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FRIDAY, april 24, 2015 • VOL. 18, NO. 4 • FREE

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Business.........................14A
Education......................17A
Sports....................... 18-19A
Opinion............................ 5A
Classified........................16A

Business simmer
and sizzle at
Shared Kitchens

Family of man
killed by police
meets with DA

local, 2A

local, 8A

• A PUBLICATION OF ACE III COMMUNICATIONS •

Dunwoody sweeps
county golf
championships
sports, 18A

Teacher killed after tree collapses on home
by Ashley Oglesby
ashley@dekalbchamp.com

P

atricia Pusha, 60, a DeKalb
County teacher, was killed
on April 20 after a large oak
tree fell on her house on Oakcliff
Road at around 2 a.m. The rear
of the home collapsed from the
impact.
The Atlanta Fire Department
used a crane to remove the tree so
they could safely get inside.
Assistant Fire Chief Chris
Wessels said Pusha was sleeping
on a recliner when she was struck.
Police said her brother was inside
the home when the tree fell but
was uninjured.

Pusha

Pusha was a science teacher at
Ronald E. McNair Middle School
for 10 years.

See House on page 15A

Principal Ronald Mitchell holds press conference regarding Pusha’s role at McNair Middle
School.

Creative writing
students to be published
by Ashley Oglesby
ashley@dekalbchamp.com

D

East DeKalb Boys & Girls Club students Corder Ward and MeaRasae Homer will have
their poetry printed in the Marel Brown Anthology, a poetry and short story book established in 1984.

East DeKalb Boys & Girls Club, formerly known as the Redan Girls Club, serves the
Redan community. The club began in a small house in 1978. In 1990 the Girls Club of
Metro Atlanta merged with Boys Clubs of Metro Atlanta. Photos by Ashley Oglesby

championnewspaper

championnews

eKalb County students
Geneva Cook,
MeaRasae Homer and
Corder Ward from the East
DeKalb Boys & Girls Club’s
Marel Brown Creative Writing
Programs will be included in the
club’s annual collection of poetry
and creative writing entitled the
Marel Brown Anthology.
Homer, a senior at Arabia
Mountain High School, said the
biggest challenge she has faces
in her writing is determining if
people will relate to what she has
to say.
Homer said through
continuous writing, she “figured
out that a lot of what I go
through is what other people are
going through as well.
“It makes me feel like I am
not alone. Just to know that my
message got across to someone
else makes me feel like what I
wrote actually matters,” she said.
Cook, also a senior at
Arabia Mountain High School,
said her work with the Boys &
Girls Club East DeKalb makes
her feel that she’s accomplished

championnewspaper

a lot–especially with writing,
reading and self-expression.
“I feel that poetry has given
many people outlets on certain
ways to channel the things that
they go through and also things
that they may just feel the need
to write down,” said Cook.
She added, “Always
remember that if you feel some
type of way and you don’t
necessarily want to talk to
anyone about it… take a napkin,
scribble something down and
burn it.”
For this year’s competition,
Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro
Atlanta received more than 450
entries from more than 20 clubs
across the city.
Program Director of the
East DeKalb Boys & Girls Club
Patricia Jackson said, “The
writing program is a vehicle
for them to write their poems,
submit them and get them
published,” Jackson said. “It
helps kids write well, improve
their communication skills and
express themselves.”
A panel of authors, poets
and teachers reviewed the
submissions and selected authors
to be featured in the book.

champnews

local

Page 2A The Champion Free Press, Friday, April 24, 2015

Businesses simmer and
sizzle at Shared Kitchens
by Gale Horton Gay

dering and receiving, and utilities. 
All you need to do is roll the cart,
Ahk Al-Mu’min has high
stocked with your ingredients, to
hopes for the bean pies he bakes
your workstation and start working
weekly in Decatur.
your magic!”
He would like more people
Space and blocks of time are
to appreciate the benefits of navy
available in a range of packages
beans as a protein replacement for
starting with the silver package of
meat and wants his Lil Beans prod- 20 hours with cold storage and dry
ucts to be the vehicle to a healthier storage for $450 a month. More
diet.
than 50 business operate from
Al-Mu’min and his wife AiShared Kitchens in Decatur.
sha are using a facility on Laredo
Tyler Farr, Julie Farr’s son, said
Drive—Shared Kitchens—to prea shared facility provides a variety
pare their products, including wal- of benefits and helps businesses
nut banana bread, madelines and
free up their financial resources.
cake pops, that they sell at their
“You come into this underFrom left, Donald Stone and Anthony Williams are chefs who run a catering business through
pop-up shop at Greenbrier Mall in standing this is a community,” said Shared Kitchens’ facility in Decatur. Photos by Gale Horton Gay
Atlanta. They are optimistic that
Tyler Farr. “If it doesn’t operate
the facility is their stepping stone
like a community, it doesn’t work.
to success.
When we work together, there’s a
Shared Kitchens is exactly as
high degree of efficiency and prothe name implies—it gives a variety fessionalism.”
of businesses the opportunity to
“Ninety-nine percent of entreshare kitchen space.
preneurs can’t afford to pay this
Started by Julie Farr five years
overhead,” said Tyler Farr, adding
ago, Shared Kitchens provides
that at Shared Kitchens, “they come
those whose business are in the in- and try their idea without putting
fancy stage with a space to test and themselves in bankruptcy.”
research as well as those who have
Donald Stone and partner Ancatering, retail and other operathony Williams are chefs who also
tions space to prepare, cook, bake
rent space at Shared Kitchens for
and store their food products. On a their catering collaborations. The
recent visit, five different business- pair do weddings, birthday and rees were working simultaneously at
tirement parties, bar mitzvahs and
different work stations. One was
tastings.
a caterer prepping for a wedding.
Stone said one of the added
Another was a business finishing
benefits of Shared Kitchens is havmeals to be delivered that day for
ing others to seek advice from on
an after-school program. A third
pricing, menus, etc.
was Al-Mu’min, who was racking
“It’s working well,” said Stone of
trays of freshly baked bean pies.
his arrangement at Shared KitchOn its website, Shared Kitchens ens.
is described as a facility that “frees
He added that without Shared
you of many of the day to day
Kitchens, which he called a “vital”
headaches involved in maintaining resource, many of the food service
a commercial kitchen. Imagine not businesses using its space wouldn’t
having the stress of a huge overbe able to survive and thrive.
head cutting into your profits. We’ll
Shared Kitchens has another
take care of the maintenance, regu- facility in Suwanee.
latory compliance, wholesale orShared Kitchens is where Ahk Al-Mu’min bakes bean pies and other goods for his pop-up
store in Atlanta.

Discover your passion.
Attend a GPC Open House.
March 26 – May 2

• GPC application fee waiver – a $20 savings!*
• Meet GPC faculty, staff and students • Take a campus tour and enjoy refreshments

RSVP online at openhouse.gpc.edu

#OpenGPC
* Advance sign up and student attendance are required to receive
fee waiver. Fee waivers must be used by July 1, 2015. Limit one
fee waiver per household.

A BETTER WAY FORWARD

The Champion Free Press, Friday, April 24, 2015

local

Page 3A

DeKalb officials recognize assistant police chief Dale Holmes’ 28 years of service. Photos provided

Assistant police chief retires after 28 years
by Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com
One of DeKalb County’s top
cops has retired.
On April 14, DeKalb County
leaders recognized Assistant DeKalb
County Police Chief Dale Holmes for
his 28 years of service with a proclamation during the Board of Commissioners meeting.
Commissioner Stan Watson said,
“Our assistant chief has been a great
friend to…all the districts in DeKalb
County.”
Holmes is a “dedicated man”
who rose through the ranks and always showed professionalism, Watson said.
“People forget that our people in
blue—both men and woman—leave
home sometimes and…might not
make it home,” Watson said. “We
appreciate him for his devotion to
service, for his longstanding professionalism and his attention of detail…as a man in blue.”

According to the county’s proclamation, “Since 1987 Dale Holmes
has been one of…DeKalb’s finest,
dedicating his life to ensuring we…
are safe and can sleep soundly at
night, move about in our community as we please, knowing that he
is committed to being one of our
guardians of the gates.”
Holmes was “not only recognized internally for his service, but
with due diligence and perseverance
transitioned from the street patrol to
directing and leading law enforcement personnel, and eventually executive management,” the proclamation stated.
An “important and lasting
mark” of Holmes is Marquel’s
pledge, a campaign to end celebratory gunfire initiated following the
death of a 4-year-old boy in 2010.
“Because of his conviction
thousands of people and businesses
commit to support efforts to reduce
celebratory gunfire,” the proclamation stated.

Holmes also has volunteered
“countless hours to educating, improving the quality of life, advocating, mentoring men, colleagues and
youth,” the proclamation stated.
His “unparalleled contributions
and sacrifices… [have] contributed
to the greater community,” according to the proclamation.
“It’s not about me,” Holmes said
about the recognition. “It’s about the
service to mankind and to my community.
“When I think about ‘it’s not
about me,’ I think about the young
rookie officers [who] are on the
streets at this time during a crisis
situation in America and in the
world as far as law enforcement,”
Holmes said.
“It’s about that veteran who’s
been on the street for 30 years, and
couldn’t rise to the level of assistant
chief and he wears 15 pounds of
equipment…and 30 years later he’s
having back problems,” Holmes said.
“I stand for the blue,” Holmes

said. “I stand for the black or whatever uniform you wear because I
know in my heart these people go
out every day to do what is right.
“We have a number of 21-yearolds that I can’t even perceive the
look in their eyes as they check the
building behind your home at three
in the morning alone,” Holmes said.
“When you protest, which is
your right, … protest for the right
reasons and not to step on my fellow
officers,” he said.
Holmes said residents can support the police department by working to reduce officers’ hours and
increase their salaries.
“When we talk about pay, people
come forward all the time and [ask]
me, ‘How did you do this for 28
years? How do you live on that salary?’ Holmes said. “My response,
what are you doing about it?
“Stand for the right reasons,”
Holmes said. “Let’s be people of action in DeKalb County. DeKalb is a
good county.”

The Champion Free Press, Friday, April 24, 2015

opinion

Page 4A

DeKalb’s Chris Morris: someone who cares
It took four years and
her pending retirement, but
Chris Morris finally made
good on a promise to grant
me an interview.
After 38 years with the
county, Morris, the director
of the human and community development department, is retiring April 30.
Perhaps the interview
was a long time coming because she has been incredibly busy administering the
county’s Community Development Block Grant program which has a primary
objective of developing viable urban communities.
Although she wouldn’t
tell me her favorite projects
during her tenure, if you
drive across the county,
her legacy is everywhere—
Avondale Fire Station,
DeKalb Atlanta Senior Center, Porter Sanford Performing Arts and Community

Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com

Managing Editor
@AndrewChampNews

Center, South Police Precinct, Milam Park, Memorial Drive streetscape, Decatur
Cooperative Ministry, and
Marcus Jewish Community
Center of Atlanta. The list is
seemingly endless.
Noel Khalil, CEO of Columbia Residential, praised
Morris April 1 at the official
opening of Columbia Senior
Residences at Forrest Hills,
an 80-unit senior living de-

velopment.
“There’s a very special
person in my heart and
that’s Chris Morris,” Khalil
said. “Twenty-four years
ago I had just come out of
the recession of ’89 and was
broke and was starting over
again and needed an opportunity.
“I had pulled together
$15,000 and came knocking on the door at DeKalb
County,” he said. “Chris
Morris opened the door and
was receptive and had her
ear open to listen.”
That open door led to the
senior development on Columbia Drive in Decatur.
“I have to remind her
sometimes what she does,”
Khalil said. “You touch
people. You have improved
the quality of life. People
come into this kind of environment and many of them
have not had this quality life.

“You do good work and
you’re very loved, and we’re
going to miss you so much,”
Khalil said.
At the same event,
DeKalb County Commissioner Larry Johnson
described Morris as “somebody [who] cares, [who]
goes to the ends of the Earth
for not only our seniors but
for all of the projects that
make a difference in community development in
DeKalb.
“I will miss that lady,”
Johnson said, “because
there’s not too many people
that get it. She gets it. She
eats and sleeps this stuff. She
cares.”
In April 2012, during
the introduction of DeKalb
Sustainable Neighborhoods
Initiative, a pilot program to
foster a collaborative, community-based approach to
improving the quality of life

in DeKalb neighborhoods,
Morris asked questions that
guided her 38-year career.
“Why aren’t these neighborhoods revitalized?”
Morris asked. “Why don’t
we have stronger neighborhoods everywhere in
DeKalb County?
“When you drive through
our neighborhoods, do
you see strong, sustainable
neighborhoods consistently
all over DeKalb County?”
Morris asked. “I am hoping
everyone realizes we need
to do something a little differently in order to have
a greater impact with our
neighborhoods.”
And that’s what Morris has done: impacted our
neighborhoods and lives.
Thanks, Chris.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, April 24, 2015

opinion

Page 5A

One Man’s Opinion

Now there’s a Peake performance
“For the families enduring
separation and patients suffering pain, the wait is finally
over. I applaud the efforts
of the Department of Public
Health and the Georgia Composite Medical Board to see
that this legislation is implemented safely and in a timely
manner. Now, Georgia children and their families may
return home while continuing
to receive much-needed care,”
proclaimed Georgia Gov.
Nathan Deal during the
April 16 bill signing of the
Haleigh’s Hope Act.
Moments of tearful joy
and jubilation have become
somewhat rare sights under
Georgia’s Gold Dome, but
the north Rotunda was filled
with both on April 16, and it
had nothing to do with the
tax code. 
Gov. Nathan Deal, surrounded by a crowd of a few
hundred, emotionally signed
Georgia House Bill 1, the
“Haleigh’s Hope Act” named
for 5-year-old Haleigh Cox
and fast-tracked into law to
make available medicinal
cannabis oil to aid the seizures and other pain and
suffering of eight chronic
and sometimes fatal medical
conditions for an estimated
500,000 Georgians.
The governor teared
up, his voice quivered, and
though he didn’t share on
that day, he acknowledged

Bill Crane
bill.csicrane@gmail.com

Columnist

during the last campaign
season, that one of his own
grandchildren also suffered
from debilitating pain and
seizures. 
Georgia now joins a
growing patchwork of states
either decriminalizing cannabis oil, or the medicinal
use of marijuana.
 Unfortunately, prevailing
federal law still prohibits the
interstate transfer of both,
and there is no supply chain
or legal cultivation inside
Georgia’s borders as yet.
At times it appeared this
law would again become a
casualty of political warfare
between the State House
and Senate chambers, as
distinctly different versions
of the bill emerged, with the
Senate version originally
only considering treatment
for seizure disorders and patients 18 and younger.
Among the original sur-

prise proponents of the law
was its sponsor, State Rep.
Allen Peake (R-District
141) of Macon. Peake has
served in the GOP Caucus
leadership as secretary/treasurer, and when originally
asked close to two years
ago about the chances of
medicinal marijuana being
allowed in Georgia, he was
skeptical. But then, he met
Haleigh Cox, her mother,
family, and others suffering
from near constant pain and
seizures. He learned about
their most significant source
of relief, and the skeptic
quickly became a true believer.
Surrounding the usual
clump of elected leadership
were dozens of families and
especially children, many
sporting T-shirts proclaiming simply, “I am HB 1.”
The law will help suffering children and adults with
a treatment option and modality already working for
thousands elsewhere. It will
allow the reunion and return
to Georgia of families split
between job and housing
locations and safe states for
receipt of cannabis oil treatment. This act is about compassion and ending suffering
and not about taxation, potential revenues from marijuana cultivation and sale or
about decriminalizing recreational use. 
Peake acknowledges that

there is significant work
to be done, and that while
some families will begin
their return home, others
will await cultivation in
Georgia, or changes in the
overarching federal law. This
is not out of fear, but instead
facing the reality that if arrested they would not be
available as bread winners or
caregivers for their children. 
Cannabis oil is most typically ingested in food, or injected, not smoked, and the
law limits the TCH strength
level to 5 percent.  This is
the chemical in the hemp
plant which can ultimately
provide the high. This too
was a major sticking point
among some law enforcement leaders, amid concerns
about a slippery slope.
Peake may face challenges in the 2016 GOP
Primary from within his
own party, though it appears
he is rightfully a leading
candidate on the short list
to succeed House Majority
Leader Larry O’Neal, who is
leaving his post for a lucrative judgeship atop Georgia’s
new tax court. 
Georgia’s GOP, despite
super majorities in both legislative chambers and most
of the state’s Constitutional
offices, still has a support
base which in many places
is miles wide yet inches
deep. In Peake the party
would do well to support

and promote someone who
is willing to fight for and
support the right causes,
and not simply causes to the
right.
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@
gmail.com. 

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 30031-1347; Send email
to Andrew@dekalbchamp.com • FAX To: (404)
370-3903 Phone: (404) 373-7779 . Deadline for news
releases and advertising: Thursday, one week prior
to publication date.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions written by columnists and contributing editors do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of the editor or publishers. The
Publisher reserves the right to reject or cancel any
advertisement at any time. The Publisher is not
responsible for unsolicited manuscripts.

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

www.championnewspaper.com
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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.

local

Page 6A The Champion Free Press, Friday, April 24, 2015

Olivia Greene
After graduating from
Agnes Scott College, Olivia
Greene of Decatur wanted
to be a part of a group of
like-minded women who
enjoy serving the community.
She found those women
in the Junior League of
DeKalb County, Inc.
“I enjoy working with
motivated, intelligent and
like-minded women who
have a passion for community involvement and for
empowering those around
them,” Green said. “The
Junior League of DeKalb
County, which is celebrating
80 years of service, allows
me to be connected with

such women thus giving me
an opportunity to grow and
to support the community
that I now call home.”
According to its website,
the Junior League of DeKalb

County is an organization
of women “committed to
promoting voluntarism,
developing the potential
of women, and improving
communities through the effective action and leadership
of trained volunteers. Its
purpose is exclusively educational and charitable.”
The organization has
more than 300 women involved.
Greene has been volunteering with the Junior
League of DeKalb for three
years. Greene currently
serves as chairwoman of the
league’s annual spring fundraiser and Tour of Kitchens,
and she will serve as vice

president of fund development in the 2015-2016
“league year.”
During her time with
the league, she has worked
with some of its community
partners, including DeKalb
Medical, Partners in Action
for Healthy Living Inc. and
Tea Cup Girls Inc.
“I have also enjoyed
working with the league
sponsored Kids in the
Kitchen activities, which
promotes healthy living for
children and families,” she
said.
Greene said she hopes
to work with more DeKalb
organizations in the future.
She said volunteering has

always been an important
part of her life.
“[It is] something that
my parents taught me at
a very early age,” she said.
“Historically volunteers
have helped make dramatic
changes and improvements
within their communities.
On a daily basis in my work
at Literacy Action Inc., I see
the benefit of volunteers.
Our volunteers not only support the organization, but
make an enormous impact
on the lives of our students.
I hope to always to be able to
give back to my community
through volunteering.”

If you would like to nominate someone to be considered as a future Champion of the Week, please contact Andrew Cauthen
at andrew@dekalbchamp.com or at (404) 373-7779, ext. 117.

Former commissioner’s chief of staff
indicted for theft, false statement charges
by Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com
Former DeKalb County Commissioner Elaine Boyer’s chief of staff was
indicted by a DeKalb
County grand jury
on six counts of theft
by taking and three
counts of making false
statements.
Robert Lundsten,
who no longer works
for DeKalb County,
lied about expenses to Lundsten
Kroger and UPS, according to the indictment.
“Any time there are suspected
incidents where tax dollars have

possibly been misappropriated or
abused is an issue for my office,”
said DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James. “We take matters of alleged public corruption very seriously and
will continue our work in
bringing justice to those
who abuse and illegally
misuse money from the
taxpayers of DeKalb
County.”
According to the indictment, the thefts occurred between October
2013 and January 2014.
The indictment stated
Lundsten in September 2014
turned in a Kroger grocery store
receipt “containing the false state-

ment that the purchases were for
office drinks and supplies” while
knowing the statement was “false
and fraudulent.”
Additionally, Lundsten allegedly falsely stated on receipts that
purchases at a UPS store were for
office shipping.
In April 2014, an ethics complaint filed against Lundsten accused him of a pattern of abusing
his county purchasing cards, called
P-cards, for personal purchases.
Boyer, who pleaded guilty last
year to federal charges of mail
fraud conspiracy and wire fraud,
was sentenced to 14 months in
prison.

DeKalb SCLC president wants more MARTA restrooms opened
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
It has been nearly five years since
MARTA closed most of its rail station restrooms, and Southern Christian Leadership Conference DeKalb
chapter president Nathan Knight
is continuing his charge to reopen
them.
Knight has been rallying and
protesting to get MARTA to reopen
restrooms that closed in 2010 due to
budget cuts.
“In DeKalb County, 1 percent
of tax dollars goes to MARTA, but
MARTA does not represent DeKalb
County when it comes to opening
restrooms and making the 100,000
men and women who uses the vet-

erans facilities on Clairmont Road,”
Knight said. “The children, the parents, the grandparents, the elderly
and the handicaped—all of those
people come through the rail system
and the bus system of MARTA, but
yet they can’t get to the hospitals, the
can’t get to Grady Hospital, they can’t
get to Children’s Hospital and Emory
University after leaving home from
that great trip and being able to use
the restroom.”
MARTA closed 29 restrooms in
2010, leaving nine open, including
restrooms at the Doraville Station.
Remy Saintil, MARTA’s director of
facilities maintenance, said there are
13 open restrooms throughout the
system.
“[MARTA] is now putting to-

gether a Request for Proposal (RFP)
to convert 11 restrooms of the 13
open restrooms to the SMART technology—this is minus the restrooms
at Lindbergh and Five Points,” Saintil
said.
MARTA revealed the pilot
SMART restrooms at the Lindbergh
station in December. The restrooms
are automatic, allowing a person to
press a button to enter.
With restrooms automatic,
MARTA officials will be automatically notified if the toilet paper is
reduced so it can be refilled. When
Knight questioned MARTA CEO
and General Manager Keith Parker
about the restrooms during the

See MARTA on page 9A

Lithonia
awarded EPA
sub-grant for
Lithonia Plaza
Lithonia has been awarded a
sub-grant of $184,400 by the Development Authority of DeKalb
County (DADC) to remediate the
asbestos in the city-owned portion
of the Lithonia Plaza.
The sub-grant is funded
through a grant DeKalb County
received from the Environmental
Protection Agency for brownfields
cleanup. Mayor Deborah A. Jackson thanked the DADC board for
its support for Lithonia’s project.
“It has been a journey to reach
this point, and I am glad that the
development authority was able to
work with us through the process,”
Jackson said. “The remediation of
the asbestos is a concrete step toward the demolition and redevelopment of the Lithonia Plaza.”
DeKalb County initially received the brownfields grant
through its Office of Economic
Development and later merged
the office with the development
authority.
The Brownfields Revolving
Loan Fund will provide low-interest loans to eligible projects and is
able to provide sub-grants to local
governments. The remediation
work will begin after the 30-day
notice to the public period has
expired.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, April 24, 2015

local

AroundDeKalb

Atlanta

Star Trek, sci-fi fans to transport to DeKalb
Treklanta 2015(formerly TrekTrax Atlanta) will
be held from 8 a.m. April 24 until 5 p.m. April 26 at
the Atlanta Marriott Century Center, 2000 Century
Blvd., Atlanta.
Hosted by the USS Republic NCC-1371,
Treklanta is an annual science fiction convention
based in Atlanta and dedicated to space opera in
general and Star Trek in particular. The event places
special emphasis on fan-based events, activities,
programming and productions.
The first three conventions, held 2011 to 2013,
were devoted exclusively to the Star Trek franchise.
In 2014, the convention expanded its focus to include other space opera franchises such as Star
Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Firefly, Buck Rogers in
the 25th Century and Babylon 5.
For more information, visit www.trektrax.org.

Senior adults shared living workshop
While The Golden Girls sitcom has been off the
air for decades, the lifestyle inspired by the show is
a growing national trend. Atlanta-area adults ages
50 and older are invited to come learn about shared
living on April 26, 3-5 p.m. at Mimi’s Café, 1221
Ashford Crossing in Atlanta.
This free educational event will launch the
Georgia regional affiliate of Golden Girls Network,
a company dedicated to helping mature adults find
roommates and ease their way into shared living.
Shared living is on the rise nationally as the
number of baby boomers grows and many struggle
with affordable housing in the wake of the recession. Adults 45 and older comprise 34 percent of
the region’s population, according to Census data
compiled by the Atlanta Regional Commission.
Speakers will include Golden Girls Network
Founder Bonnie Moore, who will discuss how to
set up a Golden Girls home, and Georgia Regional
Director Beth Hogan. The agenda will include a
question and answer session with Moore, whose
book about shared living will be published in a second edition later this spring.
There is no charge to participate in the workshop, but registration is recommended. For more
information or to register, visit www.goldengirlsnetwork.com/events/group-discussion-sharedhousing.

Avondale Estates
City to host fishing derby
Avondale Estates will host a fishing derby May
2, 8:30 a.m. to noon at Lake Avondale. Residents
will compete for the best “catch” of the day, and
prizes are awarded for the largest fish caught and
the most fish caught. The youngest and oldest people to catch a fish and the top three people in five
age categories also receive awards. For more information, visit www.avondaleestates.org.

Swim team to host swimming lessons

The Avondale Estates Tidal Waves will hold its first
Ripples Pre-Team Swim Lessons May 11, 4-4:30
p.m. The lessons cost $35 and run for two weeks on
Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays through May
20. Mid-level coaches lead the lessons, with head
coach Mandi Bell’s supervision and direction. The
lessons are open to children ages 4 to 6 who have
never been on the team before and are water-safe,
but cannot yet swim the required length of the pool
on their own. For more information, email Virginia
James at tidalwaves30002@gmail.com.

Brookhaven
City to host Earth Day cleanup
Brookhaven will host its second annual
Peachtree Creek Greenway Earth Day Cleanup
April 25 at North Fork of Peachtree Creek. The
event will take place from 9 a.m. to noon. For more
information, visit www.northforkconnectors.org.

Clarkston
City to host community festival
The 2015 Clarkston Community 5K Festival
will be held on April 25th.  It begins with a health/
exercise/dance workshop and 5K race/walk starting at 7-9 a.m, Milam Park, 3867 Norman Road,
Clarkston, and will continue where the race ends, at
the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf parking lot, 10
a.m.-3 p.m, 890 N Indian Creek Dr, Clarkston.  
The theme is “Educating, Appreciating, and
Celebrating Clarkston,” one Georgia’s most diverse
communities. The community is invited to participate and experience the cultural diversity within
Clarkston. There will be a Zumba class, performances, a children’s zone, food trucks, sports activities, and various vendors.
For more information, call 404-292-5686, Ext.
239. To sign up for the 5K or to volunteer, visit
www.clarkston5kfestival.org.

Decatur
Creative writing, comedy and improv summer
camps announced
DeKalb History Center has announced its
schedule of summer camps for 2015.
The first of two camps is a creative writing
camp and workshop designed to teach children
to write creatively and view writing as fun. Led by
award-winning children’s book author Mary Ann
Rodman, the workshop will teach children to tell
their stories clearly while engaging the audience
with guided exercises and creative thinking. Campers will use exhibits at the DeKalb History Center
and Decatur square area as inspiration.
Session 1 runs June 8-12, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.; session
2 will be June 29-July 2, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Both sessions
are for ages 9-14.
The improv and comedy history camp is sched-

Page 7A

uled for July 6-10, 9 a.m.-3 p.m., for ages 8-14.
Campers spend a week at the historic courthouse
playing improvisation games, role playing as historic figures, and learning the basics of improv and
stagecraft. Campers learn about character development, voice and diction, storytelling, public speaking and performance. Campers will create flash performances of some of their favorite characters and
will recreate historical events with a twist. 
All camps are $275/week or $250 for DeKalb
History Center members at the household level.
After care is available until 5 p.m.at $10 per day.
Advance registration is required. For additional information call (404) 373-1088, ext. 20 or visit www.
dekalbhistory.org.

Rock fracturing workshop scheduled
DeKalb County Department of Watershed
Management will host a rock fracturing workshop
on Thursday, April 28, 6:30 p.m. at the Community
Achievement Center, 4522 Flat Shoals Pkwy., Decatur. Attendees will be provided information about
Phase 2 construction of the Snapfinger Advanced
Wastewater Treatment Facility Expansion project.
The workshop is free and local participation is encouraged. Refreshments will be served.
For more information, call (404) 684-7031.
 

Lithonia

DeKalb 100 Black Women to host free
homebuyer seminar
On April 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the Decatur-DeKalb chapter of the National Coalition of 100
Black Women will host “My Sisters Keeper,” a free
seminar focused on economic empowerment.
Attendees will receive information on effective
strategies to purchase a home, or to keep their residence.
The seminar will be held in the Flock Room
of Stronghold Christian Church, 724 Rock Chapel
Road, Lithonia. RSVP by calling Donna Payne at
(706) 250-0353 or via email at myagentdonna@yahoo.com.

Stone Mountain
Free shredding event announced
Residents are encouraged not place documents
in garbage cans or recycling bins that contain
personal or proprietary information that could be
harmful to you if they fell into the wrong hands.
A free document shredding event will be held
April 24 at Sue Kellogg Library, 925 Leon Avenue,
Stone Mountain, from 10 a.m. to noon.
During the event, individuals or businesses are
limited to five boxes per. A box is defined as the size
that holds 10 reams of letter sized paper. Paper clips
and staples do not have to be removed, but all other
types of fasteners will not be accepted. Three-ring
binders, hardcover books, newspapers, magazines,
plastic objects, metal objects or electronic media are
also not accepted. This service is on a first-come,
first-served basis.

local

Page 8A The Champion Free Press, Friday, April 24, 2015

Delisa Davis (center) said she hopes her brother’s death will shed light on “these officers killing innocent people.” Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Family of man killed by police meets with DA
by Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com
The family of a man killed by police in December 2014 met with District Attorney Robert
James to keep fighting for justice in the case of
Kevin Davis.
“It’s important for us that [James] sees the faces and the pain that this family is going through
as a result of what we believe is an unjustified
shooting,” said Mawuli Davis, who is representing the family. The family requested the meeting
after being notified by the GBI that the investigation was complete and that the file had been
turned over to James.
“We felt as though the meeting was positive,”
Mawuli Davis said. “DA James had an opportunity to hear directly from the family about what
their concerns were.”
According to police, on Dec. 29, 2014, Officer
Joseph Pitts was dispatched to an apartment on
100 Pine Tree Circle at approximately 9 p.m.
Upon hearing yells inside the apartment,
police said, Pitts knocked on the door and announced himself as a police officer, police said.
When there was no response, Pitts pushed open
the unlocked door and allegedly was charged by a
pit bull.
Pitts then retreated into the hallway, shot the
dog, and then walked back into the apartment
and was approached by Kevin Davis and his girlfriend.
The police officer ordered Kevin Davis to
drop the firearm he was carrying, police said.
When the man did not follow the command, Pitts,
feeling that his life was in danger, shot Kevin Davis, according to police.
He was transported to Grady Hospital, where
DeKalb County Sheriff ’s deputies eventually took
custody of Kevin Davis, who was charged with
aggravated assault on a police officer. Kevin Davis
died in the hospital.
Delisa Davis, the victim’s sister, said she was
grateful that James listened to the family.
“I feel like the process is going to be fair,”
she said. “I’m ready to move forward. I miss my
brother every day, and I’m just glad [James] was
able to listen to us.
“I think that he heard about Kevin’s character,”

Delisa Davis’ brother Kevin Davis was killed by a DeKalb
Police officer who responded to Kevin Davis’ 911 call.

Delisa Davis said. “We talked about what a great
guy he was. He didn’t deserve what they did to
him, and we miss him every day. He didn’t have
[a] record. He was a hero. He was trying to save
his girlfriend’s life. He was on the phone with 911
waiting for them to come and assist him. He did
everything that he was supposed to do, and still
ends up dead.”
Delisa Davis said she hopes the case will shed
light on “these officers killing these innocent
people,” she said. “My brother didn’t deserve what
they did to him. He was waiting for help. So I
hope that it will bring awareness to some of these
police killings that are going on today. It seems
they are coming fast and furious. We want justice
for my brother. We want somebody to be held
accountable for what they did to him, and for
keeping him from us until he died, which was the
painful part.
“Once they shot him, they charged him with
aggravated assault and they took him to Grady
Hospital where they had armed guards at his door
so we weren’t able to…see him,” Delisa Davis said.
“They held him from us until he expired.”
Attorney Davis said the family talked to James
and members of his staff about the audio recording of the 911 call by Kevin Davis, which the
Georgia Bureau of Investigation allowed the family to hear.

“The 911 tape reaffirms for this family and
for us that Kevin Davis was never given an opportunity to respond to any command made by
the law enforcement officer regarding dropping
a weapon—dropping the weapon that he brought
in defense of his home and of his family,” Mawuli
Davis said.
“As we listened to the entire tape, it was abundantly clear Kevin Davis was not given enough
time to respond to anything,” Mawuli Davis said.
“The shooting of the dog and then his shooting
happened at the most within 30 seconds. Once
the dog is shot, within 30 seconds you hear the
second round of shots.”
Mawuli Davis said the family told the DA that
they “were concerned that the warrant that [police] sought out was actually based on false and
misleading information to the judge.”
“It’s our position that [police] violated their
oath of office by even taking the warrant out
when Mr. Davis never even pointed the gun,
never threatened the officer with the gun, and was
not given adequate time to respond to any command,” Mawuli Davis said. “We believe even seeking the warrant was a violation of law.”
Mawuli Davis said he has reviewed the medical record from Grady Hospital which states that
“the dying declaration of Kevin Davis was that the
police came in shooting.”
“That was what he said to the medical personnel when he was at Grady Hospital,” Mawuli
Davis said. “When they asked what happened, he
said, ‘The police bust in shooting. They came in
shooting.’
“That’s what he perceived and that’s what we
believe the facts will bear out,” Mawuli Davis said.
“The family will continue demanding justice,”
Mawuli Davis said. “The family has been speaking out at rallies throughout the state of Georgia.
They have supported other families who have
found themselves in a very similar situation.
They’ll continue being advocates, not only for
their brother but for other victims of police shootings and brutality.”
Erik Burton, spokesman for the DA’s office,
confirmed the meeting with the Kevin Davis family. He said it is a standard practice of the DA’s office to review all officer-involved shooting deaths.

local

The Champion Free Press, Friday, April 24, 2015

Page 9A

Brookhaven MARTA Citizens Review Board holds meeting
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
Communication has begun between developers and
Brookhaven residents on how
to develop 10.3 acres of surface parking lots adjacent to
the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe
MARTA station.
The Brookhaven MARTA
Citizens Review Board (CRB)
held its first meeting with developers April 15. The board
was created by the city to be
a representative voice of the
citizens of Brookhaven.
There are 14 members
on the board, consisting of
representatives from each
of the four council districts,
a mayor’s pick from each
neighborhood surrounding the MARTA station, and
members of the Brookhaven
Peachtree Community Alliance, Brookhaven Development Authority and the
Brookhaven Chamber of
Commerce.
Brookhaven City Councilman Bates Mattison, the
liaison of the board, said the
MARTA CRB is “intended to
be a two-way communication
street to allow our citizens
to communicate to the developers about the charrette
reports and what specific
concerns the residents of

The Brookhaven MARTA Citizens Review Board discusses ideas for the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe MARTA station. Photo by Carla Parker

Brookhaven have.”
“It also allows us as a
MARTA Citizens Review
Board to communicate what’s
going on with this process because in absence of that information people start to assume
things that may or may not be
true,” Mattison said.
In September 2014,
MARTA released a Request
for Quotes (RFQ) to convert
the surface parking lots at
the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe MARTA station into a
mixed-use, transit-oriented
development. A private developer that MARTA will select
through a competitive solicitation process will implement
the mixed-use development
and structured parking facilities.
Seven qualified develop-

MARTA Continued From Page 6A
“Stand Up For Transportation” rally on April 9, Parker
mentioned the SMART restrooms.
Knight was not pleased
with the answer.
“That is not going to
work when you have masses
of people needing to use the
restroom,” he said.
Saintil said MARTA’s
Research and Development
office conducted a survey
of 250 customers when the
Lindbergh restroom opened.
“The SMART restroom pilot
was a success,” Saintil said.
According to the survey,
“more than 75 percent of
customers strongly agree with
all of the advantages that the
Smart restroom offers. The
sink, toilet paper dispenser
and soap dispenser are all
hands-free, with sensors to
detect when someone would
need them. Safety is of the
utmost concern inside the restroom, as well as any part of
the MARTA system.”
The survey also revealed
that customers feel that the

voice-activated restroom is
“more convenient to access
than finding a station agent
to open the regular restroom.
Roughly, 75 percent of the
respondents stated that they
felt safer inside the restroom
compared to regular restrooms.”
Knight said it is a problem when 420,000 people
ride the rail system and there
are less than 20 bathrooms
opened for them.
“The restrooms need
to be opened so the people
would not use the areas and
the spaces in and around the
MARTA stations and inside
of the elevators and in other
places,” Knight said. “These
things are very harmful to the
people. These are sanitation
concerns and these are health
concerns. If MARTA is serious about this issue they do
not need to continue to tell
us about one restroom where
they have an electronic program to monitor that one restroom when 420,000 people
who is riding the MARTA rail

ers had been named after the
RFQ closed.
“MARTA has said that
they will allow the MARTA
Citizens Review Board to
make recommendations
about which developers we
liked and didn’t like,” Mattison said. “I’m not sure if
we’re going to actually get to
those specifics because we as
a board don’t really have any
powers enabled by the city.
So, we really want to serve in
that communication process,

and help communicate to
MARTA what the citizens are
saying about these different
developments.”
The board discussed with
developers the concerns citizens had list in charrette reports that were established in
2013. Concerns in the reports
included traffic congestion on
Peachtree Road, PeachtreeDunwoody Road and other
roads in the city, cut-through
traffic in residential areas, affordable housing, greenspace

and more.
Mattison said creating a
city center seems to be the
type of development the public would like to see.
“But the city has taken
no official position on that,”
he said. “Part of this group’s
task is to communicate to the
mayor and council what these
developers needs the city to
weigh in on.
“This is a really big opportunity for the city to create
a cultural heart, a great development and it’s important
that we have dialog between
these parties and not just
have the conversation take
place in a vacuum just between MARTA and the developers,” Mattison added. “I’m
excited about the interaction
today. It was all very highlevel stuff, but I’m optimistic,
as this process keeps going
forward that we’ll have an
ability to deliver the message
of the local concerns to these
developers and MARTA.”

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING 
The Mayor and City Council of the City of Chamblee, Georgia will hold a public hearing on Thursday, May 14, 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.

2.

 
3.

2015V‐09:  Darron  Kusman,  on  behalf  of  Roma  Ventures,  LLC  requests  a  stream  buffer  variance  pursuant  to 
Article  XV  of  Chapter  34  in  order  to  develop  a  subdivision  consisting  of  4  single‐family  residential  lots  on  1.4 
acres of property zoned Neighborhood Residential ‐1 (NR‐1) located at 3062 Park Lane and 3114 Skyland Drive 
being DeKalb County tax parcels 18 278 03 127 and 18 278 03 125 in Chamblee, GA. 
 
2015PUD‐05: Tom Andrews, on behalf of St. Joseph’s Mercy Care Services requests approval of a Planned Unit 
Development and a Development of Community Impact as provided in Section 207 of the City of Chamblee Code 
of Ordinances, Appendix A, Zoning Ordinance in order to develop a health center and senior housing on a 3.99‐
acre site consisting of DeKalb County tax parcel 18 300 03 007 being at 5134 Peachtree Boulevard in Chamblee, 
GA. The subject property is zoned Village Commercial (VC). This case will also be heard at the regular meeting of 
the Architectural Design Review Board at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 5 at the Chamblee City Hall located at 5468 
Peachtree Rd. 
 
2015V‐06: G. Douglas Dillard of Pursley Friese Torgrimson, on behalf of Talon DN investments I, LLC, requests 
variances from the following provisions of the City of Chamblee Code of Ordinances, Appendix A, Zoning 
Ordinance in order to provide for a restaurant with drive‐through service on property consisting of 6.46 acres 
zoned Corridor Commercial (CC) at 3979 Buford Highway, being DeKalb County tax parcel  18‐236‐05‐017 in 
Chamblee, GA: 

Sec. 902.A. that requires a 10‐ft. sidewalk along the frontage of Buford Highway. 

Sec. 902.B. that requires a 10 ft. landscape zone planted along the frontage of Buford Highway. 

Sec. 902.D.1 that requires street trees planted 50 ft. on center in the landscape zone on the frontage of 
Buford Highway. 

Sec. 902.D.9 that requires pedestrian streetlights 50 ft. on center in the landscape zone on the frontage of 
Buford Highway. 

Sec. 908.D. that requires dumpsters shall be placed in the rear yard and may be located five feet from the 
property line if the adjoining property is zoned nonresidential and five feet from all applicable buffers if the 

adjoining property is zoned residential. 
Sec. 1202.E. that prohibits Driveways between the sidewalk and a building, and shall be perpendicular to 
any adjacent street. 

Sec. 1203.F. that requires one space per 100 square feet of gross floor area for restaurants. 

Sec. 1307.B. that limits one principle building sign on each street frontage with a curb. 

local

Page 10A The Champion Free Press, Friday, April 24, 2015

Peers guide one another
on road to recovery
by Kathy Mitchell

recalled. Ford, who was referred to the organization by
Terresa Ford said that a
her therapist, said she had
few years ago she was able to low expectations when she
do no more than was neces- first went to NAMI. “I think
sary to care for her son.
I had been going for three or
“I was not taking care of four months before I realized
myself. I had no interests and it was helping—I really was
no activities beyond what
getting better.”
was absolutely required. I
Ford also received help
was sleeping 12 to 14 hours
at the Decatur Peer Support
a day. I was suffering from
and Wellness Center. “I was
anxiety and having auditory so impressed with what was
hallucinations. I really didn’t going on there that I told
have a life,” she recalled.
them ‘I want to work here,’”
Even her doctor expressed
she recalled.
doubt that she would ever be
Today, Ford works full
able to function normally.
time as a certified peer speFord, now 45, said she
cialist, assisting others who
struggled with bipolar disor- face challenges similar to
der most of her adult life but hers. “I didn’t even know
resisted getting help. “I was
there was such an occupain denial. I didn’t want peotion and hadn’t dreamed that
ple to know what I was going I would actually be able to
through for fear of what they hold down a full-time job
would think and what might again,” she said.
happen to me,” she said.
Among the areas of her
Her life changed dralife that have gotten much
matically after she became
better is Ford’s relationship
involved with the DeKalb
with her son, who is now a
County branch of the Nateenager. “Before I got help
tional Alliance on Mental
I saw myself as a victim
Illness (NAMI), an organiza- and that really damaged my
tion the describes itself as
relationship with my son.
“the nation’s largest grassAfter the pity party ended,
roots mental health organihe could see me as a strong,
zation dedicated to building motivated person,” she said.
better lives for the millions
Ford, who has a graduate
of Americans affected by
degree in fine arts, also again
mental illness.”
took an interest in activiThe nonprofit’s website
ties she used to enjoy. “I’m
states, “What started as a
painting again and going to
small group of families gath- art shows and I’m running.
ered around a kitchen table
I used to love running. I’m
in 1979 has blossomed into
preparing for a 5-K race and
the nation’s leading voice on I’m planning to run in the
mental health. Today, we are Peachtree Road Race this
an association of hundreds
year. I am now as vigilant
of local affiliates, state orgaabout my leisure activities as
nizations and volunteers who I am about taking my mediwork in your community to
cation.”
raise awareness and provide
Alisa Porter, program
support and education that
director of NAMI DeKalb
was not previously available
who also struggles with
to those in need.”
mental health issues, said
The organization arrang- NAMI had been “a game
es for people with mental
changer” for her. “Family
illness and substance abuse
and health professionals have
problems to interact with
all been very helpful to me,
others facing the same issues. but there’s nothing like the
“People at NAMI modeled
support of others who are
for me what my life could be. going through what you’re
They showed me that I could going through to give you
be a fully functioning mem- hope.”
ber of society,” Ford said.
Porter said she hopes
She explained that no
the community will come
one at NAMI gives instrucout in large numbers to
tions or advice. “They tell
NAMI’s vigil May 1 at 7:30
you, ‘Here’s what I did when p.m. on the Decatur Square
I was in that situation.’ If
bandstand. “The purpose
something sounds like it
is to raise awareness in the
might work for you, you try
community and encourage
it; otherwise you don’t.
people to speak the names
“I learned new coping
of those who are living with
mechanisms, ways to get
mental illness and those
through my symptoms,” she
who support them. It’s a

celebration of life. We want
to spread the word that the
struggle for mental health
is nothing to be ashamed of
and there’s nothing to keep
those with mental health issues from having a full life.”

Certified Peer Specialist Terresa Ford visits the bandstand at Decatur
Square, which will be the site of the May 1 vigil to support persons with
mental health issues.

Enjoyment
for All Ages

Find it in our
Lifestyle section
every week. Get a
breakdown of the
week’s events, plus
a sneak peek of
what’s to come.

404.373.7779

TheChampionNewspaper.com.

FREE Family Reunion Planning

Family Reunion Capital of the South

Workshop & Showcase

Saturday, May 16, 2015 - Courtyard Decatur Downtown/Emory
130 Clairemont Avenue, Decatur, GA 30030 | Workshop: 10:00 to Noon

FREE Customer Service Class
Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Discover DeKalb offers FREE CUSTOMER SERVICE TRAINING
for hospitality industry employees. Classes are held at the
Discover DeKalb Conference Room.
1957 Lakeside Pkwy, Suite 510, Tucker, Georgia 30084

Call 770-492-5000

Pre-registration is required

AtlantasDeKalb.com

In

The Champion Free Press, Friday, April 24, 2015

WEEK

local

Page 11A

Pictures

Among the many signs of spring around DeKalb County are the abundance of white and pink dogwoods in bloom. Photos by John Hewitt

School Board members, Superintendent Michael Thurmond, past council presidents, Gladys Cook Scholarship recipients and their families, membership award recipients and DeKalb
County PTA council board gather on April 16 for a scholarship and awards dinner meeting at Chamblee Charter High School

23

Photos brought to you by DCTV
DCTV Channel 23
@DCTVChannel23

Get your front row seat to all things DeKalb County
through your EMMY Award-winning station

DeKalb County Gov
Ustream.tv/channle/DCTV-Channel-23
VISIT US AT WWW.DCTVChannel23.tv

E-mail us at DCTV@DeKalbCountyGA.gov

local

Page 12A The Champion Free Press, Friday, April 24, 2015

Photos by Travis Hudgons

Decatur offering
pickleball
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
Pickleball, a racquet sport that
combines elements of badminton,
tennis and table tennis is now in Decatur. Two, three, or four people can
play, and players use solid paddles
made of wood or composite materials to hit a wiffle ball over a net.
Portia Langley, Decatur Active
Living program supervisor for Beacon Municipal Center, is responsible
for bringing the sport to Decatur.
“I played pickleball in college at
Fort Valley State University, and it
was so much fun and it really stuck

with me,” Langley said. “It was low
impact, it wasn’t as strenuous as tennis, and a lot more people can play.
I’ve always enjoyed pickleball from
my college years.”
Langley said when she was hired
last year, she saw that there was pickleball program in the city.
“I wanted to see if people in
Decatur would be interested in
pickleball and the response was all
positive,” she said. “So, I set it up. We
have nets through USA Pickleball
Association, and we’re able to play.”
Pickleball will take place at Ebster Gym every Wednesday from 4-7
p.m. for ages 18 and older.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, April 24, 2015

local

Page 13A

New development authority president touts local assets
by Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com
The new president of
the Development Authority of DeKalb County will
provide the “leadership and
the vision that we need as a
county to be proactive, to be
competitive, to implement
the vision that we have in
DeKalb County.”
That’s what interim
DeKalb County CEO Lee
May said about Ray Gilley,
president of the development authority. May introduced Gilley to the Lithonia
business community at the
Lithonia Chamber of Commerce April 15.
“DeKalb County is one
of the best places to live
in this country,” May said.
“In terms of our assets, our
diversity, the geographical
location, infrastructure, we
win…but we have to have a
plan.
“We’ve written the plan
and we’ve got somebody to
read it now in the development authority and in Ray

Ray Gilley, president of the Development Authority of DeKalb County.
Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Gilley who will now run
with that plan and…make
sure DeKalb County and all
the greatness that we have in
the diversity, in the geography, in the infrastructure…
work on our behalf,” May
said.
The Florida State University graduate served

as president of the Metro
Orlando Economic Development Commission for
nearly a decade, leading “a
team of 35 professionals
that produced 41,000 jobs
and $2.69 billion in capital
investment,” according to a
DeKalb County news release
by the county.

“Gilley led high-profile
corporate expansions that
included the JetBlue University Training Facility at
the Orlando International
Airport and the corporate
headquarters for Darden –
known for brands such as
Olive Garden and Longhorn
Steakhouse,” the news release stated.
“During Gilley’s tenure, Sanford Burnham, a
renowned West Coast biomedical research institute,
was recruited to Orlando
to expand their cancer, diabetes and obesity research.
Along with his years of
experience in economic development, Gilley, who has
an extensive background in
marketing and branding,
tourism development and
strategic planning, serves on
the board of the International Economic Development
Council, the University of
Central Florida Board of
Trustees, and the advisory
board of BBVA Compass
Central Market, a multinational Spanish banking

group.”
“When I was thinking
about coming to this region,
I did some homework and
research and I quickly realized it was one of the crown
jewels of the metro Atlanta
region,” Gilley said.
The metro Atlanta area
has many assets, including “the airport, the vibrant
business climate that is
here, the overall positive attitude of the entire region,
all of the collaboration and
partnerships that are taking
place, and all of the wonderful that have happened
here,” Gilley said. “It’s a pleasure to be here.”
Gilley said he plans to
increase the staffing the
development authority, and
a name change is being considered.
The development authority will find “a more
exciting way to tell our story.
We do have a great story,”
Gilley said.

Former Development Authority chair says polygraph clears him
The developer of a proposed south DeKalb resort
said an independent polygraph test proves he had no
role in a controversial ethics
board advisory opinion.
According to Vaughn
Irons, CEO of APD Solutions and former chairman
of the Development Authority of DeKalb, he passed the
April 9 polygraph test by
Lancaster Information Services in Lawrenceville.
 “He passed the test,”
said polygraph examiner
Gary Lancaster, in a statement. “In my opinion, he
was truthful. He had good
charts. On a scale of 1 to 10,
my comfort level is at 9 or
10. He was telling the truth.
I don’t think any other polygraph examiner could come
to any other conclusion.”
In a statement, Irons
said he took the lie detector test to show that he
had nothing to do with the
advisory opinion that he
requested in 2009 from the
DeKalb County ethics board

to prove that there was no
conflict of interest in doing business with DeKalb
County.
“It’s unfortunate that
bureaucratic inefficiency has
created this situation,” Irons
stated. “I’m glad that anyone
who questioned my character now knows the truth.
“As I have always maintained, I have done nothing
wrong and at all times I have
acted within the rules and
regulations as it relates to my
business and personal activities with the county,” he said.
APD Solutions, a neighborhood revitalization firm,
is planning to develop a
10.15-acre resort that would
include restaurants, “barcades,” and 24 furnished
villas.
An investigation by the
Atlanta Journal Constitution
discovered that Irons sought
advice from the county’s ethics board on whether he, as
a member of the Development Authority of DeKalb
County, could be a govern-

ment contractor and receive
Neighborhood Stabilization
Program grant funds.
Records obtained by the
AJC show that although the
ethics board never voted
on the matter, the county’s
purchasing department
obtained a legal opinion in
December 2011 stating that
the ethics board ruled that
Irons could be a government
contractor. The document
was never filed in the county
clerk’s office, had an incorrect reference number and
had a possibly forged signature, according to the AJC’s
investigation.

The DeKalb County
Ethics Board confirmed that
it never provided Irons with
a copy of the opinion, according to a news release by
Irons.
 “First and foremost,
Irons has not and did not
commit any ethical or legal
violations,” said Dwight
Thomas, legal counsel for
Irons, in a statement. “The
legal opinion that authorized
APD Solutions is not a forgery and was in fact prepared
by the DeKalb ethics board
attorney and signed by the
chair of the board of ethics.
There is no ‘stamped’ signa-

ture. There is no altered or
forged signature. There is no
contrary legal opinion that
was ever communicated to
Mr. Irons or APD Solutions
or the DeKalb purchasing
department.” 

STONE MOUNTAIN
VILLAGE CITY-WIDE
YARD SALE
First Baptist Church
Lawn. Sat., April 25,
8:30 am-3pm
Setup begins 7:30 a.m. on
day of sale.
For info call City Hall
770-498-8984

LEGAL NOTICE
MANUEL J. MALOOF CENTER, 1300 COMMERCE DRIVE, MALOOF AUDITORIUM,
DECATUR, GA 30030-3221
Notice of Public Hearings For Sketch Plat Approval(s)
Notice is hereby given by DeKalb County Board of Commissioners that the hearings on the following
application(s) will be held by the DeKalb County Planning Commissioners in the Auditorium of the Maloof
Center, 1300 Commerce Drive, Decatur, Georgia, on the following date(s): WEDNESDAY 6:30 P.M.,
May 13, 2015
South Howard Street
# P-Plats 19655
15-179-06-024

Commission District: 03

Super Districts: 06

Application request of Lawton Jordan to subdivide 1.75 into 5 lots under R‐50  (Single‐Family 
Residential) Zoning District. The property is located at 219 South Howard Street and has approx.  
284.74 feet of frontage. 

The Champion Free Press, Friday, April 24, 2015

business

Page 14A

Couple finds sandwich
business has right ingredients
by Kathy Mitchell
When Gary Birnberg
was an undergraduate student at Georgia Tech he
decided it would be great to
open a sandwich shop near
the campus. He discussed
the idea with his parents,
who advised him to continue
focusing on his studies.
Birnberg completed his
engineering degree, got a
master’s degree in business
from Mercer University and
launched a successful corporate career. Still the idea of
operating his own business
stayed with him.
“I read an article about
a new sandwich restaurant
chain headquartered in Dallas, Texas, and it intrigued
me. I went to Texas and talked with the founder. I had
been looking at options for a
long time, but when I came
back from Dallas, I told my
wife, ‘This is it. This is what
I want to do.’” The chain was
Which Wich; it originated
in 2003 and is now an international chain with approximately 350 restaurants.
After convincing his
wife, Melynda, the couple
in 2008 became the owners
of the first of eight Which
Wich restaurants they would
open in the Atlanta area.
Among them are ones in
Brookhaven and at Emory
Point. The Emory Point restaurant in 2012 was among
the first businesses to open
in the mixed-use community
near Emory University and
the Centers for Disease Con-

Gary and Melynda Birnberg left corporate jobs to follow their dream of
becoming business owners. Photo provided

trol and Prevention.
Birnberg recalled that
he immediately warmed to
founder Jeff Sinelli’s concept
for his sandwich restaurants.
The customer goes to a wall
board of brown bags, one
for each sandwich category,
including chicken, turkey,
ham, pork, seafood, processed meats, vegetables
and other options. There’s a
specialty called “the Wicked”
that includes five meats and
three cheeses. The customer

marks the bag to indicate the
size sandwich, the type of
bread, topping, spreads and
sauces, etc., and writes his or
her name on it, then leaves
the counter with a drink or
a shake and waits to hear his
or her name called.
“It’s low-tech, but it’s
high-touch,” Birnberg said.
“I love that it’s so interactive
for customers. They choose
exactly want they want.
Sometimes they scribble
comments or artwork on the

bag. It’s so much fun.” With
the wide variety of fillings,
spreads, toppings, breads
and add-ons, the number of
possible sandwiches reaches
the billions and includes lettuce-wrap sandwiches with
no bread and “the skinny,” in
which the middle is scooped
out of the bread, reducing
the sandwich’s calorie count
by about 90.
Which Wich, which also
offers chips, cookies and
salads, does a good deal of
catering as well, according to
Birnberg.
In 2006, Atlanta magazine named Which Wich
“best new sandwich shop
in Atlanta.” In 2010, Sinelli
caught the attention of national media—including The
Tonight Show with Jay Leno–
when he flew to Atlanta to
visit a customer who dislocated his jaw trying to bite
into a double-meat Wicked,
according to the Which
Wich website.
Like Sinelli, the Birnbergs make themselves
human sandwich boards
as they move around the
community nearly always
wearing Which Wich shirts.
“Sometime people come
up and say, “Oh, I’ve eaten
there; it’s awesome’ and
some ask what is it and that’s
a chance to tell our story,”
Birnberg said.
The Birnbergs first business venture together was
a parking lot in downtown
Atlanta during the 1996
Olympic Games the year
they married. “We both have

worked at major corporations, but operating our own
businesses is the right thing
for us,” Birnberg said.
The Birnbergs said a part
of the Which Wich corporate
philosophy that appealed to
them from the start was belief in involvement with the
community. “We form event
partnerships with schools
and nonprofits with a share
of sales going the nonprofit,”
Birnberg said. The Birnbergs
will be a major sponsor of
the Special Olympics Summer Games in Atlanta this
year and are holding Give
Back Day every Monday in
April, when 10 percent of
sales from all of their eight
stores will go to support the
Special Olympics.
When the state Special
Olympic Games come to the
Emory University Campus
May 29-31, the Birnbergs
will be on hand to support
the event with food and
more. “We enjoy interacting
with the athletes,” Birnberg
said. “Special Olympics is
such a cool organization,”
Special Olympics Inc.
was founded in 1968 by
Eunice Kennedy Shriver,
sister of President John F.
Kennedy. It is the first and
the only organization to offer training and competition
for people with intellectual
disabilities. In 1970, 500 athletes gathered in Atlanta to
participate in the first-ever
track and field event held
under the Special Olympics
Georgia banner.

Stepe earns ‘Travel Marketing Professional’ certification
Barry Stepe, Discover DeKalb’s
marketing & communications manager, has earned certification as a
“Travel Marketing Professional”
(TMP) after completing the threeyear program of the Southeast Tourism Society (STS) Marketing College.
Stepe is among 37 new TMPs
recognized at the STS spring meeting
in Charlotte, N.C. STS Marketing
College started in 1992 and to date
has awarded 879 TMP certifications.
The STS Marketing College is a

professional development program
that for one week each summer turns
the facilities of North Georgia College and State University in Dahlonega into a laboratory to teach tourism
marketing.
Instructors are working professionals in the travel industry such as
convention and visitors bureau executives, public relations practitioners,
sales and marketing consultants and
research experts.
“There is not another program

like ours in the country; we are the
envy of travel professionals in other
regions,” said Bill Hardman, president and chief executive officer of
STS.
Tourism ranks as the first, second
or third-largest industry in the 12
STS states that stretch from Virginia
to Louisiana. Course topics include
special event marketing, media relations, tourism advertising, vacation
research, crisis management, heritage tourism and community/rural

influential

tourism. After the classroom work,
students also must complete a project
that relates to their employment.
“Our curriculum is practical.
What students learn can be put to
use as soon as they get back to their
workplaces,” Hardman said.
The newest group of TMPs raised
enough to fund 12 scholarships for
future STS Marketing College students.

DeKalb Chamber of Commerce • Two Decatur Town Center, 125 Clairemont Ave., Suite, Decatur, GA 30030 • 404.378.8000 • www.dekalbchamber.org

The Champion Free Press, Friday, April 24, 2015

Gov. Nathan Deal signing the medical marijuana bill into law.

local

Page 15A

Sickle cell victim Jessica Smith poses with state representative Allen Peake and her mom, sickle
cell advocate Lillie Thomas.

Haleigh Cox, for whom the bill is named and her mom were recognized by the governor for their advocacy. Patients affected by epilepsy and other diseases with seizures
showed their support with posters and flyers that read, “Thank you” and “Hope to stop seizures.” Photos by Ashley Oglesby

DeKalb woman to benefit from medical marijuana
by Ashley Oglesby
ashley@dekalbchamp.com
Patients with sickle cell disease
are among those covered in Georgia’s medical marijuana bill. Gov.
Nathan Deal signed HB 1, legislation that permits the use of medical
cannabis oil to treat certain medical
conditions, on April 17 at the Georgia State Capitol.
Deal signed an executive order
last month instructing state agencies, physicians and law enforcement officials to prepare for the law’s
enactment.
Deal said, “For the families enduring separation and patients suffering pain, the wait is finally over.”
He added, “I applaud the efforts
of the Department of Public Health
and the Georgia Composite Medical Board to see that this legislation is implemented safely and in a
timely manner. Now, Georgia chil-

dren and their families may return
home while continuing to receive
much-needed care. Patients such as
Haleigh Cox, for whom this bill is
named, and others suffering from
debilitating conditions can now receive the treatment they need, in the
place where they belong–Georgia.”
Lillie Thomas, a DeKalb sickle
cell advocate, said she and her family have fought hard for this day–almost 26 years.
“I’ve been advocating for my
daughter’s disease and trying to get
people to understand that these kids
suffer so much from sickle cell pain.”
Thomas said her daughter who
was born with sickle cell disease has
been prescribed various drugs since
she was three years old.
“With this new cannabis oil my
baby will not have many side effects
from the medicine when she goes
into a pain crisis.”
Thomas said the most common

misunderstanding about sickle cell
patients come from the fact that because they do not look sick, people
believe they are well.
“Unlike cancer where the evidence is on the outside of the body
and you can see the changes of a
child that has cancer–sickle cell is
more internal.”
She added, “I want to make sure
that the people in the sickle cell
community get access to this oil and
it’s going to be much better than the
narcotics that they’re currently prescribed because there are so many
side effects with the medication that
they’re currently on.”
Forms created by the Georgia
Medical Composite Board may be
obtained through the Department
of Public Health. Once certified by
the appropriate health care provider,
patients meeting the law’s criteria
will be provided with documentation allowing for possession of low-

THC cannabis oil. DPH has already
issued temporary cards to seven individuals and anticipates the permanent statewide system will be online
in the coming weeks.
Thomas’ daughter Jessica Smith
said “this moment means a lot. My
mom is my support. Without her
I’m not sure that I would have been
able to make it to the age of 26.”
Smith said, “We’ve been suffering
for a while. To be able to have a little
help with our suffering coming to
Georgia means a lot.”
Smith said the biggest struggle
with advocating for the cannabis oil
has been trying to show others that
“our disease is important and it matters.”
“We need help just like any other
people affected by diseases and it’s
been a long journey but just to be
able to get through and have this bill
signed means a lot,” Smith said.

She would speak to you, and if you
wouldn’t speak, she’d follow you and
make you speak. She’d sit down at
lunch and talk to the kids. If she
saw a kid was having a bad day, she’d
sit down and talk with that kid.”
The district sent grief counselors
to the school for students and staff.
Mitchell described the tone of
her classroom once the students and

teachers were notified of her death
as somber.
“She stood out to the teachers,
she helped the new teachers and
was an advocate for all teachers. She
was a big part of the leadership team
so that’s a board that’s going to be
impossible to fill,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said on the Friday
before her death Pusha held a

big celebration for her students
in preparation for the Georgia
Milestone test.
McNair middle school students
made significant improvements to
their math and science scores last
year and are aiming to continually
improve.
Mitchell said Pusha led that
charge.

House Continued From Page 1A
McNair Principal Ronald
Mitchell said Pusha was a
wonderful educator.
“She cared about the total
student, she taught sixth grade
science, she helped with the science
club, she stayed late, she came in
early–she was just an advocate for
the total being.”
He added, “She was very vocal.

local

Page 16A The Champion Free Press, Friday, April 24, 2015

TheChampion

For Prices, Deadlines and Information

Visit www.championclassifieds.com

Classifieds

Rates: $30.00 for up to 40 words, each additional word $0.60.
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for next publication date.

The Champion is not responsible for any damages resulting from advertisements. All sales final.

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ABSOLUTE EQUIPMENT AUCTION
Tuesday April 21, 10 AM
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only $350. Call Jennifer Labon at the Georgia Newspaper Service at 770-454-6776 or
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DISCLAIMER: We do not knowingly accept advertisements that discriminate, or intend to discriminate, on any illegal basis. Nor do we knowingly accept employment advertisements that are not
bona-fide job offers. All real estate advertisements are subject to the fair housing act and we do not accept advertising that is in violation of the law. The law prohibits discrimination based on color,
religion, sex, national origin, handicap or familial status.

Education

The Champion Free Press, Friday, April 24, 2015

Page 17A

DeKalb Board of Commissioners Presiding Officer Larry Johnson and Toney Blackmon, director, Business & Warehousing Services, DeKalb School District, sign the intergovernmental
agreement Photos by Ashley Oglesby

Keep DeKalb Beautiful director Gordon
Burkette updates DeKalb students, staff
and administration about the school
recycling partnership.

DeKalb’s sanitation division public
information officer Pauline Andrea
greets and welcomes guests to the
partnership event.

Redan High School jazz ensemble performs for guests.

Commissioner Stan Watson speaks Interim CEO Lee May shares
his vision for the DeKalb Makes
on behalf of the DeKalb County
Recycling Simple initiative.
district 1 commissioner Nancy
Jester regarding the county recycling efforts.

Reverend Dr. William E. Flippin
Sr. delivers an inspirational
message to attendees.

Dancers from Redan High School marching band perform for attendees.

DeKalb County kicks off recycling program
by Ashley Oglesby
ashley@dekalbchamp.com
The DeKalb Sanitation
Division, in collaboration
with the county school district launched its DeKalb
Makes Recycling Simple
campaign on April 15 as an
effort to increase recycling.
The signing of the intergovernmental agreement
took place at the DeKalb
County School District
boardroom and included
performances by Redan
High School’s jazz ensemble
and marching band.
Commissioners Stan

Watson, Ron Johnson,
Larry Johnson and Keep
DeKalb Beautiful director
Gordon Burkette served as
featured guest for the event.
The campaign stems
from an intergovernmental
agreement recommended
by interim DeKalb County
CEO Lee May and approved by the Board of
Commissioners on Jan. 13
as a contingency for solid
waste management and disposal services to the county’s
schools and facilities.
May said, the county is
“acknowledging the partnership between DeKalb Coun-

ty government and DeKalb
County schools which is
critical where our sanitation
department is concerned.
Even though many people
don’t partake in recycling
it’s a simple effort that really
would yield great benefits in
our lives.”
The program is intended
to increase recycling efforts
and recycling education to
reduce the amount of waste
being sent to the countyowned Seminole Road
Landfill.
Additionally, the sanitation department has implemented single-stream col-

lection of recyclables and
reduced pickup service–for
all waste–to once per week.
“That’s major for us to
because it allows for us to
be more sustainable -- make
our sanitation department
a lot more efficient and cost
effective as well,” May said.
“We have 50 schools
that are participating in our
recycling efforts in DeKalb.
Our goal is to increase [the
participation] from 50 to
139 schools which would
represent over 10,000 classrooms,” May said.
Public information officer for DeKalb’s sanitation

division Pauline Andrea
said their mission in the
campaign is to “facilitate
cost effective, timely, sustainable recycling and solid
waste collection and disposal services.
She added, “We are
delighted to advance this
mission for collaboration
with the school district and
encourage communities to
engage in the dialogue promoting the importance and
benefits of recycling.”

The Champion Free Press, Friday, April 24, 2015

Sports

Page 18A

Dunwoody boy’s golf team won its seventh consecutive DeKalb County golf title. Photos by Mark Brock

Dunwoody sweeps county golf championships
37) for third, Corey Sullivan
in fourth with a 75 (40-35)
Despite the wet condiand Tim Trembath in sixth
tions, the Dunwoody Wildcats with a 78 (39-39). The 300
set a county record with a
score broke the record of 301
team score of 300 to capture
set in the 2013 Championthe 2015 DeKalb County Boys’ ships by Dunwoody.
Golf Championship April 14
Defending individual
at the Sugar Creek Golf Club.
champion Cameron Wyatt of
The Wildcats, led by low
Martin Luther King Jr. came
medalist Peter Trask, had four up short in the individual
players shoot under 80 on the honors taking fifth with a 76
way to the their seventh con(42-34) on the day.
secutive title, including last
The Lakeside Vikings
year’s tie with Arabia Mouncame in second for the sevtain.
enth consecutive year with a
Trask won low medalist
team total of 362, five strokes
honors after a two-hole playoff better than in 2014. Last year’s
with Arabia Mountain’s Noah co-champion Arabia MounKuranga after the two ended
tain finished third with a score
the day tied at 73.
of 385, Druid Hills finished
Kuranga came up just shy fourth with 403, Chamblee
of the low medalist honors as
came in fifth with 411 and Cehis putt on the first hole of the dar Grove in sixth with 429 to
playoff rolled to the lip of the
round out the teams with four
cup and stopped just short of
qualifying scores.
falling in for the winning shot.
Lakeside was led by Tony
Trask, who had putted from
Bryant with an 83 (43-41),
the fringe, put in a short putt
good for seventh place. Tuckand the two remained tied af- er’s Donald Miller was eighth
ter getting a par 4 on the No.
with an 84 (45-39) followed
1 hole.
by Dunwoody’s Brox Labus
Trask took the momenwith an 85 (41-45) in ninth,
tum by stroking a long drive
and Lakeside’s Brennan Cox
down the middle of the par 5, round out the Top 10 with an
No. 2 hole to set up his even89 (48-41).
tual win as he put his second
The Dunwoody Lady
shot on the fringe of the green. Wildcats made it two titles in
Kuranga’s third shot was
a row as the only girls’ team
well short of the green, but
to qualify for the team chamhe would not go easily as he
pionship. The Lady Wildcats
put his fourth shot just short
shot a team total of 211, which
of the hole to force Trask into
was 12 strokes (223) better
getting up and down with a
than a year ago.
birdie to be able to win the
Arabia Mountain’s Marimatch.
ah Kuranga captured her
Trask’s first putt rolled
second consecutive DeKalb
even with the hole and Kuran- County individual title with
ga sank his par putt easily.
a round of 75 (40-35). She
Trask then rolled in his short
chopped eight strokes off her
putt for the birdie and win in
2014 winning score of 83.
another exciting finish to the
Dunwoody’s Lauren CalCounty Championship.
lahan shot a 104 (55-49) to
Dunwoody’s other low
finish second overall while
scores for the team came from teammate Olivia Vergura shot
Davis Brainard with a 74 (37- a 107 (49-58) to take third.
by Mark Brock

Dunwoody’s Peter Trask won the boys individual
title.

Arabia Mountain’s Mariah Kuranga captured her
second consecutive individual title

The Dunwoody Lady Wildcats won its second consecutive county title.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, April 24, 2015

Sports

Page 19A

Druid Hills softball player commits to Claflin University
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
After having one of
her best softball seasons at
Druid Hills, senior Kayla
Cato will take her talents
to Claflin University in Orangeburg, S.C.
The senior shortstop
signed her national letter of
intent April 15. Cato said
Claflin has been recruiting
her since she was 14 years
old.
“I played with some
of the players who are already at Claflin,” she said.
“[While] looking at them
playing [Claflin coaches]
saw me, and since I was 14,
they have been talking to
me.”
Cato said the coaching
style and team chemistry is
what attracted her to Claflin.
“I really like how they’re
together,” she said. “It’s not
just, ‘You’re my player.’ It’s
more like, ‘You’re a part of
our team and you’re like
family to us.’ That’s a big

Druid Hills senior Kayla Cato was a member of the Atlanta Reviving
Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) team that won the 2013 RBI World Series
title. Photo provided

part of why I chose Claflin.”
Cato, a power hitter, finished her senior season third
on the DeKalb County batting leaders list with a .645
batting average. She had 40
hits with 62 at bats, 55 RBIs
and 45 runs. She won the
county’s homerun title with

16 homeruns on the season,
and she won county player
of the year.
“It was probably one of
my best seasons,” she said. “I
went out with a bang.”
Cato has been playing
softball since she was 6 years
old. She started out playing

tee ball and baseball with
boys at Greenforest Community Baptist Church.
Once she got older, her
mother and coaches began
encouraging her to play
softball.
“They started telling me,
‘You know you have to start
playing [softball] soon,’”
she said. “My mom really pushed me into playing
[softball], because at first I
thought, ‘Maybe I shouldn’t
do this,’ because I didn’t
want to play with girls. And
my mom said I was going
to play, and I did and I was
playing for so long that I just
fell in love with it.”
She started playing
softball at Redan Park, and
at age 12 moved to Brown
Mills Park and has been
with the Lady Jackets Softball travel ball team since.
Cato was a member of
the Atlanta Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI)
team that won the 2013 RBI
World Series title in Minneapolis, Minn. The team de-

feated Houston 4-3 to claim
the title.
“I never really experienced anything like that, as
far as being on TV, and experiencing a championship
like that,” she said. “I was
excited about it, but speechless too. I was excited for my
team–for us to accomplish
something like that.”
Cato said playing with
the Atlanta RBI team helped
improve her game.
“Only because the competition level, I believe, was
harder,” she said. “You really had to break down the
teams to see how we were
going to beat them, or see
how we were going to play
them. Off the field, interacting with [other players from
different teams], we got to
build new friendships. We
learned about each other
cultures.”
Cato said, “[I am] looking forward to everything—
the competition level, bonding with my team, and the
maturity level.”

Southwest DeKalb alum ready for NFL draft
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
Since his playing days at Gresham Park Football Association, Jonathon Mincy had dreams of
being drafted into the NFL.
His dreams could come true next week as the
former Auburn defensive back expects to hear his
name called during the 2015 NFL Draft April 30May 2. The 2009 Southwest DeKalb graduate will
be with his family at his Decatur home during the
draft.
Mincy said if he is drafted, “It will be a feeling I’ve been wanting to feel since I was playing at
Gresham Park.
“Football has always been my dream, and just
to finally get to that stage where most people really don’t make it—it’s just indescribable,” he said.
“It’s something I’ve been waiting on my whole
life. Just to make my mother proud is my biggest
thing.”
Mincy finished his career at Auburn with
211 tackles, 2.5 sacks and two interceptions in
four seasons. Coming out of high school, Mincy
was the No. 29 ranked cornerback by ESPN.
com/Scouts Inc., and the No. 35 ranked player in
Georgia by Rivals.com.
He finished his senior season at Southwest
DeKalb with 64 tackles and three interceptions.
Mincy said transitioning from high school to college was a big adjustment on and off the field.
“Coming from high school to college, it gets
a lot more faster, the size is a big factor, but you
get adjusted to and learned how to be your own
individual when you get here,” he said. “You learn
how to [manage your time]; you don’t have your
parents here waking you up every day. You have
to be accountable for yourself and that’s something you have to take pride in if you want to
continue to have a successful career in whatever

Jonathon Mincy was one of the top recruits in Georgia
coming out of Southwest DeKalb High School. Photo by
Mark Brock

you’re doing. You have to get ahead academically
and that’s something I pride myself on. I’m just
excited for the next step.”
Mincy also credited his high school coach
Buck Godfrey for helping to prepare him for the
next level.
“Coach Buck was always hard, and that’s
something you need in a coach, especially in the
type of environment that we were in,” Mincy said.
“He always pushed us, he tried his best to keep us
focused on football and how football was going

to equip us on and off the field, and that’s something I’m very grateful for and [I was] honored to
play for him.”
Like other NFL prospects, Mincy has been
preparing for the NFL. He has been working out
and meeting with NFL owners, general managers and coaches. On his Pro Day on March 3, he
ran a 4.55 in the 40-yard dash, had 17 bench reps
with 225 pound weights, a 10-foot broad jump
and a vertical jump of 35 1/2 inches. Mincy said
his path to the draft has been exciting.
“I’m just taking it one day at a time,” he said.
“really just being patient as it comes down to
these last couple of weeks. You have to put yourself in a whole other mindset of if I was getting
recruited again out of high school. It’s very humbling and I’m just excited, I’m very excited.”
Mincy said he is not concerned about where
he will land in the draft.
“I kind of leave that in God’s hands,” he said.
“That’s something between me and him. He
knows where I want to be at and I know he’s going to direct my path in every way possible. However the chips fall, I’m just going to be ready to
go.”
Mincy’s journey to this point in his career was
not easy. He realizes he could have been one of
many athletes who did not make it this far had he
not made education a priority. That is why he encourages young athletes to focus on their school
work.
“You have to have [the] academics,” he said.
“I know a lot of athletes that couldn’t make it out
because they didn’t have the grades. You have to
pride yourself on academics.
“You also have to separate yourself from the
different crowd and put yourself in a learning
mode every day,” Mincy added. “You have to
want to get better every day and you just have to
go out there and compete.”

local

Page 20A The Champion Free Press, Friday, April 24, 2015