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Porterdale resident launches business helping families care for gravesites
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After years of serving as a school psychologist, Porterdale resident and Conyers native Molly Canfield established Georgia Gravecare, which provides maintenance and floral decorations for gravesites. Canfield said she sees a definite correlation between her old job and her new one.

“Being in a helping profession seemed to translate well to that,” said Canfield, who opened Georgia Gravecare in August. “It’s all at the basis of it is helping people. That is something I feel good about. The helping end is something I’ve been drawn to.

“And I’ve really enjoyed it so far. I like meeting new people, and I think we need to do more than we’re doing to preserve places like cemeteries. We’re not doing enough, and that’s a shame because there’s a lot of history in those places.”

Canfield, who retired eight years ago after a long career in DeKalb and Gwinnett counties, said her mother originally gave her the idea to start the business, which she said mixes her interests in working outdoors and in studying history.

“Basically, it’s a history thing,” said Canfield. “I’m interested in the history of cemeteries and being outdoors, and being able to do something for a family that maybe can’t do this themselves any longer.”

The services Georgia Gravecare offers are general grooming maintenance (which includes headstone cleaning) and floral decorations. Clients have a variety of service schedules to choose from, from once a year to once a month. Canfield also provides before and after pictures at the conclusion of every visit.

Canfield said she would have started the business sooner but her acknowledged lack of experience in running an enterprise held her back.

“I resisted for the longest time because I didn’t know anything about running a business,” she said. “I had no business courses. When I retired and decided I didn’t want to go back into the schools, and I don’t know anything about business, but I taught myself – you really can learn a lot on YouTube. I basically taught myself enough small business to get it rolling.”

And Canfield said that while she’s tending to a few graves at the present time, she’s more interested now in getting her name out to let others know of the service she offers, which she said is not comprised of a crowd of competitors.

“I think I’ve got the market cornered,” she quipped. “Nobody that I know of around here does this… As I explained to my mom, you don’t search for something like this on the internet unless you know what it is – it doesn’t advertise itself, really. So I’ve been going around to funeral homes, crematories, writing to assisted living places and knocking on doors of churches.”

And despite the fact that the object of the work may make some people uncomfortable, Canfield said she hasn’t heard a negative word after making her pitch.

“Anytime I mention what I do, I get a positive response,” she said. “I haven’t had anybody tell me anything negative. And I like people. I like helping people…. I like to think people can look at me and know I’m being honest and straight-up with them, which is the truth. Any kind of hesitation people might have with regard to their family plot I’ve still gotten good feedback, even people who think they can’t afford it or aren’t ready to do something like that right now.”

Canfield added that watching YouTube videos gave her confidence to go into business for herself, but reconnecting with her faith also played a key role in her decision.

“After pushing it away for so many years, I started going back to church in 2017, and since then I’ve decided to make the most of what I’ve got,” said Canfield, who attends Calvary Baptist Church in Conyers. “And being able to get right in my head and my behavior gave me the courage to teach myself how to do this, even when it’s hard and I don’t understand this.

“(Going to church) gave me the backbone to get it done. If you have a strong faith, you have to have a strong faith in yourself. They go hand in hand.”

For more information about Georgia Gravecare, call 678-856-1164, 470-330-1032 or visit www.georgiagravecarellc.com.


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Learn to ride a motorcycle at 2021 Atlanta Progressive IMS Outdoors show at Georgia International Horse Park
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CONYERS — Anyone who has ever wanted to try riding a motorcycle had their chance – for free — at the 2021 Atlanta Progressive IMS Outdoors show at the Georgia International Horse Park in Conyers this past weekend. Attendees with no experience were invited to enjoy their first ride in about 45 minutes with the help of Motorcycle Safety Foundation certified coaches.

The Motorcycle Industry Council’s Ride With Us Moto Intro program is a free experience to IMS ticket holders interested in learning how to ride.

“This is the Ride With Us experience,” said Andria Yu, director of communications and a rider coach for the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. “It is part of the Motorcycle Industry Council activation and is actually an industry-wide supported program to get more people to try riding who have never ridden before. We use little motorcycles, we provide the gear — helmets, gloves, ankle-high shoes — that they need, we provide the coaches from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and then within 45 minutes they get this really cool experience of their very first ride. And we work with everyone at their own pace, so if they’re not comfortable putting their feet up yet, they don’t have to. They just kind of paddle their way through.”

The ride took place on a small dirt bike in a fenced off field at the horse park, with cones marking the paths riders take. Riders start out learning about the throttle, front and back brakes, and clutch, and begin their ride by moving the bike while keeping their feet down for balance, learning how to turn and looking where they want to go. Eventually they learn to put their feet up while the bike is moving. Riders never move out of first gear.

Through Discover the Ride by IMS, Zero Electric Motorcycles also provided a new rider experience on their street bikes, which have no clutch or anything to shift. The training was done on a closed paved course with gear provided. Participants first had to show that they can ride a bike.

Strider Bikes also had an enclosed course for young children to ride on, using the Strider balance bikes, which have no pedals, so children balance and push with their feet.

“We can’t wait to get Atlanta riding,” said Cinnamon Kernes, MIC vice president of market expansion. “The sheer joy new riders exude when they take their helmets off is truly inspirational.”


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Fulton County Sheriff's Deputy and her brother killed in her Covington home; husband charged with their murders
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COVINGTON — A Fulton County Sheriff’s deputy who was sworn in just over a month ago was allegedly shot and killed by her husband in an apparent domestic incident in her Covington home Oct. 27. Also killed in the incident was her brother. The Newton County Sheriff’s Office arrested the deputy’s husband on Oct. 29 and charged him with the murders of his wife and brother-in-law.

According to a Facebook post from the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Shakeema Brown Jackson had been “a treasured member” of the department since 2018, when she joined as a detention officer. She became a deputy sheriff just over a month ago.

“Deputy Jackson is remembered as eager to learn and always having a positive disposition,” the post read. “Coworkers say she was bubbly and, no matter how disrespectful inmates may have been, always greeted them with ‘Good morning,’ earning their respect.”

“This is a heartbreaking loss for the Fulton County Sheriff’s Office,” said Fulton County Sheriff Patrick “Pat” Labat. “This is a hard time for the Sheriff’s Office, and we ask for your continued prayers.”

According to news reports, Jackson was off-duty in the Windcrest Drive home she shared with her husband, Jaquavia Jackson, 28, and her 17-month-old child. Jackson and her brother, Levoy Brown, 30, also of Covington, were shot multiple times and killed around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. The child was not harmed.

The Newton County Sheriff’s Office arrested Jaquavia Jackson Friday, and charged him with two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of murder, and two counts of possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.


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Newton commissioners delay decision on zoning change on Crowell Road
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COVINGTON — A Cumming developer is requesting a change to the Almon Overlay District in order to develop a park along the banks of the Yellow River at Crowell and Harold Dobbs Road. The park would fulfill the non-residential use requirements for a mixed-use development that is planned for construction across Crowell Road on 128 acres.

The Newton Board of Commissioners heard the request at its Oct. 19 meeting, but tabled a decision until Dec. 7.

The park property, which totals about 51 acres, is primarily wetlands and flood plain and is in Tier 1 in the Almon Overlay District. About 4 acres of the tract could be developed as a park. The property, which is owned by Denny Dobbs, is currently zoned R-2, single-family residential. Developer Caballero Holdings is seeking to have the property changed to Tier 2, which would make it compatible with the property across the road where a subdivision of about 300 lots is in the planning stages.

Tier 2 of the Almon Road Overlay requires that 30% of a residential development be dedicated to a civic or non-residential component, such as a park or commercial development. During the Oct. 19 Newton Board of Commissioners meeting, Development Services Director Judy Johnson explained that the subdivision could be developed without the overlay tier change, but the developers would not get the same lot yield because a portion of the 128 acres would have to be set aside for a non-residential use.

Caballero Holdings has submitted a preliminary plat for the subdivision, which would include single-family detached homes and townhomes. The project has not yet come before the Planning Commission. The correct zoning is already in place for development of the subdivision. The subdivision is not covered under the residential development moratorium currently in place in the county.

Owner/developer Gee Harvey told commissioners the company plans to purchase the property from Dobbs and develop the park simultaneously with the subdivision across the road. Eventually, he said, the park would be deeded over to Newton County Parks & Recreation.

After hearing the overlay tier change request three times, the Planning Commission unanimously recommended approval of the change, with the stipulation that the 4 developable acres be used only as a civic space with paved entrance, security cameras, parking and more. Uses of the property will include a hard surface walking trail, dog park, tot-lot playground, and enhanced passive recreational space with benches, picnic pavilion and tables.


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