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and Stone Mountain.
places a strong emphasis on early learning. During his brief visit, Obama said he learned about the curriculum, which consists of learning numbers, being taught how to ask and answer critical questions and how to work well with others. “That whole ‘playing well with others’ thing is a trait we can use in Washington,” Obama said. “Maybe we could bring the teachers up…[and] every once in a while have some quiet time.”
See Obama on Page 15A
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Obama pushes pre-K in Decatur
by Daniel Beauregard email@example.com
wide. During his Feb. 12 State of the Union address, Obama said fewer resident Barack Obama than three in 10 4-year-olds have told residents that City access to a high-quality preschool Schools of Decatur is program. a place to get “a good “For the poor kids who need bang for your educahelp the most, this lack of actional buck.” cess to preschool education can “The kids that I saw today, shadow them for the rest of their they’re some of the lucky ones,” lives,” Obama said. Obama said. Obama told residents that eduAfter a brief visit to College cation needs to start at the earliest Heights Early Learning Center, possible age and City Schools of Obama spoke to Decatur residents Decatur had done just that. about his plans to implement a College Heights, which serves universal pre-K program nationpupils ages 6 weeks to 4 years,
College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center’s Teacher of the Year Mary McMahon introduces Obama.
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President Barack Obama spoke to attendees at the Decatur Recreation Center about his desire to implement a high-quality, universal pre-K program. Photos by Travis Hudgons
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The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
Mayor swears in DeKalb police officers
City appoints its first judges
by Carla Parker firstname.lastname@example.org Brookhaven Mayor J. Max Davis has sworn in the city’s first judges. Former Cobb County magistrate judge Laura Stevenson was appointed as Brookhaven’s chief judge and Jonathan Granade as judge Stevenson pro tem on Feb. 12 at the city council meeting. Stevenson, who obtained her juris doctor from the University of North Carolina School of Law, is a solo practitioner at her law firm, Law Office of Laura E. Stevenson. Her areas of practice include commercial disputes, employment, ERISA and COBRA claims, consumer credit and civil rights. She has held various faculty, speaker and moderator positions in her profession. Stevenson and her family are residents of Brookhaven. Granade is a Brookhaven resident and shareholder with law firm Casey Gilson P.C. where he represents governmental entities and employees and private businesses and individuals in various litigation matters. Before joining Casey Gilson in 2003, Granade served as an assistant district attorney in the Toombs Judicial Circuit near Augusta where he prosecuted hundreds of cases in superior, probate and municipal courts. He provided training and advice to law enGranade forcement agencies including sheriff’s departments, municipal police departments, and the Georgia State Patrol. He is a graduate of the University of Georgia and Emory University School of Law. Davis also made his first committee appointments at the council meeting. Stan Segal, a retired senior executive in the information technology industry, was named chairman of the planning commission. Also appointed to the planning commission were Shannon Cameron, John Funny, Rob Francour, John Hess, Jack Hondred and Adrian Schmidt. Tim Nama was named chairman of the zoning board of appeals. Nama is a
by Carla Parker email@example.com
DeKalb County police officers can now write tickets for the city of Brookhavfounding partner in Mayfield en. On Feb. 6, Brookhaven Signature Homes, which has built more than 500 homes in Mayor J. Max Davis swore in 135 DeKalb officers, who DeKalb, Fulton, and Gwinwill be authorized to issue nett Counties. Hope Bawcitations that will be legally com, Jed Beardsley, Don Bolia, Kent Gipson, Corey recognized in the city’s new Self and Glenn Viers were municipal court system. also appointed to the zoning City officials said the board of appeals. officers will be able to write Joseph Patin was aptickets that will appear in pointed chairman of the alcohol board. Additional members will be added in the future, according to city officials.
Brookhaven municipal courts. Davis said the city will be building its own police department over the next few months, but the city must hire a permanent city manager before it can hire a police chief, who will then start building the new department. “We are still in the process of reviewing potential candidates for the city manager position,” said city spokesperson Michelle Erste.
CLAUDIA G. LAWSON
DeKalb County Tax Commissioner
MOTOR VEHICLE OWNERS
Effective March 1, 2013, House Bill 386 removes the sales and annual ad valorem tax on newly-purchased vehicles. A one-time title tax of 6.5% (2013), 6.75% (2014) and 7% (2015) replaces the annual tax. Here’s what you need to know: • New one-time title ad valorem tax fee applies to all title transactions (new and used vehicle purchases, transfers, all transfers among family members, or vehicles new to the state) and eliminates payment of sales tax and annual ad valorem tax. • If you purchase a vehicle in Georgia after January 1, 2012 but before March 1, 2013, you may have the option of paying annual ad valorem tax or a one-time title ad valorem tax fee. Vehicles purchased out of state are not eligible to opt in. • Whether paying the one-time title ad valorem tax fee OR annual ad valorem tax, requirements for insurance, emissions, driver’s license and the renewal of your tag by your expiration date remain the same. • If you purchased a vehicle before 2012, you will remain on the current annual ad valorem tax system.
is seeking proposals for the maintenance of its common area and right-of-way landscape maintenance.
The Stone Mountain Community Improvement District
NORTH OFFICE 1358 Dresden Drive, NE Atlanta, GA 30319
MAIN OFFICE 4380 Memorial Drive Suite 100 Decatur, GA 30034
SOUTH OFFICE 2801 Candler Rd. #66 South DeKalb Mall Decatur, GA 30032
Please go to www.stonemountaincid.com for further information.
(404) 298-4000 www.dekalbcountyga.gov/taxcommissioner
The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22,, 2013
DeKalb officers arrested, charged with protecting drug dealers
by Daniel Beauregard firstname.lastname@example.org Two DeKalb County Police officers, a Stone Mountain Police officer and two former county jail officers were among 12 people arrested Feb. 12 in a drug trafficking sting by the FBI. Dennis Duren, 32, and Dorian Williams, 25, of the DeKalb County Police Department, have been placed on administrative leave with pay, pending the outcome of an internal investigation. According to an FBI press release, Duren and Williams were protecting drug dealers during the trafficking sting. Interim DeKalb Police Chief Lisa Gassner said what both officers are charged with is “incomprehensible,” because they are sworn to protect the community from such offenders. “These officers do not reflect the character of the hundreds of DeKalb County Police officers that wear the badge. Their alleged actions only assist in eroding the public’s trust in those that honorably serve and that is truly disheartening,” Gassner said. Duren has been employed by the DeKalb County Police Department since 2002 and is assigned to the Tucker precinct along with Williams, who was hired in 2007. Stone Mountain Police officer Denoris Carter, 42, was arrested and has been placed on unpaid administrative leave pending an investigation. Stone Mountain Police Chief Chancey Troutman reassured residents that he and his staff are committed to keeping them safe. “If the allegations are true, Officer Denoris Carter had a serious lapse in judgment to get involved in criminal activity and betray the public trust,” Troutman said. According to a news release from the FBI, Duren, Williams and Carter, along with seven Atlanta Police officers, two former DeKalb County Sheriff officers, a Federal Protective Services officer and five civilians have been charged with accepting thousands of dollars in cash to provide protection during drug deals. U.S. Attorney Sally Quillian Yates said the officers who were charged sold their badges to those they should have been arresting. “They not only betrayed the citizens they were sworn to protect, they also betrayed the thousands of honest, hard-working law enforcement officers who risk their lives every day to keep us safe,” Yates said. Among the civilians who were arrested were Gregory Lee Harvey, 26, of Stone Mountain, and Jerry Mannery Jr., 38, of Tucker. Yates said the undercover operation arose out of an investigation into an Atlantaarea street gang in 2011. Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm (ATF) agents allegedly learned from an informant of police participation in drug deals. Acting at the direction of the FBI and ATF, Yates said, the informant set up police protection for upcoming drug deals he was to participate in, involving the sale of several kilograms of cocaine. According to a press release, the officers arrested and charged Feb. 12 participated in various stings set up by law enforcement officials. Yates said the officers, usually in uniform and displaying a weapon, patrolled the parking lots where the deals took place and monitored the transactions, which were recorded. Former DeKalb County Sheriff jail officers Monyette McLaurin and Chase Valentine allegedly portrayed themselves as deputies and provided protection for what they believed were several drug transactions in 2013. McLaurin is charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and with possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Valentine is charged with attempted possession with intent to distribute more than 500 grams of cocaine and possession of a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Similarly, Duren, Williams and Carter are charged with having provided protection for what they thought were several separate drug deals. Duren allegedly accepted $8,800 in cash for his services and allegedly offered to drive his patrol vehicle to future transactions for an additional $800, which he later received. He is charged with conspiring to commit extortion by accepting bribe payments and attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. Duren also is charged with possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime. Williams, along with two civilians, accepted $18,000 for their services, according to federal investigators. He has been charged with conspiring to commit extortion by accepting bribe payments and attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine. According to a release from the FBI, Williams also suggested that future drug transactions should take place in the parking lot of a local high school during the afternoon, so that the “exchange of backpacks containing drugs and money would not look suspicious.” Carter, working with a civilian, allegedly provided protection for what he believed to be five separate drug deals, which took place between April and Sept. 2012. Both allegedly accepted payments totaling $23,500 and are charged with conspiring to commit extortion by accepting bribe payments, attempted possession with intent to distribute more than five kilograms of cocaine and possessing a firearm in furtherance of a drug trafficking crime.
Opinion The Newslady
The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
On leadership and protocol
interim superintendent. To the board’s credit, they have chosen in Thurmond an undisputed, well respected leader. Also, the board is showing vision and courage in embracing a national trend of hiring administrators from outside education circles who possess the business acumen and skill sets to run these billion dollar busiWhere on earth was CEO nesses called school systems. The Burrell Ellis when President thought is a good leader can run Obama came to Decatur? Read anything. While the administraon. But I must first get this out of tor runs the business side of the the way because it’s getting to be really old news and a disclaimer is house, educators are freed of administrative chores to do what necessary. they do best--educate our children. What I am about to say about Over the 30-plus years that the departure of former DeKalb I have been involved in DeKalb Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson schools as a parent, in PTA and is bad form and an apology up front is necessary. “I told you so.” as a TV news reporter, I have often witnessed excellent teachers One learns trends very quickly after decades of being in the busi- and principals being promoted to ness of observing human behavior county level positions for which they had little or no experience. in real time. Oh there were hoots It’s akin to reward and punishment and howls and brickbats and misor promotion to one’s level of insiles hurled this way when early competence. So let’s see how this on I opined that Dr. Atkinson plays out. was over her head, lacked good In the meantime, don’t blame judgment in major decisions and Dr. Atkinson. She is a pleasant would likely be found guilty of the very cronyism she was supposedly person who simply did not have the skills, political savvy and exhired to root out. perience to run the state’s third Evidence of same, her good largest school system and clean buddy Ralph Taylor was caught up the decades of doo-doo she plagiarizing and forced out. Now Dr. Atkinson is gone and the bands stepped into. There were forces on the board who manipulated her play on. That’s a not so thinly veiled reference to Dr. Atkinson’s hiring knowing her shortcomings. Those same forces outed the best first colossal mistake of suspendcandidate to the press before seting all band activity in the wake tling on Dr. Atkinson. They did it of the tragic hazing death of the for their own purposes, control. Florida A&M band student who And remember, SACS, the happened to have graduated from business that systems pay into for a DeKalb County school. accreditation, is not a regulatory That said, cautious optimism agency. Remember to follow the is in order with the board move money. Ask questions and seek to hire former state Labor Comanswers. Who really wants control missioner Mike Thurmond as of the board? Who really controls the system’s dollars? Who wants to control the system’s money? On the subject of education, everyone was justifiably all a-twitter when President Obama came to Decatur to visit the nationally respected College Heights Early Childhood Learning Center. He sang songs and played with some 200 children in the school. In his remarks to the gathered throng the president gave Georgia an “A” for its early learning initiatives and pledged to work with states such as ours that make high quality pre-K education a priority. The president noted that schools such as College Heights give parents a peace of mind knowing that their children are in a safe, high quality learning environment every day. These same kids he said show up to kindergarten ready and eager to learn and become successful students. One could not disagree with the president that early education before kindergarten is a good bang for the educational buck and benefits children from different income levels and physical challenges. The term he used was “children being leveled up.” Oh it was a great day in Decatur. What a Valentine’s Day gift for scores of children who will never forget seeing the president of the United States. But where, oh where, was CEO Burrell Ellis? All of our Democratic elected were there. The president acknowledged Congressman Hank Johnson and Decatur Mayor Jim Baskett. He quipped that Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed had “snuck in.” What, no mention of DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis? The county CEO not acknowledged even in his absence? That would seem to be a major faux pas on the part of the president and his handlers, or was it? At no time did he mention our chief executive officer. Sensitive to protocol and wondering how many people were also wondering about the CEO’s absence and lack of acknowledgement by our commander-in-chief, an inquiry was made of county spokesman Burke Brennan who said the CEO was out of town. Pressing as to whether the CEO being out of town was for personal or county business, Brennan responded that the CEO did receive an invitation, but he had been in the company of the president on many other occasions. Granted the president’s visit was on short notice and fell on Valentine’s Day, but good leadership requires flexibility and a healthy appreciation for protocol. The president in his opening remarks duly noted that he had bought a gift and flowers for first lady Michelle and that he needed to get back to Washington in time for their “date.” The president not mentioning Ellis’ name even in his absence was glaring, if not deliberate. The CEO’s absence was an inexcusable lapse in judgment. It was disrespectful and a colossal breach of protocol for the CEO of the county not to be on hand to greet the president of the United States in the CEO’s backyard. Steen Miles, The Newslady, is a retired journalist and former Georgia state senator. Contact Steen Miles at Steen@dekalbchamp.com.
The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
“Keep your face towards the sunshine, and shadows will fall behind you.”— Walt Whitman (18191892), an American essayist, poet and journalist. I first met State Representative Michael Thurmond when he was a freshman legislator in 1986. A sharecropper’s son, he became the first Black man in Clark County since Reconstruction elected to the Georgia General Assembly. In 1998, he was elected Georgia’s labor commissioner, and was twice re-elected. During his last term in office, and during one of the most difficult labor markets in Georgia history, Thurmond created Georgia Work$, a job skills re-training program that allows unemployed workers to begin working again, with their training costs and wages split between the employer and the Georgia Department of Labor. This successful model was later adapted and adopted nationally by the U.S. Department of Labor. Thurmond is charismatic, savvy and has an incredible ability to bring together people of disparate
backgrounds and viewpoints and get them working together as a team. Nowhere is that skillset more needed than among the leadership of our DeKalb County School System. Running an urban school system with a declining tax digest, 100,000 students, 15,000 employees and 150 schools and centers is no easy task. A corporation with almost $1 billion in annual revenues requires professional management and a board of directors with its eyes on the ball. Thurmond is an optimist and a realist, and when pressed, willing to make the tough calls. This is another rarity in higher and public education. I believe Thurmond will get the ball farther down the field. His partisan track record may give some pause in a GOP dominated legislature and state government, however they can ill afford another major hit to the economic development brand of Atlanta—and for a second major metro school system to lose its accreditation in a handful of years. We all may be painfully aware of the differences among the city of Atlanta, DeKalb County, Clayton County, Gwinnett County, etc., but I assure you in London, Monterrey, Mexico, Beijing and even simply Los Angeles, those are all just Atlanta. DeKalb County has 700,000 residents and 100,000 children in public schools, and they are worth fighting for by any standard or definition—political, demographic or
A new attitude
One Man’s Opinion
otherwise. Thurmond is an inspirational speaker. He will need that ability during his appearance before the state school board this week. Clayton County has also already been here, though there is mounting evidence that the lesson was not learned, and a second trip to the woodshed may be necessary. Rural Miller County most recently had its entire board removed—and with or without DeKalb’s current board— Thurmond is going to need to lead. My next recommendation is for the consideration of all nine current members of our DeKalb School Board. If you truly believe that our children come first, and that our first priority should remain success in the classroom and that you have personally done nothing wrong, then you really have only one practical choice to assist and support your new superintendent. Before the State Board of Education or Gov. Nathan Deal make any decision or consider taking any punitive action, simply and proudly resign from the office that you currently hold for the good of the county, our children and this system. Our current structure and board are broken, perhaps irretrievably. If you feel so inclined, in your statement or letter of resignation, declare your candidacy to seek the position that you currently hold, and be elected back to this board. If the governor removes the entire board, and then appoints an interim board, there will
still be special elections held for those seats soon after. Those on the board and in districts where they remain regarded with respect, appreciation and having the best interests of our children in mind may well be put right back in place. Those who don’t, probably won’t. The status quo has to go, as it is increasingly entrenched in ineptitude, infighting and a general inability to reach consensus, set a direction and move forward with a plan. Sadly, as with our DeKalb Commission and the DeKalb Legislative Delegation, racial politics and often north/south in-fighting which is embarrassing to witness, generally command more time and attention than most any more relevant issue of the day. Mike Thurmond will be walking toward the sunshine. If you can’t get out of the shadows, at least please have the courtesy to stand down and get out of his way. 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.
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The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
DeKalb Medical receives LCI grant
by Carla Parker email@example.com DeKalb Medical was awarded a $120,000 grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) for its Livable Center Initiative (LCI). The grant was given for the Medline Regional Activity Center. The study will focus on the area around DeKalb Medical on N. Decatur Road and will plan for redevelopment of underutilized and vacant properties to create housing options as well as commercial, office and retail space. ARC said the study will incorporate “lifelong communities” concepts and the establishment of a “wellness district” for the DeKalb Medical area. The plan will also address sidewalk and bicycle trails along main roads in the area to create a more walkable center to improve connections to MARTA bus routes and Emory’s Cliff shuttle. The LCI grants are given to help communities create new plans for quality growth and help develop innovative policies that support more vibrant, connected communities. Once the studies and plans are complete, the communities will be eligible for additional LCI funding for transportation projects needed to implement their plans. Since 1999, LCI has assisted 111 communities with more than $154 million in grants to develop strategies that reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality by connecting homes, shops and offices. “LCI has helped communities across metro Atlanta re-tool and redesign over the years, creating more places that attract residents and businesses alike,” ARC Chairman Tad Leithead said. “Our local government partners have used these grants to the benefit of their communities and the entire region.” The LCI program is funded with federal transportation dollars. The grants fund 80 percent of the study, with the recipient making a 20 percent contribution. “Communities are eager to revitalize their town centers and underutilized properties to create places that foster a vibrant neighborhood feel and environment,” said Doug Hooker, ARC Executive Director. “LCI grants have helped communities re-imagine what they can be, and then helped them make those plans a reality.”
Champion of the Week
Low-income households, high immigration and English language learners characterize the area, located in north DeKalb County. Gokce’s efforts focused on establishing a partnership between the Metro Atlanta YMCA and the DeKalb County School District through the Cowart Family YMCA center. “To me, it was a nobrainer. The children get more opportunities, the YMCA expands its reach to underserved children, and the schools get badly needed attention for the underutilized and expensive-to-maintain fields,” Gokce said. The agreement started with YMCA-managed youth soccer programs at the fields of Cross Keys High School and since has expanded to similar programs at Sequoyah Middle School and area elementary schools. Many of the students
Since cofounding the Cross Keys Foundation in 2009, Kim Gokce has been working tirelessly for the residents and children of DeKalb County. In 2012, Gokce was named volunteer of the year by the YMCA of Metropolitan Atlanta. Each year, the award is given to a volunteer who has made a significant contribution to the mission of the more than 20 area YMCA centers in Atlanta. Gokce was named volunteer of the year for his work to bring YMCAmanaged recreational and educational programs to an underserved population in the Cross Keys High School attendance zone, which includes Cross Keys High School, Sequoyah Middle School, as well as Oakcliff, Cary Reynolds, Dresden, Montclair and Woodward elementary schools.
living in the Cross Keys area are immigrants or first-generation U.S. citizens, like Gokce himself, whose father emigrated from Turkey. “Our tagline is ‘every opportunity for every child.’ We have seven schools [in our area]; five elementary schools, one middle school and one high school. Every one of these schools shares something in common… high poverty,” Gokce said. Gokce said that people have a common misconception that the schools in the area are failing schools. “The demographics, the language barrier and the poverty or low income has created an environment where there is not an enormous amount of community support,” Gokce said. Gokce also was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to serve on the City of Brookhaven Commission, which was established to help ease Brookhaven’s transition into cityhood.
if you would like to nominate someone to be considered as a future champion of the Week, please contact Kathy Mitchell at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (404) 373-7779, ext. 104.
The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
a.m. This class is for first-time gardeners or those transitioning to organic methods of vegetable gardening, according to library officials. Stephanie Van Parys, executive director of the Wylde Center, will teach participants about spring and summer vegetables and herbs perfect for our region. This program is part of the series, “Living the Green Life,” to promote and educate the community about a green, sustainable lifestyle. Sponsors are the Wylde Center, the City of Decatur and DeKalb County Public Library. Decatur Library is located at 215 Sycamore Street, Decatur. For more information, call (404) 370-3070. Library to show Akeelah and the Bee Toco Hill-Avis G. Williams Library will show Akeelah and the Bee, starring Laurence Fishburne, Angela Bassett and Keke Palmer, Friday, Feb. 22, 1:30-3:30 p.m., as part of its Friday Movies series. The 2006 movie is rated PG and runs 112 minutes. Movies in the Friday Movies series are a mix of new releases and old favorites. When available, movies are presented with closed captioning to assist the hearing impaired. Toco Hill-Avis G. Williams Library is located at 1282 McConnell Drive, Decatur. For more information, call (404) 679-4404. Musical to be shown at library
Church play to focus on Black history Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church’s MCA Drama Ministry will present a Black history play Sunday, Feb. 24, at 6 p.m. in the sanctuary. The play, The Living Museum of Gospel Greats, is under the direction of Dr. Joyce Miller. This is a musical tribute to late great gospel music singers. Admission is free. Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church is located at 1879 Glenwood Ave., SE, Atlanta.
when entering the United States by air. U.S. citizens entering the United States from Canada, Mexico, the Caribbean and Bermuda at land borders and sea ports of entry must present a passport book, passport card or other travel documents approved by the U.S. government. For more information on Passport Day in the USA at the DeKalb County Clerk of Superior Court Office and how to apply for a U.S. passport, call (404) 3712251. DeKalb Superior Court office is located in the DeKalb County Courthouse, 556 N. McDonough St. in Decatur.
Writers’ support group to meet A writers’ support group will meet at the Stonecrest Library Tuesday, Feb. 26, 6:30-8 p.m. The event is open to all writers of any literary form and genre. Participants should bring their work, whether completed or in-progress, to read, discuss and receive group feedback. The support group meets the last Tuesday of every other month (October, December, February, April, June and August), except holidays. Stonecrest Library is located at 3123 Klondike Road, Lithonia. For more information, call (770) 482-3828.
City recognized for workplace wellness The City of Avondale Estates has been named a finalist in the Atlanta Business Chronicle’s annual awards recognizing metro Atlanta’s healthiest employers. City Manager Clai Brown commented, “Workplace wellness is absolutely vital for reducing health care costs. However, Avondale Estates’ wellness program, thanks to the commitment and efforts of our partner DeKalb Medical and our grantor, Local Government Risk Management Services, continues to pay back in multiple ways—it positively influences our associates’ productivity, attendance and teamwork, as well as our workplace culture.” Championed by the city’s Director of Finance Ken Turner, Avondale Estates’ wellness program has produced significant aggregate improvements in participating associates’ biometric health evaluations. Dr. Shealynn Buck, executive director of Corporate Health and Wellness for DeKalb Medical, said, “Through the city’s commitment to fostering a healthy work environment, its associates as a whole realized measurable reductions in chronic disease risk factors, such as heart disease and diabetes.” “According to the American Institute of Architects, ‘the history of public health in America is intrinsically linked to the design of place,’” Avondale Estates’ City Planner, Keri Stevens said. “We are enthusiastic about finding ways to begin extending more wellness opportunities to our City residents.” According to the Chronicle, today’s wellness programs are designed around an organization’s people, leadership and financial goals; wellness programs enhance employee health and improve organizational climate. The Chronicle recognized metro Atlanta’s wellness leaders from among the area’s notable public, private, small, medium and large organizations.
Pitch Perfect, a musical comedy starring Anna Kendrick, Brittany Snow and Rebel Wilson, will be shown at the Covington Library Saturday, Feb. 23, at 2 p.m. as part of its New Movies Series. Perfect Pitch is rated PG-13. The Covington Library is located at 3500 Covington Highway, Decatur. For more information, call (404) 508-7180. Library offers consumer education clinic The Decatur Library is offering a free consumer education clinic on Tuesday, Feb. 26, 5:30-7 p.m. Those who are struggling with debt or have been sued for a debt and have questions may find answers in this presentation by the DeKalb Volunteer Lawyers Foundation. Local attorneys will discuss information regarding debt cases in DeKalb County and facilitate one-on-one consultations. Participants should bring all documents related to their cases. Decatur Library is located at 215 Sycamore Street, Decatur. For more information, call (404) 370-3070. Book discussion group to meet Pub Fiction, a book lovers group, will meet to discuss the group’s current book selection and “socialize with other like-minded folk,” Thursday, Feb. 28, 7- 8 p.m. at Harbour Bar and Fish House. The book selection is Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks. For more information and to RSVP, call (404) 370-4850, ext. 2257. Harbour Bar and Fish House is located at129 Church St., Decatur. Passport Day set for March 9 DeKalb County Superior Court Clerk Debra DeBerry is hosting Passport Day in the USA, on Saturday, March 9, from 10: a.m.- 3: p.m., to provide passport information to U.S. citizens and to accept passport applications. Appointments are not necessary as always when applying in the Clerk’s Office. Those interested may apply for a passport for routine or expedited service. DeKalb Superior Court along with hundreds of local acceptance facilities around the country are joining the Department of State in celebrating Passport Day in the USA 2013, a national passport acceptance and outreach event. U.S. citizens must present a valid passport book
CID enhancing lights at interchange The Stone Mountain Community Improvement District (CID) is working to enhance the safety and appearance of Mountain Industrial Boulevard’s busiest interchange. Design and planning efforts began in February for the installation of streetlights at the U. S. 78-Mountain Industrial Boulevard interchange. Currently, the bridge and ramp areas have no nighttime illumination. CID President Emory Morsberger said the existing conditions provide a real safety challenge, even for those who routinely drive in the area. “The absence of adequate lighting makes this interchange barely noticeable at night,” Morsberger said. “Beyond the safety applications, new lighting will be critical to enhancing this interchange as a recognizable gateway for our business corridor.” In addition to the lights, the CID is in the early planning stages to install and maintain landscaping improvements at the interchange. These landscaping efforts will mirror those undertaken by other CIDs with interstate access, including the upgrades along I-85 at Jimmy Carter Boulevard. “The improved lighting and appearance will work jointly with our other ongoing maintenance of the corridor’s appearance,” Morsberger said. “All of our efforts are aimed at raising property values and attracting employers to available spaces. We are committed to seeing 2,000 new jobs created here this year.” The full extent of the lighting coverage will be determined during the planning and permitting phase, which will continue throughout the year. Installation work will likely commence next fall. The cost of lighting purchase and installation is underwritten by funding from Georgia’s State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA). Last summer, the SRTA announced a $500,000 grant would be awarded to the Stone Mountain CID for several infrastructure improvements throughout the District.
Spring gardening class offered The Decatur Library presents Snapshot Plant Your First Spring Garden on Monday, Feb. 25, 10-11:30
Local News The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
Victims: Bishop Long knew about scammer
by Carla Parker email@example.com Former members of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia have filed a new suit against Bishop Eddie Long, alleging that he was warned beforehand about a fraudulent investment scheme that caused them to lose nearly $1 million. In 2009, Long sponsored a series of investment seminars at the church titled The Wealth Tour Live, which took place Oct. 1723. In the original lawsuit, filed in October 2011, 10 former members alleged that Long used his position at the church to “coerce those in attendance” to trust Ephren Taylor, then CEO of City Capitol Corp. Taylor, who was in his early 20s at the time, was presented by Long as a “self-made millionaire,” and an ordained minister. According to the lawsuit, Long did not invest himself, but urged his congregation to invest with Taylor, whom he introduced as his “friend (and) brother” prior to the seminar. The new lawsuit, which now includes 12 plaintiffs and was filed Feb. 6, says that two weeks before the seminars took place, Long and the church “were warned” that Taylor and his company “would defraud” church members who participated in the seminar. According to the suit, on Oct. 5, 2009, an anonymous person called the church to warn Long that Taylor would “defraud the seminar attendees by selling them promissory notes and that there would be no return on the investments.” The suit alleges that Long’s assistant, Lori Allen, wrote down the warning from the caller in a memorandum and sent it to Long. The suit also says that Allen informed another church official of the message, who then forwarded the message via email to Long and another church official. Jason Doss, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, said his clients would not have lost their money if Long had heeded the warning. “When a church receives a warning that is so specific about what was going to happen…. they should have stopped the seminar, not allowed the seminars to happen,” he said. “Had that happened we wouldn’t be here today.” According to the suit, with the encouragement of Long and Taylor, the former members transferred funds from their IRA and 401K accounts to self-directed IRAs that were set up and maintained at Equity Trust Bank Company. “Once the plaintiffs’ money was rolled into self-directed IRAs, the plaintiffs were instructed to execute promissory notes in favor of City Capital,” the suit said. “The notes were for nine-to 12-month terms and promised a rate of returns of 15-20 percent.” Doss said a lot of his clients are in bad shape financially and could use the money that they lost. “Their houses are being foreclosed,” he said. “Some of them are living in their basements to conserve [money]. It’s sad.” “These people have devoted their lives to this church,” Doss said. “They trusted the bishop and trusted that the church would certainly look out for their best interest. They’re very disappointed that the seminars took place at all.”
DeKalb libraries awarded grant to enhance knowledge about Islam
by Nigel Roberts Muslims have been a part of the American fabric for generations. Yet, it was not until the terrorist attacks on 9/11 that many Americans became aware of their presence. Since then, there has been mistrust and misinformation about the Muslim community and their religion. An effort is under way to increase knowledge about Muslim Americans and Islam. A National Endowment for the Humanities grant to four DeKalb County Public Library branches will provide a range of materials to enhance public knowledge about Muslims in America. The Decatur, Clarkston, Northlake-Barbara Loar and Stonecrest branches are among the more than 800 libraries and state humanities councils across the nation that received the grant. Through this funding, the four DeKalb branches will make available to residents 25 books, three films and other resources that provide a reliable source of information about Islam, Muslim culture and the history of Muslims in the United States. All the materials will be available for checkout at the libraries beginning March 1. According to a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey, 55 percent of Americans say they know nothing or very little about Islam. About one-third said they knew some things about the religion and 9 percent said they knew a great deal about the faith. Less than half of Americans (41 percent) said they are personally acquainted with a Muslim. “I’m pleased that several DeKalb libraries received this NEH grant to help foster greater knowledge and understanding of the rich history and culture of Muslims in the United States and around the world,” U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (GA-4) said in a DeKalb Public Library statement. “It’s through education that we foster bonds of unity between and among people of diverse backgrounds, leading to a more peaceful society.” Since the 9/11 attacks, Muslims have become the subjects of suspicion because of their religion or country of origin. Ten years after the attacks, more than half (55 percent) of the Muslims Americans surveyed said that life has become more difficult, Pew reported. They highlighted being looked at with suspicion (28 percent) and being called insulting names (22 percent). Their religion has made them the targets of airport security and law enforcement, they reported to researchers. Abdullahi An-Na’im,
See Libraries on Page 10A
The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
Public Hearings, 6:30 – 8:00 PM at:
PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE FOR PHASING OUT OF INSTRUCTIONAL FACILITIES
February 19, 2013 at AIC Auditorium 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd Stone Mountain, GA 30083 February 26, 2013 at AIC Auditorium 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd Stone Mountain, GA 30083
In accordance with SPLOST IV and the 2011, ten-year master facility plan*, the DeKalb County School District proposes to phase-out twelve (12) instructional facilities over the next five years: 1) Austin Elementary Facility, 2) Avondale High Facility, 3) Clifton Elementary Facility, 4) DESA/Terry Mill Facility 5) Fernbank Elementary Facility, 6) Meadowview Elementary Facility, 7) Midway Elementary Facility, 8) Ronald McNair Middle Facility, 9) Pleasantdale Elementary Facility, 10) Rockbridge Elementary Facility, 11) Smoke Rise Elementary Facility and 12) Wadsworth Elementary Facility. Students from these schools will return back to their schools after construction as listed in Table 1 and Table 2. The date of phase-out, date of last instruction, and proposed use for each affected building is also listed below in Table 1. In Table 2, please note that Peachcrest ES and Gresham Park ES are two, new, 900-seat schools. It is envisioned that students from Clifton ES and Meadowview ES schools will move into the new Gresham Park ES. Students from Knollwood ES and Midway ES will move into the new Peachcrest ES. Any attendance lines adjustments for any receiving schools and their adjacent schools in order to accommodate the relocated students within each school’s capacity limits will be discussed the year prior to phase out. Fernbank ES is presently scheduled to occupy Avondale MS during the construction period. References: Ten-year Facility Master Plan (http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/www/documents/vision-2020/master-plan.pdf) Table 1. Instructional Facilities to be Phased-out Instructional Facility Austin Elementary Facility Avondale High Facility Clifton Elementary Facility DESA/Terry Mill Elementary Facility Fernbank Elementary Facility Meadowview Elementary Facility Midway Elementary Facility Ronald McNair Middle Facility Pleasantdale Elementary Facility Rockbridge Elementary Facility Smoke Rise Elementary Facility Wadsworth Elementary Facility Facility Address 5435 Roberts Drive Dunwoody, GA 30338 1192 Clarendon Ave Avondale Estates, GA 30002 3132 Clifton Church Rd Atlanta, GA 30316 797 Fayetteville Rd Atlanta, GA 30316 157 Heaton Park Drive NE Atlanta, GA 30307 1879 Wee Kirk Rd Atlanta, GA 30316 3318 Midway Rd Decatur, GA 30032 2190 Wallingford Dr. Decatur, GA 30032 3695 Northlake Drive Doraville, GA 30340 445 Halwick Way Stone Mountain, GA 30083 1991 Silver Hill Road Stone Mountain, GA 30087 2084 Green Forrest Dr. Decatur, GA 30032 Date of Last Instruction at Facility and Date of Phase Out June, 2018 June, 2016 June, 2015 June, 2016 June, 2013 Resident Students Transferred and Where All students to attend replacement Austin ES facility All students to attend new Comprehensive Arts Magnet School at Avondale MS facility All students to attend new Gresham Park ES facility All students to attend new Comprehensive Arts Magnet School at Avondale MS facility All students to attend Avondale MS during construction and then return to replacement Fernbank ES facility in Fall 2015 All students to attend new Gresham Park ES facility All students to attend new Peachcrest ES facility Future Use of Facility Torn down and replaced by new facility Declared surplus and possible reuse or disposal Declared surplus and possible reuse or disposal Declared surplus and possible reuse or disposal Torn down and replaced by new facility
June, 2015 June, 2015
Declared surplus and possible reuse or disposal Declared surplus and possible reuse or disposal
June, 2018 June, 2018 June, 2018 June, 2018 June, 2015
All students to attend replacement McNair MS facility All students to attend replacement Pleasantdale ES facility All students to attend replacement Rockbridge ES replacement All students to attend replacement Smoke Rise ES facility All students to be housed at Knollwood ES facility
Torn down and replaced by new facility Torn down and replaced by new facility Torn down and replaced by new facility Torn down and replaced by new facility Declared surplus and possible reuse or disposal
Table 2. Receiving Instructional Facility, Proposed Size, Grade Configuration, and Cost Receiving Instructional Facility Arts School at Avondale Middle Facility Austin Elementary Facility McNair Middle Facility Fernbank Elementary Facility Gresham Park Elementary Facility Knollwood Elementary Facility Peachcrest Elementary Facility Pleasantdale Elementary Facility Rockbridge Elementary Facility Smoke Rise Elementary Facility Address 3131 Old Rockbridge Rd 5435 Roberts Dr 2190 Wallingford Dr. 157 Heaton Park Drive NE 1848 Vicki Ln 3039 Santa Monica Dr. 1530 Joy Ln 3695 Northlake Drive 445 Halwick Way 1991 Silver Hill Road Avondale Estates, GA 30002 Dunwoody, GA 30338 Decatur, GA 30032 Atlanta, GA 30307 Atlanta, GA 30316 Decatur, GA 30032 Decatur, GA 30032 Doraville, GA 30340 Stone Mountain, GA 30083 Stone Mountain, GA 30087
Prop. Facility Capacity (Students) 1,100 900 1,200 900 900 650 900 900 900 600
Grade Configuration K-12 PK-5 6-8 PK-5 PK-5 4-6 PK-5 PK-5 PK-5 PK-5
Expansion, Cost, and Funding Source Add auditorium, $4.0 million, SPLOST IV Rebuild 900 seat school, $18.4 million, SPLOST IV Rebuild 1200 seat school, $34.6 million, SPLOST IV Rebuild 900 seat school, $18.4 million, SPLOST IV Rebuild 900 seat school, $18.4 million, SPLOST IV No expansion necessary Rebuild 900 seat school, $18.4 million, SPLOST IV Rebuild 900 seat school, $18.4 million, SPLOST IV Rebuild 900 seat school, $18.4 million, SPLOST IV Rebuild 600 seat school, $18.4 million, SPLOST IV*
* Cost for 600-seat school pending review.
The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
Mom: Cellphone ban in cars would have saved son
by Andrew Cauthen firstname.lastname@example.org It was a distracted driver who forever changed the life of Cynthia Williams of Tucker. In August 2006, her 17-year-old son Christopher was a passenger in a vehicle that flipped nine times. Christopher suffered extensive head trauma. “I had to pull the plug on him a week later,” Williams said. “It was on my birthday.” After that event Williams began a campaign against distracted driving, which she believes caused her son’s death. “I want to save more lives by making the whole country a ‘no phone zone’” in vehicles, said Williams, founder of Parents Against Distracted Driving. Currently there are 10 states that have laws restricting the use of cellphones while driving and Rep. Rahn Mayo (D-84) wants Georgia to join those states. Mayo has sponsored legislation in the Georgia House of Representatives that he said would “reduce the amount of distracted driving on Georgia roads and highways.” “I believe cellphone use use by novice drivers; and 39 states ban text messaging for all drivers. An additional five states prohibit text messaging by novice drivers. Texting while driving in Georgia has been banned since 2010; Mayo said that law has helped. “It’s a deterrent when drivers understand the law, discourages them from using handheld devices and they’re more mindful of their behavior because of laws in place,” Mayo said. “We see on the road the [signs] that give drivers warnings not to text and drive; there have been citations issued by law enforcement and I believe the notexting law has helped. “I would like to expand the law to include a prohibition of handheld cellphone use so that we can reduce traffic accidents and curtail the amount of distracted driving even more,” Mayo said. The proposed law would “lessen some of the car crash statistics,” said Williams, who speaks at funerals and tells surviving family members that “this person is in a casket because someone was using a phone.” “My testimony can save the life of you or your children,” she said.
A bill proposed by a state lawmaker from DeKalb County would ban cellphone use by drivers.
is one of the common causes of traffic accidents due to distracted driving,” Mayo said. The proposed law, HB 31, would require drivers to use hands-free devices when talking on the cellphone and driving. “This bill is a safety bill and would protect drivers,” Mayo said. “Distracted drivers are causing dangerous conditions because of a lack of focus and attention to the road and more attention to their conversation.
“The phone being held is one reason why the driver can’t have two hands on the wheel. This bill would curtail distracted driving and make Georgia roads safer for others,” Mayo said. Mayo said there is some opposition to the proposed law from those who believe it legislation would infringe upon their rights. “My belief is when you’re distracted and you’re holding a cellphone, you not only put yourself in danger but you’re putting the lives
of others in harm’s way due to the large number of traffic accidents and fatalities caused by distracted driving,” Mayo said. “HB31 is one I hope will save lives and protect our drivers and make conditions safer for motorists on Georgia roads.” According to data compiled by the Governors Highway Safety Association, 10 states prohibit all drivers from using handheld cellphones while driving; 33 states ban all cellphone
Libraries Continued From Page 8A
a professor at Emory Law School and a scholar of Islam and human rights, said Muslim Americans need to share their stories with the broader American culture to shed stereotypes. He plans to tell these stories in a book length project to be published by the Oxford University Press. In the aftermath of 9/11, he said that, globally, Muslims are the primary victims of radical Islamists, in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq. And while extremism represents an element in the Muslim community, it does not reflect the ideology of the entire community. “Being a Muslim does not mean being monolithic or uniform, because there are Muslims who are conservative, or who are liberal,” he said. “We should not insist on a single identity as exclusive of everything else. We should live by all the identities we have, each as and when most relevant. That’s the idea of being an American Muslim.” Kitty Wilson, the library system’s grant facilitator, said all four branches will present programs this year to promote the new materials on Muslim Americans. The library highlighted three book titles in its announcement. Acts of Faith: the Story of an American Muslim, the Struggle for the Soul of a Generation by Eboo Patel is the author’s personal story of growing up Muslim in America. Amitav Ghosh’s In an Antique Land is a historic fictional account of 800 years of Egyptian history. And Minaret by Leila Aboulela is a novel about a young, secular Muslim woman who comes to embrace orthodox Islam after immigrating to the West.
Study to focus on area surrounding Suburban Plaza
DeKalb County has been awarded a Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) planning grant by the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC) for the area surrounding Suburban Plaza. The study will bring together residents, businesses and property owners to reach a consensus on future development and public improvements in the area which includes portions of Scott Boulevard and North Decatur Road from Medlock Road to DeKalb Industrial Way, as well as Church Street. The area includes DeKalb Medical, Suburban Plaza, Patel Plaza and nearly 30 acres of vacant car lots. “This location is excellent
and it is vastly underutilized,” said DeKalb Commissioner Kathie Gannon. “I believe this area can be successfully redeveloped for mixed-use developments that will bring new vibrancy and improve the quality of life for the surrounding residential areas.”
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The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
DA’s Office hosts Court Watch training session
The DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office will host the Court Watch & Code Compliance Training seminar Saturday, Feb. 23, on the fourth floor of the DeKalb courthouse, located at 556 N. McDonough Street in Decatur. The event is 9:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. and begins with a complimentary breakfast. “This is a great opportunity for homeowners associations and residents to learn more about court proceedings and the criminal justice system as a whole,” said DeKalb County DA Robert James. “A portion of the seminar will be dedicated
Wearing shirts that read “Stop Walmart in Decatur,” protestors lose a bid to halt construction of the supercenter. Photo by Andrew Cauthen
to the new code compliance and enforcement process.” The Court Watch program was designed by the District Attorney’s Office to educate residents about tracking cases that have impacted their communities.“There is a significant benefit when communities come together to fight crime,” James said. “This seminar encourages residents to get involved in preventing and reporting crimes in their neighborhoods.” To attend this free seminar, RSVP by calling (404) 687-7179; RSVP required.
Suburban Plaza protestors lose appeal Gas company holds meeting about pipeline by Andrew Cauthen that encourages people to to redevelop the shopping
email@example.com Developers are free to begin work in Decatur’s Suburban Plaza after a community group lost an appeal to block a Walmart supercenter. The DeKalb Zoning Board of Appeals voted to deny the appeal of Good Growth DeKalb, a group of residents formed more than a year ago to promote the sustainable development of their community. The group’s appeal challenged the building permit issued by DeKalb County in December, asserting that the building permit does not comply with county ordinances governing stormwater control, tree protection and truck traffic associated with development. “We don’t believe permits were granted in accordance with the law,” said Mary Shellman, resident of the Medlock community and a member of Good Growth DeKalb. “We don’t believe trucks should be on Medlock Road. It cannot handle that traffic. We just don’t need another magnet for more vehicles.” Shellman said the proposed development is the “antithesis of what Good Growth DeKalb supports.” “We don’t believe a big autocentric, giant development at Surburban Plaza is healthy, sustainable growth,” Shellman said. “We’d like to see something walk, to ride their bikes, to support small businesses there.” The appellate decision means developers can proceed with the proposed 150,000-square-foot store, which would have groceries, a deli, pharmacy, and an optical center. Suburban Plaza’s owner, Selig Enterprises, has predicted that the improved shopping center, which will increase by 30,000 square feet, would add 600 to 800 jobs to the community and spur redevelopment in the corridor. Walmart spokesman Bill Wertz said, “We are delighted to be partners with Selig Enterprises in this retail redevelopment, which we believe will be very positive for the community. “ Walmart is looking forward to adding 300 new jobs and millions of dollars in new tax revenue to the county by being part of this project,” Wertz said. “We are also excited about offering the community another option for fresh, affordable food and other merchandise.” The ruling was good news for Suburban Plaza’s developer, Selig Enterprises Inc. “I think they made the correct decision it was made on the facts,” said Scott Selig, vice president of Selig Enterprises Inc. Selig said his company will continue with its plans center. “Our plans are in,” Selig said. “We will start gearing up to start demolition.” Construction is planned to begin in late spring with the shopping center’s renovation to be completed in early 2015. Despite the yearlong protests from residents, Selig said his company is here to stay. “If you check our reputation out around this entire region, it’s impeccable,” Selig said. “We are not merchant-developers. In other words, we don’t build and then sell. We build and we buy and we don’t sell. “We’re a family developer,” Selig said. “I’m fourth generation. We’ve been here for 90-something years. We are a good neighbor.” Although he said he believes the development will be a “great amenity,” Selig said he understands the misgivings of some residents the supercenter coming to Suburban Plaza. “People hear this and think, ‘What’s coming?’” Selig said. “It’s scary. Anything new that changes what’s there is scary. “Looking back, when it’s all done and fully running, I think everyone’s going to be extremely thrilled with what’s there,” Selig said. “When it’s done, you will not recognize what was there before. It’s going to bring it back and go beyond what the glory days were.” Atlanta Gas Light’s (AGL) Eastside Pipeline construction will be the subject of a community open house Feb. 26, 6-8 p.m. at the Greek Orthodox Cathedral’s Hellenic Community Center, 2500 Clairmont Road. To ensure the continuing safety and reliability of AGL’s pipeline system, older pipes are being replaced with stateof-the-art plastic and steel pipes. These enhancements are part of AGL’s pipeline replacement program, a 15-year project that started in 1998 to replace more than 2,800 miles of bare steel and cast iron natural gas pipelines in Georgia, according to AGL’s website. Construction on the Eastside Pipeline, which dates back to the 1950s, began in late summer 2012 and will continue in phases through the end of 2013. The 24-inch pipeline will run approximately 28 miles from AGL’s Riverdale liquefied natural gas facility in Clayton County to a connection point near the intersection of Buford Highway and Clairmont Road in DeKalb County, according to AGL’s website. Construction will include several interstate and railroad crossings. The route primarily follows existing Atlanta Gas Light easements and public right of way. Communities near the route in Clayton County, DeKalb County, and the cities of Riverdale, Forest Park, Atlanta, and Decatur will see construction at different times along the route for the duration of the pipeline replacement. For more information, call (404) 584-3130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
Clifton Ridge subdivision gets red light again
by Andrew Cauthen andrew@dekalbchamp. com To their disappointment, residents in the Druid Hills community say they will have to go to court to continue their battle against a proposed subdivision in the historic district. Residents were hoping for an end to their decadelong fight against the subdivision planned by property owners Robert H. Buckler and Anthony McCullar. The men want to subdivide three lots on Clifton Road into seven lots, ranging from two-thirds to four-tenths of an acre. The property is located in the historic Druid Hills which was designed by renowned landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, who also designed Central Park in New York and the grounds of the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C. The community is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The county’s Zoning Board of Appeals voted Feb. 13 to deny an appeal of a decision to issue a land disturbance permit for the property. “The core issue is whether or not these developers needed to have a certificate of appropriateness from the Historic Preservation Commission before they could get approval from the planning commission for their subdivision,” said Rob Benfield, an attorney for the Druid Hills Civic Association. Bruce MacGregor, president of the Druid Hills Civic Association, said, “The decision today was very disappointing. “The Zoning Board of Appeals seemed to be confused,” MacGregor said. “It was a simple question. Was the land development permit issued properly or not?” MacGregor said, “The next step is to go to court. Again. At our own expense.” “It was very disappointing,” MacGregor said. “This has gone on 10 years. The owner…has lost eight lawsuits. He’s lost three attempts at the General Assembly to change state law. The only things he has won have been two administrative decisions” by DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis’ administration. The next showdown in the fight will be March 18 before DeKalb County Superior Court Judge Asha Jackson. A temporary restraining order for the development of the property was set to expire Feb. 17, but Jackson has extended it until a court hearing March 18.
See Druid Hills on Page 13A Attorney Rob Benfield represents Druid Hills residents who lost an appeal to stop a subdivision. Later, a judge extends a temporary restraining order for the project. Photo by Andrew Cauthen
THE CELEBRATION LASTS 28 DAYS; THE CONTRIBUTION, A LIFETIME.
No amount of time would be sufficient to recognize all of the trailblazers who saw what no one else could, did what no one else dared and gave us all what we needed most. Georgia Power is proud to honor the achievements of African-Americans throughout Black History Month and more importantly beyond.
The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22,, 2013
New director has fresh vision for historic arts center
by Daniel Beauregard email@example.com Callanwolde Arts Center’s new executive director, Peggy Still Johnson, carries a long list of occupations: entrepreneur, accomplished pianist and vocal performJohnson er, composer, arranger and educator. Johnson is on the advisory board of the Georgia State University School of Music, the board of governors (Composer Seat) of the Atlanta Chapter of The Recording Academy (Grammy Organization) and the board of directors of the Atlanta Film Festival, among others. “Callanwolde Fine Arts Center is the destination that all my life’s experiences have brought me to,” Johnson said. Johnson said her experience of running a business, her love of architecture and her work as a music instructor and composer have all prepared her to be the arts center’s executive director. “I want to make it clear that Callanwolde is already a fantastic place, I am here to make it better,” Johnson said. In 1988, Johnson founded the Peggy Still School of Music, which has since grown to include more than 600 students and 45 instructors at three locations in Atlanta, Alpharetta and Woodstock. In 2011, Johnson sold the school. Johnson has also performed all over the world and most recently worked with Stephen King, John Mellencamp, and T Bone Burnett on their musical production Ghost Brothers of Darkland County as the vocal coach and copyist. As executive director, Johnson said she wants to develop more outreach programs at Callanwolde to host wellness programs with seniors and those with special needs, and make more programming available to veterans and low income families. Johnson also said she wants Callanwolde to use its outdoor amphitheater more frequently. “I’d like bring in some acoustic groups or chamber music,” Johnson said. “Maybe some Shakespeare plays—things that don’t require a loud sound but that would be nice for the public.” In addition to adding more music program and growing Callanwolde’s arts program, Johnson said she wanted to improve the grounds at the large GothicTudor style mansion, which was completed in 1920 and was home to the Charles Howard Candler family. Howard Candler, the oldest son of founder of the Coca-Cola Co. Asa Candler, was the president of Coca-Cola from 1916 to 1923. Johnson said she wanted to work with DeKalb County to promote Callanwolde and undertake several capital campaigns to raise funds to improve the grounds and some of the unused buildings at the mansion. Additionally, Johnson wants to begin offering tours. “I want Callawolde to be a household name and when people visit Atlanta. I want it to be a place they want to come and see,” Johnson said.
featuring authors Joshilyn Jackson, Karen White, and a concert by Dappled Grays
Saturday, March 9, 2013 • 7:00 p.m. • Decatur Library dekalblibrary.org/foundation, or 404.370.8450 ext. 2238
DeKalb County Wants to Hear From You Regarding the Proposed Franchise Agreement Renewal with Comcast Cable Communications
Send your comments and/or concerns regarding Comcast’s current performance under the current franchise agreement and/or the future cable-related needs and interests of your community to www.dekalbcountyga.gov.
The Champion Weather
Seven Day Forecast
Partly Cloudy High: 59 Low: 44 Showers Likely High: 57 Low: 47 Showers Likely High: 59 Low: 45 Scat'd Rain High: 62 Low: 47 Few Showers High: 60 Low: 42 Partly Cloudy High: 63 Low: 45
Feb. 21, 2013
Today’s Regional Map
Dunwoody 57/43 Lilburn Smyrna Doraville 58/44 58/44 58/44 Decatur Snellville 59/44 59/44 Atlanta 59/44 Lithonia College Park 60/44 60/44 Morrow 60/44 Union City 60/44 Hampton 61/45
Detailed Local Forecast
Today we will see partly cloudy skies with a high temperature of 59º, humidity of 41%. Light winds. The record high temperature for today is 75º set in 1976. Expect mostly cloudy skies tonight with a 70% chance of showers, overnight low of 44º. The record low for tonight is 19º set in 1963. Date Hi Lo Normals Precip Tuesday 55 45 56/36 0.28" Wednesday 53 39 56/36 0.04" Thursday 56 37 57/36 0.00" Friday 62 30 57/36 0.00" Saturday 44 30 57/37 0.00" Sunday 46 22 57/37 0.00" Monday 58 25 58/37 0.00" Rainfall. . . . . . . . 0.32" Average temp . . 43.0 Normal rainfall. . 1.16" Average normal 46.6 Departure . . . . . .-0.84" Departure . . . . . -3.6 Day Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Sunrise 7:15 a.m. 7:13 a.m. 7:12 a.m. 7:11 a.m. 7:10 a.m. 7:09 a.m. 7:08 a.m.
Feb. 21, 1935 - Frequent dust storms occurred in eastern Colorado during the month, forcing schools to close and people to stay indoors. A fatality occurred on this date when two section cars collided on the railroad near Arriba, Colo., due to poor visibility. Feb. 22, 1986 - A 12-day siege of heavy rain and snow, which produced widespread flooding and mudslides across northern and central California, finally came to an end. The storm caused more than 400 million dollars in property damage.
Last Week's Local Almanac
Local Sun/Moon Chart This Week
Sunset 6:27 p.m. 6:28 p.m. 6:29 p.m. 6:30 p.m. 6:31 p.m. 6:32 p.m. 6:33 p.m. Moonrise 2:48 p.m. 3:44 p.m. 4:41 p.m. 5:40 p.m. 6:39 p.m. 7:40 p.m. 8:42 p.m.
Full 2/25 Last 3/4
Mostly Sunny High: 64 Low: 41
Moonset 4:12 a.m. 4:53 a.m. 5:31 a.m. 6:08 a.m. 6:42 a.m. 7:16 a.m. 7:51 a.m.
New 3/11 First 3/18 Mercury Venus Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Rise Set 7:52 a.m. 7:45 p.m. 6:56 a.m. 5:43 p.m. 7:53 a.m. 7:23 p.m. 11:49 a.m. 1:56 a.m. 11:40 p.m. 10:38 a.m. 8:48 a.m. 9:02 p.m.
Local UV Index
0 - 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11+
National Weather Summary This Week
The Northeast will see mostly clear to partly cloudy skies with a few snow showers today, scattered rain and snow Friday and Saturday, with the highest temperature of 45º in Germantown, Md. The Southeast will experience mostly clear skies with isolated thunderstorms today, scattered showers and thunderstorms Friday and Saturday, with the highest temperature of 84º in Naples, Fla. In the Northwest, there will be partly cloudy to cloudy skies with scattered rain and snow today through Saturday, with the highest temperature of 52º in Colville, Wash. The Southwest will see mostly clear to partly cloudy skies today through Saturday, with the highest temperature of 68º in Artesia, N.M.
Is sunlight reflected by snow?
StarWatch By Gary Becker - Thank You, Mrs. Hurd
I was diagnosed with lung cancer in late April of 2007. I was on the cusp of retirement as director of the Allentown (PA) School District Planetarium, and I was angry. My high school students looked at me with surprise, and many of them asked, “So you were a smoker?” I wasn’t, except for one drag at the age of 14. My family physician, Gerald Miller, played it safe, thinking maybe I had TB, so I was pulled from work because of the probability of being contagious. That gave me valuable time to read about the disease which allowed me to converse with my surgeons in a more knowledgably manner. The operation was performed on June 3, laproscopically by William Burfeind, a young teaching physician from Duke University. The hospital was St. Luke’s in Bethlehem. I can still see Burfeind’s smiling face looking down at me in recovery. He said, “We sliced and diced that tumor and could find no cancer.” After a very painful night in ICU, I was transported up to a room in the Hurd Pavilion of St. Luke’s where I received state of the art treatment by a large cadre of caring nurses and physicians. Four days later, I walked out of the hospital without assistance. In 2009, when I was asked to join the Moravian College faculty, I spent lots of time working with retiring professor Joe Gerencher, a wonderful mentor. When I finally got to see the Collier rooftop observatory, there was this new A-shaped, roofed building blocking a critical view of the horizon in the southwest. Horizonal astronomy was always one of my interests. I was flabbergasted. The students called it PPHAC, the Priscilla Payne Hurd Academic Center. Priscilla Payne Hurd died February 5 at the grand age of 93. What do you say to a woman whose generosity helped save your life, but messed up your horizons? There are only two words that come to mind. Thank you, thank you, thank you... www.astronomy.org
Answer: Yes, more than 80 percent of sunlight gets reflected.
UV Index 0-2: Low, 3-5: Moderate, 6-7: High, 8-10: Very High, 11+: Extreme Exposure
The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22,, 2013
Interim DeKalb County Police Chief Lisa Gassner told commissioners recently that the department is not hiring enough officers to maintain its staffing levels. File photo.
County police department struggling to maintain staffing
by Andrew Cauthen firstname.lastname@example.org The DeKalb County Police Department is having difficulty keeping enough officers on the force. Interim Police Chief Lisa Gassner said the department is losing approximately 10 officers each month. “Currently we are understaffed,” Gassner told the county’s Board of Commissioners during a budget retreat Feb. 15 at Stone Mountain Park. The proposed 2013 county budget of DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis has $1 million to hire 25 officers. “That would pay for half an academy,” Gassner said. Zachary Williams, the county’s chief operating officer, said the county administration may have to ask for another $1 million to fund a full police academy of 50 officers. Currently, there is a police academy underway, but it takes approximately a year for officers to go through an academy and hit the streets, Gassner said. The academy class is expected to graduate in April. According to county officials, DeKalb has 1,128 authorized police department positions but currently only 953 are filled, leaving 175 vacancies. The county’s current budget only funds 30 of those positions. Gassner said her “Christmas list” would be to have four academies with 50 officers each—a total of 200 spots. “We’re only authorized currently for the 30 that’s in the budget,” Gassner said. “And it would be a year before we see any of these officers.” Gassner said DeKalb’s police force will also be affected by the pending Brookhaven police department. Approximately 50-60 police officers will be reassigned to other zones once the newly formed city of Brookhaven begins its own police force later this year. Before that occurs, the DeKalb police department will have lost approximately 60 officers, Gassner said. Commissioners said the police department needs a staffing strategy. “We want a five-year plan,” said Commissioner Elaine Boyer to police department representatives during the retreat. “What you have in your budget doesn’t even look to the future. There is no excuse for one academy a year.” “We need to know why we’re losing officers,” Commission Kathie Gannon said, “and what is the level of service we need for…unincorporated DeKalb.” Commissioner Stan Watson said the DeKalb County Police Department has a reputation for running one of the best police academies in the state. “We’ve got to talk about why we’re losing these officers,” Watson said. “If we train them and they leave, we’re going to have a revolving door. We can’t just run them through the best academy…and they leave.” Watson said some officers are going to Clayton County, which has an education assistance program for officers. “Can you imagine our officers going to Clayton County?” he said. Gassner said there are a “multitude of reasons” why DeKalb officers are leaving the police force. “Some are just changing careers,” she said. “Some are going places where they can make more money. Some are going because of educational reasons; they want to improve and we don’t offer something like that. Some are going into private business. A lot of it is centered around the economy.” Williams told commissioners that he would present a two-year staffing strategy to the Board of Commissioners’ budget vote on Feb. 26.
Druid Hills Continued From Page 12A
The appeal to the zoning board was made by DeKalb commissioners Kathie Gannon and Jeff Rader and the Druid Hills Civic Association. “There was an appeal of an erroneous decision made by our administrative staff,” Gannon sad. “Unfortunately the board of appeals did not look at those facts and made a motion to deny [the appeal]. “Even though it was made through some kind of decision [or] deal on the part of the CEO’s office, there was no agreement of any kind that we [commissioners] have ever seen or ever been involved in,” Gannon said. In July 2012, Ellis was named in a lawsuit over a land displacement permit for the proposed subdivision. Five months later, the county gave Buckler permission to proceed with part of the subdivision, and the lawsuit was dropped. “The owner said he had filed a lawsuit against the CEO and then agreed to drop it if they would settle and give him a permit,” MacGregor said. “That doesn’t seem like the right thing to do me. Is that the way permits are now issued in DeKalb County?”
The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
Obama Continued From Page 1A
City Schools of Decatur Associate Superintendent Thomas Van Soelen said approximately 25 percent of College Heights’ 340 pupils receive free or reduced lunches. However, a decade ago that number was closer to 70 percent. Although Georgia maintains a low nationwide education rating, many of the approximately 3,800 pre-K classrooms in the state are finding unique ways to educate young children. Currently, there are 84,000 pupils enrolled in Georgia’s pre-K program. Obama said College Heights is unique because each class combines children from different socioeconomic backgrounds and children with disabilities. “You’re not seeing some of that stratification that leads to these major achievement gaps,” Obama said. “Let’s make it a national priority.” The president said maintaining a high-quality early childhood education program would help improve graduation rates, reduce teenage pregnancy and strengthen the economy. Additionally, Obama echoed remarks he made in his State of the Union speech about the importance of investing in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). “Our commitment to our kids’ education has to continue throughout their academic lives and equip them with the tools they need to compete in the future,” Obama said. “That’s why we’re working to train 100,000 new STEM teachers.” Although he said the country has made great strides in making higher education accessible for more Americans, Obama urged colleges to keep costs down or their federal funding could suffer. “Taxpayers can’t keep on subsidizing ever-escalating price tags for higher education,” Obama said. “Once our kids graduate from high school, we need to make sure that skyrocketing costs don’t push middle-class families out or saddle them with debt.” Obama also told Congress to change the Higher Education Act so that affordability and value are included in determining which colleges receive federal aid. Greg White, director of the Decatur Active Living Department, said having the president visit was a wonderful opportunity for the city, which he described as “very progressive.” “It means a lot,” White said. “We’ve always maintained the school system really well. We need to think about how to make things better for young people education-wise so they can become productive citizens—that’s what the government is all about.” Obama applauded Georgia for making significant progress on its pre-K program and said that the state’s efforts will ensure its children will grow up with the skills they needs in the workplace and as citizens. “In the end, that’s what this is all about, giving our kids the best possible shot at life,” Obama said.
City Schools of Decatur teachers, DeKalb County Commissioner Kathie Gannon, Congressman Hank Johnson (below, right) and other attendees greeted President Obama at the Decatur Recreation Center. Photos by Travis Hudgons
The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
Aisha Bowden, left, director of the Atlanta Music Project (AMP) works with a group of choral students, right and bottom, at Ivy Preparatory Academy in Kirkwood. Students interested in the free program offers must adhere to a strict attendance policy.
Music nonprofit teaches underserved youth to enact social change
by Daniel Beauregard email@example.com Middle school students in Ivy Prep’s AMPlify program were preparing to leave early Feb. 14 for a Valentine’s Day dance, but before they left Atlanta Music Project director Aisha Bowden had them line up into two rows. “Now we’re going to practice our solfeggio,” Bowden said. Solfeggio is a singing technique used to teach different pitches. The students soon began to slowly ascend the major scale, shouting, “do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do.” Now in its third year, the Atlanta Music Project (AMP) has been providing music education to youth in underserved schools throughout metro Atlanta to enact social change. Bowden said that what the students learn in the program goes far beyond a rigorous musical education. “In the pursuit of musical excellence they will develop skills that they can use later on in life,” Bowden said. “They’ll learn self-control, tenacity; all of these character traits that will help develop them into a better human beings.” AMP began by offering orchestra programs and this year it also started its vocal program AMPlify. Each week, more than 150 students attend three to five two-hour classes after school to learn voice training, or how to play donated classical instruments. Recently, Ivy Preparatory Academy in DeKalb County received a Steinway grand piano, which was donated to AMP by Nordstrom’s Department Stores. Bowden said that the donated instruments are for all of the students to use, not just those participating in the AMP program. “They get really excited at first when they see that bright shiny instrument,” Bowden said. Bowden said after the excitement wears off the students have to focus their energies on undertaking a rigorous music program taught by instructors who are professional musicians and educators in Atlanta. The only thing required for the classes is that the students show up; there is a strict attendance policy and students are expected to attend every class. The reason attendance guidelines are so strict, Bowden said, is because although AMP aims to help students achieve a high level of success they are receiving a musical education that they would otherwise have to pay a great deal for. Bowden taught in the Washington, D.C., public school system for nine years before moving back to Atlanta. She began as a volunteer for AMP in 2009 while she worked as a middle school chorus teacher. Bowden then partnered with AMP cofounder Dantes Rameau to form the choral program. During their time at AMP, Bowden said students are taught a range of things such as how to read and write music, improvise, perform onstage in a choral ensemble or orchestra, and compose and arrange music. “We had our first mini performance the other day and some of them already came to me with a confidence to get in front of a crowd,” Bowden said. Bowden said some middle school students have a harder time performing in front of a crowd, but practicing it in AMP will help them overcome the fear of giving speeches later in life. “We create a family-like atmosphere here,” Bowden said. Although the teachers are paid a stipend, Bowden said many of them have master’s degrees in performance and music education and they are some of the best musicians in the Metro Area. “They do this because they have a gift but they also have a passion for [helping] others,” Bowden said. “We bring the music to the students’ neighborhood and we try to knock down any access barriers to musical excellence.”
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The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
DeKalb elementary school hosts benefit auction
The DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts (DESA) raised approximately $2,500 Feb. 9 at its first benefit auction, “Mardi Gras Auction Magic.” The event, held at the Lou Walker Center, featured a live auction, dancing to music performed by the TCB Band, led by DESA parent Eric Roberson, and vocalist Greta Prince, winner of the 2011 Essence Music Festival + Pebbles R&B Star competition. According to a news release, proceeds from the event will support student arts and academic achievement at DESA.
DeKalb County Board of Education member Eugene Walker stepped down as board chairman Feb. 18. Walker said he was doing so for the good of the district, which is facing loss of accreditation. File Photo DESA administrative staff member Patricia Woodard and Georgia PTA District 11 Director Deirdre Pierce.
DeKalb school board chairman steps down, board votes on new governance policies
by Daniel Beauregard firstname.lastname@example.org DeKalb County Board of Education member Eugene Walker relinquished his position as board chair after a lengthy executive session meeting Feb. 18. Walker said he was resigning as chair and taking his name out of the running because it is “in the best interest of the district.” “I will be stepping down as chair and we will have an election for a new chair,” Walker said. “We will make whatever sacrifices necessary to move us forward and move us forward in a positive way.” The board also voted on several action items after adjourning from executive session. It hired former Georgia Attorney General Thurbert Baker to help develop and facilitate a corrective action plan in response to a letter from the district’s accrediting agency, AdvancED. The board also hired Dr. Valya S. Lee of Educating with Ease for training on governance issues. In December 2012, the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) was placed on accreditation probation after an investigation by AdvancED cited numerous issues with the district, including governance issues. AdvancED President Mark Elgart said at the time that if the board didn’t make significant improvement on the action items listed in its report, DCSD would lose its accreditation. Since the DeKalb school board was placed on probation because of governance issues, it was required to attend a hearing before the Georgia Board of Education to explain why the district faces the loss of accreditation and what it was doing to improve. At the January meeting, state board members gave the nine-member DeKalb County school board 30 days to show signs of progress or face being replaced by Gov. Nathan Deal. At the Feb. 18 meeting, the DeKalb board also voted to continue to comply with the district’s ethics policy and adopted a new policy related to the creation of working committees. One of the action items listed in AdvancED’s report was for the school board to eliminate any working committees where board members are assuming administrative functions. The report also calls for board members to stop acting independently and undermining the authority of the superintendent to manage day-to-day operations. According to the policy, there will now be no standing committees for the board and special committees will be appointed to undertake specific tasks and then be dissolved once the task is completed. Board members may be appointed to special committees by the board chairman and may include members of the board, district staff, students and residents of the area served by DCSD. The policy also states that a committee shall have no more than three members and will last no longer than 60 days unless the board votes to extend that committees existence.
DeKalb schools receive more than $65,000 in language grants
DESA PTA President Jill Upshaw, DeKalb County Commissioner Lee May, and DESA Parent Council President Jeff Shannon at the DeKalb Elementary School of the Arts Auction, Feb. 9.
The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) will receive approximately $65,000 grants to implement language dual-immersion programs at Rockbridge, Evansdale and Ashford Park elementary schools. Through the grants, DCSD will have the first German and French immersion programs in the state. Rockbridge Elementary and Evansdale Elementary were awarded the grant for French, and Ashford Park Elementary was awarded a grant for German. Students at the three schools will begin their language study in kindergarten using a 50/50 immersion model.
Ivy Preparatory academies at Kirkwood to receive new playground
More than 200 volunteers from Verint Systems and Ivy Preparatory academies at Kirkwood, organizers from KaBOOM! and residents will work together Feb. 25 to build a new playground at the school. The design of the playground being built is based on drawings created by children. The new playground will provide more than 500 children in the Kirkwood community with a safe place to play. Currently, Ivy Preparatory does not have a playground and children play in a parking lot.
Parents, teachers and lay citizens are invited to examine and participate in the evaluation of textbooks and instructional materials under consideration for adoption by the DeKalb County School District. Math materials for grades K-12 are under evaluation. These textbooks and materials will be on display at Avondale Middle School, 3131 Old Rockbridge Road, Avondale Estates, Georgia 30002, beginning on Tuesday, February 26, 2013, and continuing through Saturday, March 2, 2013. The weekday hours are 8:30 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The weekend hours are Saturday, March 2, 2013, from 9:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m.
Textbooks and Instructional Materials on Display
The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22,, 2013
Sam’s Club tests Business Savings Expo event in local stores
by Kathy Mitchell email@example.com Sam’s Club chose the Atlanta area as the test market for its Business Savings Expo, an initiative aimed at small businesses, nonprofits and others. Those members for a week were allowed to sample the benefits of its premium Business Plus membership without the additional cost. A division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Sam’s Club, which bills itself as the nation’s eighth largest retailer, is a membership warehouse club offering products and services to more than 47 million members across the United States and in Brazil, China and Mexico. During Sam’s Club’s mid-February Business Savings Expo, 16 Atlantaarea Sam’s Club locations, including ones in Lithonia, Tucker and the Clairmont Road area of Atlanta offered exclusive savings of up to $2,500 on nearly 200 items. Although the items were targeted to help small business owners, anyone with a Sam’s Club membership could purchase the highlighted merchandise during the weeklong Instant Savings event. The discounts were provided at checkout with no coupons or rebate forms required. The event featured items that are popular with small businesses, including office supplies, soft drinks, snacks, paper towels, cleaning supplies, floor mats and more. If the pilot program proves to be a success, Sam’s Club officials say, it may be repeated and expanded to other markets. “Sam’s Club wants to provide local business owners with the tools and goods they need to lead each day with increased confidence and optimism,” said Betty Marshall, vice president for southeast operations at Sam’s Club. “Every day our associates strive to positively impact and serve small business members, who are so important to the fabric and success of our country. We hope by offering savings atop low prices that Sam’s Club can contribute to increased small business success in 2013.” Mike Jones, manager of the Clairmont Road store, said many of his business customers are operators of food service establishments, daycare centers, convenience stores and small offices. He added that the location in a busy, thriving area near Emory University and downtown Decatur is an especially exciting place to be. “It’s a great event,” said Jones, who has been with Sam’s Club for five years and came to the Atlanta store after working with the company in Detroit. “It’s our way of allowing members to see for themselves the advantages in upgrading their memberships.” In addition to special Instant Savings events, business plus members are offered access to early shopping hours, truckload savings, invoice comparisons and increased access to capital, according to Jones. He said many of the specially priced items were displayed near the store entrance or marked with colorful balloons so they could be easily identified by customers. Jones said that Sam’s Club sees itself as a partner to small local businesses. A statement from the company notes that last year, Sam’s Club and the Sam’s Club Giving Program provided grants and donations of more than $600,000 to national non-profit SCORE to offer supplies and training to 102 U.S. small businesses, including two Georgia-based businesses. Sam’s Club serves an estimated 600,000 business members daily in 620 club locations across the United States, according to company officials.
Clairmont Road Sam’s Club Manager Mike Jones, above photo, says the Business Savings Expo allows customers to try a premium membership without committing to it. Balloons and special displays alert customers that merchandise is being offered at a special price.
The Voice of Business in DeKalb County
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DeKalb Chamber of Commerce
The ChAmPion Free Press, FridAy, Feb. 22, 2013
Emory experts urge routine cervical cancer screenings
Each day in the United States, 30 women are diagnosed with cervical cancer and 11 women die from it. Cancer prevention advocates such as Lisa Flowers, M.D., and Kevin Ault, M.D., from Emory University School of Medicine want all women to hear one simple message: “Routine screenings save lives.” Nearly 100 percent of women diagnosed at the pre-cancer stage of cervical cancer survive. “Over 50 percent of women who present with cervical cancer have never had a Pap or are more than five years since their last Pap,” said Flowers, associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Emory. “No woman has to die from cervical cancer,” said Ault, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Emory. “It’s almost entirely preventable with recommended Pap guidelines. If everyone got a regular Pap test and the HPV (human papillomavirus) vaccine we could reduce the number of women diagnosed with cervical cancer by more than 75 percent.” Doctors use the routine Pap smear test to look for pre-cancers or cell changes on the cervix that might become cervical cancer if left untreated. Researchers say the HPV vaccine has the potential to protect women from the disease by targeting the single known cause of cervical cancer—the human papillomavirus (HPV). Two forms of the virus, HPV 16 and HPV 18, account for more than 70 percent of all cervical cancer cases. “As far as a cancer vaccine goes this is the best we have,” said Ault, who is one of the lead researchers for the vaccine. “Our hope is that as more girls begin getting the HPV vaccine in accordance with the recommended age guidelines of 9 years of age. That protection coupled with screening could potentially eliminate cervical cancer in the United States.” Awareness programs also provide an opportunity for outreach and education, which Flowers takes advantage of. In addition to her work as a medical doctor at Grady, Flowers is founder of The Spirit Foundation, a non profit organization dedicated to educating women of diverse backgrounds about preventable diseases and cancers. The Spirit Foundation holds an annual “Walk for Hope” to raise awareness and encourage regular screening for HPV-related diseases and cervical cancer among women throughout Georgia. Though all women are at risk for cervical cancer, it occurs most often in women over age 30. Each year, about 11,000 women in the United States will develop cervical cancer making it the eighth most common type of cancer in American women. “In four or five generations we’ve gone from cervical cancer being the most common cause of cancer death for women in the United States to being a vaccine-preventable disease,” Ault said. “That’s a really remarkable story if you trace this research and outreach over the last 50 to 60 years.”
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CDC: Pregnant women should guard against flu
For women who are pregnant, a flu shot is the best protection against serious illnesses caused by the flu, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The flu is more likely to cause severe illness in pregnant women than in women who are not pregnant. Changes in the immune system, heart and lungs during pregnancy make pregnant women more prone to severe illness from flu, which can lead to hospitalization or even death. A pregnant woman with the flu also has a greater chance of serious problems for her unborn baby, includ-
Early treatment important for pregnant women
ing miscarriage or preterm birth. A flu shot can protect pregnant women, their unborn babies, and even the baby after birth, CDC officials say.
When to seek emergency medical care
Pregnant women who get sick with flu-like symptoms should call a doctor right away. If needed, the doctor will prescribe an antiviral medicine that treats the flu. Pregnant women who get a fever should treat it with a feverreducing medicine containing acetaminophen (such as Tylenol®) and contact a doctor as soon as possible.
According to the CDC, pregnant women who have any of these signs should call 911 right away: • Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath • Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen • Sudden dizziness • Confusion • Severe or persistent vomiting • High fever that is not responding to Tylenol® (or store brand equivalent) • Decreased or no movement of the baby
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The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22,, 2013
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The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
Ray Bonner retires after 35 years of coaching
by Carla Parker email@example.com
or Cedar Grove High School head football coach Ray Bonner, coaching wasn’t all about winning games and championships. It was about helping young people achieve their goals. “I can name a million people who helped me as a player and I was just trying to give back to the community,” Bonner said. “For me, it [has] just been about saving lives. I think in my own way God put me here. That’s been my ministry and I think [my coaching staff and I] have done a decent job of pointing kinds in the right direction.” Bonner has decided to hang up his whistle after 35 years of coaching and directing young people. The Tennessee native said he decided to retire because of the obligation he has to young coaches. “I feel an obligation to young coaches to allow them to pursue the same dream that I pursued for 35 years,” he said. “I think it’s just time to do something different and allow a younger person to touch lives and be productive in life.” Bonner, a graduate of Franklin High School in Winchester, Tenn., was one of the first two Blacks signed to football scholarships to Middle Tennessee State University in 1969. Bonner started at cornerback for four years at Middle Tennessee State before he was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1973. Bonner played in the NFL for a year before a heart murmur ended his career. He spent a year as a graduate assistant for the Middle Tennessee football team before he began his coaching career in 1978. He got his first coaching job at Columbia High School where he spent six years as head coach. During his time at Columbia, his team was considered one of the best in DeKalb County. “Back then it wasn’t a lot of kids getting Division I scholarships but we had about nine kids get Division I scholarships that year,” he said. “That was a great group.” Bonner moved to Southwest DeKalb High School after his tenure at Columbia. He was assistant head football coach and the head track coach from 1985-89. He left the high school level to move up to the college ranks at Alabama A&M University in 1989. He was an assistant head coach at Alabama A&M before being named head coach in 1991. He moved to Texas Southern in 1994 and spent five years as assistant head football coach and head track coach. He was an assistant football coach at Tennessee State from 2000-2003 before moving back to DeKalb to take the head football coaching job at
Cedar Grove High School head football coach Ray Bonner is retiring after 35 years of coaching football and track.
Cedar Grove. Bonner has a 134-97 record, eight region championships, four area championships and a North Georgia Championship as a high school coach. On the college level he has a 69-85-1 record and three SIAC Conference championships. Bonner has helped hundreds
career is seeing his players go off to college, come back and become productive citizens. “That’s bigger than just seeing them going to college,” he said. “To see them come back and contribute to the community, that’s what stands out in my mind. “You’re never going to re-
ing all over the country,” he said. “I can pick out a weekend and go watch some good football and see those young people play at the next level. “I just want to be a part of making this world better, whether I’m coaching football or not.”
‘I just want to be a part of making this world better, whether I’m coaching football or not.’
of players reach the next level in their careers, whether college level or professional level. He had 11 players that made it to the NFL and track athlete that participated in the Olympics. In his final year as coach, he helped 12 athletes earn football scholarships to college. He said the “biggest enjoyment” of his coaching member records because if you ask somebody today they can’t tell you the record from last year,” he said. “But the kids you’ll remember. You’ll remember all the things that they have done and the things that they are still doing.” Bonner said his retirement plans include a lot of traveling. “I’ve got [former players] play-
Photos by Travis Hudgons
The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22,, 2013
The Champion chooses a male and female high school Athlete of the Week each week throughout the school year. The choices are based on performance and nominations by coaches. Please e-mail nominations to firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday at noon. MALE ATHLETE OF THE WEEK Alonzo Brantley, Druid Hills (basketball): The senior forward scored 18 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in the 81-80 overtime win over No. 1 seed Rockdale County. FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE WEEK Nicole Martin, Southwest DeKalb (basketball): The sophomore forward scored 22 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the Lady Panthers 60-47 win over Miller Grove in the Region 6-AAAAA title game on Feb. 16. Martin averaged 16.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game this season.
Arabia Mountain forward Elisa Miller (No. 7) scored four goals in the 10-0 win over Lithonia on Feb. 15. Photo by Carla Parker
Lady Rams rout Lithonia in season opener
by Carla Parker email@example.com
he Arabia Mountain Lady Rams soccer team opened its 2013 season with a 10-0 win over Lithonia on Feb. 15. Arabia Mountain scored six goals in the first half and four in the second before the referees ended the game with 10 minutes left because of the competitive imbalance rule. Forward Elisa
Miller led the Lady Rams with four goals on eight shots. Forward Jenee Neil was right behind Miller with three goals on seven shots. Forwards Kiera Hogan and Takiya Eagleton along with midfielder Jenae Smith each scored a goal to add to the Lady Rams’ score. Although the score made it seem that the Lady Rams were flawless, head coach Tricia Silvera said the team still has a lot to improve on.
“We were out here to get the girls some practice so they can play the stronger team [better] and know exactly what they need to do to play the stronger teams better,” she said. “We need them to get better on their communication and passing the ball so they can make stronger plays.” The Lady Rams will face McNair on Feb. 21 at 5:30 p.m. at Panthersville Stadium.
Each week The Champion spotlights former high school players from the county who are succeeding in athletics on the college level.
Malcolm Frank, Morehouse (basketball): The junior guard from Miller Grove scored 14 points and grabbed six rebounds in the 81-74 loss to Paine on Feb. 16. Frank is averaging 4.1 points and 2.2 rebounds per game. Kenny Hall, Tennessee (basketball): The senior forward from Redan scored 12 points and grabbed four rebounds in the 88-58 win over Kentucky on Feb. 16. Hall is averaging 6.6 points and 4.9 rebounds per game. Conisha Hicks, Clark Atlanta (basketball): The junior guard from Miller Grove led Clark Atlanta in scoring with 18 points in the 7170 win over Benedict on Feb. 16. She is averaging 15.6 points per game.
The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
Two DeKalb wrestlers win gold at state
by Carla Parker firstname.lastname@example.org Senior Khalil Williams made history when he became the first wrestler from McNair to win a gold medal at the state wrestling tournament. Williams and Southwest DeKalb sophomore Abdur-Rahman Yasir both took home gold medals in their respective state tournaments on Feb. 16 in Macon. Williams finished the season with a 56-1 record after defeating Ringgold’s Sam Shepard by pin fall in the Class AAA 120-pound weight class championship round. Williams said it felt good to win his first gold medal and make history at his school. “I worked hard for this for a lot of years and it feels good to accomplish this,” he said. Williams defeated Morgan County’s Jacob McAlister by pin fall in the opening round of the tournament and then knocked off St. Pius’ Quinn Pergrine 7-4 in the second round to reach the final against Shepard. Yasir won gold in the Class AAAAA
145-pound weight class after defeating Ware County’s Isaac King by pin fall. Yasir, pin fall winner in his first round match over Effingham’s A.J. Bird on Feb. 14, picked up a pair of victories on Feb. 15 to earn his way into the title match. Second round opponent Ian Phifer of Richmond Hill fell to Yasir 19-4 in a technical fall and third round opponent Caleb King of Loganville was dispatched with a 10-3 decision. Yasir finished his season with a 42-1 record. Five DeKalb wrestlers also placed in the Class AAAAA state tournament. Stephenson’s Stephen Wylie (152-pound weight class) and Darian Perry (170-pound weight class) both placed third in their respective weight class. Dunwoody’s Sunny Sharma placed fourth in the 113-pound weight class, Southwest DeKalb’s Muadh As-Siddiq placed fifth in the 106-pound weight class, and Arabia Mountain’s Alema Favors placed fifth in the 126-pound weight class.
McNair’s Khalil Williams (left) and Southwest DeKalb’s Adul-Rahman Yasir both won gold medals at the GHSA Traditional State Wrestling Tournament in Macon on Feb. 16.
Thirteen DeKalb teams in the state playoffs
by Carla Parker email@example.com State basketball playoffs began Feb. 19 and DeKalb County has 13 teams in the big dance, including four teams that entered as No. 1 seeds after claiming region championships on Feb. 16. The Druid Hills Red Devils was the Cinderella story in the Region 2-AAAAAA Tournament, beating No. 1 seed Rockdale County 82-81 in overtime to claim the region title. Druid Hills entered the tournament as the No. 6 seed and knocked off No. 3 seed Lovejoy, No. 2 Luella and No. 1 Rockdale County to take the region title and earn a No. 1 seed in the Class AAAAAA state playoffs. Druid Hills hosted Douglas County on Feb. 20. Druid Hills head coach Jerome Lee said his team is capable of going on another run in the state playoffs as they did in the region tournament. “It just depends on whether these guys are up to it,” he said. “We’re going to take it one game at a time. We’re not going to look past anyone.” The defending four-time Class AAAA state champions and No. 1 ranked Miller Grove Wolverines won the Region 6-AAAAA boys’ title after defeating No. 10 ranked Stephenson 55-51 on Feb. 16. Both teams hosted home playoff games on Feb. 20 as Miller Grove hosts Sequoyah and Stephenson plays host to Pope. The No. 5 ranked Tucker Tigers finished as the No. 4 seed out of DeKalb Lady Panthers entered the Region 6-AAAAA girls’ tournament as the lowest ranked of four ranked DeKalb County teams at No. 9, but won three consecutive games to claim their first region title since 2010. The Lady Panthers upset No. 1 Tucker 54-49 in the semifinals and then knocked off No. 3 Miller Grove 60-47 to take the No. 1 seed heading into the state tournament. Southwest DeKalb hosted Region 7’s Sprayberry on Feb. 19. Miller Grove, the 2012 Class AAAA state champion, entered the playoffs with the No. 2 seed and hosted Pope on Feb. 19. Tucker knocked off No. 2 Stephenson 63-54 to take the No. 3 seed into the state tournament. Tucker traveled to Osborne on Feb. 19 while Stephenson traveled to No. 5. Defending Class AAA state champions and No. 1 ranked Columbia Lady Eagles defeated the No. 2 Redan Lady Raiders 49-46 in the Region 6-AAAA title game. It was the second victory in three games against Redan this season for Columbia. The Lady Eagles hosted Pickens County on Feb. 20 and Redan hosted Dalton on Feb. 19 as the No. 2 seed. The boys and girls teams from Decatur, Marist and St. Pius X also punched their tickets to the state playoffs. On Feb. 19, the Decatur Lady Bulldogs hosted Fannin County, Marist girls traveled to N. W. Whitfield, St. Pius X boys hosted East Hall and the girls host White County. Decatur boys traveled to North Hall on Feb. 20 and Marist boys headed to Dalton.
Gamuan Boykins, with ball, will accompany his Miller Grove teammates to defend their Class AAAA state champion. Photo by Travis Hudgons
Region 6-AAAAA and will travel to Sprayberry on Feb. 20 in the first round of the state playoffs. Defending three-time Class AAA state champions Columbia Eagles suffered their second loss of the season to South Atlanta 74-73 in the Region 6-AAAA boys’ championship game on Feb. 16. The Eagles finished the regular season as the
No. 1 ranked team in Class AAAA but entered the playoffs as the No. 2 seed out of the region and faced Gilmer County on Feb. 20 in the first round. The Cedar Grove Saints finished as the No. 4 seed out of Region 6-AAA and traveled to Buford on Feb. 20. On the girls’ side, the Southwest
The Champion Free Press, Friday, Feb. 22, 2013
Horizon School students learn dance moves from Alvin Ailey instructor
by Carla Parker firstname.lastname@example.org Students from the Horizon School in Atlanta and the Valley Brook Community Dance Center Project got a little taste of the Alvin Ailey dance experience. The school and dance center sponsored a master class on Feb. 15, which was taught by Glenn Allen Sims of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. Sims taught the 40 students modern dance and the Horton Technique, a dance that incorporate diverse elements, including Native American folk dance, Japanese arm gestures and more. Sims, who has been with the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater for 16 years, said the class is an outreach program, that is a part of Alvin Ailey’s mission to “give back to the community through dance.” Lucretia Roberson, artistic director at Valley Brook Community Dance Center, said the class is an opportunity to expose students to dance. “The class helps gets the students involved in dance and gives them the experience of working with a master teacher,” she said. The Alvin Ailey Dance Theater was in Atlanta Feb. 14-17 performing at the Fox Theater in Atlanta.
Glenn Allen Sims of the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater taught the 40 students from the Horizon School in Atlanta and the Valley Brook Community Dance Center Project modern dance and the Horton Technique. Photos by Carla Parker
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