On this day (January 28)

Wongka East-West Eatery Opens in Cornelia

Wongka East.West Eatery
(706) 778-0448

No, it's not a chocolate factory, and his name isn't Wonka,but it's really close. His name is Willy Wong. Willy and Nina Wong have dreamed about opening a restaurant since arriving in Georgia in 2006. Willy is from Malaysia and Nina is from Laos. Nina was kind enough to sit down with me and tell me the story of how their restaurant became a reality.
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Happy Veterans Day!

Habersham Education & Research thanks all of the Veterans who have fought for the freedoms that the United States enjoys. Thank you for protecting our country!

Bring Toys to Papa John's in Cornelia



Brian and Renée Pastman of Papa John's Pizza in Cornelia have have joined forces with Toys For Tots. "One of our assistant managers Erric Adams, who also works at Kmart, asked us if we would be interested in helping if he did all of the legwork. Of course I told him we would because we already donate fund-raising brochures to any cause that needs to raise money. Also, we have donated up to 25 pizzas to be sold at a cancer fund-raiser, so it was really just a natural thing. We are very blessed to do what we do" explained Renée Pastman. As an incentive for you to donate, Papa John's of Cornelia will give you an order of breadsticks with every unopened toy that you bring in. Help spread the word and make Christmas brighter for underprivileged children.

John and Nancy Kollock’s Art Show and Children’s Art Contest

In a land not so far away — just outside Clarkesville, Ga. — storybooks will come to life during John and Nancy Kollock’s Storybook Christmas art show and children’s art contest. Costumed artists will share their stories through paintings, words, music, cornhusk dolls and pressed-flower art on Saturday Dec. 7, 2013.

John Kollock’s gallery will be full of watercolor paintings, prints and books. His paintings illustrate local and personal history in the North Georgia mountains. Kollock also narrated a four-CD guided tour of 75 of Northeast Georgia’s places of interest with colorful facts and local lore.
The show will feature watercolor artist Kathleen Kollock. An artist with both pictures and words, Kathleen reflects her interests and passions through her work, which often provides glimpses into her life in Georgia and Oregon.

A flock of cornhusk bird ornaments will be released from Sarah’s Lavender Cottage. Sarah Samsel will be in her cottage to share stories behind all of her cornhusk creatures as well as her pictures created from hundreds of pieces of pressed plant material. sarahslavendercottage.com.
Nathaniel Samsel, 15, who placed second in the 2013 National Mountain Dulcimer Championship in Kansas, will add music with his mountain dulcimer, guitar and banjo. CDs will be available. nathanielsamsel.com.

Author Heidi Peaster will be selling and signing books. Peaster has brought to life the fictitious McKenna family in a historical saga beginning in the 1800s. Peaster released the first of the McKenna Chronicles in 2012. The immediate response was such that she released six more volumes in the first year.

Art Contest: Deadline is November 23rd

Entries to A Storybook Christmas children’s art contest will also be displayed with winners recognized at the show. The top three will receive cash prizes, and honorable mentions will receive one of John Kollock’s children’s books. For contest information pick up an application from the Clarkesville Library or visit: cottagecontest.blogspot.com.
A Storybook Christmas will be open from 10-5 on Dec. 7 at The Saturday Shop and Sarah’s Lavender Cottage, located at 450 Bybrook Trail.
For more information call 706-754-9200.

Carolina Panthers Sign Tavarres King

Tavarres KingThe Carolina Panthers have a new Wide Receiver. Maybe you've heard of him. He set a number of school records at Habersham Central High School and the University of Georgia. He was drafted in the 5th round by the Denver Broncos. Yes, Habersham's own Tavarres King will be wearing jersey #16, playing for Coach Ron Rivera and running down field to catch passes by the incredible Cam Newton.

When King was cut from the Broncos 53-man active player roster, he was sent to the Broncos practice squad, hoping to get "the call" up to play in the NFL. King has yet play a down in the regular season. Last week, Green Bay attempted to buy King's contract, but Denver opted to keep him. It looked like King was going to get his first chance last Sunday, but right after the Broncos picked up his contract, they pushed him off the team to make room for Von Miller on the 53-man active roster. Experts speculated that Miller was chosen over Tavarres simply due to finances. The Broncos would have to pay Miller's entire salary whether he played or not. The move by the Broncos put King in an awkward spot. He was neither on the practice squad, nor the active players list. His only hope would be to get picked up on waivers starting last Monday (October 21). Enter the Carolina Panthers. They picked up King's contract and hopefully you will see #16 step onto Raymond James field in Tampa Bay and make a great showing against the Bucaneers. Tune in tomorrow night (Thursday night Football). The game is on NFL Network, starting at 8:25pm.

Congratulations Tavarres! We're all rooting for you!


Slideshow: 26th Annual Big Red Apple Festival
Habersham Education & Research was on site at Cornelia's 26th Annual Big Red Apple Festival. There were lots of smiling faces, games for children to play, plenty of delicious food, a car show, hayrides to Chencetah Tower, and a wrestling ring? There was fun for everyone. 

View Slideshow


A Salute to Our Raiders
It has been a very challenging season for our Habersham Central Raiders Football team. The team is currently without a win, and that has created a lot of buzz, some of it negative. While our Raiders are winless, they are all heart! They play with pride and give each game their all. We at Habersham Education & Research (HER) would like to give a shout out to the Habersham Central Raiders Football team and say THANK YOU for playing your hearts out and representing our community. Win or lose, hold your head up high. Ignore those nay-sayers and know that LOTS of people in the community support you and appreciate all that you do.


Lady Raiders Softball Team Fights its Way To State Playoffs

On October 8th, The Lady Raiders beat Norcross 5-4 in their first game of Region playoffs. Two days later, the Lady Raiders beat Mountain View 2-1 and in doing so, advanced to the State Playoffs! Congratulations to our Lady Raiders! The next opponent will be the number one seeded Lassiter Trojans. The teams will face off in the best two out of three series. The first game is this Wednesday (October 16th) at 5pm in Marietta, with a second game at 7pm. Our Lady Raiders would LOVE to have your support. Wear your Orange and Blue and come them on! GO LADY RAIDERS! 

Lassiter High School is located in Marietta, at 2601 Shallowford Road.


October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the breast cancer.

The article below contains a lot of information on Breast Cancer. The most important message I'd like to convey to you is just how important it is for women age 40 and older to keep your mamogram appointment. Don't put it off. Early detection could make the difference between survival and death.

For me, one of the most eye-opening statistics to me was that one out of every eight women in the US will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime. I was surprised at just how high that number was.

Women age 40 and older should have a screening mammogram every year and should continue to do so for as long as they are in good health.

  • Current evidence supporting mammograms is even stronger than in the past. In particular, recent evidence has confirmed that mammograms offer substantial benefit for women in their 40s. Women can feel confident about the benefits associated with regular mammograms for finding cancer early. However, mammograms also have limitations. A mammogram will miss some cancers, and it sometimes leads to follow up of findings that are not cancer, including biopsies.
  • Women should be told about the benefits, limitations, and potential harms linked with regular screening. Mammograms can miss some cancers. But despite their limitations, they remain a very effective and valuable tool for decreasing suffering and death from breast cancer.
  • Mammograms for older women should be based on the individual, her health, and other serious illnesses, such as congestive heart failure, end-stage renal disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and moderate-to-severe dementia. Age alone should not be the reason to stop having regular mammograms. As long as a woman is in good health and would be a candidate for treatment, she should continue to be screened with a mammogram.

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Video: Lady Raiders Coach Stephanie Thomas

Habersham Education & Research sat down with Coach Stephanie Thomas to talk to her about how she got started in playing softball, her coaching career and her thoughts on the 2013 Lady Raiders softball team. Watch her video now on YouTube.



Cornelia's Splash Park: A Refreshing Addition

Kaden and Macy Bagwell of Demorest play in Cornelia's new Splash Park
Ground broke on June 24 at the Cornelia Depot to begin creation of the Margaret Ballard Splash Park. Named in memory of former mayor Margaret Ballard, the park opened to the general public on Friday, Aug. 30 The park consists of a 10 x 10 foot concrete pad with nine sprayers. (Continue Reading)

Raiders fall to Indians in Home Opener (Slideshow)
Click on the link above or the image below to see photos from the Raiders Home Opener
Dedication Ceremony for Veteran's Wall of Honor Set for September 11th

The dedication ceremony for the Habersham County Veterans Wall of Honor is set for Sept. 11, 2013. Woodmen of the World will be there to co-host the event. Major Chris Powell of the Army National Guard will be our speaker. The Habersham Central JROTC will also be participating in the ceremony. The dedication will begin at 9am at the Wall of Honor site located at 660 Business Hwy 441 Cornelia, Ga. which is next door to the Chamber of Commerce and across the street from Ethicon.

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Are You Ready For Some Football?

Board of Education approves Wesley McGee as Central's New Principal
Gasoline Now Available in Mt. Airy, Village Post Coming Soon
Battle of the Heroes I: Firefighters Dominate

The idea to have firefighters square off against the sheriff's department in a football game started back in mid-December 2012. It was the brain child of Cody Simpson and Jamie Tyler. Simpson is an Easton Foundation volunteer. The idea was presented to the firefighters and sheriffs and both sides jumped on board immediately. " It's been in the works for a while. Robin Crockum from the Sheriff's department, and Jamie Tyler, assistant Fire Chief for Baldwin pulled it together for the firefighters", stated Easton Foundation President Casey Lizama.

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Meet Tallulah Falls School's Newest Math Teacher

For years, you've known him as Habersham Central's Principal, but that's about to change. Yesterday afternoon, Principal Jim Van Hooser announced his retirement. Van Hooser made the announcement at the HCHS end-of-year faculty and staff meeting.

Coach Van begins the next chapter in his career teaching math at Tallulah Falls School.

Tallulah Falls School was unavailable for comment at time of publication, but we will follow-up later with a more complete story.


Congratulations Class of 2013!


Graduation is here! Every year around this time, our high school seniors dress up the day before the big day for graduation rehearsal. This year is different. Well, for me it is. You see, my little boy graduates this year Wait, did I say little? He's 6' 3" now and reminds me often that he's taller! (Continue reading)

10th Annual LAP Ride Photos
Weather reports seemed to indicate there would be rain on the day of the LAP (Lula Assembly of Praise) ride, but Saturday morning couldn't have any more perfect! It was sunny, but not too hot. A cool breeze kept riders from overheating. (View photos)

It's Official! Habersham Education & Research is a 501(c)(3)

Peter Madruga, President of Habersham Education and research, proudly holds up a letter from the IRS granting 501(c)(3) status!
(pictured above) Peter Madruga, President of Habersham Education & Research proudly holds the official letter from the IRS
It's official! Habersham Education & Research is a bona fide 501(c)(3)! We started the process on April 9, 2012 and it took just over a year to get approved! I'd like to thank everyone on my board of directors for helping make this a reality.

A little History
We formed Habersham Education & Research to:
  • Talk about people in our community making a positive difference and tell their story. We think that by sharing these stories, it can inspire others to want to make a difference themselves.
  • Document the history of our community: historic people, historic places, and historic moments in Habersham County
  • Educate our youth about our history, involve them in the research
  • Do our part by making positive change whenever possible

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In Memory of Easton Singleton: Silent Ride

You are invited to honor the memory of Easton Singleton by participating in a silent ride. The silent ride is on Thursday, April 25th at 6pm. Participants will meet at the old Wal-Mart parking lot. The ride will end with a graveside candlelight service. The ride will be led by a police escort. This event is sponsored by The Easton Foundation.
Whole Lotta Pickin' Goin' On: 1st Annual Bluegrass Jam
Click on the image below to see our slideshow from Friday Night

Long Signs with Shorter University
#50, Jonathan Long in his Habersham Central Raiders Uniform
(Right) Shorter University Hawks Logo
Front Row: Rodney Long , Jonathan Long, Michelle Long
Back Row: Mike Hill, Sam Ivester, Matt Hudlow, Stuart Cunningham


Jonathan Long's love for football started when he was only 8 years old. "I first started playing football with Habersham Recreation for the Huskies." Long started out playing on the offensive line as a tackle. Jonathan continued playing football for the North Habersham Bobcats learning a variety of positions including center, nose guard, tackle and middle linebacker. "My twin brother is a lot smaller than I am. He was always like a running back, and always got to touch the ball ,and run it. I wanted to be able to touch the ball every play. I got my wish, but it wasn't the way I had imagined it." (Continue reading)

Nevaja Brown Wins Habersham County Spelling Bee
Left to right: CBT VP Matt McClurg,
Nevaja Brown, Superintendent Matthew Cooper
Spelling Bee Champion Nevaja Brown

The eleven finalists from the Habersham County Schools stood on stage in the auditorium at Habersham Central High School to compete for the title of Habersham County Spelling Bee Champion. Up for grabs was a $100 check from Volunteers for Literacy, as well as the honor to represent Habersham County in the regional spelling bee. (Continue reading)


HER Unveils its new Online Directory of Churches in Habersham County


Here at Habersham Education & Research, we put great effort into offering you things that are useful. We recently came up with the idea to create an online directory of all the churches in Habersham County.
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Introducing Your Spelling Bee Winners
Meet your school spelling bee winners and runner-ups.Click here to read about them.
Schools in Habersham County Closed
Due to inclement weather, all schools in Habersham County will be closed on Friday, January 25th. All sporting events also canceled.
Lady Patriots Win League Title

Congratulations to the Wilbanks 7th grade Lady Patriots for winning the Northeast Georgia Mountain League Basketball Tournament. (Continue Reading)

The John King Band Signs Record Deal
The John King Band

Last Monday, January 14th, John King signed a long-term record deal with Black River Entertainment in Nashville. We wanted to learn more about John King, and Mr. King was gracious enough to make time out of his busy schedule to share his story with us.

John was born in Habersham County. He grew up in Demorest. "I had a passion for music since I was a kid. Dad and mom are music lovers." John's mother played hymns for Habersham Baptist Church. "Dad raised me on Southern Rock and Classic Rock and Roll." John got his first guitar when was 12 years old. With no formal training, he learned to play guitar by ear and by reading chord books.He taught himself to play guitar.

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Haley Gerrin with parents Tammi and Mike Gerrin
Left to Right: Mike Gerrin, Haley Gerrin, and Tammi Gerrin

Haley Gerrin entered last night's game against North Hall already the Lady Raiders all-time points leader with 1,347 career points. Gerrin broke the record against North Oconee. Haley had been chasing the 22 year old points record of 1,343, set by Toni Nicely Perry in 1990. At the start of the North Oconee game, Gerrin was only 7 points shy of tying the record. Gerrin scored 11 points in the game, breaking the old record by 4 points (1,347). She set the bar even higher with her 15-point performance, making the new all-time points record 1,362.

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December 25, 2012
Merry Christmas from Habersham Education & Research
From all of us at Habersham Education & Research, we each you a safe and very Merry Christmas!
Help us with our Projects
Please take a look at the list of items that we are looking for to help us with our projects. One additional item we are looking for at this time is a copy of the book, "Once Upon a Time: Schools of Habersham, County GA" by Betty Sisk and Ellenne Gowder. Please call or email us if you can help. Thank you for your support!


Now Open, Now Hiring: Bojangle's is Open for Business

They say that variety is the spice of life. When it comes to dining choices, 2012 has been a great year for new additions in Habersham. Diners had been clamoring for a Chick-Fil-A for years when their prayers were finally answered in May when Chick-Fil-A held its grand opening. Shortly thereafter in June, Captain D's opened its doors offering a seafood alternative. Last Monday, yet another option became available. (Continue Reading)


It's Beginning to Look at Lot Like Christmas
Christmas in the Park is almost open. Click here (or on the photo below) to see our slideshow.
Lake Russell Convenience Store Awning Repaired

Earlier this year, back in April, strong winds pushed over the awning at the Lake Russell Convenience store. Shortly thereafter, the store closed. The K&K BP Station at the end of the 197 also shut down. Both stations have been out of commission since that time. Recently, the awning at the Lake Russell Convenience store has been repaired.

Hopefully, this is a sign that these convenience stores will come back online. These stores were a convenient source of sundries and gasoline for residents of Mount Airy and for campers visiting Lake Russell.

Slideshow: 3rd Annual Hills of Habersham Ride

Click on the photo below to view photos from the 3rd Annual Hills of Habersham Ride.

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Slideshow: Big Red Apple Festival

Habersham Education & Research was on the scene at the Big Red Apple Festival to take photos. It was a beautiful day to dance to bands, enjoy delicious foods, play games, admire vintage cars, go on hay rides and just enjoy fun times with friends and family. The weather was perfect.

Click on the photo below to view photos from the Big Red Apple Festival.

If you'd like to know when we post new stories, sign up for free updates. We'll email you when we have new stories and photos.

In addition, we're always interested in knowing how we're doing. Feel free to send us feedback. We appreciate it!

See a photo you like? Simply make a donation ($5 or more) and we'll send you the photo. Your donation is tax-deductible.



Remembering Easton
by Peter Madruga


When I was growing up, I watched Star Wars so many times, I used to know the lines by heart. It was a great movie. While I don't have them memorized anymore, there was a message that resonated with me from the movie. It's that concept of "The Force." It's that spiritual energy that compels you to do something special, even though you don't quite understand why. (Continue reading)



Chick Fil-A Opens in Cornelia
Chick-Fil-A Cornelia Chick-Fil-A Cornelia

No, your eyes didn't deceive you. If you just drove past a building that looked like a Chick-fil-A in Cornelia, that's because it really was one. People have been asking for a Chick-fil-A to open in Habersham for years and now that has become a reality. The store had its grand opening on May 17th and the line to get a juicy sweet chicken sandwich has been steady ever since.

CFC3Prior to opening, Chick-fil-A held a promotion offering the first 100 customers in line a year's worth of Chick-fil-A sandwiches, including their addictive waffle-cut fries and a drink. Well over two-hundred people camped out the night before the grand opening for a chance at winning. A raffle was held to determine the final hundred contestants, though those that remained after the raffle still had to hang out for the next 24 hours and be present for hourly attendance checks to win their prize.

The line has been long and constant in the drive-through since opening. Employees at Wal-Mart recall seeing the same craziness when Captain D's opened up. One employee told me that the she could hardly get into the parking lot to get to work because the line was so long at Captain D's. "After a week, it died down." stated a Wal-Mart employee who wished to remain anonymous.

Will the same thing happen with Chick-fil-A? Most likely, that will be the case, but for now, there's no shortage of customers happily lining up to enjoy Cornelia's newest restaurant.

Interested in more stories like this? Subscribe to our newsletter. It's free. Click here


Researching the Cornelia Coca-Cola Plant
Coca-Cola Plant in Cornelia

Did you work at the Cornelia Coca-Cola plant? Do you have any old photos of it or any artifcats? If so, we would like to speak with you. We are currently researching the history of the plant. In just a few short days, we've learned more about it than we expected to, but we know there's a lot more out there.

If you have information that you can share, please call Peter at (706) 949-0789 or email him.


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PO Box 1083, Cornelia, Georgia 30531
(706) 949-0789

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