FRIDAY, May 29, 2015 • VOL. 18, NO. 9 • FREE

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

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

Ten qualify
for District 5
commission race

Doraville care show
supports Children’s

local, 8A

local, 12A


Seven Columbia
baseball players
ink scholarships
sports, 21A

Students and teachers gather as Principal Roberta Walker poses before cutting the
ribbon for Walker Way. Photos by Ashley Oglesby

Rowland Elementary
principal gets loving
send off
by Ashley Oglesby


here was a sunny
blue sky at Rowland
Elementary School,
and a warm shower of

affection as hundreds of
students, parents and staff
gathered to greet Principal
Roberta Walker, who
was retiring after 18 years

See Principal on page 15A

Principal Walker hands off a mock sign for the road that will be renamed in her honor.

Local residents hop in the streets with Caribbean dancers. Photos by
Ashley Oglesby


Caribbean festival dancers parade along Covington highway jamming to reggae tunes.



or 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, this year
Decatur held a Caribbean carnival for the first time in
several years around the Kensington MARTA Station.
See more pictures on page 15A




Page 2A The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015

At an opening reception for the exhibit, Laura Freeman shows books she illustrated.

Picture this:

Joe Davich, executive director of the Georgia Center for the Book, and
Illustrator Sara Lynn Cramb has collaborated with sevillustrator Prescott Hill are part of the team that put together the exhibit eral authors in creating the Brainfood Doodle Mat series.
now at the Decatur Library.

Exhibit features children’s book illustrations
by Kathy Mitchell
“The old saying ‘you can’t judge
a book by its cover’ is not entirely
true,” observed Joe Davich, executive director of the Georgia Center
for the Book. “We often are initially
attracted to books by their cover illustrations. This is especially true
for children.”
Highlighting and recognizing those who illustrate children’s
books—as well as allowing visitors
to experience the variety of such illustrations currently in print—is the
idea behind the exhibit that opened
May 22 at the Decatur Library. The
Southern Breeze Chapter of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and
Illustrators, a nonprofit organization
that represents Georgia, Alabama
and the Florida panhandle, along
with the Georgia Center for the
Book, is hosting the annual gallery
The focus of the show, according to Georgia Center for the Book
officials, is children’s book illustrations and the power of visual art
accompanying the written word in
storytelling. The exhibit, which will

display illustrations with the book
or publication in which they appear,
will feature contemporary, original
art, according to Davich.
“We have wonderful, awardwinning illustrators living and
working here in Georgia just as they
have in New York,” he said. “We
want people to see and appreciate
that. There are fabulous pieces of art
in this exhibit.”
The display is on eye level for
children, but should attract the interest of visitors of all ages, Davich
said. “There are illustrations in a
wide variety of art techniques—watercolor, pen and ink, oils. There are
innovative approaches such as paper
cutouts layered and photographed.
Some are old-style paint brush illustrations; some are computer generated and some are created on paper,
photographed and enhanced on the
The process of becoming the illustrator of a book varies, Davich
explained. “Often the publisher
chooses the illustrator and there is
no real collaboration between the
writer and the illustrator. Some
authors have illustrators they especially like to work with and some

authors are also illustrators.
“At times the writing is adapted
to become part of the visual image.
When words and illustrations complement each other the result can be
spectacular,” he continued.
The exhibit, he said, was suggested by Georgia Center for the
Book board member Elizabeth
Dulemba, who is a children’s author
and illustrator. It is part of the Decatur Arts Festival and will be in place
through June 15.
“Originally, we held our children’s gallery show at Little Shop
of Stories bookstore, but there’s
so much going on in the heart of
downtown Decatur during the
arts festival that we decided the library would be a better place for it.
It’s worked out perfectly,” Davich
The Georgia Center for the
Book, chartered in 1998 with the
DeKalb County Public Library serving as its host and sponsor, is the
state’s affiliate of the Center for the
Book at the Library of Congress
in Washington, D.C. In 2007, the
Georgia center received the national
organization’s Boorstein Award in
recognition of its innovative literary

programming and literacy efforts.
“We have a three-part mission:
to promote literacy programs and
literature, to support libraries and to
preserve Georgia’s rich literary heritage. We feel this exhibit supports all
three parts,” Davich said. “With children’s books, illustrations are such
an important part of the storytelling
process. Even though many children
today, like adults, are reading ebooks in addition to traditional paper books, the illustrations are still a
big part of it. When we recognize a
children’s book we don’t just honor
the writer, we honor the illustrator
when he or she is from Georgia.”
Children’s literature has long
been a special area of interest for the
Georgia Center for the Book, according to Davich. “We have always
included children’s selections on our
list of Books Every Georgian Should
Read, but we were the first Center
for the Book in the United States to
create a separate list of Books All
Young Georgians Should Read,” he
The Decatur Library is located at
215 Sycamore Street Decatur.

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The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015

Page 3A

Brookhaven rape suspect
arrested in Alabama
by Carla Parker

Firefighters observe the scene of a plane crash on I-285 May 8. Photo by Carla Parker

Preliminary report on I-285
plane crash released
by Carla Parker
The pilot of a small aircraft that crashed on I-285
May 8 told a tower controller that he was “having some
problems climbing” before
the plane went down, according to a report.
The National Transportation Safety Board released a preliminary report
detailing the moments just
before the crash, but does
not give the official cause of
the crash. According to the
report, the pilot, Greg Byrd,
was given the clearance to
take off.
“Ground control instructed the pilot to taxi for
runway 3R and the pilot
read back the instructions
correctly. The pilot then

contacted the tower controller informing them that he
was holding...and ready. The
tower controller instructed
the pilot to ‘fly heading 360
and cleared for takeoff.’ The
pilot then questioned the
controller regarding which
runway to take off from and
the controller cleared the
pilot for takeoff from runway 3L.
“Approximately two
minutes after departure
the tower controller called
the pilot to verify heading.
The pilot responded ‘zerotwo-victor, I’m having some
problem climbing here.’ Followed by ‘zero-two-victor;
we’re going down here at the
intersection.’ This was the
last transmission made by
the pilot,” the report read.
Byrd and his sons Chris-

topher and Phillip died in
the crash. Jackie Kulzer,
the fiancée of Christopher,
was also killed in the crash,
along with a pet.
According to the report,
a witness stated that he
was about 2,300 feet from
the end of the runway. The
witness stopped to look at
the airplane because it was
“moving extremely slow”
and 75 to 100 feet above
ground level when it went
over his head.
“He went on to say that
the engine sounded normal
and despite the slow speed
the airplane was not ‘wobbling’ left to right,” the report read. “He continued to
watch the airplane as it flew
out of his view.”

A 38-year-old man
wanted in an alleged rape
on Buford Highway was arrested in Alabama.
Brookhaven Police said
Roberto Gaona-Piña was
arrested May 21 by the
Opelika Police Department
in Alabama. According
to Brookhaven Public Information Officer Carlos
Nino, Opelika police officers responded to a suspicious person call matching
the description of GaonaPiña.
Gaona-Piña was still in
the area when police spotted
and arrested him at a nearby
convenience store, according to Nino.
The alleged rape occurred April 24 between 9
and 10 p.m. near Buford
Highway and North Cliff
Valley Way. The victim, a
Hispanic female, received
injuries and was treated at a
local hospital, according to
Police said the victim
was walking along Buford
Highway when Ganon-Piña


allegedly approached her.
When the victim allegedly
ignored his advances, the
suspect grabbed her arm
and pulled her into a wooded area near North Cliff
Valley Way. Ganon-Piña allegedly hit the victim in the
face several times and raped
her, according to police.
Police said the victim
fought back and may have
caused scratches and bite
marks to the suspect’s arms
or face. Police said GanonPiña ran away when two
other males approached to
help the victim.
Gaona-Piña is being
held at the Lee County Sheriff Office awaiting extradition to Georgia.


The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015


Page 4A

R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Are we losing it?
May is getting an awfully
bad reputation.
While it’s the time of
year when many folks are
filled with pride and joy, it’s
also when bad manners are
being exercised and are on
public display.
At high school and college graduations exuberant
parents, relatives and friends
scream, applaud and sound
noisemakers when their
graduates’ names are called
during ceremonies to mark
the occasion. Some purposely arrive late to avoid the
speeches, and others leave
the event immediately after
their child’s recognition.
School officials often
urge audiences to remain
silent until all students are
recognized and to wait until

Gale Horton Gay

Lifestyle Editor

the program concludes before exiting, however, these
cautions usually fall on deaf
A colleague of mine
shared that at a recent convocation for Georgia State
University students, what
should have been an enjoy-

able event devolved into a
barely tolerable one as families rose and left the room
after their child’s name was
called and people began celebrating loudly in an adjacent hallway while the ceremony was still under way.
Such unbridled joy is
somewhat understandable—
some students are the first
in their families to graduate
and for others it’s been a
hard-fought achievement.
However it’s disrespectful
for one family’s moment of
joy to come at the expense
of everyone else. That loud
and prolonged applause and
those shout-outs often mean
that the next student’s family misses hearing his or her
name announced. Walking
out of a program before it’s

over shows a lack of respect
for the speakers, the other
graduates and their families
and the institution. It’s also
disruptive as people are
shuffling about as individuals are getting up and leaving. And consider the message it’s sending to younger
family members.
Unfortunately, what happens at graduations is just
one example of the broader
lack of respect that we have
for each other. Sometimes
it seems that we have all
become so self-centered
that we have little regard for
the implications of our own
actions on others. We’ve
become too focused on our
priorities, our convenience
and our interests.
Walking out of events be-

fore they are over, conversing during formal programs,
scanning cell phones while
someone is speaking are just
a few examples of behavior
that’s increasingly becoming
We’re better than that.
We should remember that
we are a community—part
of a collective whole. If we
would think about how our
actions might negatively
others, we might make other
choices. Choosing to be
more considerate of others
and choosing to be more
patient and tolerant could
lead us to becoming a more
respectful society. Wouldn’t
that be nice?

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015


Page 5A

One Man’s Opinion

One happy/sad grad dad
“You are my sunshine, my
only sunshine, you make me
happy when skies are grey...”
from the song, “You Are My
Sunshine,” (1940) by late
Louisiana Governor Jimmie
It was an old chestnut
and standard long before she
was born but served many a
night as the lullaby of choice
for my first born daughter,
Barclay. Alternating with a
children’s song about “Don
Gato,” a lovelorn Don Juancat from Spain, both sets of
lyrics are forever embedded
in my brain and have served
well as hand-me-down
legacy songs for the same
purpose for her younger sister Olivia.
Our Barclay is now a fullgrown woman and a proud
graduate of Auburn University. She walked across the
Auburn Arena stage just a
few weeks ago, accepting her
diploma with honors and a
magna cum laude GPA. She
comes from a family of
scholars, but I believe that
may be a first.
Though I will not miss
the costs of higher education, I have choked up more
than a few times this past
month, as the realization
hits home that she is stepping out on her own. Already employed, this week
she begins her career, se-

Bill Crane


lected from among 60,000
applicants for roughly 4,000
positions in Teach for America, the education-focused
division of AmeriCorps. 
AmeriCorps annually places
roughly 75,000 post-college
graduates in a wide array
of community service jobs,
ranging from kindergarten
classrooms to rural hospitals.
Barclay will take her
freshly minted teaching
certificate to East Point and
specifically Brookview Elementary to begin her career
as a teacher. She is following
the footsteps of her mother,
Nancy Lowery Powell, long
a beloved and esteemed educator in Gwinnett County
public schools.
Both my daughters have
spent mostly weekends,
mid-week suppers and a few

weeks per year inhabiting
my world, and with me in
theirs as I have a single parent since the mid’-90s. Daily
phone calls supplanted this
during earlier years, but I
wasn’t quite ready for what
I now know must be “empty
nest” syndrome as I look
into Barclay’s bedroom,
knowing that it will soon be
converted into ‘guest bedroom’ as she moves its preferred contents to her new
Her years away at Auburn expanded her world
in many ways, along with
several years of waitressing
for spending money at Red
Lobster and other fine family establishments, she extended her family to include
an exuberant puppy, named
Oreo, and even more importantly, found the love of her
life, Cody Carson, during an
atypical ride back to her college condo on Tiger Transit.
I was far from the perfect
parent, but she was close to
being a perfect child.  Slept
through the night, potty
trained by 2, as a solo child
until her 15th year, she did
want one’s undivided attention, but that was probably
her only consistent demand. Her mother is an actress, her father a ham, and
so she also has talent and a
strong and able performing

strength. From elementary
through high school graduation, she traveled the country with a competition dance
team. It taught her lessons of
discipline, self-confidence,
teamwork, compromise and
I can’t quite overcome
a wistful desire to pause
and roll back the clock. Just
yesterday I could hold her
across my forearm, while
Saturday night, in heels, I
noted on the dance floor, her
eyes now meet mine evenly,
and she may even be slightly
taller as I am on the front
end of the aging shrink ray.
Words and this column
cannot quite express our
rib-cage bursting pride or
happiness for her, and as I
know that for her the best
is yet to come, there is a
bit of sadness as I wonder
where all the years went so
quickly, and more than a bit
of regret as I know that any
time squandered was on my
end. Just returning from a
father/daughter celebration
weekend in Nashville, I was
more than a bit happy to see
that she is still well connected to her inner-child. With
me, as well as her fiance,
who also has a silly side, she
spent hours of self-amusement with a phone app
called ‘Dub Smash’ in effect
lip synching (quite well actu-

ally) a wide array of Disney
clips and humorous scenes. I
have a strange feeling that
I’m going to blink again and
then some doe-eyed blonde
tot is going to be calling me
“Papa.” ConGRADulations
to many, cherish these days
as well as the years while
you have them.
Bill Crane also serves as a
political analyst and commentator for Channel 2’s Action
News, WSB-AM News/Talk
750 and now 95.5 FM, as well
as a columnist for The Champion, Champion Free Press
and Georgia Trend. Crane is
a DeKalb native and business
owner, living in Scottdale. You
can reach him or comment
on a column at bill.csicrane@ 

F ree P ress
Let Us Know What You Think!
THE CHAMPION FREE PRESS encourages opinions from its readers. Please
write to us and express your views. Letters
should be brief, typewritten and contain
the writer’s name, address and telephone
number for verification. All letters will be
considered for publication.
Send Letters To Editor, The Champion Free Press, P.
O. Box 1347, Decatur, GA 30031-1347; Send email
to • FAX To: (404)
370-3903 Phone: (404) 373-7779 . Deadline for news
releases and advertising: Thursday, one week prior
to publication date.
EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions written by columnists and contributing editors do not necessarily
reflect the opinions of the editor or publishers. The
Publisher reserves the right to reject or cancel any
advertisement at any time. The Publisher is not
responsible for unsolicited manuscripts.

John Hewitt
Chief Financial Officer:
Dr. Earl D. Glenn
Managing Editor:
Andrew Cauthen
Production Manager:
Kemesha Hunt
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.
(404) 373-7779 x 110

Statement from the
We sincerely appreciate the
discussion surrounding this and any
issue of interest to DeKalb County.
The Champion was founded in 1991
expressly to provide a forum for
discourse for all community residents
on all sides of an issue. We have no
desire to make the news only to
report news and opinions to effect
a more educated citizenry that will
ultimately move our community
forward. We are happy to present
ideas for discussion; however,
we make every effort to avoid
printing information submitted to
us that is known to be false and/or
assumptions penned as fact.


Page 6A The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015

Deanie Augustine
For Deanie Augustine
taking care of pets is a passion.
Augustine started volunteering with Paws Atlanta nokill shelter in 2009.
She helps clean the kennels, take dogs for walks and
assist the staff with any other
Augustine said she’s
worked with other rescue
groups before but loves
working with Paws Atlanta
because “they do everything
Augustine said she also
enjoys working with the diverse Paws Atlanta staff.
She added, “I’m dedicated to Paws Atlanta because
they’re the oldest no-kill

shelter in Atlanta and the way
they operate, taking cats and
dogs in, getting them vetted…it’s makes for a greater
volunteer experience.”
Augustine has worked
in the printing industry for
more than 20 years but has
made an effort to go out and

walk dogs at the shelter at
least twice a month. She said
walking the dogs is essential
to “ensure that when a potential adopter comes to adopt
they’re not overwhelmed by a
crazy, happy dog.”
Augustine adopted a boxer named Jezebel from Paws
Atlanta two years ago. She
has since renamed the dog
Schatzi, which is German for
“She came in as a stray
and had heartworm disease
and they were treating her for
that but she was just a love
bug that kept getting overlooked,” Augustine said.
Augustine already owned
a Boston terrier and was not
sure if the love bug at Paws

Atlanta and her current dog
would get along but she said
the staff at Paws Atlanta
worked with her through the
transition every step of the
Augustine said, “They
helped me introduce the
dogs, allowed me to foster in
case it didn’t work out and,
the shelter manager, brought
Schatzi out to my home. We
walked around with both
dogs to make sure that my
Boston terrier was not territorial and to make sure that
everyone got along in the
apartment and also to make
sure it was something that I
could do.”
She added, “That’s above
and beyond. They aren’t just

employees, everyone that
works at Paws truly loves the
animals. Their hearts are in it
Augustine said her experience at Paws Atlanta has
helped her better advocate
for rescuing pets, promoting adoption and educating
people to know how good it
is to adopt.
“Some people have the
perception that if the dogs
are in a shelter that something is wrong with them,
which is not true,” said Augustine.
She added, “There are a
lot of great dogs in the shelter
that are not damaged, not
bad and need a home.”

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




Ex-watershed employees
plead guilty to $20,000 theft

by Andrew Cauthen
Three former DeKalb
County watershed department employees pleaded
guilty May 20 to bilking the
department of $20,000 in
fraudulent overtime pay.
Cynthia F. Hall, Jarvis
Dion Foster and Anthony
Quinn Lee were accused of
theft by taking for an alleged
overtime scheme.
Although the defendants
were arrested in early 2012
and released on bond, the
case was under investigation
until May 19, when the parties were officially accused.
The three defendants
were sentenced to 15 years
in prison, with two to serve.
They were ordered to pay
$20,000 restitution as a
group. Hall paid $15,000 of
the restitution May 20.
According to Deputy

Chief Assistant District Attorney Lawanda Hodges,
Hall was a personnel payroll
technician in the construction and maintenance section of the county’s watershed department. Foster and
Lee were crew members in
the department.
Hall had access to the
timekeeping system used by
the department. “She was
responsible for submitting
the hours that crewmembers
worked to payroll,” Hodges
Hall “manipulated the
data that was put into…
the system such that certain
crewmembers…would receive pay for overtime work
they had not done,” Hodges
Lee, Foster and Hall
“agreed to the scheme of
manipulation”; Lee and Foster gave Hall “a kickback”—
“a percentage of the mon-

ey…in cash.”
Hall received from $700
to $3,000 biweekly from Lee
and Foster, Hodges said.
According to Hodges,
the District Attorney’s Office is investigating three or
four other crewmembers
who may have been involved
in the scheme.
District Attorney Robert James said he is “disappointed” and “bothered by
the offense.”
“I am encouraged that
we’re bringing this to resolution, and the court has
accepted a negotiated plea,”
James said. “Our investigation is not over, and there is
more to do. Our investigation into these acts is ongoing.
“We’re looking into
other activity that took place
around these incidents, and
we’re going to try to bring a
just resolution to those cases

District Attorney Robert James said his office will bring “bad apples” in
government to justice. Photo by Andrew Cauthen

as well,” James said.
“We’re working very
hard here trying to restore
confidence in government,”
James said. “Hopefully
the crime is not taken in a
vacuum, but [residents] look
at the resolution of it and…
know that their DA’s Office [and] their courts are at
work trying to bring justice
and trying to bring stability
back to our government.”
James said he is concerned about what the crime
says about “the integrity of
our public employees. In
general our public employ-

ees [have integrity]. They
do a great job, but we do,
apparently, have bad apples.
Where those bad apples are
exposed and where we find
out about them…we’re going to be aggressive and do
everything we can to bring
them to justice.
“If you breach the public
trust, if you misuse public funds, if you engage in
malfeasance, if you violate
the law during the course of
your duties and responsibility as a public official, we
will hold you accountable,”
James said.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015



Clarkston, or visit www.keepdekalbbeautiful.

Streetscape project input solicited

Concert to benefit malaria eradication

A public information open house is scheduled for Wednesday, June 3, to discuss the
Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT)
streetscape project for Clarkston. The meeting
will be held at the Clarkston Community Center, 3701 College Ave., Clarkston. The public is
invited to attend any time between 4 and 7 p.m.
No formal presentation will be given.
The purpose of this informal open house
is to provide residents an opportunity to ask
questions and comment on the conceptual design drawings for the streetscape enhancements
along portions of East Ponce de Leon Avenue,
Market Street, Rowland Avenue and Norman
Road. Proposed project improvements include
roadway resurfacing, sidewalks, street lighting
and furnishings, landscape planting, banners,
gateway monuments, railroad crossing improvements and related improvements for the downtown and surrounding areas.
Clarkston residents, business owners and
property owners interested in learning more
are encouraged to attend, view displays, express
thoughts and concerns with Clarkston staff, consultants and Georgia DOT representatives, and
provide written comments.
Interpreters and a court reporter will be
on hand to record comments. After the event,
meeting information will be available online
along with comment forms. To access, visit the
Clarkston Streetscape and Pedestrian Enhancement Web site at
The project plans and other documents from
the public information open house also may be
viewed until July 19 at the City of Clarkston Annex, 1055 Rowland St., Clarkston.
Keith Barker, City Manager City of Clarkston
(404) 296-6489
Contente Terry, Clarkston streetscape public
Relations manager:
(404) 808-9916

Keep DeKalb Beautiful relocates electronics
recycling drop-off site

Keep DeKalb Beautiful (KDB), a unit of the
DeKalb County Sanitation Division, has announced the relocation of one of its electronics
recycling drop-off sites. The new location will be
next to the DeKalb County Tax Commissioner’s
Office located at 4380 Memorial Drive, Decatur.
 The hours of operation for the new drop-off
site are 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through Friday.
The drop-off site at 3643 Camp Circle, Decatur, is permanently closed.
 For more information on this relocation or
how to plan a beautification project with KDB,
contact KDB at (404) 371-2654 or kdb@dekalb-

On Sunday, May 31, at 5 p.m., Cause4 Entertainment and Rev. Dr. Theophilus J. Stanford,
pastor of Glen Haven United Methodist Church
in Decatur, will present “Not Your Battle,” a CD
release concert and fundraising event for “Imagine No Malaria.”
Stanford and Word of Life will be introducing their debut CD with the same name,
“Not Your Battle,” which will become available
through most major online distribution outlets
on that day.
Stanford, who wrote all songs featured on
the CD, has been ministering in song with Word
of Life in the greater Atlanta area, nationally, and
internationally, for more than 20 years.
The concert also will be streamed live over
the Internet.
The concert lineup includes Emil Bridges,
who will lead the time of praise and worship, and the gospel choir from Body of Christ
Church International from Phenix City, Ala. The
emcee for the event will be gospel radio host
Reggie Gay.
Glen Haven UMC is located at 4862 Glenwood Road, Decatur.

Page 7A

awarded on July 31.
Investors contribute a minimum of $200 a
year with a commitment to remain part of the
BOOST Stone Mountain group for two years.
Business owners are able to apply for grants
quarterly. Grants are available for things such
as signage, equipment, marketing or advertising needs, and interior or exterior renovations.
Funds are not to be used for day-to-day operating expenses. Grants will be made for amounts
between $100 and $1,000.
The BOOST Stone Mountain forms are
posted on Interested investors can contact Mechel McKinley at

DeKalb County Board of Health meets May 28
The next meeting of the DeKalb County
Board of Health is scheduled for Thursday, May
28, in the Bohan Auditorium, Richardson Health
Center, 445 Winn Way, Decatur. The meeting
will begin at 3 p.m. The public is invited to attend.
Agenda items for the meeting are the introduction of a new board member, nominations
for interim board parliamentarian, approval of
contracts with University of Georgia and Georgia State University, approval of proposed fiscal
year 2016 annual budget, approval of the annual
report for fiscal year 2013-2014, a director’s report, a financial status report and service plaque
Anyone wishing to address the board can
be placed on the agenda by contacting Sandra
Piñeyro at (404) 294-3787. Written comments
to the board will be accepted at Office of the Director, DeKalb County Board of Health, P.O. Box
987, Decatur, GA 30031.

Stone Mountain
BOOST Stone Mountain gives small
businesses a lift
Stone Mountain Downtown Development
Authority created a new grant program for local
small businesses called BOOST Stone Mountain. The grants are funded by local investors,
who want to see small businesses thrive in Stone
Mountain Village. The first round of grant applications will be accepted through July 1 and

Nonprofit raises $30,000 to benefit disabled
Friends of Disabled Adults and Children
(FODAC) raised over $30,000 in May at its annual Run Walk ‘n Roll event at Stone Mountain
The funds will support its home medical
equipment program that supplies wheelchairs,
shower benches and other equipment to the
disabled community, often at little or no cost
to the recipients. About 250 runners, walkers
and rollers turned out for the event on May 2.
Top individual fundraisers were Mike and Tish
Kuban, Lilburn; top team fundraiser was St.
Matthews Episcopal Church, Snellville, which
raised $3,300.
Coming in first in the 5.2-mile race part of
the event was Amelia Shea of Orlando, Fla.,
who ran the course in 35:20. Second place was
Sean Herring of Greensboro, N. C., with a time
of 35:21, and third place was Spencer Skaggs of
Stone Mountain, with 40:00.
Pictured in the photo, courtesy of L.A. Dison, are, from left, WSB traffic reporter Doug
Turnbull, Amelia Shea, Sean Herring, Spencer Skaggs, FODAC president and CEO Chris
Brand, and FODAC board member Aimee Copeland.


Page 8A The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015











Ten qualify for District 5 commission race
After paying a qualifying fee of
$1,151.24 each, 10 candidates entered the race for the District 5 seat
on the DeKalb County Board of
According to the DeKalb Board
of Registration and Elections, the
special election to fill the District
5 vacancy will be held on Tuesday,
June 16.
The seat officially became vacant May 8 upon the resignation of

Lee May after nearly two years of
being the interim DeKalb County
May stopped representing District 5 constituents as a commissioner in July 2013 when he was
appointed interim DeKalb County
CEO by Gov. Nathan Deal, following the indictment and suspension
of DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis.
District 5 candidates include:

Gregory Adams, a pastor and former police officer; Harmel Deanne
Codi, child advocate, educational
consultant and owner of Codi &
Associated Business Solutions; Melvin Jerome Edmondson, business
consultant and senior partner of
Edmondson Associates; Gwendolyn
R. “Gwen” Green, writer and school
media specialist; Vaughn Irons,
DeKalb County Development Authority chairman and CEO of APD

Solutions; Mereda Davis Johnson,
attorney and wife of Congressman
Hank Johnson; Gina Mangham, attorney and local activist; Kathryn T.
Rice, founder of the South DeKalb
Improvement Association and the
Building Quality Communities consulting firm; Kenneth Saunders III,
a technology consultant and former
DeKalb Community Council member; and George Turner, District 5
Community Council president and

See District 5 on page 9A
The DeKalb County Board of Education does hereby announce that the millage rate will be set at a meeting to be held at the
DeKalb County School District Administrative & Instructional Complex, 1701 Mountain Industrial Boulevard, Stone Mountain, Georgia
on Wednesday, June 17, 2015 at 7:00 p.m., and pursuant to the requirements of O.C.G.A. 48-5-32, does hereby publish
the following presentation of the current year's tax digest and levy, along with the history of the tax digest and levy
for the past five years.

Real & Personal













Motor Vehicles







Mobile Homes







Timber - 100%






















Net M & O Digest
State Forest Land Assistance
Grant Value













Adjusted Net M&O Digest







Heavy Duty Equipment
Gross Digest
Less M& O Exemptions

Gross M&O Millage
Less Rollbacks
Net M&O Millage




















Total School Taxes Levied




Net Taxes $ Increase







Net Taxes % Increase














The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015

Page 9A

Lithonia discusses proposed housing development
by Carla Parker
Lithonia has its sights on
demolishing the city-owned
portion of Lithonia Plaza
and replacing it with an
apartment development.
Bryan Hartnett from
Wendover Housing Partners, the developers of the
project, met with Lithonia
residents May 18 to discuss
the proposed $12 million
development. The complex
will include 75 units consisting of 24 one-bedroom,
45 two-bedroom and six
three-bedroom apartments.
The proposed development also would include
a pool, gazebo, computer
room, community room and
other amenities. Those with
an income of up to $40,000
a year can apply for a unit.
If all goes as planned, the
project is expected to be
completed in fall 2017.
“We’re making our application in early June to the
Department of Community
Affairs,” Hartnett said. “The
awards for that will be announced in the fall, sometime between September
and October. Once we’re
notified of the award, we’ll
begin working on our plans
and probably look to break
ground spring 2016.”
Hartnett said his company’s general construction
contractor hires local laborers for employment opportunities and will do the same
in Lithonia.
The city has tried unsuccessfully to redevelop the
plaza since it did a Livable

Wendover Housing Partners revealed a design of a proposed apartment development May 18. Photo by Carla

Centers Initiative (LCI)
study in 2003.
In 2012, the city worked
with the Georgia Conservancy to create the Lithonia
Blueprints, which focused
on providing recommendations for the redesign of the
Lithonia Plaza.
The plaza was once a
vibrant part of the city that
was developed into a strip
mall, but retail prospects
have diminished in the past
“It’s an empty building sitting there that’s just
slowly deteriorating and
an eye sore in the center of
downtown,” Hartnett said.
“Putting a new development
in there for 75 families is
only going to improve the
immediate area, as far as the
retail businesses and services within the area.”

District 5
Continued From Page 8A

a retired MARTA manager.
In-person early voting began May 26 and will
continue weekdays through
Friday, June 12. Early voting
will be held at the Registration & Elections office at
4380 Memorial Drive, from
8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. There
will be no weekend voting or
satellite locations.  
If needed, a runoff will
be held on Tuesday, July 14,
with early voting beginning
on June 29 at the Registration & Elections office. The
early voting poll will be
closed July 3.
For more information,
or call (404) 298-4020.    

Upcoming candidates
forums include May 28, Lou
Walker Senior Center, 2538
Panola Road, Lithonia, 7 to
8:30 p.m.; June 8, Community Achievement Center,
4522 Flat Shaols Parkway,
Decatur, 7 to 8:30 p.m.; June
9, Stonecrest Library, 3123
Klondike Road, Lithonia,
6:30 p.m., sponsored by
the National Coalition of
the 100 Black Women Inc.,
chapter; and June 10, Fairfield Inn Suite-Stonecrest
Mall, 7850 Stonecrest
Square, Lithonia, 8:30 a.m.,
sponsored by Stonecrest
Business Alliance. 

The space where the
public works building is
currently located on Swift
Street could be replaced
with shops and retail. However, Lithonia Mayor Deborah Jackson said the city is
focused on sprucing up the
current retail lots.
“We have a lot of vacant
space that’s in the plaza
already as well as on Main
Street,” she said. “The goal
is to get those spaces filled
in first. We want to create
more of a demand for the
existing space that we have

and get that leased up so we
won’t have all those vacancies.”
Jackson said this development would replace only
the portion of the plaza that
the city owns.
“We’re not going to tear
Wayfield [Food] down because the city doesn’t own
that part,” she said. “This is
the city-owned portion of
the project. We will work
with [the owner of Wayfield
Foods] as far as making
improvements on his side
but we want to get the city’s

side straight first.”
Some residents expressed
concerns about whether the
city should focus more on
homeownership than renting. Jackson said the city
wants to provide housing
opportunities that will bring
attention to the city.
“We want to have something that will grab people’s
attention and say, ‘Hey,
what is happening in downtown Lithonia?’ We know
that we’re different than Decatur and we’re not trying to
be a Decatur,” Jackson said.
“We want to have a very active community that has the
best of the Lithonia brand.
It’s going to take having
more people coming in to
make that happen.”
Sonya Young said she
likes the idea of the potential development.
“I think it will bring added value to the community,”
Young said. “I think it will
attract young professionals
who are looking for a small
town feel [who want] to
be a part of a big county. I
think this will be an excellent housing opportunity for
them. Also, it would attract
more small businesses in the
area when you have something like that as the focal
point in a downtown development area.”


DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management 
Public Advisory 
May 1, 2015    
June 1, 2015  
Advisory Issue Date   
Advisory Close Date 
   This advisory is issued to inform the public of a receipt of an application for a variance 
submitted pursuant to a State Environmental Law. The Public is invited to comment during a 30 
day period on the proposed activity. Since the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) 
has no authority to zone property or determine land use, only those comments addressing 
environmental issues related to air, water and land protection will be considered in the 
application review process. Written comments should be submitted to: Program Manager, Non‐
Point Source Program, Erosion and Sedimentation Control, 4220 International Parkway, Suite 
101, Atlanta, Georgia 30354. 
    Type of Permit Application: Variance to encroach within the 25‐foot State Waters Buffer. 
    Applicable Law: Georgia Erosion and Sedimentation Act O.C.G.A. 12‐7‐6 ET seq. 
    Applicable Rules: Erosion and Sedimentation Control Chapter 391‐3‐7. 
    Basis under which variance shall be considered {391‐3‐7.05(2) (A‐J)}: E 
Project Location: This project is located on the section of Snapfinger Woods Drive that is 
bounded by Rayburn Road to the west and Shell Bark Rd to the east near the city of Lithonia, 
GA.  Specifically, the site is located in land lots 8 & 9 of the 16th district & land lots 128 & 129 of 
the 15th district, in DeKalb, Georgia. The site is approximately 800 linear feet north of 
Snapfinger Creek’s intersection with Snapfinger Woods Drive.  The proposed construction will 
include the installation of 132 linear feet of 15 inch sanitary sewer across Snapfinger Creek. 
Project Description: The proposed site conditions will include the installation of 132 
linear feet of 15 inch sanitary sewer aerial stream crossing to replace and existing inverted 
siphon sanitary sewer under Snapfinger Creek which in a constant maintenance problem. This 
work is a repair the existing system that runs along Snapfinger Creek. 


Page 10A The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015

DJ Gregg Street and public information officer for the
DeKalb County Sanitation Department Pauline Andrea
welcome judges to the final of the hip-hop competition.

American rapper Bone Crusher, V-103 radio DJ Greg Street and DeKalb County employees pose for a group photo after the
competition. Photos by Ashley Oglesby

County selects
hip-hop finalist
by Ashley Oglesby
Sanitation division employee Veronica Daniels
won the “Rolling Forward
to One” hip-hop competition.
In an effort to promote recycling and spread
the word for the county’s
implementation of one-daya week collection services
of garbage, recycling and
yard trimmings, the DeKalb
County Sanitation Division
hosted an employee hiphop audition on May 8 in
its administration building.
On May 15 finalists
were again invited to the
department to compete for
the opportunity to record a
track with American rapper
Bone Crusher.
Daniels said her hope
for the initiative is that it
“reaches more than intended so that everyone can get
on one accord in making
this effort positive. It’s important for renewal of energy, cleaner space, cleaner
air and everything that’s going to make it a better living
environment for everyone.”
The final track will be
produced by music producer Michael Johnson,
also known as Mixzo, to be
used for the county’s “Rolling Forward to One” public
service announcement.
CBS Radio’s V-103 Radio DJ Greg Street served
as the master of ceremonies
for the event.

He said, “There are a lot
of innovative and creative
things going on in DeKalb
County to get different
people from the workforce
involved in doing positive
things. I think it’s a great
initiative to get people from
the different departments of
DeKalb to be a part of the
On May 28 at 9 a.m. the
department will launch the
“Rolling Forward to One”

“Rolling Forward to One” hip-hop contest
winner Veronica Daniels performs her piece
that will be added to the final track.

DeKalb County Sanitation Department Director Billy Malone
judges the contestants’ performances.

Rapper Bone Crusher waves at the competitors before the competition begins.

City of Decatur Georgia Ad Valorem Tax Digest History
Decatur - Digest
Assessment Ratio
Real Property
Personal Property
Public Utilities
Motor Vehicle
Total Digest















$ 1,149,844,600

$ 1,137,427,809

$ 1,168,516,500

$ 1,326,596,200

$ 1,594,612,800







City Operations
General Fund Exemptions


Net City Operations Digest


City Operations Millage
City Operations Levy
Percent Change
Dollar Amount Change

























The Decatur City Commission announces that the 2015 tentative millage rate was adopted at their meeting on Monday, May 18, 2015.
Hearings on the budget and millage rate will be held on:
Monday, June 1, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.
Monday, June 8, 2015 at 6:00 p.m.
Monday, June 15, 2015 at 7:30 p.m.
The hearings will be held at Decatur City Hall, 509 N. McDonough Street, Decatur, GA. Final adoption of the 2015 millage rate and
fiscal year 2015-2016 budget is scheduled for consideration at the Decatur City Commission meeting on Monday, June 15, 2015. The
above table is presented pursuant to O.C.G.A. 48-5-32 showing the estimated current year's digest and proposed millage rates along


The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015

Page 11A

Lt. Jennifer Ross of the Decatur Police Department gives tips on how to avoid being a victim of financial fraud while residents listen and watch. Photos by Carla Parker

Decatur police warn residents of financial fraud
by Carla Parker
Since 2010, the Decatur Police Department has
handled 495 identity fraud
cases, including 48 this year
as of May 15.
To address this issue, the
Decatur Police Department
gave a presentation May 13
to residents on how they can
protect themselves from becoming victims of financial
fraud. According to a 2015
identity fraud study released
by Javelin Strategy and Research, fraudsters stole $16
billion from 12.7 million
U.S. consumers last year.
“Financial fraud is the
fastest growing crime in
America,” Lt. Jennifer Ross
of the Decatur Police Department told residents.
“Why? We do our banking
online. Everything is virtual
and it does make things
There are several types
of financial fraud, including debit/credit card fraud,
identity fraud, internet
fraud, mortgage fraud and
more. Retirees and senior
citizens are often targets of
financial fraud. According to
the FBI, one of the reasons
seniors are targeted because
they are most likely to have
a “nest egg,” to own their
home, and/or to have excellent credit.
“[Seniors] typically have
income,” Ross said. “They
have income, they have benefits.
“Unfortunately, most
often where the break is, is
family or acquaintances—
somebody that you know
who has been able to access or get ahold of a piece
of your information,” Ross
added. “So there is the trust
factor there.”

According to the FBI,
those who grew up in the
1930s, 1940s and 1950s were
raised to be polite and trusting.
“Con artists exploit these
traits, knowing that it is difficult or impossible for these
individuals to say ‘no’ or just
hang up the telephone,” the
FBI stated.
The FBI also said seniors
are less likely to report a
fraud because they do not
know who to report it to, are
too ashamed at having been
scammed or do not know
they have been scammed.
“Elderly victims may not
report crimes, for example,
because they are concerned
that relatives may think the
victims no longer have the
mental capacity to take care
of their own financial affairs,” according to the FBI.
“When an elderly victim
does report the crime, they
often make poor witnesses.
Con artists know the effects
of age on memory, and they
are counting on elderly victims not being able to supply
enough detailed information
to investigators. In addition,
the victims’ realization that
they have been swindled
may take weeks—or more
likely, months—after contact with the fraudster. This
extended time frame makes
it even more difficult to
remember details from the
Ross gave several tips on
how to avoid being a victim
of financial fraud.
“Immediately report any
suspicious transactions or
activity on your accounts,”
she said.“Don’t talk yourself off of it and think, ‘well
maybe I forgot something,’”
Ross said. “There is no harm
in you calling and questioning something that turned

out to be legitimate. But if
you sit and wait and it gets
away from you because you
were trying to look into it or
questioning yourself, then
that time may pass and you

won’t get your money back.”
Sintre Lundberg of Decatur thought the presentation was interesting.
“I showed up because I
work in the computer secu-

rity industry and I wanted
to see what the police had to
say,” he said.

In compliance with O.C.G.A. §48-5, the Stone Mountain Community Improvement
District (“CID”) reports that at its meeting on June 26, 2015, beginning at 7:30 A.M. at the
Pierre Construction Group, 1677 Lewis Way, Stone Mountain, DeKalb County, Georgia
30083, the Stone Mountain CID Board of Directors will vote upon a proposal to levy an ad
valorem taxation rate of 5 mills, and will set its millage rate for the lawful purposes of the
District for the current calendar year. Set forth below are the assessed taxable values of the
properties subject to taxes for the current year and the immediately preceding four calendar
years, the total dollar amount of ad valorem taxes proposed to be levied for the current year
and levied in the immediately preceding four calendar years, as well as the percentage and
dollar increases or decreases with respect to each immediately preceding calendar year. All
property levied upon is real property. Because this CID was created in 2011, there are only
four preceding years of assessed taxable values, taxes, and changes to report.
Assessed Value

Taxes Levied

% Change

$ Change





$ 496,165




- 4%

- $ 20,732





$ 153,453





$ 51,142





$ 31,205

J. Lynn Rainey, PC, 358 Roswell Street, Suite 1130, Marietta, Georgia 30060; (770) 4216040. Attorney for CID - State Bar No. 592350


Page 12A The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015

Venki and Anitha Rao browse the collection of classic vehicles at the car show.

Youngster Skylar stands next to a renovated vehicle in the Doraville car show.

Georgia Piedmont Technical College

2015 Spring Commencement

Dr. Jabari Simama, President

Skylar and his uncle Justin White stand next to their favorite car. Photos by Ashley Oglesby

Doraville car show supports
Children’s Healthcare
by Ashley Oglesby
As a kickoff to the summer and fundraising event
for Children’s Healthcare of
Atlanta, classic car owners
and enthusiasts gathered to
admire vintage vehicles at
The Georgia Cool Cruisers
Car Show on May 16 at the
Doraville Tilly Mill Goodyear Auto Center.
The family-friendly
event was sponsored by
Goodyear and National Automotive Parts Associates
and offered free hamburgers
and hot dogs, fun and musical entertainment.
The wide range of vintage automobiles ran from a
19-foot-long Cadillac Coupe
de Ville convertible to many
model years of Corvettes to
an Ectomobile straight from

the Ghostbusters movies.
Venki Rao, owner of a
1965 Chevy C-10 truck, said
he enjoyed every moment.
“This event is very energizing and it’s for a great
cause so I’m happy to be a
part of it,” he said.
Although he has worked
on cars for more than 15
years, this event was the first
time that Rao has placed his
car in a show.
“It’s self-fulfilling. You
work on something, you
see the result and you get to
enjoy it, experience it and
improve on it,” Rao said.
The best thing about his
truck now is that everything
works, he added. “It’s modernized even though it’s 50
years old. It has Bluetooth,
it’s iPod ready, has power
steering, power brakes,
[and] brakes. It looks old

but it feels new,” he said.
Participants of the charity event purchased donated
gift cards, put money in a
donation jar and played a
50/50 lottery to assist with
healthcare needs.
Vice president of
Friends Junior Committee
Laura Neely said every dollar counts.
“At the hospital you have
machines that are specially
created for the best treatments and a lot of hospitals
aren’t able to afford that.
With the help of everybody
here and everybody who donates to Children’s Healthcare across the greater
Atlanta area, every dollar is
toward a piece of equipment
that we otherwise may not
be able to afford.”

The Board of Directors of Georgia Piedmont Technical College
The Board of Trustees of the
Georgia Piedmont Technical College Foundation

Invite you to attend our

2015 Spring Commencement
Saturday, the Thirtieth Day of May,
Two Thousand Fifteen

Ten o’clock in the morning
Teddy Riley, Speaker
Grammy Award Winning Singer, Songwriter & Musician
at the

Georgia World Congress Center
285 Andrew Young International Boulevard, N.W.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303

Sankofa Award Recipients:
Teddy Riley
J. Neil Shorthouse
Patricia A. Pflum

Georgia Piedmont Technical College
495 N. Indian Creek Dr., Clarkston, GA 30021 • 404-297-9522
Equal Opportunity Institution


The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015



Page 13A


Approximately 300 seventh-graders from Renfroe Middle School created
sidewalk chalk art based on recent newsworthy events on the Decatur
Square. Each student researched current events, chose one that appealed
to them, wrote a paragraph about why it was newsworthy and then drew a
picture of the event. Angie Macon, director of Decatur Arts Alliance, connected the students with chalk artist Patrick Nguyen, who is one of Decatur’s
Sidewalk Saturday performers. Nguyen drew the outline of The Very Hungry
for News Caterpillar and the students filled in sections of the caterpillar with
their individual drawings. Photos by Travis Hudgons

More than 1,000 people participated in the Relay For Life of DeKalb County and raised more than
$300,000. The American Cancer Society Relay For Life is the world’s largest fundraising event to end
cancer. Many Relay For Life participants and donors remember loved ones lost to cancer and honored
those battling the disease by dedicating luminaria. Each luminaria is personalized with a name, photo,
message or drawing in memory or honor of a friend or loved one who has been affected by cancer.
Photos by Travis Hudgons


A new juice bar is open in Toco Hills. Nashville, Tennessee-based Juice Bar
opened its first location in metro Atlanta, located in a 1,500-square-foot
space within the Publix-anchored Toco Hills Promenade. Cara Weaver is the
franchisee of the concept locally and plans to develop at least five intown
locations. Photos by Travis Hudgons

Photos brought to you by DCTV
Effective July 2015, the DeKalb County Sanitation Division will be implementing one-day-a-week
sanitation collection service for residential customers.
Garbage, yard trimmings and recyclable materials will all be collected on the same day.
For more information: (404) 294.2900, or www.

DCTV Channel 23

DeKalb Gounty Gov



Page 14A The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015

Lithonia considers annexation
by Carla Parker
In a January interview
with The Champion, Lithonia Mayor Deborah Jackson
said city officials have been
approached by a couple of
property owners who have
expressed interest in being
annexed into the city.
“We are working on accomplishing that,” Jackson
said. “There has been a lot
of talk about these mass annexations, and the city is
concerned about making
sure that the city does have
an opportunity to grow over
a period of time. There are
some concerns about these
very aggressive new cities
that don’t provide room for
existing cities to be able to
expand in the future if they
want to be successful.”
The city has not had an
official meeting on annexation, however the item was
brought up during a May 18
city council work session.
Jackson and city council
members Al Franklin and
Tracy-Ann Williams held a
map that highlighted potential areas that the city could
consider for annexation.
“As a city we haven’t
identified a specific area, so
this initial map is based on
using the census track for
the area that we were kind
of considering,” Jackson told
the council.
Other council members
Ric Dodd, Darold Honore’
and Mayor Pro Tem Shameka Reynolds were not in attendance.
In the meeting, Jackson said there have been “a
couple of discussions that
have been facilitated by Pastor [Michael] Benton of
Fairfield Baptist Church” in
which he asked, ‘why wasn’t
there any consideration
given to annexing into an
existing city as opposed to
creating a new city?”
Calls were made to Benton to confirm this state-

ment, however they were
not returned by press time.
Greenhaven and Stonecrest cityhood groups established proposed maps last
year, which included all of
the unincorporated areas of
south DeKalb. Both bills for
the proposed cities failed to
pass the General Assembly
in the last session.
Jackson said, “There
could be some meeting of
the minds around some
boundaries. A meeting will
take place with [Benton and
proponents of Greenhaven
and Stonecrest].”
Jackson did not give a
definitive date for this meeting.
Jackson said to Franklin
and Williams, “I wanted
to see if we can get some
consensus about what area
makes sense for the city in
terms of looking at scale
Jackson said one city
boundary line would go
east to the Rockdale County
border. One would go south
toward I-20, west toward
Lithonia Industrial Boulevard, north to Marbut Road,
“then cut across to Maddox
Road,” Jackson said.
“In terms of population
size, we’re looking at somewhere between 8,000 to
10,000 total,” Jackson said.
“So the idea is, at the next
meeting everyone is going
to bring a map. On this proposed configuration there
would need to be some
changes to both Stonecrest
and Greenhaven.
“I think this will be a
manageable size in terms
of what the tax base would
actually look like,” Jackson
added. “This is a starting
point to get a visual.”
Franklin told Jackson,
“From the outset of looking
at this, this looks a lot more
“I think it’s really maybe
possible with this particular
area,” Franklin said. “It’s not
an over burden of expenses,

Words HURT
Stop the Bullying

coming from the policing
side, which would probably
be where the bulk of the
expenses—I assume—would
come from. I think it would
be interesting to see, when
blocking out a particular
area, how the other individual proposed cities view
it. But as far as I see, initially
looking at it without knowing what all of the individual
area are, I think this is pretty
“We have to grow,”
Franklin added.
“It’s not too big but then
it kind of makes sense,” Williams said, agreeing with
“We wanted to go on
with something so we can
look at it and talk to our
other colleagues,” Jackson
Fiscal Year 2016 Budget
Notice is hereby given that the proposed budget for the City of Doraville shall be available for
public inspection beginning May 22, 2015, in the City Clerk’s office from 8:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Monday through Friday at City Hall, 3725 Park Avenue, Doraville, GA.
A Public Hearing shall be held on the 1st day of June at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 3725 Park
Avenue, Doraville, GA before the Mayor and Council of the City of Doraville at which time public
comment pertaining to the Fiscal Year 2016 (July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016) budget shall be
sounded. All citizens of Doraville are invited to attend.
A Public Hearing shall be held on the 8th day of June at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 3725 Park
Avenue, Doraville, GA before the Mayor and Council of the City of Doraville at which time public
comment pertaining to the Fiscal Year 2016 (July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016) budget shall be
sounded. All citizens of Doraville are invited to attend.
A Regular Meeting shall be held on the 15th day of June at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 3725 Park
Avenue, Doraville, GA before the Mayor and Council of the City of Doraville at which time the
Fiscal Year 2016 (July 1, 2015 through June 30, 2016) budget shall be approved and the budget
ordinance adopted in accordance with O.C.G.A. 36-81-5. All citizens of Doraville are invited to


The DeKalb County School District has tentatively adopted a millage rate which will 
require an increase in property taxes by 10.47 percent.   
All concerned citizens are invited to the public hearing on this tax increase to be held at 
6:15 p.m. June 1, 2015, DeKalb County School District J. David Williamson Board Room, 
1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd., Stone Mountain, Georgia   
Times and places of additional public hearings on this tax increase are at:   
11:30 a.m. June 17, 2015, DeKalb County School District J. David Williamson 
Board Room, 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd., Stone Mountain, Georgia   
6:15 p.m. June 17, 2015, DeKalb County School District J. David Williamson 
Board Room, 1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd., Stone Mountain, Georgia    
This tentative increase will result in a millage rate of 23.98 mills, an increase of 2.272 
mills.  Without this tentative tax increase, the millage rate will be no more than 21.708 
mills.  The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $175,000 is 
approximately $130.64 and the proposed tax increase for non‐homestead property with 
a fair market value of $275,000 is approximately $249.92. 

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015


Principal Roberta Walker poses with her husband, daughter and grandson. Photos by Ashley Oglesby

Principal Continued From Page 1A
as principal and 39 years as an
As a special treat, school staff
formed a Walker committee to plan
a week of activities to celebrate her
retirement. Those events included
a ribbon cutting ceremony for the
renaming of the circular road in the
front of the school to Waker Way.
Walker arrived at Rowland
Elementary to hundreds of
screaming and excited students who
treated their beloved principal like a
rock star arriving for a performance.
Computer literacy instructor
Mashika Jackson said Walker has
been a phenomenal teacher and
leader for the teachers and students
at Rowland.
“She’s a very caring person and it
shows through everything that she
does. Mrs. Walker is very passionate
and sensitive to teachers’ personal
needs, as well as your professional

needs. She cares about professional
growth and she extends lots of
opportunities for us to grow and for
us to have a voice in our school,”
Jackson said.
The Walker committee planned
events from May 18 through May
During morning announcements
each day, one student from grades
one through five shared a fact
about Walker. There were posters
located on the front bulletin board
that teachers and parents signed
throughout the week.
On May 18, they held a private
breakfast for Walker and her family
and each class wrote notes of their
memories to be placed on the wall
closest to the entrance of the school.
On May 19 students and staff
wore field day t-shirts that read
“The Walker Games”
On May 20 students held a

Festival Continued From Page 1A

DeKalb County welcomes Atlanta Carnival bandleaders council parade. Photos by Ashley Oglesby

Page 15A

Rowland Elementary School’s Walker Committee surprises principal Roberta Walker.

step show, took part in a game
show titled “Tell the Truth”, and
performed a flash mob to the
song “Happy” by Pharrell which is
available for viewing on Youtube
Flash Mob at Rowland.
May 21 was the ribbon cutting
and May 22 at dismissal, each class
lined up to give Walker a farewell
Walker said she was completely
surprised by everything that was
planned during the week.
“Words really cannot express
how grateful I am and how humbled
I am by this whole experience. Can
you imagine 600 students and 75
faculty members showing that they
love you and care about you? It’s a
blessing from God to have had this
opportunity to work with them
every day.”
Walker said the biggest reward of
being an educator has been “seeing

the children learn and grow.”
“It shows me what an impact I’ve
had when those children grow up
and bring their children to me. A
lot of parents have said to me that
they’ve brought their children to
Rowland because I am here and that
makes me feel great,” Walker said.
She said her primary goal during
her career has been to “make sure
the children and their education
come first.”
She added, “Their academic
goals have to always be set high
because we have to take them to a
higher place than where they are.
We have children from all different
walks of life at Rowland. We have to
make sure that those who are not as
fortunate have the same outcome as
those that are more fortunate.”


Page 16A The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015

Fallen soldiers
honored at Memorial
Day ceremony
by Ashley Oglesby

Residents crowd Brook Run Park to attend the city’s 11th Memorial Day celebration.

Guest speaker Colonel Rick White encourages people Dunwoody veteran Tom Bryant poses with his family at
to join the Georgia Military Veterans hall of fame.
the Memorial Day ceremony.

Hundreds of people
turned out for Dunwoody’s
11th annual Memorial Day
celebration on May 25 in
Brook Run Park.
Dunwoody Mayor Mike
Davis said, “This is just a
reminder of how important
it is to the citizens here in
Dunwoody, that we honor
the dead and the people who
The event featured a
performance of the national
anthem by Dunwoody High
School chorus, presentation
of colors by Boy Scout troop
764, a prayer led by Dr.
Steve Vance of Saint Luke’s
Presbyterian Church and an
inspirational message from
guest speaker Colonel Rick
White, US Army retired.
After graduating from
high school, White enlisted
in the United States Army as
a private and volunteered for
the airborne infantry.
At the age of 19, he was
commissioned as a second
lieutenant through Infantry
Officer Candidate School
and served 24 months in
combat in Vietnam.
Immediately following
his second Vietnam tour

White attended and graduated from Army Helicopter
Flight School. Additionally,
he took assignments in Germany, Panama, Honduras
and El Salvador. He served
at 14 separate stateside locations, including Fort Bragg,
N.C., with the seventh Special Forces group and the
82nd airborne division.
Dunwoody veteran
Tom Bryant said, “It’s very
important that people remember and celebrate. They
should do this all over the
The city of Dunwoody
was also presented with a
flag from U.S. Air Force
captain Andrew Radloff,
which was flown on the last
combat mission of Enduring
Freedom, which took off on
New Year’s Eve and lasted
approximately 13 hours, according to Brigadier General
Denis Shortal.
“All of those that we
honor today, they stay alive
in our memories and in
our minds. Their deeds will
never be forgotten and their
spirits will never die. They
gave up all of their tomorrows so that we can have our
today,” Shortal said.

Boy Scout Troop 764 presents Dunwoody High School chorus sings the national anthem. Photos by Ashley
the colors.


Monday, June 1, 2015
Brigadier General Denis Shortal welcomes a guest to the ceremony.

6:15 p.m.


J. David Williamson Board Room
Administrative & Instructional Complex
1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd.
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

Citizens interested in reviewing a detailed copy of the program based budget
may do so by visiting the DeKalb County School District website at
Command Sergeant Major Simon Jones chats with Dunwoody Mayor
Mike Davis at the Memorial Day ceremony.


The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015


Page 17A

Herman Russell’s sons pass along
his wisdom at annual luncheon
by Kathy Mitchell

The late Herman Russell started a single-project
When the DeKalb
construction company when
Chamber of Commerce
he was still in high school
held its 2015 Apex Busiand grew it to one of the
ness Awards and Luncheon
400 largest construction
Ceremony on May 21 at the companies in the United
Thalia N. Carlos Hellenic
States. Smith called him a
Center the emphasis was on business legend and a powsmall business, but attenderful example of what can
ees heard from a family that be accomplished by a perbuilt a nationally known
son starting from humble
business empire.
beginnings. He asked how
Angela Graham, presithe construction company
dent of Graham & Associfounder passed his values
ates Inc. and chairwoman of and work ethic to his chilthe chamber’s small business dren.
committee, said she wanted
“For one thing,” Jerome
the business owners at the
Russell answered, “we alluncheon to receive valuable ways had a job whether
information in addition to
we wanted one or not. He
recognition. In place of the
insisted that we work even
usual keynote speaker, the
when we were in school and
committee arranged what
we got no special considerwas billed as a “fireside chat” ation for being the owner’s
with Michael Russell and H. children. I was in high
Jerome Russell, CEO and
school before I realized how
president, respectively, of
successful and important
H.J. Russell & Co., the com- our father was. To us, he was
pany founded in 1952 by
just our father.”
their father Herman J. RusPassing along advice
sell, who died in November from their father, Michael
2014. T. Dallas Smith, pres- Russell recalled frequently
ident and CEO of T. Dallas
being told, “Do what you
Smith & Co. moderated the
say you’re going to do.” And
he remembered his father

reminding them of the need
for each person to do his
share with the saying, “Bring
something to the table other
your appetite.”
Jerome Russell told of
how his father often said,
“Always stay focused.”
“I think he wrote that in
a lot of the books he autographed, too,” the company
president said. Soon before
his death Herman Russell
released his business autobiography Building Atlanta:
How I Broke Through Segregation to Launch a Business Empire.
There are challenges in
heading a family business,
Michael Russell acknowledged. “Family and business
aren’t a natural mix but we
remember to think not just
in terms of what we want,
but what’s good for all three
of us [the Russell brothers have a sister who’s also
a partner in the business]
and what’s good for the
business—and we’re family
first,” he said.
Smith underscored that
point by telling the audience
that Jerome once donated a
kidney to his ailing brother.

Another lesson the Russell brothers learned from
their father concerned diversification. “As he got older
he became more conservative,” Jerome Russell said,
“but in the 1970s, he made
what were some bold moves.
He invested in the Atlanta
Hawks, in a beverage distribution business, insurance
and banking. It was phenomenal what he did. He
recognized that construction
can be a cyclical business
and diversifying can help
you ride out those cycles.
I’m not sure we would have
been around for more than
60 years otherwise.”
The Russell brothers said
they are still not completely
certain how they will direct
H.J. Russell Construction in
the future, but assured the
audience that their father’s
values would remain. “He
believed in growing people
while you make a good return for yourself and your
company,” Michael Russell
said. “And he believed in
giving back to the community.”
A total of six Apex
Awards were presented in

five categories. The Emerging Business Award went
to VLW Group, a minority
owned project controls firm
based in Tucker. 
The award in the $1 million to $5 million annual
revenues category went to
Grice Consulting Group.
DB Spratte Enterprises DBA
Chick-fil-A was the winner of the award in the $5
million to $10 million annual revenues category. The
award in the $10 million to
$20 million annual revenues
category went to Advanced
Systems Designs.
There were two winners in the Community
Workforce Awards, which
recognizes businesses that
hire under-employed and
unemployed members of the
workforce, have increased
training for under-employed
individuals and offers such
candidates a salary range
above minimum wage. The
Community Workforce
Awards went to DeKalb
Medical Center and Creative
Research Solutions.

There will be public hearings on the proposed 2015-2016 budget for the City of Decatur
at 7:30 p.m. on June 1, 2015, at 6:00 p.m. on June 8, 2015, and at 7:30 p.m. on June 15,
2015 in the City Commission Meeting Room at City Hall, 509 N. McDonough Street,
Decatur. The proposed budget is summarized below and is available in its entirety for
public inspection at Decatur City Hall and at the Decatur Library on Sycamore Street.
After May 20th, the budget will be available on the City’s website at All citizens are invited to attend the public hearings, to
provide written and oral comments, and ask questions concerning the entire budget.

DeKalb County

FY 2015-2016
Licenses, Permits & Inspections
Penalties, Fines & Forfeitures
Charges for Current Services
Intergovernmental Revenues
Miscellaneous Revenue
Sale of Fixed Assets
Operating Transfers
Appropriation From (To) Fund Balance
Governmental Control Department
General Government Department
Community & Economic Development Department
Administrative Services Department
Police Department
Fire & Rescue Department
Public Works Department
Design, Environment & Construction Division
Active Living Division


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

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015


Page 18A

Clarkston High School welcomes professionals in various industries to motivate students to apply for internships during the summer and explore new job avenues. Photos by Ashley Oglesby

Students learn about
employment opportunities
by Ashley Oglesby
In an effort to help students “connect the dots”
between school and career,
Clarkston High School
Community in Schools
coordinator (CIS) Calleb
Obumba organized a career
exploration event on May
19 for ninth through 11th
“We have a big emphasis on career and college
readiness. This event helps
prepare kids and give them
an idea of what they need to
do in order to get into college and it’s also critical for
them to find out about all

Monday, June 1, 2015

5:45 p.m.


J. David Williamson Board Room
Administrative & Instructional Complex
1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd.
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

The DeKalb County Board of Education will hold a public
budget hearing to solicit feedback from the public
regarding the 2015-2016 school system’s budget.

the various careers that are
offered,” Obumba said.
Obumba said he decided
to schedule the event close
to the summer break so that
students goals can “remain
fresh in their minds.”
He added, “Now is the
time for them to find mentors and internships and see
if what they’re interested in
is actually something that
they want to pursue.
The event brought out
more than 35 professionals from industries ranging
from banking to fitness
Freshman Christian
Carter said getting advice
from professionals is impor-

“Everybody needs a
little push to help them and
some people may not have
someone in their household
to push them harder. When
you hear other people’s stories about how they had to
push themselves harder to
get where they are and accomplish their goals, that’s
motivation,” Carter said.
Cox Enterprises vice
president of financial planning Neil Campbell and
CIS executive director
Frank Brown attended the
exposition to show support
for CIS caseload students, as
well as provide support for
Obumba’s effort.

The Decatur City Commission has tentatively adopted a combined millage
rate of 12.00 mills which will require an increase in property taxes of 5.08%
for fiscal year 2015-2016. This is a reduction from the millage rate of 13
mills adopted for the current fiscal year 2014-2015 which generates revenue
necessary to fund the City of Decatur’s general operations, bonded
indebtedness, downtown development authority and capital improvements.
All concerned citizens are invited to the public hearing on this tax increase
to be held at the City Commission Meeting Room, Decatur City Hall, 509 N.
McDonough Street, Decatur, on Monday, June 1, 2015 at 7:30 p.m. Time
and place of additional public hearings on this tax increase is at Decatur City
Hall on Monday, June 8, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. and Monday, June 15, 2015 at
7:30 p.m. This tentative increase will result in a millage rate of 12.00 mills,
an increase of 0.58 mills over the rollback millage rate. Without this
tentative tax increase, the millage rate will be no more than 11.42 mills. The
proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $400,000 is
approximately $104.40 and the proposed tax increase for a nonhomestead
property with a fair market value of $425,000 is approximately $111.65.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015


Page 19A

Incoming county school superintendent visits district
by Ashley Oglesby
The DeKalb County
School superintendent
baton will be passed from
Michael Thurmond to sole
finalist in the superintendent
search, Stephen Green, on
July 1.
Green said he’s “ready
to bring it home for the
DeKalb County School
District and cross the finish
The former
Kansas City school
visited DeKalb
May 19 through
May 21 to speak
with parents,
teachers, principals,
stakeholders and
elected officials
about his goals for
the position.
At a press
conference held at
DeKalb school’s
and instructional
complex he said his
primary focus is
“providing quality
education for our
children. We’re on
the right course,
we have a great
foundation, we’re
moving in the right
direction and my
goal is to continue
that momentum.”
Green said
he’s still in the
process of gathering
information and
immersing himself
in the community but his
priority is to “identify
where the need is greatest.”
In the Kansas City Public
Schools (KCPS) district
Green is credited with
leading the district back to
provisional accreditation
within two years of being
named superintendent in
2012. He had previously
served as KCPS interim
superintendent for several
months. Under Green’s
leadership, KCPS earned
92.5 points toward the
state of Missouri’s school
achievement standards in
2014. That was 8.5 points
more than the school district
earned in 2013, and a
54.5-point increase from the
2012 results.
Green said in DeKalb
County, he wants to start his
work “in those schools that
are struggling.”
He added, “I want to

target resources and make
sure that we provide as
many services to get those
schools up to speed.”
Green said he plans to
collaborate with community
partners to help uplift
struggling schools.
“We will begin to
identify where the resources
are that we may need to
reallocate to support those
efforts. We can bring
new resources through

‘Those are the kinds
of things that I see
to be important; to
be out and about
in the community–
visible and available
so that we can have
open dialogue.’
–Stephen Green

Soon-to-be DeKalb County school superintendent Stephen Green announcing his goals for the district. Photo
by Ashley Oglesby


The City of Doraville has tentatively adopted a millage rate of 8.5 which will require an increase in property
taxes by 24.89 percent. The proposed millage rate is .25 mills less than the prior year millage of 8.75 mills.
All concerned citizens are invited to the public hearing on this tax increase to be held at the Doraville City
Hall located at 3725 Park Avenue, Doraville, GA 30340 on June 8, 2015 at 6:30pm.
Times and places of additional public hearings on this tax increase are at the Doraville City Hall on June 15,
2015 at 6:30pm and on June 16, 2015 at 6:30pm.
This tentative increase will result in a millage rate of 8.50 mills, an increase of 24.89 percent over the
rollback rate. Without this tentative tax increase, the millage rate will be no more than 6.806 mills. The
proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $51,000 is approximately $85 and the tax
increase for a non-homestead property with a fair market value of $228,000 is approximately $436. The
calculated rollback rate is artificially low due to the addition of annexed properties, resulting in artificially high
estimates for the tax increase.
State of Georgia statutes do not specifically address the setting of the initial millage rate for a newly annexed
area by a municipality but the City of Doraville is advertising a Notice of Property Tax Increase, with
associated public hearing notification, in order to ensure full disclosure of its intent to levy property taxes in
the area annexed December 31, 2014. The millage rate of 8.5 proposed for the annexed area is the same
as that proposed for the rest of the City and would not constitute a tax increase for the rest of the City.
Pursuant to the requirements of O.C.G.A. Section 48-5-32 does hereby publish the following presentation of
the current year’s tax digest and levy, along with the history of the tax digest and levy for the past five years.
All citizens of Doraville are invited to attend.

collaborative efforts to
make sure that students
have what they need to
succeed,” Green said.
In Kansas Green said he
held a series of meetings
four to five times a year
called “On the Scene with
Dr. Green,” in which he
made himself available
to the community to field
questions and address
Green said he plans to
establish a similar series for
“Those are the kinds
of things that I see to be
important; to be out and
about in the community–
visible and available so
that we can have open
dialogue,” said Green.
Thurmond is scheduled
to step down in June but
will be a consultant for the
new superintendent to assist
in a “smooth transition.”


Real & Personal
Motor Vehicle

Mobile Homes
Timber 100%
Heavy Duty






























Gross Tax Digest






Net Tax Digest






















Net Millage

Net Tax Levy 100%
Net Levy %










All concerned citizens are invited to the public hearing on this tax increase to be held at the Doraville City
Hall located at 3725 Park Avenue, Doraville, GA 30340 on June 8, 2015 at 6:30pm. Times and places of
additional public hearings on this tax increase are at the Doraville City Hall on June 15, 2015 at 6:30pm and
on June 16, 2015 at 6:30pm.


For Prices, Deadlines and Information



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The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015


Page 21A

Columbia baseball team had seven players sign athletic scholarships May 14. Photos by Carla Parker

This is the first time in years Columbia has had this many players sign early.

Seven Columbia baseball players ink scholarships
by Carla Parker
It is not often that Columbia
High School has baseball players
who sign college letters of intent in
the spring, according to coach Steve
“We usually have guys signing
late in the summer,” he said.
However, this year Columbia’s
baseball program had seven players
sign letters of intent May 14 to continue their baseball careers. Keeshaun Clark, Ronald McGee and
Patrick Wright signed with Lane
College; Jalen Atterbury and Justin
Washington signed with Savannah
State; Jamal Devine is heading to
Calflin and Trent Nash is on his
way to Bethune Cookman.
Elliot Hammond plans to walk
on at Alabama A&M.
Dennis said it is nice to see his
players go on to the next level in
their baseball careers.
“It’s a good reward for their
hard work over the last four years,”
he said. “The time they’ve put in

Pitcher Jalen Atterbury signed with Savannah State University.

to prepare themselves to get to this
point, it’s nice. Even as a coach, it
makes you feel good because you
know they’re going to get the chance
to live their dreams.”
The senior class of the Columbia
baseball team played a large role in
the team’s success during the past
three years.
“They’ve put us in the playoffs

the last three years,” Dennis said.
“We told them when they were in
eighth grade that if the stay together
they were going to be a special
Clark, who finished the season
with a .429 batting average and 36
hits, said he had a good experience
under Dennis’ leadership.
“Coach Dennis has taught us
a lot,” he said. “He has put good
things in our head, and he has been
a very good coach.”
The senior class led the Columbia Eagles to the second round of
the state playoffs for the first time
since 1975. The team finished with a
21-9 record.
Atterbury, Clark, Devine, McGee, Nash and Washington all
finished the regular season in the
top 50 batting leaders in DeKalb
County, with Nash leading the team
with a .455 batting average on 25
hits in 55 at bats. He also had 29
RBIs, 12 doubles, three triples and
two homeruns.
Nash said it felt “great” to have
an opportunity to play on the col-

lege level.
“After this point in [players’] careers, some people stop playing,” he
said. “I’m fortunate to continue to
be playing.”
Nash said he always wanted to
go to a school in Florida, which is
why he chose Bethune-Cookman.
“I thought it would be a nice environment for me,” he said.
Future Savannah State Tigers
Atterbury and Washington also
had good seasons on the mound.
Washington led the team with a 1.25
ERA, with a 5-1 record in the regular season. Atterbury finished the
regular season with a 3.33 ERA and
a 4-1 record.
Atterbury has been one of the
top pitchers in the county since his
sophomore year. Last season, he
finished second in the county with a
1.24 ERA and an 8-2 record. However, Savannah State recruited him
as a utility player.
“[I’ll be] fielding, batting and
just being the player I’ve been during my high school career,” Atterbury said.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015


Page 22A

Southwest DeKalb track and field coach Napoleon Cobb motivates the track team during practice a week before the Class AAAAA state championship. Photos by Carla Parker

A legend ends his career on top

by Carla Parker
There are not many coaches who
can say they finished their careers
on top.
However, Napoleon Cobb can.
Cobb ended his 50th year of coaching with a state championship after
the Southwest DeKalb High School
boys’ track won the Class AAAAA
state title May 15. It was the 11th
state title for Cobb—nine at Southwest DeKalb and three with Gordon
High School.
Due to health reasons, Cobb
deemed the 2015 track season as his
Cobb is retiring after 50 years of coaching and will be inducted into the Georgia Athletic
Cobb was diagnosed with bone Coaches Association Hall of Fame May 30.
cancer in April 2014, and three
fulfilling [state title] because I know coach William “Buck” Godfrey was
months later he broke his hip after
in my heart that I was physically un- inducted.
a fall.
“That’s when I knew it was time able to do what I’ve done in my ca“I think the biggest excitement
reer,” Cobb said. “I spent more time to me is the [irony] that Napoleon
to close it down,” Cobb said. “But
coaching the coaches. I was able to
this year I’ve had a great coaching
Cobb followed Coach Godfrey,”
inspire the kids—I did more talking Cobb said. “That’s the most thrillstaff and the kids have been really
to them.
wonderful. I know my family is
ing to me. That is truly an honor. Of
“This is one of my proudest
glad that we’ve decided to make this
course the achievement award is a
farewell tour. It’s been amazing how teams,” Cobb added. “We feel very
tremendous honor, but it’s just ironblessed. I feel like this was divine
much it has helped me because iniic that our careers have paralleled
tially I didn’t have the strength and
so much. We began at Gordon, then
Two weeks after winning the
will to do it.”
we spent all these years at Southwest
state title, Cobb will be inducted
His “farewell season” included
together. It just seems like our stars
the 2015 DeKalb County track title, into the Georgia Athletic Coaches
always crossed back and forth no
but winning the state championship Association Hall of Fame May 30.
matter what.”
was a special way to close out his ca- Cobb is going into the Hall of Fame
Cobb is a graduate of Henry Mca year after his close friend and
reer, he said.
Neal Turner High School in Atlanta
former Southwest DeKalb football
“This was probably the most
and Tennessee State University. Af-

ter graduating from Tennessee State
in 1964, Cobb began his coaching
and teaching career in Chicago, Ill.
“That’s all I’ve ever done­—
is teach and coach, all the way
through,” he said.
He lived in Chicago for two
years before moving to Berkeley,
Calif. to teach at Berkeley High
School. Cobb moved to DeKalb
County in 1972 and began teaching
at Gordon High School, where he
coached track and football alongside
Cobb participated in football
and track growing up and coached
both sports. He said he never chose
track over football, but it chose him.
“In high school, I played football
and [ran] track. I tried to do both of
them in college, but I was little small
for football, so track kind of excelled
over,” he said. “But when I started
my coaching career it was both in
football and track. At Gordon High
School, I finished up as the head
football coach and the head track
coach. I went to Morehouse as the
offensive coordinator in football,
and the head track coach. In the earlier years at Southwest I used to do a
lot with Coach Godfrey in football.
I don’t think I ever I chose track
over football, I think it just evolved
that way. We joke about it now, because in the early days they kind of
considered me an up-and-coming
young football coach. [Track] just

See Cobb on page 23A

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015


Rasul Chester (far left) who led Miller Grove to back-to-back DeKalb County Junior Varsity championship wins,
was named head coach of Stephenson boys’ basketball team. Photo by Carla Parker

Chester named Stephenson
boys’ basketball coach
by Carla Parker
After 15 years as a junior varsity coach and
an assistant varsity coach, Rasul Chester is
now a head varsity coach.
Chester was named head coach of the
Stephenson High School boys’ basketball program May 11. He was previously JV coach and
assistant varsity coach at Miller Grove High
School. Chester said it feels great to have this
“As Coach [Sharman] White said, we
think it’s been a year overdue,” Chester said.
“He continued to train me to always take over
the program just in case he moves up or another opportunity opens up. At this time, it feels
awesome. I give glory to God, who continues
to put people around me to continue to train
and to make sure I’m ready.”
White said he could not be more excited
for Chester.
“He didn’t cheat the process of becoming
a head coach,” White said. “He continued to
develop, he continued to work, and he continued to do the things that were needed in order
to make him successful at the JV level while
also assisting with the varsity. It all paid off for
A 1997 graduate of Cross Keys High
School, Chester got his first taste of coaching
while in college. He returned to Cross Keys
during a winter break to host a defensive camp
for the girls’ basketball team, which his sister
played for out the time.
“That’s when I started,” Chester said.
“When I got out of college in 2003 I volunteered to coach at Cross Keys.
Chester was named JV girls’ basketball
coach and assistant coach for the varsity girls’
team. Chester said this was a humble beginning for his coaching career, as the team did
not win a game.
“I started six players and they all were from
different nationalities,” he said. “I was really
coaching girls that never knew the game. That
gave me the teaching part of [coaching]—
teaching them fundamentals. Watching those
girls grow from not being able to score a bucket, not able to dribble running with the ball to
being able to compete in the whole game. We
never shorted the girls.”
From 2004-2006, he was the head JV boys’
and assistant varsity boys’ coach at Cross Keys,
helping to lead the team to the Sweet 16 of the
state playoffs. With the boys team he said he
learned how to coach different talent.
In 2006, he moved to Stone Mountain High

School where he coached the JV boys’ squad
and assisted with the varsity team. He helped
lead the team to the Elite Eight of the state
playoffs. Chester said he learned how to compete every night playing in a tougher region at
Stone Mountain.
He began his tenure at Miller Grove High
School in 2008 and was a part of the program’s
championship run.
In 2011, he was appointed head JV coach,
and led the team to back-to-back DeKalb
County JV titles in 2014 and 2015. When he
got to Miller Grove, Chester said he learned
“[White] just put everything together,” he
said. “I had the suit but Coach White and the
program helped me tie the tie, put on a blazer
and a jacket. He taught me organization—from
organized practices to competing at high levels in practice, not just in the game. It wasn’t
basketball anymore, it was basically a ministry
because we were raising young boys and when
they left us they were young men.”
Chester plans to use everything he learned
as a coach to help build Stephenson into a winning program. After meeting with the players,
Chester said they are eager to learn and move
the program in a new direction.
“Stephenson has already been a successful
program to the point of winning,” Chester said.
“Good teams win games, but great programs
win championships. The direction we’re going
in is changing Stephenson High School from a
winning program to a championship program.
It’s championship or nothing.”
He said it is going to take hard work from
everyone to build the championship-mentality.
“There is no substitution for hard work,
and that’s what we’re going to do,” he said.
“Also, bring everybody together. We have to be
on one accord, that starts from the administration, the parents and the community.”
Miller Grove’s first regular season opponent is Stephenson, and both Chester and
White are looking forward to the matchup.
“It’s going to be a blessing,” Chester said.
“It’s like coming home—you go off to college
and you come home. It’s just a game for the
players, but for me and Coach White it’s just
family. We’re going to compete. He always
taught us to compete and win, so that’s what
both teams are going to do.”
“It’s going to be emotional, it’s going to
be competitive, but it will be great for him to
come back to the place where he kind of made
his mark as a coach,” White said. “I told him
we’ll take it easy on him.”

Page 23A

Cobb Continued From Page 22A
kind of chose me.”
After winning three state titles, Cobb left Gordon
in 1978 to coach at Morehouse College. He came
back to DeKalb in 1989 to teach and coach at Southwest DeKalb.
“A lot of it had to do with being reunited with
Buck Godfrey,” he said.
During his first stint at Southwest DeKalb, he
won seven state titles and helped send Terrance
Trammell and Angelo Taylor to the Olympic Games
in 2000.
“When I look back on it, it was very special,”
Cobb said about Trammell and Taylor. “That was
really big. And they had long great careers. We’re extremely proud of them.”
He coached the two Olympians in the 2004
Games in Athens, Greece, which is a moment he will
always remember.
“Of course, I was there in 2000, but I was there as
their former high school coach,” Cobb said. “But in
2004, to be their special Olympic coach, I think that
was one of my personal highlights.”
Cobb left Southwest DeKalb in 2007 to go back
to Morehouse, then returned to Southwest DeKalb in
2011. Cobb said he left Southwest DeKalb for Morehouse because he thought he had done everything he
could on the high school level.
“I thought that would be the highlight and the
closure [of my career],” he said. “But when we went
back to college, we weren’t happy with the way Southwest boys track had dropped off. To see where it had
not been for so many years encouraged us and motivated us to say, ‘Let’s see if we can restore it before we
close it out.’”
Cobb said he went back and forth between Morehouse and Southwest DeKalb because he has “great”
relationships with the two schools.
“I have great appreciation for Morehouse’s academics as well as its athletics,” he said. “The only
place I would’ve left Morehouse to come back to
would be Southwest, and to be with Coach Godfrey.
It’s the only place I would’ve left a second time to
come back to. Those two schools have really dominated my career.”
It seems as if Cobb and Godfrey’s lives have been
parallel from the start. They were born on the same
day, same year and at the exact same hour.
“We think that is the most ironic thing,” Cobb
said. “We’ve always made an effort to try not to let
people compare us. I’ve always said he’s probably the
greatest football coach I’ve been privileged to work
Cobb said Godfrey has always been supportive of
him, including sending football players to run track
for him.
“If you could run, you were going to run track for
Southwest too,” Cobb said. “It wasn’t a real option.
Coach Godfrey was going to give complete support
to Coach Cobb. He was going to send you to Coach
Cobb during track season—it wouldn’t be no interference—and Coach Cobb would send them back.
We’ve always done everything we could to prevent
the comparison. He had a great impact on my career.”
Although he plans to retire from coaching, Cobb
said “I’m going to around for a while.”
“I still enjoy coaching the kids and trying to get
them to be all that they can be,” he said. “I’m sure
coaching teams is probably over for me. I probably
don’t have the energy level. The coaches remind
me all the time that I’m not at my prime anymore
because you can’t do the things you did even 10, certainly 20 years ago. I’ll probably be around the sport,
do some motivational speaking, some clinics. I may
not get too far from Southwest DeKalb, just staying
involved. Three months ago, it didn’t look like I could
even get with the team, but my health has improved,
I’ve gotten better and better almost weekly.”


Page 24A The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 29, 2015

From left, Laura Keenan of Bank of America, veteran Ken Burch and John O’Callaghan pose for photos shortly before Burch received the keys to his new condo. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Vet receives mortgage-free home

by Andrew Cauthen

Retired Private 1st Class Ken
Burch celebrated Memorial Day with
a special gift—home ownership.
Burch, a veteran who served in
the U. S. Marines for four years, was
one of three veterans in Georgia who
received mortgage-free homes May
22 as a part of a program sponsored
by Bank of America and local partners.
“I feel like it’s a blessing,” said
Burch, who was living in a rented
Decatur apartment. “It helps me to
be in position to continue my service
working for veterans when they come
home. It alleviates a lot of financial
burden, concern and puts me in a
position to be able to work and be

“This puts me in a position to
maybe do other things,” said Burch,
who works at the VA Hospital in Decatur. “It puts me in a position to give
back to AMVETS or different organizations and not have to worry a lot
about things like bills.
“I’m honored,” said Burch, accompanied by his sister, Lisa Burch,
and fiancée, Susan Marshall. “I’m
grateful. I’m thankful. I’m honored to
have served my country.”
After a special ceremony at Somerset Heights Condominiums, Burch
received the keys to his new residence.
“Since returning from his military service, Mr. Burch has been
on a long path to homeownership,
and we are thrilled to partner with

Bank of America to help him realize
his dream,” said John O’Callaghan,
president and CEO of Atlanta Neighborhood Development Partnership, a
nonprofit organization that addresses
the need for affordable housing, families and neighborhoods.
“For us to partner with you in
your dream of homeownership is
amazing. You have invested so much
in…preparing yourself,” O’Callaghan
“We appreciate [veterans’] service so much and what they do for
the country,” O’Callaghan said. “We
remember those who gave their lives
for our country, and we remember
those who were willing to share their
lives with the country.”
Burch’s home was the 39th provided through a partnership between

Atlanta Neighborhood Development
Partnership and Bank of America to
veteran families, O’Callaghan said.
“We are serving veterans all across
metro Atlanta and north Georgia
through [this] partnership.”
Laura Keenan, of Bank of America’s community development group,
said, “We have over two million customers who are current servicemen
or…veterans and we appreciate that
relationship. We have thousands of
employees who are active [military]
or retired veterans. About two years
ago the bank made a commitment to
donate over 1,000 homes to veterans,
and we’ve surpassed that goal.
“It’s such an honor today to welcome Private 1st Class Ken Burch and
offer this new opportunity and lifechanging [gift] to you,” Keenan said.

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