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FreePress: 1-31-14

FreePress: 1-31-14

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Published by hudgons
DeKalb County, GA Newspaper Serving East Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, Doraville, Dunwoody, Lithonia, Pine Lake, Tucker and Stone Mountain.
DeKalb County, GA Newspaper Serving East Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, Doraville, Dunwoody, Lithonia, Pine Lake, Tucker and Stone Mountain.

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Published by: hudgons on Jan 30, 2014
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Suspended DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis, center, walks arm-in-arm with supporters before a hearing in his corruption case Jan. 23. Photo by Travis Hudgons
championnewspaper championnewspaper champnewspaperchampionnews
We’re Social 
, 2014 VOL. 16, NO. 45 •
Serving East Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, Doraville, Dunwoody, Lithonia, Pine Lake, Tucker and Stone Mountain.
DeKalb welcomes the  Year of the Horse
See New Year on page 13ASee Ellis on page 13A
Ellis hopes to have indictment dismissed
b y Kathy MitchellKathy@dekalbchamp.comMany people in DeKalb County are celebrating the New Year or the second time this January. While Jan. 1 marks the start o the year on the Gregorian cal-endar, this year the Chinese New Year also alls in Janu-ary—Jan. 31—with celebra-tions on, beore and afer the actual date.Chinese months ollow the lunar calendar and the New Year is celebrated at the second new moon afer the winter solstice, alling be-tween Jan. 21 and Feb. 19 on the Gregorian calendar. New Year estivities, one o the culture’s longest celebrations, traditionally start on the first day o the lunar month—when the moon is dark— and continue until the 15th, when the moon is brightest. In China and around the world, the holiday is marked with colorul parades, music, dancing and easting. Te year just beginning, 4712, is the Year o the Horse—one o 12 animal zo-diac designations that repeat cyclically. Tose born in the Year o the Horse are said to be energetic, independent and enjoy travel. As the Year o the Horse comes in there have been celebrations large and small around DeKalb County, es-pecially in Chamblee—one o the most ethnically di- verse cities in the Southeast. Tey range rom an hour-long celebration or all ages at the library to a two-day estival at the aipei Eco-nomic & Cultural Center. Te library event was pre-sented the morning o Jan. 25 in conjunction with the Asian Pacific American His-torical Society, and included traditional drumming, danc-ing, crafs and storytelling. Tat evening, the Na-tional Association o Chi-nese-Americans-Atlanta held a undraiser that drew a capacity crowd to the Canton House Restaurant on Buord Highway. With Consul General
Xu Erwin
 as the guest o honor and
 Lisa Borders
, chairwoman o the Coca-Cola Foundation, giv-ing the keynote address, the event eatured remarks rom by Andrew Cauthenandrew@dekalbchamp.comAccused o “shaking down” county contractors, suspended DeKalb County CEO
Burrell Ellis
 was in court Jan. 23-24 or a mo-tions hearing.Supporters prayed with Ellis beore the hearing and crowded into Superior Court Judge
Courtney Johnson
’s courtroom wear-ing “I support Burrell Ellis” buttons.Ellis must answer to charges o bribery, perjury and thef by extortion in a 14-count re-indictment handed down Jan. 16. He was originally indicted by a special grand jury in June 2013. Te indictment con-taining 14 elonies came six months afer Ellis’ home and offi ce were searched by investigators rom the DA’s Offi ce as part o a special grand jury investigation into possible corruption at the county’s watershed de-partment. Afer the indict-ment, he was suspended rom offi ce by Gov.
Nathan Deal
 and replaced by in-terim CEO
Lee May 
.In one motion heard Jan. 23, the state unsuccessully attempted to prevent James rom testiying in the case.
Craig Gillen
, one o Ellis’ attorneys, said the evidence would “show that at the time o the special purpose grand jury was…granted by the court, the ocus was...on watershed management.”“Te ocus was not on the administration o CEO Ellis but o the prior CEO, Mr.
Vernon Jones
,” Gillen said. “I expect the evidence to show that when Mr. James personally took over control and direction o the special purpose grand jury that, without any basis or a reason to be investigating Mr. Ellis or anything,…Mr. James changed the ocus [and]…directed that the ocus be centered on Mr. Ellis.”James testified that the watershed department in- vestigation did not ocus primarily on Jones; several
Business ........................16AClassified .......................17AEducation ..............14-15ASports ......................18-20A
Entertainment from Line Chacha Dance is part of the evening’s festivities at the National Association of Chinese Americans Banquet.
 Mentors are the proverbial village
by Andrew Cauthenandrew@dekalbchamp.comAt first,
Brandon Fountain
 was not in “dire need of extra mentorship.”That was five years ago when his mother
 signed him up for the mentorship program sponsored the DeKalb chapter of the 100 Black Men of America. Brandon was in the sixth grade and his mother and stepfather were still together.“My mom saw [the program] as a great opportu-nity for me to get extra mentorship from business-men and civil service men,” said Brandon, a junior a Marist High School.Then his mother and stepfather split up.“That’s where that mentorship really starts to help so that you don’t feel that lacking for a male figure, because I have all these male figures backing me up,” Brandon said. “There are certain roles that a father fills naturally, so with the lack of a father in the household, you quickly might start to feel that lack. I don’t feel that lack.”January is National Mentoring Month, a time set aside in 2002 by the Harvard School of Public Health and MENTOR: The National Mentoring Partnership to focus national attention on the need for mentors.Through the 100 Black Men of America, Bran-don has three mentors: Dr.
Romeo Stockett
, a re-tired Morehouse College professor;
Lamont Hous-ton
, a retired electrical engineer for Georgia Power; and
Mae Jones
, executive director of 100 Black Men of DeKalb. Brandon, who was recently named the 2013 Mentee of the Year by the 100 Black Men of Ameri-ca, meets with his mentors every other Tuesday. “The mentors are always open to being emailed and I can call them if I have some problems,” Bran-don said. “They will help you out almost whenever you have a need. If I need help with homework on a Thursday night, I can call or email. If I have a personal problem, I can call or email and get a re-sponse back pretty quick.“If I want someone to help teach me to drive and my mom is too nervous, that’s one way and a great example of how they have been mentoring me late-ly,” Brandon said. “You know the saying, ‘it takes a  village to raise a child,’ and I feel like for me they’re definitely my village.”Without his mentors, Brandon said his life would be completely different.“They’ve provided for me so much inspiration and motivation to do a lot of the things that I have done,” Brandon said. “I don’t know where I would be without that source of inspiration.”With his inspiration, the 16-year-old is a mem-ber of the Marist broadcasting club, Mosaic Diver-sity Club and debate team. The Ellenwood resident currently has a 4.0 GPA and has maintained honor roll for 10 consecutive school years. Brandon, a member of New Life Church, plans to attend Stan-ford University and major in computer science and become a software engineer.The greatest lesson he has learned from his mentors, Brandon said, is, “Be open to advise from my elders.“Always be open to advice and direction from my mentors because even though I may not feel like it, they’ve been where I’ve been before and they’ve gone through what I’ve experienced,” he said.
National Mentoring Month
‘You know the saying, ‘it takes a vil- lage to raise a child,’ and I feel like, for me, they’re definitely my village.
–Brandon Fountain
Brandon Fountain is the 100 Black Men of America’s Mentee of the Year. Photo by Andrew Cauthen
Lithonia chosen as EcoDistrict
by Daniel Beauregarddaniel@dekalbchamp.comThe south DeKalb County city of Li-thonia has been chosen by Sustainable Atlanta as one of three metro Atlanta communities to participate in its Eco-District initiative. The Atlanta University Center and the Lakewood Heights area were also chosen.
Melonie Tharpe
, Sustainable Atlanta EcoDistricts coordinator, said the goal of the EcoDistrict initiative is to evaluate the assets within a community, com-bined with planning processes already in place, to develop a long-term plan for success and sustainability. “It’s about a year of programming and past that we’re going to get some feedback from the community on some of those things might be a bit more long-term,” Tharpe said. The EcoDistrict model, developed in Portland, Ore., was implemented in midtown Atlanta in 2012 and other areas such as Boston and Washington D.C. According to a press release, the EcoDis-trict initiative is an economic develop-ment strategy based on environmental stewardship. Tharpe said over the next year, Sus-tainable Atlanta will provide guidance and assistance to participating com-munities. During the first year of the program, all three groups will receive community-wide training to increase civic engagement. Additionally, the pro-gramming will focus on such issues as land-use planning, local food produc-tion and energy efficiency. “We will be doing some community programming and the communities will be gathering at the end of February,Tharpe said. Each of the three districts were told that they can bring 10 public officials—important representatives from the com-munity, mayors, city council members. Mayor
Deborah Jackson
will be one of the 10 participating from Lithonia. “We’re very excited about the op-portunity to participate because there’s a lot of talk about developing sustainable communities and this will give us the opportunity to figure out how to do that and what it looks like,” Jackson said. Jackson said the EcoDistrict program looks at communities holistically and directly involved stakeholders in those communities to participate in redevelop-ment. The other 10 leaders from the Litho-nia community, Jackson said, will be business owners, city council members and other community stakeholders. Jackson said the group will also form committees and task forces to include more residents in the planning process. Jackson said Lithonia will build on the initiatives the city already has in place such as the result of its 10-year Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) study from the Atlanta Regional Commission and its five-year plan.“We’ll look at infrastructure needs and how to get more community en-gagement for the long haul,” Jackson said. “It’s really a great opportunity to see how to help develop a model for smaller communities that are resource challenged.” Like Jackson, Sustainable Atlanta Communications Director
Scott Briskey 
 said the EcoDistrict model builds on other types of sustainability models such as Community Improvement Districts (CID).“The idea with the framework is, a lot of the times EcoDistrict is a stakeholder driven model. In some instances that might be a CID or other community groups that come together,” Briskey said. Briskey said the EcoDistrict initiative is unique because it doesn’t “reinvent the wheel.”It looks at what you have in the com-munity from a resource standpoint and those plans would be included as those resources as well,” Briskey said. Each community has put forth a small amount of funding for the project but, Tharpe said, the majority of the pro-gramming will be paid for by private and corporate funding, donations and grants.
Dunwoody working to finish construction projects
Dunwoody residents will see a good deal of construction around the city as several proj-ects are currently in different phases of active development and construction.Construction on the Dun-woody Village Main Street project began in December 2013 with work crews remov-ing a portion of the vegetation and trees from the parkway median, according to city of-ficials. According to city officials, the Main Street project ad-dresses the need for pedestrian improvements on Dunwoody Village Parkway, while devel-oping a sense of community and encouraging growth of small businesses. Te parkway, expected to be completed early July, will be converted to a two-lane street with wide sidewalks, on-street bicycle lanes and landscape buffers.Preparations for construc-tion are under way for Phase II of the Brook Run Park multi-use trail. Phase II is 1.3 miles of the 12-foot-wide and 3.3-mile concrete trail which is behind the playground and skate park inside Brook Run Park. Te city anticipates the new seg-ment will be completed by summer of 2014. When future phases are completed, the Brook Run rail will run from Brook Run Park to Chamblee Dunwoody Road and will cover 3.3 total miles.City officials expect primary sections of the new George-town Park to be completed by the end of February. Te sec-tions include the central park square, pavilion area, children’s playground and adjacent bath-room facilities. Te adjoining concrete path, adjacent to the central park square, is also near completion and will connect to the Dunwoody railway multi-use trail to create a 3.3-mile trail way.

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