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Backyard Escapes Pt. 5: If You’re Lucky, You’ll Discover Happiness in Your Own Backyard Like Bob and Lori Howard in Forest Hills

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What if you could feel like you were in the north Georgia mountains every time you stepped outdoors? That was the inspiration for Bob and Lori Howard’s posh backyard makeover upon settling into their retirement home.

An environmental engineer, Bob designed and supervised the transformation of their yard. A home designed for empty nesters doesn’t come with the largest yard, but every square inch of this one is gorgeous.

Taking advantage of the natural topography — their property slopes towards the back of the home — Bob had a vision of what could be there and brought it to life exquisitely. It’s difficult to believe their yard once consisted of privet and a few short pine and other scrubby trees. “There was no landscaping. It was a cosmetic disaster,” Lori recalled.

They were able to develop their outdoor space into a striking deck, a series of retaining walls and flowerbeds, a marvelous waterfall, koi pond and patio haven which they’ve been reveling in for 12 years.
“It’s a comfortable place to be. We turn music on, have the waterfall going, drink a margarita and life is good,” Bob said.

“We have under decking, ceiling fans, a fire pit and a warming light on the patio, so we can sit out almost year-round,” Lori added.

Color changing landscape lights illuminate the waterfall at nighttime. From the patio, one has a breathtaking view of the waterfall.

Most evenings you’ll find the Howards on their patio, listening to The Bridge on SiriusXM. “Bob also put in a sound system. I’ve had a live-in handyman for 40 years; I’ve been blessed,” Lori smiled.

Bob and Lori Howard

The Howards have been able to share their lovely surroundings with family and friends. Their friends were married here, they host neighborhood parties — not this year, of course. For their 70th birthday, they welcomed a large group of friends. A country western singer came from Nashville to perform for them.

“This is a good party house. It flows very nicely,” Lori said.

Extreme Remodel

The stonework in the Howard garden is impressive. “There are probably 20 or 30 tons of stone and rock on the slope. I laid out where I wanted it with spray paint, bought the stone and the contractor, Nick Carillo, built it,” Bob reported. The tiered, stacked stone retaining walls were built to create flat areas for planting flowerbeds.

Bob conceived the 3,500-gallon koi pond including the pumps, biological filter and UV light. “We have large koi. I designed it so the herons could not get access to fish,” Bob said. “They can stand on the edge, but they can’t get into the water to get any fish; it’s over four feet deep.”

A coyote’s attempt at catching the fish was captured on their security camera. The fellow almost drowned after falling in, but he was able to scramble to safety.

Knock on Brazilian Wood

They originally had a poorly made deck that was falling off the house with nothing but earth underneath it — but Bob had plans to rebuild it. He selected premium Brazilian cherry wood for the new, sturdy deck. “I like the reddish color and it holds up longer than pressure-treated pine,” Bob said. He designed and built the deck with his son’s help.

“On our last deck, we used Trex composite wood. We love the way it looked but it holds a lot of heat in the summer,” Bob said.

The new deck has a stair system with a boardwalk that goes over to the back slope. Steps lead to an area by the waterfall.

Carillo poured the foundation, reinforcing the sandstone patio for the posts. “I didn’t want to have that much weight on the sandstone patio without having a foundation underneath,” Bob said. “It has worked well. Knock on wood.”

Pandemic Relief —Backyards for the Win

The couple hosted an engagement dinner for their youngest son and his fiancée in August. They’ve been able to gather with friends, one couple at a time, socially distanced on their patio. “That’s how we’ve managed to do it, with people our age who have been quarantining and staying close to home like us,” Lori said. “They wear masks when they come in. Outside we serve drinks, hors d’oeuvres and talk.”

Gardening Is a Work of Heart

Amid a backdrop of hydrangeas, ferns, azaleas, Japanese maples and dogwoods, Carillo and his crew return every spring to plant annuals: begonias and impatiens. In the fall, they pull out the gardens and winterize the flowerbeds.

“Yearly, at the beginning of the season, I have to pressure wash and seal the sandstone patio,” Bob said. “It has a water finish look; it’s really quite beautiful.”

The Howards have had four different homes in Peachtree Corners since 1984. This is their last. “You really want to have a nice backyard, a retreat you can enjoy,” Bob said.

Patrizia hails from Toronto, Canada where she earned an Honors B.A. in French and Italian studies at York University, and a B.Ed. at the University of Toronto. This trilingual former French teacher has called Georgia home since 1998. She and her family have enjoyed living, working and playing in Peachtree Corners since 2013.

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Business

Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce (SWGC) First Friday Networking Breakfast

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Nancy Kruse, speaker for First Friday Networking Breakfast. Photo from SWGC site.

SWGC First Friday Networking Breakfast

Friday, March 5th  |  7:30-9 a.m.

Atlanta Tech Park  |  107 Technology Parkway,  Peachtree Corners. (Park and enter from the back of the building)

Cost and information
Advanced registration is required, at this link. Seating capacity will be limited to maintain physical distancing. Mask-wearing is appreciated for everyone’s safety

Reserve your seat by Noon, Thursday, March 4. $15  Members and $20 Non-Members. Registration includes breakfast.

Topic: Leading Out of the Pandemic… Restaurants will show the way.

If you want to understand the economic conditions of our community and its potential impact on every business, look no further than the restaurant & hospitality industry.

At the First Friday Breakfast in March, Nancy Kruse, leading industry analyst, will share “The State of the Plate,” to help us better understand consumer attitudes, opportunities for other business segments, and the future consumer expectations.

Learn how and why restaurant menu trends are:

  • a reflection of current consumer attitudes and behaviors
  • shed light on opportunities for retailers in other business segments
  • suggest where consumer needs and expectations are headed in the future

Do you want your business to be ahead of the curve out of this COVID-19 induced slump? Then join for breakfast on Friday, March 5th.
 

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Community

Peachtree Corners Family Takes On ‘Family Feud’!

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The Family Feud set, with the Waldis Family ready to play! Photos provided by Leigh Waldis and Tyler Perry Studios.

Survey says that the Peachtree Corners Waldis Family had a wild time at Tyler Perry Studios last September playing a game of Family Feud with the larger-than-life Steve Harvey! Their episode will air on ABC, March 2 at 7 p.m. But the story of how this all came to be is almost as disorienting and fun as the filming experience itself.

“Back in May, something popped up on Facebook saying they were looking for families in the Atlanta area. As a joke, I just sent in our information. Then they contacted me about three weeks later to get more information and at that point, I started thinking ‘Oh my gosh, this could actually happen.’ And it just kind of evolved from there,” Leigh Waldis said.

Leigh, her husband Rich, and their teenage daughter Olivia are Peachtree Corners residents. The Waldis’ also have two grown children who came home to have this unique family experience. Leigh served as the ‘head of the family’ in the game, as the first person in line to answer questions.

The lovely Waldis family.

For those not familiar with the popular ABC game show, Family Feud is a survey based trivia style game in which two families compete against each other to guess how a survey of 100 people might answer a certain question, ideally coming up with the most popular answer for the most points. The first to 300 points wins, continuing to the lightning round for the possibility of a $20,000 cash prize. Hosted by beloved comedian Steve Harvey and often filmed in the Atlanta area, this show is a home favorite for many families, including the Waldis’. So joining in the Feud for real must have been a real treat.

“First of all, Steve Harvey is every bit and more funny than you see. The experience was interesting because of the Covid thing. Normally, there would be participants actually watching in the audience or people that are just there to view. Instead, it was the actual families who were the audience, so that kind of made it more fun bonding with the other people that were playing,” Waldis said.

In order to get everyone together for the show, the studio flew their daughter Kate (23) in from Texas and their son Zach (24), who is commissioned in the Air Force and required leave time. He is a 2nd Lieutenant training to be a pilot at Laughlin AFB in Del Rio, Texas. Their youngest child Olivia (17) also played and she is a senior at Duluth Highschool.

Leigh noted how “well-orchestrated” the entire process was. The Waldis family immersed themselves in the strange world of Family Feud for two days, September 3 and 4. Day 1 consisted of a try-out with one other family, with a few test questions given to see how the families would react. Then they spectated the rest of that first day. Harvey breaks off a good deal during the taping and interacts with the audience, ad-libbing any particular entertaining tidbits that come to mind, “sort of like you are getting a four hour comedy show out of him,” according to Leigh.

The safety restrictions related to Covid19 were strictly upheld and therefore might have complicated the experience but did nothing to dampen the enthusiasm of the family as they had a true view behind the curtain.

“It’s kind of crazy but fun. We just went in with a mindset of, ‘No matter what happens, we were just going to make the best of it and have the best time’.”

The Waldis family huddles to come up with an answer to a Family Feud question.

It takes about an hour to film each show, with four shows typically filmed each day. They shave that down to about 22 minutes, so the Waldis family is curious what will make the cut and what won’t, as it was “a whirlwind” in the moment.

Watch March 2 at 7 p.m. on ABC to cheer the Waldis family on and see how they fare. The City of Peachtree Corners will also be showing the episode live on the big screen, at Peachtree Corners Town Center. The big screen is located adjacent to the stage so people can gather on the Town Green in front of the screen to watch. This is not an official city event, but just a low-key way to join in the fun.

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Community

Medlock Bridge, Bush Road Improvements Underway

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medlock bridge road construction

Construction is underway now on a project that will improve the traffic safety, operations, and
capacity of the intersection of Medlock Bridge Road at Bush Road. The project generally
consists of roadway widening, some full depth asphalt pavement, milling and inlay, concrete
curb and gutter, concrete median, concrete sidewalk, signing, pavement marking, storm
drainage improvements, retaining wall, traffic signal installation and grading.

For the westbound Medlock Bridge Road portion of the intersection, the final project will result in:
• a left turn lane onto Town Center Drive
• a through lane that will become a left turn lane onto southbound Peachtree Parkway
• a through lane that will continue across Peachtree Parkway to become East Jones Bridge Road
• a through-right lane that will allow traffic to turn onto Bush Road or continue onto the
slip lane to northbound Peachtree Parkway

Other major improvements in the project will add safety and capacity improvements to Bush Road. Southbound Bush Road will include a through-left lane for traffic to cross over Medlock Bridge Road onto Town Center Drive or turn left onto Medlock Bridge Road. Bush Road will also include two right turn lanes, one intended for accessing southbound Peachtree Parkway and the other for accessing northbound Peachtree Parkway.

Sidewalks and pedestrian crossings will be included for all approaches to the intersection. A new traffic signal will also be added that will include the latest traffic engineering technology. The project will also include walls, guardrails, fencing and landscaping additions.

Following a public bid process to procure a qualified construction contractor, Peachtree Corners’ elected officials awarded the work to Vertical Earth, Inc. of Cumming, GA, for approximately $1.2 Million. The contractor will have 180 workdays to complete the project. Funding for the intersection improvements will come from the 2017 Transportation SPLOST.

Source: City of Peachtree Corners release

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