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Free Press 3-23-12

Free Press 3-23-12

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Published by: hudgons on Mar 23, 2012
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Serving East Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, Doraville, Dunwoody, Lithonia, Pine Lake, Tucker and Stone Mountain.
 by Andrew Cauthenandrew@dekalbchamp.com
Cheryl Alphabet
wasworking as a manager of aKrystal restaurant in Clay-ton County on July 3, 2008,when she was shot in thehead during a robbery.“The doctors told mysisters I wasn’t going tolive and that they shouldget together and get to praying,” Alphabet said.Since the shooting, Al- phabet has had more than adozen surgeries on her faceand can only see out of oneeye. She also has sufferedfrom severe post-traumaticstress disorder.“I’m not in my rightmind, they say, but I feellike I am,” Alphabet said.“God has a reason for me still being here,” Al- phabet said. “It’s been ahorrifying life, but I thank God for it.For almost three years,Alphabet has been a mem- ber of the Side By SideBrain Injury Clubhouse, anon-profit organization inStone Mountain that helps brain injury patients rebuildtheir lives.“This place lets me beme,” said Alphabet, wholives with a sister in Snell-ville and has two childrenand two grandchildren.“God wanted me here totell this story.”When people hear thenews about a gunshot vic-tim, they “don’t think aboutthe rest of their lives,” said
Cindi Johnson
, executivedirector of the organization.“The cool thing aboutthis place is everybody isgrateful to be alive,” John-son said. “It really simpli-fies life.”Side by Side, the onlyone of its type in Georgia,serves 20-30 membersdaily, has 50 active mem- bers and has helped 330 patients since opening inMarch 2000.With an $800,000 annu-al budget, the organizationreceives 75 percent of itsfunding from program feesfrom worker’s compensa-tion insurance carriers.The organization receivesfunding from a Medicaidwaiver program, is alsoa vendor for the Depart-ment of Labor Vocationalrehabilitation program andsolicits grants and dona-tions.Side by Side also has asliding scale payment sys-tem for some people.“People come herefor as little as $1 a day,”Johnson said. The programcosts $135 per person per day.Side by Side wasfounded in 1999 withShepherd Center andEmory Healthcare eachinvesting $100,000 in seedmoney. Started with threemembers and three staff members, the organizationwas housed in a basementoffice in Decatur which itoutgrew in two and a half years.“The folks at Shepherdwere really interested inhelping people live insteadof just surviving,” Johnsonsaid.At Side by Side, mem- bers living with the effectsof traumatic brain injurylearn to cope with their injuries while volunteer-ing their skills to manageall the operations of theclubhouse including thekitchen which preparesdaily lunches for membersand the business unit whichwrites thank-you letters, birthday cards, and news-letter articles and collectsmembers’ lunch money.
Lee Sheftell
, of Dunwoody, became a Side by Side member two yearsago after working in theconstruction industry for 40 years.“I never got a scratch,”Sheftell said.That was until he fell30-40 feet from a roof threeyears ago. Sheftell wasairlifted to a hospital andspent approximately twomonths in Shepherd Center.“I can’t remember adamn thing from the acci-dent,” Sheftell said.After the accident, “mydoctor retired me,” Sheftellsaid.“It didn’t make me toohappy, but you get on withthings,” he said. “That’smy philosophy.”Sheftell said he likesthe camaraderie at the club-house.“Everybody workstogether,” Sheftell said. “Idon’t think I’ve heard any- body refuse to lend a handif asked.”Johnson,
a therapist in brain injury rehabilitation,started Side by Side, whichnow has 11 staff members,“for patients to continuetheir recovery after reha- bilitation.”“It really started weigh-ing on me that peopledidn’t have a place to go to be themselves,” Johnsonsaid.
Brain injury patients have a place to be themselves
Members of the Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse learn to livewith the effects of their injuries by assisting with the businessoperations and meal preparations at the non-profit organization.For 12 years, the Side by Side Brain Injury Clubhouse, a non-profit organization in Stone Mountain,has helped victims of brain injuries rebuild their lives. Photos by Andrew Cauthen 
Page 2A The Champion Free Press, Friday, March 23
Chamblee uses streetscape project tomake city more pedestrian friendly
 by Daniel Beauregarddaniel@dekalbchamp.comThe City of Chambleeis about to embark on astreetscape project that isestimated to cost approxi-mately $250,000.City ofcials hope toconstruct a 6-foot-wide side-walk, as well as a 2-foot-wide section of paved brick,along Peachtree Road. Thenew addition will begin atthe intersection of Peachtreeand Chamblee Tucker roadsand end at Pierce Drive.
Vicki Coleman
, director of Chamblee’s developmentdepartment,
said the impetus behind the project was tomake the city more pedes-trian friendly and to beautifythe heavily trafcked area.Coleman, who has beenwith the city since October 2011, said the project had been in the works prior toher hiring. She said Cham- blee was one of the rstcities in metro Atlanta toobtain a grant from the At-lanta Regional Commission(ARC) for its Livable Com-munities Initiative (LCI) program.“This is one of those projects that will be partof the implementation toenhance the overall walk-ability of the city,” Colemansaid. “The LCI program is basically a program lookingto further tie land use andtransportation together.”Bids for the PeachtreeRoad cityscape project closeon April 6, and Colemansaid she expects it will takeat least another month to de-termine the lowest qualied bidder, and send the bid tothe Chamblee City Councilfor approval.“Probably the earliestdate construction might be-gin would be in June,” Cole-man said.Coleman said the city islooking to make Chamblee amore pedestrian friendly by building streetscapes close to places such as the ChambleeMARTA station and city hall.“This one particular proj-ect we’re working on will beat a [place] where pedestrianactivity is encouraged, and Ithink that the city has donea lot to promote alternativemodes of transportation likewalking,” Coleman said of the Peachtree Road project.Additionally, Colemansaid the city will soon beginwork on a similar project,which will be closer to cityhall.“There’s also a pedestrian path and trail system, andright now there is an aban-doned rail spur being madefor more pedestrian paths,”Coleman said.
Page 3A The Champion Free Press, Friday, March 23
New fire marshal fees could generate $1 million
 by Andrew Cauthenandrew@dekalbchamp.comA set of new fees by thecounty’s re marshal couldgenerate more than $1 mil-lion annually.The re marshal’s ofce,a division of the county’s rerescue department, is man-dated by state governmentto enforce re and life safetyregulations for businesses by issuing construction andspecial activity permits, pro-viding reviews and inspec-tions for alarm and detectionsystems, automatic sprinkler systems and hood suppres-sion system.Currently, DeKalb doesnot charge a fee for the ser-vices provided by the remarshal’s ofce. These ser-vices are subsidized by tax- payers.In his proposal to theBoard of Commissioners,Fire Marshal Jerry Wain-wright stated the countyshould “require individualsand businesses to pay for there marshal services theyutilize.”“DeKalb is the onlycounty in the region that doesnot charge for re marshalservices, and the vast major-ity of the fees proposed arelower than the surroundingregion,” Wainwright stated.“Therefore, imposing thesefees will not make the countyany less competitive in theregion, and it will more fairlyallocate the costs of the ser-vices being provided.”According to Wainwright,it costs approximately $1.3million to operate the remarshal’s ofce. The pro- posed fees could generate atleast $1 million in the rstyear.According to the proposedfee schedule, county busi-nesses would be required to pay fees ranging from $100-$150 for the initial review or inspections provided by there marshal’s ofce.“The total of the listed proposed fees are only asmall portion of the re-related fees that the compa-rable municipalities charge,”Wainwright stated. “Byadopting the fee ordinance,a revenue source would becreated that would pay for replacing the vacant posi-tions, which would increaseefciency and increase abil-ity to provide better customer service.”Wainwright stated that by adding more inspectorsto the re marshal’s ofce, agroup of inspectors could bededicated to inspecting therequired annual maintenanceand certication of re/lifesafety components of exist-ing businesses.“In doing this, the inspec-tors would also be able toaudit all businesses for a business license or certicateof occupancy,” Wainwrightstated. This would identifyunlicensed businesses operat-ing in the county and requirethem to conform to countyrequirements and thereforeincrease the county’s busi-ness database.Wainwright said that asmall survey of businessesshowed that 22 percent arenot operating legally.The additional revenuewould enable the re mar-shal’s ofce to ll its re plan review lead position,allowing the ofce “to look at all business plans cominginto the county,” Wainwrightsaid.“Many businesses lessthan 3,000 square feet arenot being reviewed for either life safety codes or handi-capped accessibility, whichexposes the county to acertain amount of liability,”Wainwright said.The revenue would alsoallow Wainwright to ad-dress issues that need to behandled in the eld by a su- pervisor.“The inspections supervi-sor position is vacant andfour of the six [inspectors]have only one year of ex- perience,” Wainwright said.“These inspectors deal di-rectly with the business own-ers, contractors and archi-tects and need experiencedsupervision as they are stilllearning themselves.”The Board of Commis-sioners unanimously ap- proved the fees in its March13 meeting during whichCommissioner 
Kathie Gan-non
said the fees should bemonitored to make the remarshal’s ofce self-suf-cient.

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