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DEC. 20 - Business Buzzzzz

Judith A. Thomas made a generous donation of $500,000 to the Heart & Vascular Institute at Memorial University Medical Center (MUMC). Thomas will also give $250,000 annually, beginning in 2012. The funds will be used to establish, support, and sustain the John G. Spellman, M.D., Cardiovascular Chair in honor of John Spellman, cardiologist.

The money will be used to provide a permanent source of funding to support priority needs for the cardiovascular program at MUMC. These needs will be determined by Spellman and MUMC’s heart & vascular leadership. Potential uses for the funding include technology and equipment, education and training for nurses, physicians and other related healthcare professionals, facility improvement, research, programs, services, and staffing within the cardiovascular program.

“This generous donation by Ms. Thomas will help us in our fight against cardiovascular disease – the leading killer of men and women in our region. We cannot thank Ms. Thomas enough for this extremely generous gift that will ultimately benefit our entire community,” said Phillip Schaengold, J.D., MBA, Memorial Health president and CEO.

Judith A. Thomas is the founder and major shareholder of J.A. Thomas & Associates, Inc. (JATA), a nationally recognized expert in healthcare compliance and documentation. She is also a nationally recognized authority on diagnosis-related group (DRG) management. In addition, Thomas recently received an honorary doctorate degree in business administration from de River Plate Adventist University in Argentina. Since her retirement in 2005, she has devoted her time to her charitable entities.

The Heart & Vascular Institute at Memorial University Medical Center offers leading edge heart and vascular procedures, treatments and rehabilitation programs. Services include state-of-the-art surgical facilities, innovative testing and diagnostic centers, and a team of expert physicians and nurses.


Savannah is mourning the loss of Dan Vaden Jr., known throughout Savannah and Coastal Georgia for his automotive dealership empire. He died Dec. 7 at the age of 83. His family was with him.

In recent years, failing health had led him to turn over his auto dealerships to the management of his daughter, Jane Vaden Thatcher and son-in-law, Bill Daniel.

Vaden enlisted in the U. S. Navy in the closing days of World War II. He started his auto sales career as a sales trainee with a dealership in Jacksonville and worked his way up to become a part owner and manager.

In 1968, Vaden, already a veteran car dealer with 15 years experience, launched his first dealership after purchasing land from Ford dealer J.C. Lewis Jr. Today it is the largest Chevrolet dealership in southeast coastal Georgia.

In 1980, Vaden became one of the first Isuzu dealers in the nation and in 1983 he purchased a Datsun dealership in Savannah that later became Daniel Nissan. In 1988 Vaden Suzuki was opened next to Vaden Isuzu and in 1991 Vaden Hyundai was opened, also in Savannah.

Today, the Vaden automotive family of dealerships has grown to include the Chevrolet and Cadillac brands in Savannah and Brunswick, the Vaden Automotive Group controls Nissan dealerships in Savannah, Hinesville and Statesboro, Suzuki and Volkswagen in Savannah and dealerships in the Lowcountry in Beaufort and Hampton.

In addition to new and used vehicle sales and service, Dan Vaden operates a large parts distribution network throughout southeast Georgia as well as a large, modern repair and painting facility.

Vaden was inducted into the Savannah Business Hall of Fame in 2008 for his business leadership and in recognition of his contributions to his community over the years.

He is survived by his wife Jane W. Vaden and two daughters, Jane Vaden-Thatcher and Linda Daniel. A memorial service is scheduled for Friday at 2 p. m. at Isle of Hope United Methodist Church. The family asks that memorial donations be made to the Greenhouse Fund at Isle of Hope United Methodist Church.


Visit Savannah and the Greater Savannah Sports Council announce the launch of the new Savannah Tire Hockey Classic Web site, In conjunction with the site, tickets for the Jan. 13-15 event go on sale on Friday, Dec. 3 at 10 a.m. at the Savannah Civic Center Box Office.

The new Web site features the schedule of the event, team logos, detailed information and a photo gallery of the past events. Special promotions this year will feature Thirsty Thursday on Thursday, Jan. 13 with various drink specials and Family Night on Friday, Jan. 14 with the first 1,000 kids receiving a free pack of hockey themed Sillybandz.

The Savannah Tire Hockey Classic is a collegiate hockey tournament that now features six of the South’s most exciting hockey programs: University of Georgia, University of Florida, Georgia Tech, Florida State, University of South Carolina, and The Citadel.

The Title Sponsor is Savannah Tire, the Presenting Sponsor is Bud Light, and other sponsors include The Kennickell Group, Savannah Morning News, the Heritage Bank, Chatham Orthopaedic Associates PA, Wells Fargo Advisors, Savannah Sand Gnats, Coca-Cola, Savannah Allergy Associates, the Savannah and Hilton Head International Airport,, Hernandez Collision, Visit Savannah and the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce.

Tickets are $10 for mezzanine and $15 for loge. Discounts are available for military, children (ages 2-11) and groups of more than 20 people. To purchase tickets, please call the Savannah Civic Center Box Office at 912-651-6556 or visit www

For more information about the Savannah Tire Hockey Classic, please contact Ben Wilder at 912-644-6414 or BWilder


In other Web-related news,, the Web site that provides leisure information for locals and tourists, is constantly striving to add new features. The most recent feature provides visitors the ability to pay for advertising online using PayPal. Advertisers can now register to advertise, pay for advertising, and upgrade their listing without ever leaving their computer.

“Online payment gives potential advertisers the ease of use and peace of mind they have come to expect from a website of this caliber,” comments Bob Letcher, managing partner and founder of KeytoSavannah .com.

In addition to the online payment feature, has unveiled a series of seasonal designs. The first in the series is autumn, which was added to the site in the middle of November.

“Changing the design to correlate with the season is one way that is staying relevant and interesting to our users,” says Spy Gibson, production director at Future designs will include Christmas, winter, spring, St. Patrick’s Day and summer.

Features are not the only new addition at; there are also some new faces! Charleston native, Jon Balcome joined the team as Web/graphic designer. Balcome is the artist behind the new fall design. Chris Clemmons has also joined the team as programmer. Clemmons is's very own magician; yes, magician. Keep an eye out for Clemmons performing some of his tricks at upcoming HELLO Savannah! events. As senior account executive, Ellisia Jesnes will now handle sales for Her outgoing personality makes her key to its team.

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Coastal Empire News
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