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Free Press 1-27-12

Free Press 1-27-12

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WWW.CHAMPIONNEWSPAPER.COM • FRIDAY, JANUARY 27, 2012 • VOL. 14, NO. 44 FREE
REE 
RESS 
• A PUBLICATION OF ACE III COMMUNICATIONS •
www.championnewspaper.com
 
www.facebook.com/ championnewspaper
 
www.twitter.com/ championnews
 
Follow us.
Serving East Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, Doraville, Dunwoody, Lithonia, Pine Lake, Tucker and Stone Mountain.
PATH trails to be extended this year
 by Andrew Cauthenandrew@dekalbchamp.com
I
n 1993, the first mile of the PATH trail network was constructed in DeKalb County and now, 20years later, there are 160 miles in the system.The PATH Foundation this year has more trail projects planned for DeKalb County, which has“more trails than any other county in the state,”according to
Ed
 
McBrayer
, executive director andco-founder of PATH.PATH launched a campaign in November 2011to raise $11.4 million from private sources to buildanother 34 miles of trails in the state. The three-year campaign focuses on extending existing trails,including constructing a tunnel under BouldercrestRoad to Intrenchment Creek that will connect to amodel plane airport on Constitution Road. The costof this project is approximately $500,000 for thetunnel and another $500,000 for the trail.Another project would connect the trail atClifton Church Road to Georgia Perimeter College(Decatur campus) at a cost of $1.2 million. Workersare expected to construct a bridge over I-285 for theheavily used Stone Mountain PATH trail at a cost of $1 million.PATH, which has a 20-year vision to make At-lanta the most trail-connected city, is also planninga trail along Georgia 400 from the Atlanta BeltLinenear Piedmont Road and Peachtree Creek to justsouth of the Georgia 400 toll booth. Other construc-tion includes trails through downtown into Centen-nial Park, and extensions to the Arabia Mountain/South River trails through Panola Mountain StatePark to the Monastery of the Holy Spirit in Conyers.PATH also plans to begin new trails in Cony-ers, Panola Mountain State Park and on St. SimonsIsland.Each project is funded differently but overall thePATH construction represents a “true private-public partnership,” McBrayer said.McBrayer said the PATH Foundation has alwayshad a good relationship with the county.“DeKalb has always been supporter in puttingmoney in their budget,” McBrayer said. “DeKalbhas always had willing elected officials.”The network, which has trails in nine counties,“goes a long way toward setting DeKalb County upfor economic development,” McBrayer said.When PATH organizers first conceived thenetwork, “we started off trying to connect the trailsto create a commuter system,” McBrayer said. Now,the trails have become “an amenity that people wantto live around.”The trails are “a venue for a stress-free workoutsession,” said McBrayer, who moved to Atlantafrom Denver where as a cyclist he was accustomedto bike lanes.“I was used to having my own space,” Mc-Brayer said. Cycling on streets with cars is “a wholedifferent level.”McBrayer said PATH, which maintains all of its trails, does not know how many people use thetrails each year.“We’re too busy building trails to count people,”McBrayer said.
The PATH Foundation, which built 160 miles of pedestrian, bicycle and skate trails in the state, is planning toextend existing trail in DeKalb in 2012. File photo.
 
Page 2A The Champion Free Press, Friday, January 27, 2012
DA: Senior exploitation rises with aging population increase
770-413-4111
Dr. Robin McGhee
has relocated toWalmart Vision Center1825 Rockbridge RdStone Mountain, Ga. 30087Dr. McGhee practicedoptometry at Lenscrafters onMemorial Drive for almost 20years. She welcomes previ-ous patients. Appointmentscan be made at
 by Andrew Cauthenandrew@dekalbchamp.comAn 81-year-old DeKalbCounty woman was de-frauded of approximately$25,000 beginning in Feb-ruary 2010 and her ex-son-in-law faced a judgefor the crime on Jan.19.
Chester Wright
,57, of Tucker, ischarged with identityfraud and exploi-tation of an elder  person for allegedlydefrauding
MargaretFlowers
, accordingto....Wright “moved inwith [Flowers] at atime when she need-ed some assistancein overseeing her retirement and help-ing here manage her nancial day-to-dayactivities,” said
An-gel Riley
, a DeKalbCounty assistant dis-trict attorney during a hear-ing in the case.Chester allegedly cre-ated an on-line businesscalled the Narrow GateRecovery Center and usedFlowers’ Bank of Americacredit card and checkingaccount to make transac-tions via PayPal to NarrowGate, Riley alleged.Chester is accused of making 59 transfers be-tween February 2010 andFebruary 2011 to NarrowGate which, according toits website, “provides faith- based spiritual healing anddiscipleship for the chemi-cally addicted and othersstruggling with life issues.”When Flowers realizedthat the funds in her ac-count were not increasing,she contacted the DeKalbCounty Police Department,Riley said.“That’s a big hit to any-one, but if you’re 81 yearsold and you’re retired…something like that couldcast you into poverty,” saidDeKalb’s District Attorney
Robert James
.“Unfortunately, we seethis all too often,” Jamessaid. “It’s often timessomeone that they trust,that they know. It’s a fam-ily member, it’s a caregiver,it’s a trusted neighbor. Wesee stranger on stranger, but we see a lot of abuse bya caregiver.”James said seniors aretargets for nancial exploi-tation because they are of-ten stable, having substan-tial savings or retirementincome.“There are so many dif-ferent ways where peoplecan …purport to be some- body else and gain accessto our seniors’ hard-earnedand long-saved dollars,”James said. “It is an unfor-tunate reality in the societywe live in.”Elder exploitation willcontinue to rise as the se-nior population increases,James said.“Not only do we havemore people aging becauseof the baby boomers, but people are living longer,”James said.“Because of the increas-ing number of senior citi-zens, law enforcement andthe business community aregoing to have to addressways to protect the nancesof the elderly,” James said.“People are preying on our seniors, but if you think it’s bad right now, fast-forward15 years and it’s only goingto get worse because there’sonly going to be more se-niors that need care.”In another case,
CarlaThorton Ewing
and
CraigR. Matthies
are facingcharges of exploitation of an elder person, identityfraud, and nancial transac-tion card fraud.Impersonating 71-year-old
Frances Matthies
, Ew-ing allegedly reported thevictim’s bank card as miss-ing and ordered a replace-ment card, James said.The victim reported thefraud to police and wasable to identify Ewing bylistening to a recording of the defendant reporting thecard stolen, James said.“These people havexed incomes,” James said.“When they lose money it’sgone. If you’re on a xedincome and all you have isa Social Security check andsavings or investment fund,if somebody messes withyour nest egg, you’ve allof a sudden been cast into poverty.”Law enforcement isonly part of the solution,James said.“When we prosecutethem, yes, we get jail time, but the reality is you can’tget blood out of a turnip,”James said. “If someonesteals tens of thousandsof dollars from a senior citizen, we rarely get thattens of thousands of dollars back.”In Wright’s case, his at-torney,
William Hankins
,said his client is unem- ployed and is ina masters’ pro-gram for Chris-tian counseling.“He’s tryingto turn him-self around,”Hankins toldthe judge as heasked for pro- bation for hisclient.Wrightturned downan offer byJudge
ClarenceSeeliger
of twoyears in jailwith an eight-year probation.Wright changedhis plea to notguilty and willseek a jury trial.James said society needsto better educate seniorsto protect themselves. Se-niors who are able shouldcontinue to check their -nances, he said.“Don’t just blindly trustsomeone because they area family member,” Jamessaid.James said other steps
‘ If you’re on a fi xed income and all you have is a Social Security check and savings or investment fund, if somebody messes with … your nest egg, you’ve all of a suddenbeen cast into poverty.’
– DeKalb District Attorney Robert James
seniors can take to protecttheir nances include:• Do not talk to telemarket-ers or give personal infor-mation to callers.• Buy a shredder anddestroy sensitive docu-ments.• Get a lock for home mail- boxes.• Partner with a caregiver and regularly check per-sonal nances.“It’s OK to have some-one helping you take careof your bills, but you haveto know what’s in your  bank account,” James said.
 
Page 3A The Champion Free Press, Friday, January 27, 2012
 by Andrew Cauthenandrew@dekalbchamp.comThe ap betweenDeKalb’s Board of Commis-sioners and CEO over thecounty’s planning director isnot over.The board on Jan. 24 de-cided not to vote on the ap- pointment by DeKalb CEO
Burrell
 
Ellis
of 
Gary
 
Cor-nell
to the position of director of planning and sustainabil-ity, although Cornell is serv-ing as the interim director tothe opposition of some com-missioners.“I believe this action isillegal,” said Commissioner 
Lee
 
May
, who said he wantsan outside legal opinion onEllis’ decision.In its previous meeting,some board members ex- pressed concern that Ellis hadhired an interim planning di-rector when interim positionsare usually lled by an exist-ing employee.Ellis made an appearanceat that meeting to defend hisappointment of Cornell, whohas 33 years of professionalexperience in city and region-al planning, including sevenyears as the director of Gwin-nett County’s Department of Planning and Development,seven years as a principaltransportation planner at theAtlanta Regional Commis-sion, three years as a planner in residence at Florida StateUniversity and 11 years as asenior community planningconsultant for Jacobs Engi-neering.“There was a bit of a dustup here,” May said about thatmeeting. “Our CEO decidedto come and disrupt the meet-ing for a bit.”May said that Ellis had been warned late last year that he did not have the voteson the commission to putCornell in place. The plan-ning director is one of ve positions that the board of commissioners, by law, mustconrm.“In the spirit of loweringany kind of public conict
See Director on Page 10A
Flapcontinuesover county’sinterimplanningdirector
New Birth Christian Academy reopensunder new management
 by Daniel Beauregarddaniel@dekalbchamp.comBishop
Eddie Long
 thanked parents, studentsand staff of New BirthAcademy at a Jan. 18 press conference for beingcooperative through the“tough” transitions theschool has faced in recentweeks.In late December parentsand students were notied New Birth Academy wouldshut its doors at the end of the year and remain closedindenitely. Economicreasons were cited for theclosure.“We operated New BirthChristian Academy for yearsat a decit…it started to become a great burden onthe church,” Long said. Theclosing forced the school’sstudents to enroll elsewhere.However, New BirthAcademy reopened on Jan.19 through a partnershipwith Aurora Day Schools.Long said Aurora had cometo them like “a godsend”and offered to help the K-12school get back on its feet.
I’m excited about that because we’re able to havean international outreachin providing education for students all over the world but most of all, to be ableto continue to service thiscommunity,” Long said of the partnership.
Kellie Huff 
, founder andCEO of Aurora Schools,said when she heard NewBirth Academy was closingshe called the school andoffered her assistance.“Over the past twoweeks the nancial teamhas come together, lookedat the [academy’s] nancialsituation, and gured out away to reopen its doors ona solid nancial footing.Our position at Aurora DaySchools is to come in andcreate leaner, more efcientteaching methodologieswhile keeping a traditionaland Christian-basedcurriculum,” Huff said.According to Huff, NewBirth Academy will alsooffer online classes “toexpand the global reachof the academy.” She saidAurora Schools and NewBirth Academy ofcialsworked with nancialconsultant
MichaelElkourie
to develop a newmodel for the school’soperations.“We needed to do somestreamlining becausethe size of the student population had droppedand also to identify the factthat the school, in the past,had not taken advantageof a couple of scholarship programs that are available,”Elkourie said.One of the scholarship programs Elkouriementioned was the GeorgiaTax Credit for PrivateSchools, which he said willallow Aurora and New BirthAcademy to operate under a partnership where taxcredits will supplement thetuition paid by parents.Ofcials couldn’tcomment on how manyformer students would bereturning to the school butAurora Schools COO
BillAragon
said since Longannounced its reopeningthe response had been“tremendous.”“I think we’re going tosee a very healthy return,very similar to the numberswhere we were at the endof last semester and we’llcontinue enrolling,” Aragonsaid.Enrollment began onJan. 18, and Aragon saidtuition and admission feeswould remain the same.Tuition for the school ranges between $5,000-$7,000 ayear for each child, withnon-members paying morethan New Birth MissionaryBaptist Church members.“We will do all we can tomaintain the extracurricular activities that were offered before and that includes the basketball team,” Aragonsaid. “But that’s contingent,of course, upon how manystudents enroll.”Last year, Long settleda sexual coercion suit ledagainst him by four former  New Birth MissionaryBaptist Church members.Most recently, his wife of 21 years,
Vanessa
, led for divorce.Aurora ofcials said theyhad heard no concerns from parents regarding Long’s personal life and were trying“to focus on the children.”
Bishop Eddie Long, right, announces that New Birth Christian Academy has reopened thanks to a partnership with Aurora Day Schools.Photo by Daniel Beauregard

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