FRIDAY, December 18, 2015 • VOL. 18, NO. 37 • FREE


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

Quick Finder
Business.................................. 17A
Sports................................ 21-23A

County’s proposed
budget holds the line,
anticipates Tucker

DeKalb officers
fighting for raises

DeKalb County
remembers Pearl

Local, 10A

local, 14A

education, 19A

People stand in support of refugees and Somalian refugee Safia Jama stands on a sidewalk with dozens of
immigrants in front of Memorial Drive
other protestors with a sign that reads, “Solidarity with refugees and
Presbyterian Church.
immigrants. Welcome to Georgia!” Photos by Travis Hudgons


The Stone Mountain rally was organized by Georgia Peace and Justice
Coalition and brought more than 130 people out to protest.

Dozens join Solidarity with Refugees and Immigrants rally
by Ashley Oglesby


Crowds gather in front of the Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church to hear speeches
prepared from organizers, refugees and immigrants.

hroughout the United States and
abroad, people facing violence
from war, occupation, poverty,
racism and bigotry are struggling for justice and human rights.
Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition
(GPJC), a network of activists in Georgia
whose goal is to provide leadership in
nonviolently opposing wars and policies of aggression and domination, held
a street demonstration on Dec. 12 that
rallied more than 130 people in Stone
Mountain at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church.

People attending were direct in
their efforts to push back against what
GPJC called “the increasing tide of antiimmigrant, anti-refugee xenophobia” by
staging a “Welcome to Georgia” rally for
refugees in America.
Nour Alkhalouf, 19, said, “It means
a lot to me as a Syrian and a Muslim to
see all the welcoming signs. I heard a lot
of governors who don’t want to welcome
Syrians refugees anymore but I know
the American people. I know it’s not the
opinion of the American people.”
Alkhalouf fled Syria and currently
studies civil engineering at Georgia State
“Those people that the governors are

See Rally on Page 15A

County seeking plan for ‘deplorable’ Brannon Hill complex
by Andrew Cauthen


t the Brannon Hill condominium
complex, conditions have progressively worsened during the past 10 years.
County officials have issued numerous
notices and citations for a myriad of violations: vacant, unsecured structures; damaged
fencing; rotting exterior walls; broken windows; damaged or missing doors; inoperable
or abandoned vehicles; unsafe handrails;
and unsecured electrical wiring.“Of course,
we’ve seen the outside storage dumps [with
items] such as the sofas,” said Andrew Baker,
DeKalb County’s director of planning and
sustainability. “People have illegally dumped

County officials are working to address the dilapidated conditions of the Brannon Hill condominium complex off of Memorial Drive.
Photos by Andrew Cauthen




See Brannon Hill on Page 15A


The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015


Page 2A

From left, state Reps. Michelle Henson, Doreen Carter, Billy Mitchell, Karen Drenner and Howard Mosby, along with Earnest “Coach” Williams, listened to residents’ concerns Dec. 9. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

The listening session was held so representatives could hear from their constituents before the 2016 Georgia General Assembly.

Residents speak out about
proposed south DeKalb cities
by Andrew Cauthen 
DeKalb County residents
had an opportunity to speak
their minds to the DeKalb
County House of Representatives delegation to
the Georgia General Assembly Dec. 9. 
“This is a listening session for us before we go into
session,” said Rep. Howard Mosby during the ses-

sion at Porter Sanford III
Performing Arts & Community Center. 
Mosby was joined
by Reps. Karen Bennett, Karla Drenner, Earnest “Coach Williams,” Billy Mitchell, Doreen Carter and Michelle Henson. 
“We are here to listen
to you for what you think
our priorities should be for
the next legislative session,”
Mosby said. The next session

of the Georgia General Assembly begins Jan. 11. 
“We know that there are
a lot of things that are going
on right now,” Mosby said.
“You have casino gambling
that’s out there on the table.
You have this religious freedom law. You have things
like annexation and cityhood. You have changing the
county organizational structure and governance issues.” 
Several of the comments

See Cities on Page 6A

Style 50%
for less!

All holiday decor

2753 E. College Ave., Decatur


DeKalb’s most trusted news source and Georgia Press
Association General Excellence winner for seven
consecutive years.


To subscribe, visit
or call 404.373.7779

The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015


Page 3A

Tucker prepares for city elections
by Carla Parker
Tucker municipal elections will
be held March 1, 2016, and candidates are now gathering information
needed to run a successful campaign
and city.
The Tucker Civic Association
held a candidate information session about holding elected office in a
city on Dec. 8. The session included
Brookhaven Mayor Rebecca Chase
Williams, Sandy Springs City Councilman Gabriel Sterling and political
consultant Mike Hassinger.
The three shared their experiences as city officials and how they
ran their campaigns. Williams said it
will take a lot of time and dedication
to get a city going.
“But it looks like Tucker is off to
a great start on that,” Williams said.
“They had a really successful referendum, they already have a good core
of people who have been very active

in the community and civic associations, and they actually have some
better infrastructure than Brookhaven had to start a city. I think that is a
real plus in Tucker’s favor.
“It does take a lot of time and it
takes a lot of planning and everyone
gets real impatient at first too—you
want to have an instant city and instant results too,” Williams added.
“But it takes time. It takes time for
plans to be made, to involve the citizens in all of those plans and then
deliver on them. You only have so
much budget, too. It’s all doable.”
Williams was elected to
Brookhaven City Council in 2012
before she was named mayor in June
following the resignation of the city’s
first mayor, J. Max Davis. Brookhaven has had its ups and downs as city
officials continue to build what they
hope is an efficient city. Williams
said she hopes Tucker can avoid
some bumps along the way.
“There are great resources out

there and they’ll get training from
the Georgia Municipal Association,”
she said. “It’s why people like me and
Gabe will come over here and talk to
them because we want to share our
experience too, help them avoid—if
they can—some of the mistakes that
have been made, if that’s possible.
Every city is unique and they’ll have
their own unique personalities, and
there are some things you just can’t
Some of the people who worked
on the Tucker 2015 campaign plan to
run for either mayor or one of the six
council seats.
Frank Auman, one of the leaders of Tucker 2015, plans to run for
mayor. Auman said he wants to fulfill
some of the promises made during
the Tucker 2015 campaign.
“We made a lot of promises
about the kind of city we’re going to
form, the character of it,” he said. “I
really want to see that through. We’re
all learning; there isn’t anyone who

has done this before, so it’s a learning
Michelle Penkava, who was also
a top advocate for Tucker, plans to
run for city council district 3.
“I’m really excited about getting
to this place and I’m even more excited about being a part of the transition,” she said. “I’m really passionate
about it.”
Hassinger said the two most
important aspects of running a campaign are time and money.
“[They should] spend five nights
a week going door to door and at this
time of the year it gets dark early so
you want to be done by sundown,” he
said. “[They’re] going to have to find
ways to reach people face-to-face, inperson, from [the time] school gets
out until sundown. [They’re] going
to have to shake all of those hands,
get the commitments and talk to a
lot of people. The second thing is financial. They have to set a budget of
what they want to spend.”

suspect pulled a black handgun and forced his way
into the business,” Maj. Brandon Gurley said. “His
face was covered with either a scarf or ski mask.
The suspect demanded money from the registers
and safe.”
Gurley said the Robber stole an undisclosed
amount of cash before leaving the store.
Witnesses described the suspect as a Black
male, approximately 6 feet tall and slender build.
Anyone who has information about the robbery or suspect can contact the Brookhaven Police
tip line at (404) 637-0636. The tip line is prepared
to accept both English and Spanish-speaking callers, and every caller can remain anonymous.
Those who leave tips through Crime Stoppers
Atlanta may be eligible for a reward. Crime Stoppers tips can be made at (404) 577-8477 or by texting 274637.

DeKalb Sheriff’s Office arrests suspects in
Lithonia drug deal murder

Brookhaven police trying to identify robbery
Brookhaven police need help from the public in identifying the person responsible for the
armed robbery of a Starbucks.
The robbery occurred Dec. 8 around 6 a.m. at
the North Druid Hills Road location. Police said
the suspect was waiting outside Starbucks for employees to unlock the doors.
“Once they began to unlock the doors, the

The DeKalb County
Sheriff ’s Office Fugitive
Squad has arrested two men
in connection with the Nov.
28 shooting death of one
person and injury of another at 7712 Rockbridge Road
in Lithonia during what
police say was a narcotics
A warrant was issued
Dec. 2 by DeKalb County
Police for 19-year-old Hoye Rashad Anderson on
charges of felony murder and aggravated assault.
It alleges Anderson was involved in the death of
Willie Jackson, who was shot in the head, and
the injury of Kendrick Ellison, who suffered a
gunshot to the throat and neck. Police found Jackson in a burning vehicle at the scene. Ellison was
found outside a nearby residence.

Sheriff ’s Office investigators located and arrested Anderson without incident on Dec. 3 and
took him into custody at the DeKalb County Jail.
Based on information obtained during the arrest,
investigators were able to identify a second suspect, 19-year-old Raekwon Roseboro, who was
already in custody at the DeKalb County Jail on
unrelated charges. DeKalb Police issued a warrant
for Roseboro on Dec. 7 on charges of felony murder and aggravated assault in connection with the
Nov. 28 shooting death and injury.

Clemson student from Dunwoody dies near
college stadium
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) State agents say no foul
play is suspected in the death of an 18-year-old
Clemson University student at the school’s football
The university said in a news release that
freshman Michael Allen of Dunwoody, was found
dead by campus police outside a gate at Memorial
Stadium around 8:20 a.m. Dec. 1.
The Pickens County (S. C.) Coroner’s Office is
investigating and has not released a cause of death
for Allen.
State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry said agents don’t think anyone
caused Allen’s death, but are awaiting the coroner’s
report before making a final determination.

The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015


Page 4A

Remember Brannon Hill
In 1989 after Hurricane
Hugo ravished McClellanville, S.C., outside of Charleston, I and some schoolmates
at Clemson University collected supplies to help the
victims there.
At age 22, I had never
seen such destruction—
houses washed away from
foundations; centuries-old
oak trees snapped like toothpicks; large shrimp boat sitting in the ruins of houses
and debris everywhere.
Approximately 18 years
later I led a youth group missions trip to New Orleans
to help with cleanup in the
aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The scene there was
worse with whole streets of
houses missing.
The destruction of those
communities is the frame
of reference I had when I

Andrew Cauthen

Managing Editor


recently visited the Brannon
Hill condominium complex,
which a documentary claims
may be the worst neighborhood in America.
Located off of Memorial Drive, behind Memorial
Drive Presbyterian Church
and a few hundred feet from
the campus of Georgia Pe-

rimeter College, the Third
World living conditions there
are staggering. Debris is everywhere. Abandoned vehicles are everywhere. Dilapidated, uninhabitable housing
is everywhere. Poverty is everywhere. And the complex
has only worsened since my
first visit there in 2011.
Just as Americans band
together to address sudden
tragedies such as the Hugos
and Katrinas and the more
recent flooding in my home
state of South Carolina,
DeKalb County residents,
churches, businesses and
community leaders must
band together to address
Brannon Hill.
We don’t have to send
church youth groups from
DeKalb to help the Cherokee
Native American Reservation or to the impoverished

mining communities of West
Virginia or to some Caribbean Island. We have a community right here in DeKalb
that needs our help.
We don’t have to send
our money to save the children in various foreign countries. There are children right
here in DeKalb County’s
Brannon Hill that need our
We must open our minds
and hearts and wallets to
think and feel and give until
we have addressed this problem.
We should be ashamed to
live in metro Atlanta and allow immigrants and refugees
from Third World countries
to live in Third World conditions year after year here in
DeKalb County.
Sure there are challenges,
but that is no reason to allow

these conditions to go on for
years. If, in a few weeks, we
can come up with a plan to
try to bring a soccer team’s
headquarters to Memorial
Drive, surely we can in several years come up with a plan
to address Brannon Hill.
This should be a top
priority for local faith-based
groups, local businesses, residents, our interim CEO and
commissioners, volunteer
organizations and even local
And we can start by removing the trash and debris
immediately, even if it means
starting an online fundraising account to pay the county or some professionals to
haul the debris away.
We can no longer turn a
blind eye to Brannon Hill.

The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015


Page 5A

One Man’s Opinion

Our sinking island neighbor
“You know you may not
be born in Puerto Rico, but
Puerto Rican is definitely
born in you.”–prominent
Puerto Rican/American actress Rosie Perez.
Having spent some time
on the U.S. territory island
of Puerto Rico, I have developed more than a slight
fondness and empathy for its
3.6 million residents. 
Officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, the
island nation was originally
populated by the aboriginal
Taino people before Christopher Columbus claimed
the island for the kingdom
of Spain in 1493. There are
many remains on the island
from the Spanish colonial
period, as well as subsequent
invasion attempts by the
French, Dutch and British.
The “Land of the Valiant,” so named by the Tainos, remained under Spanish
rule for four centuries. The
island’s population is still
predominantly Spanishspeaking and Roman Catholic, though Spain ceded the
archipelago island in the
north Caribbean to the United States as part of the treaty
and spoils of the SpanishAmerican War in 1898.
As a territory of the
United States, Puerto Ricans
are native-born American
citizens, though they do
not vote for president of the
United States (technically, via
the Electoral College process,

Bill Crane


neither do any of us here
stateside, unless you are an
actual elector). Puerto Ricans
do not pay U.S. income tax,
and our federal government
provides millions in taxpayer
subsidies, particularly in
terms of healthcare, to Puerto Rico.
Long a solid Caribbean
western-style economy, with
expanding tourism; during
the past decade a few U.S. big
government policies made
their way directly and indirectly to the island. These
intrusions led to the current
dire state of affairs and a
government completely underwater, and for at least one
time, global warming and
rising tides are not to blame.
In an effort to “lift the
standard of living” of working Puerto Ricans, our U.S.
Congress raised the floor on
the Puerto Rican minimum
wage to $7.25 an hour during
the past decade. Overnight

Puerto Rican labor became
the most expensive in the
Caribbean as well as most of
Latin America. The impact
within a short period of time
was to drive all manufacturing jobs off the island. Even
Ron Rico Rum, named
for the island, is no longer
produced or manufactured
And if decimating manufacturing wasn’t enough, the
higher wage also began to
price out many Puerto Rican
resorts and tourism destinations, still competing with
the Bahamas, Dominican
Republic and other newer
and less expensive hot spots
dotting the Caribbean. So,
in effort to raise the Puerto
Rican standard of living, we
actually caused thousands
to become underemployed
or unemployed. The largest
remaining employer, after
tourism, is the government
of Puerto Rico, which like
most bureaucracies is bloated
and generally considered inefficient.
During the long-lasting
global recession, which negatively impacted U.S. tourism
abroad, along came declining
interest rates, Puerto Rico’s
elected leadership saw an opportunity to refinance their
bonded debt, with a U.S.
Wall Street all too eager to
lend, as well as to take advantage of newly reduced U.S.
requirements of transparency for state and municipal

bonds. In just a few years,
Puerto Rico refinanced all
existing debt and then wallpapered over many a gap in
cash flow by simply borrowing more money.
Today, the Commonwealth owes bond-holders $1
billion and is largely out of
cash to make debt payments.
Though the most recent debt
payment was made partially,
even the most optimistic
forecasts predict an imminent default.
The White House and
Congressional Democrats
propose a bailout, and some
support completing the
island’s conversion to our
51st state. Only a handful of
major U.S. municipal and
county governments have
bankrupted, but opening up
the U.S. as the last creditor
of record for a territory certainly makes that reach much
easier for bankruptcy lawyers
if any state were to fail.
I suspect for Puerto
Rico to remain above water
a handful of actions in the
opposite direction may be
required. Rescind the current
minimum wage, offer more
aggressive U.S. corporate
income tax credits for job
creation and locating on the
island, and perhaps even a
celebrity-laden appeal to the
many J. Los, and successful/
famous Americans of Puerto
Rican descent who have
made good to contribute to a
We are the World-style relief

fund. A billion dollars is even
a lot of money to Jeff Zucker
of Facebook fame. Someone
call The Rock and Geraldo
Rivera (both native Puerto
Ricans)—this is going to require some sustained heavy
lifting, and possibly a lot of
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.

The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015

Sandy Johnson
Greenhaven cityhood advocate Sandy Johnson said
volunteering is a product of
her upbringing.
“My mother was always
actively engaged in the community,” Johnson said. “I’ve
never really thought about it;
you just do it.”
Johnson, a DeKalb
resident since 1997, is the
secretary for Concerned Citizens for Cityhood of South
DeKalb Inc., an organization
pushing for the incorporation of south DeKalb into the
proposed city of Greenhaven.
“It’s important to be actively engaged in whatever
community you live in so
that you understand what
goes on, understanding…

government, governance and
who your neighbors are,”
Johnson said.
Johnson also is a member of the DeKalb NAACP
and the neighborhood watch
coordinator for Kings Row
Community Association. She


is the director of Dress for
Success Atlanta, a nonprofit
organization that promotes
the “economic independence
of disadvantaged women by
providing professional attire,
a network of support and career development tools,” according to the organization’s
“My volunteer work is
a part of what I consider to
be not only my duty and
responsibility as a responsible voting neighbor, but
also my duty as a Christian,”
said Johnson, a native of Birmingham, Ala.
Johnson said volunteering gives her “a sense
of peace and understanding [about] what’s going on

Page 6A

around” her.
“There’s something about
having knowledge of your
surroundings that takes away
some of the fear of living in
an urban area,” she said.
“Knowing and understanding who to call, what to
do and what’s going on and
what’s out of place, [and] the
changes that need to occur
are all part of the balance of
work and life for me,” Johnson said.
“People who don’t volunteer have their own reasons
for not volunteering, but
for those who just haven’t
thought about it, it’s a wonderful extension of who
you are, both in identifying
friends, people with common

interests, as well as understanding the issues in your
community,” Johnson said.
“When I go to the polls
to vote, I know something
about the people that I’m
voting for,” she added. “I
know something about the
issues that I’m voting on and
if I have questions, I know
who to call.
“You can’t really do that
from watching the news or
reading the newspaper,” she
Community involvement
“helps to keep us healthy,”
Johnson said. “The more
people who are engaged in
the community, the [healthier] the community.”

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.

Cities Continued From Page 2A
were about proposed cityhood movements. 
Ed Williams, chairman of Citizens Against
Cityhood in DeKalb, said,
“I do not believe that a
city of 300,000 people in
south DeKalb should be created...overnight. That’s never
happened in the history
of Georgia. It took Atlanta 150 years to reach 450,000
Williams said cityhood referendums should
not be “legitimized by 5 percent of the vote.”
“One of my recommendations to the state house
and senate committees was
that if less than 50 percent of
registered voters participate
in the election, the referendum should not be legitimate
for cityhood votes,” Williams
said. “You should not have
12 to 15 percent or under 25
percent determining...cityhood is for 100 percent of the
“Then come and
vote,” said Jason Lary, chairman of Stonecrest City Alliance, a group seeking cityhood in southeast DeKalb.

“You’re stupid if you let
somebody else do the thing
for you. You can’t sit back
and complain about what is
not happening...if you don’t
get involved.”
Lary said the proposed
Stonecrest cityhood referendum is about “opportunity to
have our say.” 
There are “two sides
of the fence that folks are
struggling with right now:
who’s against cityhood, who’s
for cityhood,” Lary said.
“What it’s about is our ability to have a choice to say
if we want to have a city or
not. I can live with the results
of having my say, but what
I cannot live with is the result
of not having my say.”
Sandy Johnson, an advocate for the proposed city
of Greenhaven, said she isn’t
afraid of the possible historic
creation of Greenhaven.
“Making history is not
always a bad thing,” Johnson said. “When folks talk
about ‘it has not been done
before’ that’s as lame an excuse as I have heard in my
adult life.
“We have an opportunity

to work together to determine and define how to now
go forward,” she said.
Addressing the suggestion to mandate 50 percent
participation in cityhood
referendums, Johnson said,
“We are not getting folks out
to vote today, so changing...
that process of voting so that
it’s no longer just a simple
majority for one particular
issue is not going to fix the
John Blanchard of
Gresham Park said he is
“deeply opposed to the [proposed] Greenhaven city.”
“It’s going to increase
our taxes, he said. “It’s going to decrease our property
values which the Greenhaven
proponents will even admit.
They hope [the values] will
come back. Hope. I don’t
want hope. I want my property values to stay where they
are and go up.”
The DeKalb County
house delegation will hold
another town hall meeting at
7 p.m. Jan. 7 at the Manual
Maloof Auditorium, 1300
Commerce Drive, Decatur.

Pet Week

Meet Jennine (ID#
29627875), a sweet baby
who is eight months old
and loves to be next to her
human companions. This
petite little girl has beautiful soulful eyes and the
most loving face. She is
very affectionate, friendly
to everyone and gets
along great with other
dogs and kids. Jennine
is already spayed, microchipped and vaccinated,
so she can go home with
you today! Come meet
this wonderful puppy
During December to
celebrate our "Home for
the Pawlidays" special all
dogs weighing 25 lbs. or
more and all cats may be
adopted for FREE. Adoption includes spay, vac-

cinations, microchip and
more! If you would like
more info about Jennine
please email adoption@
or call (404) 294-2165.
All potential adopters will
be screened to ensure Jennine goes to a good home.


The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015


Girl Scout troop to hold meeting
Girl Scout Troop No. 3647 will
meet Dec. 27 at Avondale Pattillo
United Methodist Church, 2-4 p.m.
The church is located at 3260 Covington Highway. For more information or to join, call (770) 469-9032.


Christmas Eve services set
for Shallowford Presbyterian

Three Christmas Eve services are
scheduled at Shallowford Presbyterian Church.
On Dec. 24, a Family Service will
be held at 4 p.m. This will be a kidfriendly service. Children will receive
nativity costumes to wear when they
arrive (angels, sheep, shepherds) and
will take part in the telling of the
Christmas story.
At 7 p.m. a candlelight service
will feature a musical celebration
and telling of the Christmas story
through “Lessons and Carols” set in
the sanctuary with a candle-lighting
ceremony at the close. The service
also features adult and teen choirs
with more than 100 singers and the
18-member bell choir accompanied
by organ.
A Christmas Eve Communion
service will be held at 9:30 p.m. “The
warmth and intimacy of the chapel
sets the mood for this special service
that includes communion along with
the telling of the Christmas story
through music and scripture in anticipation of the arrival of the day we
celebrate Christ’s birth,” states an announcement about the service. Music will be performed by soloists.
A nursery will be open from 5 to
9 p.m. 
Shallowford Presbyterian Church
is located at 2375 Shallowford Road,
Atlanta. For more information, call
(404) 321-1844, or visit

IMAX film featured at Fernbank
Fernbank Museum of Natural
History’s IMAX theatre will show
National Geographic Entertainment’s
screen film Jerusalem, 767 Clifton
Road, Atlanta, through Jan. 7.
Jerusalem explores on the intersection of science, history and religion in this ancient, enigmatic place.


Special access is one of the unique
aspects of the film. Filmmakers were
granted permission to capture aerial
images over the Old City of Jerusalem, and throughout the Holy Land.
A strict no-fly zone has existed over
the region for many years, restricting
low-altitude filming. Once secured,
the filmmakers launched a major
campaign in both Hebrew and Arabic to notify the public weeks before
filming began.
IMAX tickets for the 43-minute
large-format film are $13 for adults,
$12 for seniors, $11 for children 12
and younger, and $8 for museum

through Feb. 29, 2016 with a $25
fee for the 5K and a $20 fee for the
Muddy Buddy 3K. For information
and registration, visit:


City to hold strategic planning

Catholic school to hold open

On April 20, 2016, Chamblee
Middle School (CMS) will host its
second annual Fun Mud Run at 8
a.m., 3601 Sexton Woods Drive,
The event was organized by
CMS, city of Chamblee officials and
the DeKalb County Fire Department.
Presented by Ed Voyles Automotive, the Chamblee Fun Mud Run is a
5K race featuring obstacles, mud and
fun for all ages. All proceeds benefit
the Chamblee Middle School Education Foundation.
The Chamblee Fun Mud Run
is open to the community and is
recommended for children ages 8
and as well as, teens and adults of all
The 5K course winds through
the Keswick Village and Sexton
Woods neighborhoods as participants complete multiple obstacles
that involve simple challenges in the
mud. The 5K is a timed event. Participants receive a mud and water-proof
ankle tag in their race bags.
There is a 3K (approximately 2
miles) Muddy Buddy race immediately following the Chamblee Fun
Mud Run, recommended for kids
ages 5-7 who are accompanied by an
adults. Participants will complete the
mud obstacles, but will run a shorter
Early Bird Registration runs

of candid conversations about what
the district is doing well and what it
needs to do better.
“On the Scene with Dr. Green”
launched on Sept. 29 at Stone Mountain High School, where Green lead
an hour-long conversation with
parents, teachers and others wanting time with him. The next session
will be held on Jan. 21, 2016, from 7
p.m. until 8 p.m. at Columbia Middle
School, 3001 Columbia Dr, Decatur.



Annual Mud Run to benefit

Page 7A

St. Peter Claver Regional Catholic School will hold an open house
for parents interested in enrolling
their children in the school. The
community open house will be held
on Jan. 31 from 1 to 3 p.m., 2560 Tilson Road, Decatur. Parents and prospective students will be given tours
of the academic buildings as well as
a presentation from the principal. To
schedule your a, call (404) 241-3063.

New Year’s Eve dance scheduled
The DeKalb History Center will
host an event to ring in the New Year
and dance the night away.
At DeKalb History Center’s
Dance Hall Decatur a professional DJ
will play hits from the 1970s to the
Reservations are available at the
History Center offices or online at via PayPal and
include appetizers, sodas and festive
party favors. Drink tickets will be sold
separately and will be available at the
Festive dress is encouraged.
The event will be held Thursday,
Dec. 31, 8:30 p.m. – 12:30 a.m. at the
Historic DeKalb Courthouse, 101 E.
Court Square, in downtown Decatur.
Advance reservations of $25/$35 per
adult are available until Dec. 29 there
is a discount for members). Advance reservations are $15 for guests
younger than 21.

Parents invited to speak with
school superintendent
DeKalb school superintendent
Stephen Green is conducting a series

Lithonia will hold a city strategic planning session Dec. 19 from
10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The session will
be held at City Hall, located at 6920
Main Street. For more information,
call (770) 482-8136.


City to hold council meeting
Stone Mountain City Council
will have a work session Dec. 21,
6-7 p.m. For more information, call
(770) 498-8984.

Parent council to hold Kwanzaa
The South DeKalb Parent Council and the Charter School Parent
Council will hold its celebration of
Kwanzaa on Jan. 2, from 11 a.m. to 1
p.m. at the Redan Recreation Center
at 1839 Phillips Road in Lithonia.
The Kwanzaa celebration includes
performances by children from
DeKalb County schools and sharing
of information about events and issues in 2015 and 2016. Special guests
include Janet Kishbaugh from
Public Education Matters Georgia,
DeKalb Regional Superintendent
Dr. Ralph Simpson, fromer DeKalb
school board member Thad Mayfield and current school board members Dr. Michael Erwin and Vickie
Turner. For more information, contact Dr. Merrill White at suportsys@ or Donna Priest-Brown at

The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015


Page 8A

From left, Eston Hood, the former COO of the Metro Atlanta YMCA, is joined during his retirement partner by
Thurbert Baker, the state’s former attorney general. Photos by Andrew Cauthen
Hood worked with the YMCA for more than 35 years.

From left, Chris Morris, DeKalb’s former community development director, and Dr. Barbara Hill, of Clark Atlanta
University, praise Hood’s legacy.

Retired YMCA leader honored
by Andrew Cauthen
Family members, friends, community
leaders and former coworkers gathered Dec.
8 at Smokerise Country Club in Stone Mountain to honor Eston Hood, who recently retired after 36 years with the YMCA of Metro
From 2009 to 2015 Hood was the
YMCA’s chief operating officer. Hood, an Atlanta native, joined the Metro Atlanta YMCA
family in 1979 as senior program director
for the Southwest Family YMCA. Hood later
served as executive director, district executive director, vice president, vice president of
operations and senior vice president of operations, in addition to chief operating officer.
Chris Morris, DeKalb County’s former
community development director, recalled
Hood’s work in the early 1980s when the
metropolitan Atlanta area was plagued by the
missing and murdered children crisis when
at least 28 Black children, adolescents and
adults were killed.
“Eston had a vision. And when you have
people in leadership positions that really care

about the community, when you have a crisis
like that, God places something in your heart
that goes into action,” Morris said.
“Eston’s vision was to create [for children] the opportunity to be safe when they
leave school and parents are working,” Morris said. Hood’s vision led to the creation of
early childhood centers.
Thurbert Baker, former Georgia attorney general, said, “We are here to lift up
and to talk about not only a good man, but a
great man.
“If you ask Eston what this event is all
about, the first thing he would say is that
‘This is about my family, this is about the
people who helped me get where I am today,’” Baker said.
“I have never seen an individual …more
committed to what he was engaged in than
Eston Hood,” Baker said. “Those individuals are rare. Some days you have good days
and some days you have bad days, but I have
never seen anyone any more committed who
worked tirelessly in the vineyards of life trying to make sure that things are going to be
better tomorrow for the kids he didn’t even
know today. He understood the big picture.”

More than 100 friends and family attended Hood’s retirement party.

The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015


Page 9A

Good Growth DeKalb, Selig continue discussions post Walmart
by Carla Parker
Although community
activists could not stop the
Walmart from being built
in Suburban Plaza, they still
communicate with developers in hopes of making
sure the plaza has a positive
impact in the Decatur community.
Good Growth DeKalb
met with Selig representatives Dec. 9 to discuss the
development of Suburban
Plaza and the new Walmart.
The 150,000-square-foot
Walmart store opened before
the Thanksgiving holiday.
Betty Blondeau of Good
Growth DeKalb said her
group and Selig representatives also discussed forming
a security committee.
“The representatives
were quite open about Selig
wanting to work with the
community to develop Suburban Plaza—something
that did have the community’s backing,” Blondeau
said. “They were obviously
familiar with our efforts
to stop the Walmart, so it
seems there have been some
conversations about wanting
this committee to represent
not just security concerns
but quality of life concerns.
That is what Good Growth
DeKalb is all about—trying
to create an environment in
this community that is conducive a sound, solid future
growth. We’ll continue to
meet with that committee.”
Good Growth DeKalb
began protesting the
Walmart in January 2012.
With its high traffic density and visible location, the

The 150,000-square-foot Walmart store in Suburban Plaza opened before the Thanksgiving holiday. Photos by
Carla Parker

group said it sees Suburban
Plaza as gateway to Decatur,
where “smart development
of unique local business
benefits the community
and sets Decatur apart from
other communities around

The organization’s primary concern was the exit
routing of delivery trucks,
including daily tractor semitrailers, onto Medlock Road,
which is designated as the a
truck-restricted county road.
“We are continuing to

have conversations with Selig
and looking for community
input to try to make the best
of what it is,” Blondeau said.
“The bowling alley that
everybody wanted—luckily [Twain’s Billiards & Tap]
came in and took that over.

We’re very optimistic about
what Twain’s can do with
that bowling alley. We’re continuing to work with Selig to
try to make the best of this
“They’re putting a very
high priority on this particular Walmart and on this development,” Blondeau added.
The possibility of increased traffic was also a
concern for Good Growth
DeKalb. Blondeau said she
has gotten emails from residents in the area who said
there has been more traffic
on Scott Boulevard.
“The question was is
this increase in traffic from
Walmart or has this just been
in the past few weeks,” she
said. “It’s really too early to
see if that’s the case. No one
has done a traffic study on it,
but just anecdotally, it would
seem that there has been
some increase but there is no
way to substantiate that at
this point.
“There continue to be
concerns about the garbage
pickup at ungodly hours—4
a.m.—which wakes the
neighbors,” Blondeau added.
“It would seem that they’re
trying to address that with
the county, trying to make
that better. I think it’s too
early for anybody to say
clearly whether what has
been an impact.”
Selig is revitalizing the
60-year-old plaza, which will
increase by 30,000 square
feet, would add 600-800 jobs
to the community and spur
redevelopment in the corridor, according to Selig representatives.

Time to invest
in yourself.

It’s not too late to apply for Spring classes.
Soon to be part of the new Georgia State University.

GPCSpringCampionAd.indd 1

11/19/15 6:38 PM

The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015


Page 10A

County’s proposed
budget holds the line,
anticipates Tucker
by Andrew Cauthen

Gregory B. Levett was recently recognized by American Funeral Director magazine. File photo

Levett named Funeral
Director of the Year

by Kathy Mitchell

At his funeral chapels, Gregory B.
Levett displays a statement noting the
aspiration for Gregory B. Levett & Sons
Funeral Homes Inc. to be recognized as
“the premier family owned and operated funeral home in Atlanta servicing
families locally, nationally and internationally.”
“That was written about 15 years
ago,” said Levett, the business’ founder
and CEO. “I feel as though we received
that recognition when American Funeral Director magazine declared me its
2015 Funeral Director of the Year.
“This is not a publication for a segment of the industry,” Levett explained.
“It is not just for African-American
funeral directors. It’s not even limited
to the United States. Its readers include
funeral directors in Canada and some
other countries. It’s the largest industry
publication of its type in the world.”
Allison Sullivan, publisher of
American Funeral Director, which has
supported the funeral industry since
1877, said Levett was selected from
among a record-number of nominations. He is profiled in the magazine’s
December issue and received the award
at its 10th annual Funeral Service Business Plan Conference in Glendale, Ariz.
“While we had many impressive
entries, Mr. Levett stood out as a man
who is having a positive impact on his
community and his profession,” Sullivan said in a statement announcing the
award. “His generosity, caring and commitment embody what the funeral profession is all about. We were honored to
present him with this award.” Criteria
for the award include business successes, challenges overcome, client relations
and community involvement.
“I believe community involvement
is what really put him over the top,” said
Levett’s daughter Deana Levett, who
nominated him for the award. “Dad
does so much in the community. He really believes in giving back.”

“I have a gift for fundraising and
motivating people,” Levett said. “From
the time I first opened a business in
DeKalb County, I was involved in volunteer projects, including delivering
Meals on Wheels. I now serve on several
boards. I’ll help anyone, even competing
funeral businesses. If I can make them
better, it makes the whole industry better.”
Levett, who earned his funeral director’s license in 1973 and opened his
first funeral home in 1980 in Scottdale,
said a single word explains his success
in the business: service. “When we first
opened, I wasn’t able to go to the banks
and get the money to build the nice chapel and buy the vehicles we wanted, but
what we could offer is superior service.
Great service is something everyone understands. Whether you’re rich or poor,
no matter where you come from service
matters to you.”
The original Greg Levett funeral
home had been a residence in Scottdale.
Levett bought it at a bargain price because the real estate company was having trouble finding a buyer. “A young
man hanged himself in that house and
people said his ghost was still there. I
said, ‘That’s fine. He and I will get along
just great.’”
Many of the values Levett brought
to his business came from his father,
he said. “He owned several businesses,
including a funeral business. He showed
me that whatever business you’re in how
you treat people is a key component in
your success. Although he never built a
business anywhere near the size of this
one, I consider my father a successful
man because he did so much with the
tools he had.
“I was fortunate to receive training
and experience in the corporate world
along with small business experience. I
was able to marry those two and bring
to my business the best of both worlds,”
Levett continued. “From the start, I had
lawyers, accountants and marketing
people at the table.”

See Levett on Page 12A

Interim DeKalb County CEO
Lee May’s proposed 2016 county
budget maintains the current
millage rate, despite “budget
pressures,” including the pending incorporation of the city of
“This budget seeks to maintain the current service levels
with diminishing resources,” May
stated in a letter with his budget
proposal which was delivered to
county commissioners Dec. 15.
The $1.2 billion proposed
budget is based on a “benchmark
millage rate of 20.81, preserving the first tax rate decrease in
over a decade that was enacted in
FY15,” May stated.
The county’s water and
sewer department will get an estimated $4.3 million increase to
enhance its operations and maintenance.
May seeks to enhance development efforts with more than $2
million “for technology efforts to
streamline permitting and other
development costs.”
The proposed budget includes $1.1 million for additional
firefighter personal safety equipment along with $600,000 to
fully fund the creation of eight
supervisory captain positions in
the fire rescue department.
“To perform much needed
reviews of county functions,”
May asks for funding of the
county’s newly-created independent Office of the Internal Auditor at $1 million.
An additional $1 million will
be used to enhance mowing and
litter abatement efforts, according to the proposed budget.
An allocation of $200,000 is
included in the proposed budget
to add code enforcement officers and equipment “to further
improve response times,” May’s
letter to the DeKalb County
Board of Commissioners states.
Another $200,000 will be used
for parks and recreation programs for arts and entertainment.
If passed by the Board of
Commissioners the budget will
include $4.9 million in homestead-option sales tax (HOST)
funding for “road resurfacing
and transportation efforts, including an additional $3.6 million
in matching money for various
Georgia Department of Transportation efforts to leverage $3.0
million more of funding,” the

budget proposal states.
“This is my third full-year
budget submitted to the board,
and every year presents new
challenges and opportunities,”
May said. “This year is no exception.”
One of those challenges is
the incorporation of Tucker, set
to occur in spring 2016. Tucker
will be the third city to incorporate in recent history, following Dunwoody in 2008 and
Brookhaven in 2012.
“The primary effect of these
incorporations has been a loss of
revenue in the county’s Special
Tax Districts,” May stated in his
“Incorporation and annexation have continued to erode the
tax digest of unincorporated
DeKalb by selectively drawing
their borders to encompass areas of the county that generate
more revenue than they require
in services,” May stated. “While
these actions were legal, they undeniably left the unincorporated
areas with less revenue to provide
needed services.
“Future budgets must decide
whether to raise taxes in unincorporated DeKalb to offset the
lost tax base and provide the same
level of services or to decrease the
services they receive to keep taxes
the same,” May stated.
Because Tucker will not elect
its leadership until March 2016,
the county’s proposed budget
“does not include major reductions…to take into account the
lost revenue from the incorporation of Tucker,” according to
May’s letter.
May stated that the budget
“anticipates receiving a certain
level of revenue from the City
of Tucker through intergovernmental agreements.” County officials will adjust revenues and
appropriations once those intergovernmental agreements are
The 2016 proposed budget
maintains a collective active fund
balance, or reserves, of 0.71 of a
“Being below the goal of
one month is mostly due to
the strains on the Special Tax
Districts; however, the General
Fund, reflecting true countywide operations is just shy of one
month at 0.94,” May stated.
The per capita amount for
the proposed budget is $308, a 6
percent decrease in spending.

The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015


Page 11A

Clarkston holds annual
Christmas tree lighting
by Ashley Oglesby
The city of Clarkston
kicked off the holiday season
with its annual Christmas
tree lighting event.
The tree lighting brought
an estimated 300 residents to
the Clarkston Woman’s Club
and featured dancers and
singers from the Clarkston
First Baptist Church as well
as musical selections from
the Proskuneo School of the
Arts and Indian Creek elementary school.
Clarkston City Manager

Keith Barker said, “Unlike
big events like the tree lighting at Lenox Mall, this event
had a real sense of community. You felt that you were
there with your neighbors,
this was about bringing the
community together.”
As current and future
residents gathered around
the tree, Clarkston’s public
works department put on a
fireworks show for attendees
before the arrival of Santa.
After the show
Clarkston’s fire department
arrived with one employee
dressed as Santa Claus. Par-

See Lighting on Page 16A

Hundreds of people gathered in Clarkston for the city’s annual Christmas tree lighting event. Students from
Indian Creek Middle School and performers from the Clarkston First Baptist Church performed for attendees.
Photos provided by Beverly Burks.

Picture Yourself

NOW is the time to get
fit and eat healthy!
To learn more about getting fit or eating healthy
OR to get involved in DeKalb County Board of
Health initiatives to improve the overall health
and wellness of our community, go to
or contact Anika Norwood at
(404) 294-3896

The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015


Page 12A

Volunteer builders from left, Awet Eyase, Mario Williams, Ted Terry, MelissaFoster, Chris Busing and John Beck.

Clarkston joins Little
Free Library registry
by Ashley Oglesby
In the last few years Little
Free Libraries have popped
up in almost every city and
become a popular trend nationwide.
The libraries are based
on the philosophy of take a
book, return a book.
After hosting several
community participatory
budgeting meeting and gathering input from neighbors,
Clarkston has become one of
newest cities to join the Little
Free Libraries registry.
Clarkston resident John
Beck was among the few volunteers involved in the process from the proposals to
city council to painting and
installing libraries around
the city.
Beck said, “We want to
use this as a stepping stone
to show that we are a progressive city.”
Clarkston officials allocated $10,000 this year to
participating projects and

organized community meetings for residents to brainstorm how they wanted the
money to be spent.
Various Clarkston residents—property owners and
business owners—were encouraged to serve as voting
members of committees.
Individuals who did not fit
in either of these categories
were encouraged to participate in the discussion and research of proposed projects.
The committees selected
five projects to be presented
to the city council for final
approval: Little Free Libraries, an effort presented
to encourage reading in
Clarkston; park benches,
canvas bags to discourage
plastic bag use; a seniors
program and a wildflower
City council approved
every item except the wildflower project at its Aug. 5
council meeting.
Beck said the libraries are
“a very significant step. We
would like to get the refugee

community involved with
putting in books that are in
their native languages. We
also want books in multiple
languages that can help with
explaining things to [refugees] or help with teaching
them how to read English—
whatever they need to help
them get more acclimated
into society.”
He added, “We’re such
a diverse community so I
would like to see the libraries
put in places where everyone—children and adults can
have access to them.”
The concept of Little
Free Libraries has taken
many forms. The first one,
built in 2009 by Todd Bol of
Hudson, Wisc., was a model
of a one-room schoolhouse.
Since the approval of the
libraries Clarkston officials
and residents have installed
eight Little Free Libraries
for a total of $800. Through
Nextdoor, a social network
for communities, residents
have collected more than 500
books to stock the libraries.

possible without the great
staff we have,” said Levett,
noting that many on the
staff are relatives, including his wife and children.
“Even those who are not
actually related to me we
consider family. We employ
many smart, hard-working
young people. The average

spirit of the season
Farm Burger

Fabu Face Spa

New Orleans Snoball Café


show some local love

Levett Continued From Page 10A
From the small chapel in
Scottdale, he has expanded
Gregory B. Levett & Sons Funeral Homes into one of the
largest independent funeral
homes in his region with
four chapels and a crematory.
The business conducts more
than 1,400 burials a year.
“None of this would be

Eight new little libraries, similar to this one on Market St. in Clarkston,
were built by volunteers. Photos by Travis Hudgons

age of our staff members is
in the mid-30s. I want to see
every one of them succeed,
whether they stay here or go
someplace else. I hope the
Greg Levett legacy will still
be around 100 years from

Do your last-minute gifting
(and dining) in Decatur
at locally owned shops and
eateries. The last Terrific
Thursday of the season
offers sales, snacks, and Decatur
extended hours, Dec. 17.

Visitors Center



113 Clairemont Ave.
10 am-4 pm


The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015



Page 13A


Southwest DeKalb Wind Symphony performs at the DeKalb County School District’s instructional complex in Stone Mountain.
Drummers from Lakeside High School’s Vikings band.

People gather in remembrance of Pearl Harbor with the first-ever raising of the flag at the DeKalb
County School District’s instructional complex.

DeKalb County Superintendent Stephen Green shakes hands with veterans following the Pearl Harbor commemoration event.

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

The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015


Page 14A

DeKalb Police recruits practice their skills earlier this year. Officers have vowed to fight for salary raises. Photo by Andrew Cauthen

DeKalb officers fighting for raises
by Andrew Cauthen

While some DeKalb County police officers are leaving for financially
greener pastures, others have vowed
to fight for pay increase.
“This defeatism and standing
idly by while the department loses
the core of what makes it great ends
today,” DeKalb County Sgt. Erik
Heimer told county commissioners Dec. 8. “From this moment forward DeKalb County police officers
will be present at every board meeting, community function, fundraiser
or public forum that’s given to address the honorable commissioners
until the issue of pay raises for police
officers has been changed.”
Approximately a dozen officers
stood in support when Heimer addressed the DeKalb County Board of

Heimer, a sworn officer for more
than 12 years, said he stopped receiving raises in 2006 “due to economic
strife in the county.” “While my salary [has] stayed stagnate, inflation
and the cost of living has continued
to rise, making it more difficult every
year to make ends meet for my family,” said Heimer, a DeKalb homeowner whose children attend schools
in the county.
According to DeKalb County’s
website, the pay for police officers
tops out at $66,636 per year, Heimer
“At this time I’m still more than
$10,000 short of this mark,” he said.
“And under the current conditions of
not receiving additional raises I will
never reach this amount.
“I’m not alone in this dilemma,”
Heimer said. “Every month more and

more seasoned, effective officers are
leaving this department for other
agencies or going to work in the private sector.”
 These officers are not leaving because they dislike their jobs, Heimer
told commissioners.
“On the contrary, they relish
the opportunity to support and
serve DeKalb County,” he said. “But
they can’t afford to survive and have
to abandon the county for the betterment of their families.” 
In September 2013, interim
DeKalb County CEO Lee May, acknowledging that public safety personnel had not received a raise or
any type of cost-of-living adjustment
since 2008, announced bonuses for
all sworn public safety personnel,
a tuition reimbursement program,
promotional pay increases and an
aggressive hiring plan. In 2013 com-

missioners approved a plan to give
sworn public safety personnel a onetime 3 percent bonus effective December 2013.
In December 2013, May proposed up to a 3 percent raise for all
employees, including police officers,
which became effective at midyear
2014. The county’s 2014 budget included funding for 160 new police
officers and 100 new firefighters, and
restored promotional pay increases
for officers that assumed additional
responsibilities over the years. It included funding for a take-home car
initiative for police officers.
While there was no pay increase
in 2015, the county funded a pay
and class study to look at the issues
of class and compensation countywide. This study is nearly finished,
and the Board of Commissioners has
been briefed on initial findings.

happy holidays

The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015

brannon hill Continued From Page 1A
tires on the property. Some of the buildings
[have] burned and the debris from some of the
buildings that have burned [is] still there.”
“There is not a person that I have ever met
that thinks it’s anything short of unacceptable
and deplorable,” said DeKalb County press secretary Burke Brennan.
Located off of Memorial Drive and a few
hundred feet from the campus of Georgia Perimeter College, Brannon Hill is plagued by
burned buildings, illegally dumped used tires,
and mounds of trash and debris.
DeKalb County leaders say it is difficult to
address the problems at the privately owned
condominium complex.
“My code officers have been going out there
and issuing…warning notices for them to come
into compliance or issuing the citations and taking them to court,” Baker said.
But the legal process has not been much
help for residents and county officials.
“This is a huge multifaceted legal issue that
we have been trying to overcome for a long time
which is exacerbated by the fact that there are
309 units and [160-plus] owners and most of
those owners don’t want to be found,” he said.
“What exacerbates us is that we can’t get them
into court anymore unless we find them.”
Previously when DeKalb County had a Recorder’s Court, the county could serve court notices by posting them on the door of residences.
“Now we have to go to Magistrate’s Court.
In Magistrate’s Court we have to personally
serve the owners,” Baker said.
“That has made Brannon Hill especially
very challenging,” Brennan said.
For apartment buildings, “there’s one single
owner of that apartment complex and you’re
able to serve them and take them to court,”
Baker said.
Baker said the county does not have the option, or right, to simply “go in there and clean
up the illegal dumping and remove all the rubbish.”
“Is it appropriate for us to take the taxpayers’ dollars and reallocate our resources and
send people on this site, when you as a homeowner might have a house next to you and
would want us to come and apply the same standard for [the] lot that’s next to you,” Baker said.
“We’re just trying to go through the legal
process and say ‘what can we legally do in terms
of going on these properties and is it right to use
taxpayer money to [address Brannon Hill]?” he
Brennan said the problem the county has
in addressing Brannon Hill is that it is “a condominium complex and it’s private property,”
Brennan said. “We’re very limited on how we
spend public funds on private property as it pertains to making improvements, especially when
we don’t have consent.”
“Although Brannon Hill is an extreme
example, it is a microcosm of what can go
wrong with the legal structure involving real
estate law in condominium complexes,” Brennan said. Multiple owners, common property,
dysfunctional management or condominium


association—“These are the things that can happen and governments—not just DeKalb, all of
them—are hamstrung on what they can do to a
private property under state law.”
The county continues to work to address the
concerns at Brannon Hill.
Baker said county workers have been trying
to determine the latest ownership of the units,
including the burned ones. Officials also have
considered condemnation and the use of eminent domain law.
The county’s law department is “looking at
every option that we’ve got and hopefully there
will be a breakthrough,” Brennan said.
Additionally, DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton, in whose district
Brannon Hill is located, has formed a task force
to address the problem. Included in the task
force are the solicitor general’s office, code enforcement, police department, planning department, health department, law department, and
district attorney’s office.
“We’ve had the greatest minds in this county
working on this for a long time,” Sutton said
during a December meeting of the Board of
Commissioners’ public works committee.
“We’ve been working on that for over a
year,” Sutton said about the task force. “And
we’ve gotten to a point where we’re just about at
a place where we can pick [the trash and debris]
up, but there is no easy way where you can just
go there and pick it up.
“We’re looking through each and every
scenario trying to find a resolution,” she said.
“We’re working hard on this. If there were an
easy fix, we would have done it.”
“Everybody there deserves better,” Sutton
Viviane Ernstes, deputy county attorney,
said county attorneys are looking at “Legally
creative” ways to address the concerns at Brannon Hill.
“What we’re looking at right now is to see if
there is some sort of legal action that could be
filed in court that would allow us to go onto private property and use taxpayer funds to clean it
up,” Ernstes said.
“I feel confident that we are going to get
some sort of resolution on this sooner or later,”
Brennan said. “We have a lot of people working on this but it’s got to be done in a way that
passes legal muster.”
To address Brannon Hill, “it probably will
take some involvement of the community…
[and] everybody stepping up to the plate,” Brennan said.
Baker said the county’s community development department is trying to identify nonprofit
organizations that are willing to assist Brannon
Hill condominium owners who want “to move
out and they’re looking for some kind of assistance or first month’s rent or some kind of way
to move from that particular area to a better
“We are all very cognizant of the issues in
this community,” Brennan said. “We all share
the vision that this is going to get cleaned up.
We are optimistic.”

Page 15A

rally Continued From Page 1A
talking about are women, children and students who
want to continue their education like me. Children who
want to go to school, women who want to be safe with
their children. We have to fight racism.”
Immigrants and refugees from Syria, Pakistan and
Somalia spoke at the rally.
Dianne Mathiowetz coordinator of the nonprofit
Georgia Peace and Justice Coalition, said to the crowd,
“Politicians don’t speak for us.”
“Many of the refugees and immigrants under attack live close to here. We want to make sure they know
we have their backs,” she said. Mathiowetz first began
organizing events for GPJC in 2002, a time of war in
She said of the Saturday rally, “What really prompted us to do this [were] the appalling and outrageous
statements being made by the governor of this state and
many other elected officials. The information that we
are getting from people in the community about the
level of hate speech that has been directed to them in
the grocery stores, in banks, on buses—we just really
felt that we needed to make an opportunity for people
who disagree.”
She added, “This rising right-wing atmosphere impacts every group that is fighting for justice....It’s very
difficult for people to make progress.”
The purpose of the demonstration was to combat
actions of some politicians, including Georgia Gov.
Nathan Deal and GOP presidential candidate Donald
Trump that made immigrants feel unwelcome.
Mathiowetz said, “We stand with communities who
are under attack.
“This event is a rebuke to politicians who are scapegoating people because of their origins or religion.
We reject all attempts to demonize people because of
who they are or where they come from. We especially
denounce the scapegoating of Syrian refugees by politicians and even presidential candidates,” Mathiowetz
Following several speeches, attendees stood in solidarity along Memorial Drive with signs proclaiming
“Humanity has no borders,” “Refugees are welcomed,”
“No one is illegal” and similar sentiments.
Safia Jama resettled in Georgia from Somalia more
than 15 years ago.
“I am an American citizen and I just don’t understand why people like Trump and Deal are putting out
all this hate, creating problems and victimizing us,” she
Jama said because of recent events and threats on
Muslims and refugees she is considering going back to
her homeland.
Jama added, “I would rather die among my people.
Here with all of this hate I’m afraid for my children. I’m
afraid for my grandchildren. I don’t feel safe.”
Jama said events similar to International Human
Rights Day which was held on Dec. 10, and the rally are
important for refugees who have recently resettled.
“I came as a refugee and since being here I’ve never
experienced anything like what’s happening to the Syrian and Muslim community now. People are saying that
Muslims are not welcome in America. America was not
created to discriminate against people. If they are running from people like ISIS and they have been victimized and the governor of Georgia does the same thing
and says ‘If you are from Syria I would not give you
food stamps,’ that’s not right.”
GPJC is a volunteer network of community, faith,
student organizations and individuals who promoting
global justice and peace. For additional information,

The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015


Page 16A

Lack of field-use agreement threatens youth soccer program
by Andrew Cauthen
One of the state’s oldest youth soccer programs is in danger of turning potential players
away due to lack of a field usage agreement with
the county.
“We don’t have enough field space,” said David Dicaprio, who spoke to the DeKalb County
Board of Commissioners Dec. 8 on behalf of the
Decatur-DeKalb YMCA Soccer Club (DDY).
“Parents that have children in this program are
anxious about field space for this upcoming spring
Dicaprio said the 48-year-old DecaturDeKalb YMCA Soccer Club has been using county-owned fields at Wade Walker and Avondale
Dunaire parks “for many years, but has been unable to finalize a user agreement with the county.”
 “The YMCA has substantial funds available
to invest in these fields for [its] and the public’s
use, but that would require a usage agreement,”
Dicaprio said. “The county has many such agreements—Medlock Park with Druid Hills Baseball;
Henderson Park with Tucker Soccer; Pleasantdale
Park with Chief Soccer; and many other youth
football clubs. 
“But DDY, for some reason, has been unable
to secure such an agreement with the county for
many years now,” Dicaprio said.
 “The program continues to grow and is concerned about having to turn kids away for the first
time ever, if enough fields are not secured,” he

DeKalb resident Amy Lettes told commissioners she is the “mother of four children, all of
whom have played soccer in DeKalb County.”
Calling the DDY soccer program “a truly
unique program,” Lettes said, “I am here asking
for help in expediting the usage agreement.” 
Noting that during the past season more than
2,000 kids played soccer, Lettes said the soccer
program is “the largest youth program of any club
of any sport in DeKalb County. 
 “DDY offers over $70,000 in scholarships a
year,” she said. “DDY is committed to giving every
child who wants to play soccer the opportunity to
play regardless of the ability to pay.”  
 The city of Decatur recently recognized Jeff Newbury, DDY’s director of coaching, as a hometown hero, Lettes said.   
 “Through DDY, hundreds of kids are not only
playing soccer, but are being provided tutoring,
life mentoring, …transportation, and training by
members of the DDY community,” she said.
According to Roy Wilson, the county’s director of recreation parks and cultural affairs, the
county’s athletics received a request for field usage from DDY on Nov. 9 for the February 2016 to
February 2017 season.
The request was to use the Avondale Dunaire site exclusively. That request is for two fields
Sundays through Saturdays.  DYY also wants to
use five fields at Wade Walker Park on Sundays
through Saturdays.
Approval of the DDY field request for Avon-

dale Dunnaire would eliminate Sunday field usage
by the Naciones De Cetroamerica, said Wilson in
an email to The Champion. “We would also eliminate field usage for the Stone Mountain Youth
Soccer Association (SMYSA) and the Georgia
Youth Academy Soccer (GYSA) at Wade Walker
Park Sunday through Saturday.”
Currently at Wade Walker Park, DDY has exclusive usage of three fields, SMYSA has exclusive
usage of one field and SYMSA and GYSA share
usage of a field, Wilson stated.
DeKalb County Athletics currently uses one
field as a rotation field to assign clubs due to closure of fields for maintenance.
“We have a total of eight clubs that play out of
Wade Walker Park and it is our intent to try our
best to accommodate each club with some type of
field use,” Wilson stated.
DDY doesn’t own any fields. Instead it uses,
with permission, approximately 16 fields, including fields at DeKalb School of the Arts, Friends
School, Mason Mill Parks, Columbia Seminary
and Southeast Athletic Complex.
  Dicaprio, who asked commissioners to help
the county’s parks and recreation department to
complete DDY’s usage request, said he has been
told the county will “have an answer in the near
“We’re excited about this answer,” Dicaprio
said. “We’re excited and anxious about the work
that parks and recreation is currently doing to
finalize the agreement that has been in front of
them for some time now.”

Lithonia officials discuss
proposed 2016 budget
by Carla Parker

Indian Creek Middle School students perform at Clarkston’s annual Christmas tree lighting event.

lighting Continued From Page 11A
ents and children formed a line going into
the Woman’s Club to take pictures with
Barker added, “It’s amazing how even
with different cultures and different religions, the Clarkston community can come
together and celebrate what is truly an
American tradition.”

City staff provided punch, cookies and
gave out 150 gifts bags to children who
“We were very pleased with the success and everybody was impressed with
how smoothly things operated,” Barker

Lithonia has begun holding public hearings for its fiscal year 2016 budget.
The Lithonia City Council
is scheduled to approve the
budget Dec. 21 at a special
called council meeting prior to
its regular work session. The
2016 budget is projected to be
$1,062,618, which would be
0.52 percent, or $5,528, more
than the projected 2015 budget of $1,057,090.
The city does not anticipate a property tax increase.
Some of the highlights of
the proposed budget include
installation of a swipe card
machine at the city clerk’s window to increase the methods
of payments for permits; developing an Indigent Defense
Policy for court services to
determine the needs of defendants; and relocating the
public works department to an
existing city structure and demolition of the current facility.
The budget also will cover
a license plate reader for one
additional police car through

a nationwide program. Although the program calls for a
50 percent sharing of revenue,
it saves the city $25,000 on the
purchase of new equipment,
according to the city.
Lithonia Mayor Deborah
Jackson said the numbers for
2015 and 2016 may look different because city officials
made sure items are in the
proper line item.
“We have to use a more
formal chart of accounts,” she
said. “Next year going forward
the numbers should line up
more correctly. Everything is
accounted for.”
Jackson also pointed out
the drop in technical and engineer services. The cost went
from $32,000 in the 2015 budget to 3,500 in the proposed
2016 budget.
“[The 2015 cost] includes
contract services for our
stormwater program, and that
shouldn’t be a part of the operating budget so that’s been
pulled out,” Jackson said. “We
will actually have a separate
stormwater budget that will
cover that cost.”

The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015


Page 17A

New signage notes that the
Burger Theory restaurant is
now open.

Members of the Holiday Inn team cut a ribbon to mark the facility’s grand reopening.

The Holiday Inn now has a larger registration desk
than it had before the renovation.

The refurbished hotel now has a restaurant and bar.

Many answers to ‘what’s new?’ at Northlake
by Kathy Mitchell
Those who haven’t been to the Northlake area
recently may find there are shopping, dining and
lodging options that weren’t present a year ago.

Renovated Holiday Inn holds grand
The Holiday Inn Northlake held its grand
reopening Dec. 10 as corporate executives, local
officials and guests gathered for tours of the newly
renovated facility.
“Even though we are calling it a reopening, we
never stopped operating. At times we had to close
off areas, but we stayed open through the process,”
explained Michele Rucker, Holiday Inn director
of sales.
Rucker said the lobby was given a fresh open
look with a larger registration desk. “And we
opened the bar and restaurant, which had not
been open for a while.”
The new restaurant, Burger Theory, is part of a
chain introduced a year ago under the Holiday Inn
brand. Although hamburgers are the restaurant’s
signature offering, salads, steaks, fish, pizza and
other items also are on the menu. It also features
32 varieties of beer, including several brewed in
“This will really make the place more attractive,” said Tom Muse, a general manager at the
Tennessee-based company that now owns Holiday
Inn Northlake. “Business travelers who want to get
dinner or have a drink can do so without leaving
the Holiday Inn.”
Rucker said corporate use represents a large

part of the facility’s business.
“This is a fast-growing area,” said Muse, who
said his company is looking to open another—
possibly two—lodging facilities around Northlake
in the next two years. “We’re thinking of bringing
a Candlewood Suites here. This area could easily
support more lodging. Since it’s right on I-285 it’s
easy to get to other parts of the metro area from
here. With Tucker having just become a city, we’re
expecting nothing but growth.”
The Holiday Inn Northlake is slated to become
larger if permits can be obtained, Rucker said. A
sixth floor, which would be entirely conference
space, would be added. Currently the facility has a
meeting room that can accommodate 35 people—
or 50 with no tables—and a “board room” for
meeting around a large conference table. There are
an exercise room, a business center and 129 guest
rooms, including one suite with a full kitchen.
Rucker said another suite may be added next

More options come to the mall

Several new retailers have come to 40-year-old
Northlake Mall in recent weeks, including two
Atlanta-based women’s boutiques and two locally
owned food court restaurants.
“We’re always looking for exciting new retail
stores to add to our mix,” said Sue Storck, mall
manager at Northlake Mall, who noted that 2015
has seen a larger-than-average number of stores
added to the mall. “A blend of national chains and
locally owned stores give us lots of variety. Our
goal is to have what our customers are looking

Vivi’s Boutique is one the two clothing stores
to open in the mall in recent weeks. It offers a
wide variety of handmade children’s clothes and
accessories, as well as a unique selection of home
décor, according to Storck.
Already in several southeastern cities, including Chattanooga, Tenn., and Auburn, Ala., Sienna & Bellini opened its first Atlanta area store
at Northlake, according to co-owner and lead
designer Thalia Gottesman, who described the
store’s merchandise as “a hip, trendy, stylish and
fashionable brand that supplies European style
and design. Sienna & Bellini seeks to make stylish
fashion affordable for everyone,” she said.
“The store offers an apparel selection—many
one-size-fits-most—with flattering cuts and personalized customer service,” Gottesman said.
“While we primarily target teens and women into
their late 20s, we have something for everyone.
“We chose Northlake because there’s nothing else in this area offering fashions of this type,”
Gottesman said. Two more Sienna & Bellini are
opening soon, including one in Little 5 Points that
is scheduled to open before the end of the year.
The store sells dresses, pants, skirts, tops, shoes
and accessories.
Among the new eateries in the food court,
according to Storck, is Tio Tinos, which features
blended ice creams—crafted just for the shop—
along with gelato, hot dogs, fountain drinks and
other items.  
Also now in the food court is Cairo Cuisine,
which features Mediterranean food, including authentic Egyptian fare.       

Globally aware

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

The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015


Page 18A

DeKalb County School District officials, staff, students and teachers gathered at the district’s administrative and instructional
complex in Stone Mountain to commemorate the 74th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.

DeKalb County remembers
Pearl Harbor
by Ashley Oglesby
The 74th anniversary of the surprise attack on
Pearl Harbor was commemorated on Dec. 7 at the
DeKalb County School District’s instruction complex in Stone Mountain with student performances,
recognition of veterans employed by the district
and the first-ever raising of the American flag at the
Superintendent Stephen Green said, “This ceremony reminds us of the spirit and the promise of
what it means to be American.”
He added, “Also today we remember that freedom is not free. We’re reminded that freedom comes

with a cost and a price.”
Pearl Harbor Day honors the 2,400 people who
died when the Japanese attacked the base in Hawaii
on Dec. 7, 1941, which brought a U.S. military being
fought largely in Europe to U.S. soil. Flags are flown
at half-staff at government locations to honor those
who died, and many homes across the country display American flags.
Students from Southwest DeKalb Wind Symphony, Lakeside High School Vikings band, Stone
Mountain High School Navy JROTC color guard
and Miller Grove High School Army JROTC took
part in the ceremony.
U.S. Army Sgt. Henry Anderson served as the
guest speaker for the event.

The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015


Page 19A

The Communities in Schools network is a federation of independent 501 organizations in 27 states and the
District of Columbia that work to address the dropout epidemic.

Communities in Schools praises
Congress for passing school law
President Barack Obama signed the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) into law on
Dec. 10, largely replacing the No Child Left
Behind Act.
Lawmakers have touted the new law as a
more flexible approach to student testing and
school accountability.
Following the announcement Communities In Schools (CIS), the nation’s largest
dropout prevention organization, praised the
Senate for joining the House of Representatives in passing the ESSA.
Among the measures in the new law is a
framework allowing communities to tap resources to help low-income students get the
help they need to stay in school.
The new law includes specific language
allowing Title 1 funding for integrated student supports or wraparound services–a local and school-based approach that removes
academic and non-academic barriers to student achievement. It also enables educators
to access grants to work with providers of
integrated students such as Communities In
Schools and encourages local communities
to utilize evidence-based programs proven to
help low-income students succeed in school.
“This represents our nation’s best opportunity to help poor students, who are now
the majority in public schools, overcome
their barriers to learning,” Communities In
Schools National President Dan Cardinali
said . “Our nearly 40 years of experience
working with students across the country
and independent research results prove that
integrated students supports/wraparound
services effectively improve education outcomes for school kids. It is gratifying that our
leaders in Congress looked at the evidence

and determined that integrated student supports is an effective and cost-efficient use of
“I want to thank the United States Congress for working in a bipartisan manner to
get this important piece of legislation to President Obama for his signature. I also want to
thank, in particular, members of Georgia’s
Congressional delegation who represent
Clayton County, DeKalb County and Fulton
County for their hard work and leadership in
making sure this bill got passed,” CIS of Atlanta Executive Director Frank Brown said.
Hopefully the Georgia Department of Education will allow school districts that we work
in across the state to use Title I funds for CIS
CIS of support positions trained site coordinators inside schools to identify at-risk
students. Working with school leaders and
community partners, the site coordinators
provide these students with the services and
supports—food, school supplies, health care,
counseling, academic assistance, mentorship, guidance, etc.— needed for academic
success. According to CIS, a recent impact
report demonstrated the results:
· CIS serves 1.48 million students at 2,400
schools and community-based sites across
the country
· 92 percent of these students are eligible for
free-or-reduced priced lunch
· 99 percent of case-managed students stay
in school
· 93 percent of K-11 students who are monitored are promoted to the next grade
· 91 percent of eligible seniors graduate
· The cost to states and districts is minimal—
as little as $159 per student per year

The organization aims to be a bridge between schools and businesses,
faith groups, and other nonprofit agencies, identifying and mobilizing
local resources to provide a range of services such as: mentoring, tutoring, health care, summer and after-school programs, family counseling,
and service learning.

The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015




Page 20A


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

ADVERTISE YOUR AUCTION in over 100 newspapers for only $350. Your 25word classified ad will reach
more than1 million readers.Ê
Call Melissa Pearson at the
Georgia Newspaper Service,

Transport will cover all cost!
Earn $800 per week! Local
CDL Training! 1-888-7492302.
ATTN: Drivers - $2K Sign-On
Bonus. Make $55k a year.
Great Benefits + 401K. $500
Holiday Bonus. CDL-A Req.
(877) 258-8782.
Driver Ð CDL/A. $3000 Sign
On Bonus for Experienced
Drivers. Paid out within 30
days of 1st dispatch! HOME
WEEKLY. NEW Southeast
Regional. Pay Increase!
Company & Independent
Contractors Needed. 6 Day
Refresher Course avail. In
Business over 50 years! 855378-9335 EOE

Werner Enterprises wants
YOU! Great Pay, Home-time,
Benefits, & New Equipment!
Need your CDL? 3-4 wk
training avail! DonÕt wait,
call Career Trucker to get
started! 866-557-9244

AVIATION Grads work with
JetBlue, Boeing, NASA and
others Ð start here with
hands on training for FAA
certification. Financial aid if
qualified. Call Aviation Institute of Maintenance (866)

Medical Office Assistant! No
Experience Needed! Online training can get you job
ready! HS Diploma/GED &
PC/Internet needed! 1-888407-7162.

mixed used. OWNER
%  DOWN.
(678)-879-4314 OR (404)433-7053. rogerboyd65@



Can You Dig It? Heavy Equipment Operator Career! We
offer training and certifications
running bulldozers, backhoes
and excavators. Lifetime
job placement. VA Benefits
Eligible! 1-866-362-6497.

BILL! Get your whole-home
Satellite system installed at
NO COST and programming
starting at $19.99/mo. FREE
HD/DVR. Upgrade to new
callers. SO CALL NOW 866795-2165.


DIVORCE WITH OR WITHOUT children $125.00.
Includes name change and
property settlement agreement. SAVE hundreds. Fast
and easy. Call 1-888-7337165, 24/7

Two acres of land located
at 407 Rowland Rd. Stone
Mountain/Pine Lake.
Land can be re-zoned,

than 1 million Georgia newspaper readers. Your 25-word
classified ad will appear in
over 100 Georgia newspapers for only $350. Call Melissa Pearson at the Georgia
Newspaper Service at 770454-6776 or online at Www.

Donate A Boat
or Car Today!
“2-Night Free Vacation!”

1- 800 - CAR - ANGE L

w w

sponsored by boat angel outreach centers


Drivers: Run FB with WTI.
Be home weekends. Start
up to 26%+ fuel bonus.
New equipment. Experience
needed. LP available. Call

For Prices, Deadlines and Information Visit
Rates: $30.00 for up to 40 words, each additional word $0.60. All ads are prepaid! All Major credit cards accepted!

Ads Due By Friday - Noon for next publication date.
DISCLAIMER: We do not knowingly accept advertisements that discriminate, or intend to discriminate, on any illegal basis. Nor do we knowingly accept employment advertisements that are not
bona-fide job offers. All real estate advertisements are subject to the fair housing act and we do not accept advertising that is in violation of the law. The law prohibits discrimination based on color,
religion, sex, national origin, handicap or familial status.

The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015


Page 21A


McNair defeats Stephenson 70-10 at home. Photo by Carla Parker

McNair dominates Stephenson in wrestling match
by Carla Parker
The McNair Mustangs wrestling
team has its sights on another region
title and more after a strong start to
the season.
McNair improved to 15-1 on the
season after a 70-10 win over Stephenson Dec. 12. Although the team
had a dominant performance, Coach
Ramone Tillery said his wrestling
team still has work to do.
“We have a long way to go,” he
said. “We have to keep working to
be ranked No. 1 in the county, so we

have to live up to that. We have a lot
of young guys that has potential and
doing pretty good. We just have to
keep working and getting better day
by day.”
The McNair wrestling program
has improved each season since Tillery was named head coach in the
2011-2012 season. When he first
got to the program as an assistant in
2007, the team only had 12 wrestlers.
It now has 40 wrestlers. The
program made history in 2013 when
Khalil Williams became the first
wrestler from McNair to win a gold
medal at the state wrestling tourna-

ment. Jamal Deng became the second wrestler last season to win a state
“I just try to give the kids an opportunity to do something positive,
try to keep them motivated, try to
keep them going in the right direction and I try to get as many kids
as I can,” Tillery said. “The graduation percentage has been good, the
kids’ grades have been improving,
and again this gives them something
positive to do and I’m very proud of
The Mustangs also received a
$10,000 grant from the Ultimate

Fighting Championship (UFC) in
2012, allowing them to purchase uniforms and wrestling mats.
Tillery said his team has the potential to win another region title and
“I have a great coaching staff
with me now, so we’re doing pretty
well,” he said. “Hopefully we’ll take it
one step at a time—win the county,
win the region and we’ll be in Macon
Jan. 14-16 [for the Team Dual State

Emory volleyball player
earns academic
All-American honors

Emory University setter Sydney Miles was named to the 2015 CoSIDA Academic All-America Division III Volleyball Team.

Emory University senior setter Sydney Miles has been
recognized for her performance both on the court and in the
classroom by being named to the 2015 CoSIDA Academic AllAmerica Division III Volleyball Team as selected by the College
Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA).
Miles, who is from Oklahoma City, Okla., was selected to
the second team.
Miles turned in an outstanding season for the Eagles, earning D-III First Team All-American recognition as chosen by
the American Volleyball Coaches Association for the fourth
straight year, the first Emory player to accomplish that feat and
just the third in the history of the AVCA. In addition, she was
selected to the All-University Athletic Association First Team
for the fourth time, just the second Eagle to earn that distinction, after ranking second in the league and third nationally in
assists with an 11.43 per-set average, good for the No. 4 spot on
the program’s seasonal chart.
Chosen as the league’s Setter/Defensive Player of the Week

See Volleyball on Page 23A

The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015


Page 22A

Dec. 12
Grady 66, Columbia 63
Redan 40, Marist 32
Arabia Mountain 67, Chamblee 37
Westminster 59, Decatur 44
Lithonia 55, St. Pius X 44
Collins Hill 89, Clarkston 24
Lakside 59, Dunwoody 48
Lone Peak (Utah) 73, Miller Grove 71
Christian Brothers (Tenn.) 54,
Tucker 42
Briarcrest Christian (Tenn.) 69,
Paideia 35
Arabia Mountain 57, Chamblee 52
St. Pius X 59, Lithonia 24
Alcovy 62, M.L. King 41
Westminster 52, Decatur 42
South Atlanta 49, Paideia 48
Miller Grove 63,
Greater Atlanta Christian 55
Marist 40, Redan 33
Stephenson 48, Duluth 41
Tattnall Square Academy 73,
W.D. Mohammed 20

Dec. 11
Decatur 56, Washington 40
Druid Hills 56, Dunwoody 42
North Clayton 52, Cedar Grove 48
Columbia 52, Redan 47
Marist 56, Chamblee 42
Stephenson 62, Clarkston 49
Rockdale County 70, Lakeside 26
Grady 62, Lithonia 52
Southwest DeKalb 73, M.L. King 38
Miller Grove 67, Timpview (Utah) 56
St. Pius X 56, Stone Mountain 44
Tucker 72, Southhaven (Miss.) 58
Christian Brothers (Tenn.) 59,
Paideia 38
Arabia Mountain 74, Cross Keys 25
Decatur 54, Washington 52
Marist 51, Chamblee 32
Paideia 44, Whitefield Academy 33
Redan 39, Columbia 22

The Southwest DeKalb Lady Panthers defeated M.L. King 71-35 on Dec. 11. Photos by Travis Hudgons

Stone Mountain 42 St. Pius X 29
Southwest DeKalb 71, M.L. King 35
Stephenson 80, Clarkston 12
Rockdale County 51, Lakeside 18
Strong Rock Christian 48,
W.D. Mohammed 10

Dec. 10
Miller Grove 83, Fremont (Calif.) 52

Dec. 8
Miller Grove 82, M.L. King 35
Lithonia 87, Chamblee 52
Grady 61, Stone Mountain 60
St. Pius X 70, Cross Keys 18
South Atlanta 58, Cedar Grove 49
Redan 61, Arabia Mountain 49
Clarkston 40, Dunwoody 32
Lovejoy 60, Lakeside 55
Southwest DeKalb 69, Druid Hills 54
Decatur 59, Douglass 48
Marist 45, Columbia 36
Lovejoy 60, Lakeside 55
Creekside 62, Stephenson 54
Grady 61, Stone Mountain 60
North Clayton 58, Towers 57 OT
Tucker 61, Rockdale County 58
Westminster 57, W.D. Mohammed 36
Greenforest 86,
Atlanta International 13
Stone Mountain 45, Grady 42
Dunwoody 56, Clarkston 18
Marist 42, Columbia 18
Lovejoy 57, Lakeside 29
Tucker 73, Rockdale County 36
North Clayton 54, Towers 40
St. Pius X 47, Cross Keys 25
Southwest DeKalb 60, Druid Hills 17
Redan 46, Arabia Mountain 36
South Atlanta 50, Cedar Grove 15
Chamblee 68, Lithonia 25
Decatur 57, Douglass 40
Lovejoy 57, Lakeside 29
Stephenson 62, Creekside 34
Tucker 73, Rockdale County 36
Greenforest 60,
Atlanta International 31

The Champion FREE PRESS, FRIDAY, December 18, 2015



Page 23A

Miller Grove fires head football coach
football coach in high school,” Midd
Middleton said on Facebook, “Coach
Damien Wimes helped mold me into
the man I’m still growing to be today.
Bring coach back home to SWD so
he can do for them as he has done
for me and so many others. Coach
Wimes [you] are truly an impact on
every person’s life [you] come in contact with. #bringcoachhometoSWD”
Wimes was always “doing everything he can to help others [succeed],” Demarkus Carracter wrote.
“Let’s bring Damien Wimes home
where he belongs so he can help our
future Panthers, and put them back
on the map where we belong #SWD.”
Wimes said the support he has
received has made the situation feel a
lot better for him.
“Just knowing that I was able to
be a positive impact makes me feel
better,” he said. “That’s what I really
wanted to do—be a positive impact,
being a positive figure, especially a
Black male figure. I’m getting support from athletes, non-athletes,
students, parents, faculty and staff.
I’m happy I’m getting that support.
People are still posting, and I’m really happy that I was able to have that

by Carla Parker
Miller Grove High School has
fired head coach Damien Wimes.
Wimes announced his termination Dec. 4 on his Facebook page.
“At this moment I would like
to thank everyone that supported,
prayed, and cheered Miller Grove
Football during my tenure,” Wimes
said. “As of 2:30 p.m. [Dec. 3] I am
no longer the head football coach at
Miller Grove High School. I would
like to thank Principal Matthew
Priester for giving me a great opportunity, [athletic director] Sharman White, [assistant coach] Quentin Burrell and every coach that I
worked with. We are proud of the
things we accomplished; [30-30] was
not our goal, but we worked relentlessly for perfection.”
Wimes went on to thank other
people who played a role with the
program in his post. Wimes coached
six seasons at Miller Grove and had
a .500 winning percentage during his
tenure, which included four winning
Wimes, who teaches social studies at the school, told The Champion
he does not understand why he was
let go as coach.
“I had a winning record, 85 percent of my kids got scholarships. I
had a great tutorial program that I set
up and the region was going to be in
our favor next year so I really don’t
Damien Wimes, who coached for six seasons
get the whole thing,” he said. “But
at Miller Grove High School, was let go. Photo
it’s God’s plan, not mine. I’m proud
by Travis Hudgons
of the things we were able to accomplish here. Before we got here they
Although Miller Grove had four
only had one winning season, and we winning seasons under Wimes, the
had four.
school never made the playoffs. De“I thought our sponsorship was
spite no playoff appearances, Wimes
fine too,” he added. “I’m happy with
does have wins against Stephenson
the things we were able to accom(2012) and his alma mater Southwest
plish here. [I] helped a lot of players, DeKalb (2013, 2015).
touched a lot of players’ lives. I think
Wimes said he still wants to
football is in a much better place
coach football.
than before I got here and I hear that
“I’m trying to find another
from a lot of people.”
coaching job,” he said. “If it’s God’s
Wimes also started Fellowship
will I will get another coaching job.
of Christian Athletes (FCA)—a non- Coaching is a ministry to me and I
profit Christian sports ministry—in
want to continue that ministry.”
his football program. When asked
Wimes, who is well-known in the
why Wimes was fired as head coach, county, is receiving support from all
Priester said, “No comment.”
over. His Facebook page is filled with

‘I’m happy with the things we were able
to accomplish here. [I] helped a lot of
players, touched a lot of players’ lives. I
think football is in a much better place
than before I got here and I hear that
from a lot of people.’
support from players, fellow coaches
and teachers. Some are also calling for him to coach at his old high
“From teaching me Georgia History and real Black history during the
Black history month in eigth grade
at Chapel Hill Middle to being my

kind of impact.”
Although his coaching future is
uncertain, Wimes said he tries not to
worry too much about it.
“When God brings you through
near death and divorce, the rest of
life is easy,” he said.

Volleyball Continued From Page 21A
on five occasions during the year,
her precision-like setting helped the
team hit a conference-best .293, with
that mark placing second nationally.
In the team’s opening match of the
NCAA Regional against Greenville
College, she became the school’s
all-time leader in assists, eventually
closing out her four-year run with

the program with a total of 5,835.
Emory finished the season with an
overall won-lost mark of 34-4.
Academically, Miles, who majors in neuroscience and behavior
biology, was nominated with a 3.42
grade-point average.
To be eligible for the Academic
All-America honor, a student-athlete

must be a varsity starter or key reserve, maintain a cumulative grade
point average of 3.30 on a scale of
4.00, have reached sophomore athletic and academic standings at his/her
current institution, be voted to the
first team of the all-district team and
be nominated by his sports information director.

Since the program’s inception in
1952, CoSIDA has bestowed Academic All-America honors on more
than 14,000 student athletes in Divisions I, II, III and NAIA, covering all
NCAA championship sports.

Many people. Seven principles. One culture.
We appreciate and honor the vibrant and uplifting spirit of Kwanzaa.