Carrig family donates to Big Canoe Public Safety in Honor of Mike Carrig

The family of Mike Carrig, the Big Canoe volunteer fire fighter who died in May, presented a check for $15,000 to the department of Public Safety at the christening ceremony for the department’s new fire truck.

Mike’s widow was accompanied by daughter Elizabeth Peterson and son Mike Carrig.

“I thought (the donation) was a good way to honor him and the community,” says Linda Carrig. “We have a good volunteer Fire Department and I can trust them to spend the money well.”

A naval officer and pilot for Delta Airlines during his career, Mike found ways to continue serving people in retirement that allowed him to keep wearing a uniform while doing so, says Linda. Along with being a singer in the Chapel choir, Mike enjoyed his time working with the department.

“He liked giving back,” she says. “It was the fun, the camaraderie. He was interested in using new skills to help protect the community and make this community safe.”

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Big Canoe Women’s Golf Association Recent Events

By Jocelyn Smith

The BCWGA is enjoying the summer season with new events, fun Play Days, Play Away days, and celebrating more winning lady golfers.

The Aces & Graces Scramble scheduled for Monday, May 23 was “rained out.” A great disappointment for the 40 Aces and 40 Graces who had registered to play. The event, however, is being rescheduled for the Fall.

On WednesdayMay 25, fourteen BCWGA members braved the morning precipitation and traveled to Crystal Falls for our first Play Away Day of the 2022 season.  The group enjoyed a great lunch at the Crystal Falls grill, teamed up to play 9 holes and reconvened for some after-play liquid refreshment. Another Play Away Day at Crystal Falls is scheduled for June 29. Plans are in the works for a couple of overnight trips including one at Lake Lanier this Fall.

While Memorial Day was not an official play day for the group several members participated in the Big Canoe Memorial Day Golf Tournament over the holiday weekend. Kudos to Laura Smith and her spouse for achieving a 4th place victory. Additionally, members Colleen Adams, Cindy Metzler and Heidi McClain paired with their partners to finish in the top 20.

June 6th was play day #6 and thirty members participated in a Shamble. The first-place prize was shared by the following winners: Lura Wright, Mary Yolinsky, Marilyn Green, and Jana McCann.

The following June Play Day winners will be posted in the August Smoke Signals issue.

June 13 – Play Day #7 – O.N.E.S.

June 20 & 27 – the ever-popular 2022 Ringer Tournament.

So, what are you waiting for? Join the “funnest” ladies golf group at Big Canoe. There are a total of 17 Monday Play Days this year, two Scrambles with the Learning Ladies coming up, one scramble with the Bent Tree 9’s on July 21, a Member-Member tournament on August 15, two more Nine, Sip & Snack Partee’s, a Sadie Hawkins Tournament, the BCWGA Charity Event on October 6, and the BCWGA championship on October 10.

The BCWGA is a golfing organization with a 40+ year history. The group is open to any woman, aged 21 and over, who is either a property owner or a golf amenity member in good standing at Big Canoe. Members are afforded the opportunity to play nine or eighteen holes of golf in a relaxed atmosphere while having fun and simultaneously working to improve their skill set and handicap. The establishment of a USGA handicap is required of all members.

Activities and events are designed to promote a better understanding of the rules of golf and to improve pace of play. Members work together to boost confidence on the course and encourage socialization with other women of similar skills. Integrity, respect for each other as well as the game of golf, and a firm sense of fellowship are key principles of the BCWGA.

We also would like invite anyone interested in taking advantage of the best value to learn how to play golf at Big Canoe by signing up for Learning Ladies lessons with Joan Delk, one of Big Canoe’s professional golf instructors. You can also reach out to Cindy Metzler and TyAnne Schmidt, BCWGA Liaisons to the Learning Ladies.

Ladies of all levels of play are welcome to share the spirit and warmth that exemplifies BCWGA – “Ladies who just want to have fun playing golf.” For up-to-date information, please visit our website regularly,

New members are always welcome, no matter their skill level. The contacts for the group are Carolyn Witt (, BCWGA President, Elise McBryde (, BCWGA Vice President and Christine Flaherty (, BCWGA Treasurer.

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Wine Down Wednesdays Comes to the Clubhouse

Wine Down Wednesdays have come to Big Canoe!

A popular wine event at restaurants across the country – sort of a wine connoisseur’s equivalent of Taco Tuesdays – is now a weekly opportunity for Clubhouse guests to sample Big Canoe’s wine selections. Want some Merlot, sparking rose from Italy, or a selection of chardonnays from France and California? Wine Down Wednesday’s got you covered.

This regularly updated discount menu of wines by the bottle is available from 5 to 8 p.m. every Wednesday. The Wine Down Wednesdays menu, along with the regular dinner menu, will be handed out as customers take their seats. The specially priced bottles are also available to go.

And cocktail aficionados take heart: We’ll soon feature some tasty elixirs for you to sample.

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POA Establishes New Process With Utilities, Inc., of Georgia, Enabling Better Coordination of Patching and Paving

The good news: Utilities, Inc., of Georgia and Amicalola Electric Membership Corporation have been making significant investments and upgrades to Big Canoe’s aging utilities infrastructure over the past four years.

The bad news: Most of these upgrades have required digging hundreds of holes in many of our roads, temporarily patching them in all weather conditions, and leaving Property Owners wondering when their roads would be restored.

One of the five key Strategic Objectives in our new Big Canoe Strategic Plan is the “Continuous improvement of all amenities and infrastructure, and preservation of the natural environment.”  Each of Big Canoe’s department heads took these five Strategic Objectives and built annual action plans to bring them to life within their departments. As a result, POA Director of Operations Lydell Mack has established a new process with Utilities, Inc., of Georgia to carefully coordinate when, how and where Big Canoe’s roads are patched and paved. Under his leadership, he and the UIG senior management team have met monthly to determine the best approach to fixing distressed streets.

“In the past, UIG management wasn’t getting direct feedback from Big Canoe Operations on the number, condition and priority of the many patches that needed completion within Big Canoe,” says Mack. “We’re now building a bridge between the POA, UIG management, and the paving contractor to make sure the patches are performed quickly, meet the POA’s quality expectations, and are coordinated with our overall paving program.”

This spring, crews have taken care of 41 locations in need of patching. Another 40 are on the schedule for July, Mack says.

“It’s been really important for us to improve communication with UIG, the contractor who does their patching work (Moss), and our paving contractor, which is Johnson Paving,” Mack says.

The new approach means that roads will be paved at the right time – and that temporary patches won’t be left exposed to the elements, which can result in washouts.

On the road-paving front, Johnson Paving this month started its annual resurfacing project that will address our most distressed streets. This is based on an annual survey completed by Dr. Don Watson, a research engineer with the National Center for Asphalt Technology and a 32-year veteran of the Georgia Dept. of Transportation. Crews started the paving project last week beginning with the resurfacing of Quail Cove Drive. This week, Yearling Lane and Morgan Walk are scheduled, but that is weather dependent.

The summer asphalt resurfacing program will include the following road segments in the coming months:

Quail Cove Drive from Osprey Way to Grouse Gap Drive
Hunter’s Trace from Wilderness Parkway to the end
Morgan Walk from Hunter’s Trace to the end
Pony Lane from Red Coat Pass to the end
Red Coat Pass from Hunter’s Trace to Trotter’s Lane
Trotter’s Lane from Hunter’s Trace to the end
Wild Turkey Bluff from Grouse Gap Drive to Petit Ridge Drive
Yearling Lane from Hunter’s Trace to the end

Of those targeted streets, Morgan Walk and Trotter’s Lane will be slightly widened.

Although other streets not listed have been identified by Watson as less than ideal, the POA has deferred paving work on them after learning that UIG and  Amicalola have not completed utility service work on those roads. The affected streets – Shetland Trace and Pinto Place – are scheduled to be included in the 2023 round of paving.

Coinciding with the asphalt resurfacing, a community-wide, summer-long project will install street reflectors on every one of Big Canoe’s 88 miles of roads. The project also includes striping every street in Big Canoe not covered in 2020 and 2021, says Public Works Manager Jacob VanSant. As the strategic plan says, we need to “enhance every aspect of Property Owner and guest experience at Big Canoe,” and road patching, paving, striping and reflectors deliver on that objective.

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Reflections at 50: Independence Day

Big Canoe is no stranger to big celebrations, and the Fourth of July is certainly no exception. With parades, games, contests, cook-outs, spectacular firework shows and more, our community has worked hard to show off its patriotic pride for five decades. Take a look at the images below to see how these traditions have endured through the decades.

Also, keep an eye out for our 50th Anniversary tent at Playfield Park to see more photos of our past Independence Days. There, you can pick up as souvenirs and pre-order our 50th Anniversary Book, which is also available here.


Patriots on parade.It’s not too early to celebrate Christmas, is it?Patriotic biking is a tradition here in Big Canoe!High-five with Lady Liberty.The only way to properly cap off an Independence Day celebration. Photo by Mark Green.

For a glimpse at another Fourth of July tradition, check out our article on past Fourth of July Watermelon Eating contests here.

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Long-Anticipated New Fire Engine Comes to Big Canoe This Week

Looks like the celebrations during the Fourth of July weekend are coming a bit early.

Big Canoe’s long-awaited new firetruck, something that the Public Safety Department has worked to securing since it began the acquisition process in 2019, arrives this week. While this isn’t the first time Big Canoe has ordered a new truck, this will be the first engine specifically been designed for Big Canoe’s needs.

Not just any vehicle will work in Big Canoe, says Ricky Jordan, the director of Public Safety. Big Canoe’s mountainous terrain, winding and often narrow roads require a truck that is ideal for the community’s needs.

The truck has a shorter wheelbase for tighter turnaround on narrow roadways, a lower clearance height to fit under the covered bridge, and plenty of compartment space for tool and equipment storage. Perhaps its most striking feature is the 4×4 chassis, which will help the engine navigate the steep inclines of Big Canoe, even in the event of dangerous weather conditions. The engine also has rear and side mount cameras to help the driver maneuver through tight areas and 12-volts of exterior lighting that can completely illuminate the area around the truck.

“Over the years, we have worked hard to improve the Public Safety Department says Jordan. “One area where we have struggled is in having a reliable engine that could meet the demands of our community’s unique terrain and carry all the necessary equipment. This is a huge blessing to our department.”

The arrival of this truck was delayed for multiple reasons. The process of ordering an ordinary firetruck is already a lengthy process, which requires planning, bidding, and construction, says Jordan. The unique specifications of the truck – particularly the inclusion of the 4×4 chassis – also required additional planning and careful construction. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in supply chain issues that led to further delays. The end result of all of this waiting and effort is an engine the department has sorely needed.

Most departments downgrade their front-line trucks to reserve status after 10 years and discard them after 20, says Jordan, but “our current front-line fire engine is a 1997 model that has served well. Big Canoe does not have as many calls, so ours is not used and abused like in a busier department. But it’s definitely time for the current truck to be moved to a secondary station.”

The safety department expects the new engine to arrive by Monday, June 27, Jordan said. It will be housed in Station 3, while the older engine will be moved to Station 5.

That said, we will have to wait a bit longer before we get to meet the new vehicle as the Public Safety Department will host a Wetdown/Push-In ceremony at the Fire Station in the Village Core at 10 a.m., Friday, July 1. This tradition among firefighters symbolically brings a new vehicle into service by spraying it down with an older fire truck. After the Public Safety staff pushes the new vehicle into the building, cake and refreshments will be served.

For more info: contact Ricky Jordan at or (706) 268-1792.

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Jingle Bells in July

By Beth Herren

Santa in a canoe, just right for your home. Photo by Patsy Wohlwend.

HO HO HO! In case you haven’t thought about it, the most festive day of the year is only six months away. Not to worry because the Big Canoe Chapel Women’s Fellowship Christmas in July sale has you covered. What a perfect time to shop for all your Merry Day needs and wants with no pressure looming! This open-to-all Women’s Fellowship fundraiser will provide a wonderful opportunity to create Christmas in your new home or to spiff up your traditions of many years. Every holiday item you can dream of will be part of the huge collection of gently used trees, wreaths, pillows, tree skirts, stockings, ornaments, attire – practically anything you can imagine. As always, all the proceeds support women’s and children’s charities in North Georgia. Mark those calendars now for July 22-23, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Chapel. Come join the fun and ring those Jingle Bells. And rumor has it that the big guy himself, Santa, might show up with a few of his trusty elves. Please note that cash or check preferred. Direct questions to Mary Beth Ingram or Patsy Wohlwend at

Open to all women, Big Canoe Chapel Women’s Fellowship is a welcoming community-wide organization whose activities enrich members’ lives and create a legacy of caring and giving in North Georgia. Learn more at or follow us on Facebook at Big Canoe Chapel Women’s Fellowship. It is easy to join and there are no dues. All are welcome.

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Update on the Clubhouse and Summer Dining in Big Canoe

We are happy to report Clubhouse hours have been restored. Lunch on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and the ever-popular themed Tuesday night buffets are back. We’ve got your holiday dining covered with an All-American Buffet at Playfield Park on Saturday, July 2, and takeout picnic dinners available in advance of the fireworks show on Sunday, July 3.

Reservations are recommended for the Clubhouse dining room and Veranda, but the Pub is open for walk-ins. Secure your place via the OpenTable app when logging on to the POA website’s dining page or by calling the Clubhouse at 706-268-1253.

Among the Clubhouse updates:

Lunch at the Clubhouse – All your lunch favorites, from the ever-popular Cuban sandwich to fish tacos, are back on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Tuesday Themed Buffets ­– Each week, look for a posting about the Tuesday night themed buffet selection on the Big Canoe POA Events and Happenings Facebook page or on the dining page of the POA website.
Dinner on Wednesdays – The full a la carte menu is back on Wednesday nights, available from 5 to 8 p.m.
Black Bear Pub schedule – Bar service is 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesdays-Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays-Saturdays, and 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sundays.

And the holiday scheduling news:

All-American Holiday Buffet – Catered by the Clubhouse, the Picnic in the Park buffet on Saturday, July 2 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Playfield Park includes hamburgers, hot dogs, chips, cookies, condiments and a non-alcoholic beverage. Price, which is all-inclusive: $20 per adult; $12 for children 11 and under; children 4 and under are complimentary. No reservations needed.
Takeout Picnic Dinners – Enjoy a takeout picnic meal of pulled pork, pulled chicken, smoked gouda mac ’n’ cheese, and more before the fireworks display. Pick up your picnic at the Clubhouse from 3:30 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, July 3. Meals are available for two or four people. Pre-order only. All orders must be placed no later than noon Friday, July 1, to 706-268-1253 or Order forms are available here.
Holiday hours – With the Clubhouse staff serving thousands of buffet meals at the July 2 Playfield Park event, the Clubhouse will be closed that day. Also, the Clubhouse is closed for the July 4 holiday on Monday.

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Reflections at 50: Watermelon-Eating Contests in Big Canoe

By Colin Bergen

Nothing says summer like a slice of watermelon – and nothing says summer in Big Canoe quite like a watermelon-eating contest.

This competition has been an Independence Day tradition here since the early days of our community and has often been accompanied by assorted melon-themed contests such as watermelon-carrying and watermelon-swimming races.

To gear up for the July 4 weekend, and to celebrate 50 years of Big Canoe, here are a few snapshots from this fun contest over the decades. You can find more photos capturing this and other Big Canoe traditions in “Big Canoe: The First 50 Years,” a coffee-table book available for pre-order at

Preparing the melons for the contest.Anyone can participate in the fun.Some prefer to participate at their own pace……while others charge straight into it!Some intense competition!


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Q&A with Jay Miller, Big Canoe’s Soccer Guru

By Colin Bergen

Jay Miller is a man of many accomplishments. He’s been an author, clinician, and, perhaps most famously, a soccer coach with multiple local and national titles under his belt. He is also a resident here in Big Canoe who spent some time to talk a bit about his remarkable life on and around the soccer field.

Q: How did you end up in Big Canoe?

A: My idea of retirement was to roll out of bed and onto a golf course or onto a boat near the ocean. My wife Lauren’s input was that she wanted to live within a two-hour drive of her identical twin, Karen in Cumming, Ga. So, on to the internet, I go, and Big Canoe pops up. I’ve never heard of it. We scheduled a visit with a realtor. The covered bridge, Lake Sconti, the tee box of Cherokee #2. We were an easy sell.

Q: What was your first exposure to soccer, a sport that hasn’t always gotten the kind of attention as other sports in the U.S.?

A: I grew up in the small town of Dover, Pa., population of 900. The sports for boys offered at Dover Area High School were soccer, basketball, wrestling, baseball, track and field, golf, and volleyball. No football! I remember at age 11 riding my bike to the high school to watch my older brother John play soccer. There was no stadium. The field was lined in a grassy area right next to the school. No bleachers. The town’s people surrounded the entire field. In some areas, they stood three deep to watch the game. I would carefully navigate my bike right up to the sideline where I would take in all the action. Post-game, I would ride home to the back yard of our row home and recreate the game.

Q: Why was football not offered at your high school?

A: According to my older sister JoAnn, it was too expensive. Eventually, a football program was started there in the late 70’s.

Q: What appealed to you about the sport?

Well, it has been described as the beautiful game. I think that refers to the fact that most anyone can play. All you need is a ball, two or more players and two goals. The game is free-flowing, no time-outs. Within the game, each player can display their personality, unique skills, and tactical solutions.

A: My interest peaked when I watched the 1966 World Cup final of England vs. Germany. Soccer a.k.a. football is globalization personified. 250 million people in 220 countries play soccer. At age 12, I remember lying on my back in my yard resting and looking to the sky. I saw a plane high above Dover, PA. I thought, there are people on that plane. Where are they going? I want to be on a plane going somewhere. Be careful what you wish for. My soccer travels have taken me to 41 countries. I competed in 29 countries representing the United States as a national coach 57 times. Some additional experiences Included dinner on the Nile with the Mayor of Cairo, being tear gassed in South Korea, and being followed by the KGB in St. Petersburg, Russia. A nice merlot at the Bear Pub would convince me to share more.

Q: What are the challenges of being a soccer guy in the SEC football universe?

A: Ha! Having to explain why soccer is the most popular sport ever. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy watching most sports, especially SEC football.

Q: Did you grow up with a favorite player – or do you have a favorite playing today?

A: My favorite player when I was playing was the Brazilian star Pelé. He is and will always be in the conversation as the best player ever. I had two occasions to meet him.

Q: Outside of the world of soccer, how would you describe yourself?

A social butterfly. Sometimes a social moth caught in a lamp shade. My career has always been to engage, interact and organize groups of people.

Q: How did you discover that coaching was the career for you?

A: I played four sports in high school and was captain of each team. I loved the athletic experience. I was blessed to have three extraordinary coaches. I was intrigued by the process and dynamics of team building, the thrill of victory, the agony of defeat, and trying to make the whole larger than the sum of the parts.

Q: What is the most important lesson you’ve learned in your 40 years of coaching?

A: Players want organization, motivation, and discipline. They also want their coach to be honest and fair. The art of coaching is saying the right thing at the right time in the right way to the right person. A coach must be mindful of his influence on each player.

Regarding coaching as a career, one must strive to maintain a balance between the demands of coaching professionally and one’s family life.

Q: What prompted you to write your book “Attacking Soccer” and what kind of reception did it get?

A: A lot of my colleagues were pushing me to get published. I figured I should add this to my career. It was received well by a targeted group, soccer coaches.

Q: What moment of your career are you most proud of?

A: Gee, this is the most difficult question. I have been fortunate to have several.  I’ll list three:

Winning the Pennsylvania state high school championship. ELCO high school in Myerstown, Pa. 1,100 students. The semi-finals were on a Friday, a two-hour drive from the school. 19 bus loads made the trip. On Saturday, we won 2-1. That night, a parade of fire trucks and convertible cars and trucks escorted the trophy through the three small towns of Myerstown, Nemanstown and Richland, Pa. The streets were lined with people. Great fun.
University of Tampa –1981 National Champs. The first for the university.
Qualifying the USA for the U-17 World Championships. We were one of 16 countries to compete in Egypt. We finished 12th in the world.

Q: How far can the U.S. national team go in the World Cup later this year?

A: There are 32 teams competing. Our first-round group is USA, England, Wales, Iran.  I expect us to do well against Wales and Iran. The last time we played England in a world cup was 2010.  It was a draw 1-1. Two teams will advance to the next round of 16. I predict we will advance. Our chances in the next round are 50-50.

Q: Have you been involved with the team preparing in any way?

A: No, not with this team. My last involvement with international competition was for the team that competed in the 1998 World Cup in France. I was involved with the preparation leading up to the tournament. At the tournament, I spent two weeks in France scouting our future opponents.

I did some scouting for the 2002 and 2006 teams.

Q: What do you do when you are NOT involved with soccer?

A: Lauren and I enjoy life in Big Canoe. July 1 will mark our seventh year here. We try to stay involved with our two newly educated grandkids, Nichole (Tennessee, 2020) and Tyler (North Dakota, 2022). Lauren and I enjoy live music and support the arts in the ATL. Golf is my athletic passion, now. However, soccer still influences my leisure time. I do serve as an instructor for U.S. Soccer Coaching Certification. And I do some work for the Major League Soccer. I am a match director for the MLS games at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

Q: What’s a perfect day in Big Canoe for you?

A: It starts with coffee with Lauren by our fireplace, soft relaxation music in the background. Our day is planned. I’m off to do battle on the golf course. Lauren will walk three to four miles and then retreat to her office to work on one of her novels. That afternoon, I will collect my winnings at the Clubhouse and share a beer with the losers. Dinner will be shared at one of our many friends’ homes. Add a nightcap and a walk home. We love this place. We fit right into the profile of Big Canoe people.



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