fees, see website.

Crabapple Fest

Oct 6, 2018
Downtown Milton
The first Saturday in October in Milton means festivals, football, food and fun when you head to Crabapple Fest. This arts festival featuring over 100 juried, local antique and art vendors, kids’ activities, local musicians, fantastic food, and more, is brought to you by the City of Milton and Crabapple Community Association. Spend the day shopping for one-of-a-kind items and enjoying all Milton has to offer!
The Fest will take place in the heart of downtown Milton at 12650 Crabapple Road. Parking is free. Shuttles will be available all day from Crabapple First Baptist Church, 12760 Birmingham Highway.

Annual Fall Farm Days at Smith Plantation

October 13
Presented by Roswell Garden Club & Archibald Smith Plantation
Fall Farm Days at Smith Plantation
Fun for the whole family featuring artisan exhibits & demonstrations of life on a 19th century farm. Free activities provided by Roswell Garden Club including handmade birdfeeders, crafts, scavenger hunt, floral arranging, petting zoo with farm animals, wagon rides and more! Hotdogs & hamburger lunches as well as baked goods available for purchase. Free. Open house tours are $5 per person (children under 12 are free).

Wire & Wood Alpharetta Songwriters Festival

October 12 and 13
Downtown Alpharetta
Wire & Wood Alpharetta Songwriters Festival

Nationally recognized singer-songwriters will gather together to perform their original songs, giving music lovers a behind-the-scenes look at the stories that inspired country, rock, blues, Americana, and bluegrass songs. Attendees will experience nationally recognized veteran songsmiths and local up-and-coming talent as music fills the streets of downtown Alpharetta.
Robert Randolph and The Family Band, Glen Phillips of Toad the Wet Sprocket, Davin McCoy, Hannah Thomas, The Mosleys, Chasing Lovely, and others await you at the Wire & Wood Songwriters Festival.

Owl-O-Ween Hot Air Balloon Festival

October 19 and 20
KSU Sports + Entertainment Park, Kennesaw
The 5th Annual Owl-O-Ween Hot Air Balloon Festival is Atlanta’s largest Hot Air Balloon Festival and costume party. Save the date and check back with The CurrentHub in October.

Chiaha Harvest Fair

October 27– 28
Ridge Ferry Park, Rome Georgia
Chiaha Festival
Chiaha has grown into a juried show of artists and craftsmen from all over the country, including many demonstrators, sharing the skills of their craft throughout the weekend. The festival is known for its stellar entertainment, featuring musicians from far and near, including Cornbread Killers and Tina and the Goose. Also on hand, the offerings of an unduplicated variety of local food vendors, many of whom raise money for their own good causes through the event, which will satisfy your craving for delicious, hand-prepared treats. Don’t miss the cider pot, brewing throughout the weekend, with free cups of cider for all in attendance!
The mission of the Chiaha Guild of Arts and Crafts is to support arts and art education in the Rome/Floyd Community. Admission fees, Free parking.

Johns Creek Fall Family Festival

Saturday, Oct. 27

Newtown Park
Johns Creek Fall Family Festival
The Fall Family Festival at Newtown Park features music, games, carnival activities, arts & crafts, food, and fun for the entire family. Dress up the kids (age 12 and under) for the Costume Contest during the festival, which will be held at noon under the large City tent on the field!


The Magic at MF

By Joe Duffy

If one wants to start a hullabaloo among suburbanites, the topic of high-density neighborhoods will get the sparks flying.
Many uOTPians favor the live, work, and play (LWP) multi-use complexes, while others bemoan the main reason they fled to the bedroom communities is to flee such overdevelopment.

Love them or hate them, North American Properties was well ahead of the curve with their trailblazing concept Avalon in Alpharetta. They’ve been a massive player in the Alpharetta/Roswell explosion as an epicenter of Greater Atlanta dining. Some may even provoke the city slickers and assert that it is the nexus of grubbery in the metro area.

One of their biggest coups was getting intown player Alex Kinjo to not only open a northern outpost of his enormously popular sushi and Japanese restaurant MF Bar in Phase 2, but also a Vietnamese concept right next door—District III. Despite reaching stardom with his mastery of Japanese cuisine, Kinjo is in fact Vietnamese. The menu at District III is inspired by the French Colonial influence in his hometown of Vang Tau in Vietnam.

Two of my kids love mussels. When dining out as a family, we fought over our share of countless mussels appetizers at highly-rated restaurants in numerous states. My daughter and I agree MF’s baked green mussels, with Japanese mayo, eel sauce, scallion, and masago, is as good of said dish as we have ever devoured. It rivals Foundation Social Eatery’s Spanish octopus for best seafood first course in the immediate environs.

When I finally get that $2 million inheritance from the rich Nigerian uncle I completely forgot about, I’m not going to necessarily travel the world, though the thought of eating around the globe is tempting. I certainly won’t being sporting any Armani threads. Nope, I just want to spend the rest of my life scoffing lobster rolls and toro.

No silly, toro is not named after Avalon’s mastermind Mark Toro, the Managing Partner and co-founder of North American Properties. At least I don’t think so. It’s simply the Japanese name for the fatty part of tuna in the belly portion. MF’s toro is absurdly fresh and succulent.

Unfortunately, this is why I fear walking into a top-shelf sushi provisioner. I have the appetite of three mortals combined, and the mouthwatering savory excellence of MF’s toro makes it impossible to control my champagne tastes. I could easily run up a bill over $100 a sitting… if I could afford to blow $100 on meal on regular basis. Yes, I mean on just the toro, pre-tax and tip, without breaking a sweat.

Plus, the not-so-well-kept secret about Avalon is that one does pay a premium for pretty much everything there. Sure, NAP successfully recruited Chick fil-A to open a store fronting the Old Milton border of Avalon. However, the Atlanta-based chain is the only thing resembling cheap eats in the high-end walkable community.

A bit easier on the wallet is District III, right next door at the eastern end of Avalon Boulevard, or as it’s colloquially referred to as simply, “the Boulevard.” I will be forever grateful that District III is a place my least adventurous eater child and I can still bond over great food. Somehow I convinced my chicken noodle soup loving son to sample D3’s chicken pho. We hit the jackpot. He is hooked.

For the uninitiated, pho is simply the Vietnamese version of soup, made with thin rice noodles and always fresh herbs. While my beloved offspring sticks to the chicken, I prefer the pho combo of rare beef, brisket, and meatball. Not since Saigon Café had just one location in Duluth have I had a version around town this good.

I’ve also been extremely contented with both their shrimp and grilled pork egg rolls. However, in several trips, I have yet to venture into their short entree menu. A glance at other tables in the tightly packed (and it generally is packed) restaurant would suggest that pho is far and away their most popular option. There is good reason for that.

Avalon is a major player in the area’s rise as a dining destination. Kinjo’s double-shot of ethnic options at the eastern end is a perfect place for hot-rod stomachs to start on the Boulevard tonight. ❍

When he’s not eating, which is rare, the author is CEO of Sports Handicapping website OffshoreInsiders.com. His bride’s gift site, DuffyGifts.com is the place to go for gifts for all occasions from MyThirtyOne Gifts. 

Topless in Roswell

By Di Chapman

“Are the guys looking you over in that thing? A beautiful blonde at the wheel?” My husband is so cute. I’ve just pulled into the garage in my new convertible sports car. “Sweetie, blonde or otherwise, I’m a 63-year-old woman behind that wheel! Botox or no, I don’t think anybody is looking at me. They’re lookin’ at the car!”

Somewhere along the path of life, we mature women kind of become invisible to men. Ladies, am I right? We don’t turn heads, younger men’s eyeballs never connect with ours, and no, they’re definitely not interested in the “beauty of women of a certain age” and experience. From our perspective, most of us adopt the “I really don’t care what anybody thinks of me” syndrome. This collective mindset of 60-something females is the reason many of us don’t care if we’re wearing plaid pants with a flowered top; or if we’ve created a teased hairdo shaped like an animal’s den before we run out the door; or if we accidentally put on two different colors of blush: one cheek pink, and the other cheek deep cherry. We’re good.

But, I understand completely that young men are driven by an evolutionary mandate. In monkeydom, males want female monkeys with the most colorful flared rumps. The flare indicates fertility and is a total “Come hither, young monkeyman. Let’s do this for our tribe.”

We “mature” women, on the other hand, might no longer have the ability to “flare” flamingly, and perhaps that’s where the irresistible desire to score a convertible sports car comes in. Hey! Guys have been flaring themselves with cars since the first one came off the line over a century ago. Ladies, if they can do it, we can set afire to the flare of an engine. Why, a girlfriend and I recently flared as brightly as hot coals one beautiful evening with the top down. We relished the lushness around us, the breeze, and the stars. We cruised Canton Street chuckling together with “Yeah, everyone, we’re cruising, and you’re not!”

There’s something about getting a convertible that changes things around you… it’s hard to explain, but people are fascinated by them, and perhaps jealous of the driver. I admit they do look fun. And when I’m opening the top in 11 seconds I still marvel. And perhaps I swagger a little at the wheel. I can go topless while waiting at a stoplight.

I really don’t know what the convertible mystique is, particularly the sports car version. I’ve never needed a slammin’ set of wheels for defining myself or creating an image. I’m comfortable in my own skin, as they say, but I know it’s hard to believe that I’d be okay with driving a dented Celica. It’s true. I’ve never “defined myself” by the car I drive, which, by the way, was quite unheard of in Southern California. It’s kind of a “It’s not who you are, it’s the car you drive. Who cares who you are?” place.
I recall one embarrassing moment years ago when I borrowed my little sister’s cute, but aged, sporty little Japanese car. Earlier, it had been one of the “it” cars. I was visiting her in California, from Texas, and she offered those wheels to get around. She was making the leap to driving a lovely sedan. In the meantime, I was sputtering around in that cute little road weary car, very much aware of the “image” I was projecting.

I pulled into a gas station, and a nice man offered to fill ’er up, but not before I managed to rip out the parking brake handle from under the dash. With a flushed face, I explained. “It’s my sister’s car.” Uh huh. I held my head high as I squealed out of the gas station.

My first look at a convertible was in the 60s, when my car salesman neighbor brought home a big cruisin’ Pontiac Bonneville with the top down. It was Seattle, for crying out loud, but that did not deter him and his family from having fun in that boat-sized convertible. That vehicle had panache. I remember his wife laughingly cozying up in the front seat, with the standard convertible women’s wear, the scarf that preserved her ultra-bleached beehive hairdo. Cloudy skies didn’t deter their fun.
Driving a toll road on an unusually rainy day in Southern Cal, my sister saw the craziest convertible story yet to be told. Driving beside her was a mature woman, convertible top down, singing with the music at the top of her lungs, ignoring the rain that pelted her. Now, that was a woman enjoying her convertible, weirdness aside. All she needed was Gene Kelly dancing on the hood.

When you climb into a sports car convertible, it indeed changes the way you see the world. I can’t believe my first convertible arrived when I turned 63. My husband and I are celebrating our 20th anniversary this year (No way!!), and he announced it was time for me to have a hot car. Even then, I wasn’t sure. Who needs a hot car? I honestly said, “Sweetie, I’d be happy to drive a used something.” The conversation continued over the next few weeks. We both agreed that, although Georgia’s 85- to 95-degree summer daytime temps might kill the top-down activity, a convertible sure would be cute to drive. I caved. Why not?

I’m revving around town, doing nothing exciting but hitting the gym and the grocery store. I’m having fun.

The upside of being a 60-something woman driving an awesome convertible is that, even though she knows the young men who stop beside her are thinking, “What a waste to have that woman driving that car,” WE get the last laugh.

We’re stepping on the accelerator in that baby, and they’re not. ❍

Di Chapman is an inspirational author and speaker, a branding expert, and an executive coach. Di’s latest book is Rekindle Your Purpose: Break through your disappointments, discouragements, and detours to resurrect your purpose and live it!

2nd Annual Milton Wine Festival

Where can you sip fine wines and meet some wonderful people on an aromatic and fruit-forward September afternoon? Try the beautiful Milton City Hall Courtyard, where Children’s Charities, along with Pinnacle Beverage will host the Second Annual Milton Wine Festival on September 23. You can taste over 100 wines from around the world and discover your favorite regions.

VIP starts at 2 p.m. and general admission begins at 3 p.m. General admission ticket holders will receive unlimited wine sampling, live music, and a commemorative glass. The beer will flow from four craft breweries. Food will be available for purchase from Dukes Bar & Grill, Olde Blind Dog, Cousins Main Lobster, and featuring Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails in the VIP area.

Enjoy live music by the Pioneer Chicken Stand Band, a high-energy, harmony-driven, folk-rock sound. Derived from tightly grained oak barrels that highlight savory notes. In the mix, look for aromas of citrus, pear, and green apple with a hint of bubbles.
This year there is an added event with a wine dinner in The Garden at Milton’s Cuisine and Cocktails on Tuesday, September 18 from 6 – 9 p.m.  Tickets are limited to 100 persons and includes a general admission ticket to the wine festival. New this year, the festival will include a wine seminar on festival day from 1 – 2 p.m., prior to the VIP opening.

Proceeds from the Festival, Dinner, and Seminar will benefit the All Inclusive Play Park for the City of Milton. The park is designed to provide a safe place to play for all abilities and disabilities regardless of age. The main structure has one of the largest ramping systems in the state and should service children from over five counties.

All Inclusive Play Park for the City of Milton.

All Inclusive Play Park for the City of Milton.

The play area will offer amenities such as a variety of swings, roller slides, musical instruments, sensory centers, a tea cup whirl, climb-on and climb-in structures, see-saws and ADA-approved picnic tables, as well as ramping throughout the park. Rubber flooring will be poured throughout the playground for ease of access for all abilities. One play area will be geared for children ages 2 – 5 and another for ages 5 – 12.

Children’s Charities was founded by Amanda White and Lauren Holmes, two businesswomen who sought to make a difference in the communities in which they live—North Fulton and South Forsyth. The organization is 100% volunteer-driven and dedicated to supporting and developing programs that enrich children’s lives in the area, which now includes Cherokee, Cobb, Dawson and Pickens counties.
For more information on the park go to Children’s Charities to see how you can help. For festival tickets and more information, visit Milton Wine Festival. We wish you a long and vibrant finish. ❍

Vote for your Favorite Teacher

By Robert Fezza and Steve Siders

If you read our August column, “When a Teacher Lights a Spark,” you read the first-hand account of Robert’s experience as a parent—hoping his son would develop an interest in, and an appreciation for, personal finance at a young age. Spoiler alert—it finally happened, but it took the creativity and inspiration of his son’s teacher to bring it to the surface.

Teachers are the best. It’s easy to say, and we often think so, but how frequently do you actually say “thank you” or show your appreciation? A shiny red apple may be the traditional choice, but wouldn’t some cash be better? Here is an easy way to help your favorite teacher win up to $1500 for their classroom!

Odyssey Favorite Teachers Contest
Make your vote count. “Like” as many of the teacher’s pictures as you want on our Facebook page. The teachers shown were nominated during the open nomination period that ended August 31, but you can vote for your favorite(s) now! The deadline is September 30th. The teacher with the highest vote count at the end of the month will receive $1,500, while second-place will receive $500 and third-place $250 for use in their classrooms!
Details of the contest are available at the Odyssey PFA website..

Meaningful conversations about the “value” of a college education
If you are a high school student or parent, trying to decide on a college—we encourage you to ask a lot of questions about the “value” each specific college option will provide for your child’s career aspirations. Public university tuition averaged $3,190 for the 1987-1988 school year (adjusted for inflation). The cost has risen to $9,970 today. That’s a 213 percent increase. (Source: College Board – Trends in College Pricing 2017)

Before you pay $60,000 or more for a degree, or take on student debt to make it happen, stop and think about your expected return on this investment. One suggestion is to ask questions of the teachers who know you the best. Ask them what areas of study you should consider, what they see as your strengths, whether they see you in a small or large university, and even if they think college is the right next step for you.

We aren’t denying that a college degree will likely improve income opportunities throughout your career, but is college the right choice for everyone? Some individuals would be better off learning a trade or serving our country rather than giving it “the ol’ college try.” It’s no longer a drop in the bucket to attend even local Atlanta schools. Kennesaw State University is about $7500 per year for tuition and fees and over $10,000 for room and board according to CollegeBoard.org. UGA is about $21,000 combined, and how about Emory (private) at over $65,000.

Oh, and don’t forget to multiply these annual costs times four! Important decisions deserve good research and consideration before committing to pay the price.

Life’s a journey—navigate it wisely! ❍

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Housing!

By Tripp Liles

Nothing goes with summer like ice cream, especially the homemade variety, and on Aug. 26 you will have an excellent opportunity to taste some of the best around at the Annual Miss Mary’s Ice Cream Crankin’ held on the Historic Square in Roswell. The event is a fundraiser of The Drake House, which provides housing programs to homeless single mothers and their children in North Metro Atlanta.

“Miss Mary’s Ice Cream Crankin’ was the brainchild of Rev. Joe Clifford, an original Drake House board member,” said Christy Merritt, director of programs at Drake House. “Now 14 years later members of the community enjoy this annual event where they can taste over 150 flavors of homemade ice cream made by our dedicated community volunteer ice cream ‘crankers’ comprised of local corporate, civic, faith, and family teams. The ‘crankers’ make homemade ice cream and compete for top awards by local judges. Categories include: Best Vanilla, Best Chocolate, Best Fruit, and Best Other Flavor.”

While the event fosters a great sense of community and is a blast for everyone, there is a serious side, as it also serves as a fundraiser for The Drake House, and their vitally important mission of providing short-term housing for single mothers and their children. We live in an area where poverty is sort of hidden but believe me, it is there. We have homeless children right here in our own schools, right now as you read this, I guarantee you there are dozens of kids who have inadequate nourishment and no housing within a few miles of you. Poverty is not something that you can move to the suburbs to get away from. Fortunately we have strong community leaders and individuals who work tirelessly to assist those less fortunate.

“Poverty in North Fulton certainly has a different face than what most envision when hearing the word homeless,” said Merritt. “The Drake House works closely with Fulton School Social Workers and other nonprofits who serve low income families to identify single mothers with children who may have lost their housing.”

In that regard, the mission of The Drake House is quite unique. This is more than an organization that provides housing to the approximately 50 families they serve each year, rather they provide life skills to help these women get on their feet, obtain proper employment, and most importantly, learn the financial skills needed to survive. Essentially they live by an adage of: “Give a woman a fish, and you feed her for a day. Teach a woman to fish, and you feed her for a lifetime.”

That is an important aspect to note, because of the growing impact of wage disparity in this nation, and the steep rise in the cost of housing. The challenges of raising children and living on low-income pay are difficult, to say the least.

“There is a shortage of fulltime jobs that fit traditional daycare hours which presents a challenge for our moms with young children. Our residents also need superhuman budgeting skills to make ends meet so we address that need in our life skills classes. And of course, a lack of public transit complicates the financial picture when low credit scores result in high interest rate car loans,” said Merritt.

These issues are playing out in front of us as we all deal with the cost of higher home prices and reliable transportation. Politically speaking, on a local level there is little appetite for low-income housing or public transportation. The result of which is downward pressure on local businesses that rely on these people to staff their businesses. In speaking with many local restaurant owners, all express concern of the labor force and note that even paying higher wages does not solve the problem. Bottom line is no one will travel and go through the trouble of commuting long distances for a low paying job. A community that is thriving must have a mix of workers available to provide a wide array of services. At present this is affecting the lower wage earners but if things increase it will hit teachers and other municipal workers next. For context, in San Francisco right now a job paying $100,000 per year is considered low income.

“Atlanta has one of the fastest growing segments of suburban poverty in the country. And as our economy improves, rents continue to escalate. We are seeing more and more of our graduates moving their children out of our area and their school in order to find affordable housing,” said Kathy Swahn, executive director of Drake House. “An ideal situation would be for our municipal leadership to encourage development of  multi-income housing within our six North Fulton cities. When people can’t afford to live in the city where they work, you will see traffic grow exponentially. We have a task force of community leaders that have been studying these trends for four years.”

This issue is all around us, even in Cobb County, where they are also dealing with rising homelessness. Recently, Cobb Chairman Mike Boyce announced that the county would be funding a homeless camp through next year’s budget. The “camp” would offer food, temporary housing, and medical help for people who would be allowed to stay for 90 days as they attempt to get back on their feet.

Nationally speaking, there are much worse places, such as Seattle and San Francisco. It’s important to note Seattle, as it is the headquarters to Amazon. In case you live under a rock and have not heard, Georgia government officials have been falling over themselves with tax incentives and unprecedented breaks to be the home of the second Amazon headquarters. Amazon says it will bring 50,000 high-tech jobs and spend $5 billion on construction with the second headquarters. Dubbed ‘HQ2’, it will be the equal to its original Seattle home. Those will be high paying jobs and these new workers need a place to live. We are literally out of homes on nearly every scale but especially on the low end.

“With homes priced under 250K there is only about two to three weeks of inventory on the market,” said Kirsten Ricci, a Roswell resident and a Berkshire Hathaway Agent who specializes in residential real estate in the north metro Atlanta area. “For example, as we speak there are only two homes for sale in the Roswell, Alpharetta areas under 200K and both need work. There are only 50 homes (under 200K) for sale in the whole northern arc… we just do not have product available.”

As our elected leaders and many others continually stress that everyone goes to college and everyone gets a high paying job, life is in fact much more complicated. This is compounded by the fact that elected leaders are largely unwilling to tackle the problem or in some instances even refuse to recognize the issue. Roswell has made some strides in redeveloping the Groveway district near City Hall but these are slow moving projects and there is practically no appetite for any large construction, much less for affordable apartments or housing. As long as the economy is adding jobs and people continue to move into the area at high numbers, the situation will only worsen and with all of this, remember that Atlanta is a real contender for Amazon. I say to all Georgia leaders to be careful what you ask for. Seattle is not the place you want as a model for your cities.
To put it in real terms, I spoke to a local restaurant worker who I will identify as Susan, because she did not want to use her real name.

“I live in Sandy Springs and have one child.” Susan said. “I take the bus to both of my jobs in Roswell. I leave for work nearly two hours early to take my child to daycare when it’s open. If I miss a bus, especially on weekends, I could be as much as an hour late for work. Between both jobs, I put in over 55 hours per week and I would say I spend an additional 10 to 12 hours riding the bus. I don’t know how long this can last… I really hope to have just one job that is closer to home but my rent has increased this year and other prices just keep going up. I feel like I’m just on a treadmill with no end.”


AUG. 26 2pm to 4pm
Roswell Square Park
$6 for individuals or $25 for families up to five.

When a Teacher Lights a Spark

A Reflection by Robert Fezza

By Robert Fezza

My love of personal finance runs deep. It was something I hoped to pass down to my children (along with my unwavering allegiance to the New York Mets). While my son does indeed love baseball, he’s an avid Braves fan. And much to my chagrin, he did not initially inherit my love of personal finance. He ardently has proclaimed he would never have a job in finance like mine, or so I thought. For his senior year in high school, we suggested he add an elective to his schedule: Personal Finance. Without objection, he attended this class, and then something unusual happened. He began asking me questions about car loans and interest, the advantages and disadvantages to buying or leasing, trust funds, credit cards and debt…the list went on. These weren’t one-off questions, but thoughtful inquiries about how these topics affected him, and how his decisions could impact his financial successes or failures.

My son went from thinking my credit card was almost free money, constantly pushing the boundaries of allowable purchases, to someone who applied for his own credit card to help build his credit score. He recognizes the risks of abusing credit and having to pay interest—“that’s what you pay when you don’t pay on time and in full, and that’s bad!” After a classroom discussion on compound interest and learning about the benefits of saving early, he came home to ask me if he could open a Roth IRA account to save some of his money that he earned from his summer job. He started contributing right away and was eager to do so!

I’ve always been proud of my son, but watching him try to apply the lessons he learned in the classroom to his daily life has me brimming with pride. And my gratitude also goes to his teacher, who taught a curriculum that could be boring and dry, but instead transformed it into knowledge that excites and inspires action. This just proves that teachers can bring their subjects to life, lighting a spark in the minds of our children.
That’s why Odyssey is excited to announce Odyssey’s Favorite Teacher Contest. We are reaching out to members of our local community asking you to nominate teachers who have lit that spark for your child. Why?  Because these unsung heroes are shaping our kids’ futures and deserve to be recognized for their hard work. Our first-place winner will receive $1,500, second-place $500, and third-place will receive $250 to use in their classrooms! All you have to do is nominate a teacher and vote for them by “liking” their picture on our Facebook page (@OdysseyPFA). Download the Odyssey Favorite Teacher Contest Nomination Form at www.odysseypfa.com/favorite-teacher-contest. Send the completed nomination form, to Anne.Simpson@
odysseypfa.com. See our ad in the Current Hub for the contest rules and information.

Life’s a journey—navigate it wisely!

Real Estate Records Broken On Both Ends Of Spectrum

By Kirsten Ricci

According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), national home sales fell in June for a third straight month. On the surface that looks like a struggling market but it is not due to weak demand, rather a shortage of properties on the market… essentially there is nothing to buy so total sales are low. There are concerns in the industry that rising mortgage rates coupled with the higher prices are also causing a downturn.
Overall, existing home sales slipped 0.6 percent in June, according to NAR, with a total of 5.38 million units. Sales rose in the Northeast and Midwest. They fell in the West, which has seen a sharp rise in prices, and the South, where most of the homes are sold. Existing home sales, which make up about 90 percent of U.S. home sales, dropped 2.2 percent from a year ago in June. They have declined on a year-over-year basis for four consecutive months and decreased 2.2 percent in the first half of 2018.

Locally, the metro Atlanta area saw record prices in June of homes that were sold and we hit a low in the actual homes on the market. The median price is up over 7 percent from this time last year with homes priced right in desirable areas selling fast. Sales are being stymied by acute shortages of homes on the market. Rising building materials costs as well as shortages of land and labor have left builders unable to bridge the inventory gap, pushing up house prices. Additionally, most local municipal governments are opposed to any sort of large-scale projects so most home sales will come from existing inventory. All of this means the local supply crunch is unlikely to ease soon.

On the local side, folks in Roswell have been buzzing recently at the news of a new Crabapple Middle School being built. Crabapple is in the heart of Roswell, situated near Canton Street and many desirable neighborhoods. In July, Fulton County School System signed a letter of intent to purchase a 29-acre parcel on Woodstock Road near the intersection of Jones Road. At press time, the final deal was still being worked on and no renderings are yet available. The construction would be completed by August 2021, and the current school would operate as normal until that time.

Of course this has led to much speculation online about what is next for the current site and Fulton County Schools had no comment. The present location of Crabapple is a highly desirable area so that land is very valuable. It’s an understatement to say local residents are watching the situation closely. As soon as I hear something you will know.

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, kirsten@roswellrealty.net.

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 www.chattnaturecenter.org.

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. ❍