by Andrew Cauthen
DeKalb County Commission-
ers Jeff Rader and Kathie Gannon
are the subjects of new ethics com-
plaints filed July 1 and July 7.
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See South River on page 13A
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Business ........................15A
Classifed .......................17A
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Sports ...................... 18-19A
by Carla Parker
n the summer of 2010, some
residents in south DeKalb
County were appalled to see
children and adults swimming and
playing in the dirty waters of South
River at the corner of Panola Road
and Highway 155.
Te river attracted people to
the area because of the sand that
washed ashore. However, that
sand was actually storm water
sediment, according to Jacqueline
Echols, president of the South River
Watershed Alliance (SRWA) board.
“It comes from Atlanta where
folks don’t secure their construction
sites,” Echols said. “Te storm water
runs of from those construction
sites is flled with dirt and it swings
around this was and deposit sand.”
Storm water runof has become
the biggest issue for South River
and it is an issue SRWA fghts as the
group work to improve the river.
SRWA incorporated in 2000 as a
nonproft organization.
From 2000 to 2005, member
of Clean Streams Task Force, a
multi-jurisdictional coalition of
community and watershed groups,
formed to provide community
input into implementation of
Atlanta’s combined sewer overfow
federal consent decree. Te task
force combined education and
advocacy to win changes to the
National Pollution Discharge
Elimination System permit for
Atlanta’s combined sewer overfow
system, resulting in water quality
improvements for South River.
In 2011, SRWA intervened in
the DeKalb County federal consent
decree, which provides communities
in south DeKalb with full access to
the consent decree implementation
process. Te group later launched
South River 2020, an eight-
year project to build long-term
community support for South River.
Te initiative runs concurrently with
the DeKalb County federal consent
During that time, Echols said the
biggest obstacle they faced was the
lack of information for the public.
For more than a decade, Atlanta has
been a polluter city because of the
combined sewer overfow system.
However, with the consent decree
the city had to limit the number
of combined sewer overfows that
come into the South River, Echols
“Now they only have one
overfow site on this end of Atlanta,”
Echols said. “Te river — because
the combined sewer overfow
has been limited — has greatly
improved. But that message did not
get out to the community.
“So when you had the
situation in 2010 when people
were swimming in the river, the
community was in an uproar, not
because of how the river was that
day, but how they viewed the river
in the past,” she added. “Tings have
South River
day by day
South River Watershed Alliance president Jacqueline Echols said the South River is better than what it use to be, but there is still more work to be done. Photos by
Carla Parker
Ethics complaint
fled against
interim county CEO
Two more DeKalb
accused of ethics
by Andrew Cauthen
An ethics complaint fled against
interim DeKalb County CEO Lee
May questions his creation of an
ethics watch-
Te com-
plaint, fled
July 2 by Rhea
Johnson, al-
leges that May
“has over-
stepped his
authority” and
“seeks to im-
properly exert
control” over
the DeKalb County ethics board by
establishing a code of ethics and by
creating a full-time chief integrity
of cer, investigator and administra-
tive assistant for the ethics board.
“What concerns me is that
[May] is trying to infuence the
board and to blur the lines between
the independence of the board,”

Sherif’s sergeant
mourns loss of partner
by Carla Parker
A murder suspect was
arrested July 2 in connection
with a June 27 fatal shooting
near Lithonia.
Johnie Oliver, 21, was
taken into custody by the
DeKalb County Sheriff ’s Of-
fice Fugitive Squad and is at
the DeKalb County Jail on
one charge of murder and
two counts of aggravated as-
A 23-year-old man was
killed and two others were
injured during the incident,
which police described as a
shootout that took place on
Swift Creek Drive off South
Deshon Road. Accord-
ing to police, the victims,
who were in a black Dodge
Neon, pulled off on a side
street, where an individual
approached them and gun-
shots were fired.
A woman in the car was
able to drive the three to the
emergency room at nearby
DeKalb Medical Hillendale
despite being shot in the
leg, according to police. The
two men in the car were
seriously injured and were
transferred to Grady Memo-
rial Hospital, where one of
the men later died.
Investigators had con-
sidered Oliver armed and
dangerous. At the time of
the arrest, Oliver offered no
Georgia Piedmont
Technical College | 404-297-9522
by Andrew Cauthen
DeKalb Sheriff ’s Sergeant
R. Lacy said he lost his best
friend when his partner died
June 2.
“He was the best, abso-
lute best. He was loyal; he
was a great family member,
loving to my kids,” Lacy
said. “He was an awesome
Rocky, a DeKalb County
Sheriff ’s Office K-9 officer
for four years, died of mul-
tiple medical issues.
A Malinois or Belgian
shepherd dog, Rocky had a
heart murmur, double her-
nia, issues with his hips and
an inflated prostate, Lacy
said. The funeral service for
7-year-old Rocky was July 2
at Oak Rest Pet Gardens in
Rocky was one of the
only K-9s in Georgia trained
in cellphone detection, said
Lacy, a sergeant with the jail
emergency services team,
which handles high-risk
situations within the jail,
controls inmate behavior
and prevents contraband,
according the sheriff ’s of-
fice’s website.
“He is trained to sniff
out the odor of cellphones,”
Lacy said. “I was impressed
when we were training on
it with how fast he picked it
Rocky was an award-
winning K-9 officer. In
2013 he won two first-place
trophies during a compe-
tition—for criminal ap-
prehension and building
searches. Together, Lacy and
Rocky won the inaugural
best K-9 team award.
Lacy said Rocky helped
numerous agencies around
metro Atlanta, including the
DeKalb County Police De-
partment, U.S. Marshals and
federal Drug Enforcement
“He’s done a lot of
things,” Lacy said. “The dog
had drive like no other. He
was actually my third dog
because I was a military K-9
handler for eight years. Out
of all my dogs, he was the
Losing Rocky, one of
two K-9s in the sheriff ’s of-
fice, was “like losing a best
friend,” Lacy said. “He was
like one of my kids at home.
When we were at work, he
was my partner.”
Lacy said he has not
decided whether he will
pursue getting another K-9
“That remains to be
seen,” said Lacy, who has
been with the sheriff ’s of-
fice for six years. “It was
so tough losing him [and]
tough on my kids. I’m not
sure I want to go through
that again. So, I’m not sure
right now.”
Rocky “was an outstand-
ing partner and he will be
dearly missed by everybody
that he touched,” Lacy said.
“He touched a lot of lives.”
DeKalb Sheriff’s Offce Sgt. R. Lacy’s K-9 partner, Rocky, was laid to rest July 2.
Rocky was an award-winning K-9 offcer. Photos provided
Murder suspect in Lithonia
shooting death arrested
Jon Abercrombie
Frances Abercrombie
Jillian Abraham
Ella Adams
Jack Adams
Jackie Zenobia Adams
Bill Adams
John Ahmann
Bill Ainslie
Vickie Ainslie
LaShonda Allen
Gaynell Allen
Lottie Alston
Roger Anthony
Mary Frances Armour
Mark Arnold
Roz Arnold
Margie Ashe
Darlene Jackson Atcherson
Travis Baker
Lillie Banks
Barbara Banks
Burnestine Barron
Jim Baskett
Mickey Baskett
Michael Baxter
Sara Baxter
Nadine Being
Valencia Blacksheer
Terri Blackwell
Tonya Bloodworth
Betty Bloudeau
Bill Bolling
Haqiqa Bolling
Paul Bolster
Riki Bolster
Carolyn Bolton
Chasney Bowman
Jane Boykin
Fred Boykin
Cassandra Breedlove
Marc Brennan
Terry Broughton
Barbara Broughton
Kelsie Broughton
Jean A. Brown
Sherri Brown
Kristi Brown
Tomas Brown
Charolotte Brown
Ronnie Brown
Alice O’Neal Browner
Beverly Bryant
Shawn Bryant
Daniel Buggs
Betty Burnside
Kenneth Butler
Branden Butler
Carisma Butler
Annie P. Caisla
Jewel Camp
Lonnie Camp
Rita Carter
Cliford Chandler
Mary Cheevers
Robert Clark
Dana Clark
Tory Clark
Kelvin Clark
Geraldine Coachmen
Vonda Cochran
Teneshia Cochran
Jasmine Cochran
Shakela Cochran
Cheryl Cochran
Cory Cochran
Bruce Cohen
Doretha Conner
Pastor Clarke Conner
Gary Cook
Jessica Crawford
Nancey Crawford
Charles Crawford
Deborah Jackson Cross
Kecia Cunningham
Linda Curry
Charlene Daise
Joseph Daise
Joseph Daise
Dwayne Daniels
Patrice Daniels
Sasha Daniels
Nick Danna
Jewell Davis
Margie Davis
Ronnie Davis
Dr. Camille Davis-Williams
Kathy Dawson
Don Denard
Carolyn Denard
Venita Dent
Jessie Dixon
Neil Dobbs
Nick Downey
Candi Downey
Scott Drake
Lindsey Drake
Walt Drake
Linda Dunlany
Genevieve Edwards
Don Edwards
Sheila Elder
Jim Eley
Mattie Eley
Keeron Emmanuel
Pamela Epps
Ann Falconer
Stephanie Flowers
Bill Floyd
Sydney Floyd
Marcia Fowler
Anne Fowlkes
Eddie Fowlkes
Saadia Foy
Gloria Freeman
Sharon Freeman
Barbara Freeman
Janet Freeman
Nancy Friauf
Kathie Gannon
Patti Garrett
Gary Garrett
Monica George-Komi
Roy Gilbert
Teresa Wicklin Gillespie
Toni Gilstrap
Tommy Gilstrap
Marcia Glenn
Annie Godfrey
Garrett Goeble
Mickey Goodson
Carol Gray
James Gresham
Ann Gresham (Freedom Rider)
Brenda James Grifn
Jennifer Gunter
Carol Hadley
Dr. Carole Hahn
Dr. Redonya Haith
Loretta Hamm
Bobby Hamm
Michael Harbin
Graham Hardman
Virginia Hardman
Delores Harper
Henry Harper
Alice Harris
Camille Harvey
Ernest Hawk
Betty Hawk
Carolyn Haynes
Rachel Heming
Willie Bill Henderson Jr
Judith Henson
Kathy Hill
Patsy Jo Hilliard
Robi Hilliard
LaShawn Hofman
Honorable Bruce Holems
James Holmes
Kara Holmes
Patricia Hood
Pastor Frances Howell
Gue Hudson
Eleanor L. Hudson
Julia Humbles
Clarkie Humphrey
Constance Bussey Hunt
Deborah Hunter
Antoinette Hunter
Vickie Hutchinson
Melissa Ann Ingram
Jerome and Veronica Ings
Donna Inkster
Eric Inkster
Patti Ireland
Myron Jackson
Claudius Jackson
David Jackson
Joy Jackson
Bertha Jackson
Darlene Jackson
Louise L. Jackson
Doreen Jackson
Loretta Jeferson
Oliver Jerome
Byron Johnson
C. J. Johnson
Fannie Johnson
Sandy Johnson
Doris Sims Johnson
Karen Stroud Johnson
Tanisha Jones
Lewis D. Jones
Lucinda Jones
Brenda Jordan
Betty Kelly
Mary Alice Kemp
Rachel Kemp
Sylvia A. Kemp
Marshal Kendrick
Barbara Ann Kennimore
Lyn Kerpel
Marie Kimble
Lori Leland Kirk
David Kirk
Jack Kittle
Gloria Knight
Larry Kosten
Elizabeth Kustin
Cindy Wisniewski Lamons
Annie Lawrence
Pamela Lawrence
Caroline Leach
Willie L. Leek
Melba McKnight Lett        
Amber Lett
Prince Lett
Mary Lett
Chuck Lett
Eugene Lett
Augustus Lett III
Augustus Lett Sr.
Liane Levetan
Rosa Lind
Elizabeth Lindley
Charles and Mary Mack
Nicholas Mack
Dr. Kathleen Manigo
Antoinette Marks
Miko Martin
Claudia Martin
Shanta Martin
Sheryl Martin
Carol Massey
Diane Mathews
Virginia Mathis
Velma McCray
Hazel McDaniel
Terry McKnight
Betty McKnight
Dr. Michael McKnight
Teresa McQueen
Syreeta McTier
Sam McTier
Bettye McTier
Ms. Martha Merriweather
Mary Miller
Deidra Miller
Lorri Mills
Cassandra Mingo
Jarvis Mingo
Robert & Deborah Mitchell
Deborah Mitchell
Willie Monroe
Janet Montgomery
Michael Montgomery
Betty Moore
Ralph Moore
Larry Moore
Elaine Moore
Kevin Moran
Mitzi Moran
Dr. Kimberlyn Morris
Bishop James H. Morton
Rodney Mullice
Leslie Munson
Keith Munson
Kristin Munson
Saadai Najee
Najiyyah Nashid
Corris Neal
Jerome Neal Jr.
Dr. GwenNelson
Wanda Nesbitt
Toni Nesbitt
Deborah Nicholson
Dorothy B. Oates
Elizabeth Obrien
Matthew Obrien
Tracy Owens
Lois Palmer
Barbara Parker
Frank Patman
Jennifer Phillips
Bobby Pierce
Marie Pierce
Dinah Pless
Jay Pless
Elaine Pollard
Al and Kimberly Powell
Dacia Priston
Pamela Pryor
Jackie Ramsby
Hunter Ramseur
Christie Ramseur
Miguel and Kimberly Ratlif
Bernice Reid
Julia Rhame
Rhett Rhame
Ann Boon Rhea
Jackie Rhodes
Wayne Robertson
Donna Robertson
Rita Robinzine
Deborah Rochon
Chrys Rogers
JoAnn Rose
Judy Rosemond
Coudry Ross
Lillie Rushin
Lynn Russell
Sarah Sanders
Carla Sanders
Angela Sanford
Rutelia Sassnet
Mildred Schmelz
Margaret Schuelke
Jacqueline Scott
Francine Scott
Janelle Williams Scott
Clarence Scott
Eleanor Scott
Bernadetta Seals
Jan Selman
Bill Selman
Bob Silverman
Juanita Simmons
Calvin Simon
Carolyn Sims
David Sims
Amy Siska
Mildred Slayton
Joyce Smith
Dr. Patricia Smith
Dr. Barbara Smith
Dr. Alexis Smith
Lucille Smith
Ethel Steverson
Donna Jackson Stewart
Sheri Mann Stewart
Lisa Stocks
Dawn Stocks
Sharesma Stocks
Dwayne Stocks
Ruby Stocks
Linda Strickland
Nibs Stroupe
Lenora Styles
Tina Sullivan
Lauren Sullivan
Jan Swanson
Sheila Taylor
Sylvia Taylor
Tomika Tomas
Susan Tomas
Telma Tomas
Ann Tomas
Rodney Tomas
Josie Tompsom
Sara Tompson
Lloyd Torpe
Diane Torpe
Louise Trower
Leonard Trower
Trina Trower
Celeste Tolbert
Calvin Tolbert
Nathaniel Tolbert
Dr. M.D. Tolbert
Helen Toney
Eloise Tucker
Valissa Turner
Larry Turner
Louise Turner
Judy Turner
Michael Turner, Jr.
Iris Vance
John Vance
Brenda Veal
Trudie Wade
William Wade
Abdul Walker
Jean Wallace
Jennifer Wallace
Marion Wallace
Tanya Wallace
Gwendolyn Weaver
Vicki Welborn
Cynthia Westbrook
Sandra White
Ennis White
Ann Whitehead
Glenda Whitworth
J. Richard Whitworth
Lelia Williams
Kyle Williams
Renee Wilson
Rodney Wilson
Craig Wilson
Elizabeth Wilson
Marc Joseph Lamons Wisniewski
Cynthia Woodard
Ronald Woodard
Wendy Worrall
Chandra Wright
Constance Wright
Rachel Zeigler
Decatur’s Red Hatter
Paid for by Valarie for
Education, Inc.
One Georgia for Valarie Wilson
Its important to vote for Valarie Wilson in the upcoming run-of election on July 22, if we want a new direction for
Georgia Public Schools. Please join us in supporting and voting for Valarie Wilson.
Block by block, and street by street
“We saw hundreds of programs to
redevelop the central city, the neigh-
borhoods...all in the past,” Chicago
Mayor Jane Byrne, Chicago Mayor
(1979-1983), to date the Windy City’s
first and only female mayor.
This recession is hanging
on. Here in Georgia, as well in
DeKalb County, and as it relates to
job growth and hiring, it has been
particularly stubborn. But there are
bright spots, here and elsewhere,
and many silos with some new
solutions, in places as diverse as
downtown Birmingham, Detroit,
Cleveland, Ohio and closer to home
in Avondale Estates.
Tiny Avondale Estates, a planned
community founded in 1924, is un-
dergoing a lasting revitalization of
the best and most permanent kind—
building by building, block by block
and street by street. Nowhere is this
more evident than Avondale’s two
main arteries, Clarendon Avenue,
DeKalb county’s first paved road,
and Avondale Road, also known as
College Avenue (coming east from
Decatur), and Covington Highway,
west of the tiny town.
Local real estate developers paid
$1 million to acquire the tired and
dilapidated downtown village...
and in under two years, Oakhurst
Realty Partners has either upgraded
spaces and secured new tenants or
improved conditions and renewed
leases with longtime small business
tenants in better maintained spaces.
Behind the village, a 13-acre
former mill site, and once DeKalb
County’s longest consecutive em-
ployer is under contract with plans
for redevelopment. The erector
set steel of an earlier failed project
closer to the Decatur city limits also
has new hope and a new checkbook
stepping up to the plate.
Second Life Resale, which chari-
tably benefits a host of animal res-
cue causes, and its next door neigh-
bor, Palookaville, are both drawing
customers and attention to the vil-
lage from across the 20-county met-
ro area. A modest new fire station
is under construction to replace the
county’s oldest operating fire house.
New restaurants and retail op-
tions include: The Bishop, a casual/
fine dining concept, named for the
proprietor’s young son; Wild Heav-
en Craft Beers, which just opened
an 8,500-square-foot brewery and
tasting room; the Avondale Theatre,
which will reopen as a 500-seat live
music and performance venue in a
long-abandoned movie house; and
Watts Whiskey Distillery, which is
redeveloping four buildings to create
a 20,000-square-foot development
including a food market, restaurant
and event space.
Tax credits for job creation, some
new leadership at city hall, and en-
trepreneurs and community leaders
have all caused Avondale Estates to
start looking like it has a plan. Arts
and crafts, beer festivals and road
races dot the city’s event calendar,
including one of the most neighbor-
hood and family friendly Fourth of
July parades you may ever experi-
ence. There is a definite Mayberry
feeling, despite proximity to down-
town Atlanta and even the sagging
Memorial Drive corridor being only
a few blocks walk or drive away.
The most lasting and permanent
changes are incremental and involve
much—and though usually led from
the front or the top after taking the
time to build buy-in—awareness
and support. Yet, Avondale is still
more famous as a place you drive
through going elsewhere, than it is
as a destination. But that is rapidly
The Museum School, a local
DeKalb charter school, quadrupled
attendance by Avondale residents
in Avondale’s public elementary,
middle and high schools (as low as
80 students a few years ago), and
Fernbank Elementary’s temporary
relocation to the edge of Avondale
has introduced many a Druid Hills
families to the area, as well as some
of its massive housing bargains.
Avondale Estates Mayor Ed
Reiker isn’t quite doing cartwheels
yet, but the city he was elected to
serve and its tax digest will be vastly
different by the end of his current
term. And local legislator, State
Rep. Karla Drenner is nearly solely
responsible for the pending con-
version of one of the communities
biggest eyesores, an abandoned gas
station, into a community hub and
gathering place which will soon be
the head end of a bike and walking
trail connecting the city and paral-
leling Clarendon Avenue to give
walk-up access to the Avondale
MARTA station.
Communities typically have
either the leadership they deserve
or which they are simply willing to
accept. Smart and growing com-
munities most typically demand
more. They source new local leader-
ship, or they import it. If you want
your corner of DeKalb to similarly
begin to grow again, start select-
ing some new leaders, or better yet,
think about becoming one.
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, Cham-
pion 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 
Bill Crane

Let Us Know What You Think!
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We sincerely appreciate the discussion
surrounding this and any issue of interest to
DeKalb County. The Champion was founded in
1991 expressly to provide a forum for discourse
for all community residents on all sides of an
issue. We have no desire to make the news
only to report news and opinions to effect a
more educated citizenry that will ultimately
move our community forward. We are happy
to present ideas for discussion; however, we
make every effort to avoid printing information
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assumptions penned as fact.
Gene Walkerk
Are you ready for the challenge?
The NAACP believes that the Tea
Party is racist; the Tea Party believes
that the NAACP is racist. The fact
of the matter is that race has been
and continues to be—since the birth
of the nation—a constant issue. No
one can deny that racial tensions
run high in America.
Currently, individuals vent feel-
ings of hostility and anger that in
the past were muted or repressed,
but they still don’t connect their
feelings with race. Many scholars
and writers inform us that race
continues to be a national staple for
private conversations and public
So to initiate a civil discussion on
this critical issue, I begin with the
conclusion of Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr.’s letter from a Birmingham
jail. He expressed his “hope that the
dark clouds of racial prejudice will
soon pass away, and the deep fog
of misunderstanding will be lifted
from our fear drenched communi-
To look closer at race and better
understand Dr. King’s quote, I ask
the question: Are you willing to talk
about race with those of another
Be aware that the question is not
meant to encourage people to vent
and talk with those who are like-
minded. This topic is broached with
full knowledge that most people
have very strong emotional opinions
or feelings about the subject of race.
Some, like Shelby Steele, a con-
servative scholar, believes that the
effects of “White privilege” are exag-
gerated. Steele argues that Blacks
may incorrectly blame their person-
al failures on White oppression and
that there are many opportunities
for minorities.
Though some believe that racism
simply doesn’t exist, as a historian, I
discovered long ago one should not
expect a consensus no matter how
sound the research and accurate
the facts, because on the subject of
race, people tend to let intuition and
emotions override empirical facts.
As well, they believe because they
may disagree or offend, it’s just safer
left unsaid.
It is against this backdrop and
all I have seen and heard, as well
as the many volumes I have read
that I believe most Black and White
Americans still live their entire lives
in what King called, “a deep fog of
misunderstanding about the charac-
ter, construction and reproduction
of racism as a social system.” In fact,
the “clouds’’ of racial prejudice he
spoke of have become a normal part
of life today. Racism as a social sys-
tem is otherwise known as structur-
al racism and though it seems that
the Civil Rights Movement made
great strides to try to change this
system, it is indeed very prevalent
within this country today. Structural
racism can best be described with
the following examples:
• Voter suppression laws being im-
plemented to hinder the minority
• The disproportionate amount of
minorities prosecuted and incar-
These are examples of structural
racism which transcends individual
racism. This type of racism goes be-
yond prejudice and discrimination
and even transcends bigotry largely
because it arises from outlooks and
assumptions of which we are un-
Just as Emory University profes-
sor Christine Ristaino revealed
in an article in the Atlanta Journal
Constitution last week, “qualified
Black professionals with equal or
more experience than White appli-
cants are (consistently) overlooked
in the job market;” as well, members
of upper management—predomi-
nately made up of White men and
women—often hire those who pre-
fer activities associated with their
own backgrounds. She went on to
state that much of the reason they
do this is because they are unaware
that they do this. Indeed, there are
many who struggle to identify this
level of racism, because when some-
thing is viewed as normal there ap-
pears to be nothing unusual about
The people of America cannot
afford to be ignorant of race issues
if we intend to make and have a bet-
ter future for generations to come. I
join Professor Ristaino in encourag-
ing those of us who have the desire
to create change to have those un-
comfortable conversations and work
together “to come up with a positive
way forward.” Let’s accept her chal-
lenge—let’s move forward!

If you would like to nominate someone
to be considered as a future Champion
of the Week, please contact Andrew
Cauthen at
or at (404) 373-7779, ext. 117.
Clarkston sets millage rate at
21.11, third-highest in county
by Lauren Ramsdell
After a presentation by
city manager Keith Barker,
Clarkston city council mem-
bers voted unanimously to
raise the city’s millage rate to
21.11 mills, the third-high-
est rate in the county.
With some resignation,
councilmembers accepted a
history of borrowing from
the rainy-day fund was no
longer a sustainable option.
“I have said there’s no
way I’d vote for a mill in-
crease this year,” said Coun-
cilman Warren Hadlock,
“But considering the unfor-
tunate results so far on the
attempt to annex two differ-
ent areas … it makes a big
difference in looking at what
we have to come up with
just to make things work.”
Hadlock said the city
could eliminate raises for
city employees, but that was
the only thing he could see
in what has turned out to be
a tight budget for the city.
However, though
Clarkston would have the
third-highest millage rate
in the county, it also has the
third-lowest tax digest valu-
Since 2009, accord-
ing to a report by Barker,
Clarkston’s net digest or
property values have fallen
by 33 percent, with an in-
crease of 9.38 percent oc-
curring in 2014. Despite the
decrease, the millage rate
held at 17.95 for 2012 and
2013. This year, city staff
recommended the 3.16 mill
increase to make up for the
lower rate those two years.
The additional cost for
a house valued at $100,000
will be about 126.40 per
year, for a total of $844.40.
The cost per month will in-
crease by $10.53.
“[Previous city council]
made a conscious decision
to make the millage rate re-
main as it was,” said Barker.
“[It’s] good for the taxpayers
and that’s a workable strat-
egy as long as you have a
healthy fund balance. What
it did do, however was serve
to diminish the fund bal-
ance. You’re basically using
the fund balance to artifi-
cially hold the millage rate
Barker said the city
would have about a four-
month fund balance if the
city were to be liquidated
tomorrow. However, he
stated he would be more
comfortable with a four-to
six-month fund balance.
Two annexation mea-
sures failed, one by four
votes and one was a tie
during the May primary
election vote. The city is
appealing the results of the
elections because, reported-
ly, some voters did not have
the annexation question on
their ballots.
“For this area, Brockett
Road, we are looking at a
potential $800,000 surplus
and this area, area 2, would
have been about $1 million,”
said Barker. “So, it would
have been a significant infu-
sion of needed property tax
revenue, primarily from in-
dustrial and commercial.”
Clarkston has a tax
base made almost entirely
of property taxes. Several
homeowners spoke during
public comment about the
“unfair” burden placed on
“That is a top priority
of myself and the council
members because it makes
fiscal sense to spread it out
and take it off the property
owners,” said Mayor Ted
Following the vote and
during his report, Terry said
he would also make a sym-
bolic gesture to the city.
“If times are tough we
need to have a shared sac-
rifice,” he said. “What I can
do is do a very symbolic
gesture. That is the only way
I can share the sacrifice with
the folks that will have to
pay a little bit higher mill-
age rate this year. It’s about
a 9.38 percent increase this
year so, even though there’s
no technical procedure for
the mayor’s salary to be re-
turned to the city’s fund bal-
ance, we’ll figure out some
way for the remainder of my
salary this year for 9.38 per-
cent of the remainder this
annual to be returned back
to the fund balance.”
Sixteen-year-old Es-
sence Taese of Lithonia
likes to talk about food.
“I like to show [peo-
ple] that you can have
healthy foods and they
don’t have to taste nasty,”
said Essence, a 2010
Champion Newspaper
Community Champion
“There’s a lot of peo-
ple that don’t know about
foods, that are good for
you,” Essence said. “It’s a
passion of mine because
I see it around me in my
everyday life. I definitely
see that people around
me need it a lot.”
A student in the Uni-
versity of Mawiyah Natu-
ral Health internship
study program where
she is studying natural
healing, chef Essence,
as she is called, prepares
food for the program and
recently earned a yoga
instructor certification.
Essence volunteers at
various community gar-
dens, including the Truly
Living Well garden in At-
lanta. She puts on work-
shops and food demon-
strations and works with
students to teach them
about food and health.
In her workshops and
food demonstrations, Es-
sence talks “about GMO
[genetically modified
organism foods] and that
all vegetables aren’t good
“A lot of the foods in
the stores are tampered
with,” she said. “I like to
explain that you should
get back to the source of
how we used to prepare
foods [with] simple in-
gredients and not just a
whole bunch of stuff that
has…ingredients that
you don’t understand.”
Essence said she also
teaches about vegan, raw
and living foods as well
as recipes and natural
that will make a healthier
household overall.”
On July 18-20, Es-
sence will be the head
chef and coordinator of
The Liberated Minds
Café, which is expected
to serve 1,000 partici-
pants. The café will be
open during the third
annual Liberated Minds
Black Homeschool and
Education Expo at the
Omega World Event
Center, 3951 Snapfinger
Parkway, Decatur.
She will also teach
classes on holistic health
at the expo.
“I like to be an exam-
ple…to make sure that
I’m doing right so that
other people can watch
and learn from what I’m
doing,” said Essence, a
homeschooled student
who just finished her
sophomore year.
“I think it’s definitely
necessary in our com-
Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry says he will donate part of his remaining salary back into the general fund.

Group ofers free summer lunch at
local high school
Family Choices Inc. is providing
free lunch to all children ages 18 or
younger at McNair High School, lo-
cated at 1804 Bouldercrest Road in
The group is offering meals at the
high school from through July 25
from 2:30-4 p.m. as part of the Sum-
mer Food Service Program.
Police ofer parent-teen driver
education classes
The Brookhaven Police Depart-
ment will host a parent-teen driver
education class July 23. The Georgia
Teens Ride with P.R.I.D.E (Parents
Reducing Injuries and Driver Er-
ror) class addresses driving attitude
and behavior of teens ages 14-16.
The class will begin at 6 p.m. at the
Brookhaven Police Department, 2665
Buford Highway. For more informa-
tion, call (404) 955-4695.
Town Brookhaven to host movie
The children’s film Despicable Me
2 will be screened July 10 for “Movies
on the Town!” at Town Brookhaven.
The event is free and begins at dusk
on the green space. Music and an-
nouncements begin two hours prior.
Attendees can come early, grab din-
ner and eat on the green space. For
more information, visit www.face-

Community hardware store closes
Smith Ace Hardware on East
College Avenue in Decatur recently
closed and will hold a storewide
auction July 19 at 10 a.m. Remain-
ing store inventory and fixtures will
be able at auction. There will be
hot dogs and drinks available. This
event is open to the public. 
Library to host Add Seed Day
Interested in organic, sustainable
and green living? Decatur Library is
hosting Add Seed Day, an event July
12 from noon to 4 p.m. designed to
educate the community on healthy,
sustainable food choices. A screen-
ing of Growing Cities, a documentary
about urban farms, kicks off the
workshop, followed by a panel con-
sisting of urban farmers and vegan
foodies discussing healthful and
green living. Special guests include
Arden’s Garden Juice Company,
Seeds Global and Gatekeepers Vegan
Soup Kitchen and Pantry.
Wylde Center to host medicine-
making workshop
The Wylde Center, located at 415
East Lake Drive in Decatur, is host-
ing a medicine-making workshop
July 27 at 4 p.m.
Located in the Sugar Creek Gar-
den, the workshop will be taught
by garden manager Dara Suchke.
Materials to bring and details will be
announced closer to the date of the
workshop and depend on what is har-
vestable at the time.
For more information, contact
Suchke at or
Black homeschool expo scheduled
The third annual Liberated Minds
Black Homeschool and Education
Expo will be held July 18-20, at the
Omega World Event Center, 3951
Snapfinger Parkway, Decatur.
Workshops will be facilitated by
Black educators, speakers and suc-
cessful homeschooling parents. There
also will be exhibitors with cultur-
ally relevant products and services
created by Black people for Black
people such as curriculum guides,
educational enhancement materials,
posters, DVDs, homeschool groups,
extracurricular programs, indepen-
dent schools books.
The expo will have a Watoto Fun
Factory for children ages 4-11. The
event includes a Sankofa Scholars
University for ages 11-17 with inter-
active workshops on entrepreneur-
ship, character and self-esteem, gar-
dening, Black history and more.
For more information on register-
ing, becoming an exhibitor, volunteer
or sponsor, visit www.liberatedmind-, call (678) 368-8593 or
send an email to liberatedmindsedu-
Library hosts ‘Book Buddies’ book
Friends of the Decatur Library are
hosting a monthly book club July 15,
4-5 p.m., for early chapter book read-
ers at the Decatur Library, located at
215 Sycamore St. in Decatur.
The event is geared toward chil-
dren 7 and 8 years of age and features
a book each month, followed by ac-
tivities, snacks and discussion.
Those interested in participating
can sign up at the front desk of the
Decatur Library or call (404) 370-
The book club is open to the first
10 participants to sign up.
HomeGrown Decatur’s bi-annual
craft sale starts July 12
Every July and January, Home-
Grown Decatur, an artist co-op,
hosts an artists’ sale. Everything from
jewelry to accessories, clothes and
art will be marked down across the
emporium. HomeGrown also sells
art and craft kits hand-curated by its
As a co-op, HomeGrown is run
and staffed by artists who create the
items for sale. Shoppers may encoun-
ter the person who made the item
they wish to buy. The sale runs from
July 12 to the 20.
HomeGrown is located at 412 Church
Str. in Decatur.
City to hold amnesty program

Dunwoody Municipal Court is
holding an amnesty program for
individuals with past due traffic cita-
tions and/or active bench warrants
for failing to appear in court.
The incentive of the program is
to promote lawful driving privileges,
settle outstanding violations with the
court and reduce arrests.
Amnesty will run through July
at the Dunwoody Municipal Court
located at 41 Perimeter Center East,
Suite 103. Individuals may walk-in to
the Municipal Court on Mondays as
well as Wednesdays through Fridays
during the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30
If individuals pay their fines in
full, all contempt fees will be forgiv-
en. If the offense requires a manda-
tory court appearance, the individual
will be granted a future court date
to appear before a judge and all war-
rants will be cleared and warrant fees
For more information, call (678)

Accreditation team seeks
comments on ChatComm 911
The Chattahoochee River 911
Authority (ChatComm) is seeking
communications accreditation from
the Commission on Accreditation
for Law Enforcement Agencies Inc.
Members of the community and
employees of the city of Dunwoody
are invited to offer comments by
phone at (404) 843-6615 on Monday,
July 21, from 1 to 3 p.m.
Telephone comments are lim-
ited to 10 minutes and must address
ChatComm’s ability to comply with
CALEA’s standards. A copy of the
standards is available at ChatComm.
For more information, call Michelle
Allen at (404) 843-6600.
Written comments about Chat-
Comm’s ability to meet the standards
for communications accreditation
should be sent to: Commission on
Accreditation for Law Enforcement
Inc., 13575 Heathcote Blvd. Suite 320,
Gainesville, VA 20155; or be emailed
CALEA’s accreditation program
requires communications centers to
comply with 218 applicable state-of-
the art standards in three basic areas:
policy and procedures, administra-
tion and operations.
Established in 1979 by the In-
ternational Association of Chiefs of
Police, the National Organization of
Black Law Enforcement Executives,
the National Sheriffs’ Association,
and the Police Executive Research
Forum, CALEA is recognized inter-
nationally as the key credentialing
authority for law enforcement agen-
For more information regarding
CALEA, write the commission at the
above address or call (703) 352-4225 or
email at
Library updating Internet; some
branches closed due to lack of A/C
According to its website, the
DeKalb Public Libraries system is
updating its Internet service. It will
be doubling bandwidth to increase
download and browsing speeds on
both connected and Wi-Fi computers
at all branches. However, there may
be service outages.
Additionally, Flat Shoals, Wes-
ley Chapel William C. Brown and
Redan-Trotti libraries are experienc-
ing air conditioning outages. Those
branches will be closed and have
reduced programming until the prob-
lem is resolved. Check www.dekalbli- for updates.
Restaurant Inspections
Establishment Name: Red Lobster #91
Address: 3937 Lavista Road
Current Score/Grade: 74/C
Inspecton Date: 06/25/2014
Observatons and Correctve Actons
Observed employee wiping nose with the back of his
gloved hand and contnue to engage in food prep.
Corrected to remove gloves and to wash hands.
Instructed PIC to re-train staf on appropriate tmes when
hand washing is required.
Bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods. Observed
bar staf using bare hands to garnish drink with cut
fruit(orange slice and cherry). Corrected to discard drink.
PIC informed employee to use gloved hands, tongs,
or other dispensing utensils. Corrected On-Site. New
Soap not available at bar hand sink; soap dispenser
empty. Employee reflled soap. Keep soap available at all
tmes at all sinks.
Food packages not in good conditon. Observed tomatoes
stored in facility with black and white mold like substance
present. Produce was delivered on past Saturday and
will be held for product exchange/refund. Instructed to
relocate to designated area so that they are not mistaken
for usable product. Corrected On-Site. New Violaton.
Employee wearing jewelry other than a plain ring while
preparing food. PIC informed that all jewelry must be
removed while preparing food, food employees may not
wear jewelry including medical informaton jewelry on
their arms and hands, except for a plain wedding band.
Employee removed watch.
Establishment Name: King’s Southern Delight
Address: 4958 Redan Road
Current Score/Grade: 81/B
Inspecton Date: 06/25/2014

Observatons and Correctve Actons
Beef neck bones on steam table and yams in warmer
cabinet not holding at or above 135F. PIC advised that
all potentally hazardous food which is hot held must
be maintained at 135F or above. COS- food reheated to
above 165F.
Frozen foods in walk-in freezer not maintained frozen. PIC
stated breaker for walk-in freezer had been tripped. COS-
PIC fipped breaker. Ambient temperature dropped from
33F to 27F.
Raw turkey wings observed thawing in stagnant water
in meat sink. PIC advised that potentally hazardous
food must be thawed completely submerged under cool
contnuously running water. COS- turkey placed in pot
under running water.
Leak observed in pipe near vegetable and meat sinks. PIC
advised to have leak repaired. Employee drink with a lid
stored next to restaurant food. PIC advised that employee
belongings and food must be stored separate from
restaurant items. COS- cup relocated.
Establishment Name: Island Spice Restaurant
Address: 4088 Redan Road
Current Score/Grade: 81/B
Inspecton Date: 07/02/2014
Observatons and Correctve Actons
No papertowels available in the restroom. PIC advised
that papertowels must be available at all hand sinks at all
tmes. COS- papertowels provided.
Employee washed and rinsed pot and stored for use
without sanitzing. PIC advised that all equipment must
be washed, rinsed, and sanitzed. COS- employee set up
sanitze sink and sanitzed dishes. Rice and raw chicken in
reach-in cooler not maintained at 41F or below. COS- rice
discarded, chicken relocated to freezer. Rice and peas
on steam table not holding at or above 135F. COS- PIC
reheated to 165F.
Oxtail prepared at 1pm not cooled to 70F within 2 hours.
PIC advised that all PHF must be cooled from 135F to 70F
within 2 hours and from 135F to 41F in a total of 6 hours.
COS- oxtail discarded.
Stone Mountain radio club provides eyes,
ears, voices at Peachtree Road Race
by Kathy Mitchell
As approximately 60,000
runners from around the
world lined up on the Fourth
of July to run Atlanta’s
Peachtree Road Race, they
were a little safer and better
organized thanks to a group
of volunteer local amateur
radio operators, including
many from the Stone Moun-
tain-based Alford Memorial
Radio Club.
The amateur radio opera-
tor’s role is to provide fast,
reliable communication, ex-
plained Steve Vogel, a mem-
ber of the Stone Mountain
club. “If a runner is in distress
and needs medical attention
immediately, we can get the
word to the right people even
in places where there’s no cell
phone signal,” he said.
For more than 25 years ap-
proximately 50 local “hams,”
as amateur radio operators
are commonly known, have
been at the world’s largest
10-kilometer foot race pro-
viding radio communications
before and during the race to
help with organization and
logistics in addition to being
available to help in emergen-
“We have operators sta-
tioned in the start and finish
areas and all along the race
route providing the primary
radio network for race or-
ganizers and officials as well
as supplementing the public
safety radio networks,” ex-
plained Vogel, who noted,
“We don’t do sports reports
or broadcast results.”
Vogel said the Peachtree is
one of several public events
for which members of his
club volunteer. “We’ve been
participating in the Georgia
Marathon from the begin-
ning,” he said of the seven-
year-old event.
“Amateur radio operators
have specialized, unique skills
that we can use to assist at
events such as the Peachtree
Road Race. Each of us is
licensed by the Federal Com-
munications Commission,”
said Vogel, who has had his
license for four years. The son
of an on-air radio announcer,
he said he’s been interested in
radio since he was a child, but
became licensed after he re-
tired and had time to devote
to the hobby.
Community service is one
of the reasons people get in-
terested in amateur radio, Vo-
gel said. Others are interested
in it for from a technological
perspective and some just
enjoy sharing opinions with
other operators. “We’re not all
geeks. There is such a broad
range of ways to approach
amateur radio there’s some-
thing for just about anybody,”
said Vogel, who works with a
statewide hospital emergency
group and specifically sup-
ports the Veterans Adminis-
tration Hospital in Decatur.
The Atlanta Amateur
Radio Emergency Service
(ARES) unit provides the
command post and operates
the network control station
for the hams participat-
ing in the Peachtree Road
 Ken Reid, Atlanta’s ARES
coordinator, commented in
a news release, “Although
community events such the
Peachtree are certainly not
emergencies, they give ama-
teur operators good practice
for communicating over a
managed radio network such
as would be deployed in a
real emergency. As a matter
of fact, when the tragic Bos-
ton Marathon bombing in
2013 turned that event into
an emergency, more than 200
amateur operators were al-
ready in place to supply vital
supplementary communica-
Vogel said while his club
members are prepared to
quickly communicate with
police and fire rescue person-
nel, so far the emergencies
they have been involved in at
the Peachtree Road Race have
been minor. “The Peachtree
is very well organized, and
things usually go smoothly,”
he said.
“This is not your grand-
father’s radio,” said Steve
Garrison, president of Alford
Memorial Radio Club in an-
nouncing a demonstration
event the last weekend in
June. “The communications
networks that ham radio peo-
ple can quickly create have
saved many lives when other
systems failed or were over-
loaded.” He noted that during
Hurricane Katrina hundreds
of volunteer “hams” came to
the area and in many instanc-
es provided the only means of
 The 42-year-old club
meets monthly in a local
church. Twice a year, it par-
ticipates in local “hamfests,”
events at which members
can learn about the latest
radio equipment, plan for
upcoming events and social-
ize with others who share
their interest. The club also
operates four radio repeat-
ers, including the one atop
Stone Mountain. A repeater
receives a broadcast from a
small–sometimes even hand-
held–radio and sends it out to
a wider area over more pow-
erful equipment.
Network control stations, such as this one at a recent Georgia Marathon, have saved lives by providing
communications when other systems failed or were overloaded.
Code enforcement ofcer
goes the distance
by Lauren Ramsdell
Tom LaPenna, a Dunwoody
code compliance officer, said he
was just doing his job when he
drove to Savannah, citation in
hand, for an unresponsive home-
owner whose property was dete-
After moving to Dunwoody,
LaPenna left his previous line
of work in building inspection
and applied on advice from an
acquaintance for the new code
enforcement officer position.
“I have been in code enforce-
ment with Dunwoody since day
one,” LaPenna said. “Enforce-
ment usually pertains to qual-
ity of life issues, and we’re also
called out if someone is doing
unpermitted construction. I am
the guy that gives everyone the
bad news–I don’t get Christmas
It can be a thankless job, con-
tacting people whose properties
have fallen into disrepair. People
avoid the letters, knocks at the
door and certified mail LaPenna
sends out. And, unless they con-
firm receipt of a citation, nothing
can be done about the eyesore
“We are different than police
officers,” LaPenna said. “We take
the same oath, but we don’t ar-
rest people. Georgia is a personal
service state, so if I can’t get to
the owner of that property, I can
send by mail. But if they don’t
show up, they have to get this
woman to court somehow. What
I have to do is find her.”
That’s exactly what LaPenna
did on that balmy day in Savan-
nah. A woman was listed as the
point of contact for a house that
seemed abandoned for some
time. A tree had fallen on the
roof. Water had stagnated in the
pool. Grass grew feet high, and
neighbors were complaining.
Dunwoody uses the Inter-
national Property Maintenance
Code, a permissive code that the
Georgia state legislature allows
communities to opt in or out of.
The most recent version of the
code states: “All vacant structures
and premises thereof or vacant
land shall be maintained in a
clean, safe, secure and sanitary
condition as provided herein so
as not to cause a blighting prob-
lem or adversely affect the public
health or safety.”
LaPenna was originally head-
ed to Savannah for a Georgia
Municipal Association confer-
ence the weekend of June 20-23.
As the sergeant-at-arms for the
Georgia Association of Code
Enforcement, LaPenna tries to go
to many conferences to learn and
speak about code enforcement.
While there, he had the idea to
personally serve the citation to
the homeowner.
“Here I am, I have to be back
at the convention about 1:30,
drove back and went back out [to
her place of business], waiting,”
LaPenna said. “I walked past and
the lights are on, someone be-
hind the door opened it. She was
surprised to see me, but was very
nice. I issued a brief citation two
counts each.
‘This isn’t personal, I just have
to do this for the city, it’s not fair
to the residents in the cul-de-sac,’
I told her. ‘Here’s your court date
and I’ll see you in court.’ And she
said, ‘Well, thank you.’ I do try to
use a velvet glove.”
LaPenna said he doesn’t usu-
ally travel more than 500 miles
round-trip to serve citations. But,
in this case, it was too good an
opportunity to pass up.
“What you have to do in
the business of inspections or
enforcement is to get people to
understand it is your job to en-
force the code,” he said. “It’s not
personal. If I don’t do my job I’m
not going to have a job. We try to
do it as evenly as possible.”
Code compliance offcer Tom LaPenna recently drove to Savannah to hand-
deliver a citation to a negligent property owner. Photo provided
by Lauren Ramsdell
At a called meeting June 30, the
Chamblee City Council unanimously
approved a millage rate of 6.4, the same
rate as the previous year. Mayor Eric
Clarkson said he would have preferred
a millage rate decrease, but with the
2013 annexation of Dresden East Civic
Association (DECA) neighborhoods,
the need for service in that area limited
a millage rate decrease.
Chamblee uses a fiscal year that
matches the calendar year. This makes
setting a millage rate somewhat dif-
ficult, as the city staff has to foresee to
some degree what home values will be
months in advance.
“The city has always been very fis-
cally responsible and very conserva-
tive in how it forecasts,” Clarkson said.
“When the council sets the budget for
the first of the year, they have to antici-
pate what the tax digest will be, which is
the largest revenue for the city.”
Clarkson said that during the reces-
sion the millage rate ramped up from
four or five mills to around its current
rate. During that time there was also
talk of changing the fiscal system to
align more with when property taxes
come due in the fall. But, he said, it has
always proved too expensive to make
the change.
“For that year you make the switched
budget, you have to make two bud-
gets and then you’d be audited twice,”
Clarkson said. “The cost of the outside
auditor and the cost to do two budgets
would be too high. We are not unique
in this.”
He further said the millage rate
could have decreased if the Century
Center commercial properties had been
annexed into Chamblee as was origi-
nally intended during the 2013 annex
In 2013, the Georgia General As-
sembly passed a referendum allowing
parts of DeKalb County that bordered
then-Chamblee to be annexed into the
city. The Chamblee referendum passed
with a 61 percent margin. As part of the
annexation, Century Center–a clutch of
commercial businesses to the south of
DeKalb Peachtree Airport and, at the
time, slightly east of Brookhaven–would
be absorbed into Chamblee. However,
after the General Assembly bill was
passed but before the referendum oc-
curred on Nov. 5, Brookhaven voted
to annex the Century Center area after
Highwoods Properties, the firm owning
the office buildings in the area, elected
to join Brookhaven.
On April 29, Gov. Nathan Deal ve-
toed bills introduced by area legislators
that aimed to fix the boundaries to be
consistent with the Chamblee referen-
dum, citing pending litigation with the
Highwoods properties.
“I am very disappointed that we
could not include the Century Center
[area] into our budget this year,” Clark-
son said. “Our staff is doing everything
they can to not raise the millage rate,
but I have to believe we would have
been able to significantly lower our
millage rate if we had not gone through
with that annexation.”
Clarkson said the annexation went
forward with the expectation that rev-
enue from the Century Center would
help pay for the upkeep of newly an-
nexed neighborhoods.
“Commercial pays for services,”
Clarkson said. “We welcomed all of
these folks into our city without their
commercial property taxes. So, here we
sit. DeKalb County has ignored that
area for a number of years, and they
need a lot of services.”
He said Chamblee has an obligation
to treat all of its residents equally, but
without the Century Center revenue,
the budget is tighter than it would have
Chamblee millage rate
remains at 6.4 mills
Chamblee Mayor Eric Clarkson said that, while he is happy not to have increased the millage rate,
he would have preferred a decrease. Photo by Lauren Ramsdell
The “Battle of Decatur” occurred 150 years ago on
July 22, 1864, and will be the focus of a new exhibit
called Tears and Curses: A Human Focus on the Civil
War and an original play at DeKalb History Center.
The opening reception will be held Thursday, July 17,
at 5:30 p.m. and concludes at 8 p.m. Light refreshments
will be provided and drink tickets will be available for
purchase. The play will be presented at 6 p.m. and 8
The title of the exhibit is from a letter in the history
center’s collection written by Pvt. Dewitt C. Morgan
to a woman who may have been a sweetheart. Angry
at the Union forces, Dewitt wrote, “They sow tears and
curses–they shall reap infamy and overthrow.”
“We offer a glimpse into the heart of our collec-
tions and the fighting that occurred in DeKalb County
and Decatur,” Executive Director Melissa Forgey said.
“What you can expect is a beautiful exhibit that will
help you tie the history in with the actual location
of events on July 22, 1864. We have selected some of
our best Civil War artifacts which tie into personal
stories. Especially interesting are the pieces that are
engraved and labeled and can be specifically traced to a
real person.”
The original play Shadows of the Past: A Play About
DeKalb County During the Civil War was written with
help from a grant from the Georgia Humanities Coun-
cil Reception. Shadows of the Past is about the Atlanta
Campaign, the Battle of Atlanta and DeKalb County
during the Civil War. It speaks in the voices of the
people who lived in DeKalb during the war. Local char-
acters such as Mary Gay, a young lady from Decatur
whose home was invaded; George Washington Cash,
a staunch Unionist; and Sarah Forrer, the mother of a
Union soldier, are featured characters. The play is for
families (suggested ages 8 and older). Tickets are $10
for history center members and $14 for non-members.
Photos by John Hewitt
DeKalb History Center presents Battle of Decatur exhibit and original play
Searching for Our Sons and Daughters:

For a programming guide, visit
Now showing on DCTV!
Finding DeKalb County’s Missing
Stories of our missing residents offer profound
insights and hope for a positive reunion.
DCTV – Your Emmy® Award-winning news source of DeKalb County news. Available on Comcast Cable Channel 23.
Photos brought to you by DCTV
Pallookaville celebrated Independence Day with a corn dog eating contest. From left, second-place
winner Nick Latham, frst-place winner Kevin Jacob, Pallookaville owner Jim Stacy and third-place
winner Mike Parker. Photo by Travis Hudgons
Sword swallower Jason Munger entertains the crowd at Pallookaville in Avondale Estates on July 4. Photos by Travis Hudgons
Tamara Wilson prepares to donate blood at 2014’s second Doraville blood drive.
Photo by Lauren Ramsdell
Brook Run dog park redesign in the works
by Lauren Ramsdell
The saga of the Brook Run dog
park continues.
Originally due to be voted on June
24–will it stay or will it go?–the loca-
tion of the dog park at Brook Run
Park in Dunwoody is still under dis-
“We haven’t made any determina-
tion of where the park is going to go,”
said Brent Walker, parks manager
with the city of Dunwoody. “We are
going to try to keep it in that area of
the park, but we are not at the design
stage yet. We have hosted community
input meetings with the neighbors in
Lakeview Oaks and the dog park as-
sociation, as those are the two groups
that we are trying to come to some
kind of compromise with.”
The issues are: the Brook Run
Dog Park Association (BRDPA), a
nonprofit group that maintains the
park, wishes the dog park to remain
in its current location. It is currently
in the western corner of the park and
is approximately 150 feet from the
boundary of Lakeview Oaks, a neigh-
borhood established in the 1980s.
Lakeview Oaks neighbors cite noise
issues and the environmental impact
of dogs running among the trees in
the heavily shaded areas.
“I really don’t know where we
are right now ,” said Laine Sweezey,
president of BRDPA. “Our organi-
zation put together a proposal last
year about how we could update the
park, but [the city] didn’t seem to ac-
cept that. Now, they seem a lot more
amenable to our position. I feel pretty
sure we are going to stay where we
are, but I am pretty sure there will be
major changes to the layout. As long
as we can stay in the area where we
are and as long as we have around
three acres in the same vicinity then
we’re fine.”
Frank Lockridge, president of
the Lakeview Oaks Homeowner’s
Association, said he was also presi-
dent of the association when the
park was first implemented in 2006.
Dunwoody was not incorporated at
that time, and then-CEO Vernon
Jones pushed for the development
of the dog park. Jones made com-
ments at the June 24 meeting of the
Dunwoody City Council in favor of
maintaining the park in its current
“My administration was respon-
sible for a lot of things getting done
in this county … but I think the thing
that most touched me that I will
never forget is the dog park,” Jones
said. “I opened the first dog park in
DeKalb County, and we got together
with some like-minded people in the
Dunwoody area and we were able to
put together, I believe, a fine plan on
developing Brook Run that included
the dog park.”
Jones encouraged the council to
have “the wisdom of Solomon” in ne-
gotiating whether to move or main-
tain the dog park’s location.
“I understand there are some is-
sues and you have to make some
decisions, and certainly there was no
intent to offend any of the homeown-
ers,” Jones said. “We certainly want
everyone to enjoy and appreciate it.”
Lockridge said that at first, there
were issues with dogs jumping the
fence and running loose. Most of that
has subsided but the noise level from
barking dogs is still something he says
his neighborhood cannot deal with.
“There have been people with the
Dunwoody Homeowners Association
that have come over and have heard
the commotion that the dogs raise
over there,” he said. “In my meet-
ings with Mr. Walker and with other
members of the council, I have main-
tained that I think the dog park is in
the wrong place.”
Citing a 40-year career in civil en-
gineering, Lockridge said that if there
are dogs running where there are
trees, as is the case with this park, the
soil will compact and the vegetation
will die. Moving the park will cost
money, he said, but so will maintain-
ing it at its current location or updat-
ing it using noise buffers or reconfig-
uring the footprint.
“[The BRDPA] has done a good
job getting volunteers to work on the
park; however, I think the city is some
day going to be obligated to maintain
the park anyway,” he said.
Sweezey of the BRDPA, said she
has not experienced the level of noise
Lockridge claims is occurring. She
said the association installed noise
level meters in the park to gauge how
loud it was.
“The highest one I have seen is
76 decibels, but it is usually between
65 and 70,” Sweezey said. “We really
want to be good neighbors. We are
very proud of that park and it means
a lot to us–we don’t want the people
in Lakeview Oaks to hate us. But, we
are happy that we think we are going
to stay where we are.”
Seventy-six decibels is roughly
equivalent to a car driving at 65 miles
per hour at 25 feet away, according
to a chart found at
The dog park is 150 feet away from
Lakeview Oaks at its nearest point.
According to the chart, “upper 70s are
annoyingly loud to some people.”
Parks manager Walker said he is
trying to come up with a solution that
preserves some of the location of the
dog park while also mitigating the
noise concerns of neighbors.
“The direction from city council
is for me to look for some options for
the dog park to stay in that area of the
park but also provide a suitable buf-
fer,” he said. “The mayor [Mike Da-
vis] did say he wants to see something
soon and it is a priority. We want to
make sure everybody that has an
opinion about it can express it, take
all that and find the commonalities
from both groups.”
Dogs gather at the Brook Run dog park. The location of the park is up for debate as its
proximity to a neighborhood is disruptive for some Dunwoody residents. Photo provided by
Brook Run Dog Park Association
by Andrew Cauthen
Two former DeKalb lead-
ers expressed their concerns
about allegations of corrup-
tion and ethics violations in
the county government.
“It is distressing to me
for people to stop me in the
streets and say, ‘What has
happened?’” said former
DeKalb County CEO Liane
Levetan’s comments were
made during a press confer-
ence in her home during
which she expressed her sup-
port for Sheriff Jeff Mann’s
election bid.
Mann faces former
DeKalb County CEO Ver-
non Jones in a runoff elec-
tion for sheriff on July 22.
“I’m distressed that you
can’t pick up the paper for a
week without seeing head-
lines about what is happen-
ing [in DeKalb],” Levetan
said. “To see these continual
headlines make me very
Levetan said she hopes
the corruption and ethics
investigations conclude as
rapidly as possible.
“What I would like to
see happen is that whoever
is doing the investigations,
whether it’s the GBI, the FBI,
whoever, it needs to happen
quickly,” Levetan said. “I
certainly hope and pray that
these things can come to a
conclusion so that DeKalb
County can move in the
right direction.”
During the same news
conference, former sheriff
Thomas Brown addressed
the government purchas-
ing card (P-card) scandal in
which several county com-
missioners are being inves-
tigated for alleged misuse of
their P-cards.
“This needs to be re-
solved as quickly as pos-
sible,” Brown said about the
investigations. “If the P-card
was used for personal ex-
penses, clearly, one should
not have been doing that,
and they must be dealt with
Brown said, “P-cards
have always been something
that one must handle very
carefully because if you
don’t have the right controls
on them it can be slowly
“I took the position not
to accept it,” said Brown,
adding that in the sheriff ’s
office, P-cards are handled
by a group of people who
make purchases and travel
arrangements for the entire
“I don’t think it was the
intent of whoever put the
program in place to use the
P-cards to give grants [or] to
buy gifts at silent auctions,”
Brown said.
“I think the most appro-
priate thing at this point is to
collect all of the P-cards until
we can put a set of guidelines
in place that would ensure
that this type of alleged
abuse does not occur.
“I use the word ‘alleged,’
but I think it’s pretty obvious
that the P-cards have been
not used in the best inter-
est of the people of DeKalb
County,” Brown said.
Former DeKalb leaders ‘distressed’ by corruption allegations
Commissioners Continued From Page 1A
CEO Continued From Page 1A
South River
Continued From Page 1A
gotten better. It wasn’t this dire
situation but the community
didn’t know that.”
SRWA begin getting the
message out to the community
about how the river has
improved and started hosting
water events at the river,
including multiple canoe trips.
In 2012, SRWA partnered with
Georgia River Network to host
the frst River Extravaganza
with more than 70 paddlers in
canoes and kayaks on a four-
hour jaunt down the river.
Tere have also been
several river clean up events
including its frst “Get the
Trash Out” event with support
from Keep DeKalb Beautiful,
and its frst “Nothing But
Tires” round up. SRWA
members and volunteers
removed trash and debris
from the riverbank and
hundreds of tires from the
SRWA is currently
working to start a water
trail that will begin in south
DeKalb and go through
Rockdale, Henry and Newton
“Tat’s the long-term
goal along with other events
that feed into it like the
canoe outings, water quality
monitoring and engaging the
schools,” Echols said.
SRWA will also
reintroduce river cane to
South River, which helps slow
storm water. Echols said South
River can improve more if
people would properly dispose
“If you drop trash
[anywhere] it’s going to end
up in a water way because
that’s where the storm
water goes,” she said. “It’s an
education process.”
The complaint against Rader, filed
by Timothy Brantley of Decatur, al-
leges that Rader “defrauded” DeKalb
County residents by using his posi-
tion as a commissioner to illegally”
enrich himself and his former em-
ployer, Jacobs Engineering.
Rader described the allegations as
“When I first came into office, I
sought and received from the eth-
ics board an advisory opinion that
advised me how to conduct myself as
a commissioner to avoid conflict of
interest in regard to my employment.
I have followed the direction of the
advisory opinion since,” Rader said.
“I think the charges are…baseless
and inconsistent with the advice of
the ethics board,” he said.
Brantley’s complaint alleges that
Rader “illegally received pay from
DeKalb County in excess of $266,000
and kickbacks from Jacobs Engineer-
ing in excess of $600,000 for employ-
ment as their ‘in‐house’ legislator on
the DeKalb County commission.”
Rader “unlawfully” shared “privi-
leged and confidential information
with his employer and others” and
“influenced the outcome of votes” by
the board of commissioners and the
decisions of government executives
“for the purpose of benefiting his em-
ployer,” the complaint alleges.
Brantley accuses Rader of illegally
steering contracts to benefit his em-
According to the ethics complaint,
Rader, a professional planner, was an
employee of Jacobs Engineering at
the time of his swearing‐in as a com-
missioner in January 2007 until his
termination from the company in
In his complaint, Brantley states
that Jacobs Engineering terminated
Rader’s employment in 2013 after a
blog indicated “influence peddling
and conflicts of interests involving
Commissioner Rader, DeKalb Coun-
ty and Jacobs Engineering.”
The ethics complaint accuses
Rader of “willfully, knowingly and
illegally” accepting employment from
Jacobs Engineering while the com-
pany “illegally pursued and obtained
multiple contracts from DeKalb
County” in of $10 million.
The complaint alleges that Rader
influenced commissioners’ votes on
various contracts for Jacobs Engi-
neering by “discussing the nature and
terms” of the contracts with commis-
sioners and officials; by “conspiring
with DeKalb County Commissioners
Kathie Gannon and Stan Watson to
provide monetary and other valuable
consideration in exchange for their
votes on contracts affecting Jacobs
Engineering; and by influencing sus-
pended county CEO Burrell Ellis,
former deputy chief operating officer
Ted Rhinehart and former interim
planning director Gary Cornell, who
was a former Jacobs Engineering em-
Some of these accusations are of
criminal activity and are “false and,
frankly, libelous,” Rader said.
Of her alleged complicity with
Rader, Gannon said, “It’s totally un-
true. I’m fairly confident that this was
a bogus attempt at diversion. Diver-
sion is one of the primary tactics that
people use who are trying to divert
attention from themselves because of
what they’re doing.
“There wasn’t one substantive alle-
gation,” Gannon said. “There was just
all this innuendo. I know it’s not true
because I was named as doing some-
thing which is untrue. To me, it says
the whole thing was bogus.”
The complaint against Gannon,
filed by Monica Parrot of Lithonia,
alleges that Gannon “conveniently
hid her illegal transactions by using
her assistant, Michelle Walldorff, to
purchase gift cards that Gannon used
personally during the Christmas sea-
son (when the cards were purchased)
as well as to pay off her cronies.”
Although an official complaint
was not filed against Walldorff, Par-
rot asks the ethics board to investi-
gate her as well.
Parrott also accuses Gannon of
“illegally and unethically paying at-
torneys more than $25,000.00 of
money in her commission budget to
sue DeKalb County and force zoning
decisions of the Board of Commis-
sioners to be overturned.”
Additionally, Parrot accuses Gan-
non of “illegally and unethically pay-
ing more than $60,000 for question-
able Information Technology services
more properly handled by the execu-
tive branch of the government.”
The complaint alleges that Gan-
non illegally paid more than $20,000
to support nonprofits “basically for
the purpose of vote-buying and pub-
lic manipulation.”
“Through some of these organiza-
tions, Commissioner Gannon is pro-
viding kickbacks for her operatives,”
the complaint alleges.
According to allegations in the
complaint, Gannon also gave more
than $6,000 to Park Pride, “an orga-
nization sanctioned by the Board of
Commissioners to determine where
to equitably distribute county-allocat-
ed park improvement funds through-
out the County but [was] recently
found to be a ‘wholly-owned-subsid-
iary’ of Commissioners Gannon and
Rader when it was revealed that Park
Pride was only spending money in
District 2.”
The complaint also alleges that
Gannon spent $13,000 of taxpayer
funds for planning and development
services “in spite of the existence of
well-paid county planning and devel-
opment professionals.”
In a news conference July 8, Gan-
non called the allegations “bogus.”
“No taxpayer money has been
spent on anything personal,” Gannon
said. “I have never received a kick-
back of any kind and I don’t intend
to. I have given no kickbacks and I
have conspired with no one.”
In April Gannon sponsored a
resolution to audit all commissioners’
“It is my understanding that audit
started this week. Once that audit is
complete and once the ethics [board]
has an opportunity to review these
allegations, I’m sure they will all
be seen as bogus and it will be dis-
missed,” Gannon said.
In addition to Rader and Gannon,
ethics complaints are pending before
the DeKalb County Board of Eth-
ics for commissioners Elaine Boyer,
Larry Johnson, Sharon Barnes Sut-
ton and Stan Watson.
Johnson said July 7.
“Te state law that created the
board is very clear that it is an in-
dependent board,” Johnson said.
“I don’t think [May] can have any
contact with the board [or] make
any suggestions to the board. Tat’s
going to be my position and my at-
torney’s position.”
“I appreciate the fact that [May]
is interested in ethics,” Johnson said,
“but…I have my reservations about
the depth and quality of why he’s
In a statement to Te Champion
on July 7, May said he stands by his
decision to allocate additional re-
sources to ethics board.  
“Te additional funding will al-
low the ethics board to hire a chief
integrity ofcer, investigator and ad-
ministrative assistant,” May stated.
“Te chief integrity ofcer will be
our full-time ethics watchdog. He
or she will not report to me or the
board of commissioners. Our eth-
ics watchdog will report directly to
the board of ethics, many of whom
stood with me when I unveiled my
Te ethics board will have to de-
cide whether to investigate the com-
plaint against May.
Johnson said he may fle “a
couple more” complaints—this time
against the ethics board itself. He
cited the June 25 news conference by
May about the new ethics changes.
Tree members of the ethics board
joined May at the news conference
and John Ernst, the ethics board
chairman, asked the board of com-
missioners to immediately approve
the May’s proposed funding increase
for the ethics board. Te increase
would be $97,000 for the rest of the
“Tis was the frst time ever that
anybody can recall that there were
members of the [ethics board]…
present at a press conference with
the CEO in the 24 years that the
ethics board has been in existence,”
Johnson said.
Peachtree-Dunwoody house celebrates
20 years of helping families in need
by Lauren Ramsdell
With three children’s hos-
pitals in the metro area, At-
lanta is a hub for people seek-
ing answers to their children’s
complex medical problems.
But when a child is sick,
some things can fall by the
wayside–such as securing a
long-term rental, cooking a
hot meal or showering.
That’s where the Ronald
McDonald House Charities
step in. In 322 houses across
the world, families of sick
children are housed, fed and
provided a safe place to stay
while their child gets treat-
ment. Families are asked to
donate up to $20 per day, but
if the family cannot afford it,
the fee is waived. Scores of
volunteers keep the houses
staffed and guests fed, cared
for and entertained.
Ally Harris, 15, and her
mom Iris arrived at the
Peachtree-Dunwoody Ronald
McDonald House in early
June after receiving a fright-
ening diagnosis. A junior
varsity softball player, Ally
was running on the field one
moment and unable to walk
or roll over the next. After
a week in the hospital, doc-
tors decided on a diagnosis:
Guillain-Barre syndrome.
Guillain-Barre is a disease
in which the body’s autoim-
mune system attacks the
peripheral nervous system,
causing numbness, tingling,
paralysis and in extreme cases
“At first I didn’t have a clue
about the Ronald McDonald
House, they talked about it
when she was in the hospital
but I didn’t really know exact-
ly what it would be like,” Iris
Harris said. “They talk about
the other Ronald McDonald
house being a little more like
a hotel, and the families don’t
really see each other. But one
thing I like about this one is
we’ve gotten to know so many
people and hear their stories
and see the progress that their
children have made. I think
that’s very important in our
healing process to know that
there are other people out
there. We thought what she
had was bad, but there are a
lot worse things out there. So
it has been a blessing.”
Ronald McDonald Houses
are so named because the
primary donor is McDon-
ald’s, but the charity is run
independently. Atlanta cur-
rently has two houses: Gate-
wood House, opened in 2008
near Emory University, and
Peachtree Dunwoody house,
opened in 1994. Atlanta’s
original Ronald McDonald
House was established in At-
lanta in 1979–the fourth in
the country at that time–but
was decommissioned in 2008
when the newest house was
built on Gatewood Road.
During its 20-year history,
the Peachtree-Dunwoody
house has served nearly
10,000 families seeking treat-
ment at nearby Children’s
Healthcare at Scottish Rite
Hospital. Last year alone it
hosted 194 families in the
11-bedroom house.
Currently, the Peachtree-
Dunwoody house is fund-
raising to add a wing of bed-
rooms to bring the total to 31.
“Another reason we are
expanding this house is that
it’s really not wheelchair
friendly or [accessible for]
anyone that has a challenge
getting around, which about
50 percent of our families in
that rehab program at Scot-
tish Rite,” said Beth Howell,
president and CEO of Atlanta
Ronald McDonald House
Charities. “There’s no eleva-
tor in this house, and the
fact that we are turning away
around 200 families a year
because we just don’t have
enough rooms.”
The house looks like any
normal home, with an en-
tryway, sitting room, kitchen
and dining room, patio, base-
ment, family room and bed-
rooms. But, with 11 families
at a time, the proportions are
a little different. Everyone can
have some space of their own.
While the Ronald McDon-
ald House has started to feel
like a home away from home
for the Harrises, their actual
home is in Franklin, in Heard
“We thought about driv-
ing back and forth but it’s
80-something miles and I
just couldn’t do that every
day,” Iris said. “She probably
wouldn’t have been able to
have the rehab that she need-
ed, because we couldn’t afford
to drive up here.”
Ally has made a friend,
Maggie, while staying at the
house. And when they return
to Franklin on Fridays they
take Maggie and her mom
back home since they live
nearby. On Sundays the Har-
rises come back with Maggie
and mom in tow. Ally said
they will be lifelong friends,
all due to the Ronald Mc-
Donald House and its 20-year
mission of serving kids and
their families.
Carrie Bowden, market-
ing and communications di-
rector for the Atlanta houses,
said some families have
expressed concerns that the
Peachtree-Dunwoody house
will lose some of its homey
“But, it’s the volunteers
and the families and the spirit
that make it a home,” she said.
“The house will still have the
same spirit. It will just be big-
ger and more spacious.”
Due to budget issues, none
of the rooms have televisions
and most share a bathroom.
Though the Harrises would
rather have a bathroom, Iris
said the lack of television has
made them socialize with
other families more.
“I like it because I have
friends here, we’ve made
new friends,” Ally said. “If
this didn’t happen to me we
never would have met those
Ally is currently undergo-
ing day rehabilitation at Scot-
tish Rite. Although Guillain-
Barre is serious, many of
its effects can be mitigated
through quick hospital inter-
vention coupled with rigor-
ous occupational therapy.
Ally and her mom spend
most of the day at the hospi-
tal before coming back to the
house to relax.
“A lot of the time we get in
the car, turn the music up real
loud, roll down the windows,
grab the friends and hop in
and just drive around,” Ally
“She’s still a kid, you
know?” Iris said.
Beth Howell is the president and CEO of Atlanta-area Ronald
McDonald House Charities. The Peachtree-Dunwoody house has
served patients on the border of DeKalb County for 20 years.
The light and airy kitchen is a gathering place for families at the Peachtree-Dunwoody house. Photos by Lauren
Ally Harris is a patient at Scottish Rite Children’s Hospital. Her mom, Iris,
is staying with her at the Peachtree-Dunwoody Ronald McDonald House.
The Voice of Business in DeKalb County
DeKalb Chamber of Commerce
Two Decatur Town Center, 125 Clairemont Ave., Suite 235, Decatur, GA 30030
by Kathy Mitchell
Nick Purdy said that al-
though he and Eric Johnson
have been friends for more
than 20 years, they have nev-
er lived in the same city. One
of the pleasures of visiting
his friend, Purdy said, was
always sampling Johnson’s
homebrewed beers.
“I’ve never been content
to be a fan of something I
really love—I have to turn
it into a business. I said for
years, ‘Man, you need to bot-
tle this commercially.’ I guess
it’s the entrepreneurial spirit
in me,” said Purdy, who is
one of founders of the music
and entertainment publica-
tion Paste Magazine.
The collaboration be-
tween businessman Purdy
and brewmaster Johnson
resulted in a new company—
Wild Heaven Craft Beers.
The two initially built a facil-
ity in South Carolina, which
sold its first beer in 2010, and
in June of this year moved to
Avondale Estates, a short dis-
tance from Paste’s offices.
“I’ve always loved the De-
catur/Avondale Estates area,
and this is where I want to
be,” Purdy said. “The busi-
ness community here has
been welcoming and sup-
Every Friday, Saturday
and Sunday, Wild Heaven’s
owners invite the public for
tastings and tours of their
8,000-square-foot facility
with its 30-barrel brewing
system. “We want people to
taste our beer and see that
we have something unique
here. This is not just our
version of what everybody
else is doing,” Purdy said. “I
want every product I bring to
market to be a better option
than what’s already out there.
We’re adding something new
to the beer landscape.”
Purdy describes the beer
as having been “designed
in the great tradition of Eu-
ropean brewing but with a
distinctly American creative
flair. We brew all-grain with
no adjunct sugars, creating
bigger flavor without excess
He added, “We want to
raise the profile of beer in the
South. We want people to see
it as a complex and interest-
ing drink—like good wines—
not just as yellow suds. We
want people to pair specific
beers with foods the way they
pair wines.”
On its website, Wild
Heaven’s varieties are de-
scribed in language reminis-
cent of what wine connois-
seurs use to describe wines.
For example, Ode To Mercy
“overflows with bold flavors
woven into a very balanced
and approachable beer that
finishes with creamy linger-
ing hints of oak, coffee and
roasted goodness. Bright
citrus hops peek through
from time to time, adding
additional layers of complex-
ity,” according to the website
There are currently six
varieties of Wild Heaven
available year-round with
seasonal offerings through-
out the year, and more are in
development, Purdy said.
Purdy, who like his busi-
ness partner is a lifelong
Georgian, said the company
name was inspired by a song
performed by Georgia-based
rock band REM. “The song is
Near Wild Heaven,” Purdy ex-
plained. “I love the juxtaposi-
tion of two words that don’t
seem to belong together. You
think of heaven as this calm,
peaceful place with harp
music—then you put wild in
front of it.”
He said that he and his
partner are pleased at how
well their products, which
are now offered in area bars,
restaurants, supermarkets
and other places, have been
received so far. “It’s been su-
per fun making this happen.
We’re not a profitable com-
pany yet, but that will come,”
he predicted. “It takes time
to fully establish a business.
That’s to be expected.”
While he said they are
striving to create world-class
beer and become “one of
America’s great breweries,”
there is not an immediate
plan to distribute nationally.
“Right now, we’re only in
Georgia, and we’re planning
to spread into other nearby
states, but becoming a na-
tional brand? That’s not us
right now,” Purdy said.
Georgia natives ‘adding something
new to the South’s beer landscape’
The public is invited to the facility every weekend for tours and tastings.
Nick Purdy says he liked Eric Johnson’s beer so much he “had to turn it
into a business.”
Six varieties are offered year-round and others are in development.
CRCT scores improve in four out of fve subject areas
by Lauren Ramsdell
Test scores improved for four out
of five content areas examined by
the Criterion-Referenced Compe-
tency Tests (CRCT) for students in
third through eighth grades, accord-
ing to a release from the DeKalb
County School District.
The scores were aggregated from
results in all grades to produce an
overall proficiency percentage. The
• Reading – increased by one per-
centage point to 89.2 percent
• English and Language Arts – in-
creased by 0.2 percentage points to
84.9 percent
• Science – increased by 0.8 per-
centage points to 64.4 percent
• Social Studies – increased by 0.4
percentage points to 67.4 percent
• Mathematics – decreased by 1.3
percentage points to 70.6 percent
“I am extremely proud of the
students, parents and educators
who contributed to the improve-
ment in our districtwide scores,”
said Michael Thurmond, district
superintendent. “Our growth and
achievement model strategy is
working. We focused our resources
[on] a districtwide effort to help our
students master the content of the
subject matter. We understand that
growth and achievement, teaching
and learning is our business.”
According to the release, the
decrease in math score can be attrib-
uted to a new, more rigorous CRCT
test in that area.
Thurmond said that to increase
the mathematics score, as well as to
further increase the percentage of
students proficient in other areas,
the district will increase tutoring
and resources for teachers. There
will be a special focus on science,
social studies and math, as the low-
est-proficient areas.
“We will be increasing profes-
sional learning and development for
our teachers, we will encourage par-
ents to better support their children,
and we will make resources available
to make sure if that there is need for
tutorial, that will be available to stu-
dents that need it,” Thurmond said.
Fourth-grade social studies and
math teacher Celeste Maye said that
while she doesn’t teach to the test,
she bases her curriculum on what is
likely to appear on the end-of-year
exams. She also uses technology in
her Wynbrooke Elementary class-
room to measure students’ progress
throughout the year.
“Data drives my instruction, pe-
riod,” she said. “We usually take an
assessment every six to eight weeks
to see if they improve on those
skills. On a weekly basis we look at
the data to determine what groups
to put students in. Then, we have a
group lesson, but differentiate to the
students’ needs during center activi-
Maye said she is appreciative of
the district’s emphasis on continu-
ing education, including weekend
workshops where they learn how to
better engage students. She said that
improving scores starts with enthu-
siasm for the lessons.
“Teachers need to do more
hands-on activities and make the
math applicable to life skills,” Maye
said. “Our math is very relevant,
and they can see how they use it
in everyday life and it piques their
interest. My instruction is fun and
engaging, and we use a lot of tech-
nology and make it interesting. I am
teaching and the kids are enjoying
and because they enjoy it, that learn-
ing is being maintained.”
Next year, DeKalb will move
away from the CRCT tests to a new
system called Georgia Milestones,
that will use one program across
grades three through 12 instead of
separate tests, according to the dis-
trict release. The test will require
students to show their thought pro-
cess before coming to an answer,
rather than just a fact or solution.
Thurmond said that the new test
will bring challenges but that the
district has already started to pre-
“It will be a challenge and op-
portunity for all the stakeholders,”
he said. “It’s something exciting we
have begun to work on that we are
still fleshing out. We began as soon
as we were informed testing would
be changing.”
Maye said her approach to teach-
ing likely will not change, as she al-
ready requires her students to show
extensive work before accepting a
correct answer.
“I have already been using that
type of method,” she said. “Students
draw models, show their work and
explain. They should be ready for
the test, and they will do very well.”
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by Carla Parker
It was a dream come true
for Decatur native Nic Wil-
son when the first baseman
was selected by the Tampa
Bay Rays June 7 in the Major
League Baseball First-Year
Player Draft.
Wilson, a Decatur High
School graduate and former
player for Georgia State Uni-
versity’s baseball team, was
drafted in the 24th round by
Tampa Bay. Wilson was at
home with his family when
he found out that he had
been drafted.
“Me and my father were
sitting on the couch, and we
saw my name scroll across
the television screen,” he
said. “We had a small cel-
ebration afterwards.”
Wilson said he received a
call from the Rays organiza-
tion later that day and said
it felt just as good receiving
that call as when he saw
his name on the television
screen. Since he began his
baseball career, Wilson said,
playing professional baseball
has been his goal.
“You look for an oppor-
tunity to extend your career
every year, and I’ve been
given a great [opportunity]
by the Tampa Bay organiza-
tion,” he said. “I’m in a great
place for young players to
grow and advance and hope-
fully one day make it to the
major leagues.”
During his two seasons
at Georgia State, Wilson
earned second-team All-
America honors from Lou-
isville Slugger/Collegiate
Baseball, along with first-
team All-Sun Belt Confer-
ence accolades. He ranks
fourth in the nation with 18
homers in his senior season,
the third-highest season to-
tal in Georgia State history.
He also had 20 doubles,
52 RBIs and 50 run scored
in his senior season. He had
a .322 batting average with
a .683 slugging percentage
and a .423 on-base percent-
Named National Player
of the Week twice during the
2014 season, Wilson tied the
Georgia State and Sun Belt
single-game records with
three homers against South
Alabama. His season total
is third best in the univer-
sity’s history, three behind
the school record, while his
two-year career total of 26
homers is tied for eighth in
school history.
“I am so proud of Nic be-
cause he worked really hard
for this and he deserves it,”
Georgia State coach Greg
Frady said. “He has great
talent, and now he has an
opportunity to showcase it
at the professional level.”
Wilson credited his col-
lege coaches for his success-
ful senior season.
“My coaching staff at
Georgia State worked with
me daily and helped develop
me into what I am,” he said.
“Tampa has said time and
time again that their major
interest in me is the fact that
I seem to have power in my
hitting. Hopefully I’ll be able
to go yard with these guys.”
Wilson is currently in
West Virginia playing for
the Princeton Rays, an ad-
vanced rookie minor league
baseball team affiliated with
the Tampa Bay Rays. Wil-
son said he will continue to
work hard to move up in the
minor league and hopefully
one day play in the major
“That’s what any ball
player wants to do; not just
make it to the major leagues
but be a contributor on that
level,” he said. “I know that
work has gotten me to this
point in my career and I
trust that if I continue to
work on a daily basis at my
craft then my talent and
skills will hopefully allow
me to advance.”
by Carla Parker
St. Pius guard Asia Durr
has brought home another
gold medal after the 2014
USA Basketball Women’s
U17 World Championship
Team won the 2014 FIBA
U17 World Championship
July 6 in Pilsen, Czech Re-
USA (7-0) defeated Spain
(6-1) 77-75 to win the gold
medal. It is the third gold
medal for the USA in as
many championships since
the inaugural event in 2010,
and the USA now has a 23-0
overall U17 record.
Durr scored 17 points
and had four assists in
the championship game.
She came up big down the
stretch to help USA secure
the win. With the game tied
at 71-all and 1:36 remaining
in the fourth quarter, Durr
helped give the team a 75-
71 lead with a pull-up jump
shot. She also hit two free
throws to give USA a 77-73
lead with 7.1 seconds.
“It wasn’t doubt,” Durr
said of the game. “It was
pressure, of course, because
they were making every
single shot. So, there was
definitely pressure.”
Durr finished the 2014
FIBA U17 World Champi-
onship tournament second
on the team in scoring with
an average of 13.4 points per
Asia Durr wins gold medal
with USA basketball team
Decatur High School alum Nic Wilson was drafted in the 24th round by
Tampa Bay in the Major League Baseball First-Year Player Draft June 7.
St. Pius guard Asia Durr (No. 10) helped lead the USA Basketball Women’s U17 World Championship to a gold
medal in the 2014 FIBA U17 World Championship.
DeKalb resident runs in
23rd Peachtree Road Race
by Carla Parker
For the 23rd time in 26 years,
Carla Bramlette crossed the finish
line of the annual Peachtree Road
Bramlette, 58, ran her first
Peachtree Road Race in 1988. She
took a short break from the race
before running it again in 1991, but
since then she has run the race every
year, building her collection of race
The Peachtree Road Race, orga-
nized by the Atlanta Track Club, is
the largest 10K in the world. The an-
nual race, which is in its 45th year,
attracts nearly 60,000 runners from
throughout the metro Atlanta area
and beyond.
Bramlette originally decided to
run the Peachtree Road Race in
1988 to get back in shape.
“I bought my first pair of run-
ning shoes and everyone was telling
me that I should run the Peachtree
Road Race,” she said. “I trained for
the Peachtree, and I got into it, and I
absolutely loved it.”
After her first race, she did
less running and did not run the
Peachtree again until 1991. She
began running and training with a
woman who was serious about run-
ning, and they both decided to run
the Peachtree Road Race.
“Then it became a neighborhood
thing where all of my neighbors got
into it and applied for the race,” she
said. “I had a big truck and all of us
piled into the truck and headed to
the race. When we finished we piled
back in the truck and headed home
while honking [the car horn] and
showing off our T-shirts.”
Bramlette has participated in
eight marathons and has run the
race with her sister, Caren, for the
past 15 years. In the early years,
Bramlette was among the first group
of starters, which she enjoyed.
“It was really nice because you
have a lot more room to run,” she
said. “I would get there early, and I
could see where the wheelchair race
was starting. Now, I’m slower and
I’m getting towards the back of the
“[When] people ask me if I’m
running the Peachtree [race], I say,
‘I’m participating,’” she said.
Bramlette was a little farther back
than normal this year, but she said
the race was one of the best yet.
“The runners around us were
just out for a good time,” she said.
“No one was trying to be the first
to get to the finish line. I’m looking
forward to next year and continuing
my streak.”
Bramlette said she plans to con-
tinue participating until she reaches
her 25th consecutive year. One of
her motivations is the T-shirt run-
ners receive after the race. Bramlette
has saved each T-shirt and rarely
wears them, except the 2004.
“My favorite shirt is the 2004
shirt because it looks like an athletic
shirt,” she said. “It’s the one that I
wear the most.”
Although each race was a dif-
ferent experience for her, Bram-
lette said every time she finishes a
Peachtree Road Race she is glad she
did it again.
“Every time you run you have no
idea how you’re going to feel,” she
said. “Some days you feel really good
and those days when your body is
not working well and you cross the
finish line it’s like, ‘yes, I did it.’”
DeKalb resident Carla Bramlette ran in
her 23rd Peachtree Road Race July 4.
Bramlette is on a streak and collecting
shirts along the way.
by Carla Parker
A man convicted of
murdering the fiancée of
a DeKalb County
police sergeant will
remain in prison for
the rest of his life
after the Supreme
Court of Georgia
denied his appeal
June 30.
Luis Alberto
Porras of Roswell
was found guilty in
February 2011 for
killing 40-year-old Jameelah
Qureshi. He was convicted
of murder and gun charges
and was sentenced to life
without parole. Porras ap-
pealed to the Georgia Su-
preme Court, arguing that
the trial court erred when
it instructed the jurors on
the various ways they could
determine whether a witness
was not credible, or could be
According to the appeal,
the trial judge instructed
the jurors that to “impeach
a witness is to prove that a
witness is unworthy of be-
lief. Now, a witness may be
impeached by disproving
the facts to which the wit-
ness has testified; proof that
the witness has been
convicted of a crime
involving dishonesty
or making a false state-
ment; proof of con-
tradictory statements
previously made by the
witness about matters
relevant to the witness’s
testimony and to the
However, the court
failed to instruct the jury,
despite a request by Por-
ras’s attorney, that a witness
may also be impeached by
proof that the witness had
been convicted of a felony,
whether or not it involved
a false statement, according
to the appeal. Two of three
jailhouse informants called
by the prosecution to testify
against Porras had past fel-
ony convictions that did not
involve dishonesty or a false
In the unanimous opin-
ion, Justice Keith Blackwell
wrote that, “it was error
for the trial court to fail to
charge that a witness may
be impeached by proof of
a prior felony conviction.”
However, “such an error
sometimes may be harmless,
and it is no basis for reversal
if it is highly probable that
the error did not contribute
to the verdict.” Given the
circumstances of this case,
“we conclude that it is highly
probable that the failure of
the trial court to charge on
impeachment by a prior
felony conviction did not
contribute to the verdict of
the jury,” the opinion said.
Porras shot and killed
Qureshi, a mother of four, in
2009 in front of her Lithonia
home. According to the case,
Porras met Qureshi’s daugh-
ter through an online chat
room in 2005 when he was
20 years old and the daugh-
ter was 14. They began a
sexual relationship and when
Qureshi learned of the rela-
tionship, she went to police.
In 2008, Porras pleaded
guilty to statutory rape and
was sentenced to eight years
of probation. Porras was
prohibited from having any
communication with the girl
as part of his probation, but
he continued to contact her
through text messages and
emails, once sending her
a picture of a tattoo of her
name that he had put on his
In 2009, the daughter de-
cided to cut off the relation-
ship with Porras, although
he continued to try to see
In August 2009, Porras
contacted Amanda Dove,
another woman he had met
online. According to Dove,
who later testified against
Porras, he picked up Dove in
his green pickup truck and
drove her to Lithonia. When
they reached the entrance
to Qureshi’s neighborhood,
Porras dressed up as a wom-
an, provided a gun and a wig
for Dove to wear. He then
had Dove drive his truck to
Qureshi’s home.
When they saw Qureshi
pull into the driveway of
her home in the 700 block
of Kilkenny Circle, Porras
approached Qureshi’s car,
and shot her multiple times
with two different guns.
Qureshi had at least 13 gun-
shot wounds, which killed
her. Witnesses saw the green
truck leaving the scene.
Dove and Porras then
returned to a friend’s apart-
ment in Social Circle. The
day after the shooting, Por-
ras asked Dove to go with
him to the police station to
help fabricate an alibi, ac-
cording to the case. Based on
information Dove later pro-
vided to police, investigators
searched Porras’s home and
found handwritten scripts
in the tank of a toilet. The
scripts were to be used by a
female caller to place calls to
the police.
Porras and Dove were
arrested and indicted for
murder and gun charges. In
a plea bargain, Dove pleaded
guilty to several lesser
crimes, including accessory
to murder after the fact, and
she agreed to testify against
Porras in exchange for a
lighter sentence.
State Supreme Court upholds murder conviction