In a time when many small businesses in our community were struggling to keep their doors open - or unsure of even if, when or how they could open them – we all did our best to show our support. One of those ways was by voting in our annual Best of Cobb contest, which brought in hundreds of thousands of votes.

Every year, we highlight some of the winners who were especially popular in the contest, and this year is no exception. Here are your 2021 Best of Cobb top 10 vote-getters in individual categories, many from the same organization, in order of rank.

1. Mount Paran Christian School

1275 Stanley Rd NW,

Kennesaw, GA 30152

(770) 578-0182

SECTION: Kids and Education

CATEGORIES:

Best Private School (1,890 votes)

Best Pre-School (1,872 votes)

Best Performing Arts Program (1,552 votes)

For the third year in a row, Mount Paran Christian School has taken the top three spots in votes for our Best of Cobb contest. The school and its staff certainly know how to spread the word and cast the votes, even in a trying year for education.

Mount Paran Christian School is a preschool age three through twelfth grade private Christian, non-denominational, college prep school committed to excellence in academics, athletics, and the arts. The school is located on 68 acres in northwest Cobb County in the shadow of Kennesaw Mountain and includes a historic cabin and lake, extensive athletics facilities, Dozier Hall (the high school), Sewell Cottage (the preschool), multiple playgrounds, Mulkey Building (which houses administration, the lower school, the middle school, two gyms, two media centers and a dining hall) and the Murray Arts Center (a state-of-the-art performing arts facility). Founded in 1976, MPCS is fully accredited (SAIS/AdvancED) and, according to its mission statement, unites with home and church to prepare servant-leaders to honor God, love others and walk in Truth.

In 1976, with a staff of only two, the Mount Paran Christian School Learning Center was established. The program began with a preschool-kindergarten program at Mount Paran Central Church of God in Atlanta. A combined first and second grade class and an after-school program were added the following year. That same year saw the development and adoption of the name Mount Paran Christian School (MPCS) and the establishment of the first official MPCS school board. Third and fourth grade programs were added in 1978, followed by one grade addition each year through 1982.

During the 1984-1985 school year, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools found the MPCS elementary program to be in full compliance with all Association standards, awarding the elementary and middle schools their full accreditation. Mount Paran Church of God’s acquisition of a 65-acre site on Allgood Road in Marietta in 1985 provided fulfillment of the vision for a total high school program. Existing facilities on the acquired property were renovated and enhanced. The high school program (grades nine through 11) began in 1986 with 94 students. The following year, grade 12 was added, and MPCS received its full accreditation through the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) for kindergarten through grade 12.

With the rapid expansion of the middle and high school instructional areas, establishment of a well-planned, highly structured athletic program soon followed, and athletic facilities were constructed. In 1986, MPCS became a member of the Georgia High School Athletic Association (GHSA). With an experienced athletic director and a staff of quality coaches, participation in interscholastic varsity and junior varsity sports became an important aggregate of the MPCS program.

In 1994, additional classrooms were required in the elementary school to facilitate growth. Fine Arts courses were also added, and the arts program began to develop. Computer labs were installed and the school introduced a technology program to students.

MPCS purchased its current property in 2002, and in 2003 moved from the Mount Paran North location in Marietta to the beautiful 68 acres in Kennesaw where the school campus is now located.

In December 2007, MPCS purchased the magnificent performing arts center adjacent to the school property. With its 577-seat main theater, a black box theater, dance studios, exquisite grand lobby, state-of-the-art recording studios, band and choral rehearsal spaces, practice rooms, classrooms, the building was named the Murray Arts Center at Mount Paran Christian School in honor of the Stuart and Eulene Murray Family Foundation, who made a generous donation toward the purchase of the building for the school and whose family owned the property upon which the school was built.

The athletic facilities of MPCS continued to expand over the next few years as well with batting cages, baseball/softball complex, fitness center, weight room, rubber track, and turf field were a few of the additions. The 2015 football season kicked off in the brand new Catherine Steele Sewell Stadium.

In February of 2021, officials broke ground on the new Murray Innovation Center. The new building is slated to open to students in the spring semester of 2022.

2. Evie Mae Photography

Instagram : eviemaephoto.

SECTION: Services

CATEGORY: Photographer (1,811 votes)

Who doesn’t love a great photo of a cute kid? Local photographer Brittany Willingham has found her niche in capturing childhood through a lens with her photography company named after her daughters, Evie Mae Photography. Although Willingham can photograph just about anything – and does – her experience as a mother lends her an extra special talent for photographing children and babies in their natural habitats – no awkward poses or stiff, unnatural photos. Willingham said she enjoys capturing children as they are, in her photos: messy, wild and true to themselves.

For more information on Evie Mae Photography and Willingham, and to peruse some of her favorite photos, flip back to page 10.

3. Ansley Atlanta Real Estate Marietta

145 Church Street, Suite 100,

Marietta, GA 30060

(404) 480-8805

SECTION: Real Estate & Finance

CATEGORIES: Best Real Estate Agent, Johnny Sinclair (1,728 votes)

Best Real Estate Company (1,446 votes)

Best Real Estate Team, Crowe & Turner (1,325 votes)

In June of 2019, Ansley Atlanta Real Estate announced the opening of its new office on the Marietta Square, occupying the space just at the corner of Church and Polk Streets.

Many familiar faces in the Marietta real estate scene left their respective offices to join the new team and the office has been growing ever since. No longer the new kids on the block, the realtors and teams of Ansley Atlanta Real Estate Marietta have made their marks on the Marietta real estate industry (and, with historic low interest rates, it was a good year for it).

For his own individual efforts, Johnny Sinclair won Best Real Estate Agent in a tight and competitive race for the title.

Ansley Atlanta’s expansion accelerated the Atlanta-based real estate company’s presence in the Cobb, Paulding and Cherokee county markets, enabling the company to better serve its client base outside the perimeter.

“Our vision as a company has always been to serve the metro Atlanta area in its entirety, and with the addition of our new neighborhood office in Marietta, we are excited to further expand our reach outside the perimeter,” said Bonneau Ansley, Ansley Atlanta’s founder and CEO in a press release at the time.

Established in 2015, Ansley Atlanta Real Estate was recently recognized as one of the most inspiring companies of 2018 by Inc magazine and listed as No. 989 on the Inc 5000 list of fastest growing private companies in the U.S.

The Marietta office also came out on top in several categories in the 2020 Best of Cobb

contest, so it’s clear they have quite the following.

4. MUST Ministries

1407 Cobb Pkwy N, Marietta, GA 30062

770-427-9862

SECTION: Services

CATEGORY: Nonprofit (1,428 votes)

Founded in 1971 by the Rev. Wayne Williams, MUST Ministries’ initial programs included a grocery bus ministries for the elderly, a youth tutoring program and outreach ministries to “alienated” young people. Since it’s inception, MUST has fulfilled Wayne’s vision of connecting people who have a desire to help with those who need help the most. Today, MUST encompasses more than 17,000 volunteers who are continually helping MUST Ministries achieve its goal of being Georgia’s most respected servant-leader.

MUST addresses the basic needs of individuals, families and children with facilities in the Cobb and Cherokee counties and programs in numerous other counties. According to its website, MUST brings people of many faiths together to respond to God’s challenge to minister to others with compassion and love, without judgment of the beliefs, background or circumstances of those who serve or are being served.

The year 2020 was an especially challenging one for the nonprofit, as MUST CEO Dr. Ike Reighard said the nonprofit had nearly triple the number of people who needed help than in 2019, while having to rely on far fewer volunteers due to the pandemic. Still, the nonprofit came out strong as the community rallied behind its mission and provided more help – and funding – than ever before.

5. Mostly Mutts Animal Rescue

3238 Cherokee St NW,

Kennesaw, GA 30144

(770) 272-6888

SECTION: Pets

CATEGORY:

Pet adoption agency (1,418 votes)

Since 2004, Mostly Mutts Animal Rescue and Adoption, Inc. has been working closely with animal control officers and other rescue organizations to reduce the number of animals entering into and being euthanized at local shelters. Mostly Mutts provides housing, health care, training, physical and emotional care to adoptable animals, while working to find them a loving home. Mostly Mutts is also involved in the community with education and awareness programs, primarily in the metro Atlanta area.

Often, the dogs rescued by Mostly Mutts are sick and injured and require rehabilitation. Once the dogs have been trained and rehabilitated, they are now ready for adoption. Although many of the dogs are kept in foster homes until they are adopted, the organization does hold weekly adoption events at its facility in downtown Kennesaw to help each dog find their “fur-ever home.”

For more information on Mostly Mutts, turn to page 134.

6. Atlanta West Dentistry

1808 Powder Springs Rd SW,

Marietta, GA 30064

(770) 941-6979

SECTION: Health, Beauty & Wellness

CATEGORIES:

Dental Group (1,327 votes)

Dental Hygienist, Travis Watson (1,281 votes)

I think it’s safe that no one likes going to the dentist, but Dr. Travis Watson and his team at Atlanta West Dentistry make it much less “Little Shop of Horrors” and much more like a day at the spa.

Atlanta West Dentistry’s award-winning doctors use the latest technology to provide the best care possible. As a 5-star dentist, Dr. Watson and his team are able to offer a true VIP experience. For those especially nervous about a trip to the dentist, they can make any procedure extremely comfortable with three levels of sedation: laughing gas, oral conscious sedation, and IV sedation. They can do anything from taking the edge off your anxiety to letting you sleep through the procedure.

The office also offers everything from cosmetic dentistry to all-inclusive dental implants to routine maintenance, all with the most up-to-date technology, equipment and practices.

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