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Free Press 8-24-12

Free Press 8-24-12

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01/16/2013

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WWW.CHAMPIONNEWSPAPER.COM • FRIDAY,
AUG. 24
, 2012 • VOL. 15, NO. 22 FREE
REE 
RESS 
• A PUBLICATION OF ACE III COMMUNICATIONS •
 by Daniel Beauregarddaniel@dekalbchamp.com
I
n the basement of 
MichaelChechopoulos
’ house, off Snapfinger Road near Glenwood Avenue, sithundreds of handmade puppets waitingto see the light of day and teach a lesson.“I try to bring people together withthis,” Chechopoulos said of his puppet-making.Chechopoulos, 65, is originally fromChicago and lived in New York and LosAngeles before settling down in DeKalbCounty, where he and his wife havelived since 1994. He he has been making puppets since he was 12 years old.“These are all my own natural,found-material puppets,” Chechopoulossaid. Some of the puppets are made outof pine cones, mango seeds, hollowed-out gourds and even clay and grass.Chechopoulos’ puppet Doc, an old, bearded Black man, was sculpted out of clay and its eyes and eyebrows move.Doc is a hand-and-rod puppet, similar to
Jim Henson
’s Muppets, with a beardmade entirely of tree roots and grass, al-though it’s hard to tell unless the viewer is up close and personal.“It’s been an ongoing work for manyyears,” Chechopoulos said of Doc. His basement is chock-full of puppets he’smade or acquired over the years, butChechopoulos said he really needs a per-manent stage.“DeKalb County has nothing—Ful-ton County has the Center for PuppetryArts, which has been there forever,”Chechopoulos said. The Center for Pup- petry Arts, located in midtown Atlanta,has been open since 1978 and is housedin what used to be Spring Street El-ementary School. “They got it from thecounty for a dollar.”Chechopoulos said he wants to ap- proach DeKalb County, which owns alot of property and locations that aren’t being used to see if they’d be willing todo the same thing. His goal is to have acommunity-based puppet theater wherehe can perform shows, teach the art of acting and puppetry and give childrensomething positive to do during their downtime.In addition to his work with puppets,Chechopoulos is a member of the ScreenActors Guild, has appeared on
TylerPerry
’s
 House of Payne
. He was an ac-tor at the Georgia Renaissance Festivalseveral years ago. He currently workswith the developmentally disabled,
DeKalb puppeteer searches for permanent stage
 
www.facebook.com/ championnewspaper
 
www.championnewspaper.com
 
www.twitter.com/ championnews
 
Follow us.
Serving East Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, Doraville, Dunwoody, Lithonia, Pine Lake, Tucker and Stone Mountain.
See Puppeteer on Page 13A
Sixty-five-year-old Michael Chechopoulos has been making puppets since he was 12-years-old. A DeKalb residentsince 1994, Chechopoulos makes the puppets out of natural materials such as pine cones, mango seeds, hollowed-outgourds, clay and grass. Photos by Daniel Beauregard
 
Page 2A The Champion Free Press, Friday, Aug. 24,, 2012
Emory’s Oncology Olympic games inspire, entertain
 by Donnell SuggsThe closing ceremonies of the XXX Olym- piad in London, England, have come and gone.The culminating events on the last day of com- petition consisted of the men’s basketball final,men’s water polo final and the marathon amongothers.Thousands of miles away in DeKalb County,the third Oncology Olympics were closing aswell. The final events of those games were thesaline bag toss, bedpan shuffle-board finals,wheelchair races (patients were not allowed to participate because of their health) and the mara-thon, where patients kept count of how manylaps they walked around the bone marrow trans- plant unit in a day.The largest of its kind in Georgia, the BoneMarrow Transplant Program at the Emory Uni-versity’s Winship Cancer Institute is one of 57cancer centers in the United States with an “out-standing” rating by the National Cancer Institute.The BMT program provides cancer patients withhigh-dose chemotherapy via bone marrow or  blood stem cell transplants.With all that goes into cancer chemotherapyand the challenges patients and their familiesface, any distraction that can potentially lift their spirits during these difficult times is welcome.Enter Dr.
Amelia
 
Langston
who decided to bring the Oncology Olympics to Emory to do just that.The inaugural games began in 1996, duringthe Atlanta Olympic Games, while Langston wasin residency at the Fred Hutchinson ResearchCenter in Seattle, Wash.Langston said the timing could not have been better.“A group of us [doctors] were in the Olympicspirit and got the idea of having an Olympicsamong our three oncology floors in the hospital,”Langston said. “We thought it would be a greatway to help patients, families and staff to be a part of the Olympic spirit, too.“Everyone liked the idea so we made up a bunch of events like saline bag toss and hula-hoop contests that incorporated our own uniqueworld,” Langston said. “The patients and staff had a great time with it so it was natural thatwhen I got here to Emory and the [2008 Beijing]Olympics came along, I suggested we try it here.“When I brought up the idea [at a meeting] people didn’t miss a beat in forming an Olympicorganizing team,” Langston said.Winship Cancer Institute’s communicationmanager 
Virginia
 
Anderson
said the gameshave had a positive impact on the unit and its patients.“It is an honor to work among such dedicated,compassionate doctors and nurses who not onlytreat the body but also soothe the soul,” Ander-son said.Langston, who bikes, swims and runs in her spare time, said, “Our main goal is simply togive everyone—patients, families, staff—a mo-ment of fun and pleasure.”“Our patients are confronting the greatestchallenge of their lives and it’s easy for them toget discouraged and tired,” Langston said. “Any-time we can make their time with us [at Winship]more bearable then that’s a victory.”
Joseph
 
Alexander
, a patient of Langston’sand a bone marrow transplant recipient, echoedthose sentiments.“The games were outstanding,” Alexan-der said. “They took [your] mind away fromyour treatment and put you at ease.” [We] justthought it was a really small thing, but they madesure it was a really big thing, they got us out of the rooms and made sure we got to watch and participate.”Alexander medaled in the bedpan shuffle- board event.
The brainchild of Emory University oncologist Amelia Langston, the third installment of Oncology Olympics were held earlier this month. Patients and staff participate invarious events designed to give patients a distraction from their ailments. “Cancer can do a lot of bad things, and we see that every day,” Langston said. “We want to beable to have fun when we can and celebrate when things are going well.” Photos provided
 
Page 3A The Champion Free Press, Friday, Aug. 24,, 2012
High court chief justice Hunsteinwants fewer in jail
Public NoticeAll City of Atlanta 2013 General Election Candidates
Please be aware that any person planning to seek election to the ofce of 
Mayor, City Council President or City Council Member in next year’s Novem-ber 5, 2013 City of Atlanta General Election must be a continuous resident of the City of Atlanta, and in the case of Atlanta City Council candidates - of theparticular district or of one of four required districts for each at-large seat,
for at least one year immediately preceding August 26, August 27, August28, August 29 or August 30, 2013.It is very important for potential Atlanta City Council candidates to befamiliar with the newly drawn City Council Districts.For detailed information:
1. View the redistricting page on the City of Atlanta’s website athttp://citycouncil.atlantaga.gov/redistricting.htm.2.
Visit the Ofce of the Municipal Clerk at Atlanta City Hall, Suite 2700,
55 Trinity Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia 30303.3.
Contact the Municipal Clerk/ Election Superintendent at
municipalclerk@atlantaga.gov or 404 330-6500.
*** Special Note:
Based on the Atlanta Board of Education’s current Charter, the samerequirements apply to candidates for the Atlanta Board of Education district and at-large seats.
 by Kate Brumback ATLANTA (AP) A nearlythree-decade veteran of the bench, Georgia SupremeCourt Chief Justice
CarolHunstein
is a big advocate
of nding alternatives to
locking people up andthinks the state is on theright track with its focus oncriminal justice reform.“We need to be open tonew ideas rather than just put them away in prison aslong as you can,” she saidin an interview with TheAssociated Press earlier thismonth. “If you put someonein the prison system, youeffectively have harmedtheir ability to get work,and you probably haveharmed them socially, as far as coming out and being a productive citizen.”She mentioned anexample from her time asa DeKalb County Superior Court judge. She had tohand down a mandatory
minimum sentence of ve
years to a 17-year-old whohad used a plastic pistol tosteal a Starter jacket.“I had no leeway,” shesaid. “Now, when thatyoung man comes out, hemay have a high schooleducation. He won’t haveany college. He will have nocareer. And it’s going to be
very difcult for him to be
successful in life.”Hunstein was part of a panel that presentedrecommendations to thestate Legislature, whichresulted in the adoptionthis year of legislation tooverhaul the state’s criminal justice system to providealternative sentences for nonviolent offenders.The reforms were widely praised and unanimouslyapproved by lawmakers in both chambers. Among the panel’s recommendationswere treatment programsfor drug offenders andincreased supervision of released inmates.A next step in the processis a focus on juvenileoffenders, somethingHunstein feels stronglyabout.Teenagers don’tnecessarily demonstrate the best judgment, but lockingthem up isn’t always theanswer and often makes itmore likely they’ll commitfuture crimes, she said.“I think we have toaddress problems withour juveniles to preventthem from becoming adultcriminals,” she said.Locking people up for less time can also savethe state enormous sumsof money, an advantagethat’s not lost on Hunstein.Since she took over aschief justice three yearsago, she’s had to deal withsubstantial budget concerns.
During her rst year as chief  justice, she had to re some
employees and furloughothers. She and the other  justices volunteered to takeunpaid furlough days tokeep costs down.“It’s not quite as bad nowas it was, but there weretimes when we were lookingfor contributions of pensand pencils and that sort of thing, just to save as muchmoney as possible,” shesaid.Hunstein was appointedto the state high court in1992. She became chief  justice in 2009 and hasabout a year left in her term,after which she’ll continueto serve on the court asa regular justice. She’sthinking ahead and hasmore ideas for reforming thecriminal justice system inGeorgia.“I’m very interested
in trafc misdemeanors,”
she said. “Most citizens inthis state don’t realize thatwhen they plead guilty to
most trafc offenses, they
are pleading guilty to amisdemeanor.”That plea can mean a
ne and sometimes jail
time and makes it so theoffender technically has acriminal record, she said.Many states have changed
this so that some trafc
violations—like speedingor running a red light—arelesser offenses. Hunsteinwould like to see Georgiamake a similar change or at least look into providinga way for most drivers toget that conviction off their record.She would also like thestate to consider a pretrialrelease program that wouldallow people accused of certain crimes to be releasedfrom jail without paying bond prior to trial. Thiswould ease the burden onthe local jail system andwould allow people to geton with their lives untiltheir cases are heard.“When you are put in the jail system and you haveto wait to have your casedisposed of by the countyor the city, you’re talkingweeks, sometimes months,which means that you maylose your job, you may loseyour apartment, you maylose your home, you maylose your family becauseyou’re waiting there for anadjudication,” she said.
Hunstein

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