8 Things I’m Gonna Do:

2015

A BAD HABIT I’M GOING TO BREAK:

I am going to start telling my money where to go, instead of wondering where it went. I’m going to master my spending indulgences and teach my children to do the same. I want to start SAVING money.

A NEW SKILL I’D LIKE TO LEARN:

This is the year I’m going to become a court reporter (doing depositions). I want to be good at it, so there’s much still to learn. This is my primary goal for 2015!

A PERSON I HOPE TO BE MORE LIKE:

When it comes to money, I want to be more like Dave Ramsey. As far as my health and wellness goes, I want to be like Kimberly Snyder. For patience and understanding, I’d be lucky to be more like my mother. And, as for work ethic, let me be more like Nora Roberts.

A GOOD DEED I’M GOING TO DO:

I’m going to stop complaining and moaning about stuff I don’t like, and focus more on the positive aspects of my life. Nobody wants to – or deserves to have to – hear the negative B.S.!

A PLACE I’D LIKE TO VISIT:

This spring or summer I think I want to visit D.C., my friend Robert in Maryland, and Georgetown. Maybe for winter break the kids and I can take a cruise or go somewhere else cool.

A BOOK I’D LIKE TO READ:

In 2014 I read 28 books. I’ll want to read the second installment of “The 5th Wave;” and parts 2 and 3 of Nora Robert’s “The Dark Witch.” Also, since I’ll be finishing my 2nd book – “Haunted Walker County, Georgia,” I’m anxious to read that one too! Maybe even “Fire on the Mountain.” Oh! And I want to finish the New Testament this year.

A NEW FOOD I’D LIKE TO TRY:

I plan to cut out sugar (by far and large) this year. So, I’m going to say healthier, leafier, greener foods.

I’M GOING TO DO BETTER AT:

Being on time and meeting deadlines. I want to be more responsible and become known as someone who does what she says she’s going to do.

Biographies I Read & Loved (or tossed aside) in 2014

By Connie Hall-Scott

The most inspirational autobiography I read this past year was “Upper Cut: Highlights of My Hollywood Life” by stylist Carrie White.

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“Behind the scenes of every Hollywood photo shoot, TV appearance, and party in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s, there was Carrie White,” claims Atria Books, White’s publisher. “As the ‘First Lady of Hairdressing,’ Carrie collaborated with Richard Avedon on shoots for Vogue, partied with Jim Morrison, gave Sharon Tate her California signature style, and got high with Jimi Hendrix. She has counted Jennifer Jones, Betsy Bloomingdale, Elizabeth Taylor, Goldie Hawn, and Camille Cosby among her favorite clients.” From this blurb alone, one can expect some pretty sweet gossip. But it’s those things that occurred behind the glamorous façade that kept me turning page after page up into the wee morning hours.

In a conversational, girlfriend-to-girlfriend tone, Carrie takes her readers through the early abandonment by her father, sexual abuse at the hand of her stepfather, a turbulent relationship with her alcoholic mother, and early success fueled by a steady diet of champagne and vodka, diet pills, cocaine, and heroin. She had five children and three husbands before her 28th birthday and she eventually lost her home, her car, her career – and nearly her children. She hit absolute rock bottom before clawing her way back to the top, this time sober and whole.

“Upper Cut” is an unflinching portrayal of addiction and recovery that had me slapping my forehead in exasperation at Carrie White’s multitude of bad choices one minute and rooting for her turn-around and happy ending the next. In the end, the book inspired me. It made me want to get off my ass, dust myself off, and run toward my own dreams. Well done, Carrie White, well done. When I make it to L.A., I’m booking a cut with you.

Released in 2011, “Upper Cut” spans 400-pages.

If you know me, you know I am a lover of rock – ESPECIALLY Guns ‘n Roses. “Appetite for Destruction” is my go-to album. In spite of all the negative stuff I’ve heard about Axl Rose (often first-hand accounts of horrific behavior), I still kind-of have a thing for the guy. Maybe that’s why “W.A.R.: The Unauthorized Biography of William Axl Rose” is my favorite “over-all” biographical read of 2014.

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I haven’t met Axl, but I’ve interviewed and hung out with Steven Adler a few times. It’s no secret that the two of them don’t get along – with Steven having been ejected from the band, the lawsuit that followed, etc… but from what I’ve been told, it’s not from Steven’s lack of trying. For years, the original GNR drummer held out hope that one day the original line-up would get on stage together – just once more. At one point, Axl was the SOLE holdout. Then a few years back, after Axl and the current GNR line-up failed to attend the band’s induction into the Rock ‘n Roll Music Hall of Fame, even Steven gave up hope. Sadly, those 5 magic men – Axl Rose, Slash (Saul Hudson), Duff McKagan, Izzy Stradlin, and Steven Adler – will never perform together again. I’m glad I caught them on the “Girls, Girls, Girls” tour with Motley Crue in 1998. It’s a shame that it’s not going to happen – I’d fly anywhere to see the original line-up together again and I’d pay a ridiculously absurd amount of money for a ticket. And I’m not the only one. To this day “Appetite for Destruction” is still the bestselling debut album of all time.

I have interviewed and met Dizzy Reed – the longest running member of GNR, save Axl himself. Dizzy and Axl are tight, but don’t bother asking Dizzy about his mate. He ain’t talking. There’s a reason he’s still part of Team Axl.

Quotes from my interviews with both Steven and Dizzy went viral on the web, one even made it onto GNR’s official website. (Yea, me!)

But, back to the book. “W.A.R.” was written by rock scribe Mick Wall – a guy who had unprecedented access to GNR at their peak. Wall traveled with the “world’s most dangerous band” in the late 80s and early 90s. He gained Axl’s trust, and later his fury. The book reveals Axl’s childhood influences, goes behind the scenes of GNR’s enormous success; sheds light on infighting, substance abuse, fame, Axl’s consistent tardiness and refusal to show up at concerts, toxic romances, a reconfigured GNR, and more.

I’ve read Slash’s autobiography, Steven’s autobiography, and Duff’s autobiography. Kudos to all three. Hopefully Izzy will pen one someday, but from what I know of his love of privacy, I’ll refrain from holding my breath. I’ve read several compilations of works on GNR – some worthy, some not so much. On the grand scheme of things, “W.A.R.” was enlightening, entertaining, and informative. It was an enjoyable read. I can’t help but wonder if Axl himself read it, and if so what he thinks. I doubt he’s a fan. He would hate not having control over what information was shared.

Axl comes across as broken in “W.A.R.” My personal diagnosis (based on the read) is possible Borderline Disorder, but I’m no shrink. People say he’s an asshole. Though Josh Todd – Buckcherry’s frontman – told me a few months back that Axl was a great guy and that he’d bought Josh and his bandmate’s ipads as a parting gift following Buckcherry’s time on the road with GNR. Todd did, though, admit that he didn’t see much of Axl. That seems to be par for the course. Wall appears to be correct in his accretion that Axl is, more or less, a recluse.

Say what you will about W. Axl Rose. It doesn’t matter. He’s still one of the best frontmen in rock ‘n roll history. He still puts on a hell of a show. I saw GNR in ATL a couple of years back and loved every second. His voice enchants me. He has presence. He’s a, quite simply, a rock god.

Published in 2008 by St. Martin’s Press, “W.A.R.” unfolds in 368 pages. Mick Wall has been a rock journalist since 1977 and currently writes for various newspapers and magazines around the world. He has worked in public relations and has penned a number of best-selling biographies.

Those are my two recommendations, based on my 2014 biographical reads.

I also read Alex Baldwin’s “A Promise to Ourselves: A Journey through Fatherhood and Divorce.” He talks about parental alienation – something that I can’t really relate to on a personal level, but get conceptually. In the book, Baldwin attempts to show how the American family law is a system of lawyers and judges working in cooperation to drain the wallets of divorcing couples – an industry that preys on the vulnerabilities of the already vulnerable.

Baldwin writes, “To be pulled into the American family system in most states is like being tied to the back of a pickup truck and dragged down a gravel road late at night. No one can hear your cries and complaints, and it is not over until they say it is over.”

I agree that our legal system leaves much to be desired. Unfair and even harmful decisions are too often made by judges “having a bad day.” Unfortunately, these things happen all the time. I don’t know that anything can be done about it though. Still, I’m glad Mr. Baldwin was able to express his opinions following his divorce with actress Kim Bassinger.

Should you read it? If you’re a guy going through a divorce and you feel like you’re being treated unfairly, sure. You might get some useful tips. If you’re looking for shameless tabloid-type 411, pass.

I also attempted to read “The Real Girl Next Door” by Denise Richards and “Backstage Passes” by Angela Bowie. It’s not that they weren’t good, but more that I didn’t get into them – so back to McKay’s Bookstore they went. Denise’s book wasn’t juicy enough (I wanted the dirt on Charlie Sheen and Richie Sambora!) and Angela’s was almost too much (groupie!). I neither recommend nor don’t.

Local Actress Kendra Collins to be on Destination America’s “A Haunting” Tonight – Sunday, Dec. 21

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  Photo by Tracy Page

Ten year-old Kendra Collins is a fan of the popular Destination America Channel series, “A Haunting,” so when the opportunity arose to audition she went for it and was rewarded with a part. Tonight, at 10 PM, she’ll be among those anxiously awaiting the airing of the episode titled “Trapped in Terror.”

“I’m nerve-cited,” Kendra said. “I came up with that word because I’m nervous to see if I did okay and exited to see myself on TV. We’re going to pop popcorn and drink hot chocolate.”

Based on real-life occurrences, “Trapped in Terror” is about a character whose estranged mother comes for a visit and opens the home up to the world of the undead. The character then turns to a team of paranormal investigators who uncover the brutal truth of what happened in her attic years ago.

Kendra and her mother, Megan, traveled to Virginia to shoot the “A Haunting” episode this past July. Filming took a week.

“Girls road trip!” Megan exclaimed. “It was a really fun, welcoming experience. She learned the ins and outs of television. The director was Greg Francis, a laid back kind of guy who treated Kendra like an equal and always got on her level. His best advice – to me – was to leave her alone and let her experience the emotions of her scene to connect to her character. He said he was impressed that it didn’t take her long to get into her character, which can be difficult for a lot of child actors.”

7L7C5924 Photo by Elizabeth Pettey

Though Kendra only began acting in May of this year, she has already portrayed a Viking kid on the CW’s hit series, “The Originals,” and was one of six children to provide background on the upcoming Red Wagon Entertainment/Summit Entertainment Sci-Fi film, “Insurgent.” Locally, she took part in Dalton Ghost Tours’ annual presentation of “The Hanged Man” this past September. Kendra also models, having appeared in advertisements for Macy’s, Bright Stars, Poster Child Style Magazine, and Babiekins Magazine.

The daughter Megan Collins, Kendra is a fourth grade student at Westwood Elementary School. She’s represented by East Coast Talent Agency’s in Atlanta.

“I hope a lot of people watch the episode,” Kendra said. “Please watch. Don’t get scarred – leave your lights on!”

Book Review: The Watchers, by Dr. C.K. Quarterman

by Connie Hall-Scott

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Last night I finished reading Dr. C.K. Quarterman’s new (2014) book, “The Watchers.” Allow me to tell you why I think you should too.

Drawing from the King James Bible, the Orthodox Jewish Bible, the E.W. Bullinger Companion Bible, various other relevant historical texts, current events, and archeological evidence, Dr. Quarterman shines light on some of life’s greatest mysteries. Written in a way that anyone can understand, the volume challenges its readers to wake up and take stock.

Backing all of his arguments with scripture, Dr. Quarterman enlightened this reader, providing answers to questions I’ve wondered about much of my life – questions about our Creator, why the Old Testament God and the New Testament God seem like two altogether different deities, the battle of good vs. evil that has raged since the beginning of time, mankind’s role in it all, and more.

“We have a short time to blow the trumpet and make people aware that the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are about to begin their ride,” Dr. Quarterman wrote within the first pages. Such a statement sounds extreme, doesn’t it? Perhaps even radical… paranoid… histrionic. But is it really?

As much as I hate to admit it, I believe America is failing and we’re in for some seriously trying times. Even though that is my sincere opinion, it’s hard to own up to aloud. Not only is it difficult to admit because I don’t WANT America to be anything less than the most powerful, secure, unstoppable country in the history of this world, but I REALLY don’t want to disappoint any of you by expressing an opinion that is controversial or offensive. I’d rather reassure you that everything’s going to be okay. Even in the face of contrary facts, mass delusion is more – well, COMFORTABLE. It’s easier to trust that our government, our experts, our gurus, have “got this.” But I’m going to scoot on down the shaky, politically incorrect limb I’m on and say – no, shout – that prophecy IS unfolding RIGHT NOW, as Dr. Quarterman discussed in his book. The aforementioned COMFORT most of us are shrouded in is a deliberately orchestrated illusion crafted by enemies of God and man.

In “The Watchers,” Dr. Quarterman expounded Biblical truths, filling in between the lines of more modern translations with unfiltered ancient Holy texts, history, and archeology. He thoroughly deliberated topics including creation, Genesis, pre-creation, fallen angels, Lucifer’s rebellion, heaven and earth, eternity, original sin, Ruin-Restoration Creationism, ancient technology, dinosaurs, pre-humans, angels, OOparts, the cosmos, God’s judgment, Nephilim, the Archon, the Great Flood, demons, the Tower of Babel, genetic tampering, UFOs, conspiracy, and the New World Order. Succinctly written in 160-pages, “The Watchers” is an advanced Bible lesson, an engaging history lesson, and an urgent call encouraging readers to THINK for themselves, to SEARCH for the truth, and to PAY ATTENTION to what’s going on in the world today in order to be PREPARED for what’s coming tomorrow.

 

Recommended Links:

www.genesissecretsrevealed.com

www.deliveranceministriesgroup.com

www.endtimesministrieschurch.com

www.fallenangelstoday.com

www.ckquarterman.com

SPEAK UP against bullies

originally written for the Daily Citizen-News, Dalton, Georgia, October 2014

photo (1)Grace Kling remembers high school as the worst four years of her life.

“Everything before and after has been a Godsend,” she shared. “But I lost a lot of confidence during high school. It broke me down. I went in excited, wanting to be in the top group of students, wanting to excel at my extra-curricular activities.”

But some of the students in her grade and in the grade below her decided to make life difficult for Grace, she said.

Most of the negative experiences played out on the internet through social media, though her tormentors routinely blasted her with snide, passive-aggressive comments on campus. One guy drew over her senior picture with a sharpie in a lot of the other kids’ yearbooks. Someone wrote a vulgar comment about her on a bathroom stall. Her car was vandalized. Once Grace left class and returned to find that her primary bully had spit in her bag, all over her wallet and homework.

“It was disgusting,” Grace said. “I let my grades slack. I don’t blame my bullies for that, but I just know that I became very depressed. By my senior year I was down to 84 pounds and people thought I was throwing up or something to lose weight. The truth was that I just had a ton of anxiety.”

“My high school definitely knew about it,” Grace said of the harassment, “but it was stuffed under the rug. I mean, what were they going to do about it?”

For Grace, relief finally came when she graduated. Today she’s 22 years-old and living in SoHo, New York, where she works as a stylist.

“No matter what, there’s never a reason to stay around people that bring you down or affect you in any negative capacity,” Grace advised. “I thought that some people – even though they hurt me – were okay to be around because we shared friends. The truth is, it’s never worth that much hurt and torture.”

For Rhonda Chastain’s daughter, Britany, bullying became physical her junior year.

“I often took lunch to school on days I wasn’t working,” Rhonda shared. “As soon as I left one day, a girl knocked Britany’s food off the table and then punched her. Britany gained a black eye and a bloody lip.”

Rhonda was called back to school to watch the lunchroom video tape of what had happened. The perpetrator was suspended, but the behavior didn’t get better when Britany’s bully returned to school. It got worse.

“Out of this group of about six girls one would get suspended and another would take over,” Rhonda said. “It sounds ridiculous, but that’s what happened. The bullying began before I even knew. Britany had been hiding it from me.”

When Britany’s aggressors learned there was no camera in the school stairwell they pushed her down, dislocating her shoulder, Rhonda said.

“I can’t count how many times I went to school to talk,” Rhonda recounted. “At least 15. They kept telling me, ‘We suspended this one’ or ‘We suspended that one,’ but there was always more girls in the clique to torment Britany.”

After the lunchroom incident, Britany refused to go back to the cafeteria. She hid in a bathroom stall to eat her lunch or sometimes the computer lab teacher would allow her to sit in the empty classroom.

“Britany never fought back,” Rhonda said. “We were told that if she did she’d be suspended and arrested. She became very moody at home, withdrawn. One of the counselors said it was just her age but it was more than normal teenage moodiness. She was being bullied in every way imaginable – verbally, socially, on-line, and physically. There was no peace.”

For several days toward the end of Britany’s junior year, Rhonda attended her daughter’s last period with her to prevent the bullies from following through on threats to “get” Britany after school.

“Those kids didn’t care if I was there or not,” Rhonda recalled. “They verbally taunted her right in front of me. The teacher seemed not to hear. At that point I’d had it. I checked her out before that class the last two weeks of school. She failed Math. Luckily, she was able to keep her other credits.”

Rhonda homeschooled Britany for a while. Now 19, Britany is enrolled in Endless Possibilities, a local alternative school, where she’s earning her final credits to graduate.

“She runs into some of those girls sometimes,” Rhonda said. “It’s a small town. But she’s more grounded and has moved on.”

Five years ago, on October 17, David and Tina Long of Chatsworth lost a son to bullycide. They have since formed a non-profit anti-bullying organization that can be found at www.everythingstartswith1.org. Additional resources are at www.121help.me.

“Don’t let your voice fall silent,” Tina said. “There is help.”

  

Connie Hall-Scott is a freelance writer and publicist. In honor of October being National Anti-bullying month, she and Judy Elliott discussed the topic on WDNN’s Lifestyles for Women. The segment will air the weeks of October 20th and 27th.

 

AFTERWORD:  Stories like Grace’s and Britany’s aren’t uncommon. As adults – teachers, parents, administrators, lawmakers, human beings – we should NEVER stand for it. I met Tina Long about a year ago after watching her family’s story on the movie “Bully.” My heart immediately went out to her. If you haven’t watched the documentary yet – you should. It’s on Netflix. The Longs lost their precious son Tyler, 5 years ago this month, to bullycide. Their story is beyond heartbreaking and it makes me furious. EVERY child should be protected. EVERY child should be cherished. And EVERY child should  be able to get up in the morning and get ready for school without depression and worry over whether or not someone or some group is going to shame them or even hurt them physically. Even if I had not been touched by the effects of bullying on a personal level – someone I love is currently going through a struggle – I’d still be outraged. I guess I just don’t understand mean people. What exactly is missing in the lives of bullies that led to their perverse actions? Thank God for people like Tina and David Long who tirelessly WORK to make changes. I urge you to visit their website – http://www.everythingstartswith1.org. I urge you to do something yourself. Even if that something is simply speaking up when you see an episode of bullying going down.

The “perfect” murder of Frank Olson

I have a friend in Maryland. Over the phone recently he told me a story about a man his grandfather was once close to. The man’s name was Frank Olson. Ever heard of him? Up until yesterday I hadn’t, but after a little online sleuthing, Frank’s tragic story is stuck in my head like dirty bubblegum on the bottom of a brand new pair of Jimmy Choo sandals. Put another way, I’m deeply disgusted, disillusioned with our government, and just plain outraged. How many other stories like Frank’s are untold? Unknown, even?

Frank was a scientist. Interestingly, he was part of the small group that designed the protective clothing for the invasion of Normandy during World War II. He was a family man with a loving wife and children. And he was hairline-deep in the darkest of state secrets.

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On November 28, 1953, Frank Olson’s family was told by the United States government that he had died in an accident. Up until 1973 the family believed that Frank had fallen – or jumped – out of a New York hotel room window. For the Olsons, the years that followed were overshadowed with fear, shame, uncertainty, and insecurity. Then, on June 11, 1975, a story ran on the front page of the Washington Post. Titled “Suicide Revealed,” the story led the Olsons deeper down a rabbit hole.

Quotes from the story:

A civilian employee of the Department of the Army unwittingly took LSD as part of the Central Intelligence Agency test, then jumped 10 floors to his death less than a week later, according to the Rockefeller commission report released yesterday,” the article read.

The man was given the drug while attending a meeting with CIA personnel working on a test project that involved the administration of the mind-bending drugs to unsuspecting Americans and the testing of new listening devices by eavesdropping on citizens who were unaware they were being overheard.

This individual was not made aware he had been given LSD until about 20 minutes after it had been administered,” the commission said. “He developed serious side effects and was sent to New York with a CIA escort for psychiatric treatment. Several days later, he jumped from a tenth-floor window of his room and died as a result.

According to a statement made by his family in 2002 on their website, www.frankolsonproject.org, no one bothered to notify them that the story was going to break. Not the Rockefeller Commission, not the CIA, and not the White House.

Frank wasn’t named in the article, but it wasn’t hard to figure out who the story was about. A month later Frank’s family held a press conference.

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Less than two days after that they were sitting in the Oval Office receiving an apology from President Ford. Five days later they found themselves having lunch with CIA Director William Colby at his office at Langley. Along with another apology, the Olsons were handed the “complete file” on Frank’s death.

Frank’s sons, one being Eric Olson, believed something was grossly amiss. Things just didn’t add up.

The Olsons weren’t sure exactly what the President and the CIA were apologizing for. Was it that Frank had been recklessly and covertly drugged by them? Was it for the nonchalant medical treatment by a non-psychiatrist? Was it for keeping the allegedly psychotic Frank in a hotel room rather than in a hospital? Was it because Frank’s CIA escort (Dr. Robert Lashbrook) was “asleep” in the next bed when Frank “fell or jumped?” Was it for not telling the truth to Frank’s family in 1953? Or, was it for not coming clean to the Olson family before the story broke 22-years later?

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The “fell or jumped out the window” scenario didn’t sit with the Olsons. They say he was pushed. An insider later revealed to them that he was “dropped.”

But, why?

Over an agonizing decade the horrific truth slowly came to light. The real story began well before Frank was fatally “dropped” from a window. It began with ethical reservations the scientist expressed that led to government speculation as to how committed Frank was to top secret activities he was involved with. The LSD drugging of Frank and his death were but the tip of a very large, very corrupt iceberg.

Eric Olson learned that his father was not simply an “army scientist” but a CIA officer connected with projects so heavily guarded that the term “top secret” gives only scant indication of their sensitivity. At the time of Frank’s death he was the Special Operations Division at Detrick’s director of planning and evaluations. The division was the government’s most secret biological weapons laboratory, responsible for doing work on bacteriological agents for use in covert operations.

Let me be clear. We’re talking about – among other things – assassinations materials research, biological warfare materials for use in covert operations, biological warfare experiments in populated areas, terminal interrogations, collaboration with former Nazi scientists, LSD mind-control research, and U.S. employment of biological weapons in the Korean War.

As Eric and his family doggedly pursued the truth, they turned to the New York District attorney (where the accident/suicide/murder took place). Surprisingly, the case was reopened. The D.A. would go on to learn that the murder of Frank Olson was taught as a case of “perfect murder” at the assassination training unit of the Israeli Mossad outside Tel Aviv. Frank’s death was included in the assassination curriculum because of the success with which the murder had been disguised as a suicide.

A completely new story of Frank Olson’s death and what really happened all of those years ago has been unearthed. Rather than continue my narrative, I direct you to the family’s very thorough, substantiated website: www.frankolsonproject.org.

Dalton’s Own Ghost Stories (written for Dalton Magazine, October 2014)

Dalton Magazine 2014    Sharing my recent cover story, written for Dalton Magazine (Photo by Matt Hamilton of Emily Krout):

Mark Twain once said, “I don’t believe in ghosts, but I am afraid of them.” Whether or not we believe in those things we were told didn’t exist when we were children is of little significance. What really matters is, are you ready for some good old-fashioned ghost stories?

Since ancient times, people have sought the thrill that accompanies the fear derived from listening to spooky tales around camp fires. With Halloween upon us, the time is ripe to inject a little harmless fright into our entertainment schedules. If we’re willing to admit it, most of us have that one super scary movie or book that creeps into our consciousness on the darkest of nights, preventing us from dangling an arm or a leg off the edge of the bed for too long – just in case. But the best stories are those that spring from our own back yards, and when it comes to things that go bump in the night Dalton has plenty to offer.

One of the city’s best-known cold spots is located at 210 N. Pentz Street in historic downtown. The two-story brick structure is home to Dalton Little Theatre, Georgia’s oldest continuously performing community theater. Dalton Little Theatre, or DLT, has provided live entertainment to the area since 1869, only breaking for World War I and World War II. Many of the actors, directors, and patrons who spend time at DLT claim the theater is quite haunted.

“I have heard walking overhead when no one was upstairs,” shared Randel Ovbey, a local actor who first performed with DLT in 1977 before the troupe claimed the current location as their own. “Once I was in a cast photo – for, I believe it was, ‘Curious Savage’ – that has an image of a clearly defined phantom crossing behind us. I have also been present when the sound system would come on in an empty sound booth.”

William Brooks, another seasoned local thespian, said he too has heard disembodied footsteps. “Many of us have,” he added. “And I’ve heard people say they can smell cigar or pipe smoke but no one smokes inside.”

Who haunts DLT? Local lore points a finger at late fireman Carl Johnson. Originally, the 100-plus year-old building served as a fire hall. It is still routinely referred to as “the Old Firehouse.”

“I heard Carl was a fireman who came back from a run and had a heart attack, dying on location,” Randel offered.

Legend asserts a group of firemen were called out in the 1950s. After extinguishing a fire, they returned to the Firehouse. Everyone went upstairs to shower and change clothes – everyone except Carl. Carl wasn’t feeling well. He laid back in a recliner on the first floor and dozed. Later, some of the firemen attempted to wake Carl, only to discover he was dead. His heart had quit.

Soon after Carl was laid to rest, various firemen began claiming he was still there. Many saw Carl out of the corner of an eye. Some spied him dead-on. His footsteps and knockings have been heard by untold numbers over the years. Carl is said to manipulate electrical equipment and to move objects around. Whenever props or personal items go missing at DLT, Carl is often blamed.

Though there are those who refuse to be left alone in certain areas of DLT, Randel Ovbey doesn’t mind sharing his beloved theater with a ghost. “I love it,” he said. “I think it’s awesome. I feel that as a fireman he’s probably there to protect.”

In the late 1960s officers from the Dalton Police Department were summoned to Hotel Dalton. A young woman had checked in the night before and was found dead the next morning by housekeeping. She’d shot herself. Today the 5-story low-rise that once housed Hotel Dalton is called the Landmark Building. Owed by attorney Randy Bates, it sits at 101 E. Crawford Street and is used for office space. There are several individuals employed inside who swear to ghostly goings-on.

Jessie Krout of Rocky Face is a tour guide with Dalton Ghost Tours. “I once had a woman along the route ask me who haunts the Landmark Building. She informed me that she knew it was haunted because she works there and has heard weeping on the second floor. She said the energy there is heavy with sadness.”

Jessie’s grandfather-in-law, Troy Hall, was one of the officers to work the suicide case at Hotel Dalton.

“It was a long time ago,” Jessie said. “Unfortunately he doesn’t remember the girl’s name. He said she was in her late teens or early 20s. She had been a carhop at the Cherokee Drive-in theatre when it happened and she was distressed over an unwanted romantic break-up. Newspapers generally don’t report suicides so it has been difficult to learn more about her.”

“One of the attorneys who works with Randy Bates has experienced odd happenings on the top floor,” Jessie said. “Another attorney, whose office sits on the back side of the building, on a lower floor, has witnessed unexplainable door slamming. One time an electrician left the building abruptly, refusing to return because of something frightening that happened to him. At the Landmark Building, paranormal activity abounds.”

According to Jessie, dozens of tour guests have witnessed lights come on at night while standing in front of the Landmark Building and listening to her spiel. “It isn’t uncommon for lights on the second, third, and fifth floors to suddenly come on,” Jessie said. “No one is working inside that late and a glance around the empty parking lot supports that it’s empty in there. After all this time, I think the lingering spirit is lonely. She just wants us to know she’s there.”

Leon Hurst moved to Dalton in June of 1971, along with his wife and two sons. At the time there were four theaters in town – two drive-ins and two walk-ins. Martin Theaters brought Leon onboard as city manager of all four. Not one member of the Hurst family believed in ghosts or the paranormal upon arriving in Dalton, but soon enough each began to experience events inside the walls of the historic Wink Theatre that would forever change their perspective.

Built by J.C.H. Wink, the art modern theatre opened in 1941 with a showing of “They all Kissed the Bride,” starring Joan Crawford and Melvyn Douglas. The three-story brick edifice sits near the end of W. Crawford Street in the historic district and now houses the Dalton branch of Rock Bridge Community Church.

“Dad was the first to see and hear things,” Leon’s son, Dale, revealed. “He spent more time down there than any of us. He witnessed the door knob to his office turn numerous times when no one was there to turn it. He heard a little girl with bells on her shoes laughing and playing outside his office while alone in the theatre. He saw and heard plenty of things that I, at first, reasoned away.”

One of the things Dale speaks of involved his father hearing 35 mm film cans being tossed down a side staircase. No one was around to have moved the canisters from the room in which they were stored. Like every other strange thing that had happened up to that point, Leon was alone inside the Wink and there were no witnesses to back up his claim.

“He described that night in great detail,” Dale shared. “Bump, bump, bump… the cans went down the stairs. Dad said it was an unmistakable, metallic sound. He was adamant. When he went to check it out there were no cans to be found. I felt like, ‘Daddy doesn’t know. There’s nothing going on here.’ Then things started happening to me.”

Dale worked at the Wink his junior year of high school. Sometimes he acted as a projectionist and other times he took on janitorial duties.

“I often had to close the theatre,” Dale remembered. “The incident that made me a believer happened sometime after midnight. I heard somewhere once that the hour between midnight and 1 a.m. belongs to the living dead. I can tell you, I spent a lot of time in the Wink during that hour. Your imagination can run wild with you. People were already talking about all the odd things they saw and heard in the Wink but I was still telling myself those things stemmed from overactive imaginations or were happening because the building was old and settling.”

As Dale pushed a broom down the auditorium aisle on the evening in reference, he listened to music on a portable radio. Suddenly, the volume decreased to a near inaudible level. Dale felt the hair all over his body stand to attention. Then he heard “giant footsteps running down the aisle” toward him. Turning, he saw nothing and no one. The volume on his radio rose – seemingly of its own accord – to a menacing screech.

“I put my broom down and exited the building,” Dale said. “I locked the doors but left all the lights on inside. It was the scariest thing. Other things happened afterward but that was my turning point. Dad hadn’t been wrong about that stuff.”

Some of those “other things” that happened to Dale occurred during daylight hours, but it was the ones at the night that were the most unsettling. “It got to the point that I was on pins and needles waiting for the midnight hour,” he confessed. “I convinced myself that if I could just make it to 1 a.m. I’d be okay. Maybe it was just… the timing. It was the 70s and I was young.”

Today Dale lives in Columbus. He still thinks about the Wink a lot. “I really enjoyed working there,” he said. “If I had a chance to revisit any period in my life, it would be then.”

In 1980 the Wink closed its doors for almost two decades. The last film to light up the silver screen was Disney’s “The Black Hole.” During its solitary years the Wink deteriorated, playing host to pigeons and rats. Just in time to save the historic building from demolition, entrepreneur Troy Hall stepped forward and purchased, renovated, and reopened the Wink. (Incidentally, Troy – who personally doesn’t believe in ghosts – is one of the former DPD officers who worked the Hotel Dalton suicide in the late 60s). For several years after reopening, the Wink operated as a performing arts venue, and almost immediately reports of supernatural stirrings began.

Among dozens of terrific tales, one stands out. Dalton resident Judy Hall went upstairs to use the restroom during a musical showcase. Judy described the elegant upstairs setting as unnerving.

“Something was off,” she said. “I felt like someone was watching me but I didn’t see anyone else upstairs. Certainly I was alone in the women’s bathroom but that didn’t stop a toilet from flushing several stalls down from me.”

Exiting her own stall, Judy looked underneath the adjoining doors for feet. She wondered if someone had come in and somehow she hadn’t noticed. One by one, Judy began pushing the doors open. When she got to the last stall, she eased the door back. No one was there but the toilet flushed before her eyes.

“I will never go up there alone again,” Judy vowed afterward. “I may never even go up there again at all. People don’t believe these things until something happens to them. It was more than the toilet flushing on its own, it was the whole weighty, strange feeling that was around me from the moment I began walking up the stairs.”

Read more about Dalton’s supernatural underbelly in “Haunted Dalton, Georgia,” available at Books a Million, Walnut Square Mall, and through Amazon.com. Or, take a 90-minute tour with Dalton Ghost Tours. Tours are offered each Friday and Saturday throughout the month of October at 8 p.m. For more information call 706-673-2167.

“Haunted Dalton, Georgia” BOOK SIGNING * AND * Dalton Ghost Tours’ Special HAUNTED LOCATION TOUR at the THOMAS A. BERRY HOUSE this Saturday, October 4

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In 2007 an anonymous letter was received by the Georgia Ghost Society, or GGS, of Atlanta. The letter detailed disturbing supernatural events that were said to be taking place at the Thomas A. Berry House. The letter writer asked GGS to come to Dalton to help rid the location of its squatting entities. Not only were some of the residents of the house hearing unexplainable sounds and feeling as if someone unseen was monitoring them, they also claimed to be seeing apparitions and experiencing uncharacteristically high levels of agitation.

GGS answered the summons, as have other paranormal investigators since. The findings have been shocking and reports of paranormal activity continue.

The Carter Hope Center, ran by founder and director Chuck Smith, operates from the Thomas A. Berry House. Serving the community since 1998, Carter Hope is a nonprofit organization that provides a structured and safe living environment to individuals in need of a long-term residential program and spiritual, physical, and emotional recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.

“At first I thought it was a hoax,” Smith said. “I’m not so sure anymore. A lot of things have happened and a lot of people have been affected.”

The Thomas A. Berry House is one of a handful of Victorian-era homes that remain in the area that was once an affluent section of Dalton, Georgia. It was built by the Reverend David P. Bass (1829-1895) for his daughter, Mary Elizabeth, and given to her as a wedding present when she married Thomas A. Berry in 1882. Rev. Bass was a prominent landowner and the second president of the Crown Cotton Mill, an important local textile industry. After Elizabeth Berry’s death in 1945, the house was sold out of the family. It has gone through a succession of owners and usages over the years.

“You can feel them here,” a Carter Hope resident named Joe shared of the alleged ghosts. “They watch. I ain’t ashamed to admit it; they scare me.”

The Berry house is written about in Connie Hall-Scott’s book, “Haunted Dalton, Georgia.” Hall-Scott will sign books, available for purchase on site, at The Thomas A. Berry House on Saturday from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.

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Later in the evening on Saturday, Dalton Ghost Tours will host a special location tour starting at the Thomas A. Berry House. Guests will be able to tour the home, learn of its ghostly goings-on, and meet with Chuck Smith and current residents, along with Dalton Ghost Tour special returning guests Mark Fults and Richard Ruland. Ruland is the host of the popular web-TV show “Hunting the Unknown Truth,” and Fults is the author of “Chattanooga Chills” and an investigator with “Hunting the Unknown Truth.”

The tour will begin at 7 p.m. at the Berry house, located at 506 Hawthorne Street in Dalton. Tickets are $12, with a portion of proceeds going to the Carter Hope Center. At 7:45 p.m. Dalton Ghost Tour guests will leave the Berry house and embark on an hour-long exploration of downtown Dalton’s legendary haunts. Reservations are not required. For more information call 706-673-2167.

Paying Homage to NHS Class of 1989 with SKID ROW on September 27

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Rob Hammersmith, Scotti Hill, Christi Screws, Johnny Solinger, Connie Hall Scott, Rachel Bolan, David Sabo, 2012

It’s hard to conceptualize Northwest’s approaching 25-year reunion. Have I really been out of high school for a quarter of a century? It seems like– maybe not yesterday, but definitely last week – I was zipping into the NHS parking lot in my beloved red Fiero stuffed too-full with Shelly Majors, John Shoemaker, and Lynn Anderson. Chances are we were running late. The radio would have been playing a little too loud as we sang along with Guns ‘n Roses, Def Leppard, or maybe Skid Row.

Sadly, I’m not going to make it to the reunion because of a work commitment but fellow alumni Christi Michael-Screws and I will be paying homage to that totally awesome time in our lives on Saturday, September 27, at Wild Bill’s in Atlanta, with none other than the boys of Skid Row.

While the other sophomores and I were no doubt studying hard in the foothills of northwest Georgia back in 1986, a group of New Jersey kids with a punk-metal attitude were joining forces to conquer the world. The battlefield was the stage, their songs the arsenal, in a rock ‘n roll coup d’etat that gifted us with hits like “I Remember You,” “18 and Life,” and “Monkey Business.” Skid Row produced Top Ten singles, owned the Billboard album chart, and reached multi-platinum status before in-fighting resulted in disbandment in 1996.

But the core camaraderie never died. In 2000 Skid Row returned to the stage, opening for Kiss, with new lead singer Johnny Solinger out front. They played 100 shows with Kiss. Now days the band plays 100-plus shows a year all around the globe. Annually performing in Georgia, though, is personal to them as two members – Bassist Rachel Bolan and drummer Rob Hammersmith – call Atlanta home.

“Skid Row has always been about the live performance,” Johnny recently told me in a phone interview. “It’s just about going out there and playing, and with new material. We still have something left to say. We’re not just going to rest on ‘Youth Gone Wild’ and ‘I Remember You’ – which we’ll play every night – but there’s new music that we’re making and we want to get that across.”

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In August Skid Row released a seven-song EP through Megaforce Records titled “Rise of the Damnation Army – United World Rebellion: Chapter Two.”

“It’s based on Rachel and Snake’s writing,” Johnny shared. “It’s more old school rock ‘n roll but hardcore and fresh.” Snake is Skid Row’s guitarist, David Sabo. Scotti Hill is also on guitar.

“The message in these songs was delivered on-target by each of us,” Johnny said. “I approached it with every ounce of emotion I could conjure up, and I cannot wait to unleash it live on stage in Atlanta.”

They grew older, but the members of Skid Row will be the first to tell you they never grew up. Their latest release is still the youth gone wild, their musical spark still burning gasoline.

“I will always be that 16-year-old kid in front of the mirror, pretending to be Ace Frehley or Michael Schenker,” Snake admitted. “It’s still about writing a great song with your friend, praying it connects with someone.”

Though I did grow up, and now have three gorgeous teenagers of my own at Northwest, I like to remember yesterday sometimes. And just like yesterday, my best comrade Christi can more often than not still be found in the rock ‘n roll trenches with me on those dalliances. Excellent music is always best when shared with good friends, whether you’re creating it or connecting with it.

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Wild Bill’s is located at 2075 Market Street in Duluth. For more information call 678-473-1000 or log onto www.wildbillsatlanta.com. Tickets for Skid Row’s September 27 show are priced from $20 to $55. Doors open at 7:30.

For more information on the class of 1989 NHS reunion, set to occur on October 18, contact Kim Westfall-Kiker at 770-324-4998.

Tennessee Walk Me Home – Chattanooga 5K for Foster Care set for Sept. 10

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Renee Martin first became a foster mom in June of 2010 and has since enjoyed sharing her home with 7 foster children, ranging in age from 4 months to 13 years. Now, she and her family are gearing up for their second – and Chattanooga’s 3rd – annual “Tennessee Walk Me Home” 5K walk for foster care to take place on September 10, 2013 at the Chattanooga Riverpark.
 
“I have a huge heart for children,” Renee shared. “Every kid deserves a chance and if I can make their stay in the system as pleasant as it can be, I will. I feel like if I can expose these kids to different cultures and different life experiences while they are in my home, I’m doing my part. The last set of kids I fostered had never been to the beach, never put their feet in the sand, so I took them to the beach over spring break and they loved every minute of it! People think fostering changes the children’s lives – and it does – but what a lot of people don’t understand is how much it also changes your life.”
 
According to The National Foster Parent Association there are more than 500,000 children in foster care across the country. Approximately 7,200 of these children reside in Tennessee and for many years the Tennessee Foster Adoptive Care Association (TFACA) has been a voice for Tennessee’s foster and adoptive families.
 
The Walk Me Home 5K event was developed in order to bring awareness to foster care, promote fostering, and to raise funds which directly benefit Tennessee’s foster children and youth through the Walk Me Home Enrichment Fund.
 
“This is the fourth year in which a nationwide event of this magnitude has been organized with specific focus on foster care,” said Cheryl Paris, representative for Walk Me Home. “There are more than 100 communities in 25 states participating in Walk Me Home. With your help we can make a lasting, positive impact in the lives’ of Tennessee’s foster kids.”
 
Registration begins at 9 a.m. on September 10, rain or shine. Participants are asked to pay a $30 registration fee or collect at least $30 in pledge contributions. Everyone will receive a t-shirt and other incentives will be awarded according to fundraising levels achieved. All pledges must be turned in on the day of the event. Cash and checks made out to Walk Me Home will be accepted.
 
Renee Martin’s whole family is onboard with sharing their lives with foster children, including her husband, Saint, their 14 year-old son “young” Saint, their 12 year-old daughter Layla, and even their 3 year-old son, Jordan.
 
“We’re all going to walk,” she said. “Even Jordan! I’m also going to recruit as many of my co-workers as I possibly can.” Renee is a national sales representative for Visual Print Group and Design of Fort Oglethorpe. She encourages everyone in and around the Chattanooga area to come out and make a difference.
 
“I’d take all the kids if I could,” Renee Martin said. “I wish I had a giant mansion. I want to be like that little old lady in the shoe that takes in all the kids.”
 
For more information contact Cheryl Paris at 423-296-2324 or e-mail her at Cheryl.paris@tn.gov.