FRIDAY, Dec. 26, 2014 • VOL. 17, NO. 37 • FREE

Serving East Atlanta, Avondale Estates, Brookhaven, Chamblee, Clarkston, Decatur, Doraville, Dunwoody, Lithonia, Pine Lake, Tucker and Stone Mountain.

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Sports....................... 18-19A
Opinion............................ 5A

Sheriff’s deputies play Santa
by Andrew Cauthen

More than a dozen children received Christmas gifts from the DeKalb County
Sheriff’s Office. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

On Dec. 17, DeKalb County sheriff ’s deputies picked up
Irish Wright, of Stone Mountain, her grandson and two
grandchildren and took them
to the DeKalb County Jail.
But they weren’t in trouble.
They had been selected to
receive gifts from the DeKalb
County Sheriff ’s Office as part
of the sheriff ’s annual holiday
“Today they sent the [sheriff ’s deputy] to come and get
me…because I didn’t have a
way,” Wright said. “I’m on the
Approximately 15 children
and their grandparents from
Georgia Division of Family
and Children Services families
received gifts, played games
and enjoyed refreshments
with sheriff ’s deputies and
personnel and the DeKalb Jail
Wright said the gift event
was a surprise to her.
“I didn’t know nothing
about this; I sure didn’t,” she
said, adding that she didn’t
know how her family was
selected for the gifts.
When her grandchildren
learned about the deputy
coming to pick them up, “they
boys…were sort of shocked
a little bit because they said,
‘Grandma, what I did? What
I did?’
She said she assured them
that they weren’t in trouble.
Wright, who has been rearing the boys since birth, said
the Sheriff ’s Office holiday
event is very helpful to her
family, providing “things that I
could not buy for them.”
“It’s a season of giving,”
said DeKalb County Sheriff
Jeffrey Mann. “It’s our honor
and pleasure to do this each
year. Many of us have been
blessed all our lives and continue to be blessed.

A subcommittee split Northlake down LaVista Road. The
LaVista Hills map has areas north of LaVista Road and west
of I-285 including Northlake Mall, and Tucker map has areas
south of LaVista Road on the west side of I-285.

New LaVista Hills,
Tucker maps released
by Carla Parker
A legislative committee divided the Northlake
commercial district between two DeKalb County
cityhood groups that were fighting to include the
area in its proposed map.
The DeKalb County Cityhood Subcommittee
of the House Governmental Affairs Committee released new proposed city maps with new boundaries for Tucker and LaVista Hills Dec. 19 and voted
3-1 to approve the maps. The subcommittee had until Dec. 31 to produce a boundary map because the
two cityhood groups could not come to an agreement on boundaries lines by the deadline date set by
the committee.
Each of the original proposed maps for both
cities included the Northlake commercial district
and residential areas on both sides of I-285 and in
the corner of I-85, I-285 and the Gwinnett County
line. The subcommittee split the area down LaVista
Road–LaVista Hills map has areas north of LaVista
Road and west of I-285 including Northlake Mall,
and the Tucker map has areas south of LaVista Road
on the west side of I-285.
Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville), chairman of the committee, said the reason for splitting
the Northlake commercial area had to do with financial viability.
“We were trying to give both areas enough commercial properties to have a good mixture of the tax
base,” Brockway said.
Representatives from LaVista Hills were not
pleased with the new map. LaVista Hills original
map had a population of approximately 72,000 residents. The new map decreased the population to an
estimated 64,000 residents.
Mary Kay Woodworth of LaVista Hills said the
committee did not listen to property and business
owners in the Northlake area, nor residents outside
the perimeter.
“By splitting the commercial district, when they
were requested not to by both business owners of

See Santa on page 13A




See Cityhood on page 13A



Page 2A The Champion Free Press, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014

Visitors eat around the Giganotosaurus in the entrance of the Fernbank Museum.

75-acre expansion to
Fernbank Museum
by Ashley Oglesby
Fernbank Museum of
Natural History announced
expansion plans, which include 75 acres of outdoor
experiences. The announcement largely focuses on
10 acres of new outdoor
experiences, environments
and activities, set to open in
summer 2016 along with expanded access to Fernbank
The new outdoor adventure experience will occupy
mature woodlands behind
the museum’s terrace overlook.
According to the announcement, the outdoor
expansion will offer new
experiences for all ages;
visitors can explore extraordinary landscapes along
with a five-story change
in elevation–from vantage
points high in the trees to
footpaths winding through
ever-changing terrain.
Experiences will include
tree pods, play areas, ground
trails, sensory stations,
adventure nets, hands-on
water cycle activities, a restored wetland and floating
“We are thrilled to expand our offerings with this
new outdoor attraction,”
Susan Neugent, museum

Sneakers from an anonymous donor benefits local families.

Donation helps
impoverished students
by Ashley Oglesby

Fernbank Museum of natural history outdoor expansion area is 75 acres.

president and CEO said.
“This is a rare opportunity to connect our visitors
with a truly authentic nature
experience, right here inside
the city, “ she added. This is
the most significant development at Fernbank since
the museum opened, and
we can’t wait for our visitors
to experience this fun and
invigorating encounter with
The new permanent
feature highlights the museum’s environmental legacy,
which began 75 years ago
when trustees organized to
preserve the forest, one of
America’s largest old-growth
urban forests.
The outdoor adventure

area will open in conjunction with increased access to
the 65-acre forest. Construction for the outdoor adventure will not impact the
forest, where the museum
is leading a research-based
restoration that includes
removal of more than 45
harmful invasive species and
restoration of many native
species that have largely disappeared.
The museum’s outdoor
expansion area will be included with museum admission at no extra charge
and will be free for museum
members. To learn more
about the forest restoration
and the upcoming experience, visit

An anonymous “angel”
has made the holidays brighter for local families after donating new athletic wear to
Communities In Schools of
Atlanta (CIS), an organization
that partners with DeKalb
and Fulton counties’ public
schools to remove barriers
that hinder students from
“Some of these kids have
never had a pair of brand new
shoes,” Dr. Demona Warren,
CIS site coordinator at Westlake High School said.
“Donations are much
needed because the kids we
serve aren’t the ones who live
in million-dollar homes. During the holidays we receive
referrals from families who
simply want one piece of
clothing item so that they can
give to their child on Christmas,” she said.
The organization places
staff members called site coordinators in schools to assist
in building strong relation-

ships with students, educators
and community members.
The coordinators are
trained to identify problems
that prevent students from
succeeding and devise benchmarks to help the students
overcome those issues.
“Our goal is always to
improve attendance, improve
behavior, support academic
performance, increase parental involvement, increase
community partnerships and
support families that are in
crisis,” Nona Franklin, director of programs said.
CIS site coordinators are
also providing the donation
of athletic shoes, socks and
clothes as an incentive for
students who make improvements in their behavior, attendance and/or academics.
“The donation of shoes
means a lot to our students
because they don’t have a lot
of things,” Warren said. “They
are working hard toward getting great grades because they
know they have a chance to
receive these premier incentives.”

The Champion Free Press, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014


Page 3A

MARTA revenues and ridership up
by Carla Parker

and maybe a couple of other places. If it
works, we might expand it throughout the
system. This will reduce our costs overMARTA has seen vast improvements
in multiple areas since Keith Parker took
Along with the increase in revenues
over as general manager and CEO in Dewere increases in ridership. Ridership
cember 2012.
has increased in fiscal year 2015 through
“Ridership is up, revenues are up, Clay- October, according to MARTA officials.
ton has joined, crime is trending in the
The combined ridership of the agency has
right direction, [and] we have some techincreased by four million riders in the first
nology improvements that we think are go- four months. Edward Johnson, chief ading to put us in the forefront in the nation
ministrative officer, said there were several
for public transportation systems,” Parker
of reasons for increase in ridership.
said at a Dec. 11 media briefing. “Our per“A lot of it has to do with the leaderception among our customers is improving ship of Mr. Parker and our board of direcdramatically.”
tors, but very importantly, we believe that
Just a couple of years ago, MARTA was the passenger has more confidence in the
operating in a deficit, according to Chief
system now,” Johnson said. “What we
Financial Officer Gordon Hutchinson.
recognize from the operation standpoint is
“Every year the agency ran a deficit as
that on-time performance has improved.
the financial reserves declined, and they
So, our passengers are really feeling the
were declining to the point that the agency system is more reliable.”
was projecting what Mr. Parker referred to
MARTA also increased the frequency
as a fiscal cliff,” Hutchinson said.
of the rail system, and established the
However, in fiscal year 2013, MARTA
“ride with respect” code of conduct, which
began running a surplus and increasing
curbs “knucklehead behavior.”
its reserves, and it continued in fiscal year
“The customer experience has been a
2014. MARTA officials expect that surplus lot more pleasant,” Johnson said.
to continue into 2015.
Crime is also decreasing at MARTA
“In fact, it’s increasing reserves to the
facilities, on trains and buses, according to
point that we’re really quite comfortable
MARTA Police Chief Wanda Dunham.
with the reserve level, and as a result, Mr.
“The percentage of crime is decreasing
Parker has been reinvesting in the business and we’re trending in the right direction,”
by increasing services,” Hutchinson said.
Dunham said. “MARTA continues to be
The services include reopening resta safe system and we’re happy that the
rooms with state-of-the-art niceties.
crime trends are showing that at this time.”
MARTA revealed the pilot restrooms at
MARTA also plans to install new techthe Lindbergh station. Parker said one of
nology, a video analytics program.
the biggest issues with the restrooms in the
“It’s in a testing phase currently,” Dunpast was that they were expensive to moni- ham said. “It’s a system where if sometor and maintain.
thing is going on in MARTA—a fight or
“This is a state-of-the-art, brand new
if someone is on the track—then it will
pilot restroom that is automatic,” he said.
detect that and alert our radio communica“A person can come press the button, a
tion operators and let them know that there
centrally located individual will let that
is an anomaly in the system.”
person in.”
MARTA is in the testing phase of addWith the restroom being automatic,
ing video cameras on trains and expects
MARTA officials will be notified if the
the project to be completed in January.
toilet paper is reduced so it can be refilled. MARTA is also planning on adding wireParker said the restroom is also “hardless Internet service to buses, trains and
ened,” meaning it is vandal proof.
tunnels. They are also looking at a pilot
“The structure in there cannot be damprogram that would turn smart phones into
aged,” he said. “So this is a pretty neat
Breeze cards.
deal for us. We’re going to try it out here

MARTA Board Chairman Robbie Ashe discusses the improvements of

MARTA CEO and General Manager Keith Parker talks about the new pilot
restrooms, which opened at the Lindbergh station.

The new pilot restrooms are state-of-the-art and automatic. Photos by
Carla Parker

The Champion Free Press, Friday Dec. 26, 2014


Page 4A

What Black males are taught
On Dec. 4, dozens of
people—students, faculty,
alumnae and others—held a
“die-in” at Agnes Scott College. For 4.5 minutes, they
lay, silent and motionless,
on a patio in the college’s
quad. The protest was staged
to symbolize the 4.5 hours
Michael Brown’s dead body
lay on the street in Ferguson,
Mo., after the unarmed Black
teenager was shot to death
by a White policeman in August.
A gathering outside Candler School of Theology at
Emory University drew more
than 300 protesters who
chanted, “Black lives matter.
I cannot breathe. I want to
live.” “I can’t breathe” were
reportedly the final words
of Eric Garner, an unarmed
Black man who died following a police chokehold in
Regionally, other protests

Andrew Cauthen

Managing Editor

were held at Columbia Theological Seminary, Georgia
Tech and Kennesaw State
University and various locations around Atlanta.
Hundreds of protests have
sprung up around the country this year in response to
these and other Black males
dying in encounters with
White police officers.
While there are no easy
answers to the problems of

racism in law enforcement,
the best defense for Blacks—
particularly Black males—is
to work hard not to get involved with the police. When
you do illegal things, the
police can get involved and
things can get ugly.
When those encounters
do occur, we Black males
are taught to be extra polite,
keep our hands visible, don’t
make sudden movements
and answer the officer’s questions.
No it’s not like it was during slavery or even during
the 1960s. Many advances
have been made in racial reconciliation, but Dr. Martin
Luther King Jr.’s dream has
not been fully realized.
Even when they are doing
nothing wrong, Black males
can grab the attention of the
police. When I was in college
in the late 1980s, I was once
surrounded by university

cops as I took a midnight
stroll across campus to get
relief from a migraine that
was being aggravated by latenight partiers in my dorm.
Even here in DeKalb
County, I get stopped every
time I get a new-to-me car
with a drive-out tag—which
is not illegal. In fact, I will be
getting a new car soon and
fully expect to get stopped
by the police. Once, when I
got pulled over by a cop for
having a drive-out tag, there
obviously had been some
police activity nearby involving a dozen police cars. After
the first cop pulled me over,
the others all decided to stop.
That was a little unnerving.
Once I had car trouble at
night on Glenwood Road in
south DeKalb. I was able to
get my car off the road into
park. Minutes later a policeman pulled up and asked
for the usual documents.

He said they had received a
complaint call from neighbors about “a lot of people”
in the park. I was the only
person there. When he discovered that all of my documents were in order, the cop
left me in the park with my
broken down car, without offering any kind of assistance.
Every time I encounter
police in possibly negative
situations, I keep calm, comply with the police, never
argue and am very polite
A quick look at the statics
for citations, arrests, court
cases and incarcerations will
show that Black males come
into contact with police
more than their White counterparts. How Black males
react when these situations
arise can often determine
how high the tensions will

The Champion Free Press, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014


Page 5A

One Man’s Opinion

Thanks, Virginia, for still believing
“Yes, Virginia, there is
a Santa Claus. He exists as
certainly as love and generosity and devotion exist,
and you know that they
abound and give to your life
its highest beauty and joy,”
an editorial response, written by New York Sun editor,
Francis Church, to a letter
questioning the existence of
Santa Claus from 8-year-old
Virginia O’Hanlon, printed
as an unsigned editorial on
Sept. 21, 1897.
Born July 20, 1889, Virginia O’Hanlon led a full
and interesting life. She will
however be remembered by
history as the little girl who
asked about the existence
of Santa Claus, and who
received a response from
the then prestigious New
York Sun newspaper declaring definitively that Saint
Nick was alive and well, and
would likely be around to
her house later that same
year. Ms. O’Hanlon married Edward Douglas in the
early 1910s and she left him
shortly prior to the birth of
her daughter, Laura. In the
U.S. Census of 1930, she
was listed as divorced. She
received her bachelor of arts
degree from Hunter College
in 1910, and later a master’s

Bill Crane


degree in education from
Columbia University in
1912, and still later a doctorate from Fordham University. A lifelong educator, she
started teaching in 1912, and
finally retired in 1959. She
passed at the age of 81 in
Valatie, New York.
In 2008, Macy’s department stores, long a symbol
of Christmas themselves,
in part due to the flagship
store’s presence in several
versions of the film, Miracle
on 34th Street, launched
their multimillion dollar
“Believe” campaign, in partnership with the nonprofit
Make-A-Wish Foundation
and the U.S. Postal Service,
collected more than 1.1 million letters to Santa from

red Santa Mail letterboxes
located in Macy’s stores. The
retailer made a gift of $1
million to Make-A-Wish in
recognition of the large public response.
Among the benefits of
aging is a growing appreciation for tradition, and an
open-mindedness and perspective often pushed aside
during our youth. I should
have realized this a few decades ago, but the desire for
our children to still love and
believe in Santa Claus really
isn’t about them, it’s about
us. We grownups still need
Santa, or at least the hope,
unquestioning love and
giving spirit of the season
which he represents. And
though Macy’s and other
retailers have a vested interest in the commercial side
of this season, the smartest
ones also understand that
the best gifts cannot actually
be bought.
In fact, what I am most
looking forward to this
Christmas morning is the
look of awe and wonderment I know that my youngest daughter Olivia will
share when she finds the
gifts which Santa has left for
her (she had a very short
list this year). I still smile

ear to ear when I see the excitement on her face as she
explains to a new friend or
classmate that Santa brought
her Bruno the Cat last year.
Our Olivia is nearing
Virginia’s age back in the
day, and witnessing her joy
on Christmas morning, as
well as the destruction of
wrapping paper is easily the
best gift of the season. My
older daughter, Barclay, is
now 22, and though it has
been some time since she
graduated past the “age of
believing,” I can still remember each of those Christmas
mornings as if they were
yesterday. Watching children
who still visit with Santa’s
helpers at the mall, or make
their first donation into a
Salvation Army Kettle, or
place their first star atop a
Christmas tree–these are
among the most precious
and priceless of holiday
memories. And as much as
we might love this year’s flat
screen or tacky tie, it is those
days of wide-eyed innocence
which many of us quietly
still yearn for.
I can’t speak for all of
my readers, but I know that
the warmth of the holiday
season and spirit quite often
takes the nip and chill out of

the air and helps warm our
household, inside and out.
Whether you and your
family are celebrating Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanza
or just reflecting back on the
year behind us before preparing for the year ahead, I
hope that that you also get
to experience somewhere
this year the joy of believing.
I want to thank Virginia
O’Hanlon for her rather
outsized role in all of this,
as well as thank my own
two children, Barclay and
Olivia, for making so many
warm and loving memories and for believing in the
things which matter most of
all. Merry Christmas to you
Bill Crane also serves as a
political analyst and commentator for Channel 2’s Action
News, WSB-AM News/Talk
750 and now 95.5 FM, as well
as a columnist for The Champion, Champion Free Press
and Georgia Trend. Crane is
a DeKalb native and business
owner, living in Scottdale. You
can reach him or comment
on a column at bill.csicrane@ 

F ree P ress

Let Us Know What You Think!

THE CHAMPION FREE PRESS encourages opinions from its readers.
Please write to us and express your views. Letters should be brief, typewritten and contain the writer’s name, address and telephone number
for verification. All letters will be considered for publication.
Send Letters To Editor, The Champion Free Press, P. O. Box 1347, Decatur, GA 300311347; Send email to • FAX To: (404) 370-3903 Phone:
(404) 373-7779 . Deadline for news releases and advertising: Thursday, one week prior
to publication date.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions written by columnists and contributing editors do not
necessarily reflect the opinions of the editor or publishers. The Publisher reserves the
right to reject or cancel any advertisement at any time. The Publisher is not responsible
for unsolicited manuscripts.

Publisher: John Hewitt
Chief Financial Officer: Dr. Earl D. Glenn
Managing Editor: Andrew Cauthen
Production Manager: Kemesha Hunt
Photographer: Travis Hudgons
Staff Reporters: Carla Parker, Ashley Oglesby
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Communications, Inc., • 114 New Street, Suite E, Decatur, GA.
30030 • Phone (404) 373-7779.
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Statement from the publisher
We sincerely appreciate the discussion surrounding this and
any issue of interest to DeKalb County. The Champion was
founded in 1991 expressly to provide a forum for discourse
for all community residents on all sides of an issue. We have
no desire to make the news only to report news and opinions
to effect a more educated citizenry that will ultimately move
our community forward. We are happy to present ideas for
discussion; however, we make every effort to avoid printing
information submitted to us that is known to be false and/or
assumptions penned as fact.


Page 6A The Champion Free Press, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014

Linda Cotten-Taylor

Linda Cotten-Taylor of Decatur said volunteering gives her an
opportunity to give back.

“It gives me an opportunity retired volunteers to come and help
and be a part of something that will
give our children a safe place to go
and play,” said Cotten-Taylor, who is
the leader and a founding member
of the Friends of Chapel Hill Park
group, a Parks Pride partner group
that provides community support
for the park.
On Dec. 9 Cotten-Taylor was
recognized as the facilities and
grounds section volunteer, an award
bestowed by the Georgia Recreation
and Park Association, at the DeKalb
County Board of Commissioners’
“I was very humbled,” said Cotten-Taylor, who has lived in DeKalb
for approximately 40 years. “It’s
not just about me; it’s about all the
people…who unconditionally come
[and] participate.
Cotten-Taylor started volunteering at parks when her daughter was
a member of the Friends of Washington Park in Atlanta.

“I would go and help her with
her park all the time,” CottenTaylor said. “And when I saw in the
[newspaper] they were coming to
DeKalb County, I called them and
submitted an application to [start] a
friends group.
“When we first started we didn’t
have [a] park,” Cotten-Taylor said.
“We didn’t have [a] bathroom, so
I started inquiring to the county,
‘What happened to the original
plans for Chapel Hill Park?’ That’s
how it got started.”
Since its inception, the friends
group has built a kiosk from
scratch, put in an exercise station
and new children’s playground.
With grants from Park Pride and
Commissioner Larry Johnson,
three picnic areas were made.
“There’s something in our park for
everyone,” Cotten-Taylor said.
Currently the Friends group is
in the process of raising money for a
butterfly garden. A fishing pier and
outdoor classroom are the last two

things on their “bucket list,” CottenTaylor said.
Cotten-Taylor said she leads a
group of volunteers who “help all
the time.”
“Retired guys monitor the park
every day,” Cotten-Taylor said.
“They go through and pick up the
trash. And if there’s anything happening they usually give me a call…
and I go over there and check it out.
“If I think I need to call the
county, I will, but if it’s something I
think the members of the community can do, that’s what happens,”
she said. “We have cleaned the bathrooms, we do whatever we want to
do to keep our park clean. It’s one of
the cleanest parks in the county.”
Cotten-Taylor also is a member
of Families of Chapel Hill Park and
Chapel Hill Neighborhood Association. She is also a master gardener.
“I like to encourage people to
reinvest in their communities, get
involved, find a group that’s a passion to you,” Cotten-Taylor said.

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.

Avondale Estates releases statement
on potential Druid Hills annexation
by Carla Parker
Avondale Estates city officials released
a statement Dec. 19 saying they will monitor the proposed annexation of Druid Hills
into Atlanta.
The city said it has received emails and
calls from residents about the potential annexation and how it will affect residents,
specifically children in DeKalb County
School District. Together in Atlanta
(TIA)—a group of parents and residents
from the neighborhoods near Emory University and within the Druid Hills High
School cluster—is calling for a referendum
on annexing those neighborhoods into Atlanta.
The boundaries of the proposed annexation include Briar Vista Elementary
School, Fernbank Elementary School, Druid Hills High, Fernbank Science Center,
Adams Stadium, the International Student

Center and other DeKalb County Schools’
“TIA says there is precedence for these
properties to be transferred to Atlanta
Public Schools (APS),” the statement read.
“TIA stated on their Facebook page they
submitted their proposed annexation map
to the state legislature and will work with
officials to support a resolution that incorporates the map and puts it to voter referendum in 2015.
“Only residents of the proposed annexation area vote on their own annexation-City of Avondale Estates residents would
not get a vote,” the statement continued.
“DCSD announced at their December 8
school board meeting they disagree with
TIA and will fight for these properties to
remain in DCSD.”
Avondale Estates said it will continue
to monitor the proposed annexation and
will send updates to residents.

Avondale Estates
to annex Stratford
Green Townhomes
by Carla Parker
Avondale Estates’ city
limits will expand come in
The Board of Mayor
and Commissioners voted
unanimously Dec. 15 to
annex the Stratford Green
Townhomes into the city,
effective Jan. 1. Stratford
Green is located east of
Avondale Estates City Hall
on Covington Road.
Built in the mid-1980s,
the community is made
up of 154 townhomes. The
annexation will bring in
nearly 400 new residents,
increasing the city’s population to approximately 3,360.
In October, residents of
Stratford Green petitioned
for annexation into the city.
According to the petition, annexation requires 60
percent of the ownership of
the land, 60 percent of the
registered voters, and 1/8th
(12.5 percent) of the property to abut the city limits.
More than 75 percent of the
ownership of the land mass,

78 percent of property
owners and more than 74
percent of registered voters
signed the petition.
“The residents of our
community currently have
an Avondale Estates mailing address, attend events
hosted by the city and often have Avondale Estates
police resources respond
to our calls for assistance,”
Stratford Green petitioners
wrote. “We recognize these
services are not included in
the taxes we pay as unincorporated DeKalb County.
Being so close to Avondale
Estates we already feel like
part of the community and
want to pay our fair share of
the services we already use.
“We have closely followed the direction Avondale Estates has been moving [in] and want to be
part of a forward thinking,
resident focused city,” the
petition states. “Additionally, because we are adjacent
to the current city limits,
Avondale Estates is a perfect fit.”

The Champion Free Press, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014



City to recycle Christmas trees

Avondale Estates will pick up Christmas trees
from homes Dec. 29 through Jan. 2. Trees will be
chipped Jan. 3 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Residents
must place their trees on the curb the week after
Christmas. On Jan. 3, the day of the chipping,
trees should be brought to the old compost area
by the lake, near Wiltshire Drive and Berkeley
Road, between the hours of 9 a.m. and 4 p.m.
Signs posted by the lake will mark the drop-off location. Christmas trees left up past Jan. 3, should
placed it on the curb and City Public Works associates will pick it up. For more information, call
City Hall at (404) 294-5400.

Jim Tysinger breakfast forum se
Senator Jim Tysinger breakfast forum meets
each Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. at the Panera
Bread in Briarcliff Village, 2100 Henderson Mill
Road at LaVista Road for legislative and governmental reports by candidates, public officials and
discussion of current events.
The forum is nonpartisan, open to the public
and free of charge. No reservations are required. 
Coffee, breakfast fare available for purchase.


Hills neighborhood in north DeKalb and Sandra
Storrar suggested Wellspring Living, a nonprofit
organization whose mission is to end domestic
minor sex trafficking and their suggestion was approved for support.
Wellspring Living operates Toco Hills Treasures, an upscale consignment shop located on
North Druid Hills Road which helps provide
funding for their programs as well as opportunities for sex trafficking survivors to be positively
engaged in the communities while they are in
Wellspring’s recovery programs.
Realtors Girardot and Storrar recently presented a $5,000 donation check on behalf of their
company to representatives of Wellspring Living
at a holiday dinner.

Druid Hills
Gone Digital: 100+ years of Emory yearbooks
now online 
Now through March 7, Emory University will
hold an exhibit on the digitization of Emory University yearbooks from 1893-1999, which are now
online, with more recent years to be added soon.
The show features digital access to the yearbooks,
a narrative on how the annuals show societal
changes over time and an oversized yearbook
image with face cutouts so visitors can pose in
the fashions of yesteryear. The digital collection
documents not only the history of the university,
but also of changes in education, popular culture, politics and economics–it’s also a good way
to research family members and friends in their
younger years. Emory University, 540 Asbury
Circle Atlanta; (404) 727-6861. For additional information visit:


State of the City event set

From left, Sandra Storrer, Mary Frances Bowley, strategic
officer at Wellspring, Paige Girardot, and April Henderson,
girls’ program coordinator for WellSpring Living.

Realty firm supports sex trafficking survivors
Each year during the holiday period, realtors
affiliated with Atlanta Fine Homes Sotheby’s International Realty are asked to nominate a charity
of their choice to receive donations to celebrate
the company’s sales successes. 
This year agents Paige Girardot of the Pine

The City of Dunwoody, the Rotary Club of
Dunwoody and the Dunwoody Chamber of Commerce have announced the sixth annual State of
the City event. The event is scheduled to take place
at the Crown Plaza Ravinia Hotel, 4355 Ashford
Dunwoody Road on Feb. 12 from 6 – 9 p.m.
The State of the City is a city sponsored event
showcasing the accomplishments and the vision
for the City of Dunwoody.
The Dunwoody State of the City draws representation from the community, ranging from
residents to business leaders and government
Donations gathered at the event will be used
to support the Chamber and Rotary charitable
throughout the year.

Page 7A

County ‘jobs bus’ to stop at library
DeKalb’s Mobile Career Center, known as the
“jobs bus,” will be stationed at various locations
during December.
The mobile unit provides residents with various services, including job search assistance, adult
workshops and training, resume writing pointers
and interviewing tips. Businesses are also able to
use the mobile unit for recruiting, pre-employment screenings, interviewing and training. More
than 2,500 DeKalb residents have used the mobile
career center’s services since its launch in February 2012. The mobile center is funded through
the Workforce Investment Act grant and all services offered are free.
On Dec. 30, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., the bus will
be at Salem Panola Library, 5137 Salem Road,
Lithonia. The next day, Dec. 31, from 10 a.m.-4
p.m., the mobile career center will stop at Stonecrest Library, 3123 Klondike Road, Lithonia.

DeKalb to offer Christmas tree pickup
DeKalb County will have free curbside Christmas tree pickup service for county residents Dec.
26, 2014 to Jan. 16, 2015.
The service, sponsored by Keep DeKalb Beautiful (KDB) and the DeKalb County Department
of Sanitation, offers county residents an opportunity to dispose of Christmas trees sustainably and
free of charge. All trees are converted into mulch.
To participate, residents must remove all
decorations from trees and place them curbside
on their regularly-scheduled recycling day. Trees
larger than 7 feet tall cannot be collected. For
more information about free curbside Christmas
tree pickup or how to plan a beautification project with KDB, contact KDB at (404) 371-2654
or, or visit


Page 8A The Champion Free Press, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014

Clarkston leader joins GMA board

by Ashley Oglesby

City of Clarkston council member Dean Moore
was recommended by his
peers to join the Georgia
Municipal Association
(GMA). This week the city
announced that Moore had
been appointed to the Board
of Directors.
Based in Atlanta, GMA
is a voluntary, non-profit
organization that provides
legislative, advocacy, educational, employee
benefit and
technical assistance services to
its 520 member
“I am honored to be
chosen for this
post,” Moore
said. “The
GMA staff and Moore
programs have
been a tremendous resource
for the city of Clarkston
and all its member cities. I
look forward to represent-

Dean Moore volunteers to bring clean water to Nairobi, Kenya.

ing the Eastern
region in a positive and effective
The city of Clarkston
recently received assistance
from GMA to better compartmentalize the city’s de-

Moore said, “We had everybody crowded into a city
hall that was not conducive
to the different departments
and the administration of
the city. We had the opportunity to acquire a 130-yearold house and renovate it for
our administrative offices.”

He added, “Having a
good city manager who is
familiar with different options with GMA is helpful
with maximizing development as a city.”
The councilman will
represent the cities in the
Eastern Metro-Atlanta area,
including cities in DeKalb

and Rockdale counties.
Moore’s involvement
with GMA will allow him to
research and make recommendations for other cities,
as well as allow him to take
notes from city managers
and examine how to pursue various avenues within
“We are pleased to have
councilmember Moore taking on this leadership position,” GMA Executive Director Lamar Norton said.
He added, “He’s well
respected by his colleagues,
and I’m sure he’ll provide
great leadership to the cities
in his district.”
Recently Moore completed a two month trip to
Nairobi, Kenya, where he
met with local elected officials and community leaders to coordinate efforts to
bring clean drinking water
to impoverished villages.
“It presented a rare
glimpse that reinforces the
importance of a strong and
functioning infrastructure
like we have here in Georgia,” Moore said.

See GMA on page 14A
DeKalb County School District
Projects Constructed with SPLOST III Sales Tax Proceeds
Fiscal Year 2014 (July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2014)

2007 Sales Tax - Authorized Projects
1. Lease-hold improvements for Rock Chapel ES, Princeton ES, and
Dunwoody ES (COPS 05/07)
2. Renovations/expansion at SWD HS, Towers HS, Columbia HS, McNair
HS, and emergency HVAC
3. Cross Keys HS Renovation and Career Tech
4. Tucker HS replacement
5. Roofing Portfolio #1
6. HVAC Portfolio #1
7. ADA Code Requirements Portfolio #1
8. Local School Priority Requests (LSPR)
9. Site improvements
10. Druid Hills HS improvements

FY 2007
FY 2014
Prior Years (June
Current Fiscal
Original Estimated Current Estimated
30, 2013 or
Year (July 1, 2013 1
June 30, 2014)



Estimated Completion







Dec 2027














Feb 2015
Jun 2015
Dec 2016

11. Renovation and expansion of relocated DeKalb School of the Arts








12. Renovation and expansion of Mountain Industrial Center
13. Purchase of land
14. Additions to Chamblee HS, Clarkston HS, Druid Hills HS, Dunwoody
HS, Lakeside HS, and Redan HS
15. Technology--Refresh cycle
16. Lithonia HS addition and improvements
17. MLK Jr HS addition and improvements
18. Miller Grove HS addition and improvements
19. Dunwoody HS addition and improvements
20. Clarkston HS improvements
21. HVAC Portfolio #2
22. Roofing Portfolio #2
23. ADA Code Requirements Portfolio #2
24. School buses
25. Technology-Media Center upgrades
26. HVAC Portfolio #3
27. Roofing Portfolio #3





















Deemed Unnecessary
Feb 2015
Feb 2016
Aug 2018
Jan 2015
Aug 2015
Dec 2023







28. Other improvements and supporting services 4
All Projects







In compliance with O.C.G.A. 48-8-122
1 - $466 million is the projects approved by the Board of Education on November 17, 2006 (please see
2 - Current estimated revenues increase from $466.000 million to $522.074 million by: (1) re-estimation of SPLOST III revenues to $490.117 million, (2) the addition of $18.720 million from the Georgia DOE
reimbursements expected for SPLOST III projects, and (3) an addition of $13.637 million for local-funded projects (which are included).
3 - Total expenditures as presented in this SPLOST report will differ from the annual financial audit report due to timing differences not included in this SPLOST expenditures report, relative to contracts
payable, retainage payable, and accounts payable.
4 - The current project estimate for "other improvements and supporting services" includes $20,050,000 for principal payments for the $300 million bond, approximately $13,237,011.30 for local-funded
capital projects, and other projects added during the mid-term assessment.
5 -The original budget for this was allocated to each individual project and contained therein for projects #1 - #27.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014


Page 9A

Covington Highway resort gets commissioners’ OK
by Andrew Cauthen
A resort could soon be coming
to Covington Highway.
The DeKalb County Board of
Commissioners on Dec. 16 approved a rezoning request to make
way for Panola Slope Resort, a proposed resort which will include an
upscale seafood restaurant as well as
a, steakhouse and tapas restaurant.
Plans also call for a “barcade”—a
restaurant/bar with various simulation and virtual reality games.
The 10.15-acre project also will
have 24 fully furnished villas which
will be marketed to vacationers,
conventioneers, family reunions and
those seeking a staycation option.
The resort, which is being
developed by the APD Solutions
neighborhood revitalization firm,
is expected to create 150 jobs with
an average income of more than
“This is an opportunity for us
to join in leading metro Atlanta, the
state and the nation to progressive,
noteworthy and fiscally responsible
development,” said Carl McCluster,
managing director for APD Solutions.
McCluster said that “not a single
dollar of public funds is requested
for this site” which will bring “three

said the “high-end villa in DeKalb
brings economic development. The
10,000-square-foot meeting facility
will make this property the largest
convention or conference hotel in
south DeKalb between Augusta and
downtown Atlanta.
“It helps our business corporate
market,” Tsismanakis said. “It helps
our reunion market. It brings additional product development to the
county as well as the employment
and jobs.”
A few residents opposed the development, including Joel Edwards,
who called the proposed resort a
Supporters say this proposed 10-acre resort could help revitalize Covington Highway.
“paradise in the ghetto.”
get the benefit.
dining establishments bringing the
Resident Rhea Johnson said,
“All of us need this,” Sutton said. “We need economic development on
white linen and the other stuff that
The project, said Leonard
we want in our community.”
the south side and we need reform
With a 10,000-square-feet meet- Brown, representing homeowners in all over the county, but we need
ing facility, the resort will create 150 the Hidden Creek subdivision, “will something better than this.”
hopefully bring positive energy to
jobs and have a $46 million impact
In response to the opposition,
our surrounding area. APD has been McCluster said, “We’re business
in the first year, McCluster said.
a good neighbor to us and to our
Commissioner Sharon Barnes
people. We’re not stupid. If we want
subdivision and we look to continue to lose the money, then let us lose
Sutton said she is “so pleased to
this relationship.”
see that investors are putting some
the money.
Panola Slope “will spur develmoney in our community.”
“If you go to places where re“This is how we do things,” Sut- opment and create jobs and make
sorts are developed, people always
the quality of life that we all have
ton said. “We invest in our comask the question, ‘Can something
munities. We invest in areas to make been pushing for in east DeKalb,”
happen in this place?’” McCluster
said Doreen Carter, president of the said. “What we’ve decided is to join
them better. Why would we want
Greater Lithonia Chamber of Com- the rest of our investors…and resithe status quo?”
Sutton said private investors are merce.
dents in DeKalb and say, ‘Yes. It can
James Tsismanakis, executive
“putting their money on the line,
happen here.’ It will happen here
their reputations on the line and we director & CEO of Discover DeKalb, with your support.”
DeKalb County School District
Projects Constructed with SPLOST IV Sales Tax Proceeds
Fiscal Year 2014 (July 1, 2013 - June 30, 2014)

2012 Sales Tax - Authorized Projects

Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Improvements
Capital Renewal Program
Code Requirements
Coralwood Diagnostic Center Addition
Early Learning Center
Arts School at former Avondale MS

Renovation of Southwest DeKalb HS4 and Stone
Mountain HS
Replacement of Austin ES, Fernbank ES, Gresham Park
ES, Pleasantdale ES, Peachcrest ES, Rockbridge ES, Smoke Rise
10. Henderson MS Renovation/Addition
11. Redan HS Renovation/Addition
12. Chamblee HS Replacement
13. McNair MS Replacement
14. Local School Priority Requests
15. Demolition
16. Safety/Security Systems Upgrade
17. Technology Equipment and Infrastructure Refresh
18. School Buses
19. Service Vehicles
20. Other capital improvements and supporting services
All Projects






Dec 2018
Dec 2018
Dec 2018
Dec 2018
Dec 2018
Dec 2018
Jan 2017




Feb 2017





Jul 2018
Aug 2016
Oct 2015
Jun 2019
Dec 2017
Jul 2016
Jan 2016
Jun 2016
Dec 2017
Jul 2016
Oct 2015





Jun 2019
Jun 2019

Prior Years (June Current Fiscal Year
30, 2013 or
(July 1, 2013 earlier)
June 30, 2014)

FY 2013
Original Estimated

FY 2014
Current Estimated













In compliance with O.C.G.A. 48-8-122
1 - $475 million is each of the first 19 projects minus the 6.3% taken off and the sum of the 6.3% dollars provided to Project #20, as described in the literature provided to the public prior to
the November 2011 SPLOST vote at
2 - Current estimated revenues increase from $475 million to $534 million by the increase of $21 million from the Georgia DOE reimbursements expected plus the $38 million in bond
revenues for partial program financing.
3 - Total expenditures as presented in this SPLOST report will differ from the annual financial audit report due to timing differences not included in this SPLOST expenditures report, relative
to contracts payable, retainage payable, and accounts payable.
4 - The Board of Education moved the Southwest DeKalb HS project from SPLOST III to SPLOST IV, increasing its total project budget by $22.3 million, in accordance with the SPLOST
Corrective Action Plan approved on April 27, 2012. This Board action can be found at


Page 10A The Champion Free Press, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014

Task force suggests
county reforms
by Andrew Cauthen
The General Assembly
should establish a commission to review DeKalb
County’s charter, the document which outlines how
the county is organized and
should operate.
That was one of the
recommendations of the
Operations Task Force, a
temporary group created by
interim DeKalb County CEO
Lee May to study various
issues affecting the county
government. Dec. 19 was the
last meeting of the task force
which was charged with
making recommendations
that can be forwarded to the
Georgia General Assembly.
“That should be its primary focus: to design a form
of government that works
for DeKalb County,” said
commission member Jim
Grubiak, general counsel,
Association of County Commissioners.
Commissioner Sharon
Barnes Sutton said the
county’s Organizational
Act has been amended and
changed several times, but
now “the whole thing has to
be rewritten, reconsidered.
“I think we should fund
this properly,” she said about
the charter commission.
“If we really want to fix the
problems, we have to delve
in and identify what they are.
We need to make this right.
We don’t need to do it piecemeal.”
The charter commission would review the entire
Organizational Act, “paying
particular attention to the
issues that the [operations]
task force has raised but for
which no recommendations
were developed,” according
to the proposed task force
The task force’s recommendation is that the charter
commission be comprised
of non-elected residents
nominated by various business and civic organizations,
such as the DeKalb County
Chamber of Commerce,
League of Women Voters
and Leadership DeKalb,
among others.
Jim McMahan, vice
chairman of the DeKalb
County Board of Education, said the idea is for the
charter commission to be a
diverse, community-driven

“The state of Georgia
wants DeKalb to take care
of DeKalb,” McMahan said.
“This will be a blueprint…
for future generations of
DeKalb to be able to take
care of DeKalb within
The operations task force
also will recommend that the
county’s ethics board lose the
authority to remove elected
or appointed officials from

Rep. Mike Jacobs said
the county’s organizational
act currently is “giving the
board of ethics much more
power than in the state
“Even state law reserves
removal from office for only
indictments and things of
that nature,” Jacobs said. “I
don’t think we should give a
local ethics board the power
to go that far.”

The county’s operations task force holds its final meeting. Photo by
Andrew Cauthen



The Champion Free Press, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014


“The 16th annual Tree of Love was a great success, thanks to the power
of collaboration,” states an announcement from the office of Commissioner
Larry Johnson.
On Dec. 20, approximately 500 DeKalb County children were showered
with gifts after making their requests known to Johnson and the Tree of Love
“The Gallery at South DeKalb Mall was transformed to a haven of love
and giving as resident associations and various community groups opened
their hearts to make Christmas brighter for those who, otherwise, may not
have been so fortunate,” the news release stated.
The event was sponsored by various District 3 community and
neighborhood associations, DeKalb NAACP, Walmart, Simply United Together,
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., DeKalb Board of Health, Iota Phi Theta
Fraternity, DeKalb Tax Assessors Office, State Rep. Rahn Mayo, and Josh
Powell’s 21 Reasons to Give Foundation.

Week in pictures

Page 11A


This Little Free Library, located in front of Decatur City Hall, is a special edition drawn by Mike
Luckovich of the AJC. Photo by Travis Hudgons

Photos brought to you by DCTV

Searching for Our Sons and Daughters:
Finding DeKalb County’s Missing

Stories of our missing residents offer profound
insights and hope for a positive reunion.
Now showing on DCTV!

For a programming guide, visit

DCTV – Your Emmy® Award-winning news source of DeKalb County news. Available on Comcast Cable Channel 23.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014

local news

Page 12A

Library celebrate New Year’s Day early
by Kathy Mitchell
There are people in
the community who want
to celebrate the coming of
a new year but are leery
about being out in the early
morning hours when there
may be celebratory gunfire
or drunken drivers about.
Others simply prefer to be
snug in bed when the clock
strikes midnight.
The Chamblee Library
for the third year is hosting
a New Year’s Eve party for
just such folks. The library’s
New Year’s Eve Book Drop
is designed as a safe, fun
way to say goodbye to the
old year, according to Senior Library Specialist Marc
Grace, who is in charge of
this year’s event.
“A co-worker who has
now retired came up with
the idea and it has worked
wonderfully,” Grace said.
“We hold the celebration
in the afternoon so people
get home while it’s still daylight and safe to be on the
The fact that the event is
during the day doesn’t mean
partygoers miss out on such
traditions as the countdown
and the tossing of confetti,

Grace explained. “People are
used to something dropping
on New Year’s Eve—a ball
in Times Square, a peach in
Underground Atlanta—so
we drop a book as we symbolically check out of the old
year and check in to the new
year. We take a heavy book
such as a dictionary and tie
it to a string, then we actually count down to 3 p.m. At
the stroke of 3 p.m., we drop
the book, throw confetti and
sing Auld Lang Syne.”
The party starts at 1:30
p.m. and before the big
book drop there are crafts,
games, singing, stories, refreshments and more. Participants are asked to write
a letter to themselves about
their plans for the coming
year. “We save the letters
and mail them to the letter
writers the following December so they can compare
their plans with how their
year actually went,” Grace
said. Partygoers also put
together a time capsule of
items from the year that’s
ending and open it at the
next year’s party.
“This is specifically
designed as an intergenerational event. There aren’t
many community activi-

See Library on page 14A

Chamblee Library employees Marc Grace and Vivian Alford prepare for the library’s afternoon New Year’s Eve


The Mayor and City Council of the City of Chamblee, Georgia will hold a public hearing on Thursday, January 15, 2015,
at the Chamblee Civic Center, 3540 Broad Street, Chamblee, GA 30341 at 6:00 p.m. to receive public comments regarding the following matters:

1.Wayne Stubbs, on behalf of Church’s Chicken, requests 2 variances from the City of Chamblee Code of Ordinances, Appendix A, Zoning Ordinance in order to install 2
building signs on property identified as parcel 18-297-03-007 also known as 4995 Buford Highway. The subject parcel is zoned Corridor Commercial (CC) consisting of a
total of 0.64 acre(s) located within Chamblee, GA. The following variances are requested:
•Section 1307(B)(2)(a): Properties occupied by a single business or multiple businesses sharing common space (i.e., not a planned center): one principal freestanding sign
and one principal building sign on each street frontage with a curb cut.
•Section 1308 - The aggregate total area of all building signs on a wall (including the principal building sign, miscellaneous building signs and incidental signs) shall not
exceed one square foot of sign face area per linear foot of the length of the wall or tenant frontage on which the sign is affixed.
•For single-occupant buildings, the maximum allowed area for a principal building sign shall be 200 square feet.
2.Scott Peters, on behalf of Value Place Hotel, requests 5 variances from the City of Chamblee Code of Ordinances, Appendix A, Zoning Ordinance in order to install 2

building signs on property identified as parcel 18-267-02-004 also known as 2877 Dresden Drive. The subject parcel is zoned Corridor Commercial (CC) consisting of a
total of 2.08 acres located within Chamblee, GA. Variances are requested from the following:
•Section 1307(B)(2)(a): Properties occupied by a single business or multiple businesses sharing common space (i.e., not a planned center): one principal freestanding sign
and one principal building sign on each street frontage with a curb cut. (Two variances.)
•Section 1307(C): Automatic changeable copy signs. Automatic changeable copy signs are only allowed on commercial and industrial properties developed in the VC, CC,
IT or I zoning districts and places of worship, public buildings or at public or private schools on properties zoned NR-1, NR-2, CR, VR, NC-1, NC-2; provided that, such
signs may be located on arterial and collector roads. The signs are only allowed as part of a principal freestanding sign, except that the following are prohibited:
1.Electronic signs that display a message for less than one-half of one second;
2.Electronic signs that repeat messages at intervals of less than two seconds;
3.Electronic signs that display segmented messages which last longer than ten seconds;
4.Electronic signs with traveling messages that travel at a rate slower than 16 light columns per second or faster than 32 light columns per second.
•Section 1308(B)(2)(a): Monument signs shall be constructed with a brick, stucco or stone base and frame within which advertising panels are contained.
•Section 1308(B)(3): Principal freestanding signs. Maximum height shall be 8 feet.
3.Miguel Yelos San Martin on behalf of Landmark Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram of Atlanta requests a variance from the following provision of the City of Chamblee Code

of Ordinances, Appendix A, Zoning Ordinance in order to construct an entrance feature for an existing building located at 5745 Peachtree Blvd. being tax parcel 18-323-
05-035 in Chamblee, GA:
•Section 905.A.: No exterior wall or façade of any metal building visible from any public street shall have the appearance of a metal building. Such exterior wall and facades
shall be architecturally designed to have the appearance of brick, glass, wood, stucco or stone.
4.Text amendments to Appendix A, “Zoning Ordinance” to add a new zoning district, “Commercial Village Corridor – (CVC)” as follows:
•Add a description of the purpose of the new district to Article IV., Section 404., “Establishment of Zoning Districts.”
•Add “Commercial Village Corridor (CVC)” to the list of zoning districts in Article X., “District Regulations”, Section 1002. “Permitted Uses.”
•Add a list of appropriate uses for “Commercial Village Corridor (CVC)” in the “Permitted Use Table”;
•Amend various provisions of Appendix A., Articles II., III., IV., VI., VIII., IX., XI., XII., and XIII. to establish standards applicable to the “CVC” zoning district;
•Amend Chapter 6, Article IV., “Retail Package Sales of Distilled Spirits.” to apply to the “CVC” zoning district.
5.Text amendment to Appendix A, “Zoning Ordinance”, to repeal all existing text of Article VI., Section 617. “Institutional uses and places of worship” and replace it with a
new Section 617 to be titled “Religious institutions and other places of worship and accessory facilities”.
6.The Mayor and Council proposes adoption of a new Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) for the City of Chamblee that will provide standards and regulations for
zoning, subdivision, development, and environmental protection throughout the City. The adoption of the UDO will replace and repeal conflicting ordinances including
Chapter 34 – Environment; Chapter 93 – Development Regulations; Appendix A - Zoning Ordinance; Appendix B – Subdivision Regulations; Appendix C: Airport Related
Provisions; Tree Preservation Ordinance Administrative Guidelines; Streetscape Guidelines and Street Designations Map, as well as other conflicting provisions of

the City Code of Ordinances.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014

local news

Page 13A

Cityhood Continued From Page 1A
LaVista Hills and by Rep.
Scott Holcomb, among
others, they created a real
difficult situation as far as
policing, zoning, and land
use permitting licensing,”
she said. “The other thing
that I find troubling is that
their role is to create economical viable cities, and by
leaving Executive Park and
[Children’s Healthcare of
Atlanta]—which are now in
Brookhaven—in our map,
and that’s about a million
dollars in revenue that’s immediately removed. And
they also took out some
significant commercial property on our southwestern
Brockway said the committee made a “little mistake” by eliminating that
southwestern area.
“We probably inadvertently left that off, but we’ll

get that fixed,” he said.
Brockway said he understood that the subcommittee
was dealing with an imperfect process.
“We would’ve much
rather had the folks who live
in that area come up with
a solution by themselves,
but talking to a lot of folks
I could see why,” he said.
“They are very passionate.
For us, financial viability was
a major concern, and while
we can’t take into account
every opinion that folks
have, we tried to look at a
sort of areas where the majority was that didn’t necessarily really cut deeply in the
other proposed city. Those
were kind of the two major
factors that were important.”
Frank Auman of Tucker
said he is pleased that Tucker
has the opportunity to create
a city.

Santa Continued From Page 1A
Mann said the gifts were
donated by Sheriff ’s Office
personnel who “so generously give their time and money
to make this happen.
“The generosity of the
men and women just astounds me,” Mann said. “This
is something they want to do
every year. I’m just so fortunate to work with men and
women who are communityoriented and want to give
back to those who may or
may not have a good holiday.
Curtis Crocker, lead
chaplain at the Sheriff ’s
Office, said the holiday gift
event is “a wonderful program that we do every year.”
“Sheriff Mann and his
staff and all of us come
together. We try to give toys
for the needy kids for people
who may be incarcerated,”
Crocker said.
The event is the Sheriff ’s
Office way of “reaching out
to the community to help
families in need during this
Christmas season,” Crocker
The recipients are chosen

Rep. Buzz Brockway (R-Lawrenceville), chairman of the DeKalb County Cityhood Subcommittee, explains the
new boundary map to Mary Kay Woodworth (right) and Allen Venet of LaVista Hills. Photo by Carla Parker

“It’s far from our ideal,
but it’s a better map than any
we’ve had an opportunity
with before,” Auman said.
“We’re moving right ahead.
There is widespread support
for it.”

When the legislative session starts Jan. 12, 2015, the
two groups can introduce a
bill for a referendum to be
voted on by residents in each
proposed city. Woodworth
said LaVista Hills cityhood

group has not made a decision on whether to go forward with a bill.
“We’re going to discuss
where we move forward,”
she said.

by various social and community programs, Crocker
“We’re going to enjoy the
From left, Troy Bush, pastor of Rehoboth Baptist Church, and DeKalb
A child is surrounded by gifts.
kids and watch them open
County Sheriff Jeffrey Mann helped bring joy to children at the jail.
toys,” Crocker said as families were entering the room.
“In this season of giving
it’s not always about us, but
it’s about that spirit of giving,” Crocker said. “The Bible
says if we do this for the least
of these, you do it for [Jesus].
It’s about giving and having a
heart to give.”
Thirteen-year-old Harrison Watson, Wright’s
grandson, thought he was
in trouble when he learned
about the deputy coming to
his house.
“We were going to the
juvenile thing,” said Watson,
a student at Stone Mountain
Middle School.
Nasir Watson, a 10-yearold Rockbridge Elementary
student, said, “I feel happy
and proud that I’m getting
presents. I love Christmas
because it’s the birth of
A student, center, thanks the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office for gifts she received. Photos by Andrew Cauthen


Page 14A The Champion Free Press, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014

Chamblee votes on new
parks and recreation director
by Ashley Oglesby
On Dec. 16, the Chamblee City Council voted
unanimously to confirm
City Manager R. Marc
Johnson’s selection of Jennifer Rackley as the director
of parks and recreation.
Rackley has served as
the department’s interim director since July 2014 and is
a familiar face to Chamblee,
previously working for the
city for more than 12 years. Rackley
“I actually never actively
pursued a job in parks and
high school and was presirecreation, it just kind of
dent of the Athletic Associafell into my lap and I’m very tion at Converse College.
grateful for that,” Rackley
“It’s all been very serensaid.
dipitous, and I feel extremeRackley said she played
ly lucky to have the opporsoccer and basketball
tunities I’ve been given,”
through elementary and
Rackley said.

After graduating from
Converse College, Rackley
started working as Chamblee’s camp director in April
1999. Soon after, she was
promoted to recreation coordinator where she worked
for 12 years before moving
to Nashville.
Rackley said her main
duties as director “are to
supervise the department
employees, plan, organize
and manage all department
functions, manage the department’s budget and act as
a liaison to local businesses
and civic groups.”
She said her first course
of action is to get the department fully staffed.
“My main vision is to
make Chamblee a destination – a place people want to
be, want to talk about, want

to brag about. I hope to
make our events outstanding and mentor my staff to
be exceptional in everything
they do,” she said.
She added, “I think
everyone has a goal of making a difference and our
programs and events can
accomplish that in so many
ways–we can help people
with wellness goals with a
multitude of fitness classes,
we can help kids have amazing summer memories with
Camp Chamblee, we can
help children get an early
love for sports and learn the
value of teamwork with our
youth soccer and baseball
programs. The possibilities
for parks and recreation
to change people’s lives are

year; others are people from
the community who are just
curious as about what happens at a book drop. We love
that.” He explained that the
party is held in the meeting
room so it doesn’t disturb
other patrons.
“The concept of a library
has changed over the past 50
years,” Grace commented.
“No longer just a place to
read or borrow books, today’s libraries are more like

community centers. They
are meeting places for learning and entertainment.
There are classes, movies,
musical events. An event
such as this would have
been unthinkable at the libraries of 50 years ago.”
Those interested in attending can register by
calling (770) 936-1380 or
visiting the branch, which
is located at 4115 Clairmont
Road, Chamblee.

Library Continued From Page 12A
ties that can be enjoyed by
people of all ages. We want
families with children, parents and grandparents to all
come and have a great time.
Many of those who came
the first year keep coming
back,” he said, adding that
some people drop by for the
party but don’t stay. “We really like people to stay for
the book drop; it’s really
Grace, who is in charge
of Chamblee Library’s senior programs, said older
visitors enjoy the event
especially. “I find that se-

niors like getting together
and doing things with other
people. This is a perfect opportunity for them to come
out and have fun. This is actually one of the best events
we do all year.”
New Year’s Eve Book
Drop is sponsored by
Friends of the Chamblee
Library, which provides the
light refreshments served
at the party. The first of the
events brought 25 guests
and the second year the
number doubled, Grace
said. “Many are library patrons we see all during the

Brookhaven releases
proposed 2015 budget
by Carla Parker
Brookhaven will have a
$31.9 million budget for fiscal year 2015.
The city council voted
unanimously to approve the
budget at its Dec. 16 council
meeting. The budget will
have a general fund of more
than $20 million, a confiscated assets fund of $2,500,
an Emergency 911 fund of
more than $938,000, a $1.8
million hotel and motel tax
fund, a homestead option
sales tax (H.O.S.T) fund
of $6.3 million, more than

$540,000 in debt service
fund, and a stormwater utility fund of $2.3 million.
Parks and Recreation
and Public Works will have
a larger budget in 2015 than
what the two departments
had in 2014. Parks and Recreation will have a $3 million budget, a $2.6 million
increase; and Public Works
will have a $3.1 million budget, a $1.5 million increase.
The budget includes a 3
percent salary increase for
city employees, and will also
require a $4 million tax anticipation note.


Continued From Page 8A

Moore has been an
active member of the
Clarkston’s community as
a resident, a member of the
planning and zoning committee and as a second term
councilmember. He currently serves as the chairperson
of the Clarkston active living
initiative and is a charter
graduate of the Clarkston
101 citizen education program.
Moore has worked as a
construction superintendent
in various projects including operating rooms, church
buildings, sanctuaries and
the Starbucks on Monroe
He said, “I really like
projects to be well researched, well planned and
well documented and that’s
what we’re in a position to
do in Clarkston.”
“Being a part of GMA
and seeing the other cities and how they’ve done
it, how projects have been
visualized, developed, researched and implemented
is really a big thing for
“We strive to have a well
planned, well thought-out
strategy for development,”
Moore said.

Pet of the Week

Melody (ID# 23604057) - Love adorable
brindle girls? Meet Melody! This sweet girl
is a playful three year old that enjoys the
company of people. She knows how to
sit and is a great listener and with a little
guidance from her humans it seems as if she
will be a very well behaved girl for her forever
family. She would love for you to teach her
more tricks and games and help her to be
the best dog she can be! Please come and
meet Melody at the DeKalb Shelter, she
would love to see you! During the month of
December, you can take advantage of our
“Home for the Pawlidays” special and pay
only $30 for her adoption fee. This includes
her spay, vaccines and microchip. Come
in and meet Melody at the DeKalb shelter
or for more information email or call
(404) 294-2165. To view other great pets available for adoption visit www.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014


Page 15A

Accountant offers tax preparation tips
by Kathy Mitchell
The holiday season is
quickly followed by the tax
season, the period during
which individuals and businesses are to file state and
federal income tax returns.
While the 2015 deadline for
both is April 15, there are
things taxpayers can do now
to reduce their tax liabilities
and make the process easier,
according to Lisa Robinson,
a certified public accountant
for more than 20 years. Her
firm, which specializes in
working with small business
and nonprofit clients, is located in Tucker.
Robinson answered
questions that may be on the
minds of many taxpayers.

What are some things
taxpayers should do to in
preparation for filing their
2014 tax returns?
Taxpayers should take
the time to get organized.
I recommend they set up
a folder or a place where
all tax-related documents
can be assembled. As the
documents are received
they should be placed in the
folder. This will take a little
anxiety out of the process.
Also, take advantage of
the low hanging fruit [beneficial activities that are easy
to do].
Support your favorite
charity by making a donation (cash or noncash) before the end of the calendar
year. Many taxpayers are
discouraged by the requirement to provide additional
information for noncash
donations greater than
$500. Both Goodwill (www.
Valuation_Guide.pdf) and
Salvation Army (satruck.
provide guides for valuing
your donation. Spend a little
extra time to maximize your
Reduce your tax liability
by contributing to your tax
advantage retirement accounts (IRA, 401k, SEP etc.)

CPA Lisa Robinson says now is the time to start organizing tax documents.

Be sure not to exceed the
maximum allowable contribution.
Small business owners
should take advantage of the
Section 179 deduction on
equipment purchased or financed during the calendar
year. The deduction limit for
2014 is $25,000.

What are common
mistakes taxpayers make?
The most common mistakes I see relate to small
business owners. Those
who don’t make estimated
tax payment throughout
the year often end up with
a nasty surprise at tax time.
Careful planning during the
year can help business owners anticipate and minimize
their tax burden.

What’s new this year that

taxpayers should watch
The biggest change this
year is The Affordable Care
Act. It’s one of the largest
changes in tax code in 20
years. Employers with more
than 50 employees who fail
to provide affordable health
care coverage may face a
penalty. Individuals who
failed to purchase coverage may also be subject to a

Should taxpayers hire a
professional tax preparer
rather than try to prepare
their own returns?
The best answer to that
question is “it depends.”
There are so many factors
that can complicate one’s
tax situation. It depends on

the taxpayer’s circumstances
and their level of understanding of current tax law.
Tax professionals stay current on tax law changes. It
also depends on whether
they have the preparation
time to invest and whether
they would feel comfortable
defending their return if
selected for an audit. A tax
professional can recommend
ways to save on taxes and
help you plan all year and
for future years.
If you decide to have
your return prepared professionally, take the time to
ensure you hire a qualified

Do you have advice for
taxpayers who believe
they will owe the
government money this

The Voice of Business in DeKalb County

DeKalb Chamber of Commerce

Two Decatur Town Center, 125 Clairemont Ave., Suite 235, Decatur, GA 30030

Even if you believe you
owe this year you should
still file your tax return on
time (or file an extension).
If not, the IRS will assess
both a failure-to-file and a
failure-to-pay penalty. The
failure-to-file penalty is
generally higher than the
failure-to-to pay penalty.
Once your return is filed
on time you can negotiate
an installment agreement
with the IRS to pay the taxes
owed over time. Whatever
you do, don’t bury your
head in the sand. Your tax
problems will eventually
catch up with you.
If you find yourself with
a tax liability this year, understand the cause of the
underpayment and make
changes to ensure you don’t
end up in the same position
next year.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014


Gala funds to assist
DeKalb students

by Ashley Oglesby

DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May and the
“We Need 2 Read Foundation” hosted its Black
Tie Holiday Scholarship
Ball on Dec. 14 at the
Thalia N. Carlos Hellenic
Community Center.
The fundraising event
raised money to provide
scholarships to DeKalb
County high school seniors.
According to the
Nov. 24 press release, the
“Gatsby Affair” themed
ball featured performances from Grammy
Award-winning vocalist
Fantasia, an R&B/soul
singer who rose to fame
as the winner of the third
season of American Idol
in 2004.
“The role we can play
in our community to provide support to our youth
as they move from high
school to institutions of
higher learning and vocational schools can be the
determining factor in the
type of citizen they become and their contributions to the betterment of
our society,” May said.
Professionals from a
cross section of industries
were invited to network
and be honored for excellence in their fields in
DeKalb County.
Ryan Cameron of
V-103 and Cynné Simpson of Fox 5 served as
master and mistress of
The 2014 honorees
were DeKalb Chamber of
Commerce President and
CEO Katerina Taylor,
Pattillo Industrial Real
Estate CEO Larry Callahan, DeKalb Medical
President and CEO John
Shelton, APD Solutions
CEO Vaughn Irons,
V-103 hip-hop DJ Greg
Street, Hollywood producer Will Packer, and
Emory University Hospital.
May said community
activists can help shape
future leaders.

Honorees celebrate at DeKalb fundraising event.

Actor and E! News co-anchor Terrence J recognized for his support of DeKalb County.

Interim CEO Lee May welcomes guests to the We Need 2 Read Foundation fundraising event.

Page 16A

The Champion Free Press, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014



Page 17A
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The Champion Free Press, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014


Page 18A

Ayana Habeel had five wins in 2014.

Young golfer has
successful 2014
by Carla Parker
Ben Sigel (baseball), Hannah McCarty (volleyball) and Patrick Wilkerson (soccer) all signed with Rhodes College. Photo by Carla

Three Paideia athletes
sign with Rhodes College
by Carla Parker
Paideia’s athletic department
had a historic moment Dec. 15
when three athletes from different
sports signed letters of intent to
Rhodes College.
Hannah McCarty (volleyball),
Patrick Wilkerson (soccer) and
Ben Sigel (baseball) will be heading to Rhodes College in Memphis, Tenn., next fall. Each of the
student athletes said they did not
plan to go to the same school.
“It happened simultaneously I
guess,” Wilkerson said.
McMarty led the volleyball
team with 284 assists this past
season. Going to a small school
played a factor in McCarty’s decision to go to Rhodes.
“I knew that I’ve always wanted the small liberal arts experi-

ence, and Rhodes has the nice balance of education and competitive
athletics,” McCarty said.
Wilkerson, who plays goalie
for the Paideia Pythons, said staying in the South and the atmosphere at Rhodes is what attracted
him to the school.
“At the time I was looking at a
lot of colleges. Most of them were
up North, but I kind of realized
that I wanted to stay in the south,”
Wilkerson said. I really like the
coach at Rhodes, I really enjoyed
the guys on the team, and it’s a
pretty good school so that kind of
sealed the deal for me.”
“They just gave me the best
opportunity to be able to play for
four years and to get a good education and stay close to home,”
Sigel said about his decision to go
to Rhodes.
Sigel finished last season

with a .324 batting average, 15
RBIs and 15 stolen bases on 15
attempts. Sigel said he will add
more than just his offensive skills
to Rhodes’ baseball team.
“I’ll bring good defense in the
field,” Sigel said.
Rhodes currently has a starting senior goalie, but Wilkerson
believes he can get a starting spot
on the team soon.
“I’ll really press for his starting spot and hopefully start by my
sophomore year, possibly freshman year,” Wilkerson said.
For McCarty, Rhodes volleyball team will be getting a leader.
“I really hope to bring the
team together because I think the
team has a lot of potential, and I
would like to lead to something
better,” McCarty said.

Ayanna Habeel was busy this year
competing in a number of golf tournaments.
The junior golfer from Decatur played
in 16 tournaments on the Hurricane Junior Tour, Junior PGA of Georgia Tour
and the Georgia State Golf Association
Junior Sectionals. Habeel had five wins,
eight top 5 finishes, and one top 10 finish
while finishing 33rd at the GSGA Girls
Championship and 38th at the United
States Golf Association (USGA) Junior
Habeel was selected to play in the
Doral-Publix Junior Golf Classic, the premiere tournament for junior golf played
in Miami, Fla., Dec. 20-23. More than
690 junior golfers from around the world
representing more than 45 countries participate in this tournament every year.
Contestants have to be exceptional golfers
and demonstrate academic excellence in
the classroom to participate in the tournament.
Habeel said competing in all the different tournaments this year was fun.
“I worked hard and made new
friends,” she said. “I want to one day play
college golf, and I know that I have to
continue to work hard on the golf course
and in the classroom to reach my goals.
My parents always tell me success doesn’t
come without the help of others, and I
appreciate everyone that has encouraged

The Champion Free Press, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014


Page 19A

West beats East in DeKalb All-Star football game

The West team successfully executed a game winning hook-and-ladder play late in the fourth quarter to give the West a 21-14 victory over the
East. Photos by Travis Hudgons

A sack by Stephenson’s Drew Harris contributed to him being named defensive MVP.

The West All-Stars coach Scott
Jackson, head coach of Decatur High
School, holds the trophy.


Page 20A The Champion Free Press, Friday, Dec. 26, 2014

10, 9, 8, 7, 6,
5, 4, 3, 2, 1.
Hoppin’ John!

Enjoying black-eyed peas and rice for luck in the coming year is a tradition passed down through
generations. When making your plans to ring in the New Year, you’ll find everything you need to
prepare the dishes that have a special meaning to you, your family, and your community at Publix.