FRIDAY, july 3, 2015 • VOL. 18, NO. 13 • FREE


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

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


Same-sex marriage:
by Andrew Cauthen
“We were prepared for
this,” said Probate Court Judge
Jeryl Debra Rosh, as couples
lined up in the DeKalb County
Courthouse shortly after the U.S.
Supreme Court made same-sex
marriages legal in all states June
“The highest court in the land
has ruled on the issue, and it is up
to rest of the judiciary to follow
the law and accommodate the
citizens of each jurisdiction,” Rosh
The Carnes-Millers were a
couple that wedded at the DeKalb
County Courthouse hours after

the ruling was announced.
“I’m a history major in college
and I don’t think there’s been a
historical moment in the LGBTQ
[lesbian, gay, bisexual and
transgender, queer] movement
that hasn’t been documented by
thousands of wonderful LGBTQ
and I wanted to be a part of that
today,” said Cat Breanna CarnesMiller, of Decatur.
“The supreme Court ruling
means that we’re one baby step
closer to true equality to all
LGBTQ individuals, including
trans people, including the
[transgender] women of color that
are murdered at exponentially
higher rates than anyone else,”
Cat Breanna Carnes-Miller
Jordan and Cat Carnes-Miller got married at the DeKalb County Courthouse soon after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal in all states. Photo
by Andrew Cauthen

See Marriage on page 13A

Burrell Ellis trial in hands of jury
by Andrew Cauthen
Burrell Ellis’ attorney for his
retrial said prosecutors have not
proven their case.
“After weeks of testimony, after countless
tape recordings…[and]
diagrams…the simple
truth has not changed,”
said Ellis’ defense attorney Craig Gillen. “The
evidence has not shown
one single dime in
Burrell Ellis’ pocket…
that shouldn’t be there.”
Closing arguments
were heard June 24,
a day after testimony
ended in the retrial of
the DeKalb County CEO accused
of strong-arming vendors to donate to his reelection campaign
in 2012.

“We have listened to these
tapes on and on and on,” Gillen
said. “The tapes are very important.
“Thank goodness for the tapes
because the tapes show you what

procurement director under Ellis, was prosecutor’s key witness
who recorded hours and hours of
conversations for the state.
“Debt, desperation and deceit—that was their theme. The

‘Thank goodness for the tapes because the
tapes show you what he really said, not
what Mr. [Kelvin] Walton said [Ellis] meant.’

Suspended DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis awaits a
verdict in his mistrial. Photo by Andrew Cauthen


-Craig Gillen

he really said, not what Mr. [Kelvin] Walton said [Ellis] meant,”
Gillen said.
Walton, a former county

problem is the evidence didn’t fit
their theme,” Gillen said.
 Gillen said Walton was “the
putty man” whom prosecutors

See Ellis on page 13A





Page 2A The Champion Free Press, Friday, July 3, 2015

“We are rolling
forward together
as one” -Interim
CEO Lee May

One-day-a-week sanitation collection service begins the
week of July 6th

The DeKalb County Sanitation Division is Rolling Forward to
One-day-a-week sanitation collection service for garbage, recyclable
materials and yard trimmings. Please see below for garbage and
recycling options for your household.

Garbage Roll Cart Options
Trade in the standard 65-gallon roll cart for a 35- or 45-gallon roll cart free of charge; *trade in a
65-gallon for a 95-gallon roll cart for a one-time $15 fee.
*Subscribing to the Sanitation Division’s recycling program is required.

roll cart

roll cart

roll cart

roll cart

Recycling Options
Upgrade from an 18-gallon bin to a 65-gallon roll cart for a one-time $15 fee.


roll cart


For more information, please call or visit: (404) 294-2900 •
Ask questions about the program via @ItsInDeKalb on Twitter


The Champion Free Press, Friday, July 3, 2015

Pet Buddies
expands into
by Ashley Oglesby
Pet Buddies cofounder
and executive director
Heather Koehler and cofounder Dee McGowan
were both volunteers for
county shelters where they
witnessed animals being
turned in because their
owners could no longer afford to take care of them.
That’s when the two decided
to open Pet Buddies Food
Since 2010, the organization has spayed and
neutered more than 1,000
animals around Atlanta. In
August 2015 Pet Buddies
will begin donating pet food
in East Atlanta and Decatur.
The nonprofit, volunteer-based organization
works with low-income
families, seniors, disabled
and homeless individuals to
assist with food and medical
needs for their pets.
Koehler said, “We initially started Pet Buddies to
get pet food to families that
could not afford it. We also
incorporated spaying and
neutering because at the
end of the day if we are not
spaying and neutering a lot
of these animals begin procreating. What happens with
a lot of communities that we
work in, when the animal
starts to have kittens or puppies they’re going to end up
in an animal shelter.”
She added, “Some of
the animal shelters here in
Georgia, if the animals are
under two pounds they’re
immediately euthanized
so they don’t even get a
Koehler said Pet Buddies’ mission is to decrease
the number of cats and dogs
on the streets and entering
animal control due to financial hardships.
“We reach out to underserved communities to educate, donate pet food, offer

free spay and neuter, flea
medicine and anything else
the family needs.”
She added, “When we
have additional funding, we
trap, neuter and return cats,
build fencing for chained
dogs, provide dog housing
and winter help for animals
that live outdoors.”
Pet Buddies assists an
average of 100 families a
month. Every animal that
goes through the Pet Buddies program is required
to be spayed or neutered, if
they aren’t the organization
pays for it.
“Pet Buddies has no
overhead. Our storage is at
our homes. We all have fulltime careers, so our efforts
are 100 percent volunteer.
Due to this, the money goes
directly to the animals that
desperately need it in our
community,” Koehler said.
She added, “All of our
volunteers help pick up food
from people that have done
donation drives or donated
specifically to our program.
We have bins around town
where people donate, our
volunteers pick up the
food and we store it at our
houses. We donate the food
quickly, so we don’t need a
storage area because we’re
constantly donating food.”
Pet Buddies delivers
donations once a month.
However, Koehler said, “We
always have people who
send in their applications
who say they’re feeding their
animal bread or their pets
haven’t eaten in a couple of
days. We’re constantly filling
in these emergency situations every day, bringing
food to people that need it
right there and then.”
Koehler said Pet Buddies’ food pantry is always
in the need of donations and
For additional information about Pet Buddies Food
Pantry visit


Joseph and his dog JoJo are a part of the Pet
Buddies program. Joseph also assists the food
pantry with distributing food.

Page 3A

Pet Buddies recently hosted a trailer park program which
helped more than 100 animals get spayed and neutered.


Donation stations for Pet Buddies’ food pantry.

The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners has tentatively adopted a millage rate 
which will require an increase in property taxes by 40.00 percent. 
All concerned citizens are invited to the public hearings on this tax increase to be held at 
the Manuel Maloof Auditorium, 1300 Commerce Drive, Decatur, GA 30030 on July 14, 
2015 at 10:00 am. 
This tentative increase will result in a millage rate of 11.683 mills, an increase of 3.338 
mills.  Without this tentative tax increase, the millage rate will be no more than 8.345 
mills.  The proposed tax increase for a home with a fair market value of $175,000 is 
approximately $111.36 and the proposed tax increase for non‐homestead property with 
a fair market value of $250,000 is approximately $273.72. 
This increase is due to a temporary shift in millages done in FY 2014 to keep the total tax 
rate constant or smaller.   DeKalb County has seven basic tax levies.  Only two are used 
in this required calculation.  In 2014, these two rates combined went down from 11.51 
to 9.02 while other rates were increased temporarily.  In 2015, the two rates combined 
went back up to 11.28 which still are below the 2014 rate.  This upward shift requires an 
advertisement of an increase.   When all seven levies are added together the typical 
resident will see a decrease from 21.21 to 20.81 mills in 2015. 

The Champion Free Press, Friday, July 3, 2015


Page 4A

District 5’s decision matters
District 5 residents finally
got what they have begged
for: a special election. And
when they went to the polls
June 16 to select a new commissioner, they had plenty
of choices.
There were five female
and five males running for
the position. Among them
were a police officer and
pastor, an educational consultant and entrepreneur, a
company CEO, a library media specialist/writer, a management executive, a technology consultant, a retired
MARTA superintendent, a
community and economic
development consultant and
two attorneys.
However despite such a

Andrew Cauthen

Managing Editor

rich field of choices and so
much controversy about the
lack of representation for
the district for so long, voter
turnout was pathetic. Approximately 5.1 percent, or
4,557, of the district’s 82,742

registered voters participated in the special election to
fill the seat, which officially
became vacant May 8 when
Lee May resigned after nearly two years of being the interim DeKalb County CEO.
In the special election
Mereda Davis Johnson, an
attorney and wife of Congressman Hank Johnson,
received 27.21 percent of the
votes while George Turner,
a District 5 Community
Council president and a
retired MARTA manager,
received 15.94 percent.
What is common between Johnson and Turner
is that both have put themselves before the community
as possible future elected

District 5 needs an independent thinker—someone who will represent the
people, not someone who
simply will join a voting bloc
on the board of commissioners. District 5 needs an
advocate who will seek the
welfare of his or her community and not seek selfaggrandizement. District 5
needs a representative who
remembers that he or she
was elected to represent the
constituents and not himself
or herself.
There is still time to get
it right, District 5 residents.
Whether you voted on June
16 or not, make it a priority
to be part of choosing your

next representative during
the runoff that will be held
on Tuesday, July 14, with
early voting beginning on
June 29 at the DeKalb County Voter Registration & Elections office. The early voting
poll will be closed July 3.
Don’t squander the opportunity to be part of the
process of deciding who will
give voice to your concerns
and fight for what is in the
best interest of your community. Those who don’t
vote are turning their backs
on their district.
District 5 matters.
DeKalb County matters.
And the choice that District
5 makes matters.

Open letter from DeKalb County leaders
June 29, 2015
Dear Metro-Atlanta Community,
The leaders of DeKalb County
would like you to join us in
welcoming Dr. R. Stephen Green
to Atlanta.  On July 1, Dr. Green
will be joining his children and
grandchildren in the Atlanta area as
he begins his job as superintendent
of DeKalb County School District.
The DeKalb Board of Education
fielded over 120 applications for
the superintendent position. With
the help of its Community Liaison
Group, comprised of DeKalb
citizens, the Board sifted through
resumes, interviewed semi-finalists,
and ultimately chose Dr. Green to
lead DeKalb into a bright future.
We would like to offer Dr.
Green our support as he begins his

work in DeKalb. Many of us have
had the chance to meet him and
others are eagerly awaiting that
opportunity. From what we have
seen, heard, and read, Dr. Green
will bring a wealth of knowledge
and experience. Because DeKalb
has 100,000 students, we are glad
he has experience in huge, urban
systems, such as New York City.
Because DeKalb has 24 schools
on our Governor’s target list, we
are thankful that he has a track
record of transforming chronically
underperforming schools, such
as those in Kansas City. Because
DeKalb has many vocal, engaged
stakeholders, we are happy that he
plans to seek counsel from teachers,
parents, business leaders, and
community groups. We have heard
him speak of student achievement,
earned autonomy, budget

transparency, and customer service.
We offer our assistance to him in
addressing these issues and others
as he begins his new job.
The wellbeing of metro-Atlanta
is directly tied to the health of
DeKalb County. Our County has
undergone numerous setbacks in
recent years.  However, as leaders
from every corner of DeKalb, we
pledge to face our future with
a renewed sense of integrity
and ethics, working together to
align our resources, talents, and
diversity in service to this great
community. We will partner with
each other, and with Dr. Green,
to meet the needs of our future
leaders, our children. When our
school system is successful, our
workforce blossoms, our businesses
thrive, our economy improves, and
our criminal system shrinks. This

impacts all of us. Please work with
us, as we bring Dr. Green onboard
and bring our County to new
DeKalb County Chamber of
DeKalb County Interim CEO’s
DeKalb County Legislative
DeKalb Municipal Association
Junior League of DeKalb County
Leadership DeKalb
Parent Councils United of DeKalb
South DeKalb Improvement

The Champion Free Press, Friday, July 3, 2015


Page 5A

One Man’s Opinion

“Because I don’t need anybody’s money, It’s nice. I’m
using my own money. I’m not
using lobbyists, I’m not using
donors. I don’t care. I’m really rich,” shared the ever so
humble Donald Trump at
a press conference officially
announcing his candidacy
for president in 2016.
No, I do not think that
self-proclaimed billionaire,
developer and brand-selfpromoter Donald Trump
will emerge from the pack as
a presidential front-runner,
nor eventually claim the
GOP nomination, but I sure
am looking forward to having him in the race.
It was a no-holds-barred,
no-handlers-apparent wideranging sort of announcement speech/harangue, with
Trump boasting (imagine
that) that he will become the
best “jobs president” (whatever that actually means)
ever created by God. At least
we can now assume he is
Christian. I had begun to
believe over the years that he
really only worshiped mirrors. It is perhaps less than
coincidental that his tired
reality show, Celebrity Apprentice, was on the verge of
cancellation by NBC. Due
to regulations regarding
candidate airtime, this gave
Trump the opportunity to
pull that plug himself, while
still garnering millions
in fresh, free airtime. For

Bill Crane


Trump Enterprises, on the
whole, this isn’t a bad business decision.
Trump can make bold
promises and assertions,
such as Mexico funding and
building a wall to define its
border with America, as expectations are so low regarding his actual understanding
of foreign policy. 
Trump can shrug, and
make promises that even he
knows he can never fulfill,
comfortable in the knowledge that insiders will write
him off while many in the
general public will eat up his
“shoot first, ask questions
later” approach like cotton
Some believe Trump has
virtually no record on the
issues. I beg to differ. He was
a birther for years after even
the most intense skeptics of
the Obama administration
acknowledged this had long

since become a moot point. 
He is a free trader who
proposes huge import taxes
on the Chinese, Mexico and
most any country undercutting America on price due
to cheaper labor.  Those are
called tariffs, and besides
violating numerous existing international treaties,
they could easily cause a
trade war. America can
feed itself, but most of our
manufactured goods, other
than cars, now come here
from overseas. And most
of the nations who we have
strong trade relations with
are now buying both our oil,
as fracking has the United
States out-producing Saudi
Arabia, and our agricultural
products. If we start slamming those buyers with
heavy tariffs, that can quickly become a two-way street,
and our farmers are struck
with billions in grain, produce and meat and poultry
with no markets to ship to.
And though Trump may
be worth billions, though
that actual number is debated almost as frequently as
what combination of gravity, white roots and spray
holds that poly-doo in place,
he has also lost or created
bankruptcies in the billions,
closing casinos in Atlantic
City, leveraged with massive
debt and almost as many
Trump-branded condo
towers are still holes in the

ground on projects gone
south, where Trump simply
licensed his name and brand
versus serving as the actual
developer. There are failed
Trump towers in Tampa,
Atlanta and up and down
both Florida coasts. And yet,
he has also demonstrated
flare and pulled off several
impressive successes, though
not all of them and not with
each bigger than the project
Trump’s boasts that each
of his wives is more beautiful or that every project having the “finest finishes” rings
particularly hollow in the
Big Apple where his voice is
regularly heard, but the echo
now brings more derisive
smiles than even feigned applause. 
It was no huge surprise
to find out a day or so after his announcement that
many of the adoring throng
at his press announcements
were paid extras, or that the
bulk of his Facebook and
Twitter followers resided in
off-shore locations. Remember Trump said he can get a
website built for $3. I assure
you that isn’t being done
with American tech expertise.
For one, I’m glad the
Donald is in. His eventual
defeat should effectively end
20 years of teasing and dalliance, if in fact he actually
gets in. Though Trump says

he is officially in, he has not
yet filed any official paperwork or declared his candidacy or established a PAC
with the Federal Elections
Commission. He has 15 days
to do so after becoming a
candidate, but hey, paperwork is really only for the
little people.
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, July 3, 2015

Alex Benson
Youth sports are not broadcast
as much as high school, college or
professional sports.
has provided an outlet to broadcast
youth sports from DeKalb County
and throughout the East Coast,
Midwest and Southwest regions.
Alex Benson, managing partner, cofounded BornToCompete in 2008.
“We wanted to highlight youth
sports in a positive light,” he said.
BornToCompete offers coaches,
parents and young athletes ages 6-14
an outlet to celebrate and support
their athletic accomplishments. The
media outlet showcases athletes’
abilities in football, basketball, baseball and track and field.
The 34-year-old, who lives in
Tucker, said his passion for youth
came from the young athletes, the
coaches, the parents and the community.
“The kids put so much effort in

their sports, and the parents give everything to support them,” he said.
“So, it was easy for me to let their
passion fuel me in the right direction to highlight their youth sports
achievements in a positive way.”
Benson and his team cover nu-

merous games and tournaments of
various sports. They also host several events, including the Autism Bowl
and the B2C Championship Series.
“Every year with the autism
Bowl we help raise awareness and
money for Children’s Healthcare of
Atlanta in their fight against Autism,” Benson said. “We have the
B2C Championship Series at the end
of the year which brings champions
from various leagues to compete in a
state tournament.”
BornToCompete also takes athletes that they cover to various college campuses through its B2C College Trip. They have traveled to the
University of Texas, the University
of North Carolina, the University of
Florida, Florida State and the University of Tennessee.
Benson and his staff focus on
working with youth teams all over
the country.
“When we started this company

it was never about making money,”
he said. “It is always about showcasing the youth athletes’ talents. For
us, that will always be at our core.”
Benson said volunteering is a
way to find your passion.
“Whatever you are passionate
about you will do it without any fanfare, without any money and with
no promises to yourself only that
the fact that you are contributing in
an area you feel strongly about,” he
said. “Some people are lucky enough
to find a passion and turn it into a
career and that is great. Then there
are those like the youth coaches I
see every day that spend countless
hours giving everything they have
to those kids and that is priceless.
These coaches will be making an
impact on these kids for the rest of
their lives so their role in shaping
our society is vital and should be
recognized and appreciated.”

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.

East Decatur Greenway solicits
design ideas for greenspace
East Decatur Greenway is
launching a competition to solicit
designs ideas for the future community greenspace and trailhead
being developed at 890 Columbia
Drive, Decatur.
The competition is limited to
landscape architecture students
and emerging professionals who
live in Georgia and are members of
the American Society of Landscape
Architects. Applications are due
Sept. 1. East Decatur Greenway
will award $1,500 to the winner of
the competition.
The 890 Columbia Drive property is located near the Midway
Woods and Forrest Hills neighborhoods, approximately halfway
between Decatur and Avondale
Estates. Originally developed as a
gasoline station in the 1940s, the
property operated as such until it
was abandoned in 1999 and left to
Residents formed East Decatur
Greenway in 2011, and have been
working with city, county, state
and federal agencies, as well as the
PATH Foundation and community
members to acquire the property
and obtain funding for its eventual

redevelopment as a greenspace.
The Environmental Protection
Agency’s Brownfields Assistance
Program has provided support to
this project, including a $200,000
Brownfields Cleanup Grant.
Working with neighborhood
associations and others interested
in promoting alternate forms of
transportation, East Decatur Greenway has developed a collective
vision for this parcel. The primary
vision is a community greenspace
that can be shared by schools as
an outdoor classroom. Another
priority is the construction of a
trailhead for a multi-use bicycling
and pedestrian path that will connect the property to the Avondale
Estates MARTA Station parking lot
on East College Avenue.
Through this design competition, East Decatur Greenway is
soliciting drawings and supporting
plan documentation that will be
used to finalize the transformation
of the property into a community
greenspace once the property has
been remediated. Applications are
due Sept. 1. Competition details
are available at

A local nonprofit is looking for ideas for an old gas station’s property that is now greenspace. Photo by Andrew Cauthen

The Champion Free Press, Friday, July 3, 2015



Avondale Estates
July 4th parade details announced

Avondale Estates will hold its annual Independence Day parade July 4. The parade lineup
starts at 9:15 a.m. at Avondale High School, 1192
Clarendon Ave. It begins at 10 a.m. and ends at
Clarendon Avenue and South Avondale Road.
To participate in the parade, email Kelly Brooks
at The day ends
with a 7:30 p.m. concert at Lake Avondale with
the Atlanta Blue Notes, and fireworks over the
lake at dusk.

New playground equipment coming to
Lynwood Park
Children visiting Brookhaven’s Lynwood
Park will soon get to enjoy new playground
equipment that includes multiple tube and wave
slides. The equipment is on the way, and installation is set to begin the first week of July, the city
announced June 24. The playground is provided
by the Shinnick family in honor of Liam Shinnick and was designed by Landscape Structures.
The new equipment will be installed across
the path from the current playground structures
and will be under construction for four to six
weeks. The area will be taped off for the safety of
park patrons, who are asked to stay clear of the
area. For more information, contact the Parks
and Recreation Department at (404) 637-0542.
Lynwood Park is located at 3360 Osborne Road

Brookhaven to hold public hearing on
millage rate
Brookhaven residents will have another
chance to voice their opinions on the city’s millage rate for 2015. Following the public hearings,
Brookhaven will adopt the rate on July 7. In accordance with state law, the city has tentatively
advertised a millage rate for 2015. The advertised rate is 2.795 mills, the same as last year’s
rate, but the final number will be adopted after
the final public hearing July 7.
A tentative tax increase is a result of a notice from DeKalb County of an increase in the
valuation of real property tax assessments, not
the millage rate. Brookhaven property owners
may see an increase or a decrease in their residential property taxes, depending on whether
individual property was assessed higher or lower
by the county. The public hearing will be held at
Brookhaven City Hall, 4362 Peachtree Road.

Workshop to foster women in public service
NewPower PAC Georgia, a nonpartisan organization dedicated to elect women to public

office throughout the state, invites women interested in community activism and political empowerment to attend Project ‘Get Involved’, an
interactive workshop on Saturday, July 25 from
8:45 a.m. - 4 p.m. at the Maloof Auditorium at
1300 Commerce Drive in downtown Decatur.
This event is the first in a series of workshops directed at women of all ages who wish
to become involved either by affecting public
change through community activism, working
in political campaigns, or running for public
office. Future workshops will be held in cities
around the state to encourage and support women to hold public office and to foster women in
public service.
For additional information, visit the organization’s website at
Paid registration deadline is July 17. Cost for
the workshop is $35 (lunch is included), and is
payable on the website.

Stone Mountain

Page 7A

subjects will be provided to all participants by the
DeKalb County Department of Recreation, Parks
and Cultural Affairs; and photos must have been
taken between January 1, 2014, and July 31, 2015.
In conjunction with the photography contest, a
free photography workshop led by professional photographer John Glenn will be held July 9, 6:30 to 8:30
p.m. at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center’s Sam Goldman Retreat, 980 Briarcliff Road in Atlanta.
Winning photographs will be selected by a
panel of judges. Winning photographers and their
work will be recognized at an event in September at
Callanwolde Fine Arts Center and featured in The
Champion Newspaper and in Discover DeKalb’s tourism publications. Prizes will be awarded to first-, second- and third-place winners and will include such
premiums as flights on Southern Airways Express
and a weekend hotel stay in DeKalb County.
All photographs submitted must be taken in
parks owned, managed and listed by DeKalb County
Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs.
The Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs’ mission is to provide safe parks and
facilities, enhance the quality of life as a provider
of recreation and cultural experiences and ensure a
customer-focused parks system.
To participate in the contest or to register for
the photography class, visit www.dekalbcountyga.
gov/dekalbparkspics. For additional information call
(404) 371-3695.

South DeKalb FunFest

The Dixie Swim Club at ART Station
The Dixie Swim Club by Jessie Jones, Nicolas Hope and Jamie Wooten will be on stage
July 9-26 at ARTStation in Stone Mountain. The
show is about five women who set aside a long
weekend every August to recharge their friendships. The show features Aretta Baumgartner,
Kara Cantrell, Suzanne Roush, Dina Shadwell
and Karen Whitaker. Shows will be held Thursdays through Saturdays at 8 p.m., and Sundays at
3 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at www. or over the phone at (770) 4691105.


Photo contest kicks off National Parks and
Recreation Month
DeKalb County Department of Recreation, Parks
and Cultural Affairs, The Champion Newspaper,
Discover DeKalb Convention & Visitors Bureau and
Southern Airways Express are sponsoring a photography contest focused on increasing awareness of the
county’s parks and recreational facilities.
Open to amateur and professional photographers, the contest runs July 2 until July 31. A list of

The South DeKalb FunFest at the Chapel
Square Shopping Center is a free event celebrating the south DeKalb Community. The event’s
mission is to spread unity, entertainment and
education among the South DeKalb Residents.
A portion of the proceeds from the event is donated to a DeKalb Kids Project Inc.
The South DeKalb FunFest will feature:
• Entertainment from local artists
• Activities for children
• Fitness presentations
• Food and other vendors
• Blood pressure screenings
• Blood drive

The event takes place July 18, noon – 6
p.m. at Tabitha’s House parking lot in between the House of Hope and the Greater
Traveler’s Rest Baptist Church, 4650 Flat
Shoals Parkway, Decatur.

DeKalb Juvenile Court to host resource fair
DeKalb County Juvenile Court will host a
Community Resource Fair in conjunction with
the DeKalb County Board of Health on July 15,
from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. All families with youth
ages 14-24 are invited to come and receive information on health and wellness, family strengthening, mentoring and educational services.
Health and wellness topics will include AIDS
prevention and awareness, and HIV testing will
be available. There will be information provided
on programs and educational services that are
offered at no cost to participants, such as Youth
Creating Change and the Youth Achievement
Program along with many more.
Juvenile Court is located at the Gregory A.
Adams Juvenile Justice Center, 4309 Memorial
Drive in Decatur. For more information, contact
Quiana Scott at
or E. Diane Hill at


Page 8A The Champion Free Press, Friday, July 3, 2015

Stephanie Lee, Bonita Terrell, Carol Garrett and Dorothy Graves volunteered at the Candler Road
Walgreens encouraging residents to get tested.

Volunteer Evelyn Burton holds a sign advertising free HIV testing to get more
people to stop at Walgreens and get tested.

Walgreens to provide free HIV testing
by Ashley Oglesby
While the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention advises all
Americans be screened for HIV as a
routine part of medical care, many
Americans have never been tested
or are not being tested as often as
recommended, according to national surveys by the Kaiser Family
Foundation. Of the more than 1.2
million people living with HIV in
the United States an estimated one
in seven does not know they are
infected and only three in 10 are in
ongoing care and treatment.
Prior to National HIV Testing Day on June 27, Walgreens and
Greater Than AIDS teamed with
health departments and local AIDS
service organizations to provide
free HIV testing at select Walgreens
stores in more than 150 cities across
the nation.
“Despite overwhelming evidence that early diagnosis and treatment play an important role both in

the health of those who are positive
and in reducing the spread of HIV,
many Americans at highest risk for
infection still have not been tested,”
said Adam Schnepp, pharmacy
manager at the DeKalb Medical
Center Walgreens. “This campaign
is about helping to reduce the
stigma surrounding HIV testing, to
encourage patients to ask their providers to get tested, and to connect
people with services in Atlanta.”
Testing events were held June
25, 26 and 27.
Evelyn Burton, a member
of the National Coalition of 100
Black Women DeKalb chapter,
volunteered at the Candler Road
Walgreens location holding a sign
that read “Free HIV Testing” to encourage more people to stop and get
She said, “This is very important. There are incidences of AIDS
among people who don’t know that
they are infected. With the incidence of HIV/AIDS among Black
people I think it’s very important to

know your status.”
Rapid HIV tests were administered onsite by trained counselors
and provided results in less than 20
Recovery Consultants of Atlanta
(RCA) Program Director Stephanie
Lee also volunteered at the Candler
Road location.
RCA partnered with Kaiser
Family Foundation, Greater Than
AIDS and Test Atlanta to provide
test kits to support the 2015 Walgreens/Greater Than AIDS promotion.
Lee said, “There are about
250,000 people living with HIV that
are not aware of their status.”
She said, “African Americans
are disproportionately impacted by
HIV and this community consists of
primarily African American so it’s
absolutely critical for the community to come out and get tested and
know their status.”
Lee added, “There is a stigma
that comes with AIDS, people associate being HIV positive as being

gay, that has definitely changed now
that we know the various modes
of transmission, which are: unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex with
a person that’s HIV positive. It’s also
transmitted through injected drug
use and can be transferred from
mother to child from breast milk.”
Lee said, “It’s the behaviors that
people are participating in that put
them at risk. It’s not who they are,
but a lot of people don’t want to talk
about their behaviors and admit that
they are having unprotected sex…
There are a lot of different stigmas
and stereotypes that go along with
Greater Than AIDS has released
a mobile app called “I Got Tested:
What’s Next,” designed to provide
information about HIV testing and
staying healthy, regardless of HIV
Walgreens is distributing
150,000 copies of an eight-page
printed version of the app’s information through store events.

DeKalb police officer
injured in accident
by Ashley Oglesby
A DeKalb County police officer
was injured in a car crash on Glenwood Road near Columbia Drive
on June 25.
According to the police report, a passenger vehicle pulled in
front of a police car and the officer
swerved in an attempt to avoid the
vehicle. The officer struck the vehicle and then veered off the road
and hit a utility pole.
In the report the driver said she
was looking for Columbia Used
Auto Parts when she pulled into
4161 Glenwood Road. When the
driver noticed the auto store was

across the street she drove across
all four lanes of traffic to enter the
store’s parking lot. She stated she
did not see the police officer involved in the crash because he was
coming up a hill.
The officer received several
lacerations to his arms and legs and
had to be cut out of his vehicle to
be transported to Grady Memorial
No other injuries were reported.
The driver of other vehicle was
arrested and charged with failure to
yield and driving without a license
All lanes of Glenwood reopened around 5:30 p.m. after be- Cars sit still at the intersection of Columbia Drive and Glenwood Road after a SUV and cop car
ing closed because of the wreck.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, July 3, 2015


Page 9A

Building permits, inspections rising in county
by Andrew Cauthen
Building permits are on
the rise in DeKalb County—
and with them, county inspections.
Through the end of May,
the county had issued 2,579
building permits—including
1,378 commercial and 1,125
residential, according to
Andrew Baker, the county’s
director of planning and
In 2012, there were
1,657 building permits issued; there were 1,375 in
2013 and 1,602 in 2014.
The county performs
approximately 800 building
inspections per month.
“For our staff to be able
to get out there and do that
large volume of inspections
is a compliment to the staff,”
Baker said.
The county has consolidated all of its inspections—
building, fire and trade—
into one department “to
make it easier for us to have
[an] overall smooth permitting process,” Baker said.
And the streamlined
process is working, he said.
Median review days and
customer wait times are decreasing.
Approximately 90 percent of trade inspections—
plumbing, electrical and
HVAC—are completed on
the scheduled day. Through
May 2015, inspectors had
performed 14,638 trade inspections.
The totals for all of 2013
and 2014 were 13,398 and
12,877, respectively.
For building inspections, 95 percent are completed on the scheduled day.
Inspectors performed approximately 4,500 in 2013.
They have performed the
same through May 2015.
Ninety-nine percent of
fire inspections are completed on the scheduled day.
Baker said the county
also has developed an expedited commercial plan
review process using peer
“We have a database
of peer reviewers who
are qualified,” Baker said.
“If you need your project
within a certain amount of
time, you can select one of
those certified firms and
then they can actually submit those projects to us and
we will guarantee that those
projects are returned within
10 days.

“If you’re in a crunch
and really need to get those
plans out—you want to
have a grand opening or
something—we have a list of
certified reviewers that are
familiar with our process,
and you can pay them to
complete your plans, sub-

mit them to us and we will
definitely turn those around
in an expedited [time],” he
“Though we’ve made
a lot of strides and we’ve
made improvements and
we’ve done consolidations
and we’re trying different

approaches to our plan reviews, we’re not there yet,”
Baker said.
“Any time that you have
the number of inspections
and reviews that we’re actually doing, there [are] always
going to be some hiccups,”
he added.

The changes have gone
over well with customers,
Baker said. More customers
report a positive experience
in April 2015 compared with
a year ago.


Share your best shots of DeKalb
County Parks.
For information and to register visit

Win roundtrip airfare
on Southern Airways

Sponsored by:


Page 10A The Champion Free Press, Friday, July 3, 2015

New fireworks laws spark extra caution
by Kathy Mitchell
This Independence Day
Georgians may legally celebrate with fireworks that
had been outlawed before a
legislative change that went
into effect July 1.
Medical professionals caution, however, that
just because fireworks are
legal doesn’t mean they are
without risks. Physician Sofia Khan, systems medical
director at DeKalb Medical, warned that like many
everyday items, fireworks
can lead to injury or death
if improperly used. The
more powerful fireworks
that are now legally available in Georgia may shoot
into the air and move along
a trajectory that takes it
far—sometimes thousands
of feet—from where it is
set off, Khan noted. “These
should be used with extreme
caution because they can be
unpredictable,” she said.
“Not every firework operates the way it’s supposed
to. Just as some are duds that
don’t go off at all, others may
go off more powerfully than
the manufacturer intended,”
said Khan, who has practiced emergency medicine
for 10 years.
Fireworks injuries are
not common, but can be
serious, according to Khan
and the Consumer Product
Safety Commission (CPSC),
a federal government agency, which reports that on the
Fourth of July and on surrounding days nationally an
average of 240 people a day
go to the emergency room
with fireworks-related injuries.

Khan said she sees five
or six fireworks-related
injuries each year—usually around the Fourth of
July. Most of the injuries are
burns. “People burn their
hands holding fireworks
or burn their skin or hair
when sparks fly up,” she
said. Damage to the eyes,
she added, can be especially
serious. According to CPSC,
36 percent of fireworks injuries are to the hands and
fingers; 22 percent are to
the head, face and ears; 16
percent are to the eyes; 5
percent are to the arms and
7 percent are to the trunk or
other body parts.
CPSC noted that even
sparklers, which many
people think of as relatively
harmless, can reach 2,000
degrees Fahrenheit, about
the same temperature as a
blowtorch. No fireworks are
completely harmless, Khan
Khan said she has seen
fireworks injuries among
all age groups, but they
are more common among
teens and college-age youth.
Adults, she added, should
always supervise young people who may not understand
the dangers.
Young children should
never be allowed to play
with or ignite fireworks,
according to CPSC. Khan
noted that adults should exercise special caution when
small children are present.
“Little children run around
a lot. A child may be in one
place one minute and before
the parents realize it the
child may be too close to
where the fireworks are being used,” she said.

Directions on fireworks
packages usually indicate
how far people or objects
should be from the device
before it burns or explodes,
but not everyone heeds or
understands the directions.
“People can create a dangerous situation when they decide to get creative with fireworks, doing such things as
tying a group of explosives
together or placing a toy on
top of the device before setting it off. A plastic toy can
burst apart and pieces of it
can strike and injure someone,” Khan said.
She also advised those
celebrating with fireworks to
use them only when sober.
“Alcohol and fireworks are
not a good mix,” she said. “A
person may do foolish and
irresponsible things when
he’s been drinking. This
is not the time to use fireworks.”
There is a reason that
fireworks are regulated by
law, Khan said. “The dangers are real. Those who
aren’t certain they can handle fireworks safely might
do well to enjoy them at a
public display where the
fireworks are operated by
CPSC offer these additional tips:
• Avoid buying fireworks
that are packaged in brown
paper because this is often
a sign that the fireworks
were made for professional
displays and that they
could pose a danger to
• Never place any part of
your body directly over
a fireworks device when
lighting the fuse. Back up

to a safe distance immediately after lighting fireworks.
• Never try to relight or pick
up fireworks that have not
ignited fully.
• Never point or throw fireworks at another person.
• Keep a bucket of water or a
garden hose handy in case
of fire or other mishap.
• Light fireworks one at

a time, then move back
ever carry fireworks in a
pocket or shoot them off
in metal or glass containers.
fter fireworks complete
their burning, douse the
spent device with plenty
of water from a bucket or
hose before discarding it to
prevent a trash fire.

Pet of the Week

Meet Aliza ID# 27731601
she is a social
butterfly that loves
to dance, roll over
for treats, and
make funny faces.
This happy 1 year
old has never met
a stranger. Aliza
is a very peopleoriented girl that
can’t wait to get
chummy with you.
She gets along
great with other
dogs and sleeps peacefully with her kennel mates
in a flawless cuddle puddle. Aliza seems to have
a moderate energy level and tires out quickly after
some playing or practicing commands. Do you
see Aliza in your future; she would love to see
you in hers!! Come meet Aliza today. Come meet
this sweetie at the DeKalb shelter and remember
to ask about our monthly pet promotion. If you
would like more information about Aliza please
email or
call (404) 294-2165. All potential adopters will be
screened to ensure Aliza goes to a good home..


The Champion Free Press, Friday, July 3, 2015



Page 11A


Marriage officiates and couple Samantha Clark and Christi Snellgrove
stand outside the DeKalb County Courthouse.

It was a bright, sunny day June 25 when a tree fell across Peachcrest
Road. DeKalb County firefighters taped off the area until the tree was
removed. Photo by Andrew Cauthen

The steeple is the last remnant of the Scott Boulevard Baptist Church. The church and surrounding residential properties are being demolished to make way for the Decatur Crossing development. Photo by Travis

Photos brought to you by DCTV
DeKalb County begins one-day-a-week sanitation collection service July 6, 2015
Residential customers will have same-day garbage, recyclable materials and yard trimmings collection
For more info, call or visit:

(404) 294-2900


Page 12A The Champion Free Press, Friday, July 3, 2015

Tree hit by lightning
damages home in
south DeKalb
by Carla Parker

Debris from the tree damaged nine cars in the 3900 block of
Knights Cross.

Lightning struck a tree in south DeKalb,
causing the tree to explode.

Fire from the explosion spread to Ernest Walker’s home.
Photos by Carla Parker

Ernest Walker and his
wife were sitting in their garage having coffee when they
heard a “big boom.”
“It knocked us backwards
out of the chair, and we saw
the tree falling,” Walker said.
Lightning hit a large
tree in front of the Walkers’
home, located in the 3900
block of Knights Cross in
south DeKalb. A storm was
in the area on June 27 when
lightning struck around 7:30
The lightning strike split
the tree in half, causing it to
explode, and send debris flying.
“It was quite a large tree,”
Walker said.

Neighbors also saw a
“fireball” shoot up in the
air. Fire spread to the side of
Walker’s home. Walker said
he did not see the explosion.
“We just kept rolling towards the back to get out of
the way,” he said. “We never
saw the lightning ball, but all
my neighbors saw it. They
said it lit up like a big flash at
night, but we didn’t see that.”
Debris from the explosion damaged nine cars, including the cars of Walker’s
granddaughter, son, wife and
neighbors. Other than a “little scratch” on Walker’s wife’s
ankle, no one was injured.
“Me and my wife both
feel blessed,” he said. “When
you see things like that, you
know you’re blessed.”

From left, Decatur Rotary Club new members Peter Michelson, Renewal Design Build; Luz Borrero, DeKalb County government; Doug Park, Douglas Park Law; Ash Gupta, Cartridge World;
Brandon Baines, Atlanta Area Council – Boy Scouts; Neil Dobbs, Allstate Insurance; Preston Etheridge, BB&T Bank; Brett Price, Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, Georgia Properties;
and Keri Powell, U.S. EPA.

Decatur Rotary installs new officers

by Ashley Oglesby

On June 26 Decatur Rotary installed new leaders and recognized
many current members.
Scott Thompson was announced
as the 2015 - 2016 president, replacing the Peter Michelson.
Thompson said, “We have been
loaned 21 new members. We are
net 13 or 15 depending on the math,
which is quibbling…. We haven‘t
been net one in over a decade, and
this club is almost back to its size
when I joined. I can think of no better way to repay that debt and honor
Peter and Rick Garnitz’s mitzvah
than to focus on the core, which to
me is Friday lunch at Rotary, fellowship, great food, great speakers,
some education, fellowship through
service and taking care of club business.”
Thompson said, “When I say
taking care of this club, I mean pri-

marily actually doing what everyone
knows we should do using the best
practices of Rotary in Action to
mentor and retain new members...
Getting more people to participate in
our fundraiser, which is lots of service time with lots of opportunities
to work with each other, get to know
each other.”
Dozens of Rotary Club members
attended the event at DeKalb’s History Center.
Michelson said the most rewarding aspect of leading the organization has been “bringing a sense of
excitement and enthusiasm back
into the club. I think one of the
reasons we have attracted so many
new members is because our members are engaged and excited about
what’s going on, and they’re telling
their friends, colleagues and associates.”
There are approximately 130
members of the Decatur-based club.
Since Michelson took charge 28

new members have joined.
Michelson said one of the challenges with Rotary is that they meet
every week. “We have an attendance
requirement so it’s often people who
are later in their life who have that
flexibility in their schedule. One of
the challenges in our Rotary club is
the age gap. One of the things that
we have worked on really hard is
making sure that we have a really
good cross section of people of different ages, working on diversity
issues, diversifying both gender and
race across all lines.”
The Rotary Club of Decatur is
one of Georgia’s first Rotary Clubs.
It became the first Rotary Club
founded in the suburbs of America.
The club assists with Decatur’s Martin Luther King Jr. service project,
delivers hygiene kits to homeless
shelters, promotes early literacy and
leads other community initiatives.
Former board member Sara
Fountain said, “One of the things

about Rotary is when you are asked
to do something you’re not expected
to ever say ‘no,’ you’re expected
to say ‘yes.’ You’ll find people doing something they’ve never done
before. You have to step outside of
your comfort zone to get involved in
activities that are helpful to the community and the club.”
The motto of the Rotary Club is
“service above self.”
Fountain said, “When people
join Rotary we explain this to them
that there is a certain service-based
requirement that we want them to
participate in, in order to support the
activities of the club.”
She added, “If you can’t physically do something, you can donate
financially. You give your time, your
resources or both to support the mission.”
For additional information on the
Decatur Rotary Club visit

The Champion Free Press, Friday, July 3, 2015


Page 15A

Cat and Jordan Forrest Carnes-Miller show off their rings after getting married June 26. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Marriage Continued From Page 1A
said. “I think this brings about
acceptance, brings about love, and I
think we are step closer to where we
need to be.”
The couple had been engaged
for a while, a ceremony previously
planned for next year “is just going
to be a renewal of vows now,” Cat
Breanna Carnes-Miller said.
“I think it’s a really big deal
especially that the South has
legalized marriage regardless
of gender,” said Jordan Forrest
Carnes-Miller. “There’s a lot more
to be done, especially in regards to
[transgender] issues but…we’re one
step closer to acceptance of different
“Its’ just an awesome day to
celebrate,” Jordan Forrest CarnesMiller said.
The U. S. Supreme Court
announced its 5-4 decision June 26
that same-sex couples have a right
to marry anywhere in the United
States. As a result of the ruling,
Georgia and 13 other states in the
South and Midwest will have to stop

enforcing their bans on same-sex
“It is now clear that the
challenged laws burden the liberty
of same-sex couples, and it must
be further acknowledged that
they abridge central precepts of
equality,” said Supreme Court
Justice Anthony Kennedy.
Gov. Nathan Deal said Georgia
will follow federal law.
“While I believe that this issue
should be decided by the states
and by legislatures, not the federal
judiciary, I also believe in the rule of
law. The state of Georgia is subject
to the laws of the United States, and
we will follow them,” he said.
Congressman Hank Johnson
(GA-04) said the “historic Supreme
Court ruling means all Americans–
regardless of their gender or gender
identity–have the right to marry the
person they love.
“It also reaffirms equal protection
under the law in accordance with
the Fourteenth Amendment,” he
said. “We are all more free when all

Americans are treated as equal, no
matter who they are or whom they
Rep. Karla Drenner of Avondale
Estate said she is “gratified by
the Court’s recent ruling and the
willingness to place principle over
“The Supreme Court’s acceptance
is the step in the right direction for
Georgia, but I believe that we still
have a lot of work to do in order for
the LGBT community to overcome
discrimination,” Drenner said.
House Minority Leader Stacey
Abrams, who represents part of
DeKalb County called the ruling a
“groundbreaking victory.”
“I am thrilled that all
Americans—regardless of where
they live—will no longer be
denied the right to marry who
they love,” Abrams said. “LGBT
individuals will not have to fight
for the right to sit next to their
partners’ bedside in a hospital, to
get family healthcare coverage, or to
have their relationships recognized

by immigration laws.
“This is progress worth
celebrating, and I’m hopeful that
we will continue to chip away at
barriers for LGBT equality until
all discrimination is a thing of the
past,” she said.
Rep. Scott Holcomb tweeted,
“Love is love,” adding that there are
“no reports of same-sex marriages
having any impact on existing
marriages in Georgia.”
Rosh said the county’s updated
marriage license applications are
now gender neutral.
Rosh said workers are trying
to make more room for marriage
license applicants, adding that the
court has received a flood of phone
calls from people inquiring about
same-sex marriage licenses.
DeKalb County Probate Court
was open Saturday, June 27, from 8
a.m. to 12 noon, to accommodate
an expected increase in marriage
license requests.

Ellis Continued From Page 1A
called in “every time there was a hole in the state’s
case.” Walton was brought in to testify seven
times in Ellis retrial, Gillen said.
“I agree with [prosecutors] when they say
don’t believe a single thing out of his mouth,” Gillen said.
Gillen told the jury to believe what they heard
on the tapes, when Ellis “doesn’t know anybody
else but Mr. Walton is listening… Do not let Walton come in and transform the tapes.”
“Don’t get distracted,” DeKalb County District
Attorney Robert James told the jury. “Kelvin
Walton is a distraction.
“You may not like Kelvin Walton,” James said.
“I get it; he’s a liar. That’s what liars do.”
James said Walton was “a microphone stand”

for investigators in the DA’s Office.
“If you get caught saying something wrong
in the microphone…you don’t blame the mike
stand,” James said.
Reminding the jury that Walton is not on trial,
James asked when Ellis is “going to take some responsibility.”
Instead, Ellis is saying “don’t look at me, look
at the putty man,” James said.
Ellis’ administration “is a virtual sewer of corruption. He wants you to believe…he’s an angel.”
James named former county employees he
described as corrupt, looked at Ellis and said, “So
are you.”
In October 2014, Ellis’ first trial of ended in a
hung jury after six weeks; the jury deliberated for

11 days.
In the first trial, Ellis faced four counts of
criminal attempt to commit theft by extortion;
three counts of theft by taking; two counts of
criminal attempt to commit false statements and
writings; three counts of coercion of other employees to give anything of value for political purposes; and a count each of conspiracy in restraint
of free and open competition, and of conspiracy
to defraud a political subdivision.
Before his retrial began this month, four
charges were dropped:  two counts of thefts and
two of coercion.
The jury began deliberating June 24 and had
reached a verdict by The Champion’s press time
on June 30.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, July 3, 2015

Columbia Middle School principal Keith Jones sings I Did it My Way to
Michael Thurmond. Thurmond’s wife gets teary-eyed.


Page 14A

Transportation Director David Guillory and
teacher Victoria Guillory perform Unforgettable.

Former school superintendent Michael Thurmond and his wife dance to Un- Parent Samia Abdullah thanks the former superintendent for his recognition of refugees and non-English
forgettable which was performed by David Guillory and his daughter Victoria. speaking parents.

Outgoing schools superintendent celebrated
by Ashley Oglesby

An evening of food,
fellowship and music ensembles from Redan High
School drum line, Columbia
Middle School Principal
Keith Jones, transportation
director David Guillory and
teacher Victoria Guillory
led a celebration for outgoing
DeKalb school Superintendent Michael Thurmond on
June 25.
The event took place
from 6 to 8 p.m. at the district’s Stone Mountain headquarters.
Mistress of Ceremonies
Susan McCauley, principal
of DeKalb School of the Arts
said under Thurmond’s leadership the district has “greatly improved its financial
foundation, increased trust
and cooperation from the
community and increased
opportunities for students to
be successful in every school
house and in every classroom.”
She said choosing a lawyer to run a school district
doesn’t seem like the best
idea but it was.
Thurmond took over the
district in February 2013 and
is credited with stabilizing
the School District in the
midst of budget deficits, a
governance crisis that resulted in the removal of several
board members and a threat

to the district’s accreditation.
Board chairman Melvin Johnson said, “The best
quality that I have recognized [Thurmond] having
that I want to distinguish
is his understanding. He
understands the differences
and the roles of the board of
education and the role of the
superintendent. He understands the importance of creating a culture in the community and in our school
system that is conducive to
learning. He realizes and
understands the importance
of getting the best salaries
for teachers who delivers
instruction to our students
each and every day. He understands the importance of
parent engagement and only
the board knows how hard
he has worked in collaboration with the board to make
these things happen.”
He added, “We have improved student achievement.
We improved the graduation
rate. We eliminated the deficit and certainly we brought
hope back to this county.”
Under Thurmond’s leadership, the district’s accreditation was restored, budget
deficits was transformed into
surpluses and the board and
administration have shifted
from crisis mode to a focus
on improving educational
outcomes for the district’s
100,000 students.
Thurmond was pre-

sented with a plaque of
honor from 100 Black Men
of DeKalb and a certificate of
honor from city of Lithonia
Mayor Deborah Jackson.
Student Donte Watkins,
parent Samia Abdullah,
DeKalb chamber man Arnie
Silverman, Citizen Mary
Lindsey Lewis and bus
driver Linda Carthan served
as featured speakers at the

Thurmond gave the closing remarks for the event.
“My life has been transformed. I have literally
been born again because of
my service here in DeKalb
County,” Thurmond said.
He added, “Honor me
by when you do your budget
for [fiscal year 2017] think
about the bus drivers and
the janitors and the food and
nutrition people first. Think

first about the children who
are seeking to be educated.
Think about the parents that
cannot speak English. Think
about the children who grew
up in refugee camps. Think
about those that need us
Incoming DeKalb
County Schools Superintendent Dr. Stephen Green was
sworn in on July 1.

The City of Chamblee has tentatively adopted a new millage rate of 6.40
mills for the General Fund which will require an increase in property taxes
by 8.60% over the rollback millage rate.
All concerned citizens are invited to the public hearings on this tax increase
to be held at the Chamblee Civic Center located at 3540 Broad St,
Chamblee Georgia on July 1, 2015 at 6:00 PM.
Two additional public hearings on this tax increase will be held at the
Chamblee Civic Center on July 9, 2015. There will be one hearing at 11:30
AM and a final hearing at 6:00 PM. After the final public hearing, the
millage rate will be formally adopted.
This tentative new millage rate of 6.40 mills for the newly annexed
properties will result in an increase of .507 mills. Without this tentative tax
increase, the millage rate will be 5.893 mills. The proposed tax increase for
a home with a fair market value of $125,000 is approximately $11.40 and
the proposed tax increase for non-homestead property with a fair market
value of $450,000 is approximately $102.06.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, July 3, 2015



Page 15A

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The Champion Free Press, Friday, July 3, 2015


Page 16A

Arnie Silverman says his favorite projects involve not-for-profit or government organizations.

Small construction company has large community impact
by Kathy Mitchell
“People think my company is
a lot bigger than it is,” commented
Arnie Silverman, president of Silverman Construction. “We only
have 12 employees and generate
less than $3 million a year in revenue. We’re really quite small.” If the
company is perceived to be huge
it’s probably because its imprint is
on many landmarks throughout
DeKalb County and Atlanta.
Although the company is a relative newcomer among Atlanta-area
construction companies, during
its 20 years of existence, Silverman
Construction has been involved
with such high-profile projects as
the Porter Sanford III Performing Arts and Community Center
in Decatur, the Lou Walker Senior
Center in Lithonia, Wade Walker
Park YMCA, East Lake Village and
numerous churches, synagogues and
“I was always really good at
math,” Silverman said, explaining
his decision to pursue a career in
engineering. He has an electrical
engineering degree from Stevens Institute of Technology, which he describes as “an excellent little school
that not many people have heard

of,” and a master’s degree in business administration from Columbia
A native of New York, Silverman
came to Georgia in 1979 to work
with his brother at Winter Construction Co., where he was president and chief operating officer.
Although in 16 years he increased
Winter Construction’s revenue from
$2.5 million to more than $88 million, Silverman quit because he
“wasn’t having any fun.”
The 1995 death of a family
member who had suffered a brain
injury, led Silverman to take stock of
his life and his priorities. That same
year he started Silverman Construction.
“At first, I operated the business
from my house,” he recalled. “Then
one morning my wife came downstairs in her bathrobe and found six
strangers waiting in the foyer. She
said, ‘Either they go or I do.’” Soon
after, the company moved to Zonolite Road near Emory University.
Silverman said he believes that
each person has an obligation to
give back to the community in
which he earns a living. His long
list of community board service
includes chairing the boards of the
DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce and Leadership DeKalb. He

also has served on the boards of
Paideia School, Olmsted Linear
Park Alliance, and Genesis Shelter
Inc. The Metro Atlanta Chamber
of Commerce recently awarded Silverman its Lifetime Achievement
Among the accomplishments
the Metro Atlanta Chamber cited in
choosing Silverman for the award
was his successful navigation of the
economic downturn that hit bottom in 2008 and was especially hard
on the construction industry. The
Atlanta Business Chronicle quoted
Mary Moore, founder and CEO of
Cook’s Warehouse, who was among
the judges for the award. “That’s
the sign of a great leader,” she said.
“There are a lot of people who
weathered the storm, but there are
also a lot that didn’t.”
Sometimes his business and
community service intersect. Silverman recalled serving on the board
of a private school that wanted his
help with a construction project.
“I told them I couldn’t afford to
do it as a volunteer and to take the
project while serving on the board
would be a conflict of interest.
[Their representative] said, ‘Fine,
I’m firing you as a board member
and hiring you as a contractor.’”
Silverman Construction special-


izes in not-for-profit and government projects. “It’s not all we do, but
I really like taking on those projects.
Often they need someone to help
them make good decisions—to
navigate the minefield.”
For example, he said, an organization may have $3 million to
spend on a project and learn that
construction will cost $3 million.
“They think everything’s fine, but
they don’t realize the $3 million for
construction doesn’t include permits, the cost of an architect and
other expenses they might not have
thought of,” he said. “We always
make sure projects are budgeted and
scheduled correctly. It starts with
a good contract, one that’s fair, but
owner biased.”
Silverman recalled a large south
DeKalb church that hired him after
its relocation project ran into major
problems. “The church, the contractor and the architect were all ready
to sue each other. They were all
African Americans. This wouldn’t
have created a good image in the
community. I was able to work with
them, and we ended up with nobody suing and the project being
completed to everybody’s satisfaction.”

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

July 2015

News and events of the
DeKalb Chamber of Commerce
Two Decatur Town Center, 125 Clairemont Ave. Suite 235, Decatur, GA, 30030 • 404.378.8000•

President’s Message
For nearly 80 years the DeKalb
Chamber of Commerce has faced
growth, change, and transition that,
at times, were extremely challenging.
Over the past year, the Chamber
has risen to meet every challenge,
every change through employing
a highly skilled and diverse staff of
professionals with a wide range of
experience who are committed to
putting the interest of our members
and the business community first.
The Chamber has redefined
its programs and events to deliver
what the business community has
said is more valuable than what they
have experienced in the last several
years— a more elevated Chamber
brand that is inclusive of all industries
and businesses.
What an opportunity I have been
given, not in being the first woman
to lead this Chamber, but because
I have had the opportunity to hire
a truly dynamic team. So meet your
Chamber team and know that we
look forward to serving you.
Vice President of Operations,

Kim Childs, who holds a bachelor’s
degree in public relations and is a
former banker, comes to us with more
than 20 plus years in corporate
America in retail and commercial
banking. Focusing on streamlining
processes and procedures, Kim is a
great addition to the team.
Rachea Brooks, Marketing
Specialist and Assistant to the
President, holds an associate
degree in business administration,
is a certified web designer and a
proud veteran of the United States
Army. Rachea’s experience includes
marketing, web development, graphic
design, human resources and
business administration. She creatively
manages our website and marketing
design work.
Director of Membership
Development, Rick Young, with
a BA in finance comes to us as a
former retail and commercial banker
in the DeKalb market. Having been
a successful banker for the last
16 years Rick has been with the
Chamber for just more than one

month, and has already settled into
his new role perfectly.
Emily Yang, our new
Communications and Experiential
Marketing Manager, joins the
Chamber team with a wide range
of technical skills in public relations,
marketing, social media networking
and branding. Emily knows the
DeKalb business market and brings
a wealth of energy to the Chamber.
She holds a bachelor’s degree in
public relations and marketing, and
is a member of the Public Relations
Society of America (PRSA) as well as
the PRSA Georgia Chapter.
I am proud to lead this Chamber
and this awesome team, as we have
had a tremendous amount of success
in the first half of 2015, and look
forward to your support as we move
into the second half of our year.





Katerina Taylor
President and CEO
BBA-Marketing, MBA-Finance     

Upcoming Events
July 21: 11:30–1:30 p.m. Membership Orientation Luncheon,
Cornerstone Bank Community Room, 125 Clairemont Ave,
Decatur. Join us for lunch and hear how to leverage the various
engagement opportunities, affinity programs and events to maximize
your membership investment, make new contacts and grow your

Fun! Networking! A Day of Golf!
Monday, August 31, 2015
For over a decade, the DeKalb
Chamber of Commerce has been
organizing golf outings as our second
largest annual event and we are excited
to be able to do so again this year!
 On August 31, 2015, the Chamber
will host in a captain’s choice format,
its 11th Annual Golf Tournament at
the prestigious Druid Hills Golf Club, a
championship golf course and premier
facility, located at 740 Clifton Road, NE
Atlanta, GA.
 Since its inception, the Chamber’s
golf tournaments have always enjoyed
strong participation and support from
the business community with an average

of 115 participants.  Approximately 144
participants will come together this year
as 4-man player teams for a best ball
scramble tournament. Avid golfers will be
teeing it up and hitting long across the
Druid Hills Golf Club fair greens to make
up the rich tapestry of DeKalb and metro
Atlanta’s business leaders and their key
clients, friends, business colleagues, and
Starting with an 8:30 a.m. registration,
participants will tee off at 10:00
a.m. competing for Hole-In-One, Closest
to the Pin, Longest Drive and Putting
Green contests. Back by popular
demand is our W|E|L|D Women’s Golf
Clinic from 1:30 to 3 p.m. which offers a
personal assessment by a pro golfer, a

one-hour lesson in golf fundamentals,
networking reception and complimentary
gift bag. Immediately at 3:30 p.m. is our
19th Hole Reception where players will
compete for raffle prizes and awards.
 Each year many of Atlanta’s top
companies use this tournament as a way
to invite their key clients and encourage
business colleagues to join them on
the green for a day of relaxed fun,
networking, good food, and golf awards.
 Sponsorship Opportunities Available:
Contact Rick Young ryoung@ or Rachea
Brooks at

July 30: 5:30–7:30 p.m. Business After Hours Networking:
SOUTHBOUND, 5934 Peachtree Road, Chamblee. Enjoy
a casual evening of networking and hear updates of
the Chamber’s programs. Appetizers will be provided by
SOUTHBOUND. Drink Specials. Cash bar.
August 31–11th Annual DeKalb Chamber Golf Tournament, Druid
Hills Golf Club
September 23: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The Atlanta JournalConstitution presents the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce
Technology Symposium and luncheon
November 19: 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Save-The-Date General
Membership Meeting – Economic Outlook and Financial Impact
2016 with Keynote Speaker: Dennis Lockhart, President and CEO of
the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta
Additional information available on our events page:  www.

Brought to you in partnership with: The Champion Newspaper

The Champion Free Press, Friday, July 3, 2015


Page 18A

Former SWD lacrosse
player finishes
ranked in NCAA stats
by Mark Brock
Tusculum College
women’s lacrosse sophomore
midfielder Calyn Kelly was
one of two Pioneers ranked
in the Top 10 in the 2015
NCAA Division I ground
ball category.
Kelly, a former Southwest DeKalb lacrosse and
basketball star, had a 3.80
ground balls per game average to rank seventh in the
nation and second in the
South Atlanta Conference
(SAC) along with freshman
midfielder Madison Malone
who was 10th with a 3.67
average led Tusculum to a
seventh national ranking in
team ground balls average at
A transfer from Reinhardt University (NAIA) in
Waleska. Kelly was the first
Southwest DeKalb Lady
Panther to receive a scholarship for lacrosse.
She also earned the

Astroturf SAC women’s lacrosse Defensive Player of
the Week for March 18-21
for her play in Tusculum
victories over Catawba and
Lincoln Memorial (LMU).
Kelly recorded a season
high nine ground balls in
the Pioneers’ 17-16 comeback victory over Catawba.
Her season high five caused
turnovers against Catawba
including a timely defensive
play that allowed Tusculum
to run out the clock following the game-winning goal.
The Pioneers rolled to
a 16-2 victory over Lincoln
Memorial earlier that week
and had Kelly collecting
four ground ball and three
caused turnovers.
The two-game span also
included Kelly picking up
five draw controls to aid her
pick as the SAC Defensive
Player of the Week.
Kelly collected 16 goals
and nine assists to total
25 points as the defender

Calyn Kelly ranked 7th in the nation in ground balls per game average.

finished sixth on the team
in points scored. She had a
team-leading season total of

57 ground balls to go with
33 draw controls (ranked
second on team) and 20

turnovers caused (tied for
fourth on team).

DSA grad finishes track career at Florida State
by Mark Brock
Jande Pierce came out of the DeKalb
School of the Arts (DSA) in 2011 with a track
scholarship to Florida State University even
though the school had no track team.
The redshirt junior wrapped up her college career this past spring with an All-American honor and two NCAA Track and Field
Championships appearances to her credit as
well as an Academic All-ACC selection.
Her senior year included helping the
4x400 meter relay squad to a win in the Alex
Wilson Invitational with the school’s secondfastest time in the event at 3:35.26.
She spent much of the season developing
her speed by running in the 60- and 200-meter sprints as well as the 4x400 until a hamstring injury forced her to sit out much of the
season, including the ACC Championships
and NCAA’s, despite being an alternate on the
The 2014 season was the highlight of her
four years at Florida State after coming off
a redshirt season in 2013. Pierce became a
regular member of the Seminoles’ 4x100 relay
team. She ran the third leg on FSU’s seventh
place and All-American 4x100 relay team at
the 2014 NCAA Outdoor Track and Field

Pierce’s team ran a 44.17 in the preliminaries to qualify for the finals where they earned
the All-American honors. She was also part of
the eighth place 4x400 relay that earned a final point to help secure Florida State the 2014
ACC Outdoor Championships title.
During the 2014 season Pierce, a political
science major, was one of 12 Seminole track
team members to be named to the ACC AllAcademic Track team for 2014.
Her freshman season at Florida State
demonstrated the promise Pierce had shown
during club track (New Horizons) to earn the
scholarship. Pierce ran the 400 leg (56.35) of
the distance medley relay at the 2012 ACC
Championships as the squad set a ACC record
on the way to the conference title. She also ran
the fastest leg (55.77) of the 4x400 relay team
(3:46.29) that finished fifth at the championships that year and ran the 200 (24.10) to finish fifth to help solidify Florida State’s runnerup finish.
Do not look for Pierce to use her political
science degree anytime soon as she is returning to her first love, the arts. Pierce has put
together a self-produced music CD.

DSA alum Jande Pierce finished her college career with an All-American
honor and two NCAA Track and Field Championships appearances.

Stand up •Speak out

Stop Cyber

The Champion Free Press, Friday, July 3, 2015


Page 19A

A basketball camp for deaf students concluded June 26 with a boys and girls all-star game at Decatur Recreation Center. Photo by Carla Parker

Mike Glenn hosts basketball camp
for deaf students
by Carla Parker
Young basketball players who are hearing impaired from across the country traveled to Decatur
for the Mike Glenn’s All-Star Basketball Camp for
the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
In its 36th year the camp, was held June 22-26
at Clairemont Presbyterian Church and Decatur
Recreation Center. Hosted by former NBA player
Mike Glenn, it is the nation’s first basketball camp
for deaf and hard of hearing athletes ages 14 to 18.
During the week, the students went through basketball drills to enhance their skills.
They also learned about communication, leadership, nutrition and life lessons. The camp concluded with an all-star game at Decatur Recreation
Students from as far as Indiana and North Carolina traveled to Decatur to attend the camp. Glenn’s
former teammates Rickey Brown and Charlie
Criss spoke to campers June 22, as well as Harry
Flournoy was a member of the 1966 Texas Western men’s basketball team, which made history for
starting five Black players in the starting lineup. The
team also won the national championship that year.
Flournoy said he was happy to come speak to
the campers.
“[I came to] see what he was doing with these
kids. I wanted to come out and just be a part of it,”
he said. “Just to see it and feel the atmosphere of it.”
The idea of the camp was originated from
Glenn’s father, Charles Glenn, who started the
sports program at the Georgia School for the Deaf.

Mike Glenn speaks to the campers in sign language to introduce one of the speakers June 23. Photo by Carla

Mike Glenn (red polo shirt) gives the girls all-star team instructions during a time out. Photo by Greg White/Decatur Active Living

The Champion Free Press, Friday, July 3, 2015


Page 20A

DeKalb cities could see increased property taxes
by Carla Parker
Cities across the county have
tentatively adopted their 2015 millage rates, and while most cities have
a lower millage rate than last year,
some residents could see an increase
in property taxes.
In Brookhaven, property taxes
could increase by 15.78 percent. The
city adopted the 2015 budget with
a proposed millage rate of 2.795
mills, the same as last year. Without
this tentative tax increase, the millage rate will be no more than 2.414
mills, according to the city.
City officials said the increase is
due to the “revaluation of real property tax assessments.”
“When the city council adopted
the budget in December 2014, of
a budget of $20 million, they projected $6.5 million in property tax
rates,” said the city’s financial director Carl Stephens. “They made
that projection based on almost no
growth in the digest, and they made
that projection based on leaving the
millage rate the same. Now that the

digest has come in, [we project that]
if the millage rate stays the same
we’ll collect approximately [more
than $7 million]. That’s $600,500
more than what we had in the budget.”
The proposed tax increase for
a home in Brookhaven with a fair
market value of $300,000 is approximately $43 and the proposed tax increase for non-homestead property
with a fair market value of $200,000
is approximately $31.
The Brookhaven City Council
also adopted an ordinance creating
a special taxing district in the I-85,
North Druid Hills area. The district
proposes funding police and other
safety services from the tax millage
rate on properties in this designated
The projected first year costs,
including capital, were projected to
be $683,000, according to the city.
The net cost, after prepayment of
start-up costs, was projected to be
approximately $205,000. The preliminary 2015 net tax digest for the
special tax district is $59 million.
As a new taxing district, an

initial millage rate of 4.21 was projected.
In Avondale Estates, the city’s
millage rate would 16.53 percent.
increase property taxes. The tentative increase will result in a millage
rate of 10.957 mills, an increase of
1.56 mills. Without this tentative tax
increase, the millage rate will be no
more than 9.403 mills.
Mayor Pro Tem Terry Giager
said he would like the millage be
10.957 mills.
“Because of the potential downtown development, I am for that
rate too,” he said. “I would welcome
open discussion on [other] options.”
The proposed tax increase for
a home in Avondale Estates with
a fair market value of $200,000 is
approximately $312, according to
the city. The proposed increase on
non-homestead property with a fair
market value of $200,000 is also approximately $312, and the proposed
tax increase for a property with the
county basic homestead exemption
is $312.
Lithonia’s tentative adopted millage rate would require an increase in

property taxes of 2.98 percent. The
increase will result in a millage rate
of 17.000, an increase of 0.492 mills.
Without this tentative tax increase,
the millage rate will be no more
than 16.508 mills, according to the
The proposed tax increase for
a home with a fair market value
of $36,000 is approximately $24,
and the proposed increase on nonhomestead property with a fair
market value of $70,000 is approximately $48.
The tax value of commercial and
residential real property in Stone
Mountain increased 20.65 percent
in 2015, according to city manager
Gary Peet. The city administration
recommended a decreased millage rate of 20.09 mils, which would
increase property tax revenue by
“The task for the governing
body is to balance the adopted mill
rate with the needs of the city verses
the impact of the taxpayers,” Peet
said. “We think that this is a reasonable adjustment to the mill rate to
accommodate the city’s needs.”