New Life Flowers and Gifts

Gifts For The Holidays
With the holidays right around the corner, New Life Flowers and Gifts is getting prepared for a holiday showcase of gift items and holiday decorations.
This will be the first holiday season for the store since the new owner, Dawn Usher, took over the reigns in January of this year. Dawn is super excited about the holiday season. “We have some new items we are carrying now that are sure to be a hit for the holiday shoppers.  We are carrying a couple of new lines of t-shirts, Fripp for the men and Lily Grace for the women. These shirts are great…I think they are going to be one of our most popular items,” exclaims Dawn.
Dawn and her staff are looking forward to this year’s Holiday Open House. This year’s open house is scheduled for November 9-10. On Friday the 9th, the open house will be from 4pm – 8 pm.  On Saturday, the 10th, it will be form 10 am – 4 pm.
“Everything, and I mean everything, in the store will be 20% off. We will have other specials during that time along with door prizes and holiday surprises.  We will even have a small sidewalk sale with items up to 75% off.,” says Dawn.  It is sure to be a great chance to pick up some Christmas gifts at some great prices.
Not only will New Life be sporting many new gifts for the holidays, but the store will also be packed with holiday home décor.  New Life will have everything you need to decorate your home…ornaments, garlands, wreaths, centerpieces…so much to choose from.
New Life Flowers and Gifts is the only store of its kind in the area. And now, as the new owner, Dawn wants to make sure she keeps it that way. “New Life will always remain the place in Effingham to come for all your gift needs.  We will make it a point to continue to carry popular gift lines, as well as expand to new products as consumer demands change,” she says.
And, as always, New Life remains your number one florist in the area. New Life is a full-service florist, offering flowers for every occasion…weddings, birthdays, funerals, anniversaries…or ‘just because’ moments.
One of the many perks about working in the floral business is that you get to celebrate good times with your clients and you get to offer comfort to them in the sad times.
Flowers are meant to provide comfort to people…that’s what funerals are generally the most fulfilling work they do. Dawn shares, “It’s the last thing a family can do for their loved one, so it is something that I am always proud to be a part of.”
Dawn Usher was the very first full-time employee ever hired to work at New Life. She had been a part of the company for 28 years before buying the business.
She started in this industry in May of 1979 at Flowers-n-Things in Rincon. With a total of 39 years in the industry, her talent in floral design has just continued to grow.
“This has been a life-long dream. I have always wanted to own my own flower shop,” Dawn says.
The actual change of ownership happened on January 1 of this year, and the shop is running full steam ahead.  “We have been extremely busy since the change, work has been very steady,” adds Dawn.
Dawn wants all her customers to know that New Life Flowers and Gifts still offers the same great products and services as always. Fresh flowers bring new life and energy to any space. So, always think of them when it’s time for a new arrangement for any occasion.

Ashley Boyette

Like A Good Neighbor…
Ashley Boyette Is Here!
Ashley Boyette graduated from Georgia Southern University, receiving her degree in Anthropology, and had plans to join the Peace Corps after graduation. She always knew she wanted to make a difference in people’s lives and felt working with the Peace Corps around the world may be her calling. Plans took a new and exciting path, however, when she met and married the love of her life, Thomas Boyette. At that time when it became quite clear that her calling was to serve the people closer to home and closer to her heart, right here in Effingham County.
Ashley and Thomas are now in their 8th year of marriage and have two sons, Jackson (8) and Liam (3). They both wanted to raise their beautiful family in Effingham County where they believe true community exists. “We have so many people in our community that are willing to help each other, which really speaks to my heart and my love for Jesus,” says Ashley. “We glorify Him through loving God and one another!”
Even though plans to join the Peace Corps may have changed, her desire to make a difference in people’s lives never did. While working in the finance industry she was introduced to the world of insurance. She soon discovered that she could make the most impact and help people the most through the insurance industry and specifically through State Farm Insurance. “My personality has always been one of a caretaker,” explains Ashley. “I love solving problems for people and helping others. State Farm is the number one insurance company in the nation and that stems from being customer focused. They listen to what the customers want and go above and beyond to make that happen,” explains Ashley. She added, “the needs of my clients always come before everything else that is happening in my office.”
State Farm’s mission is to “help people manage the risks of everyday life, recover from the unexpected, and realize their dreams,” and Ashley and her team are dedicated to that mission. “We have 25 years of professional experience on our team,“ explains Ashley. “We want our current and future clients to know that to us, you are part of our family. We are grateful to be your partner, and we will always be your advocate during some the hardest times in your life.”
Ashley and her team are proud to be a part of Effingham County and collectively support many different causes in and around Effingham County. Ashley is the co-chair of the PTO at Blandford Elementary, member of the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce, member of the Rotary Club, and a volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. In addition, she is also an active member of Compassion Christian Church and loves to serve coffee to the congregation on Sundays. “Anything I can do to put a smile on the face of someone in our community, I will do it,” says Ashley.
Ashely Boyette and her team are currently located at 5723 Hwy 21 S, Rincon, GA, through the end of October. They are moving to their new location at The Shops at Kroger off of Hwy 21 S on October 31st. Visit them online at, or give them a call at 912-826-1029. Ashley encourages everyone to “stop by and we what we are all about!”

Project S.A.F.E.

story by jeff whitten

Project S.A.F.E. has been around a while in Effingham County. Still,
last season’s district-winning performance may have drawn added
attention to the UGA Exension 4-H Youth Development program, which
seeks to teach youngsters “shooting awareness, fun and education.”

Back in April, during the district competition at the Baygall
Sporting Clays facility in Bulloch County, the 4-H shotgun team
claimed first and third in the Senior Modified Trap Division.  What’s
more, the team of Douglas Williams, Logan Wise, Grace Kieffer and
Harrison Joyner turned in the only perfect score of 100 at the event.
And Effingham’s third place team had three shooters record perfect
scores. To top it off, junior shooter Theron Jordan had the third
highest individual score in the Junior Division at the event, which
involves shooters using shotguns taking aim at 25 clay targets flying
past at different angles and directions.

Seniors, who are in grades 9-12, have to hit 20 targets, while
juniors in grades 7 and 8 must hit 18 in order to qualify for the
state competition at Rock Eagle.

The performances were a pretty big deal, according to Abby Smith,
Effingham County’s UGA extension coordinator. Smith, who grew up in
Effingham County and was a 4-H’er herself, said the shotgun program,
which includes both modified trap and trap and skeet shooting,
attracts between 30-35 shooters a year from grades 7-12 at Effingham

Smith also provided information about the programs, all of which
points to “an adult youth partnership,” as she put it.

Team members use either .12 or .20 guage shotguns and are coached
by a group of nine certified volunteer coaches — Wade Floyd, Ashley
Kieffer, Doug Williams, Roy Callaway, Sid Warner, Henry Dickerson,
Leslie Dickerson, Gary Gale, Trey Young, Wes Swindell and Bill

Parents also play a key role during practices and matches, and
participants must be active in 4-H and have to have certain hunter
safety courses under their belt before taking part. Not suprisingly in
a program called Project S.A.F.E., safety is high on the list of

“We always strive to make sure we teach these kids to be
responsible with firearms,” Smith said. “And how to shoot properly,
effectively and safely, but there’s more to it than that. We want them
to learn to have fun and enjoy the experience, along with the
educational component.”

Perhaps to that end, PROJECT S.A.F.E. is also about more than
shotguns these days. Two years ago, Effingham 4-H introduced archery
to the mix and made it available to kids in grades 4-12. The results
have been more than encouraging. Last year, 60 archers in Effingham
participated  in both indoor and outdoor seasons, which run
back-to-back starting with orientation in November and ending in
March. Participants have to be enrolled and active in 4-H, but there’s
no requirement kids have to be familiar with archery. Instead, many
who join have little or no experience shooting a bow.

That’s where the coaching comes in. Smith noted archery coaches
must undergo certification just like their counterparts who coach
shotguns, and there are currently nine coaches involved in the archery
program —  Roy Callaway, Len Morgan, Brian Schimmel, Sid Warner, Trey
Young, Henry Kessler, Blaze Nofi and Carl Muthersbaugh. They rotate
practices to work with the kids, and stress such things as punctuality
and teamwork, Smith said, which helps youngsters grow through
understanding the importance of being a part of something larger than

“We’re big on the team aspect of this,” Smith noted. “That’s one
of the things coaches really work on. They want them to be part of a
team and work together, so before every practice kids will come in and
set up targets, and stay after to help clean up. There’s a lot of
responsiblity being a part of a team.”

Shooting sports are growing in popularity, and some schools offer
scholarships to those who excel. Georgia Southern, which has a women’s
rifle team, recently opened its $7 million Shooting Sports Education
Center, a partnership between the school and the Georgia Department of
Natural Resources. The 30,000 square foot center is reportedly the
first of its kind east of the Mississippi River. It has firearms and
indoor and outdoor archery ranges.

Though that’s probably a good ways down the road for the fourth
graders who show up for archery orientation in November, this isn’t.
Like all the programs 4-H offers, these are for members to enjoy.

“We offer students opportunities that are not currently being
offered in the schools or community that reach outside the boundaries
of athletics,” Smith said. “The archery and shotgun programs allow
students to enjoy and be successful at a sport regardless of their
athletic ability.  While students are part of these programs, the
coaches and Extension staff will make sure that they are learning and
improving their skills, being part of team and having a good time
while doing it.”

There are other programs available through 4-H, which begins for
students in the fourth grade and becomes an elective in the sixth
grade. Topics students can pursue range from agriculture to home
economics to public speaking, photography, recreation, you name it.
There are more than 50 actitivies available to students.

“We have a lot of participation in a lot of programs, and archery
and shotgun are another opportunity to encourage kids to find out what
they’re most interested in and then get them involved in,” Smith said.

Runner’s blog Day 1: He’s no genius, but he is running a half marathon.

I’ll start with a disclaimer: I’ve never been accused of being a genius. Not once. Not ever.
Truth be told, I sometimes have trouble even spelling genius. I tend to get the u and i backwards and have to go back and fix it.  Happens almost every time.
Not being a genius is why I wound up in journalism in the first place. It’s why I’m not doing something more useful for a living, like fixing air conditioners or making barbecue, or teaching the next generation how not to spell genius. (Note to students: the i goes before the u)
Not being a genius is why I’m going to run another half marathon.
This one takes place Nov. 7 in Savannah. You might’ve heard of it. The Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. It’s a big deal, attracts tens of thousands of runners to races all over the country.
And you know what? I used to think they were all a bunch of deranged hippies. Only now I’m about to be right there with them. Or behind them, more likely, somewhere in the back, chugging along, a deranged old hippy myself.
Here’s another disclaimer: I’m not running the marathon itself. I may not be a genuis (SEE!), but I’m not stupid either. A marathon is 26.2 miles. Nobody entirely sane runs 26.2 miles on purpose.
I’m running the half, which is 13.1 miles. I think it’ll take me about 2 hours and 45 minutes to run that far, as long as I don’t get lost.
That’s 12 minutes faster than my first half marathon, by the way. I ran that one in 2:57:40, which is slow for most ordinary humans, or at least those who still have the use of both feet.
I ran my first half marathon just the other day, mind you, did the Milestone Half Marathon on Sept. 12. Ran the whole way, even. I’m happy I managed that. Hooray for me.
But here’s where I get weird. Because the Milestone was supposed to put an exclamation point on and an end to my sudden urge to be a long distance runner.
That was the plan. After the Milestone I’d go back to doing shorter runs, largely because my wife thinks all this running is making me walk funny.
Note to wife: I’ve always walked funny. It’s just more noticeable after I run.
Anyway, the urge to be a distance runner came on about two years age. Before that, I hated running. I hated running mostly because it requires you to run, but I also hated running because I’m not built to be a runner.
I’m built to be a non-runner.
I have short legs and a big head and, well, I’m just built to be in one spot, with my hands in my pockets, preferably leaning against something and trying to look like I know why I’m there and what I’m about.
I hated running when I played sports like football and baseball and basketball, hated it when I was in the Army and we called it “running PT,” and agreed wholeheartedly with an old first sergeant who smoked like five packs of cigarettes a day and often shared the philosophy that running PT was stupid, and the only good reason to run anywhere was if someone was chasing you.
And now, at the age of 53, I’ve got two 5Ks, a 10K and a half marathon under my belt and am about to run another half marathon. All this since I turned 51. Go figure. Maybe it’s a midlife crisis trying to sneak up on me. Whatever it is, it can probably run faster than I am. But it’ll have to catch me.
This blog, or whatever it is, is intended as a journal of sorts, a place to write about running the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon.
Mostly, I’m doing it because when I applied for a press pass to run in this year’s half marathon I pitched the story of posting stories on our websites about how a old middle-aged ex-Army guy who spent 20 years as a reporter and smoked cigarettes for 30 years and then quit and got real fat and then used running to lose weight is gearing up to run in the Rock ‘n’ Roll half marathon.
Besides, if I can run a half marathon, just about anyone can. So there’s that, too. Though there’s also this, from Dad, who IS a genius: “If I want to go 13 miles, I’ll drive there.”
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Random stuff at the end:
Rock ‘n’ Roll song of the day: “Born to Run,” by Bruce Springsteen.
Miles run today: 7.
Inspirational words for the day:
The beginning is the most important part of the work. Plato

Big night at Chamber gala

Gussie Nease was awarded the Effingham County Chamber of Commerce’s prestigious John Adam Truetlen Award for exemplary service to the community during the Chamber’s annual meeting Thursday night at Effingham County High School. Yvette Carr was named the Chamber Ambassador of the Year and Effingham Magazine was named the 2015 Small Business of the Year.