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Published by Champion Newspaper
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: Champion Newspaper on Dec 27, 2013
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Serving East Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, Doraville, Dunwoody, Lithonia, Pine Lake, Tucker and Stone Mountain.

FREEPRESS
WOMAN HAS GIFT FOR WRAPPING
BUSINESS, 17A

FRIDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2013 • VOL. 16, NO. 38 • FREE

• A PUBLICATION OF ACE III COMMUNICATIONS •

QUICK FINDER
Business ................ 17A Classified .............. 16A Education ......... 14-15A Sports ............... 18-20A

LAWMAKERS PREP FOR SESSION
LOCAL, 12A

SIGNING INCREASES COMMUNICATION
EDUCATION, 14A

Judge rejects Lewis’ plea agreement, sentences Reid and Pope

Pope

Lewis

Reid

Former DeKalb County School District Superintendent Crawford Lewis (center), former construction chief Patricia Reid (right) and her ex-husband Tony Pope (left), an architect, were sentenced Dec. 9. Reid and Pope were found guilty of funneling more than $1 million from the school district through illegal construction contracts. Lewis pleaded guilty to obstructing a police officer. Photos by Kent Johnson, AJC See story on page 13A

Christmas
with Arabia Mountain tree
by Daniel Beauregard daniel@dekalbchamp.com

State capitol celebrates

A

40-foot cedar tree from the Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve is now the Capitol Christmas tree. Hundreds celebrated the new addition to the Capitol with a Christmas tree lighting Dec. 4. Kimberly Estep, public outreach coordinator for the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance, said, in the past, private residents have donated trees to the capital. Estep said this is the first year that both the tree at the Capitol and governor’s mansion have come from public lands. The tree, which weighs approximately 3,200 pounds, sits in the center of the building decorated with red ribbons and white lights. Additionally, there is a plaque placed by the tree that reads, “Donated by the Citizens of DeKalb County.” The tree is decorated with approximately 27,000 lights and 3,000 bows. In exchange for the tree, the state of Georgia will donate three native trees to be planted at Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve. After a musical prelude by the Lassiter High School Concert Band, Gov. Nathan Deal and wife Sandra took the stage, along

See Christmas on Page 13A

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The Champion Free Press, Friday, December 13, 2013

LOcaL NEWS
budget that funds student and teacher scholarships and grants to help close the gaps facing local schools. “As chair of the Decatur Education Foundation, I see firsthand the devastating effects of the Republicans’ billion-dollar cuts to our community’s classrooms,” he said in a released statement. “Whether the issue is funding of early childhood education for our youngest students or protecting HOPE Scholarships for our high school graduates, District 42 deserves, and has always had not just a vote, but a strong, unwavering voice. “I’ll continue in that uncompromising tradition, the residents of District 42 rightfully expect nothing less,” he added. Williams stated that Georgia government is controlled by the most “extreme elements” of the Republican Party, who he says, “proudly obstruct access to quality healthcare, important advancements in medical and scientific research, and forward-thinking public policies across a wide range of economic and social issues.” “District 42 has always elected a senator who will go toe-to-toe with these extremists in the fight for common sense, progressive ideals, and I am counting on voters to do so once again,” he said.

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Decatur lawyer running for State Senate seat
by Carla Parker carla@dekalbchamp.com Decatur Attorney Kyle Williams announced Dec. 2 his bid to run for the State Senate District 42 seat. Jason Carter, who currently holds the seat, entered the 2014 race for governor. Williams, a 10-year Decatur resident and small business owner, is not a Williams stranger to politics. He had an unsuccessful bid for the Decatur City Commission Post 2 seat in 2009. According to his campaign website, Williams is a community leader throughout District 42, which covers Decatur, Avondale Estates, Druid Hills, East Atlanta and portions of Brookhaven. Williams is a founding partner of and an attorney with the law firm of Williams Teusink, LLC, which helps individuals solve real estate and construction problems. He is the chairman of the 10-year-old Decatur Education Foundation that oversees a million-dollar

Austin

Woman charged in Dunwoody robbery
by Carla Parker carla@dekalbchamp.com A suspect currently in the Fulton County Jail has been charged in connection with a robbery in Dunwoody. Farrah Austin is charged with armed robbery, possession of a firearm during the commission of a felony, elder abuse and financial transaction card theft. She is accused of robbing a man at McCormick’s and Schmick’s Steakhouse in Dunwoody. Dunwoody Police said officers responded to an armed robbery Nov. 28 at the steakhouse around 9 p.m. Dunwoody Police spokesman Tim Fecht said Austin got out of her vehicle and approached the victim before brandishing a handgun and demanding his wallet, keys and cellphone. “The suspect then got into the same vehicle and fled the scene of the incident,” he said. An hour later, Atlanta police responded to the Sports Authority on Peachtree Road in Atlanta in reference to an armed robbery. During the investigation, a lookout was placed for the suspect as well as her vehicle, which fit the exact description, Fecht said. “Atlanta officers were able to locate the vehicle shortly after the lookout was given and through the process of a show up identification, the suspect was identified by the victim at the Sports Authority,” he said. “During the inventory of the suspect’s vehicle, the victim’s wallet from Dunwoody was located in the glove box of the silver Dodge Charger that the suspect was driving.” Dunwoody Police investigators linked Austin to the robbery in Dunwoody. Austin will be transported to the DeKalb County Jail when she is able to bond out from Fulton County.

Gucci Mane faces federal gun charges
by Carla Parker carla@dekalbchamp.com It might a while before rapper Gucci Mane La Flare can get back into the studio. The Atlanta rapper, whose real name is Radric Davis, was charged Dec. 3 in federal court with two counts of possessing a firearm while being a felon, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s office. “The indictment charges that on two separate occasions, this defendant, a felon, threatened individuals, including the police and his Gucci Mane attorney with a gun,” said U. S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates. “This is how people get hurt, and we are committed to ensuring that convicted felons not have guns.” On Sept.12, Davis, was found in possession of a firearm, according to Yates. Two days later, Davis possessed a different firearm. Yates said on both occasions, Davis displayed the loaded firearm, acted erratically and made threats to individuals, including police and his attorney. Davis, 33, has been in the DeKalb County Jail since the Sept. 14 arrest. Davis was indicted by a federal grand jury Nov. 19. He made his initial appearance before Magistrate Judge Linda T. Walker and was detained in custody pending his trial, according to the U.S. District Attorney’s office. Each charge of being a felon in possession of a firearm carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000, according to the U. S. District Attorney’s office.

State school board members hold hearings in DeKalb
by Andrew Cauthen andrew@dekalbchamp.com Class size, school funding and testing were some of the topics when a dozen people attended a hearing Dec. 9 with a state school board member. Barbara Hampton, who represents the Sixth Congressional District, held a forum at Tucker High School to receive Hampton comments from residents and stakeholders regarding public education in the state. “Class size is driving a lot of feedback from a lot of folks everywhere,” Hampton said in response to a question. “Class size is a local decision. There are state guidelines but local systems have been seeking waivers to those guidelines and the primary reason they have been citing is because of funding. It has been one way to solve a budget issue.” Kirk Lunde, a Tucker resident, said he is “disappointed in our [county] board of education for…setting the limits they did, but they had freedom and they did what they felt was right because the state board of education said, ‘Do whatever you want.’ “Giving school districts a fill-in-theblank-form to use was irresponsible or not keeping the best interests of the students first,” Lunde said. Responding to another question, Hampton said many people wonder why the state government has not fully restored funding to schools now that the economy is improving. “Until the state economy grows to 4 percent, dollars can’t be released out of the rainy day fund,” she said. “Any surplus goes into the rainy day fund and you can’t tap the rainy day fund until you get over 4 percent.”  State school board member Lisa Kinnemore, who represents the Fourth Congressional District, will hold a hearing Monday, Dec. 16, 7-8 p.m. at Cedar Grove High School, 2360 River Road, Ellenwood.  For more information, on the upcoming hearing contact Brenda Turner at (404) 657-7410.

Custodial services 
Will clean offices, schools,  restaurants. Part‐time   

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The Champion Free Press, Friday, December 13, 2013

by Carla Parker carla@dekalbchamp.com

Hundreds attend Tucker’s Christmas on Main Street
ceremony and bring out Santa Claus for all the kids.” Along with the appearance from Santa and the tree lighting ceremony, the event also included ornament decorating by the Tucker Historical Society and Masons from Tucker Lodge No. 42 serving hot chocolate, smores and funnel cakes. There were 30 vendors who promoted and sold products; musical selections from the Northlake Children’s Chorus; the Tucker Farmers Market, which also included pony rides for children; and arts and crafts. “We bring in local crafts vendors so people can do a little

Page 3A

The Christmas tree lighting was part of Tucker’s annual celebration on Main Street event.

A little rain did not stop Tucker residents from getting in the Christmas spirit as hundreds of people flooded Main Street for the annual Christmas on Main Street event Dec. 5. Launched five years ago, the annual four-hour celebration is a downtown event for the Tucker community, said Jamey Wilson, events coordinator for the Tucker Main Street Alliance. “We just want everyone to get in the Christmas spirit and explore downtown Tucker a little more,” he said. “We do a tree lighting

Christmas shopping while there,” Wilson said. Nancy Qarmout, who heads the Tucker Farmers Market, said, “It’s important to be a part of Christmas on Main Street.” “Tucker Farmers Market is a big part of the community,” she said. “We had a good turn out.” The event usually attracts 1,000 to 3,000 people, and even with the inclement weather, people were out buying snow cones, getting their faces painted and taking pictures near the Christmas tree and with Santa. “I think we had a pretty good turn out with the inclement weather,” Wilson said.

The event included musical selections from the Northlake Children’s Chorus; local businesses; the Tucker Farmers Market, which also included pony rides for children; and arts and crafts. Photos by Carla Parker

Page 4A

OPINION
One Man’s Opinion

The Champion Free Press, Friday, December 13, 2013

An inconvenient senator
20 such “committee days” during the session, and another 103 across the rest of that year, and this does not include the 50 days for which every legislator earned per diem that year. Balfour’s total “per diem days” and related reimbursements in 2011 came to significantly more than any other legislator. The Rules chairman was reimbursed $21,279 in per diem and another $4,191 for mileage, primarily for his commute between Atlanta and Snellville. This $25,470 more than doubled his legislative salary. And despite Balfour’s living at a distance which thousands of metro Atlantans commute each day, Balfour’s campaign leased a Midtown condominium for $2,100 per month, and with utilities, parking and other related expenses paid $29,346 for the unit in Spire with contributors’ support. Balfour is also a great fan of sports—the Georgia Bulldogs, Falcons, Braves, you name it—and there is hardly a suite that the senator hasn’t been able to visit, on tickets provided by others, and again, more often than most any other legislator. Balfour is a businessman, with a bachelor of science degree in accounting, as well as an MBA, and he is nearing the quarter century mark as an executive at the corporate headquarters of the Waffle House. A detailed reading of his 18-count felony indictment for misuse and misappropriation of state funds doesn’t sound like minor bookkeeping errors. Balfour routinely expensed travel, mileage or per diem expenses in one location, while lobbyist and other travel reports show him being purchased tickets to Epcot, or an expensive meal or hosted simultaneously at another location. And Balfour was not content to charge these expenses as per diem to the state, as on more than one occasion, he also sought reimbursement from his employer, and in other instances he would also seek reimbursement from his campaign. This is attempted triple dipping by most any estimation. My sense is that if the Don Balfour of 1991 were to meet the Senator Balfour of 2013, he might see a bloated and well-past-his-prime incumbent ripe for the picking. And that young Don, who was never bashful, would probably challenge Senator Don, and it would hardly be an even match.  Sen. Balfour, you are innocent until proven guilty, but your reputation is in tatters and in 2014, your constituents deserve better than you can give them today. Focus on your defense, restoring your name, and maintaining your 25-year career with the Waffle House. For the good of your party, your district, and your friends and family, do the honorable thing, and resign your office. You otherwise risk your entire career in public life being summed up with an asterisk, “removed from office following felony indictments and pending trial.” You also deserve better than that. Bill Crane also serves as a political analyst and commentator for Channel 2’s Action News, WSB-AM News/Talk 750 and now 95.5 FM, as well as a columnist for The Champion, Champion Free Press and Georgia Trend. Crane is a DeKalb native and business owner, living in Scottdale. You can reach him or comment on a column at billcrane@ earthlink.net. 

Former State Sen. Don Balfour (R-Lilburn) is scheduled to begin trial in mid-December in Fulton Superior Court, facing an 18-count indictment for falsifying his travel and expense records while serving in the state Senate. Gov. Nathan Deal accepted the recommendation of a three-member panel to suspend Balfour pending his trial, and the GOP Caucus subsequently stripped Balfour of his seniority, all committee and leadership positions and membership in the GOP Senate Caucus. When I first met Don Balfour in 1991, he was a candidate for the state Senate and a talented, driven executive with Waffle House. I was then working on the campaign of U.S. Peace Corps Director Paul Coverdell, who was seeking to unseat incumbent U.S. Senator Wyche Fowler (D-Atlanta).  In November 1992, George Bush lost the White House to Bill Clinton of Arkansas, and Don Balfour was elected to the state Senate, where he had served since, becoming the senior Republican in the chamber.  Paul Coverdell won a historic U.S. Senate run-off election later that month For years in the state Senate, Balfour toiled in the Minority, until the red tide shifted Georgia politics rather handily, and in January 2003, Balfour became Majority Caucus leader, and later, as his influence and power increased, he became chairman of the Senate Rules Committee, which largely dictates the timing and flow of legislation through the chamber.  Legislators are paid a salary of barely $18,000 per year for their part-time job. They are however allowed to claim “expenses” for official travel in connection with their legislative duties and committee assignments of up to $173 per day. Senate rules allow Balfour, and nine other key members of the Senate leadership to claim an unlimited number of “committee days” and the related per diem expenses. During 2011, Balfour took

The Champion Free Press, Friday, December 13, 2013

OPINION

Page 5A

Thou Shalt Not Tolerate Inequality
By rejecting a “deified Market,” Pope Francis is protecting our societies — and souls.
by Sam Pizzigati Sometimes you don’t have to say anything “new” to make news. Consider the “apostolic exhortation” the Vatican recently released. This statement from Pope Francis, observers note, didn’t really break new theological ground. But the Pope’s exhortation, his first since he stepped onto the world stage, still made front page news the world over — and fully deserved that attention. What makes this new papal statement so significant? No global religious figure has ever before denounced economic inequality with an assault as wide-ranging — and accessible. Just what insights can we take from what Pope Francis has to say about inequality? These five jump out. First, inequality has no redeeming social value. Apologists for inequality like to argue that grand private concentrations of wealth serve as an incentive for the rest of us and supply the investments that keep economies thriving. Pope Francis, in clear language that demonstrates his command of the vernacular, blows away these claims. “Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world,” Francis writes. This rich-people-friendly take on the world, he points out, “has never been confirmed by the facts.” Second, markets demand our critical attention. Any serious attempt to undo the inequality that markets engender, our world’s deep pockets insist, risks upsetting the natural order that markets in their inherent wisdom create. But, in real life, markets follow rules. And these rules reflect the economic power of those who set them, not any deeper wisdom or divine providence. Pope Francis sees no reason to automatically accept the verdicts that markets deliver. He sees every reason to examine how markets actually operate — and to challenge those operations that leave us staggeringly unequal. We need to reject “the absolute autonomy of markets” and confront “the structural causes of inequality,” he writes. Until we take these essential steps, “no solution will be found for the world’s problems.” Third, wealth works best when we share it. A previous world-famous Francis — the English philosopher Sir Francis Bacon — advised us centuries ago that wealth, like manure, only does good when we spread it around. Pope Francis agrees. His exhortation encourages those who sit at our economic summits “to ponder” the teachings of the ancient sage who told us that “not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them.” We must, he advises, “say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality.” Adds the Pope: “Such an economy kills.” Fourth, inequality endangers us all, not just the poor. In an era where “the thirst for power and possessions knows no limits,” the Pope reminds us, anything that “stands in the way of increased profits” — “like the environment” — stands “defenseless before the interests of a deified market.” The security we all seek in our daily lives, Pope Francis notes, will remain unattainable so long as we remain perilously unequal. No “law enforcement or surveillance systems can indefinitely guarantee tranquility,” he writes, until we reverse “exclusion and inequality.”

“Just as goodness tends to spread,” he explains, “the toleration of evil, which is injustice, tends to expand its baneful influence and quietly to undermine any political and social system.” Fifth, social fabrics always tear in unequal societies. In relatively equal societies, where most people can afford the same things, material things in general tend not to matter that much. But in unequal societies, everything reverses. Things — and the money to buy them — become primary. “The worship of the ancient golden calf,” observes Pope Francis, “has returned in a new and ruthless guise.” Sums up the Pope: “The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.” And Pope Francis clearly wants us moving. Against inequality.

OtherWords columnist Sam Pizzigati, an Institute for Policy Studies associate fellow, edits the inequality weekly Too Much. His latest book is The Rich Don’t Always Win: The Forgotten Triumph over Plutocracy that Created the American Middle Class. OtherWords.org

FREEPRESS
Let Us Know What You Think!
THE CHAMPION FREE PRESS encourages opinions from its readers. Please write to us and express your views. Letters should be brief, typewritten and contain the writer’s name, address and telephone number for verification. All letters will be considered for publication.
Send Letters To Editor, The Champion Free Press, P. O. Box 1347, Decatur, GA 30031-1347; Send E-Mail to Kathy@dekalbchamp.com FAX To: (404) 370-3903 Phone: (404) 373-7779 Deadline for news releases and advertising: Thursday, one week prior to publication date. EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions written by columnists and contributing editors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editor or publishers. The Publisher reserves the right to reject or cancel any advertisement at any time. The Publisher is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts.

Publisher: John Hewitt Chief Financial Officer Dr. Earl D. Glenn Managing Editor: Kathy Mitchell News Editor: Andrew Cauthen Production Manager: Kemesha Hunt Photographer: Travis Hudgons The Champion Free Press is published each Friday by ACE III Communications, Inc., 114 New Street, Suite E, Decatur, GA. 30030 Phone (404) 373-7779.

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We sincerely appreciate the discussion surrounding this and any issue of interest to DeKalb County. The Champion was founded in 1991 expressly to provide a forum for discourse for all community residents on all sides of an issue. We have no desire to make the news only to report news and opinions to effect a more educated citizenry that will ultimately move our community forward. We are happy to present ideas for discussion; however, we make every effort to avoid printing information submitted to us that is known to be false and/or assumptions penned as fact.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, December 13 , 2013

COMMUNITY

Page 6A

Champion of
On any given day Willie Pringle, who described himself as being “in his senior years,” can be found volunteering at Southwest DeKalb High School. Pringle is one of 10 members of Fathers Being Involved (FBI), a group of concerned fathers who volunteer at the school. “I’ve been out there doing traffic, not just in the mornings,” he said. “Any event that they have going on, we are there. “Anything that’s going on around there, you’re going to find one or two or three of the FBI dads involved,” said Pringle, who has lived in DeKalb County for approximately 38 years. “We’re there for the safety of the school and of each and every one that steps their feet on the campus,” Pringle said. “We’re not all there at the same time, but you’re always going to have somebody that’s on duty somewhere. It’s not about us but it’s about our children, about safety. Pringle, who describes himself as a community activist, is also on the DeKalb County District 3 Community Council. Community activism is a way of life for Pringle. He volunteered in high school and during the Civil Rights Movement, helping to register new voters. Pringle has been involved with the school district as long his daughter, now a senior, has

the Willie Pringle

Week

Rita Young, the director of public policy and education for All About Developmental Disabilities, trains DeKalb County Police officers on best ways to deal with and identify people with developmental disabilities. Photo by Carla Parker

DeKalb Police learn how to handle people with developmental disabilities
by Carla Parker carla@dekalbchamp.com An encounter between a police officer and a person with a developmental disability can quickly escalate to an intense situation if an officer is not to handle that situation. To avoid these types of situations, All About Developmental Disabilities (AADD) director of public policy and education Rita Young spent an hour Dec. 4 teaching DeKalb County’s police officers and the best practices when encountering people with developmental disabilities. The major types of developmental disabilities include intellectual disability (formerly known as mental retardation), autism, behavior disorders, fetal alcohol syndrome, learning disabilities, epilepsy and cerebral palsy. Young, who has two sons who are autistic, knows firsthand how intense a situation can get if authorities do not know how to handle an encounter with a person with developmental disabilities. Young said her 19-yearold son left home undetected one day and walked about a mile and a half to a SunTrust bank in Alpharetta. “He asked the [bank] teller for money and started asking other people for money,” she said. “He started getting a little louder in terms of what he was wanting. We were very fortunate that the bank manager and the staff of SunTrust just took him off to one of the conference rooms so they could assess the situation.” The police were called and they were able to find out who he was and contacted Young and her son’s support staff. “The story ended well because everyone remained calm and they could tell he had a developmental disability,” she said. “I appreciate how calm everyone [was] and how the situation turned out. Everyone was safe.” Some developmental disability traits can be problematic in police situations. The person can have problems understanding Miranda warnings, which are written at a seventh grade level; answering leading questions with the implied answers regardless of fact; and react badly to touch, loud noises or bright lights. Those with developmental disability can also refuse to make eye contact or answer questions and have difficulty phrasing responses or difficulty speaking. AADD is an Atlantabased nonprofit organization that provides support, education and opportunities for children, adults and families living with developmental disabilities. In cooperation with the National Alliance on Mental Illness, AADD provides crisis intervention training for law enforcement and other first responders through its Justice and Developmental Disabilities program. This training helps to educate them on the different issues that may arise. AADD has trained more than 2,000 law enforcement officials, judges and attorneys on developmental disabilities in 86 counties throughout the state. The training covers recognizing different developmental disabilities, communication techniques to de-escalate the encounter, understanding that those with developmental disabilities are five to ten times more likely to be victims of crimes and teach law enforcement to consider alternatives to incarceration in situations where a community resource would better serve the individual. “We’re fortunate that law enforcement is trained in de-escalation techniques because these work best with individuals with developmental disabilities,” Young said. “Asking individuals multiple commands and taking them to a different location where they’re not familiar [and] changing the environment abruptly can increase the anxiety level in an individual. Therefore, they may be more likely to exhibit challenging behaviors. “That’s something we don’t want to happen in the community,” Young added.

been in school, volunteering at schools in the Browns Mill, Chapel Hill and Southwest DeKalb communities. “On the front lines with our school system and especially in our community, that’s where I’ve been,” he said. Pringle said he gives back because “God called us to serve. Being a servant means giving back. And that’s what it’s all about.” Pringle said the students at the school respect the FBI men. “If there’s anything getting ready to go down, they’ll come let us know before they let anybody in the building know,” Pringle said. “I give God praise for that,” Pringle said. “They know we love them and we care about them. That’s the most important thing. When you can build trust with children, they know that you really care about them.”

If you would like to nominate someone to be considered as a future Champion of the Week, please contact Kathy Mitchell at kathy@dekalbchamp.com or at (404) 373-7779, ext. 104.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, December 13 , 2013

COMMUNITY

Page 7A

ATLANTA

AROUNDDEKALB

Church to hold concert and sing-along Shallowford Presbyterian Church will sponsor “Sounds of Christmas,” a free holiday concert that includes a sing-along on Sunday, Dec. 15, at 4 p.m. Adult and teen choirs will perform old and new Christmas carols to a professional orchestra accompaniment. The audience can sing along; cider and cookies will be served afterwards. A holiday event for the entire family, “Sounds of Christmas” is free and open to the public. Shallowford Presbyterian Church is located at 2375 Shallowford Road, Atlanta. For more information, call (404) 321-1844 or visit www.shallowford. org. Emory chemist elected to Academia Europaea Craig L. Hill, Goodrich C. White Professor of Chemistry at Emory University, has been elected to the Academia Europaea (EA), the Academy of Europe. Hill joined Emory in 1983 and is a pioneer of green chemistry and molecular cluster science. The EA is a European association of scholars from the physical sciences and technology, biological sciences and medicine, mathematics, the letters and humanities, social and cognitive sciences, economics and law, who are recognized as global leaders in their field. The 3,000 scholars in its ranks, from 35 European countries and eight non-European countries, include 38 Nobel Prize winners. Hill will be formally inducted into the EA during its annual conference in Barcelona, Spain, in July 2014. He is the first Emory faculty member to join the EA, and one of only seven Americans elected to the chemical sciences section of the association during its annual conference in Barcelona, Spain, in July 2014.

The final Buford Highway Improvement Plan will supplement the Brookhaven Comprehensive Plan, which the city plans to launch in late December. The city is currently reviewing bids for a consultant to lead the comprehensive plan, which will be a year-long study that looks at future growth and redevelopment for the entire city. City to celebrate first anniversary Brookhaven will commemorate its first year as a city with two events. The city will host a birthday celebration at Blackburn Park, 3493 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Dec. 14 from 1-6 p.m. The celebration will kick-off with Brookhaven’s Birthday 3K. The race will begin at 1 p.m. and will start and finish at Blackburn Park. To register, visit www.active.com. Participants are encouraged to wear birthday-themed accessories, such as party hats, boas and tiaras. There also will be a 1-mile Fun Run in the park, as well as a 50-yard dash Tot Trot for children. The Saturday celebration will include live music, Santa Claus, food trucks and children’s entertainment and activities throughout the day. At dusk, the mayor and council will light the birthday tree, a 12-foot evergreen tree that will be planted this week in Blackburn Park. Beside the tree, the mayor and city council will bury a time capsule that will remain sealed for 25 years. Members of the public can to submit items to be included in the time capsule. Visit www. brookhavenga.gov/uploads/Time_Capsule_Submission_Guidelines.pdf for submission guidelines. On Dec. 17, the city’s official incorporation date, the mayor and council will host a formal birthday commemoration ceremony at Town Brookhaven to honor those who have helped build Brookhaven. The ceremony will begin at 7 p.m. All members of the public are welcome to attend and are encouraged to bring nonperishable food items to the Dec. 14 birthday party and Dec. 17 ceremony. The food will be donated to a local food pantry to help those in need.

6-7:30 p.m. Participants will be taught to cut, piece and assemble a quilt—skills needed to complete a project. Participants must bring straight pins, thread in a neutral color, small scissors and a seam ripper. Those who can should also bring a sewing machine with needles and bobbins to fit the machine, a rotary cutter and mat and a rotary cutting ruler as only a limited number are available to share in class. Registration is now under way; participants must register in person at the branch. Funding for the event is provided by the Friends of the Embry Hills Library. Embry Hills Library is located at 3733 Chamblee-Tucker Road, Chamblee. For more information, call (770) 2708230.

DECATUR

Caribbean group announces Christmas party The Trinidad & Tobago Association of Georgia is holding its annual Christmas party on Sunday, Dec. 15, 4-8 p.m. at Karibbean Konnection Cultural Center, 2620 Park Central Blvd., Decatur. Adults are asked to make a $5 donation; children are admitted free. Food is free and there will be drinks for sale. Those attending are asked to bring nonperishable food items for the Trinidad & Tobago Association of Georgia holiday food drive. For more information, call (678) 318-1460 or (404) 210-9493

DEKALB

DeKalb Animal Services offering holiday adoption promotion Pet lovers can adopt a pet for low prices during the DeKalb County Animal Services’ “Home for the Pawlidays” promotion. People can adopt any dog or puppy at the shelter for only $20 and any cat or kitten at the shelter for only $10 until Jan. 1, 2014. All adopted pets will be spayed or neutered, microchipped, vaccinated, heartworm or combo tested and dewormed–services with a retail value of more than $200. Standard adoption screening criteria still applies. For adoption hours, location and pictures of available animals, visit www.dekalbanimalservices.com.

AVONDALE ESTATES

Annual Christmas tour of homes and holiday market scheduled Avondale Estates will host its 21st Annual Tour of Homes and holiday market Dec. 15. Attendees can visit the Holiday Market from noon to 6 p.m. The market will feature food, gifts and fun. The 21st Annual Tour of Homes will feature homes that have been restored or renovated to preserve the character of the historic city. The tour will be from 3-8 p.m. For more information, visit www.avondaletourofhomes.com.

CHAMBLEE

Breakfast with Santa to feature live reindeer The Chamblee Parks and Recreation Department has announced that its annual Breakfast with Santa will be Saturday, Dec. 14, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., at the Chamblee Civic Center, 3540 Broad Street, Chamblee. Reservations are required; space is limited. The cost is $5 per child and includes a sausage biscuit, a visit with Santa, live reindeer, arts and crafts, story time with the Chamblee Library, a professional photo and more. Extra biscuits will be available for purchase so parents can eat with their children. New this year is a check-in system that allows children to engage in other activities as they wait to see Santa rather than standing in line. Make reservations online at www.chambleega. com or call (770) 986-5016. High school groups to perform holiday music As part of the Sounds of Chamblee Holiday Music Series, The Chamblee Charter High School (CCHS) music department will present musical programs composed of seasonal favorites. The CCHS Chorus will perform Tuesday, Dec. 17. The performances will be 6-7 p.m. at the Chamblee Library, 4115 Clairmont Road, Chamblee. For more information, call (770) 936-1380. Registration open for quilting workshop Embry Hills Library is hosting a workshop called “Make a Quilt, Make a Friend” Monday, Dec. 30,

TUCKER

Company partners with DeKalb Habitat for Humanity More than 150 team members from advertising company YP participated in the company’s inaugural YP Cares Community Outreach project in November and December. The company partnered with DeKalb County Habitat for Humanity in November to restore the home of Furuzon Azizullo, located at 3133 Meadowood Lane in Tucker. Azizullo is a single mother with two children, ages 12 and 9. Each Saturday since Nov. 16, YP and Habitat for Humanity has been working to ensure the Azizullo family will be able to move into their new home before the holidays. According to a press release, by this time next year, YP Cares hopes to log more than 10,000 service hours toward Habitat for Humanity and other community projects.

BROOKHAVEN

New development coming to Buford Highway Brookhaven is working to improve the Buford Highway corridor to increase economic development and jobs in the city’s south end. The city has hired Jaeger Co., a Gainesville-based design and planning firm, to lead the Buford Highway Improvement Plan. The plan will look at the current development in the area, redevelopment opportunities, safe housing initiatives and diverse workforce programs, according to city officials. It will also focus on pedestrian accessibility and streetscape initiatives. The final product is expected to become a gateway to Brookhaven. Jaegar will work with Brookhaven residents, business owners and landlords. The public will have an opportunity to provide feedback at hearings in the spring. The plan will be presented to the Brookhaven City Council for approval in the late spring.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, December 13, 2013

LOCAL NEWS

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by Daniel Beauregard daniel@dekalbchamp.com

Packages have been stolen from the doorsteps of a couple of homes in Decatur. Photo by Travis Hudgons

Packages stolen from Decatur homes
by Carla Parker carla@dekalbchamp.com The Decatur Police Department said they have received reports of packages stolen from doorsteps. Sgt. Jennifer Ross said the stolen packages, which were delivered by UPS, contained electronics, clothing, accessories and household items. “I know one of the biggest reasons many of us shop online is the convenience of having what we ordered shipped directly to us but unfortunately thieves use our timesaving efforts as a way to do a little ‘shopping’ of their own, especially during the holiday season,” Ross said. According to police, packages were stolen from the doorsteps of two units at Talley Street Lofts Dec. 3. At one of the units, two packages were stolen and six were left behind with one of the six having been opened. On Dec. 5, another package was stolen from the doorstep of a unit at Talley Street Lofts, and two other packages were left behind. That same day, packages were stolen from the doorstep of a residence in the 200 block of Lansdowne Avenue. To avoid package thefts, police suggest that residents have their packages shipped to their work location or a location where they know someone will be there to receive the package. Other tips police offered were for residents to request that a signature be required to deliver the package; track packages and ask a family member, friend or neighbor to look out and take the packages in when they arrive.

life skills training. Allen said many times, people might have become Glenda Allen, director of homeless due to circumthe nonprofit Homeless Netstances beyond their control; work Incorporated, said when they lost their job or house, or she first began volunteering have psychological issues. she learned a lot from former “We try to pair people up civil rights leader and DeKalb to also talk with the needy beCounty Commissioner Hosea cause this is a stressful time Williams. on people,” Allen said. “A lot “Every day he would see of people don’t understand me and ask, ‘What have you them. We’ve even visited difdone today to help someferent tent cities in certain one?’” Allen said. areas and a lot of people are When she was 7 years ashamed. If you’ve gotten to old Allen lost both of her a place where you’ve never parents; she said this helped been before it’s very difficult her understand what it meant sometimes.” to “float here and there” and According to the Metro have instability in life. Atlanta Task Force for the The Homeless Network is Homeless, Atlanta is the registered in DeKalb County poorest city in the United but helps those in need States for children—more throughout the metro Atlanta children in Atlanta live in area. It also has a branch in poverty than in any other Florida. city. The most recent census “We’re out in the comin 2010 counted more than munity trying to raise aware- 6,500 homeless persons livness and trying to help the ing in Atlanta. less fortunate become self“When you start things sufficient,” Allen said. “We and people see you doing do try to do our part to make things, you’d be surprised at it more comfortable for them the people who want to help,” and help those who may be Allen said. having trouble in these difMuch of the Homeless ficult times.” Network’s aid comes from The Homeless Network’s volunteers and companies mission is to take a stand such as Ingles, which is against homelessness by working with the nonprofit advocacy and educating the to help donate food to needy public and policy makers on families during the holidays. the need to direct funding to For more information on support the homeless popula- the Homeless Network Incortion within the community. porated visit www.homelessAdditionally, the nonprofit networkinc.org. also offers help to the needy in the form of social assistance programs by collaborating with community-based housing organizations, in addition to providing food, clothing, transportation and

Organization gives back to homeless during holidays

Pet
Niles
Adult Male

of the

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ly for treats! Niles is kennelled with other dogs and gets along very well with them. This would make him a good addition for a home with other pets. Niles is a happy dog and would be fine in most environments. Please come to see Niles and give him a treat so he can show you how well behaved he is.

Niles (A21438415) is a Shar Pei/Shepherd mix; young, adult male. He has had some basic training and knows how to sit on command. He will sit especially nice-

The adoptions number: 404-294-2165 For adoption inquiries: adoption@dekalbanimalservices.com For rescue inquiries: rescue@dekalbanimalservices.com For volunteer and foster inquiries: volunteer@dekalbanimalservices.com

The Champion Free Press, Friday, December 13, 2013

LOcaL NEWS

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Some proponents want McNair High School in southwest DeKalb to be the county’s new college and career center. Photo by Andrew Cauthen

DeKalb school district planning career academy
by Andrew Cauthen andrew@dekalbchamp.com There could soon be another charter school in DeKalb County. The DeKalb County Board of Education voted Dec. 2 to pursue a $3 million state grant for the establishment of a college and career charter academy. “I think the college and career academy will be transformative for the district,” said school Superintendent Mike Thurmond. “I’m convinced it’s one of the most significant things we can accomplish. “If we can do this it’s going to transform life and opportunity and educational training,” Thurmond said. “We will be the first urban majority minority district in the state of Georgia to have a career academy. This is a huge opportunity.” The proposed academy would be for grades 8-12 and would involve “a partnership between the district, business and industry, secondary and post-secondary institutions,” said Dr. Kathleen S. Howe, deputy superintendent of the school district’s division of curriculum and instruction. “Together the partners will develop programs…and curricula based on local employer needs,” Howe said. Howe said the academy would “accelerate students to their college and career pathways” and “allow students to graduate from high school not only with a diploma, but with industry certification an and associate’s degree.” “These actions are intended to enhance the district’s graduation rate and academic performance on the College and Career Readiness Performance Index as well as contribute to workforce development,” Howe said. School board member Marshal Orson encouraged school district personnel to develop a strategic plan for technical education in the district. “How do we incorporate or align what we are currently doing around technical education with this broader idea for a career academy?” he asked. “We have a couple of schools that are focused on that, then we have programs that are located in some of our schools. It seems to me we need a more holistic view…so that these programs that we have are not orphaned but are really integrated.” Delmas Watkins, director of the district’s career technical and agricultural education department, said the district will make sure the academy’s programs do not compete with other programs currently in the district. “The pathways assigned to this particular academy are not going to be the same ones that are in the current high schools,” he said. “So they won’t compete against each other.” DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson asked the school board to consider designating McNair High School as the college and career academy. “This career academy will be a great asset to that area,” he said. “It’s going to focus on IT, health IT, biotechnology, and teaching as a profession.” Johnson said the west DeKalb school is strategically positioned near I-285, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport and a major industrial park. “I see businesses coming in that can partner with McNair to really make this a stellar program. I see the charter as a renewal, a renaissance in our community,” Johnson said.

Aimee Copeland, the newest Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC) board member, spoke and mingled with attendees at FODAC’s annual “Breakfast with Santa” event Dec. 7. The event also included, free admission to Stone Mountain Park, a magician and a toy for each child. All revenue from ticket sales will benefit FODAC, which provides medical equipment such as wheelchairs and hospital beds at little or no cost to the disabled and their families. Photos by Daniel Beauregard

The Champion Free Press, Friday, December 13, 2013

LOCAL NEWS

Page 10A

City of Stone Mountain Christmas Parade
Stone Mountain Village held its annual Christmas parade and fireworks display Nov. 29. Bagpipers, the amphibious duck from Stone Mountain Park, classic cars and motorcycles, elves, merchant cars and floats, choir music, the Conundrums Women’s Drumming group and Santa were all a part of the event which was sponsored by Main Street Stone Mountain, a nonprofit organization charged with the redevelopment efforts of Historic Stone Mountain Village. Photos by Travis Hudgons

Terrific Thursdays

It’s time to get gifty! Snag holiday deals during the last of Terrific Thursdays at Aimée Jewelry Boutique, Taste, Heliotrope, and Decatur Market & Gallery – just a few of the 41 participating shops and restaurants all around the city of Decatur. Get the inside scoop on local favorites
THAT’S
at our friendly Visitors Center at 113 Clairemont Ave.

the way

we
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12/9/13 4:57 PM

The Champion Free Press, Friday, December 13, 2013

WEEK

In

LOCAL NEWS

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PICTURES

An abundance of colors can be found in the gemstone bin at a gift shop in Stone Mountain Park. Photo by Travis Hudgons.

From left, Donna Turner and nephew James “Jack” Turner enjoy an exhilarating tube ride at Stone Mountain Park’s Snow Mountain. Photo by Travis Hudgons

From left, Enchanted Closet president and CEO Bonita Johnson presents Elle Duncan, celebrity spokesperson and mistress of ceremonies, an award at the Enchanted Closet’s 10th Anniversary Celebration held in Decatur, Dec. 7. The event celebrated and commemorated the organization’s service to approximately 5,000 young women since 2003. Photo by Travis Hudgons.

The five Miller Grove High School boys’ basketball state championship banners hangs are on display in the school’s gym. Photo by Carla Parker

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The Champion Free Press, Friday, December 13, 2013

LOcaL NEWS

Page 12A

Jim Galloway, an editor for The Atlanta Journal Constitution (center) moderates a panel discussion with, from left, Reps. Michele Henson and Howard Mosby and Sens. Fran Millar and Steve Henson. The legislators discussed legislation that may be considered during the next Georgia General Assembly. Photo by Andrew Cauthen

Lawmakers look at upcoming legislative session
by Andrew Cauthen andrew@dekalbchamp.com County reorganization, the school district and cityhood were some of the topics of the day as four members of the county’s legislative delegation participated in a preview of the upcoming Georgia General Assembly session. Reps. Michele Henson and Howard Mosby and Sens. Steve Henson and Fran Millar opined about various topics during the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce’s third annual legislative preview luncheon and forum Dec. 4. On the subject of county reorganization, Mosby said, “What we want to look at is to not make this process knee jerk.” When the General Assembly passed a bill removing the county CEO from the Board of Commissioners, there were “a lot of unintended consequences that happened out of that because we didn’t look at all of the moving parts,” Mosby said. “When we look at the Organizational Act of DeKalb County, it needs to be a thoughtful process and don’t do things just for the sake of doing them but making sure it is about the efficient delivery of services to the citizens of DeKalb County,” Mosby said. Any proposed legislation about the reorganization of the county government probably will not be on the table immediately when the General Assembly begins, he said. “We probably will take our time in looking at what makes sense for the county,” Mosby said. Millar said, “I think that the county may end up doing some type of commission for people throughout the entire county to look at the form of government. That probably makes good sense.” Michele Henson said many residents want to see changes in the county government, but don’t know what those changes should be. “Most people in DeKalb County don’t quite understand exactly how our form of government works,” Henson said. “I think if we did something this year it would be a knee jerk reaction. I don’t think we’ve done the correct study as to what we need [and] what’s going to be most effective.” When the topic turned to the rejection by the DeKalb County Board of Education of the Druid Hill Charter Cluster petition, Millar said, “I was disappointed that was the vote,” adding that he hopes the school district and the charter cluster proponents will enter into mediation. The remaining options with DeKalb County would be if [the county goes] the charter system route, which is where all the schools become part of an overall charter. The other option…is for an independent school system.” Steve Henson said, “I think that there’s a lot that people who are not in the cluster area should be concerned about. For instance, the cluster wanted pretty much to set its own attendance zones and they wanted to not serve special needs students. There’s a lot of things that need to worked out.” The legislators were asked about the governor’s removal earlier this year of six school board members after the school district was placed on accreditation probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS). The school board members sued and the case made its way to the state Supreme Court. Michele Henson said there needs to be more transparency with SACS. “They’re not elected and what they say really and truly affects our schools, affects our county and affects the economics,” she said. “It’s a very difficult thing to ask that when someone is duly elected, ‘Should the governor be able to remove them when they haven’t done anything wrong in the sense of taking money, committing a felony,’” she said. Mosby said, “The Supreme Court said the governor can remove, and we’re moving on from my standpoint. And we’re going to do what’s best for the children of DeKalb County. “Education is generally the thing that makes your area successful,” he said. “People look, in terms of quality of life, at how good the schools in the area [are]. What we do in the legislature can either help support what happens or we can harm that process. I don’t want the DeKalb County house and senate delegation to do anything of harm to how DeKalb is able to attract businesses to this region.” When the discussion moved to cityhood, Michele Henson said that as the prime commercial areas of the county are being taken into proposed cities, “I want to
Notice of Availability DeKalb County 2014 Executive Budget Recommendation The Interim Chief Executive Officer of DeKalb County will present the 2014 Executive Budget Recommendation to the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners on or before December 15, 2013 for their consideration. A copy of the entire Executive Budget Recommendation will be available for public inspection in the office of the Director of Finance, 6th Floor, Maloof Center during normal business hours, beginning December 16, 2013. The Executive Budget Recommendation will also be available electronically at www.dekalbcountyga.gov and at DeKalb County Library locations. The DeKalb County Interim Chief Executive Officer and Board of Commissioners will hold Public Hearings on the 2014 Executive Budget Recommendation at times and places to be announced later.

know how the rest of DeKalb is going to survive. I want to know the taxes are going to survive. “I hate the word ‘moratorium’,…but what if we had a one-year wait? What if we really sat down and seriously looked at DeKalb County as a whole. Is cityhood good? Is it bad? How do we deal with unincorporated areas? I think we need to study it.” State House members of the DeKalb County Delegation will hold special meetings for public input about the upcoming 2014 legislative session, 6-8 p.m., Dec. 12, at Maloof Auditorium, 1300 Commerce Dr., Decatur; and 7-9 p.m., Dec. 19, at Brookhaven Municipal Court, 2 Corporate Boulevard, Suite 125, Brookhaven. During these meetings, residents will have an opportunity to address any concerns about state issues with their General Assembly representatives.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, December 13 , 2013

Christmas
Continued From Page 1A

with Col. Greg Lemons from the Toys for Tots program and several others. Lemons said the Toys for Tots program was started in 1949 by Los Angeles Marine reservist Maj. Bill Hendricks. When it first began, the program donated 5,000 toys to children in need. Now, Lemons said, there are approximately 2,100 volunteers in the Atlanta area and the program distributes more than 800,000 toys to children in need throughout the metro Atlanta area. “I think, as we grow older, we come to understand that the season is one of giving and not necessarily of receiving and that is the message that I think we should take with us as we leave here today,” Deal said. Deal said the theme of this year’s tree lighting ceremony was, “What does Christmas mean to you?” “I’m sure—looking at the size of that tree—that was not necessarily an easy task,” Deal said. “The lighting of the Christmas tree here at the Capitol marks the beginning of the holidays and a wonderful season for all of us and I’m glad that each of you could be here with us today.” Anastasia Miles and her son Alex Stewart helped Sandra Deal plug in the lights for the tree. Deal said Miles’ family had gone through some tough times in the past year, including the loss of her 12-year-old son Kenneth. “His mother told me that one of his final wishes was that he had the chance to meet me. Now that in and of itself is humbling, but we never had the chance to do that. We had set the date and the time but unfortunately his health became so bad that he was unable to come to see me,” Deal said. “I wish I could have made that last thing on his bucket list happen but the thing is, no 12-year-old should have to have a bucket list.” Before Kenneth and Deal had a chance to meet, his mother said he passed away after a four-and-a-half year battle with brain cancer. “My little boy Kenneth cherished each and every day,” Miles said. “Cancer did not define my son, his will to fight did. There were many holidays spent in the hospital…even in those moments we somehow always came together and made the best of what we had.”

Judge rejects Lewis’ plea agreement, sentences Reid and Pope
by Daniel Beauregard daniel@dekalbchamp.com

LOCAL NEWS

Page 13A

Pope

Reid

DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Cynthia Becker told former DeKalb County School District Superintendent Crawford Lewis Dec. 9 that she was rejecting a plea agreement made between Lewis and prosecutors. Becker sentenced Lewis to serve a year in prison, ignoring a recommendation by Chief Assistant District Attorney Kellie Hill to sentence him to 12 months’ probation. “You are a public official and this was on your watch and for you to have hindered their investigation to the detriment of the DeKalb County School [District] is abhorrent.” Former schools construction chief Pat Reid was sentenced to 15 years in prison. Reid and ex-husband Tony Pope, an architect, were found guilty of defrauding the school district of more than $1 million. Reid, who was found guilty of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) and one count of theft, was sentenced to 20 years, with 10 of those to serve. Additionally, Reid was sentenced to serve a consecutive five years and pay approximately $2,500 in restitution related to the theft charge. Pope was also found guilty of violating the RICO statute and sentenced to 20 years, with eight of those to serve. He also is required to pay restitution for money prosecutors said he overbilled the district while working on the Columbia High School construction project. Prior to the trial, Lewis made a plea agreement with prosecutors. In return for his testimony against defendants Reid and Pope, he pleaded to the lesser charge of obstructing a police officer. Becker said if Lewis chose to, he can withdraw his plea agreement and proceed to trial. Becker said she was also under the impression that Lewis would have to make restitution to the school district as part of the agreement. Much of the trial hinged on the testimony of Lewis, who accused Reid of threatening to blackmail him. However, Reid’s defense attorneys argued it was Lewis who tried to throw Reid “under the bus” after district officials learned of improper purchases with a district credit card. Prior to Reid being hired by DCSD, Pope was responsible for managing a construction project at Columbia High School. The project, funded by a special local option sales tax (SPLOST), was already underway and Reid allegedly had a second meeting with school officials and said she understood she was not to hire Pope for any subsequent projects. Hill said, even after this meeting, Pope overbilled the district by approximately $100,000 for work done on the Columbia High School project and was authorized by Reid to perform approximately $600,000 of new work for the district. Reid’s attorney Tony Axam refuted the charges and said his client wasn’t guilty of any wrongdoing. Pope’s defense attorney John Petrey said his client admitted to accidentally overbilling the district but that he didn’t realize it until he was indicted. Petrey claimed that it was a “mistake” and nothing more than a billing error. Reid’s lawyer said they will file a motion for a new trial within the next several days. Pope’s lawyers said they are deciding whether to file for a new trial or appeal the ruling.

Lewis

The Champion Free Press, Friday, December 13, 2013

EdUcatION

Page 14A

More than 100 students at Freedom Middle School participate in a sign language club led by Alexa Ann Reha Wilson, the school’s head sign language interpreter. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Sign language club increases communication at Freedom Middle
by Andrew Cauthen andrew@dekalbchamp.com words and practice signing. On Dec. 5, the students were learning to sign the song Going Keyf Bashir, 13, an eighthHome by Drake. grader at Freedom Middle School, The members also can contribcouldn’t talk to her 15-year-old ute to the “words we want to learn” cousin who is hearing impaired. chart, Wilson said. “Sometimes I would like to talk “That way, if there’s anything to her, but she wouldn’t understand that they’ve come into contact with what I was saying,” Keyf said. that they really want to learn so that That was before Keyf joined the they can communicate with someSign Language Club, with more body, I let them put it on the board,” than 100 members, at Freedom Wilson said. “We’ll review that first Middle. and foremost…and we’ll go over it Now things are different with in class.” Keyf, who has been signing for two Nyamang Ator, 11, a sixth-gradyears, and her cousin. er, joined the club “to learn a new “We just talk,” Keyf said about language because it’s fun.” her weekly visits with her cousin. “We learn new songs and new “And sometimes she corrects me ways to sign words,” said Nyamang, when I say something wrong.” who has been in the club since OcThe Sign Language Club, in its tober. “You get to learn new things second year, was started by Alexa and learn how they are improving Ann Reha Wilson, the school’s the language. head sign language interpreter. Sixth-grader Shamari Thorn“I started the club because I’m ton, 12, joined to meet new people. extremely passionate about my job,” “[There’s] a lot of deaf kids and Wilson said. “I wanted to share that they don’t have friends, so I try to love and passion I have for sign lan- learn sign language so I can talk to guage with other students.” them,” she said. Each Thursday before school In her first year in the program, starts, the club members learn new sixth-grader Kiaya Jemison, 11, was told about the club by her cousin. Kiaya said she has one deaf friend. “She teaches me how to [sign] some things if I don’t know how to do it,” she said. Nazerete Belai, 12, a seventhgrader said, “I’ve always wanted to learn a new language and I’m not exactly the [wordiest] person. I don’t like to talk that much. So when I heard about sign language, I was really excited. “It’s just a fun experience— learning something so awesome,” Nazerete said. “If I ever meet a deaf person, I’ll be prepared. I’ll know how to talk to them, how to greet them.” Nazerete said, “The best part about the club for me is Mrs. Wilson because she always knows how to make sign language fun…in such an upbeat way. That’s another part of this wonderful club.” Club members learn approximately 20 words a week, according to Gabrielle Montgomery, 12. “I’m learning to do something with my hands instead of just write and pick up stuff,” Gabrielle said. Shayla Merriam, 13, wanted to learn a new language in addition to French, which she had in the sixth grade. “There are a lot of hearing impaired students and I wanted to … talk with them and not be awkward with it,” she said. Speaking through Wilson, Dashanay Brock, 14, an eighthgrade hearing impaired student said the club has benefited communications at the school for her. “It’s really helped me,” Dashanay said. “I can communicate with other hearing students now.” Before the club, hearing impaired students were singled out by their disability, Wilson said. “They only had communication… with the interpreters,” Wilson said. “That was the only communication they had throughout the day. “A couple of years ago, I had a couple of students that the only communication they had all day long was with the interpreters,” Wilson said. “Once they went home, nobody knew sign language. They had no communication—only at school.”

The Champion Free Press, Friday, December 13, 2013

EdUcatION

Page 15A

Below, Henderson Middle School Student Caleb Torres poses with father Kraig Torres, left, and Superintendent Mike Thurmond, right. Board member Thad Mayfield looks on as Torres questions the school board. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

The vacant Peachcrest Elementary School has been the target of vandals since its closure in 2011. File photos

School district to hold public meetings on school demolitions

Champion student: Caleb Torres
Henderson Middle School eighth-grader Caleb Torres put the DeKalb County Board of Education on the hot seat Dec. 2 with a couple of questions. Caleb was the student advisor at the school board meeting and as such, he sat up front with board members and could participate in the meeting. “I want the experience and I plan on asking a couple of questions that have been bugging both me and some of the parents,” Caleb said before the meeting. “It’s an issue that comes up a lot at school—the teacher salary issues.” During the meeting he asked, “With the budget being a constant concern, what is the board’s plan for teacher retention?” “That’s a great question,” said board member John Coleman. “We were actually asking that question in our work session earlier. We have close to 15,000 working for the district in various capacities and getting quality people in all those capacities…is really important.” Coleman then detailed some of the ways the board is focused on budgeting and financial stability to support the school district. Caleb is familiar with politics on the school level as the president of his school’s Student Council. On the council, he helps to “coordinate many things including the Cans and Coins Drive, which we recently wrapped up.” The goal of the drive was to provide meals with the food and purchase additional food items with the coins, he said. The organization also collects money from sponsors such as Chick-fil-A. “They help us get presents for less fortunate people,” Caleb said. Caleb, who also runs track and lives in the Toco Hills area, plans to go to the naval academy and become a naval officer and possibly become a politician. “I feel this is just a good experience for me [of] public speaking and serving on boards,” he said about the school board meeting.

The DeKalb County School District is holding public meetings about the demolitions of Fernbank, Peachcrest and Gresham Park elementary schools. The Peachcrest and Gresham buildings have remained vacant since the schools were closed in 2011. Fernbank was closed in 2013. The demolitions of the Fernbank and Gresham Park will be discussed 6 p.m., Dec. 12, at the Sam Moss Center, 1780 Montreal Road, Tucker. The demolition of Peachcrest Elementary will be discussed Wednesday, Dec. 18, 6-7 p.m., at the Peachcrest Corps Community Center, 3500 Sherrydale Lane, Decatur. A second meeting on Fernbank’s demolition will be Thursday, Dec. 19, at the Fernbank Science Center, 5:30-6:30 p.m., 156 Heaton Park Dr., Atlanta.

DeKalb Chamber of Commerce

The Voice of Business in DeKalb County

Two Decatur Town Center, 125 Clairemont Ave., Suite 235, Decatur, GA 30030 404.378.8000 www.DeKalbChamber.org

The Champion Free Press, Friday, December 13, 2013

LOCAL NEWS
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The Champion Free Press, Friday, December 13, 2013

Page 17A

Canada teaches classes that touch on everything from basic wrapping to advanced style techniques.

Mia Canada says she’s been “totally in love with gift wrapping” since she took it on as a seasonal job years ago. Photos by Travis Hudgons

Kirkwood resident turns gift for wrapping into unusual shop
by Kathy Mitchell kathy@dekalbchamp.com Many of Mia Canada’s customers would like to be sure the wrapping on their holiday presents reflects as much thought and creativity as the gift it envelopes and some would just like to take gift wrapping off their to-do list. Whatever motivates customers, Canada predicts this will be the busiest season ever for That’s a Wrap!, gift wrapping boutique that recently opened its first free-standing store in Kirkwood. That’s a Wrap! has been in operation since 2006, operating seasonally in malls across Atlanta. In October, Canada launched her first year-round gift wrapping boutique. “Paper has been my passion for years, maybe even since grade school,” Canada explained. “I’ve always been very creative and so friends challenge me with different projects. One year a close friend asked if I was interested in gift wrapping at the mall because the vendor they used in previous years was unavailable. Having little gift wrapping knowledge but being very skilled in event management and stationery design, I accepted the challenge. I’ve been totally in love with gift wrapping ever since. “After five years of providing the service seasonally and after receiving an MBA I felt confident enough to launch a business all year round and expand my services to a more upscale customization of each wrap to reflect the recipient’s style and taste,” she said.  “Choosing the location was the easy part,” Canada continued. “I am a resident of the historic Kirkwood neighborhood and love the trendy, eclectic downtown area. I knew I wanted to be able to walk to work and be a part of a bustling area with lots of foot traffic and vibrant energy. Having lunch in my favorite neighborhood café, I learned of the upcoming vacancy of the space and immediately jumped at the opportunity.” Canada’s experience and training in event management and stationery design are put to use as well since That’s a Wrap!–in addition to providing luxury gift wrapping services–designs custom stationery and creates one-of-akind centerpieces and favors.  “Our boutique is also home to a wide range of fine imported papers, stationery products and unique gifts. That’s a Wrap! offers gift wrapping classes that introduce students to the art of giftwrapping and touch on everything from basic wrapping to advanced style techniques such a Japanese style pleating and paper flowers,” Canada said. She explained that she offers two types of wraps. “First, there is the premier line. This line features bold designs and festive papers and themed finishing touches. These wraps are beautiful and readily available, you just need to order,” Canada said. “For the Mia Line, guests are invited to a consultation where we chat about the recipient, the occasion and the emotions around the event. We look at different papers, fabrics, and embellishments and design something specifically for the recipient. The consultation gets the gift giver talking about their loved one, smiling and reminiscing and it’s just a really positive experience filled with good energy and emotion,” Canada said. “After I’ve gathered all the information, I design a wrap especially for that recipient. They enjoy being able to see how I interpreted their emotions, memories and details into a gift wrap.”   She said a gift wrap may take 24 to 48 hours, depending on how readily available the materials or embellishments needed to create the design are, adding that she has the same process in place for a stationery design consultation. “Clients are responding wonderfully; they are excited about our location and our services, [saying] that we are bringing back a form of human contact that has been lost in the instant times we are living in today,” Canada said. She noted that those with hectic schedules are pleased to learn that packages can be picked up and delivered. “I am mobile, meaning that if you are too swamped to come to me, I will come to you,” Canada said. “Our mobile services have become increasingly popular over the years especially with busy moms and businesses.” 

The gift wrapping expert says she often designs packages to interpret emotions and memories.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, December 13 , 2013

SpORtS

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Chamblee boys’ swim team striving to move up in state
by Carla Parker carla@dekalbchamp.com After winning its first DeKalb County swimming title last season, the Chamblee High School boys’ swim team is off to another good start for the 2014 swim season. The team has swimmers currently leading the county in seven individual categories, including diving, and the relay teams are leading in all three relay categories. Head Graham coach Wesley Graham said there is a lot of excitement for the Chamblee boys’ swimming program. “Kids want to come to Chamblee to swim,” Graham said. “It’s a good experience for some of the younger swimmer. We have a talented young team, they’re all great swimmers and they want to do well.” According to county swimming statistics, which were released Dec. 2, Chamblee junior Nick Oh is leading in the 100-yard freestyle, 100-yard backstroke, 200-yard freestyle and 500-yard freestyle. Junior Jacob Jordan is leading in the 100-yard breaststroke and third in 50-yard freestyle. John Mitchell is currently second in the 50-yard freestyle, the 100-yard butterfly and 100-yard backstroke. Junior Wesley Cheung is having a good season as well, sitting at second in the 200-yard individual medley and third in the 100-yard backstroke. Alex Perry is leading the 200-yard medley. Two of Chamblee’s 200yard medley relay teams are in first and second place in the county, while two of the 200yard freestyle relay teams and 400-yard freestyle teams sit first and third in the county. Junior Caleb Wickle, who has qualified twice for state in diving, is leading all county divers with a score of 272.35. Chamblee dive coach Scott Wylie said the diving team is really doing well this season despite having a few inexperienced divers. “We’ve got four divers on the team who have only been diving for the past five weeks,” Wylie said. “It’s amazing. They are all having fun and learning at the same time. “I’ve been doing this for 15 years and this is probably the best group of kids that I’ve had,” Wylie added. Chamblee lost one of its top swimmers when Alex Kemenov graduated. With 45 swimmers that returned this season Graham believes the team could repeat as county champions and do well in the state meet. Chamblee finished seventh in the state last season. “I would give us a really good shot to win county and we should definitely move up in the top five at state,” he said. “This is my fifth year coaching at Chamblee and this is the best boys swim team Chamblee has ever had.” Along with the already
See Swim on Page 20A

Marist quarterback Chase Martenson is tackled by a Carrollton defender.

Marist falls to Carrollton in four overtimes
Dec. 6 in the Class AAAA semifinals. Last season, when Marist faced Carrollton in the second round of the Class AAAA playoffs, Marist defeated the Trojans 43-37 in five overtimes. This is the second consecutive year Marist has lost in the state semifinals. Marist fell to Ridgeland 28-27 last season. The War Eagles last appearance in a
See Marist on Page 20A

by Carla Parker carla@dekalbchamp.com The Marist War Eagles found themselves going into multiple overtimes with Carrollton for a second consecutive season. However, the results did not end in Marist’s favor as the War Eagles lost to the Carrollton Trojans 44-46 in four overtimes at home

The Miller Grove boys’ basketball program unveiled its fifth consecutive state championship banner Dec. 3. The program also paid tribute to its fallen teammate, Terrell Coleman, unveiling a poster with his No. 24 jersey number and presented his parents, Willie and Raeshones Coleman (far right), with his jersey.

Miller Grove pays tribute to fallen teammate, unveils championship banner
by Carla Parker carla@dekalbchamp.com Before the Miller Grove High School boys’ basketball team took the court to face region rival M.L. King, the team took a moment to honor its late teammate and celebrate its fifth state title. DeTarius Terrell Coleman, who was affectionately known as Terrell or “Too Tall,” died Oct. 27 after collapsing during an all-star game in Stone Mountain. Coleman was diagnosed with a heart murmur approximately a year ago. Coleman’s parents, Willie and Raeshones Coleman, along with other family members, teammates and friends, wore T-shirts at the game that read “R.I.P. ‘Too Tall’” on the front and had Coleman’s name and basketball number on the back. Game attendees paused to honor Coleman with a moment of silence. Head coach Sharman White and members of the basketball team presented the Colemans with their son’s jersey and a $500 check, which represented the proceeds from the T-shirt sale. A poster with Coleman’s no. 24 was also unveiled during the ceremony and hangs under the program’s championship banners. Raeshones Coleman said she was overwhelmed by all the love from the school and basketball program. “I’m just so blessed and I know [Terrell] is still working from heaven,” she said. “He’s sending his love down to me and his father.” White said Coleman’s death was devastating for the Miller Grove basketball family but more so for the Coleman family. “That family had to endure a lot more than we did,” he said. “So we just want to be there and try to keep them lifted up and let them know we were inspired by his life and we’re going to play inspired this season.” Coleman’s jersey covered the last chair of the Miller Grove bench. Raeshones Coleman said she plans to donate the money back to the basketball program and will continue to support the program until 2017. “He [was scheduled] to graduate in 2017 and I’ll be here in 2017,” she said. The basketball program’s fifth championship banner was also unveiled during the pregame ceremony. The program won the Class AAAAA state champion in March, its fifth consecutive title. The banner included the 2012-2013 team record of 30-3 and the phrase “Five-Peat.” White said only one thing comes to mind when he looks at the five banners. “Number six,” he said.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, December 13 , 2013

SpORtS

Page 19A

advances to championship game
by Carla Parker carla@dekalbchamp.com The Tucker Tigers will try to win their third state title in six years after defeating Class AAAAA champions Gainesville 20-14 Dec. 6 at Hallford Stadium. The No. 1 ranked Tigers (14-0) will face No. 4 ranked Creekside (14-0) Dec. 13 at the Georgia Dome at 8:30 p.m. Tucker head coach Bryan Lamar said it feels good to be going back to the Dome but said it will feel better if they win the state title. “We’re not just satisfied getting there,” Lamar said. “We’ve got a goal of winning 15 games and we have to win the last one.” Tucker had to come back from a 14-0 deficit to beat the No. 3 ranked Red Elephants. The defense, which has been playing well this post season, struggled to contain Gainesville quarterback Deshaun Watson. The defense was able to get to him early in the first quarter when Tucker’s Dominick Sanders intercepted Watson’s pass in the end zone to stop a potential scoring drive. However, the Tucker offense could not capitalize on the defensive turnover. The offense committed three penalties on the drive, forcing them to punt the ball back to Gainesville. Gainesville took advantage and drove down the field to the end zone, with the help of a Tucker offside penalty. Watson scored on a 9-yard run to give Gainesville a 7-0 lead in the first quarter. Penalties continued to hurt the Tigers and a fumble by wide receiver Nekyle Lundie at Tucker’s 24-yard line led to another Gainesville score. Watson connected with wide receiver Jay Gaudlock on a diving 26-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-12 to extend the lead to 14-0. Yaquis Shelley returned the ensuing kickoff 72 yards to the Gainesville 24 to set up Tucker quarterback Joesph Farrar (far left) waits for the snap at the line of scrimmage. Photos by Travis Hudgons Tucker’s first score. Quarterback Joseph Farrar found tight end Detric Dukes in the end zone from 9 yards out and Tucker cut the score to 14-7. Tucker was unable to score again before halftime, but defensive back Kirk Tucker intercepted Watson twice, including once right before halftime. In the second half Tucker’s defense forced Gainesville to a three-and-out on it first drive. The held Gainesville to just 42 yards of offense in the second half. Tucker’s offense continued to struggle with penalties, committing three on its first drive in the second half, including an intentional grounding penalty by Fararr. However, Farrar later hit Sanders on a 37-yard touchdown pass to even the score at 14. Rain began to fall midway through the fourth quarter and seemed to benefit Tucker. The Tigers went on a 12- play drive with 6:55 to play. The drive ended with a Sanders’ Tucker’s Dominick Sanders (right) catches a touchdown pass in the third quarter. rushing touchdown to give Tucker a 20-14 lead with 2:22 left in the game. Gainesville had one more opportunity to take back the lead, but a long pass downfield from Watson ended in another interception for Sanders. Sanders, who finished the game with two touchdowns and two interceptions, said it felt good to get that last interception to help seal the win for his team. “When coach made the Miami call I got back deep and saw Watson look over my way,” he said. “As soon as he threw the ball I picked it off.” Tucker improved to 14-0 for the second time in the program’s history, the only other time coming in its undefeated championship season of 2011.
Tucker quarterback Joesph Farrar looks for running room. Tucker’s Yaquis Shelley runs for extra yardage in the rain.

tucker

The Champion Free Press, Friday, December 13, 2013

LOCAL NEWS

Page 20A

Marist Continued From Page 18A
state title game was in 2008 when they lost to Tucker in the Class AAAA state championship game. Marist had to fight back to force an overtime with Carrollton. The War Eagles were down 22-7 early in the third quarter before the offense went down the field on a 9-play, 80-yard drive. The drive ended in a 5-yard rushing touchdown by Marcus Miller. The tying score came with seven minutes left in the game. Quarterback Chase Martenson connected with Trey Oates on a 29-yard touchdown. Miller scored on the two-point conversion to tie the game. In the first overtime, the two teams traded touchdowns to tie the game at 29 to go into the second overtime. Both teams kicked a field goal to tie the game at 32 to send the game into triple overtime. The two teams each scored a touchdown but missed an extra point, which tied the game at 38 and sent it to a fourth overtime. Carrollton got the ball first and Jarvis Terrell scored from 6 yards out and added the 2-point conversion. Marist responded with a Martenson 9-yard touchdown run but could not convert on the 2-point conversion, falling 46-44. Carrollton moves on to face Griffin in the Class AAAA championship game Dec. 14.

From left, Members of the Chamblee dive team Marc Sheinman, Wyatt Thompson, Alex Nassar, Renee Obarowski, Malik Warner and Elena Brown-Soler. Photos by Travis Hudgons

Sophomore Marc Sheinman does a back flip off the diving board during swim practice.

Swim Continued From Page 18A
successful to the season, the team is also excited about moving into the new pool in January. The pool is a part of the newly constructed Chamblee Charter High School, which is expected to open early 2014. “We’re thrilled [about the new pool],” Graham said. “Our pool was built in 1966, so it’s [nearly] 50 years old. It’s going to be nice to be in a state-of-the-art facility.”

Diving coach Scott Wylie trains Chamblee diver Alex Nassar.

Members of the Chamblee swimming team swim laps during practice.

Scoop up hugs, kisses and

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