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FRIDAY, May 8, 2015 • VOL. 18, NO. 6 • FREE

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

Quick Finder
Business.........................18A
Education......................19A
Sports....................... 21-23A
Opinion............................ 5A
Classified........................20A

Partnerships key
to Doraville’s
future

Jail volunteers
help in ways
staff can’t

local, 11A

local, 12A

Guests view and discuss the photos selected for the traveling exhibit
after the opening ceremony.

One of the 50 photos selected for the DeKalb
County Profiles of Poverty gallery.

• A PUBLICATION OF ACE III COMMUNICATIONS •

Druid Hills’ season
ends in penalty
shootout
sports, 21A

DeKalb Board of Education met on May 4 to discuss the future
of the superintendent search.

DeKalb school
board terminates
ProAct contract
by Ashley Oglesby
ashley@dekalbchamp.com

Community members crowd the exhibit which features photography
from photojournalists throughout Georgia.

Interim DeKalb CEO Lee May greets guests before
the ceremony at the Porter Sanford III Performing
Arts and Community Center.

Poverty photo exhibit
held at Sanford Center
Ashley Oglesby
ashley@dekalbchamp.com

T

he opening ceremony
for the Society of
St. Vincent de Paul
(SVdP) and Georgia
Power’s “Profiles of Poverty”
photography exhibit was
held on April 23 at the Porter
Sanford III Performing Arts
and Community Center.
Participating in the event were
DeKalb County Interim CEO
Lee May and DeKalb County
Commissioner Larry Johnson.
The 50-photo gallery will
be available to the public until
May 15 and is co-sponsored by
Chick-fil-A, DeKalb County
Development Office and DeKalb
County Recreation, Parks and
Cultural Affairs.
The exhibit features
photography from

photojournalists throughout
Georgia, including John Glenn,
David Tulis, Joeff Davis,
Stephen Morton, Chris Hunt
and Tim Redman. The group
consists of current and former
AJC, Associated Press, Creative
Loafing and Atlanta Magazine
photographers.
“We have to talk about the
real deal and what’s going on
in our society. We don’t like to
talk about the things that aren’t
in the pretty picture of our
community. The reality is that
one out of five Georgians, live in
poverty,” said May.
He added, “This exhibit
is very important because
it’s forcing a dialogue and
conversation on the issues. I
want people to be encouraged
to go out and tell other people
about this exhibit. Come to
DeKalb County, come to the

championnewspaper

Porter Sanford Center to talk
about what poverty really looks
like — once people see that, then
we can really have a proactive
dialogue about what we can do
about it together.”
John Berry, executive
director of SVdP, said the exhibit
was planned to celebrate the
110th anniversary of the society
in Georgia.
“People hope that if we don’t
talk about [poverty], then it will
go away but the reality is that,
that is not going to happen, said
Berry.
“The goal of this exhibit
was to light a fire to create a
spark. As we come into 2016 in
a presidential election, we have
to hold the candidates in both
parties accountable for what
they’re going to do about this
issue.”

championnews

A day after allegation surfaced over
concerns of misconduct by ProAct
Search firm, DeKalb
board of education
officials voted to
fire the search firm
responsible for finding a replacement
for current school
superintendent MiSolomon
chael Thurmond.
The board announced in a press release on May 5, that they
had ended their contract with ProAct Search
firm due to the allegations of misconduct
against SUPES Academy, a related company
of the board’s search firm ProAct.
“While these are allegations only, the
DeKalb Board of Education is committed to
ensuring that the individuals representing us
reflect our values and those of our community,” the release stated.
In Chicago, the firm is dealing with allegations involving no-bid contracts with a firm
where the current superintendent once was
employed. Before the principal-training company came under federal criminal scrutiny
for its deal with Chicago Public Schools, Gary
Solomon, one of ProAct Search owners, previously faced allegations he used racial slurs
in emails sent when he was a north suburban
high school dean.
Councilwoman Joyce Morley said, “We’re
not going to allow the district to be affected
by [ProAct].We can’t let anything taint what
we’ve already accomplished in the last two
and a half years. Either you’re a asset or a liability and he was a liability and his firm was

See School Board on page 15A

championnewspaper

champnews

local

Page 2A The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

City officials and owners of the Market in Avondale cut the ribbon May 1 to celebrate the opening of the new business. The market opened Dec. 1, 2014, and sells meat, seafood, salads
and prepared foods. Photos by Travis Hudgons

Avondale Estates celebrates new business
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
Avondale Estates welcomed a new
business, and the Market in Avondale
is happy to be there.
The Market in Avondale held a
ribbon-cutting ceremony to officially
celebrate its opening; the market originally opened Dec. 1, 2014.
Nicol Turner, co-owner of the
market, said she and the co-owners
Dena Stockton and Chris Beagle
decided to open the business in Avondale Estates after receiving a number
of requests from the residents.
“A lot of people asked us to open
up a market for here,” Turner said.

“They wanted a community market
for families and kids.”
Turner and her husband, Jeremy, own the Oak Grove Market in
Decatur–a butcher shop with a deli
counter that serves cold and hot prepared food. The Market in Avondale
provides similar services.
“We sell high-quality meats and
seafood; and we have fresh salads every day,” Turner said. “We do limited
breakfast, but we do a full lunch, and
we have protein and dinner for people
to come pick up in the evening.”
Turner said she and her husband
have been in the restaurant business
for a “long time,” and love to serve
people.

“We just like to take care of people and make them happy,” she said.
“So, that’s what we aim to do with this
place.”
After Jonathan Elmore was
elected mayor in March, he told The
Champion Newspaper that he would
like to see more businesses open in
the city.
“I just want to make sure that
our city is seen by entrepreneurs and
businesses as a good place to be,” he
said, “that we’re business friendly,
that we’re a good place to establish a
business, because once you get that
momentum going it kind of starts to
build on itself. I feel like we [have]
it going for the first time in a long

time, but we need to make sure we
keep nudging that along and doing
everything that we can to make sure
it doesn’t stop. We [have] a great city,
and I want us to have a great downtown area.”
Turner said she and other business owners are working together to
attract more businesses.
“We’re all in this together,” she
said. “We’re getting ready to do a map
of Avondale and really support all of
the new businesses because we’re all
in our first year except for a couple.
Our goal is to get more [businesses]
to come in. We’re just trying to tie the
community together.”

Because you get
what you pay for.

That’s why I invested in ENERGY STAR®
appliances and received rebates in return.
Thanks to the money saving tips on the Georgia Power website, I learned exactly how to turn my renovation into a reward.
First, I got $50 for taking advantage of the Georgia Power Refrigerator Recycling Program. Then, I got a rebate for
purchasing ENERGY STAR® certified appliances, and since these appliances use 10 to 50 percent less energy than
standard models, I get the benefit of a lower monthly bill. For more information on tips and rebates, visit georgiapower.com/save.
Certain restrictions apply. Must be a Georgia Power customer. Rebate available through November 30, 2014.
Customer must submit receipt/invoice for the ENERGY STAR® appliance with the rebate form.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

local

Page 3A

Brookhaven rape suspect identified
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
Brookhaven Police are still
searching for an alleged rapist, who
has identified as 38-year-old Roberto Gaona-Piña.
Maj. Brandon Gurley of the
Brookhaven Police Department
announced May 4 that warrants
have been issued for Gaona-Piña’s
arrest; he is charged with rape and
aggravated assault.
The alleged rape occurred
April 24 between 9 and 10 p.m.
near Buford Highway and North
Cliff Valley Way. The victim, a His- Gaona-Piña
panic female, received injuries and
according to police.
was treated at a local hospital, acPolice said the victim fought
cording to police.
back and may have caused scratchPolice said the victim was
es and bite marks to the suspect’s
walking along Buford Highway
arms or face. Police said Ganon-Piwhen Ganon-Piña allegedly apña ran away when two other males
proached her. When the woman
approached to help the woman.
allegedly ignored his advances,
“Detectives began canvasing
the suspect grabbed her arm and
pulled her into a wooded area near the area over the following days,
going door to door passing out flyNorth Cliff Valley Way. GanonPiña allegedly hit the victim in the ers with a sketch that was created
with the help of the GBI sketch
face several times and raped her,

artist,” Gurley said. “With those
efforts, they were able to develop
leads in the case that eventually
lead to video surveillance footage
from an area business where we
believe we have footage of the suspect. When that was released additional leads were received from
that information, and lead to putting a name to that face.”
Gurley said detectives believe
that Gaona-Piña is somewhere in
Alabama.
“We are looking to catch this
individual before he is able to commit another rape,” Gurley said.
Brookhaven Police working
with other local law enforcement
agencies with similar cases and
comparing evidence to determine
if Gaona-Piña is linked to other
Atlanta area rapes.
Anyone with information on
Gaona-Piña’s whereabouts is asked
to call a local law enforcement
agency. Anonymous tips may also
be made by calling Crime Stoppers
Atlanta at (404) 577-TIPS (8477).

Conyers man found dead in Lithonia
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
Lithonia Police is seeking information in the
shooting death of 26-year-old Leevon Daniels of
Conyers.
Lithonia Police Cap. Xavier Todd said police received a call at approximately 5:20 a.m. about a man
lying on the side of Swift Street.
“A passerby saw something lying on the side of
the road and the passerby noticed one of the off-duty
officers working part time at Red Hills [Club],” Todd
said. “He made contact with the officer saying, ‘there
is something on the side of the road, a person lying
down. I think something is wrong with him and you

might need to check it out.’”
Todd said the off-duty officer went to the scene
and saw a deceased Black male with a gunshot wound.
Todd said he and other officers arrived the scene and
saw Daniels with a gunshot wound in the side of his
arm.
After speaking with the victim’s girlfriend, police
determined that he was murdered between 2:30 and 5
a.m.
“The victim allegedly attempted to attend a party
at the Red Hills on Main Street,” Todd said. “The investigation is still ongoing. [There is] no person of
interest and no suspect right now.”
Anyone who has information about the shooting
are asked to call Todd at (678) 267-4911.

Pascual

Assistant
district attorney
to receive 2015
Rising Star
award
Assistant District Attorney
Alejandro “Andy” Pascual will be
honored by Georgia Asian Pacific
American Bar Association (GAPABA) as the recipient of its 2015 Rising Star Award.
The award will be presented
to Pascual’s wife and mother during the group’s annual gala on May
14 at Fernbank Museum. Pascual,
who has worked in the DeKalb
County’s District Attorney’s Office
since 2007, is currently deployed as
a judge advocate with the Georgia
Army National Guard and holds the
rank of captain.
“I am deeply honored to be the
recipient of GAPABA’s 2015 Rising
Star Award,” Pascual said in a statement. “In the last few years I’ve seen
GAPABA grow leaps and bounds as
an organization where Asian Pacific
Americans can network and communicate about issues facing the
legal community. When I began my
legal career in the Appalachian Ju-

See Award on page 18A

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

opinion

Page 4A

Convicted cheating teachers could have said ‘no’
It could have been avoided—the prison sentences
for eight administrators and
teachers after the sevenmonth-long Atlanta Public
Schools (APS) cheating trial.
They could have avoided
the accusations, trial, public
humiliation, loss of income
and prison time by just saying “no.”
On April Fools’ Day, the
APS educators were convicted of crimes including
the Racketeer Influenced
and Corrupt Organizations
Act. They were accused by
prosecutors of trying to
raise the test scores at struggling schools by correcting
students’ wrong answers on
standardized test.
According to an AP story,
former Georgia attorney
general Michael Bowers,
who is now a special inves-

Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com

Managing Editor
@AndrewChampNews

tigator looking into DeKalb
County corruption, investigated the cheating scandal
and in 2013 said “there were
‘cheating parties,’ erasures in
and out of classrooms, and
teachers were told to make
changes to student answers
on tests.
Bowers said he heard
that educators cheated out

of pride, to earn bonuses, to
enhance their careers or to
keep their jobs.”
A jury believed the
charges and Fulton County
Superior Court Judge Jerry
Baxter handed out prison
times of one to seven years.
“Everybody knew cheating was going on and your
client promoted it,” Baxter
said during the sentencing
to a defense attorney.
The sentences have been
the talk of the town this
month. I agree with those
who say the sentences seem
harsh. Educators were
shackled without warning
and taken to jail immediately after their convictions.
Some didn’t have an opportunity to arrange for childcare for their children who
were in school at the time.
Compare that treatment to

former DeKalb commissioner Elaine Boyer who pleaded guilty to federal charges
of mail and wire fraud in
September 2014 and was
sentenced to 14 months in
prison in March. The federal
judge allowed her to remain
free until after her daughter
graduates from college in
early May.
Although the punishment
may seem harsh, the educators could have said “no.”
When first approached to
change students’ answers on
tests, they could have said
“no.” When invited to the
so-called cheating parties,
they could have declined. If
they were threatened with
job loss, they still could have
said “no.”
After saying “no,” the educators could have remained
quiet and waited to see what

happened. They could have
reported those who were organizing the cheating. They
could have sought employment elsewhere.
There are always choices.
We are never really forced to
do anything. Even if someone is holding a gun to your
head and telling you to do
something you would normally never do, you have a
choice: do what is right and
possibly be shot, or do what
is bad and live with the consequences.
These convicted APS
educators decided that it was
more preferable to cheat and
possibly profit. Now they
must live with the consequences of those decisions—
in prison.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

opinion

Page 5A

One Man’s Opinion

Hillary’s hill of beans
“I think if we were to just
go around this room, there
are a lot of immigrant stories.
All my grandparents, you
know, came over here, and
you know my grandfather
went to work in a lace mill in
Scranton, Pennsylvania, and
worked there until he retired
at 65. He started there when
he was a teenager and just
kept going. So I sit here and
I think well you’re talking
about the second, third generation. That’s me, that’s you,”
said Presidential candidate
Hillary Rodham Clinton
during a recently videotaped
business roundtable in Iowa,
discussing the plight of undocumented immigrants
trying to work legally in the
United States.
I am admittedly no great
fan of former U.S. Secretary
of State and Senator, Hillary
Clinton. I do believe that the
United States has long been
ready for a woman to hold
the position of president or
vice president. And personally, I don’t see favoring one
of these positions and opposing the other as being in
conflict. I will leave that call
to our readers.
Politicians, candidates
and even some journalists
will occasionally bend a fact,
or stretch the truth to the
point of breaking to make a
strong point or better tell a
story.  Ask Brian Williams.
That said, in this Internet

Bill Crane
bill.csicrane@gmail.com

Columnist

age, it runs not only counter
to conventional wisdom, but
it simply does not compute
to begin new and easily
disavowed outright lies to
win a political point or engender support from a new
demographic group. I will
leave alone migrating policy
perspectives, as one man’s
flip flop is another’s wisdom
developed from an evolving
perspective.
But some facts, such as
one’s date of birth, schools
or degrees held are easily
verifiable and simply not
smart to attempt to alter history about.
This brings me to a recent informal chat by candidate Clinton with a small
group of Iowa farmers and
businessmen, while on the
campaign trail talking with
“real Americans.” Clinton is
making family and the middle class the centerpieces of
her campaign, which causes
one to believe that she might

consider brushing up on her
own family history.
Clinton’s father was considered a Taft Republican,
and later a staunch supporter of Barry Goldwater. Her
paternal grandfather was of
English descent and a longtime textile worker, and her
paternal grandmother was
born in Scranton, Penn. of
Welsh descent from a family of coal miners.  Clinton’s
farther followed his father’s
experience with lace into
a custom drapery business. Despite all that, Hillary Clinton’s memories of
what and whom may be a
bit cloudy, but they are not
so easily swept behind a
curtain. A review of records
on Ancestry.com and other
public documents quickly
demonstrates the true lineage of her family tree, unless, of course, it might be
more politically expedient to
say otherwise.
Seven of eight of Mrs.
Clinton’s great-grandparents
(three generations back),
were born overseas into
working-class families. But
only her paternal grandfather, Hugh Rodham Sr., was
born in England and her
other three grandparents are
all native-born Americans. It
is, of course, possible that
Clinton occasionally confuses generations in her family,
in much the same way she
confused being fired upon
by Bosnian snipers at an

earlier stage during her 2008
campaign for the White
House, which focused more
on her competency and
experience, being ready for
the job on day one. Unfortunately for then Sen. Clinton,
there were video cameras
present in Bosnia to capture
the actually peaceful landing and welcome of the First
Lady of the United States.
U.S. Senator Marco
Rubio (R-FL) and another
presidential aspirant, experienced considerable political
fire in his home state and
elsewhere for referring to
his parents, on more than
one occasion, as Cuban
exiles. Though both of his
parents are natives of Cuba,
and both came to America
as immigrants; the term
“Cuban exile” is generally reserved for those forced from
the island or who fled in
the immediate aftermath of
the fall of Cuban President
Fulgencio Batista in January 1959, followed by the
takeover of Cuba’s government by Fidel Castro. Rubio’s parents left three years
earlier, in 1956, during the
revolution, but before the
government fell. And yet,
some label Rubio as a liar as
a result.
The supposedly nonbiased and nonpartisan folks
at Politifact.com are now
labeling Clinton’s comments about all eight of her
great-grandparents as im-

migrants as false. Though
this doesn’t rise to the level
of the Birther’s ongoing contest to find Barack Obama’s
birth certificate, I’m going to
have to give Hillary the even
higher liar rating of “pantsuit on fire.”
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
DISPLAY ADVERTISING
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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, May 8, 2015

Curtis Waites
Curtis Waites travels
33 miles twice a month to
volunteer at Fernbank Museum.
After graduating from
the University of Georgia
and retiring from his career
as a commercial loan officer
for Suntrust Bank, Waites
began volunteering at Gwinnett Medical Center and was
encouraged by a friend to
start volunteering at Fernbank.
“The Good Lord was
good to me so I decided to
start volunteering and giv-

ing back,” Waites said.
Waites volunteered for
Gwinnett Medical for 16
years and began volunteering at Fernbank in 1997, assisting in Sensing Nature.
He said it was the variety
of interactions with people
all over the world, that led
him to become a greeter and
IMAX attendant for the museum.
“I’ve enjoyed meeting so
many people. At Fernbank
I have met people from all
over the world, and at the
hospital I’ve met so many

interesting people and I enjoy that,” he said.
Waites also likes to
travel. He said he has never
traveled anywhere he did
not enjoy. His favorite destination has been the Amalfi
Coast of Italy, but most recently he has begun to travel
closer to home. He hopes his
visits span the entire North
American continent, ranging from past destinations
such as Nova Scotia, Canada
to future plans for Yellowstone National Park. He also
loves to watch old movies;

The Sound of Music and
Gone with the Wind are two
of his favorites.
Waites suggested that
anyone looking for volunteer opportunities find
something that appeals to
them.
He said, “There are so
many places that are good to
volunteer…the medical center and Fernbank appeal to
me but there is so much out
there to do.”

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.

Commissioners debate $6.5 million Tobie Grant recreation center
by Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com
Scottdale residents say
their recreation center has
been neglected by DeKalb
County.
“It’s so bad in the wintertime, kids got to come outside to be warm. They can’t
go inside the building because it’s not warm enough,”
said Gail Lundy, who has
lived in the community for
64 years.
“We had to buy a [hand]
dryer,” she said. “We didn’t
even have that.”
Residents are looking
to DeKalb County to allocate $6.5 million of 2006
countywide parks bond
funds to construct a new
Tobie Grant Recreation Center. County plans call for a
“4,000-square-foot facility,
modeled after the Redan
Recreation Center with a
few modifications, notably a
raised indoor walking track,”
according to county spokesman Burke Brennan.
The community is in
a state of flux. The 55-acre
Tobie Grant Manor public
housing complex is a construction zone. Old housing
has been demolished and
under way is $34 million in
new construction, including 452 housing units, 180
senior apartment units,
200 multifamily units, and
72 town homes. Residents
of the old public housing
complex were relocated, and
a church in the commu-

The Tobie Grant community may soon get a new multimillion dollar recreation center. Photo by Andrew Cauthen

nity, Travelers Rest Baptist
Church is fighting for its life
amid the construction.
“The housing authority
has their project going on,”
said Sabrina Moore, a resident of the Scottdale community. “Parks and Rec has
their downsizing and things
going on, and there’s monies that’s been allocated for
a new recreation and we’re
fighting to get that.
“For years [the county
has] tried to shut us down
and close us down, and we’re

going to make sure that Tobie Grant stays,” Moore said.
The more than 30-yearold facility was painted for
the first time in 2004, Moore
said. And the community
has to “step in and supply
the necessary supplies as far
as tissue and towels.”
“We’ve got this whole
brand-new housing center
coming with [more than] a
thousand…people fixing to
move into this area,” Moore
said. “Ain’t no swimming
pool. Ain’t no library.

“What are we going to
do [with these]...people
coming into this community?” she asked.
During the April 28
DeKalb County Board of
Commissioners’ meeting,
commissioners debated
whether to approve the
funding.
Commissioner Kathie
Gannon said she visited the
recreation center “in 2004
when it was leaking, falling
down, no air conditioning,
paint chipping off the wall.”

“This community has
been working very hard
on getting this rec center,”
Gannon said. “I would like
to point out that over those
years, I have been the sole
advocate for trying to eke
out a million dollars here, a
million dollars there to get
the money for this rec center.
“I recommend we move
forward on this rec center
[with] $6.5 million, the same
amount of money and the
same plan that Redan had,
only on a smaller scale, so
that these folks can move
forward without being held
hostage over some list that
is a moving target,” Gannon
said during the meeting.
Commissioner Sharon
Barnes Sutton said, “It’s
not true that Commissioner
Gannon has been the sole
person supporting this
and looking for money to
support Tobie Grant. I’ve
supported this from the moment I was elected.”
Sutton said she and her
child “would go over there
and volunteer over at the
gym and go over there for
the summer programs.
“So I know the conditions so that was something
that I focused on once I was
here,” she said.
Sutton made a motion to
defer the item until commissioners review the various
items on the county’s parks
projects list “so that we’ll
know exactly what is in that

See Park on page 16A

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

local

AroundDeKalb

Atlanta

Fernbank offers Forest Bird Walk
Join an Atlanta Audubon Society volunteer
and discover more about the feathered inhabitants of Fernbank Forest on May 23 from 8 a.m.
to 10:30 a.m, 767 Clifton Road. This program is
open to all ages and will be held rain or shine,
but may be cancelled in cases of severe weather.
Participants are encouraged to bring binoculars,
field guides and water with them. Once the walk
begins, participants must remain with the group
for the duration of the program.
The walk is included with museum admission and free for Fernbank members and Atlanta
Audubon Society members. Advance reservations are required at (404) 929-6400.

Scientists to guide night in forest tour
Listen for owl and frog calls, search for bats
using a special echolocation detector, find organisms that glow under UV light, and more at
Fernbank Museum, 767 Clifton Road Atlanta.
On May 8, from 7:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Fernbank Museum scientists will provide a guided
tour of Fernbank Forest for children ages 8 and
older.
The tours will cost $5 for members and $10
for non-members. Space is limited to 20 people
and advance reservations are required at (404)
929-6400.

Avondale Estates
Second Life to host dog adoption event
Second Life is partnering with Atlanta
Animal Rescue Friends (AARF) May 9 for
another adoption event from noon to 3 p.m. at
1 North Clarendon Avenue in Avondale Estates.
Attendees can meet dogs and help them find
a home. For more information, visit www.
secondlifeatlanta.org.

Avondale Community Club to host auction
Avondale Community Club will host its
annual silent and live auction May 16 at
6:30 p.m. at 59 Lakeshore Drive. The event
will include live entertainment on the patio,
food stations with eats prepared by local
chefs, an ice cream dessert bar and more. For
more information, email Connie Bryans at
lcbryans@bellsouth.net.

Brookhaven
City develops water study
Brookhaven has engaged Sustainable Water
Planning & Engineering (SWP&E) to develop
a Watershed Plan for the Murphey Candler—
Nancy Creek watershed. The study will assist
the city in securing grant funds for the projects,

programs and policies that are identified in the
plan to improve watershed health and minimize
flooding. SWP&E will have professionals working in various areas of the city during the next
few months. They will be looking at waterbodies throughout the Nancy Creek watershed. For
more information, contact Bennett White, public works director, at (404) 637-0576.

Decatur
Junior League of DeKalb County to celebrate
80th anniversary
The Junior League of DeKalb County (JLD)
will celebrate its 80th anniversary with a day of
service at Peace Lutheran Church Healthy Belvedere Community Garden May 16, from 10:30
a.m. to 2 p.m. The garden is located at 1679
Columbia Drive in Decatur. JLD’s Community
Impact Day is a family friendly event that will
include a Kids in the Kitchen food demonstration. Children will also be able to participate in
the gardening activities. For more information,
contact Rebecca Daniel Duggar at rdandug@
gmail.com or Lili Crymes at lili@pahlga.org or
call (678) 772-8718.

Lithonia
Library presents Authors’ Hour
On the second Saturday of each month,
Stonecrest Library presents “Authors’ Hour.”
During this free event, which is open to all
ages, there is a variety of featured authors. Participants have the opportunity to meet, greet and
ask questions.
On Saturday, May 9, from 1 until 2 p.m., the
showcased authors will be Katrina K. Morris,
author of Who Will Love Me?, Keshius Williams, author of Who is Pepper Storm? and Pepper Storm and the Gang, and Gwendolyn MackDuffie, author of Vernon’s Piece of the Pie and
Alpha Gator Soup.
From 2 until 4 p.m. the library will present
“Scribes & Vibes™,” a blend of poetry, music, and
art hosted by Queen Sheba and Reggie Love
with spoken word by Theresa Tha Songbird
and Deja Tha Poet.

‘Bluesologist’ to be celebrated during poetry
reading
Poet and educator Gwen Russell Green is
hosting a poetry reading and discussion celebrating the life and work of renowned “bluesologist,” poet and musical artist Gil Scott-Heron.
“Gil Scott-Heron is one of the few artists that
introduced me to new issues in the 1970s that
were very important to me. He addressed the
apartheid in Johannesburg, South Africa, before
it was a part of mainstream consciousness,” Russell Green stated in an announcement.
The event will be held at the Stonecrest Li-

Page 7A

brary, located at 3123 Klondike Road, Lithonia,
on Monday, May 18, at 6 p.m. The reading will
feature works inspired by Scott-Heron, read by
Russell Green and invited guests. An open microphone session will follow the featured artists
and all guests are welcome to participate.
Music will be provided by trumpeter Nelson
Render of the P.R. Experience jazz band, and by
saxophonist Ollie Patterson. Admission is free
and donations are welcome.
For more information, contact Gwen Russell
Green at (770) 713-0711 or via email at Gwen_
Green@hotmail.com.

Stone Mountain
Free introduction to photography class
scheduled
A professional photographer will hold a
free photography class Saturday, May 9, 11 a.m.
at Grace Church for all Nations, 650 Rowland
Road, Stone Mountain.
“If you want to stop taking picture, and start
taking photographs, this is the class for you,”
states an announcement about the event. “Learn
from a pro.”
To reserve a seat, text or call (770) 912-4769,
or email carl@carlkingphotography.com.

Keep DeKalb Beautiful to host document
shredding, shoe collection event  
Keep DeKalb Beautiful (KDB), a unit of the
DeKalb County Sanitation Division, in partnership with Berean Christian Church, will host a
free sensitive document shredding and shoe collection event on Saturday, May 16, from 9 a.m.
to noon. The event will be held at the Berean
Christian Church parking lot, 2201 Young Road,
Stone Mountain.
Event participation is free and open to
DeKalb County residents. Participants will have
an opportunity to dispose of sensitive documents, such as old tax records and legal documents. All documents will be shredded on-site,
and each participant will be limited to five standard-sized boxes of documents for shredding
purposes. Shredding services will be provided by
Shred-it North Atlanta.
Participants will also have an opportunity
to donate gently used shoes for recycling and
repurposing. All shoes, with the exception of ski
or winter boots, slippers and rubber flip-flops,
will be accepted.
For more information on this event or how
to plan a beautification project with KDB, contact KDB at (404) 371-2654 or kdb@dekalbcountyga.gov, or visit www.keepdekalbbeautiful.
org.

local

Page 8A The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

Ex-cop accused of
accepting a bribe
by Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com
A former DeKalb County Police officer is scheduled
to face a judge May 26 on a
bribery charge.
“This is one of those
disturbing, unfortunate
situations where an officer
breached that trust and
sold his badge for $40,” said
DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James.
Brandon Brown, who
worked for the police department from November
2010 until he resigned in
August 2013, worked parttime at Meskerem, an Ethiopian restaurant and hookah
bar on Clairmont Road.
According to officials,
Brown solicited a bribe from
a patron in exchange for not
issuing a citation for possession of marijuana.
While working on Aug.
4, 2013, Brown allegedly
approached a table and indicated that he smelled marijuana, James said.
Brown “keyed on one
individual and told that
person that he was going to
write him a citation for the
marijuana,” James said. “At
some point during the conversation [the officer] indicated that if [the man] gave
him $50 he would not write
the citation.
“The individual gave
him $40 [and] got up
walked away,” James said.
“The officer followed him
and his party out of the restaurant and told him that
wasn’t enough; he needed
more. At some point during this confrontation another individual in the party
started videotaping on her
phone the interaction between the police officer and
these people.”
When the police officer
realized the incident was

Brown

being video-recorded, “he
reached out and knocked
the phone out of her hand
and grabbed her hand and
pulled it,” James said.
Brown resigned when
the incident was reported
the next day to the DeKalb
County Police Department.
In addition to being
charged with violating his
oath of office by taking a
bribe in lieu of issuing a
citation, Brown is accused
of simple battery for slapping and grabbing the hand
of Kadie Ann Walters as
she recorded the exchange
between the officer and the
patron.
“This obviously is a
breach of a public trust,”
James said. “Officers are
entrusted with the authority
to enforce the laws and to
protect citizens.
“No individual is above
the law, including the officers who have been sworn
to protect and uphold those
laws,” James said. “My public integrity unit has worked
tirelessly to address corruption issues throughout
DeKalb. This is yet another
example of our commitment
to weeding out every bad
apple in the bunch.”
Brown’s arraignment is
scheduled for May 26.

From left, Bishop Quincy Lavelle Carswell, a two-time honoree of the Morehouse College Martin Luther
King Jr. Board of Preachers, is joined by Morehouse professor Lawrence Edward Carter Sr., wife Gwendolyn
Jones Carswell, and son Quincy Lavelle Carswell II. Photo provided

Decatur bishop receives
national honor again
by Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com

through a nationwide nominating process. Carswell is
the only two-time recipient
A Decatur pastor beof the award.
lieves the national honor he
The 62-year-old is marrecently received is a license ried to Gwendolyn Jones
to do more good.
Carswell, and is the father
“What do you do with
of two children, Quinae’
such an honor, a distinAresia Ford and Quincy
guished honor, as this? I
Lavelle Carswell II.
feel that recognitions like
Carswell, who holds
this are given not only bedegrees from Bethunecause of a person’s service,
Cookman College and
but are also given for that
Interdenominational Theoperson to take that recogni- logical Seminary, has been
tion and make a difference,” preaching since he was 8.
said Bishop Quincy Lavelle
“I just love to spread
Carswell.
the gospel,” said Carswell,
Carswell, who founded who was the pastor of TabThe Covenant Church in
ernacle Baptist Church in
Decatur in 1993, was one
Atlanta, from 1975-1992.
of 15 ministers inducted
When he received the
into the Morehouse Colaward the second time,
lege Martin Luther King Jr. Carswell said he thought
Board of Preachers on April about his parents and
9.
church.
“I don’t want to be able
“I thought about my
to say I’ve been inducted
mother and father and all
into the Martin Luther
they had instilled in me and
King Board of Preachers at how proud they would be,”
Morehouse College just to
he said. “I was grateful to
have a label to wear,” CarThe Covenant Church and
swell said. “It opens another the people I serve for giving
door that I can influence,
me a platform…to share
mentor, [and] encourage.”
and express and become
The awardees are select- the activist I feel I am. It
ed by pastors and educators would have never happened

without Covenant and the
experiences have had.”
Carswell said he started
the nondenominational
church “to serve the people.”
“I’m more interested
now, more than ever, in
our young and making an
impact in their lives, helping them understand the
future is now,” he said. “I’m
concentrating on youth and
men. Men have to become
more productive, more responsible, more spiritual,
more energetic.”
Carswell said he has a
“passion for people [that]
has led me to a passion for
youth and developing men.”
“I would never be able
to stand before God if I
didn’t make an impact,”
Carswell said. “What are we
doing to impact the community? This recognition
is another tool [or]…opportunity to say, ‘Hey, let’s
make an impact.’
“I believe the church
has to somewhat transition
from the four walls to the
community, to the street,”
Carswell said.

local

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

Page 9A
METROPOLITAN ATLANTA RAPID TRANSIT AUTHORITY

Notice of Public Hearings
May 11, 12 & 14, 2015
Notice is hereby given that the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid
Transit Authority will hold public hearings for the purpose of considering the

Gooch

McKenzie

Taylor

Proposed Fiscal Year 2016
Operating & Capital Budgets
MARTA continues its fiscal sustainability with balanced FY16 Proposed Operating
and Capital Budgets. New fare products are included to provide customers with
additional purchasing options and more secure fare products are scheduled to be
implemented December 2015:
• Breeze Card surcharge increase from $1 to $2 featuring a more secure card
• Breeze Ticket surcharge increase from 50¢ to $1.00 featuring a more
durable and secure ticket
• New discount tier levels Convention/Visitors passes that allow minimum
purchase comprised of any combo of 1,2,3,4, or 7-day passes effective
July 1, 2015.

Bolia

Rachal

Vu

Development Authority board
candidates presented
After announcing major
changes to the Development
Authority of DeKalb County
(DADC) in early March, interim DeKalb County CEO
Lee May has presented a
new slate of candidates to
the county’s Board of Commissioners for approval.
In March, May said he
was replacing the DADC
board members to “provide
a fresh start for the DADC.”
The six board positions
are all vacant or expired, and
some of the board members
“have dedicated more than
five years to the board, and
one member has served
more than 10 years,” May
said.
The announcement
came nearly a month after
the Development Authority
named Ray Gilley, the former president of the Metro
Orlando Economic Development Commission, as its
new president.
The candidates for the
Development Authority are
as follows:
Don Bolia
Bolia is the principal of
Peachtree Government Af-

fairs, a Georgia lobbying
firm that focuses on matters
before the state’s executive
branch and Georgia General
Assembly, and procurement
matters on the state and local level.
A graduate of Emory
University, Bolia worked for
former Congressman Newt
Gingrich before being appointed the political director
of the Georgia Republican
Party in 1991. Two years later, Bolia was appointed chief
of staff of the Fulton County
Commission chairman. In
1994, he was appointed executive director of the Georgia Republican Party
In 1995, Bolia founded
D&B Communications, a
government affairs and public relations firm.
Kevin Gooch
Since 2007, Gooch of
Decatur has been a partner
in Alston & Bird LLP Finacial group, where he focuses
on representing financial institutions and corporate borrowers in transactions such
as syndicated credit facilities, acquisition financings,
notes offerings, assets-based

financings and restructuring
transactions.
During his career at
Alston & Bird LLP, Grooch
has worked on more than
$15 billion in financing and
restructuring transactions.
From 2004-2007 Gooch
was a corporate associate
with McKenna Long and Aldridge LLP. He has a bachelor’s degree from Emory
University and a doctorate
from the University of Georgia School of Law.
Miranda Mack McKenzie
McKenzie has more
than 25 years of experience
in community affairs, issues management, government affairs, marketing and
sales. The Stone Mountain
resident has more than three
years of fundraising and development experience.
McKenzie, who has
a bachelor’s degree from
Morris Brown College and
has attended University of
Georgia and Georgia State,
currently works for Atlanta
Technical College as an institutional advancement/
community engagement
executive. In that role she is

See Candidates on page 16A
CITY OF STONE MOUNTAIN PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE 
   The City of Stone Mountain hereby gives notice that a Public Hearing will be held to consider the 
update process to the City’s Comprehensive Plan. 
   The Mayor and City Council will hold a Public Hearing on this matter on May 18, 2015 at City Hall 
located at 875 Main Street, Stone Mountain, GA at 6:00 P.M.  Anyone wishing to attend the public 
hearing may do so and be heard relative thereto.  Please contact the Atlanta Regional Commission at 
404‐463‐3302 for any questions. 

• Holiday Group Fare One-day Breeze Tickets - $7 per pass (min 2- max 5)
effective January 2016

Monday, May 11
7200 Church Street, Riverdale
30274

55 Trinity Avenue, Atlanta
30030

Riverdale
Town Center

Atlanta City Hall
Council Chambers

Community Exchange: 6-7 p.m.

Community Exchange: 6-7 p.m.

HEARING: 7 p.m.

HEARING: 7 p.m.

Riding MARTA: Bus Route 196 from
College Park Station.

Riding MARTA: Bus Routes 32 and 55
rom Five Points Station.

Tuesday, May 12
1300 Commerce Drive, Decatur
30030

Maloof
Auditorium

7741 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs
30350

North Fulton
Government Center

Community Exchange: 6-7 p.m.

Community Exchange: 6-7 p.m.

HEARING: 7 p.m.

HEARING: 7 p.m.

Riding MARTA: Walk one block west of Decatur
Rail Station.

Riding MARTA: Bus Route 87 from Dunwoody or
North Springs Stations.

Thursday, May 14
2424 Piedmont Road., NE
30324

3717 College Street, College Park
30337

MARTA
Headquarters

College Park
Public Safety Complex

Community Exchange: 6-7 p.m.

Community Exchange: 6-7 p.m.

HEARING: 7 p.m.

HEARING: 7 p.m.

Riding MARTA: Across the street
from the Lindbergh Center Station.

Riding MARTA:
Bus Route 172 from College Park Station.

Copies of the proposed Operating and Capital
budgets will also be available for public viewing at
MARTA’s Headquarters Office of External Affairs,
2424 Piedmont Road, N.E. Atlanta, Georgia 30324
during regular business hours, Mon-Fri 8:30 a.m. to
5 p.m.
For formats (FREE of charge) in accordance
with the ADA and Limited English Proficiency regulations contact, (404) 848-4037. For those patrons
requiring further accommodations, information can
be obtained by calling the Telephone Device for the
Deaf (TDD) at 404 848-5665.
In addition, a sign language interpreter will be
available at all hearings. If you cannot attend the
hearings and want to provide comments you may:
(1) leave a message at (404) 848-5299; (2) write to

MARTA’s Office of External Affairs, 2424 Piedmont
Road, N.E. Atlanta, GA 30324-3330; (3) complete
an online Comment Card at www.itsmarta.com; (4)
or fax your comments no later than May 21, 2015
to (404) 848-4179.
All citizens of the City of Atlanta and the
counties of Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton and Gwinnett
whose interests are affected by the subjects to be
considered at these hearings are hereby notified and
invited to appear at said times and places and present such evidence, comment or objection as their
interests require.
Keith T. Parker, AICP, General Manager/CEO

local

Page 10A The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

Lakeside community remembers teacher killed in car accident
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com

always had a smile on her face,”
Zumaran said.
Keen was in O’Brien’s
Last school year, Marta
interior design class last school
Keen’s mother fell ill, and when year and said class was always
she needed someone to talk to,
a fun experience.
her teacher Leah O’Brien was
“I had her during lunch,
there.
so I would eat lunch in her
“She comforted me and told classroom,” Keen said. “She
me she would pray for her,”
would let her students eat there,
Keen, a junior at Lakeside High and she just made everything
School, said. “She was just a
fun.
genuinely good person, she was
“She was involved in a lot of
nice to everyone, and she was
things and she associated with
just a really good person.”
a lot of students, so it’s been
O’Brien’s smile and
really hard because she touched
caring personality were the
a lot of people,” Keen added.
characteristics Lakeside High
Keen said she would miss
School students, faculty and
O’Brien’s smile.
staff focused on during a
“I didn’t have her this year,
candlelight vigil held April 30
but I would still see her in the
on Lakeside’s track.
hallway and she would say, ‘hi
O’Brien, 33, was on her
Marta, how are you doing?’”
way to chaperone Lakeside’s
Keen said. “She still cared,
prom April 25 when her
even if you weren’t her student
vehicle was hit by a vehicle
anymore. She just had this big
driven by 19-year-old Ramiro
smile and she just cared about
Pedemonte of Tucker, who was everyone. I’m just going to
heading to the same prom with
miss her. I can’t believe this
Lakeside students remembered Leah O’Brien (center) as a caring teacher with a big smile. Photo
from gofundme.com
an 18-year-old student. Both
happened.”
teens are students at Lakeside,
Decatur police arrested
where O’Brien was a family
Pedemonte April 30 on charges
and consumer science teacher.
of first-degree vehicular
O’Brien was later
homicide, serious injury by
pronounced dead at a nearby
vehicle and reckless driving.
hospital. Her 8-year-old
Police said O’Brien was turning
daughter, Kori, was in the car
onto Scott Boulevard when she
with her and remains in critical
was hit by Pedemonte who was
condition. The two students
driving a Dodge Charger.
were treated for non-life
O’Brien’s funeral was held
threatening injuries.
May 2. An education fund
Students said O’Brien was
named “Leah’s Lil Angels”
beloved by all students, whether was set up for her daughters
or not she taught them. Gaby
Rachel and Kori. According
Zumaran, a sophomore at
to the “Go Fund Me” page, the
Lakeside, did not have a class
education fund was set up “so
under O’Brien but still has fond that these ‘Little Angels’ have a
memories of her.
foundation for their educational
“We had a broadcasting class needs, now and in the future.”
and we filmed her a couple of
More than $32,000 has been
times [for an assignment], and
donated.
I just remembered her being
To donate, visit www.
happy
all
of
the
time,
and
she
gofundme.com/Leahslilangels.
People who attended the candlelight vigil for Leah O’Brien wore purple ribbons. Photo by Carla Parker

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TheChampion Ad.indd 1

4/30/15 6:47 PM

local

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

Mayor Donna Pittman acknowledges the crowd of stakeholders, government
workers and supporters for their involvement with the city of Doraville.

Page 11A

Georgia Piedmont Technical College president Dr.
Jabari Simama stands for the presentation of colors.

Blues singer Francine Reed sings a rendition
of Stand By Me.

Partnerships key to Doraville’s future
Pittman delivers state of city address

by Ashley Oglesby
ashley@dekalbchamp.com
From the creation of Assembly, the former General
Motors (GM) site to a proposed new live-work-play
project on the old K-Mart
site to major capital improvements, master park
plans, etc., it has been an exciting time for Doraville.
More than 100 residents,
special guests and local dignitaries gathered on April 28
on the west side of City Hall
for Doraville Mayor Donna
Pittman’s state of the city
address.
Dunwoody High
School’s color guard opened
the evening with the presentation of colors and local
blues singer Francine Reed
received a standing ovation following renditions of
Stand By Me, It’s a Wonderful World and Georgia on
My Mind.
Growth, revitalization
and partnerships were pri-

mary themes throughout
Pittman’s state of the city
address.
Pittman acknowledged
the efforts of employees in
city departments–the police
department, code compliance, parks and recreation,
and public works.
Highlights of these departments, achievements
include revitalization of city
parks, renovations at the city
library, a citywide capital
improvement plan, implementation of new financial Commissioner Nancy Jester attends the city address in
and document management Doraville.
software, new police and
court software–all of which
Pittman said aim to increase
efficiency of operations and
save taxpayers money for
years to come.
“Partnerships are a key
to our success and this is evident, for example, through
our parks and recreation
programs,” Pittman said.
She added, “We partnered with Brookhaven
and Dunwoody YMCAs
Interim CEO Lee May stands

See Doraville on page 16A

for acknowledgement by
Doraville Mayor Donna Pittman.

Parks and recreation director Rip Robertson
welcomes guest to the mayor’s state of the
city address.

Dunwoody High School color guard opens the event with the presentation of
colors. Photos by Ashley Oglesby

Doraville mayor to run again
by Ashley Oglesby
ashley@dekalbchamp.com
Doraville Mayor Donna
Pittman announced April
27 that she will be running
for re-election.
“As mayor I’m very
proud of the progress we
have made over the last
four years. When I was
first elected mayor, the GM
plant stood dormant and
the city was operating with
very little reserves–that

has since changed,” said
Pittman, “Today, we stand
proud leading the way and
creating new opportunities
for the citizens of Doraville
and the entire region. We
are expecting the economic
impact of upwards of $3 billion over the next decade
from the ‘Assembly’ project.
I am running for re-election
to make sure that these initiatives–and other projects
essential to the positive
growth of Doraville–come

into fruition.”
In her term as mayor,
Pittman said Doraville’s
major accomplishments
include the acquisition of
the former General Motors plant, growing the
city’s general fund, leading
Doraville to financial solvency, improvements in city
services and implementing
a citywide Capital Improvement Plan, which includes
more street paving over the
last two years than in the

previous decade.
Elected as mayor during a special election in the
summer of 2011, Pittman
was re-elected to a full fouryear term after capturing
61 percent of the vote. Prior
to being elected mayor, she
served on the Doraville
City Council–representing
District 1, where she rose to
mayor pro tem.
Pittman

local

Page 12A The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

Dozens of DeKalb County Jail volunteers were recognized April 30 during an appreciation banquet by the Sheriff’s Office. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Pastor Phillip Nash of Berean Christian
Church sings to the volunteers.

Volunteers included chaplains, yoga instructors, and representatives from Alcoholics
Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous.

Curtis Crocker, director of chaplaincy at the jail,
welcomes volunteers.

Jail volunteers help in ways staff can’t
by Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com
Three times each week,
Leland Chapman goes to
jail; he is a volunteer chaplain at the DeKalb County
Jail.
“It’s a special calling,”
said Chapman, who attends
Beulah Missionary Baptist
Church in Decatur. “It’s not
for everybody, but it’s a special calling for those who
have compassion for the inmates.”
On Sundays Chapman
holds three to four services,
and during the week he has
one-on-one counseling with
approximately 20 to 25 inmates.
“Being here has been
very rewarding for me and
the inmates,” he said. “I feel
right at home being with
them.”
Chapman, who has been
volunteering at the jail for
five years, said the chaplaincy program is important.
“It’s a good second
chance start for the inmates

to have an opportunity to
make a change in their lives
and to change their walk in
life,” Chapman said. “I would
like to think that I’m a part
of that change, and I look
forward to sharing the word
of God…and to see them on
the other side of these walls
one day.”
Chapman and dozens
of other jail volunteers were
recognized April 30 during
the DeKalb County Sheriff ’s
Office annual volunteer appreciation banquet.
Major Lydia Edmonson,
chief of jail operations, said
volunteers “do what the paid
staff doesn’t necessarily do
well.”
The job of jail personnel
“is to come in and make sure
that the inmates receive their
meals, [and] their medications,” Edmonson. “The volunteers are here to counsel,
to assist, to do things that
are out of the purview of the
detention staff that have set
rules as to what they can and
cannot do.”
In addition to chaplains,

volunteers include yoga instructors, and representatives
of Alcoholics Anonymous
and Narcotics Anonymous.
Volunteers “facilitate
a lot of the programs that
we have that the staff is not
trained to do. It’s just a big
help having them here,” Edmonson said. “As long as I’ve
been here there have been
volunteers. I can’t imagine
what it would be like [without them]. It would probably
be a lot of confusion.”
Edmonson said many
inmates look forward to the
volunteers, especially the
chaplains.
“It’s a calming thing,”
Edmonson said. “It keeps
a lot of people grounded. I
think it would be a lot of angry people, if we didn’t have
chaplains…and other volunteers.
“I truly appreciate them
for the work that they do,”
Edmonson said. “They make
it easier for our staff to come
in every day and perform
the duties that they perform.
Without them it would be a

lot harder place to work for
our staff.
“Decatur resident Janina
Edwards is a yoga instructor
with Kashi Atlanta, which
has a prison yoga program.
Yoga instructors work with
inmates who have addiction
issues.
“We teach them yoga,
but it’s not just the yoga poses,” Edwards said. “Yoga also
has meditation. It also has
ethical principles and other
benefits that we try to share
with them that especially are
helpful for these women as
they are trying to make positive decisions and choices for
their lives.
“We do the poses,” Edwards said, “but we also…
[help] them to make space in
their minds to make different choices as they go back
out in the world.”
A chaplain since 2009,
Ruth Cawthon said she was
inspired to volunteer at the
jail because of “the verse in
the Bible where it says to go
to prisons, [and to] people
who are lonely, and that

verse in the Bible [that says]
‘in as much as you’ve done
it to the least of these my
brethren, you’ve done it to
me.’”
Cawthon, who attends
Corpus Christi Catholic
Church in Stone Mountain,
said volunteering at the jail
“has been the best blessing I
have ever done or received.”
“The inmates are so responsive and it’s been a joy,”
Cawthon said.
Will Dixon, who was the
first lead chaplain at the jail
when it opened years ago,
said the volunteers “are very
dedicated people. They do
this out of a love for people
and out of the passion of
God put in their hearts.
“This is a unique ministry,” said Dixon who attends
House of Hope in Decatur.
“Everybody can’t do it. A
lot of people think they can
until they come in here and
see the challenges that the
inmates can present and…of
hearing those doors locked
behind them.”

In

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

WEEK

local

Page 13A

Pictures

Outside the downtown Decatur fire station a young child admires a fire/rescue vehicle. Photo by Travis
Hudgons

Construction of the new Avondale Estates fire station is underway. The 11,000-square-foot building will
have three bays and accommodate a 12-person crew. Photo by Travis Hudgons

23

Kale Me Crazy opened its Decatur location, 358 W. Ponce de Leon, on April 29.
It serves cold-pressed juices, smoothies, coffee, wraps and acai bowls. Photo
by Travis Hudgons

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 14A The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

Lithonia residents
furious over noise
from Igloo festival
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com

Elaborate colorful costumes are among the major attractions of Caribbean carnivals. Photos courtesy of
Atlanta Panyarders Group

Caribbean festivals to
welcome thousands of visitors
by Kathy Mitchell
For some May 23–in addition to being the start of
the Memorial Day holiday
weekend–will be carnival
time. Thousands of people
are expected to celebrate
Caribbean culture with festivals that include parades,
costumes, island food and
traditional Caribbean music.
Although there have
been carnivals in DeKalb
County for more than a
quarter of a century, a Caribbean carnival to be held this
year around the Kensington
MARTA Station will be the
first in Decatur in several
years.
“Some people think this
is the first year for a carnival in Decatur, but that’s
not true. There have been
huge Caribbean carnivals in
Decatur in past years,” said
Rukuumba Nedd, who has
worked with a number of
Atlanta area carnivals over
the years. He explained that
there are multiple organizations in Georgia–including
several in DeKalb County–
focused on promoting Caribbean culture.
“People in organizations
don’t always agree on issues
such as leadership and how
money should be distributed so groups break away
and form their own groups,
and we have breakaways of
breakaways,” Nedd said.
Carnivals, he added, are
the primary showcase for
island culture. Caribbean
carnivals are a tradition dating back to the 18th century
and inspired, according to
various sources, by a blend

of European, North American and African cultural
traditions.
Charles Baker with the
Atlanta Bandleaders Association, one of several Caribbean culture-focused organizations, said it’s appropriate
that DeKalb should host
Caribbean carnivals. “There
are so many people from the
Caribbean living and voting
in DeKalb County. There
are thousands of us. This is
where our homes and our
businesses are,” he said.
More than 2.5 million
Americans trace their ancestry to a Caribbean nation,
according to recent census
figures. Georgia is among
the states with significant
Caribbean-American populations.
Bringing carnivals to
Decatur, Baker said, enhances the city’s reputation as a
great place to live, work and
have fun.
There also will be a May
23 carnival in Wade Walker
Park, which has hosted Ca-

ribbean carnivals in past
years.
Nedd said that the Atlanta carnivals are special
because each year they are
the first of the Caribbean
carnivals held in major cities
across the country. “People
come from all across the
county and even from outside the country to celebrate
with us,” said Nedd, who
added that some years hundreds of thousands of people
attended or participated.
Part of the difficulty in
finding a venue for a Caribbean carnival—in addition
to the large numbers of
people they attract—is the
parade, which is an essential
part of the event, according to Nedd. “Our parades
aren’t like American parades
where the bands and the
floats move along the street
to the end of the parade
route where they disperse.
A Caribbean parade is street
theater. The people in the
parade are telling stories to
the crowd—they need time.
At the end, they don’t go
their separate ways. That’s
when the party begins.”
Nedd said that those attending the Decatur carnival
are strongly urged to use
public transportation rather
than private cars.
In spite of the fact that,
according to Nedd and many
other organizers, the carnivals are a major boost to the
local economy, not every
neighborhood wants to host
one. “They can be noisy and
some businesses see them
as a disruption even though
they are one-day events.” He
said it’s important that or-

See Festival on page 18A

On the afternoon of May
3, some Lithonia residents
heard loud noises and then
felt their homes shake.
It was not an earthquake;
it was music coming from
a large party at the Lithonia
Amphitheatre. The event was
the IGLOO—Di Original
Cooler Party. According to its
website, IGLOO is “the only
event produced island-wide in
Jamaica with branches in both
Florida, Atlanta and New
York. The essence of the event
is that patrons are allowed to
bring their coolers with spirits
of choice, chasers, and brew
or in summary, their drink
of choice and be their own
bartender while partying to
the best DJs from around the
world.”
The event, which was attended by more than 1,000
people, was held from 4 to
11 p.m. in a grassy area near
the amphitheater and across
the street from the Terraces
at Parkview apartments on
Park Drive. Residents of the
complex–as well as residents
from surrounding homes on
Church Street, Albert Way,
Parkway Drive and Bond
Street–went to the Lithonia
City Council meeting May 4
to complain about the noise
level and behavior they saw
from partygoers.
Joyce McCoy told council
members that her son could
not go to school the morning
after the party because the
noise kept him up most of the
night.
“This function started at
10 a.m. and it didn’t end until
1 a.m., and when I say 1 a.m.
I mean we could still hear
people taking down certain
things or whatever they were
doing,” McCoy said. “We had
public intoxication in our
apartment area from partiers
that we didn’t even know.
They had marijuana in our
park, smoking it as well as at
the festival.”
Shemeka Arnold, who
lives in the apartment complex, said her windows shook
from the noise of the party,
and her daughters could not
sleep.
“My oldest daughter, who
attends Lithonia High School,
had the end-of-course test
and she got no sleep,” Arnold
said.
McCoy also said there

were large coolers of alcohol
and open containers, trash on
the property of the apartment
complex, including tampons
in the breezeway and feces on
the property.
“I feel that we were very
disrespected, we were not
aware, no one even told us
that we were having a party,”
McCoy said. “I wake up and
I hear music. I feel as if it was
very inconsiderate for whomever to sign that contract to
end at 11 p.m.”
According to Lithonia city
ordinance 12-0502, events can
be held inside the city from 7
a.m. to 11 p.m.
“No laws were broken
inside the event,” Lithonia
Police Chief Roosevelt Smith
said after the council meeting.
Residents also complained that partygoers were
parking in the apartment
complex, blocking residents,
and parking in Good News
Community Church’s parking
lot, which residents said were
trashed. McCoy alleged that
police officers were charging
partygoers to park in some
areas, but Smith said that is
untrue.
“There were residents
charging people $15 to $20
to park at [the complex] and
at the church,” Smith said.
“When we saw that we made
them give the people their
money back.”
City Councilman Al
Franklin, who is vice president of the city’s Downtown
Development Authority—
which handles events at the
amphitheatre, said there were
notices disseminated about
the event.
“The reason why there
wasn’t such a broader appeal in regards to the notice
because it had something to
do with the completion of the
management contract for the
DDA and the management
company,” Franklin said. “So,
there was a little delay to see
all of that portion through
so that hopefully everything
would flow in a smooth fashion.”
Franklin said he picked
up the trash at the church,
and the promoters of the party removed the trash where
the party was held.
Despite the happenings
outside the event and the
noise level, Smith said event
went on without incident.
“Not one fight, not one
cussing, not one anything,”

See Lithonia on page 18A

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

School Board

local

Page 15A

Muddy fun benefits education foundation

Continued From Page 1A

a liability.”
Morley added,“My vision is to
see that we start over. When you
look at the process and the people
that were involved you can’t separate all of that out. I think it’s in
the best interest of the community,
our children and the district as a
whole that we start over and get a
new batch coming in and moving
forward.”
Morley said that process may
not happen right away. “Looking
at what we can do with the superintendent we have to continue to
move forward with a succession
plan and a plan to be able to transition into a new superintendent.
Sometimes you have to make sure
that it’s the right time and now is
not the right time,” Morley said.
District officials said last month
that ProAct Search received 112
applicants to replace Thurmond,
who has said he doesn’t plan to
continue after his contract expires
in June.
Melvin Johnson, chairman of
the board of education, released a
statement on April 27 acknowledging the board was aware of SUPES
Academy investigations with Chicago Public Schools but said it was
“not aware of any evidence that
any such allegations relate to the
search in DeKalb nor do they relate to any of the candidates.”
Johnson said, “While we will
continue to monitor the situation,
the board is committed to the
completion of the search process
and the selection of DeKalb’s next
superintendent.”
The application deadline for
candidates looking to fill the superintendent position in DeKalb
was April 10. A community liaison
group helped select candidates,
bringing its results to the board for
consideration in choosing the second round of interviews.
Parent Councils United member Allyson Gevertz who participated in the liaison group sent
an email on April 30 to board
members commending their
work in finding a replacement for
Thurmond. Gervertz wrote, “We
are thrilled to hear that board
members will begin interviewing
semifinalist candidates tomorrow. Board Chair Melvin Johnson
and other board members have
been remarkably transparent and
responsive to stakeholder input
throughout this process. We support their efforts on behalf of all of
Dekalb’s students.”
According to Johnson, the
board has not decided on what to
do with the candidates selected by
ProAct.
The first round of interviews is
expected to begin this week, followed by more interviews and selection of a candidate in early June.

by Ashley Oglesby
ashley@dekalbchamp.com

Families trek the final stretch of the mud run. Photos by Ashley Oglesby

Muck-covered runners cheer for other participants.

A Chamblee Middle School student is
drenched in sludge.

Runner’s mud-covered shoes and socks are piled together after the 5K run.

Muddy participants wait in line to be hosed down with water.

Mud runs have become
a filthy, fun trend—kids
dashing for pools of mud,
parents running beside
their little ones and crowds
of ooze−covered runners
cheering near the finish
line.
As a fundraising event
on May 2 for Chamblee
Middle School’s education foundation, dozens of
people participated in the
inaugural fun mud run, a
5K course of obstacles and
a heap of mud that winded
through Keswick Village
and Sexton Woods neighborhoods.
There was also a 3K
muddy buddy race, less
than two miles, that followed the fun mud run. 
Runners shelled out $15$35 to participate in four
different obstacle courses.
Chamblee councilman
and event director Thomas
Hogan said the idea for the
event came from collaborations with city officials, departments and the school’s
education foundation as
a way to provide an activity that would be fun for
students and their parents
to do together.
The event included
refreshments, music, raffles
for prizes, hose-off stations,
a fire safety house, awards
ceremony, sponsor booths
and more.
Hogan said, “The education foundation is new and
Chamblee is in the middle
of a great revitalization. The
fun run is an event that the
whole family can participate in and we thought that
we would be able to raise a
lot of money for the foundation and create a phenomenal branding event for
the entire city; for people to
proud of the fact that they
attend Chamblee Middle
School or live in the greater
Chamblee area.”
He added, “The participants have had a wonderful time, there have been
miles of smiles and I think
the Chamblee fun mud run
will definitely be back next
year.”
Amy Granelli, president
of the education foundation, said proceeds from the
event will go toward helping
classrooms at the school.

local

Page 16A The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

Park Continued From Page 6A
pot of money and how it’s supposed to be divided up.”
“I am absolutely 100 percent
for the funding of Tobie Grant,”
Sutton said. “I supported this
from the very beginning. I want
to make sure we do this properly,
that we allocate this money properly and that the projects that we
agreed upon are taken care of.
“I don’t want to have to inadvertently sacrifice very needed
projects in all of our districts
when it’s unnecessary,” she said.
Commissioners said that on
the 2006 parks bond list, $3 million was set aside for the Tobie
Grant project. That money was
eventually reallocated to other
projects.
Sutton said the recent proposal to allocate $6.5 million to
the Tobie Grant project is “contingent upon some things happening” and she wants to make
sure District 4 gets its fair cut.
“This project wasn’t the only
thing that you were denied,” Sutton told her constituents at the
April 28 commissioners’ meeting. “All of the districts got new
libraries. District 4 did not. All of
the other districts got senior centers. District 4 did not. These are
things that we need to address.”
Sutton said she wanted a twoweek deferral on the Tobie Grant
vote to “talk about the distribution of money in District 4 so
that our children will have the
Tobie Grant Recreation Center
and they will have a new public
library. Then I want to talk about
senior centers. I’m trying to take
care of District 4. It has been left
out and now there’s an opportunity to do some good things.”
“You don’t have to give up a
leg just to get a finger,” she said.
“Just give me two weeks and see
if we can get the whole body.
Give me a chance to make sure
you get this and your library.”
The recreation center will be
on the board’s agenda on May 12.

Candidates Continued From Page 9A
responsible for executing the capital campaign to
fund the supply and logistics center. She also supports the fundraising efforts of the Atlanta Technical College Foundation.
Tyrone Rachal
An Atlanta resident, Rachal is the principal of
Red Rock Global Capital Partners, and president of
Urban Key Capital Partners.
Rachal has a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth
College, a master’s from the University of Chicago
Booth School of Business, and a doctorate from the
University of Chicago Law School.
From 2007 to 2013 he worked with the Atlanta
Development Authority, doing business as Invest
Atlanta. He also has worked with Merrill Lynch &
Co., and Price Waterhouse.
Keisha Taylor
As the senior director of entertainment marketing at Turner Broadcasting since 2013, Taylor
is responsible for driving daily viewership for primetime and special programming for the TNT and
TBS networks.
Taylor worked at CNN from 2005-2013, advancing to the director of strategic marketing position. Prior to that, she was a senior marketing
coordinator at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for
two years.
A graduate of Hampton University, she has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity as a member of
the family selection committee.

Champion recognized for
advertising excellence

The Champion’s graphic
design and advertising team
was recognized at the April
30 Georgia Press Association Advertising Awards
Luncheon in Macon for outstanding design and marketBaoky N. Vu
ing.
Since 2013, Vu of Decatur has been the vice
The team consisting of
president of business development at VetConnexx, graphic designers Kemesha
a firm that offers veterans with disabilities, returnHunt and Travis Hudgons
ing veterans and their spouses meaningful opportu- along with John Hewitt was
nities for permanent employment.
recognized with a total of
With more than 15 years in various capacities
13 first and second place
with A. Montag & Associates, including Director of awards.
Research and Portfolio Manager, Vu has experience
First place awards inin investment management and research.
clude Best Special Section
Vu is a 2008 graduate of Leadership Georgia
and has served on the DeKalb County Board of
Elections. He is a graduate of Georgia Institute of
Technology and Georgetown University.
Biographical information for this story was
sourced from resumes, LinkedIn accounts and company profiles.

Doraville Continued From Page 11A
for youth basketball, had
seven teams participate in
the Georgia Recreation and
Park Association tournament and hosted six tournaments for the girl’s division.
We have worked with Georgia Soccer and through the
Arthur Blank Foundations
to fund two soccer mini
pitches at Halpern Park.”
Pittman also announced
that Integral Group, owners of the former GM
site–Assembly, signed a
joint venture with Hotwire
Communications to provide
broadband service to the
Assembly development.

Chief operating officer John Hewitt and production manager Kemesha
Hunt accept awards for The Champion.

“Hotwire will bring fiber
to all of Assembly, making
it one of two fiber hoods
in Georgia,” she said. “The
fiber network at Assembly
will provide residents, businesses and visitors up to
10 gigabit download and
transfer speeds. This means
100 times faster connection
speeds than those currently
available in Atlanta and we
expect Hotwire’s installation
will result in economic development opportunities for
Assembly as companies and
residents are drawn to this
technology,” Pittman said.
Integral CEO Egbert

Perry, the face behind the
demolition and development of the former Assembly said, “Providing
best-in-class infrastructure
has been a priority since
day one. Our partnership
with Hotwire to offer gigabit
broadband connectivity is
a critical first step toward
laying the groundwork for a
community of ‘makers’ that
will call The Yards home.
We look forward to witnessing innovation through
creativity and collaborative
effort and are proud to support these local businesses
in doing so.”

for the 2015 Newcomers
Guide to DeKalb published
in partnership with DeKalb
Chamber of commerce,
Best Small Page Ad for the
DeKalb County’s television
station DCTV, Online Banner Ad and Classified Page.
Second place awards
were given in the categories
of food, service/institutional, non-traditional, miscellaneous, online banner, fullcolor, newspaper promotion, newspaper promotion
out of print and advertising
campaign

Pet of the Week

Reno (ID#
25069698) specializes
in the art of being an
instant best friend.
When you first meet
Reno, he can barely
contain his wiggles!
This little lover has
never met a stranger
in his life! Reno loves
to make funny faces
and play with tennis
balls. He is also great at catching treats and toys
in the air. Reno would love to have a home and a
family of his very own. Come meet this sweet boy
at the DeKalb shelter today! Throughout May, in
honor of Mom, all pets over 25 pounds may be
adopted for FREE! They will be spayed/neutered,
vaccinated and microchipped at no additional
charge. If you would like more information email
adoption@dekalbanimalservices.com or call (404)
294-2165. All potential adopters will be screened to
ensure Reno go to a good home.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

business

Page 17A

Brenda “Lejoy” Maddox shows a floral arrangement offered at a recent temporary market at the Goodwill Industries Career Center in Decatur. Her business also offers jewelry, top left,
and perfume, bottom left—two other popular Mother’s Day gifts.

Floral and gift business owner
prepares for Mother’s Day boom
by Kathy Mitchell
When Stone Mountain resident
Brenda Maddox found her work in
a government office so stressful that
it was taking a toll on her health, she
decided that it was time to try something new.
“I was having multiple health
problems and even lost my eyesight
for a while. It turned out that my
problem was stress. When I got
better, I returned to work but my
symptoms returned. I decided no
job was worth my health so I started
to think about other ways I could
earn a living,” Maddox recalled. “My
daughter reminded me that I have
creative talents and I was always
making things for people. She asked,
‘Why not use that to make a living?’”
Additional inspiration came
from her pastor, she said. “He
preached that sometimes you just
have to step out on faith and I felt
that was meant for me. I paid all my
debts and took my remaining savings to start a business.”
Now the owner of Lejoy’s Floral
and Gift Shop, Maddox said she
finds her current work rewarding
and fun, and she enjoys the flexibility that comes with owning her own

business. The name, she explained,
comes from a childhood nickname.
“My father’s name was Leroy and
people called me Little Leroy, but
my father didn’t like that for a girl so
he changed it to Lejoy.”
Through years of working for
the federal government Maddox
knew how to organize and operate an office, but felt she needed to
sharpen her skills as a gift maker
and floral designer. She took classes
in floral arranging and gift basket
making at Georgia Perimeter College along with a number of academic courses.
Small business programs at
Goodwill Industries and United
Way helped Maddox set up and promote her business. “They gave me
a lot of valuable information about
meeting legal requirements and promoting my business,” she said.
Maddox initially opened Lejoy’s
in 2005 on Main Street in Stone
Mountain, but when her business
associate became ill and was no longer able to help pay for the space,
Maddox moved the business to her
home.
Her specialties are gift baskets
and floral arrangements, which she
offers both premade and custom-

ized. “Right now, most of my business is established clients and others
who hear about me through established clients,” she explained, adding
that she participates in temporary
markets throughout the area several
times a year, including one on Memorial Drive the first weekend in
May.
Maddox said she has a steady
flow of customers throughout the
year who need floral arrangements
for weddings, funerals and other
occasions, but her boom periods
occur around holidays. “I get a lot
of Christmas orders, but Valentine’s
Day and Mother’s Day are really
big,” she noted.
American consumers are expected to spend an average of $172.63
on Mother’s Day this year, up nearly
$10 from last year’s total of $162.94,
according to a survey conducted
for the National Retail Federation
(NRF).
Much of that will be spent on
the type of personal pampering gifts
that Maddox offers. “My gift baskets
are often themed, giving the recipient a collection of items to enjoy.
For example, I have an aromatherapy basket,” she said.
Maddox offers another item

NRF said is popular for Mother’s
Day—jewelry. According to its
most recent survey, 34.2 percent of
Mother’s Day shoppers are planning
to choose jewelry this year, spending
a survey high of $4.3 billion nationally for the special day, up from 31.7
percent and $3.6 billion last year.
She also offers perfume, another big
Mother’s Day seller. 
While she has offered silk flower
arrangements since she opened,
Maddox will offer fresh flowers for
the first time this Mother’s Day.
The second most popular Mother’s
Day purchase after greeting cards,
flowers are purchased by more than
two-thirds of consumers who celebrate Mother’s Day, the NRF survey
indicates.
“Thanks to one of the small
business programs I participated in
that matches money owners save
to invest in their businesses, I was
able to purchase a cooler for storing
fresh flowers,” she said. The new appliance is in her garage, but Maddox
said she hopes that’s only temporary.
Her dream is to once again have a
retail shop.

connectedness

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

local

Page 18A The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

News briefs
Two women win lawsuit against county
commissioner
DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson will have to pay $150,000 to two women he
falsely accused of stealing his wallet after a 2012
nightclub argument.
A police report from the July 12, 2012, incident states that Watson “appeared intoxicated.”
According to the report of an off-duty DeKalb
Police officer moonlighting at the club, Watson
complained that someone had stolen his wallet.
Watson accused the two women of stealing
his wallet containing approximately $200. One
woman was cited for disorderly conduct after refusing to calm down when warned by the officer.
The officer reported that Watson used profanity and continued to make accusations against
the women.
“I informed Mr. Watson…to please behave
like a public official as if news cameras were in
front of him,” the officer stated in his report.
The officer completed an incident report
about the alleged theft, according to the report.
After later finding the wallet in his car, Watson
apologized to the women, Sheneeka Bradsher
and Zarinah Ali.
Watson, who claimed he was “not drunk or
impaired” during the incident, said he had been
trying to console himself after the death of his
sister.

School district, county government to host
inaugural My Brother’s Keeper summit
The DeKalb County School District and
DeKalb County government will host the My
Brother’s Keeper Summit on Saturday, May 16,
from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at 2645 DeKalb Medical
Parkway, Lithonia.
The summit, a joint partnership between 100
Black Men of DeKalb County, media partner
V-103/WAOK CBS Broadcasting and others, is a
President Barack Obama initiative that addresses
opportunity gaps among minority boys and
young men, and seeks to ensure that all young
people can reach their full potential.
The initiative seeks to bring together leaders,

organizations and people in communities around
the country to work together to improve the life
outcomes of young people in America.
The event will include breakfast, lunch, free
childcare, celebrity guests, workshops and more.
Workshops will include: improving police
relations in urban communities; the gift of life;
saving Black lives through organ donorship;
leadership skills; getting one’s money right; dismantling the school-to-prison pipeline panel discussion; family and relationship dynamics within
the Black American community; and discovering
one’s voice.
For more information and to register, call
(678) 676-0381.

$200,000 to be used to establish farmer’s
market food truck
DeKalb County Interim CEO Lee May and
the Board of Commissioners announced a partnership between DeKalb County government
and DeKalb County Board of Health to establish
a mobile food truck that will carry fresh, affordable produce to residents living in “food deserts”
countywide.
“A food desert is defined as an area without
ready access to fresh, healthy, and affordable produce,” according to a news release by the county.
“Instead of supermarkets or grocery stores, these
communities may have no food access or are
served only by fast food restaurants and convenience stores.”
The $199,716 grant received by the DeKalb
Board of Health will be disbursed during a threeyear period, from May 1, 2015, to Sept. 15, 2017.

DeKalb Workforce Development accepting
youth program applications
DeKalb Workforce Development (DWD) is
accepting applications for its youth program.
Currently, DeKalb Workforce Development
provides educational and employment services
for more than 600 youth in DeKalb County.
DeKalb Workforce Development anticipates enrolling 100-150 out-of-school youth between the
ages of 16 and 24.

Award Continued From Page 3A
dicial Circuit, I was the only
Asian attorney and one of
only a couple of minorities
regularly practicing in its
three counties.”
In the DeKalb County
DA’s Office, Pascual serves
as a member of the trial
division, handling various
felony cases ranging from
drug possession to murder.
“I think being a prosecutor is one of best legal
jobs out there because I
get to be in the courtroom
every week and seek justice
for the community,” Pascual said. “It’s particularly
an honor to work in the
DeKalb County DA’s Office, which has some of the
best and most experienced

prosecutors in the state.”
District Attorney Robert James said, “Andy brings
a wealth of knowledge and
experience to our office as
our arson prosecution and
trial technology specialist.
We are extremely proud of
his many professional accomplishments and look
forward to his return to the
office after his deployment
concludes.”
Pascual grew up in
DeKalb County and graduated from Jolly Elementary
and Clarkston High School.
He was also the first Leadership DeKalb graduate (Class
of 2012) who was also a
graduate of Youth Leadership DeKalb (Class of 1996).

Participants in the program must be able to
provide proof of citizenship, a birth certificate,
valid identification, proof of DeKalb County
residency and proof of income. The application
deadline is Friday, May 15, by 5 p.m.
The overall mission of the DeKalb Workforce
Development’s youth unit is to improve educational and occupational skills competency, provide career development opportunities and training through focused programs.
Anyone interested in participating in the
Workforce Investment Act funded Youth Program for DeKalb County should call (404) 6873428. To complete the application, please visit the
Workforce Development webpage at http://ow.ly/
MoI9e.
For additional information or to become involved in the Workforce Investment Act - Youth
Program, contact Latanya Lowery at llowery@
dekalbcountyga.gov or call (404) 371-3038.

Decatur Rotary Foundation awards grants to
nine local nonprofits
The Decatur Rotary Foundation awarded
$18,000 in financial grants to nine local nonprofit
organizations at the April 17, meeting of the Decatur Rotary Club.
“These funds will help provide for future success in studies; increase literacy in our youth and
families; enhance the teaching of math, science
and engineering; encourage positive personal development and help many children at risk,” said
Zachary North, chairman of the Rotary Foundation Grants Committee. “We are so proud of
the many fine organizations that work with our
youth, and Rotary hopes to encourage these endeavors even more in the future.”
The nonprofit organizations receiving grants
were Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Atlanta for Decatur programs, Camp Horizon, Clarkston Community Center, Decatur Education Foundation
for children in the Housing Authority properties,
DeKalb Library Foundation, Friends of Refugees,
Global Village Project, Our House Inc., and Poverty is Real Inc.

Festival Continued From Page 14A
ganizers communicate with area residents so
that they know what to expect.
“We have been holding carnivals in the
Atlanta area for 26 or 27 years and there has
never been a major crime associated with a
carnival,” Nedd said.
Trinidad native Ashaki Sharpe, who is
working with the Wade Walker event, said
she feels strongly that the carnivals reflect authentic Caribbean culture. People come, she
said, for the foods, the music and the traditions of island culture and particularly to see
the colorful and elaborate costumes of lame,

feathers and beads. “There will be calypso,
steel bands and arts and crafts as well as local singers,” she said. Sharpe added that there
will be those in costumes representing stock
characters such as the Borokeete, the Fancy
Sailors, the Indians and the Minstralls.
Baker said the carnival is not just a time
for people with Caribbean roots to come and
celebrate their heritage. “We want to share
our heritage with the rest of the community.
We want everyone to come whether they
have Caribbean roots of not.”

Lithonia Continued From Page 14A
Smith said. “In spite of the noise and the music, the promoters did what they could to ensure that this city was taken care of.”
Councilwoman Tracy-Ann Williams as
well as Smith suggested that if an event were to
be held on a Sunday, that it end at 10 p.m.

“It was a learning experience for all of
us—for everybody involved,” Smith said. “We
know what to do in the future, and what we’re
going to accept and what we won’t tolerate.”

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

Education

Page 19A

School superintendent proposes minimum wage raises
by Ashley Oglesby
ashley@dekalbchamp.com
DeKalb County Schools
Superintendent Michael
Thurmond has proposed to
increase the minimum wage
within the district.
On May 4 the school
superintendent addressed
the board of education and
proposed a $10.25 minimum
wage to be established in the
district for fiscal 2015-2016,
which begins on July 1.
“My parents worked hard
for low wages throughout my
life and this is the proudest
moment of my career. I’ve always promised myself that if
I was ever in a position where
I could make a difference to
reward loyal and hardworking men and women who
support their families and
come to work every day that I
would do it,” Thurmond said.
The proposed increase
is $3 above the current $7.25
per hour federal minimum
wage. If adopted by the
board, the wage increase will
result in 14 to 37 percent
salary increases for approximately 200 full-time and 400
part-time employees.
A compensation analysis

Superintendent Michael Thurmond along with board of education members receive feedback from stakeholders during the community input session of the May 4 meeting.

conducted by the district
revealed that employees
earning the lowest starting
salaries are special education
bus monitors, food nutrition
assistants and pre-K paraprofessionals. Current annual
starting salaries for these positions range from $10,087$13,406.
“We must not forget our
lowest paid workers as the
economy recovers from the
Great Recession,” Thurmond
said in a May 4 press release.
“These loyal, hardworking
men and women assist in
transporting, feeding and the
education of our students.
They are essential to our
district’s operational and in-

High school senior
dies in car accident
by Ashley Oglesby
ashley@dekalbchamp.com
Martin Luther King Jr.
High School students are
remembering Quaidera
Woodson-Week, an
18-year-old senior who was
killed in a single-car accident on April 30.
The wreck happened
on Snapfinger Road near
Browns Mill Road. Two
other teens were passengers
in the car and were injured.
School officials sent
home a letter to students
confirming that Weeks had
died following the 8 a.m. accident.
Principal Kerby Bullard wrote, “The staff here at
Martin Luther King, Jr. High
School feels that it is important to make you aware of
this loss to our larger family in case you notice any
change in your child’s behavior. If there is anything
that we can do to assist you,
please do not hesitate to

contact me.”
DeKalb County Police
spokeswoman Mekka Parish said the three victims
were riding in a Pontiac G6
that left the road and struck
a tree.
All three teens were
taken to Atlanta Medical
Center. The driver was pronounced dead at the hospital.
DeKalb County Schools
spokesman Quinn Hudson
confirmed Week was a senior at MLK High School
and was only a few weeks
away from graduating. She
had been accepted into Valdosta State.
Her two passengers, ages
16 and 17, suffered non-lifethreatening injuries; they are
also students at MLK High.
Crisis Intervention Team
and grief counselors were
dispatched to the school.
Parish said investigators
are now working to determine what caused the driver
to lose control of her car.

structional success,” he said.
Thurmond is recommending annual salary increases or additional paid
training days that will boost
wages for the lowest paid
full-time employees.
Food nutrition assistants are expected to see a

10 percent increase; special
education bus monitors, 14
percent; pre-K non-certified
teachers, 16 percent; pre-K
full certified teachers, 15 percent; and pre-K paraprofessionals, 37 percent.
Thurmond is also recommending salary increases of 4

percent for all veteran teachers with six or more years
of experience, 3 percent for
teachers with five or fewer
years of experience and 2
percent for all other employees.
Dr. Michael Bell, chief
financial officer for the district, projected an $80.8 million surplus for the 2015 fiscal year that ends June 30.
Thurmond said, “We
will continue to work hard
and finish this school year.
Graduation season is coming
up and it’s obviously the happiest, most rewarding time of
a school year and I’m looking
forward to that.”
District spokesman
Quinn Hudson said the
board will vote on the proposed increase on May 24.

$80.8 million surplus
projected for school district
DeKalb School System
Superintendent Michael
Thurmond announced
April 30 an estimated budget surplus of $80.8 million
in the proposed fiscal year
2015-2016 budget, which
begins on July 1, 2015.
The proposed budget
was presented to the DeKalb
Board of Education on May
4. The budget for fiscal

2013 included a deficit of
$14 million.
“Working with the
Board of Education, we have
been able to manage our resources and needs in a more
prudent and responsible
manner,” Thurmond said.
“With better management
practices and the improving economy, we are able to
address our priorities which

 
 
 

 

are retaining experienced
teachers, adding more qualified classroom instructors
and continuing to invest
in academic growth and
achievement.”
The proposed fiscal
2016 budget estimates a 4
percent increase in the property tax digest compared to
a growth of 6 percent in fiscal year 2015.

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING 
GEORGIA, DEKALB COUNTY 
   A petition has been filed with the Board of Commissioners of DeKalb County, Georgia, for the 
construction of a sewer infrastructure in Land Lot(s) 375 of the 18th District of DeKalb County, 
Georgia, description of which is as follows: 
 
Sewer Main shall run along Carnaby Court and Yarmouth Court and impact properties 
located at 1471, 1472, 1475, 1478, 1479, 1487, 1492, 1495, 1502, 1503, 1511, 1512, 
1519, 1520 Carnaby Court, and 5240, 5241 and 5244 Yarmouth Court.  
 
   Same to be constructed and the costs assessed against the abutting property. Said Petition 
has been set for hearing before the Board of Commissioners at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, June 9, 
2015 in the Auditorium of the DeKalb County Maloof Center, 1300 Commerce Drive, Decatur, 
Georgia.  
   All persons, whose interests are affected by the proposed sewer, desiring to be heard, are 
hereby notified to appear in person or by attorney at said time and place and present such 
objection or evidence therein as their interests require. 

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

TheChampion

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Page 20A
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Rates: $30.00 for up to 40 words, each additional word $0.60.
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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,
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The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

Sports

Page 21A

Druid Hills’ season ends in penalty shootout
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
With the season on the line, the
Druid Hills High boys’ soccer team
had the opportunity to advance to the
second round of the playoff through a
penalty shootout.
However, the pressure was too
much for the young players, and
the Druid Hills Red Devils’ season
ended with a 0-0 (3-1 penalty kicks)
loss to Alexander (6-10) in the Class
AAAAA playoffs April 29. Druid
Hills (11-5-3) had three sophomores
kick in the shootout, and Alexander
goalkeeper Worth McFall stopped
all three attempts.
Senior Julien Rugel was the only
Druid Hills player to score in the
shootout. Druid Hills coach Thomas
Bodnar said after the game that he
told the three players to keep their
heads up.
“The boys who missed the penalty
kicks—they’re young, a couple of
them were, and they will be back,”
he said. “They’re great players. [I
told them] not to hang their heads
and [not to] let this be the final thing
that they remember about this season.

We’re a family—we win together,
we lose together and we just took a
tough one. They’re good kids. Sometimes soccer can be a great analogy
for what life is—trials and tribulations—and we’ll recover, deal with
it and we will be better for it in the
end.”
There were times during the regulation play when Druid Hills had
opportunities to score. However, the
Red Devils could not get the ball in
the net.
“I thought we did a good job of
possessing the ball on certain parts
of the field, but in attacking third, the
last touch was lacking,” Bodnar said.
“Credit to [Alexander] for doing a
pretty good job of defending in that
area, but we just needed to do a little
better in that area of the field.”
A majority of the Red Devils team
is returning next season, and Bodnar
said he hopes this loss will fuel the
team for next season.
“I want them to put [this loss] in
the basement of their brains and use
it as motivation to come back better
until we win a state championship,”
he said.
Sophomore Luke Naker hangs his head in disappointment after Druid Hills’ loss to Alexander in the Class AAAAA playoffs. Photo by Carla Parker

Three DeKalb County alums drafted in the NFL
by Mark Brock
It was a good weekend at the NFL Draft for
former DeKalb County high school football players with three selected to get their opportunity in
the professional ranks.
Former Arabia Mountain receiver and Central Florida star Breshard Perriman became
DeKalb County School District’s first-ever draft
pick as the Baltimore Ravens selected him in the
first round with the 26th pick of the draft.
Perriman was a lightly recruited player out
of Arabia Mountain (2011) when he signed with
the Knights having just 13 catches for 201 yards
and two touchdowns. He went on to accumulate 2,243 yards receiving (1,044 in 2014) and 16
touchdowns (9 in 2014) in his three years playing.
He was the first DeKalb player selected in the
first round since Stephenson’s Bruce Irvin was
picked by Seattle out of West Virginia in 2012.
Perriman was the fifth DeKalb player drafted
in the first round since 1971 joining the likes of
Irvin, Huey Richardson (Lakeside, Florida, Pittsburgh, 1991), Harris Barton (Dunwoody, North

Perriman

Davis

Carolina, San Francisco, 1987) and Jeff Bryant
(Gordon, Clemson, Seattle, 1981).
The second DeKalb player chosen was Stephenson’s Preston Smith (2011), who was the
38th pick overall as the Washington Redskins
took him in the second round.
Smith came out of Stephenson with 8 sacks
and 18 tackles for a loss over his junior and senior years along with 83 tackles. He signed to
play in the Southeastern Conference at Mississip-

Stop Cyber
bullying now

pi State where he had 48 tackles, 15 for a loss, 9
sacks, 2 interceptions and 15 quarterback hurries
during the 2014 season after collecting 44 tackles,
6.5 tackles for a loss, 2.5 sacks and 9 QB hurries.
Stephenson’s Mike Davis (2012) was the third
DeKalb alum taken in the draft as the San Francisco 49ers selected him in the fourth round with
126th pick of the draft.
Davis who ran for 3,390 yards and 34 touchdowns in three seasons at Stephenson went on
to excel at South Carolina, putting himself second on the list only to South Carolina’s Heisman
Trophy winner George Rogers in several rushing categories. He had eleven 100-yard rushing
games for the Gamecocks which put him second
behind Rogers and ran for a total of 2,540 yards
and 24 touchdowns, 11 each of the last two seasons.
Davis rushed for 1,183 yards in 2013 and
came up just 18 yards shy (982 yards) of becoming only the second Gamecock running back to
rush for 1,000 yards twice in a career.
The three draftees mark the fifth time since
the 2000 draft for DeKalb to have three or more
picked and the first time since 2012.

stand up • speak out

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

Dunwoody’s Calvin Christopher waits for the pitch.

Sports

Page 22A

Dunwoody pitcher Stevie Gebhardt throws a pitch.

Dunwoody players hug each other after their season came to an end. Photos by Carla Parker

Dunwoody falls to Alexander in extra inning

by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
Coming into the season, Dunwoody baseball’s coaching staff knew
they had young pitchers with little
high school playoff experience.
In the end, youth and lack of
playoff experience hindered the Dunwoody Wildcats from advancing in the
Class AAAAA playoffs. Dunwoody fell
to the Alexander Cougars 10-7 in the
third game of its best of three series.
Alexander won the first game of
the doubleheader 11-8 on May 1, and
Dunwoody forced a game three with a
2-1 in in the second game. Game three
went in to an extra inning after a 7-7

tie.

Freshman Jack Fiscella came in
to pitch for the Wildcats in the eighth
inning and did not fare well. Fiscella
gave up four hits and three runs and
had two errors. Dunwoody had two
hits in the bottom of the inning, but
did not manage to score a run.
Dunwoody came out of the gate
swinging, scoring three runs in the
first inning. Senior Calvin Christopher opened with a double RBI to give
the Wildcats a 2-0 lead. Freshman Jack
Hardin extended the lead to 3-0 with
RBI single.
Alexander cut Dunwoody’s lead
to 3-2 after an RBI double by Michael
Wright. The Cougars took a 4-3 lead

in the fourth inning off of Timothy
Blalock’s RBI double. Dunwoody senior Tanner Elliot tied the game with
another RBI, and junior Stevie Gebhardt gave Dunwoody the 5-4 lead
with yet another RBI.
Alexander tied the game again in
the fifth inning, and an RBI single by
Leon Agee gave the Cougars the lead.
After walking another batter, Gebhardt
was replaced on the mound by freshman Dylan Kovitch.
Dunwoody regained the lead in
the bottom of the fifth on a two-run
home run by senior Kevin Smith
to bring the score to 7-6. Kovitch
struggled in the sixth inning, giving
up a run and three hits, including an

error on a bunt in which the freshman
couldn’t pick up the ball in time to
throw it to first base. An RBI by Alexander’s Jacob Earley tied the game.
Dunwoody coach Chan English
said he and the staff knew that a game
was going to come down to the young
pitchers.
“The way the weather has been
they just haven’t had a lot of experience,” English said. “They got thrown
in the fire today to see what it was like
and they actually did pretty well. We
made a few plays here and there; the
younger kids would’ve come out looking like some of the best pitchers we
got. It’s good experience for next year.”

Lakeside’s Evans signs with Armstrong State University
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
Dual athlete Brittanie Evans will continue her academic and athletic career at
Armstrong State University in Savannah.
The Lakeside senior, who plays soccer
and basketball, signed a soccer scholarship
to Armstrong.
“I really liked the coaching staff and the
facilities at the school,” Evans said on why
she signed with Armstrong.
Evans, 17, has been a member of the
Lakeside soccer varsity team since ninth
grade. She broke the county record in assists (40) in her sophomore year, becoming
DeKalb County women’s all-time assist
leader. She also scored 13 goals that season.
Last season, she finished with 10 goals
and nine assists. She has already surpassed
her scored goal high and could score more
as she and the Lakeside Lady Vikings are
currently in the state playoffs.
Evans’ high school basketball career
ended with 890 points scored. She made the
All-Region team this year and was named
the team’s most valuable player for the third

consecutive year.
Evans said she began playing soccer
when she was 4, with her father, Otha, as
coach.
“He also played soccer when he was a
kid, so I stuck with it,” she said. “I started
playing basketball in a church league, and
after playing both [soccer and basketball] I
couldn’t stop playing and I just kept going
with it.”
Just like many other dual athletes, Evans uses skills gained from one sport in the
other sport as well.
“Footwork is the main one,” she said.
“And hand-and-eyes coordination. Although I don’t use my hands in soccer, my
vision is very good because I am an assister
and I pass the ball a lot. My vision is very
good, and I use it in both soccer and basketball.”
Evans, who has a 3.0 GPA, plans to
study physical therapy in college. She is also
looking forward to continue her athletic
career.
“[I’m] just looking forward to getting
better as a player and improving on my skill
sets,” she said.

Lakeside midfielder Brittanie Evans (No. 20) kicks the ball up field against
Woodward Academy April 14.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 8, 2015

Sports

Page 23A

Soccer Playoff scores
April 28
Class 6A
Girls
Lakeside (16-0-1) 5,
Colquitt Co. (11-8-0) 0
Lowndes Co. (13-4-2) 4,
Tucker (9-6-0) 0
Boys
Lakeside (12-3-1) 3,
Lee Co. (10-10-1) 1
Class 5A
Girls
Dunwoody (11-5-1) 1,
Chapel Hill (9-7-0) 0

Towers (7-7-1) 2
Class 4A
Boys
Cross Keys (12-3-1) 2 (5),
Carrollton (9-7-1) 2 (4), PKs
Class 6A
Boys
Tucker (14-2-0) 3,
Colquitt Co. (9-9-1) 2
Playoff Schedule

Villa Rica (9-4-0) 5,
Druid Hills (8-9-1) 0

May 5
Class 5A
Boys
Starr’s Mill (14-4-1) vs.
Clarkston (15-1-1), 5:30 p.m.,
Hallford

Class 4A
Girls
Woodward (11-1-2) 6,
Chamblee (7-6-0) 0

Girls
McIntosh (17-2-0) vs.
Dunwoody (11-5-1), 5:30 p.m.
North DeKalb

April 29
Class 5A
Girls
Allatoona (11-8-0) 10,
M.L. King (8-7-0) 0

Class 6A
Boys
Meadowcreek (12-5-1) vs.
Tucker (14-2-0), 7:30 p.m.,
Hallford

Boys
Clarkston (15-1-1) 6,
East Paulding (5-7-0) 0

May 6
Class 6A
Girls
Collins Hill (13-5-0) vs. Lakeside (16-0-1), 5:30 pm

Alexander (6-10) 0 (3-1 PKS),
Druid Hills (11-5-3) 0
Lithia Springs (9-1-1) 7,
Dunwoody (3-11-0) 2

Boys
Brookwood (15-4-0) vs. Lakeside (12-3-1), 7:30 pm

May 1
Class 3A
Boys
Glenn Hills 3,

Class 4A
Boys
Cross Keys (12-3-1) at Jonesboro (11-2-0), TBA

Tucker’s Jamal Harris (No. 18) avoids Colquitt County players while running up field. Photos by Travis Hudgons

Tucker’s Alvaro Martinez kicks the ball away from a
Colquitt County player.

Cross Keys’ Joseph Avellaneda

First-Round Baseball Playoff Scores
Class 6A (Best of three)
Lowndes County 14, Lakeside 5
Lowndes County 8, Lakeside 2
Valdosta 6, Tucker 0
Tucker 4, Valdosta 3
Valdosta 4, Tucker 2
Class 5A (Best of three)
Alexander 11, Dunwoody 8
Dunwoody 2, Alexander 1
Alexander 10, Dunwoody 7
East Paulding 11, Southwest DeKalb 7
East Paulding 8, Southwest DeKalb 4
Stephenson 7, Hiram 0
Stephenson 17, Hiram 12
Class 4A (Best of three)
Columbia 11, Woodward Academy 7
Woodward Academy 6, Columbia 5
Columbia 6, Woodward Academy 3
St. Pius 14, Carrollton 3
St. Pius 9, Carrollton 1
Troup County 2, Marist 1
Troup County 4, Marist 1
Whitewater 15, Chamblee 2
Whitewater 2, Chamblee 1
Class 3A
Decatur 9, Washington County 6
Decatur 5, Washington County 4
Westside-Augusta 13, Cedar Grove 1
Westside-Augusta 16, Cedar Grove 2

Tucker fell to Valdosta in Game 3 on May 2, losing the series in the Class AAAAAA playoffs. Photos by Travis Hudgons

local

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

Office Park to be razed for shopping center
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
More retail stores are
coming to the Northlake/
Tucker area, including Dick’s
Sporting Goods.
On April 28, the DeKalb
County Board of Commissions approved rezoning a
portion of the LaVista Office
Park within the Northlake
Overlay District from single
family residential to office
institutional to combine
with the adjoining property
to be redeveloped as a retail
shopping center. LaVista
Office Park is located at the
northeast intersection of
LaVista Road and Northlake
Parkway.
The item passed 4-1,
with Commissioner Kathie
Gannon voting against it.
“I certainly understand
the business outlook on this
and their desire to help reinvent Northlake,” Gannon
said before the vote. “I’m
not in favor of reinventing
Northlake as a traditional
suburban, hard-oriented
single-level retail kind of

A group attending the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners’ meeting raise their hands to announce their
support of the rezoning of LaVista Office Park to redevelop a retail shopping center. Photo by Travis Hudgons

center. It doesn’t face the
street, it’s surrounded by a
sea of parking, it’s right near
an expressway where you
could have that density. I
think there are other opportunities to do more with this
site. And I think it will affect
the zoning of the overlay.”
On April 29, Ben F.
Kushner Company confirmed that Dick’s Sporting

Good’s will be the first retail
store to anchor the new retail development—The Meridian at Tucker—in what is
currently the LaVista Office
Park.
Built in 1973, LaVista Office Park is a
285,000-square-foot singlestory office complex on 25
acres of land. Kushner representative Jennie Kushner

said the current structure
will be razed to make room
for the new shopping center.
During the April 29
commission meeting, local
business owners, such as
Tucker-Northlake Community Improvement District
president Bill Rosenfeld,
spoke in favor of the new
development.
“Tucker CID just com-

pleted a master plan, and
we had three public hearings where the public was
allowed to interject their
comments and some of the
comments were they wanted
to see more restaurants in
Tucker,” Rosenfeld told commissioners. “They wanted
better shopping facilities,
also newer and better office
space. It’s important to us as
a community, and you, as a
county to support this and
move forward.”
Leroy Tanker, a business
owner who has a property
across the street from the
project, said the development is a homerun.
“It will create many jobs,
it will create millions of dollars in retail sales and therefore millions of dollars in
revenue for DeKalb County,”
Tanker said. “It will spur
more development, which
would bring in more jobs
and revenue for DeKalb,
and revenue is what DeKalb
County needs now.”
Construction on the
shopping center is scheduled
to begin this summer.