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Free Press 8-31-12

Free Press 8-31-12

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Published by: hudgons on Aug 31, 2012
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AUG. 31
, 2012 • VOL. 15, NO. 23 FREE
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Serving East Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, Doraville, Dunwoody, Lithonia, Pine Lake, Tucker and Stone Mountain.
See Books on Page 15A
Terra McVoy, the book festival’s director of programming, at Little Shop of Stories in Decatur shows some of the children’s books featured at this year’s AJC Decatur Book Festival.
Pete the Cat 
author James Dean acquaints young readers with one of his books.
A packed children’s stage at a previous AJC Decatur Book Festival listens to a reading from a
 by Kathy Mitchellkathy@dekalbchamp.comFrom its inception in 2006, the AJC Decatur Book Festival set out to be a festival for every-one, including the very youngest readers. In fact,each festival includes books, authors, activitiesand a special area designated for young book lovers.“We decided at the start that the festival hasto have great children’s programming,” recalled
, the festival’s director of program-ming. “Decatur is such a child-friendly city. Ithas great schools that are very much pro-reading.There are many children’s authors and book-stores such as Little Shop of Stories that cater tochildren.“One of the festival’s goals is to encourageliteracy and a love of reading. What better waythan to start with preschool children?” McVoyasked.The Children’s Stage each year has been anextremely popular festival site with hundreds of children and their parents packing the area. “Thechildren’s stage has just grown bigger and big-ger,” McVoy said.Previously on the lawn of a church, the chil-dren’s stage this year “is moving out of the glar-ing sun into more bucolic settings,” according to
the festival website. “You’ll nd the children’s
stage on the west side of Clairemont Avenue, inthe dappled shade of one of Decatur’s prettiestgreen spaces, just south of the Marriott Court-yard.” The site promises plenty of chairs, butalso invites families to consider bringing blan-kets and picnics.
Even before the festival ofcially starts on
Friday evening, it visits city of Decatur schoolsduring the day on Friday, giving youngsters achance to meet and interact with authors. “Theyoungest children may not understand that booksstart with an author, but they recognize that thisis a person connected to a book they love andthey are thrilled. For the ones old enough to un-derstand how an author creates a book, meetinga children’s book author is like meeting a rock star,” McVoy said.In at least one instance children were excitedto meet a person connected with their favorite books even though the person wasn’t the author.
It takes a children’svillage to completea book festival
Page 2A The Champion Free Press, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012
Residents talk of Tucker cityhood, improvement district
 by Daniel Beauregarddaniel@dekalbchamp.comWith Brookhaven soon to become a city,some DeKalb County residents in the Tucker 
area said although it wouldn’t benet from in
-corporation, it might become a Community Im- provement District (CID).
President of the Tucker Business Association(TBA)
Burke Brennan
, who is also a spokes-
man for DeKalb County CEO
Burrell Ellis
,said business owners or residents bring up in-
corporation of the Tucker area occasionally buthe hasn’t seen a “ground swell” of support for it
“The business community has not asked for 
it,” Brennan said.Incorporated areas in DeKalb County paymore in taxes than unincorporated areas, whichmay be why those in the business communityare hesitant to discuss incorporation.“Why would any business move into an in-corporated area at a higher tax rate than moveinto unincorporated DeKalb County?” asked
Honey Van De Kreke
, a member of the TBA board of directors.
Van Der Kreke said several years ago a group
of people got together, performed an in-depth
cityhood study and came to the conclusion thatthere wasn’t a large enough commercial tax base
“to foot the bill” for a city.
“I’m all about unincorporated DeKalb Coun-
ty,” Van Der Kreke said. “In all of these Tucker 
cityhood meetings, almost everyone stood upand said they liked the services they’re getting
from DeKalb.”The push for Dunwoody cityhood began in
2006 and it incorporated September 2008. Since
then, it has been a model for other growing com
-munities in unincorporated DeKalb with an eye
toward cityhood. Residents of the soon-to-becity of Brookhaven will be electing its mayor 
and city council this November. However, VanDer Kreke said in Brookhaven’s case, there were
residents who voted for the area to incorporate.
Many businesses were against it, but “businessescan’t vote.”
“If we’re looking at where we’re going for the future and trying to encourage businesses to
come into DeKalb County and stay here we needto be working a little harder with the businesscommunity,” Van Der Kreke said.Last year, DeKalb County commissionersvoted unanimously to create a CID in the StoneMountain Industrial Park area. Since it involvestaxes, the commission is required to vote on it.However, most CIDs are driven primarily by businesses in the surrounding area.
President of the Stone Mountain CID,
, said the main purpose of creating
the district is to create jobs and boost economicdevelopment.
“Anytime you talk about raising anybody’s
taxes, people get a little bit wild eyed,” Van Der Kreke said. “But I think a CID would be ben-
ecial and I think it’s probably one of the bestvehicles to shape a city’s future.”
Van Der Kreke said although it may takesome hard work to get Tucker’s downtown busi-ness area established as a CID, it would allow
more local control in terms of bringing new
 business to the area, construction projects andother developments.“I imagine there’s going to be some people
eyeballing what a CID could do for Tucker,”
Van Der Kreke said.
DeKalb County’s Tucker neighborhood has seen improvements to its business district over the past year. Someresidents say creating a Community Improvement District (CID) may help develop the area further. Photos by Dan-iel Beauregard
Page 3A The Champion Free Press, Friday, Aug. 31, 2012
 by Daniel Beauregarddaniel@dekalbchamp.com
A crowd stood in applause as several people helped retired U.S. Air Force navigator 
Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk 
to the front of 
the room. Van Kirk, a Stone Mountain resident,
is the last surviving crew member of the Enola
Gay, the plane that dropped the atomic bomb onHiroshima during World War II.Van Kirk spoke to a sold-out crowd at the
Marietta History Museum Aug. 11, several daysafter the 67th anniversary of the dropping of the bomb. On Aug. 6, 1945, a then 24-year-old
Van Kirk joined bombardier 
Thomas Ferebee
under the command of Col.
Paul Tibbets
andcarried out a secret mission that still holds animportant place in history today.“Gentlemen, this is just a war story,” VanKirk began. During his career Van Kirk met
and ew President Gen.
Dwight Eisenhower
 North Africa while he was stationed in England.He said the crew ew to Gibraltar to “pay off”the French in gold so the United States couldinvade North Africa. Van Kirk also spoke of the
time he met British Prime Minister 
in Casablanca.
After his return from England in 1943, VanKirk had own 58 missions overseas and wasliving in New Orleans, where he attended ight
school. He said one day he got a phone call
from Tibbets who asked if he was ready to go
overseas again.
“He said, ‘I just got command of a new outt
trained to do something special. I can’t tell you
what it is, but if it works, we have a possibility
to either shorten or end the war,’” Van Kirk said.The newly married Van Kirk talked it over 
with his wife, who gave him her blessing andshortly thereafter he headed overseas to trainfor the “secret mission,” which he later found
out was to drop a newly developed bomb ontoJapan.
“Our training wasn’t much of anythingunusual—we’d just go up to 33,000 feet and
drop bombs one at a time…that was the most
monotonous thing you ever saw in your life,”
Van Kirk said.Van Kirk said at one point during training,
he and his fellow crew members had a meetingwith several scientists who worked for the
Manhattan Project, the program that developed
the rst atomic bomb.“One of the scientists looked at us and said,‘Well, we think the crew will be OK if you’re11 miles away when you drop the bomb,’”
Van Kirk said. “I can remember looking at theguy and saying, ‘What do you mean you
we’ll be OK?’ He then told me, ‘We don’t
know, you’re just going to have to take your chances.’”
On the evening of Aug. 5, 1945, Van Kirk and his fellow crew members were giventheir nal brieng and were told that they
would drop the bomb the next morning at
approximately 8:15 and then told to “go get
some sleep.”“Imagine being told you were going to drop
the rst atomic bomb and then to go get somesleep,” Van Kirk said. “None of us slept, and Iknow none of us slept because we were all in
the same poker game.”
Van Kirk said the crew had pineapple frittersfor breakfast, which he hated, and beforetakeoff the crew did extensive interviewing and picture taking with members of the Manhattan
Project—he said there were no mediarepresentatives present.“The closest they got to us was about 60
miles away,” Van Kirk said. “Anyway, we wentin and dropped the bomb—Tom Ferebee missedthe target by about 400 feet, which is not bad.Then we turned around and ran away as fast as
we could.”When the bomb exploded, Van Kirk 
described a scene of “utter chaos” in the plane.
He said the crew couldn’t hear the explosion
above the roar of the Enola Gay’s engine butthey felt the shock wave and saw a bright ash.
“We knew that the bomb exploded—that ithad probably done some good—and we got 20
miles away from it,” Van Kirk said. “Then we
turned to see what was happening and all wesaw was that large white cloud—you’ve all seen
 pictures of it—that mushroom cloud.”Van Kirk said he never thought of what hishistorical role would be when he performed thatmission. During the Q&A session that followed
his lecture, an audience member asked about it
and he said, “If I had known that I’d be giving
speeches like this I’d never have done it, but it becomes necessary.”
Although the bomb killed many people,reportedly 70,000-80,000, and injured nearly
as many, Van Kirk said he and other crew
members felt no regret.“We did not feel bad or stay awake at night,”Van Kirk said. “We are all comfortable withwhat we did. Yes we killed a lot of people butwe also saved a lot of people too.”
Van Kirk did say however that as he grewolder he began to see what he called “the
futility of war.” He said he didn’t understandwhy the United States was ghting in Iraq andAfghanistan, and didn’t think it was doing
much good.
Before nishing his lecture Van Kirk described one of the more emotional effects of war. After the dust had settled, Van Kirk and hisfellow crew members visited Hiroshima withscientists from the Manhattan Project to survey
the damage the bomb had done. While there,
Van Kirk said they witnessed a member of theJapanese Army returning home from wherehe was stationed. He got off a bus where hethought his home was but found nothing, onlythe charred remains of his village.
“What could we say to him?” Van Kirk asked. “There was nothing to say to him tomake it all right.”
Retired navigator describes dropping atomic bomb
Theodore “Dutch” Van Kirk, a Stone Mountain resident and retired U.S. Air Force Navigator, is the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay, which dropped the atomicbomb on Hiroshima in 1945. Van Kirk recently spoke about his experiences to a sold-out crowd at the Marietta History Museum. Photos by Daniel Beauregard

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