The winds of change are blowing…. Happy 2017 friends! Are the winds of change finally blowing in our direction? As we enter into this New Year, it would appear that change is coming our way. The fact that we have a new president and new administration ready to take the reins will most certainly result in some change. This is a known fact that will be good for some and not good for others, but that is always the case in politics. In life as well, there is good change such as a new job or promotion and there is also the change that happens even thought we would rather it didn’t. We all get older, every day for that matter. The children grow up and leave the house, family and friends pass away. Truth is, change is happening to us every day whether we want it to or not and some of it is good for us and some of it is not. However, it does not matter how much we resist that change; it is inevitable, and it will come to pass. We are aware of the change we can see and that which we know is coming, but what about that change we can’t see or predict, how will that change affect us? When I was stationed in the Army in upstate New York, during the summer we were always told that if we didn’t like the weather, we just need to wait an hour and it might be better or it might be worse. And so it is with the change we know is out there moving towards us. Kind of like the weather, it is looming around us but we just don’t know how bad or good it will be. We just have to wait an hour and see. So what changes are on the horizon that will affect your business, either good or bad? Well, that is the million dollar question that we all wish we could answer. However, just because we don’t exactly know what we don’t know, doesn’t mean that we can just try and avoid it all together. Standing still just means you are not moving, it doesn’t mean you stop the change. We still have to look ahead and prepare for the future. We know there will be new regulations, new laws and new expenses that could affect us negatively. However, on the flip side, there could be new markets, new customers, and new technology that could benefit us. Yes, the winds of change are blowing, as they always do. My sincere hope is that the change they bring is positive and that with them you have a safe and prosperous 2017. he Community Pride Committee of the Chamber of Commerce chose Walker Granite Company, Inc., as Industry of the Month for November, 2016. Pictured at the recognition were (L-R): Lydia Hernandez, Val Evans, Rhett Walker, Marty Walker, Rose Walker, Luke Walker, Bill Daughtry, Pam Brown, and Bill Brown. Congratulations to Walker Granite!Meet Megan Mcanespy, the latest addition to the staff at Majestic Granite Company. Megan is an Elberton native who joined Majestic several weeks ago as an administrative assistant. Her job responsiblities include “a little bit of everything” and specifically, logging truck mileage information and helping with logistics. Megan states, “I love working here; there is always a lot to do and we stay busy and have fun!” Outside of the office, Megan has a happy family life with her two young boys. Welcome to Majestic, Megan, and keep up the good work!The Japan-America Grassroots Summit is an annual large-scale cultural exchange meeting of Japanese/American citizens of all ages, held alternately in Japan and the U.S. Each year, Japanese prefectures and American states alternate as hosts for a week, sharing their homes and seeing the unique features of their communities. Each year approximately 200 people travel across the Pacific to take part to strengthen the peaceful relationship between the two countries by fostering peace and friendship at the grassroots level. In Fall, 2016, a group of Japanese visitors came to Elberton. The Elberton Granite Association was honored to spend a day with our guests and their hosts, introducing them to the granite capital of the world. We had the great pleasure of taking them on a ‘granite’ tour around town: to a production plant, a quarry, and to see the Georgia Guidestones. After a tour of the Elberton Granite Museum, we finished our day with a delicious BBQ lunch. Design Mart’s D1265 from the Morning In Glory collection was recently featured in the Elberton Granite Association’s display in downtown Elberton, Georgia. The display illustrates how Design Mart’s sales materials and software can work together to create color drawings for approval as well as a CAD file for cutting sandblast stencil. D1265 is shown in Design Mart’s Morning In Glory brochure (top right corner in the image at left) and book series, and is also included in Design Mart’s Online Catalog & Monument Designer. From the Online Catalog, shown at right, customers can search for monuments by Monument Type such as traditional, contemporary, hearts, uprights, markers, singles, doubles, as well as by design number such as D1265 shown below. Many retailers find the Online Catalog to be especially useful on phones and mobile devices.Once a selection is made it is easy to use the Monument Designer to personalize a monument and view it in various granite colors as shown below. In this case the design has been modified to increase the width of the center of the monument, panels have been added for names and dates, and Blue Pearl has been chosen for the granite color.The color image shown at right is actually a CAD file that is ready to cut as shown below. The granite supplier will not have to redraw the monument from scratch, and the customer will not have to wait on an approval drawing to come back.The CAD file is easily opened in Gerber, MonuCad, Flexi, Illustrator, Corel Draw, AutoCAD, Inkscape and many other CAD and illustration applications. The final monument matches perfectly with the drawing created in the Online Monument Designer since the color rendering is a CAD-ready file as shown below in this side-by-side comparison.There are also hundreds of blank monument shapes and more than 3,500 design components for users to create their own designs or edit popular preformatted designs. Monument projects may be saved and opened later if changes are required or if a user wants to access a monument again for another client. It is easy to change granite colors, background images and export a color picture which may be viewed in any web browser or photo viewer. For more information on Design Mart’s Online Monument Designer & Catalog as well as matching books and brochures please visit www.designmart.com, email email@example.com or call 800-736-7455.Every Fall, the Elberton Granite Association holds its annual Monument Retailers Course that provides an opportunity for those new to the granite industry to learn the “ins and outs” of the monument business, quite literally from the ground up. Thanks to the participation of many of our member firms, our students get hands-on training in almost every aspect of how monuments are created, the design process, industry nomenclature, and how to sell memorials and tailor a business to customer demands and expectations. This week-long course involves visiting various member firms to observe the numerous processes involved with the production of a monument, beginning at the quarry and finishing with how to successfully market your business. Below are photos of this year’s actitivies. As you can see, we had a very active and busy week, and we thank our participating members for all their hard work in helping us put together this very informative and fun class. And thanks also to our participants. We hope you found our course helpful and that you have successfully applied what you learned while you were here. If you’re reading this and you are new to the granite memorial business, or if you need a refresher, we encourage you to sign up for the 2017 course. As you can see, there is much to be learned, and Elberton and the Elberton Granite Association are where you can visit to discover more about this very rewarding profession. Give us a call and get your name on the class list. You’ll be glad you did!This beautiful mausoleum was fabricated by Eagle Granite Company for Jeff Davis Monument Company in Hazlehurst, GA. According to Scott Worth of Jeff Davis Monuments, “The family was determined that no ‘foreign’ materials were to be used in the construction of this mausoleum. They were adamant that it be all American materials, and Eagle was able to provide us with exactly what we needed, American Black granite. The family is very pleased with it, and the good folks at Eagle did another great job for us, both manufacturing it and lettering it.” The mausoleum is located in Douglas City Cemetery in Douglas, GA. Keystone Memorials, Inc., produced this elegant monument for Campbell Monument Company located in Provencal, Louisiana. Located in Springville Cemetery in Red River Parish, Louisiana, it is another example of the craftsmanship that Dody Campbell of Campbell Monuments has come to expect from Keystone. “I’ve worked with Keystone on several projects, and when I call on them I know that whatever it is, they will do a great job and it will look great. This monument definitely stands out, and the family is very pleased with it.”Glass Art Imaging recently produced these two colorful examples of their work. At right is an eye-catching color sunset scene of a couple on a motorcycle riding by a sunflower field, applied to black granite. On the left is a public sign created for the town of Jal, New Mexico, as part of their centennial celebration.This stately mausoleum was fabricated by Southern Mausoleums, Inc., for Riverside Cemetery located in Macon, GA. According to Cecil Coke of Riverside, “This mausoleum has special meaning; Mr. Gerson instructed that the family burial information be engraved on the sides of the mausoleum, so that in the future, everyone in the family could be located where they are buried. It’s very unique. And of course, SMI did a terrific job on it; they delivered and unloaded it, and they polished it so well I had trouble taking photos of it because it reflected everything. It looks so nice, and the family is very, very pleased with how it turned out.” The mausoleum is located in Riverside Cemetery in Macon, Georgia.This dignified memorial was fabricated by L&M Granite Company for Curtis Monuments located in McKenzie, TN. It honors Elite Navy SEAL Aaron Carson Vaughn, killed August 6, 2011, when a Chinook chopper carrying 30 American troops was shot down in Afghanistan. Special Operations Chief Vaughn was a highly decorated combat veteran and was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, and the Bronze Star Medal with Valor. In November 2012, efforts to raise money for a monument to be placed in Aaron’s hometown began, which included memorial motorcycle rides and donations from local businesses. After 4 years of searching and asking permission, the monument was placed in September 2016, near the football stadium at Obion County Central High School in Troy, TN, where Aaron played football and graduated high school. The family is very pleased with the monument, and hopes that it stands as a reminder to all students who pass it daily that men and women fought and fight so we can enjoy being Americans in these United States.On September 2016, at Fort Rucker, Alabama, a new monument was unveiled, dedicated to the 45 Soldiers of the 170th Assault Helicopter Company “Bikinis” who were lost in combat during the Vietnam War, during a ceremony at Veterans Park. Former members of the unit and family members attended the ceremony, along with Soldiers and other members of the Fort Rucker community, to remember those who fought and sacrificed. Glass Art Imaging had the privilege of placing the insignias and helicopter depictions onto the monument. During the ceremony, the monument was unveiled, a wreath was placed in honor of those fallen and a roll call was performed of each of the names etched into the monument, followed by a bell toll for each fallen Soldier. Additionally, 45 seats with the names of each of the fallen service members were left empty in honor of their sacrifice.This expressive and dignified memorial was produced for Pechmann Memorials, Inc., located in Madison, Wisconsin, on behalf of the the Stoughten Area Veteran’s Committee. Pechmann selected Keystone Memorials, Inc., to fabricate this large memorial as part of the Stoughten Area Veterans Memorial Park, dedicated to our country’s soldiers and veterans. This particular memorial is the centerpiece of the park. Its octagonal shape is a tribute to the Pentagon and the Department of Defense. The memorial itself features the names of the 169 area servicemembers who were killed in action. The park – a joint effort between Stoughton VFW Post 328 and American Legion Post 59 – lists the names of more than 5,200 Stoughton area veterans, dating back to the Civil War. Features of the park include 24 benches, 11 flagpoles, 630 memorial bricks, and the centerpiece. According to Brandon Meyer of Pechmann, “We’ve worked with Keystone before, and we were sure they could meet the standards required to produce this large piece. And they did a great job on it. It looks terrific.” This massive, magnificent memorial was created by Star Granite & Bronze for Forest Hills/Shalom Memorial Park in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania. Star manufactured the entire piece, including the base, from one solid block of dark Barre Gray granite, beginning with the Pelligrini ‘Jolly Roger’ contour saw, a gargantuan wiresaw that roughed in the beginning stages of the design. Afterward, the contoured block was placed on the Donatoni 5-axis CNC machine pictured at right. The Donatoni machine completed over 95% of the piece, and utilized its sculpting feature to finish all the polished raised letters and carvings. This piece was originally designed by an architect in Pennsylvania for the Zagranichny family, and the project was awarded to Star. According to Rusty Adams of Star Granite, “I cannot think of more than 3 manufacturers in the United States that can fabricate this large of a single piece in 3D contour. This was created from one huge block of Barre Gray granite, and that includes the base. Because of that, there are no joints in this memorial. Between the Jolly Roger and the Donatoni, about 90-95% of the work on it was done mechanically. The only thing done by hand was the steel finish. Overall it took over seven months to complete.” What you can’t tell from the photos is that the piece is three-dimensional, in that it is curved, ribbon-like, along the horizonal, and is not just a flat piece of granite. Upon completion, Star delivered and set the monument and benches for the Zagranichny family plot in Forest Hills/Shalom Memorial Park located in Huntingdon Valley, Pennsylvania.At 97 years old, George Gaines has quite a recollection of Elbert County and its granite history. An Elberton native whose family settled here before the Civil War, Gaines served 5 years in World War II and was active in the Georgia National Guard for another 26 years, before retiring as Col. George Gaines. This experience no doubt informed his demonstrable leadership abilities in the granite industry, which includes owning and operating Atlas Granite Company for 17 years, serving as President of the Elberton Granite Association’s Board of Trustees, and working for 40 years as the Elberton Granite Association’s monument inspector. Gaines remembers Elberton as being, “mostly a farming community until the 30’s, when sculptors and craftsmen from the Barre, Vermont area (and later, from Europe) came to Elberton to work with the blue-gray granite we’re known for here.” Over the years there was a steady growth of granite companies, and with new quarries opening up, improvements in production capabilities, and expansion of operations, Elberton became known as “Granite Capital of the World”. Quite a few granite producers employed a large number of Elberton citizens and others from nearby towns. Gaines recalls, “In the the early years, quarrying granite and pulling out blocks was really hard. Men worked themselves to death, not aware of the silicosis in their lungs, being that there were very few safety regulations. It was back-breaking work and a hard way to make a living. But the granite was there, the demand for monuments was there, the jobs were there, so the work got done somehow.” Over time, the wiresaw became commonplace, and granite working tools improved. But the work was still tedious and dangerous, and producing monuments was time consuming. “I credit Horace Harper for being the one who had the foresight to bring the diamond saw to Elberton,” said Gaines, “That thing revolutionized the way we produced granite. Then we saw other companies get on board with that idea.” “We had a lot of companies doing a lot of the same things, and we needed to organize ourselves in order to stay ahead of other places that were also producing granite and to have a unified voice in the industry. So along comes Bill Kelly, who took his job very seriously, and he organized what the Elberton Granite Association is today. He really had the vision to grow it and promote its members.” reflects Gaines. “Bill Kelly was a big part of how the Elberton Granite Association became the success it is. His professionalism and determination really helped to promote our granite industry and the EGA member-firms.” Gaines commented that thanks to improving production standards and Elberton’s granite members’ success in the industry nationwide, eventually there was a shift in the types and kinds of jobs available in Elberton. “The machines became computer operated, so new skills had to be learned. Computerization created jobs, but it also took away jobs; as time went on, it became harder to find people willing to do the labor-intensive work and much of it was being replaced by technology. The automatic polishers are a good example of that. These days, you have people running a polishing machine. If you want somebody who can polish by hand, or do stone cutting by hand, you have to look hard to find someone willing to do that kind of hard work. Or say you send a young person off to college to learn computer-aided drafting, there’s no guarantee they’ll come back to Elberton to work. So we have all this granite, but it seems that we have fewer qualified people willing to stay here and work it.” Yet there are many “granite families” still in Elberton, carrying the torch that was lit by their grandparents and forefathers. “We’ve got a lot of folks here who love what they do. They grew up on granite, and it’s in their blood, so to speak. And we make a lot of monuments here, and we take a lot of pride in what we do. If we have a problem, we get together and solve it. There is a strong heritage here that is unlike any other place. I am proud to be part of it, and I have a lot of great memories of so many people who made Elberton what it is today. No matter what the challenges are, we’ll face them together and come out all right.” “We’re blessed that the Elberton Granite Association has remained strong for over 60 years. Thanks to Mr. Kelly, and the continued leadership by the late Tom Robinson, the EGA is still a very strong presence in the granite industry worldwide. And now we have our current Executive Vice President, Chris Kubas, who is doing a great job at keeping it going, despite all the unrestrained foreign imports that are in the market now, and the constantly-changing regulatory environment. It’s a lot to keep up with. A lot of things are different now than in the beginning, but still, Elberton remains the Granite Capital of the World, and that’s never going to change.Mr. Thomas M. “Tommy” Willis, Jr., 84, passed away at this home on Tuesday, October 18, 2016, at 4:30p.m. Mr. Willis was born in Elbert County on January 23, 1932, the youngest son of the late Thomas M. Willis, Sr. and Zelma Dunbar Willis. He was a member of First Baptist Church of Elberton and the Earl Davis Sunday School Class. He became a Mason at the age of 21 and was a member of Philomathea Masonic Lodge #25, and was an U.S. Army Veteran having served in the Korean War. He founded Darica Trucking Company in 1977 and had retired to spend time raising cows and cooking with his friends at his farm in Flatwoods, which he referred to as God’s Country. Tommy had a true love for family and children, and enjoyed sports. For over 40 years, he donated his time as a Little League Coach, basketball coach for the city, Camp Harmony, and Samuel Elbert Academy. In addition to this wife of 63 years, Margie H. Willis, Tommy is survived by his three sons and their wives: Dale and Wanda Willis, Ricky and Tracie Willis, and Craig and Debbie Willis, all of Elberton. He was the loving grandfather of Lisa and Adam Hendrix, Megan and Jason Dixon, Casey and Adam Nash, Kellyn Willis, Wes Scarborough, and Reed and Addyson Scarborough. He had three great-grandchildren: Grant Hendrix, Madelyn Dixon, and Saylor Scarborough. He is also survived by his brother and his wife, Lindy and Eugenia Willis of Elberton; sisters-in-law and their husbands: Betty and Gene Craft and Jonnie and Tommy Lynch, all of Elberton; and a host of nieces and nephews. In addition to his parents, he is preceded in death by a great-grandchild, Christin Hendrix; and siblings: John Willis and Jenelle Moon.