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LOCAL, 10A

EDUCATION, 15A

SPORTS, 18A

Cop who killed unarmed man indicted
by Andrew Cauthen
Andrew@dekalbchamp.com

A sign states the reason a crowd camped outside the
DeKalb courthouse for days before a county policeman
was indicted for fatally shooting an unarmed man. Photo
by Travis Hudgons

“Justice was served,” said Chris Chestnut (front right), the
Hill family’s attorney. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

“All six counts! All six counts!”
That was the chant of a crowd after learning that the DeKalb County police officer who
fatally shot an unarmed, naked man in March
2015 will face a jury trial.
DeKalb County District Attorney Robert
James announced Jan. 21 that a grand jury indicted DeKalb County Police Officer Robert
Olsen on six counts: two counts of felony murder, aggravated assault, two counts of violation
of oath of office by a public officer, and one
count of making a false statement.
After the indictment, a Superior Court
judge signed a warrant for Olsen’s arrest. Olsen,
53, was booked into the DeKalb County Jail at
6:30 a.m. Jan. 22 and booked out at 9:30 a.m. on
$100,000 bond.

See Hill on Page 13A

R. Gregory Christie:
from shy kid to
award-winning illustrator
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
Growing up in Scotch
Plains, N.J., R. Gregory
Christie was not a child who
often interacted with others.
“I was a shy kid and I
liked being by myself,” he
said.
He did not gain
confidence until he
discovered his talent and love
for drawing.
“It helped build my selfesteem to draw something
and have people ask if I
traced it,” he said. “As I got
older I got more and more
interested in art.”
His mother would take
him to museums, and he
would go to the library to
study illustration. When he
was 11-years-old, he started

attending Scotch Plains
Fanwood Arts Association
meetings. The association
is a group of fine artists,
crafters, photographers and
sculptors who come together
to express and enjoy their
talents.
“When I got there, they
were all retirees and I was
just 11 years old and they
took me in,” he said. “They
showed me pastel drawings,
they showed me paintings…I
was excited that every time
they finished the actual
[meeting] obligations they
would go into a session
where we would all draw
something or someone.
“I’ve always loved art,”
he said. “It made me feel
good about myself and
helped guide me through
my childhood and teenage

CHAMPIONNEWSPAPER

R. Gregory Christie has done artwork for more than 50 children’s books.

years.”
Twenty years later,
Christie is now a renowned
illustrator. He has created
artwork for more than 50
children’s books and has
designed numerous album
covers.
His selected clientele
list includes The New Yorker,
Rolling Stone, Vibe, The Wall

CHAMPIONNEWS

Street Journal, The New York
Times, The Kennedy Center,
Moserobie Music (Sweden),
Impulse Records (New York),
MCA Records (Los Angeles),
Reading is Fundamental,
actress Marlo Thomas, folk
singer Pete Seeger, actor
and comedian Chris Rock,
actress and rapper Queen
Latifah and actress Karyn

Parsons.
Christie is also a twotime recipient of The
New York Times’ 10 Best
Illustrated Children’s Books
of the Year Award and a
three’time winner of the
Coretta Scott King Honor
Award in Illustration. He has
also won a NAACP’s Image
Award, The Boston Globe’s

See Illustrator on Page 13A

CHAMPIONNEWSPAPER

CHAMPIONNEWS

The Champion FREEPRESS, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

local

Page 2A

The Champion FREEPRESS, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

local

Page 3A

AroundDekalb

avondale
Estates

Girl Scouts troop to hold meeting
Girl Scout Troop 3647 will hold
a meeting Jan. 31 from 2 to 4 p.m.
The meeting will be held at Avondale
Pattillo United Methodist Church
located at 3260 Covington Highway.
For more information or to join the
troop, call Bonny Wilder at (770)
469-9032.

brookhaven
City to host watershed public
meeting
Brookhaven will hold a Nancy
Creek Watershed public meeting Feb.
3, from 7 to 8 p.m. at Marist School’s
Ivy Street Center Lecture Hall. The
meeting will include a brief presentation of the draft list of recommended
projects. The presentation will be
followed by an opportunity for residents to share their concerns or interests in the watershed. The lecture
hall is located at 3790 Ashford Dunwoody Road. For more information,
visit www.brookhavenga.gov.

Spring adult softball league
registration announced
Registration has begun for the
Brookhaven Parks and Recreation’s
2016 Spring Adult Softball League.
players, ages 17 and older can sign
up for the league until Feb. 12. Participants must have turned 17 prior
to Jan. 1, 2016. The registration fee
is $625 per team. Registration will
be taken at the Parks and Recreation
main office at Lynwood Community
Center, Monday through Friday, 8:30
a.m. to 5 p.m. League play begins the
week of March 7 and will conclude
before Memorial Day. The season
will culminate with a tournament
and opportunity to go to GRPA
State. Lynwood Community Center
is located at 3360 Osborne Road NE.
For more information, contact Taylor Davis at (404) 637-0542 or visit
www.brookhavenga.gov/city-departments/parks-recreation.

decatur

Symposium to explore relations
between Blacks and Jews
DeKalb History Center will
present a symposium titled ‘Roots
of Friendship’ on Saturday, March
5.  Author Melissa Fay Greene and
other scholars will discuss the unique
relationships that formed between
the Black and Jewish communities
in Atlanta during the first half of the
20th century. Topics for this symposium will include the immigration of
European Jews to Atlanta, the interdependence of these communities,
empathy and understanding among
communities, the Leo Frank case,
Jewish and Black experiences after
World War II, plus additional topics. 
Additional participants include
Charissa Threat, (symposium moderator), Sandy Berman, Danielle
Wiggins, Dr. Jelani Favors (panel
moderator) and additional panelists
David Goldwasser, Herschel Greenblat, Sylvia Clark, Roy Nesby, Sandy Berman and Danielle Wiggins.
 Tickets are $35 for DeKalb History Center members ($40 beginning
March 1) $45 for nonmembers ($50
beginning March 1). The symposium
will be 10 a.m.-1:30 p.m. at DeKalb
History Center located in the historic
DeKalb courthouse in downtown
Decatur.
Registration includes a buffet
lunch. For additional information
call (404) 373-1088, ext. 20.

Homeless ministry to hold gala
Lady T’s Homeless Ministry
will hold its 16th-year anniversary
Masquerade Gala Affair on Saturday,
Feb. 20, 5 – 9 p.m. at Milligan Hall,
Clairmont Presbyterian Church,
1994 Clairmont Road, Decatur. The
evening will include dinner, a disc
jockey and a 50/50 raffle. Proceeds
support the homeless ministry. Tickets are $40 for a single and $75 for a
couple. Program ads are available.
For more information, contact
Teresa Hamilton at (404) 316-0774.

Republican presidential
candidates to meet
The North DeKalb Republican
Women will host a presidential candidate mass meeting at the DeKalb
GOP headquarters on Saturday, Feb.
13, at 10 a.m. 
Speakers will include Rachel Little, immediate past chairman of the

Gwinnett County Republican Party
and recent recipient of the Georgia
Republican Party Chairman of the
Year Award, and Georgia Rep. Buz
Brockway, member of the Georgia
House of Representatives since 2011,
previous chairman of the Gwinnet
Republican party, and assistant editor of the Peach Pundit. 
All residents interested in expanding their knowledge about Republican presidential candidates are
invited to attend. Coffee and refreshments will be served.
The DeKalb GOP Headquarters
is located at 2050 Lawrenceville Hwy,
Suite 4054, Decatur, near the U.S.
Post Office.
For more information, visit northdekalbrepublicanwomen.
com, or contact Merrie Soltis
at merriesoltis@gmail.com.

pine lake

Organization to host pancake
breakfast
The Pine Lake Association of Involved Neighbors (PLAIN) will host
its monthly pancake breakfast Feb.
6 from 8:30 to 11 a.m. at the Beach
House. PLAIN is an integral part of
many of the activities happening in
Pine Lake. The house is located at
4865 Lakeshore Drive. For more information, visit lacallery@gmail.com.

stone
mountain

Stone Mountain CID adds
lights on Mountain Industrial
Boulevard bridge
The Stone Mountain Community Improvement District (CID) has
hired contractors R. J. Haynie and
Associates and Massana Construction to install lights on the Mountain
Industrial Boulevard bridge.
Contractors will begin installing
the poles in about 45 days, eventually adding overhead LED lights on
the Mountain Industrial Boulevard
bridge over Highway 78.
In a statement, CID President
Emory Morsberger said the lighting
increases and is a key enhancement
that CID members have supported
for years.
“The CID set its sights on bridge
lighting from the beginning, and
we’re now launching this effort,”
Morsberger stated. “We’re improving
safety and adding a new dimension

in appearance to better define this
gateway interchange. It will be a safer
bridge, and anyone who drives it at
night will notice the difference immediately.”
Ten light posts will be added on
the bridge and immediately adjacent
ramp areas, according to the news
release. Crews will extend existing
bridge beams to accommodate the
addition of light poles, allowing the
new lights to shine on the lanes. The
poles will be black and approximately 25 feet high, and the entire project
is expected to be complete within 2
months, weather permitting.
Construction funding is supplied
by a grant from the State Road and
Tollway Authority’s Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank. The
CID is funding the project design
and inspection costs.
“Anything we can do to make it
safer and easier to navigate in this incredible corridor is good for all commuters,” Morsberger stated. “The
CID is very pleased to have played
a leading role in adding this muchneeded improvement.”

Countywide
Youth flag football applications
being accepted
Youth flag football registration
continues until Saturday, April 9.
“The program is designed to
develop good sportsmanship, instill
skill development and maintain an
interest in physical fitness,” according to an announcement about the
program.
Youth Flag Football is open to
ages 12–16 at a cost of $40 per participant. To access online registration, please visit the DeKalb County
Parks webpage (apm.activecommunities.com/dekalbcountyrecreation)
or register in person at any DeKalb
County recreation center.
Practice dates and times will be
determined by recreation centers.
Participants must present birth certificates at the time of registration.
For more information, call the
Athletics Office at (770) 414-2113.

The Champion FREEPRESS, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

oPINIoN

Page 4A

How do I love Dee?
“How do I love thee? Let
me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth
and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when
feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and
ideal Grace.
I love thee to the level of
everyday’s
Most quiet need, by sun
and candle-light.
I love thee freely, as men
strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they
turn from Praise.
I love thee with a passion
put to use
In my old griefs, and with
my childhood’s faith.
I love thee with a love I
seemed to lose
With my lost saints,–I

love thee with the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my
life! –and, if God choose,
I shall but love thee better
after death.”–Elizabeth Barrett Browning
It was an uncharacteristically warm January day
15 years ago when Deanna
Lorraine and I joined in holy
matrimony in front of nearly
200 of our friends, family
and coworkers.
It was my first marriage,
her second. She had three
children, ages 10, 12 and 14,
and within a year we added
another to our family.
During our 15 years, as
in most marriages, we have
endured some tough times:
lengthy unemployment and

Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com

Managing Editor

@AndrewChampNews

financial difficulties, relationship problems with the
children, deaths of close family members and health challenges. But our relationship
has endured while we have
seen several marriages much

younger than ours fail.
I can honestly say that I
can’t imagine—at least not
positively—my life without
my wife. She’s my best friend,
my biggest fan, and my partner in all that I do.
Dee is smart, talented, a
great singer and storyteller,
an excellent cook, a loyal
friend, an encourager, a dedicated mother and she’s an
entrepreneur.
I can’t count all of the
ways I am loved by my wife
and the reasons I love her.
I love spending time with
her and we make an effort to
keep the lines of communication open. Because I live
3.8 miles from my office, I
have the privilege of having
lunch with my wife every

day. And at the beginning
of our marriage we made a
commitment to go out on a
date at least twice a month,
whether it’s eating at a fancy
restaurant or simply going
for a drive.
Of course, I don’t know
what the future holds for
us—I don’t know if we will
live long enough to be able
to be married 61 years like
former DeKalb CEO Liane
Levetan and her late husband Phil.
But I truly cherish our
first 15 years and if I had it to
do all over, I would say “I do”
again without hesitation or
reservation.
Here’s to the next 15
years, Dee. I Iove you!

The Champion FREEPRESS, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

oPINIoN

Page 5A

ONE MAN’S OPINION

It’s medicine, and it’s time!
“Georgia allows us to
have the medicine, but no
way to access it.  So we have
to become drug smugglers according to federal law, painstakingly transporting medicine from legal states just to
improve our children’s lives,”
Blaine and Shannon Cloud,
parents of Alaina Cloud, a
child suffering from Dravet
Syndrome.
April 16, 2015, was a
remarkable day under Georgia’s Gold Dome. Gov. Nathan Deal signed Georgia
House Bill 1, also known as
Haleigh’s Hope Act, into law,
allowing for the possession
of medical cannabis oil to be
administered as a medical
treatment as relief for a short
list of chronic and fatal illnesses and diseases. Parents
smiled while openly weeping. The bill’s primary sponsor and public face, State
Rep. Allen Peake of Macon
was openly ebullient and
thanked the governor, the
persistent families and God,
for all delivering that day.
Several “refugee” families who had left Georgia,
primarily for Colorado,
where the drug is more
easily obtained, have since
returned. A wide range of
patients (nearly 500,000
estimated in Georgia) may
have been helped or have
their daily discomfort eased
by use of this organic and
natural oil. Yes, it is derived

Bill Crane
bill.csicrane@gmail.com

Columnist

from the cannabis/hemp/
marijuana plant. And though
I have made no shortage of
wrong choices in my life, I
can honestly say that unlike Bill Clinton, I never
inhaled. But fortunately for
most, cannabis oil is actually either ingested, injected,
or in some cases, applied
topically. Though it can be
smoked in a liquid form (primarily via Vape pens), that is
not the typical form of treatment, and the THC levels
allowed by law are typically
not sufficiently high enough
(5 percent or less), to create the smoke-induced high
for which the drug is so well
known.
Parent after parent and
cancer patient after patient,
can and will tell you how access to this drug made their
life livable again, or their
pain levels tolerable. Parents
of children facing hundreds

of painful seizures per week
will relate how upon beginning a regular regimen of
cannabis oil those seizures
might be counted on a single
hand per month.
Unfortunately, the prevailing federal law related
to the legality of ownership,
trafficking and moving such
a drug across state lines remains unchanged. Though
as of this writing no parent
or patient bringing cannabis
oil into Georgia, possessing
or treating a family member
with the appropriate registration card has been arrested
or detained, that still remains
a possibility.  Without instate cultivation, manufacturing and eventually strictly
regulating distribution and
sales of the same drug, any
patient, parent or friend of
patient obtaining and bringing statute compliant cannabis oil into Georgia remains a
de facto drug smuggler.
And like most of these
parents, I would consider
such arrest a small price to
pay to protect and help my
ailing child, but an incarcerated parent makes for quite
a poor care giver, much less
remaining available for the
future required trips to the
out-of-state “pharmacy.”
I do understand and
appreciate concerns of the
slippery slope and a shift
towards the next discussion
regarding decriminalization

of minor possession and
recreational marijuana use. 
Though I enjoy my ski trips
and hiking in Denver and
Colorado, I strongly oppose
Georgia becoming such a
universal home for the Rocky
Mountain high.
There are numerous
opiates available today for
legitimate and prescribed use
as painkillers.  Clearly, they
are also being abused and
illegally used by some, but
we don’t take that medicine
away from those in real and
grievous pain. Not having a
cultivation and distribution
network for cannabis oil is
in effect making parents and
patients choose between pain
and breaking the law.
Rep. Peake, who remains
the tireless cannabis oil Energizer Bunny on this issue,
has co-sponsor signatures of
108 of 179 other State House
members to legalize and
create a cultivation system
in Georgia. A public petition for HB 722, the Georgia
medical cannabis cultivation
bill, has already garnered
thousands of signatures after
a few days of exposure on
social media, during the first
week of the Georgia General
Assembly.
I understand and appreciate the reservations of law
enforcement professionals,
as well as Gov. Deal, himself
a former prosecutor, about
moving too far, too fast, and

ending up with multiple
negative unintended consequences. I’m just going to
have to go with this being
worth the risk to help ease
the pain and suffering of our
sick children, friends and
family members. 
Simply put, it’s medicine
and and it’s time.
Bill Crane also serves as
a political analyst and commentator for Channel 2’s Action News, WSB-AM News/
Talk 750 and now 95.5 FM,
as well as a columnist for The
Champion, Champion Free
Press and Georgia Trend.
Crane is a DeKalb native
and business owner, living in
Scottdale. You can reach him
or comment on a column at
bill.csicrane@gmail.com.

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

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

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

The Champion FREEPRESS, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

local

Page 6A

Zeus Luby
To help solve some of
the issues in the Black community, Zeus Luby, 33, and
his friend Travis “Achilles”
Williams formed a nonprofit
organization called “The A
to Z Project.”
“We addressed all issues
from ‘A to Z,’” Luby said. “We
set out to tackle homelessness, battered women, rape
victims, displaced and troubled youth, poverty stricken
families, etc. Unfortunately,
Achilles died in a tragic accident in March of last year.
I plan to carry the torch in
honor of his memory and
our dream.”

Williams was hit and
killed by a freight train while
filming a YouTube workout
video near the train tracks.
According to The A to
Z Project’s website, the two
want to give back by “merg-

ing health and fitness and
the human spirit to pay it
forward.” Every month,
Williams hosts a donationbased fitness camp with all
proceeds being used to fund
community outreach projects.
Outside of working with
his project, Luby, a Stephenson High School graduate, also takes time to visit
schools to talk to students.
“I do a great deal of educational and motivational
speaking at grade schools
and colleges,” he said. “I’m
also a life coach and mentor.
I take young men under my

wing and help reformat their
perspectives.”
Luby is also a single father with full custody of his
child and he teaches men on
how to be a better and more
involved fathers.
“[I also] provide them
with information on how to
fight for custody,” Luby said.
Luby said doing community outreach is an “integral
part of our educational foundation.”
“Volunteering exposes
people to the difficult realities that a significant portion
of the global population
grapples with daily,” he said.

“Volunteering teaches compassion and empathy, and
nurtures one’s humanity. It
teaches patience, tolerance,
and can cultivate a desire
to learn the why behind
the actions of others rather
than immediately rebuking
or condemning them. The
benefits to those in need can
be just as life altering if not
more so. Selflessly giving of
one’s time, energy, and resources can inspire hope and
help heal the scars of poor
treatment.”

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

Avondale releases annexation feasibility study
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
An annexation feasibilty
for Avondale Estates has
been completed.
The city contacted the
Carl Vinson Institute of Government last November to
conduct an annexation study
on two areas. One study area
map includes commercial
property north of the city
along East Ponce De Leon
Avenue, the old Avondale
Middle School property and
residential property northeast of the city along Old
Rockbridge Road and the
DeKalb School of the Arts
and residential property
south the city along Berkeley
Road.
The second study area
also includes properties
along Old Rockbridge Road
and Berkeley Road, but also
includes residential properties west of the city along
Katie Kerr Drive and South
Columbia Drive.
The study areas contain
commercial and industrial
parcels with 40 percent assessed value of $10.9 million
in study area 1 and a 40 percent assessed value of $4.1

Carl Vinson Institute of Government conducted an annexation study on two areas and developed to maps for Avondale Estates.

million in study area 2, according to the report.
According to the report,
representatives from Carl
Vinson Institute focused on

two questions—how much
revenue would the city have
collected from the study areas in fiscal year 2014 if the
areas were annexed, and how

much would the city have
spent in 2014 to provide services to the study areas.
“We specified that the
study areas had been an-

nexed one or more years
prior to fiscal year 2014 and
as a result there are no lost
revenues due to transition
issues nor do we consider

See Avondale on Page 12A

thechampionnewspaper.com

The Champion FREEPRESS, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

local

Page 7A

Metro Atlanta volunteers joined together to aid refugees during the annual King Day of Service at Rock of Ages Lutheran Church in Stone Mountain. Photos provided

Volunteers pack rice for refugees
On Jan. 18, more than 200 volunteers from
around metro Atlanta packaged more than 4,000
pounds of rice for refugees during the annual Lutheran MLK Day of Service.
The rice, donated by the volunteers and
other donors, was repackaged from large 25- to
50-pound bags into smaller family-sized bags to
help stock the pantries of newly arrived refugees
resettled by Lutheran Services of Georgia, according to a news release by the organization.
The event was held at Rock of Ages Lutheran
Church in Stone Mountain.
“We at Lutheran Services of Georgia are overwhelmed by the number of volunteers who donated rice and showed up to help us welcome refugee
families to our state,” stated Melanie Johnson,
program manager for volunteer, congregation and
community engagement, refugee and immigration
services at Lutheran Services of Georgia, in the
release. “We are thankful to them for sharing their

time with us.”
The Lutheran Theological Center of Atlanta,
Southeastern Synod of the ELCA and Rock of
Ages Lutheran Church were also sponsors of the
event.
“After fleeing dangerous situations in their
home countries and spending many months in
refugee camps, most refugees arrive in the U.S.
with few personal possessions,” states Emily
Laney, director of refugee and immigration services, Lutheran Services of Georgia, in the release.
“At Lutheran Services of Georgia, we provide
refugees with food, shelter, and other support during their early days in the United States. The rice
donated and packaged on MLK Day will help the
nearly 550 refugees we will serve in 2016.”
Additionally, many participants wrote letters
urging Georgia legislators “to vote with compassion and welcome for all refugees,” according to
the news release.

Many volunteers also participated in a panel
discussion about interfaith dialogue and refugees
and immigrants living in Georgia. The panel
members included Johnson; Imam Arshad Anwar, resident imam, Roswell Community Masjid;
Sadia Yusaf, employment specialist, Lutheran
Services of Georgia; and Pastor Randy Palm of
Rock of Ages Lutheran. The panel discussion, led
by Pastor Justin Ask of Good Shepherd Lutheran
Church in Woodstock, addressed fears surrounding refugee resettlement, facts and myths about
Syrian and other refugees, the process of vetting
refugees in the United States and other relevant
topics.
Lutheran Services of Georgia is a 501(c)(3)
nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting services that enhance the stability, wellness,
health, and safety of individuals and families in
Georgia.

The Champion FREEPRESS, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

local

Page 8A

Marie Garrett to resign as
Brookhaven city manager
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com

In March 2015 interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May, left, hired former state attorney general Mike Bowers “to
root out corruption,…waste, fraud and abuse.” The Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s review of Bowers’ report
yielded nothing new to act upon. Photo by Andrew Cauthen

GBI finds nothing new to
investigate in DeKalb
by Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com
The Georgia Bureau of
Investigation (GBI) has concluded that a so-called corruption report by a special
investigator contained nothing for the GBI to investigate.
“It’s encouraging that we
have a sense of closure in this
area,” said interim DeKalb
County CEO Lee May during a Jan. 22 phone interview.
“It’s a step forward to allow
us to really move this county
forward.”
In October 2015 Georgia
Gov. Nathan Deal ordered
the GBI to review a report on
DeKalb County government
corruption. The report was
prepared by former state attorney general Mike Bowers,
who was selected in March
by May to root out county
corruption.
In his report, delivered to
the county Sept. 30, Bowers
stated that the county’s poor
leadership and widespread
corruption “are a disgrace to
its citizens and an embarrassment to our state.”
Calling for May to resign,
Bowers’ report stated that
“May and others conspired
actively to block” the corruption investigation.
In his Jan. 11 letter to
Deal, GBI Director Vernon
Keenan said, “The FBI was

already aware of most of the
allegations in the report, and
to the extent any allegation
involved potential federal

“If there is any kind of
criminal wrongdoing we
want to take care of it proactively and we want to hold all

‘It’s encouraging that we
have a sense of closure
in this area.’
– Lee May

criminal violations, the FBI
has already investigated the
matter.”
Another allegation is
being investigated by the
DeKalb County Police Department and “a number of
the allegations in the report
related to violations of the
DeKalb County ethics rules,
which could not be prosecuted criminally,” Keenan wrote.
“It is our view the report
contained no new criminal
allegations that warranted
further investigation by the
GBI,” he stated.
“As I have stated before,
the vast majority of our
employees are hardworking, honest employees [and]
they’re dedicated,” May said.

employees accountable for
his or her actions,” May said.
We are fully cooperating
with anyone who is investigating.”

Brookhaven City Manager Marie Garrett will resign from her position and
will receive a settlement of
$225,000 from the city.
Garrett reached the settlement agreement with the
city following mediation on
Jan. 20, according to a statement from Brookhaven
“The city of Brookhaven
and Marie Garrett have resolved a contract disagreement to the satisfaction of all
concerned,” the city said in
a statement. “Over the past
three years, Marie Garrett’s
integrity and hard work have
been invaluable assets to our
city and instrumental to the
city’s success. The mayor and
the city council thank Marie
for her devoted service and
wish her the best in her future endeavors.”
According to the settlement agreement, $42,300 of
the $225,000 will be allocated
to Garrett’s retirement annuity. More than $13,000 will
go toward her One America
account, and the remainder
of the settlement is a lump
sum of $168,750, less taxes.
On Jan. 12, Mayor John
Ernst and the city council
unanimously voted to suspend Garrett. Her city hall
building access was revoked
and she was escorted from
the building.
Police Chief Gary Yandura was appointed interim
city manager.
“The city honors its obligations,” Ernst said in a Dec.
12 statement. “Unfortunately
the contract negotiated by

Garrett

previous administrations is
ambiguous and does not allow the city to know what its
duties are. While working
toward an orderly transition
we have become mired in
conflict over the terms and
conditions of that agreement.
The responsible thing to do
is to have a third party resolve these disputes. We wish
Marie Garrett well.”
According to Garrett’s
2014 employment agreement, her annual salary was
$214,000.
Garrett was hired as city
manager Feb. 26, 2013, with
an initial salary of $170,000.
However, for six months
she worked as a consultant
and made an additional
$24,700. In March 2014,
Garrett received a pay raise,
which brought her salary to
$214,000.
According to a 2015 Municipal Wage and Salary Survey, Garrett had the second
high salary among city managers in the state. She also
received a $600 allowance
per month for her car.

CITY OF STONE MOUNTAIN
PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE
The City of Stone Mountain hereby gives notice that a Public Hearing will be held
to consider proposed text amendments to Appendix A of the Zoning Ordinance of
Stone Mountain.
The Mayor and City Council will hold a Public Hearing on this matter on Monday,
February 15, 2016 at City Hall located at 875 Main Street, Stone Mountain, GA at
6:00 P.M. Anyone wishing to attend the public hearing may do so and be heard
relative thereto. A copy of the proposed text amendments will be available at City
Hall.

www.thechampionnewspaper.com

The Champion FREEPRESS, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

local

Page 9A

County history preserved in pre-Civil War house
by Kathy Mitchell
Maine resident Benjamin Franklin Swanton came
to Georgia during a gold
rush that started in the late
1820 and continued through
the 1830s and a house that
was once his residence still
stands—one of the oldest
structures in Decatur, explained Fred Mobley, archivist for the DeKalb History
Center, who spoke at the
center’s Jan. 19 Lunch and
Learn program.
“Swanton didn’t come
to mine for gold; he came
to sell mining equipment to
thousands of prospectors
who came here looking to
get rich,” Mobley explained.
Swanton made more money
as a businessman than most
of the gold miners did in
their attempts to find gold,
he said, adding that Swanton—in addition to selling
mining equipment—opened
a leather tanning business,
a brickyard, a machine shop
and other enterprises.
Although the house is
named for Swanton he did
not build it, according to
Mobley. Originally a tworoom log cabin, the structure
was built in the 1820s and
was purchased by Swanton
when he moved to Decatur
in 1852. The owner at the
time was Ammi Williams,
for whom Atlanta’s Williams
Street is named.
“William probably didn’t
build the house. We believe
it was constructed by a man
named Burwell Johnson,”
Mobley said. The exact construction date has not been
determined; however, it is
believed to be around 1825,
three years after DeKalb
County was established.
Documenting precise dates
for DeKalb’s oldest buildings
is difficult because in 1842,
when the county was just 20
years old, a fire destroyed

Fred Mobley, archivist for the DeKalb History Center, discusses the history of the Swanton House with those
attending a lunch-and-learn event at the center. Photo by Kathy Mitchell

most of DeKalb’s early records, Mobley said.
It is likely the house is
named for Swanton rather
than one of its other owners
because five generations of
the Swanton family lived in
the house through the years
in which it was enlarged
and updated from a pioneer
cabin to a Georgian-style
cottage, Mobley said, adding
that the dining room and an
adjoining area are part of the
original house.
“The house as it looks
today isn’t what you think
of as a cabin. It actually was
a rather nice home during
the years the Swantons lived
there,” Mobley said. The
Swantons may have returned
to Maine during the Civil
War years, when the house
was believed to have been
occupied by a woman and 10
girls—the woman’s daughters
and nieces, Mobley said.
“There’s a story of the

woman locking a Union soldier in a closet in the house
and refusing to let him out
until he took off his Yankee
uniform,” Mobley said. Records indicate the Federal
Army of Tennessee used
Swanton House as it was en
route to Atlanta. Musket balls
wedged in the structure bear
witness to Civil War battles
in the surrounding area, he
said.

    

Swanton House’s future
was imperiled in the 1960s as
an urban renewal movement
swept through downtown
Decatur and commercial activity began moving to such
new shopping areas as North
DeKalb Mall, which opened
in 1965. Land use plans developed by DeKalb County
and the city of Decatur raised
questions of whether to demolish or preserve some of

the city’s oldest structures,
Mobley said.
“Fortunately, there were
those around at the time who
saw the value of preserving
such historic buildings as the
Swanton House” and fought
to save it from the wrecking
ball, Mobley said. A community newspaper owned
in part by a Swanton family
member urged saving the
house on its editorial pages.
“The two most important
factors in saving Swanton
House have been the family’s
involvement and the interest [C& S Bank President]
Mills B. Lane Jr. took in the
house,” Mobley said. Lane
was instrumental in restoring the house and having
it moved from its Atlanta
Avenue location to Decatur’s
historic complex. Swanton
family members lived in
the house until the mid1960s when responsibility
for maintaining the structure was transferred to the
DeKalb History Center.
In 1978, Swanton House
was placed on the National
Register of Historic Places.

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CITY OF CHAMBLEE, DEKALB, GA 
ADVERTISEMENT FOR INVITATION TO BID 

Sealed bids for the PEACHTREE STREETSCAPE PROJECT NUMBER: P.I. 0009024 will be received by the City 
of Chamblee at Chamblee City Hall, 5468 Peachtree Road, Chamblee, GA, until 3:00 pm on Friday, 
February 19, 2016, and then at said office publicly opened and read aloud. Bids received after the 
designated time will not be accepted. (The bid deadline and opening have been changed from Feb. 5th to 
Feb 19th)   
   The project generally includes furnishing all labor, materials and equipment for the construction and 
related improvements for the PEACHTREE STREETSCAPE. This project will provide two travel lanes 11 feet 
wide and 5ft to 6ft wide sidewalks on the east  side, with two foot grass strip. Coordination with utilities 
will be required.    
   The project is located between Pierce Drive and 700 ft North‐East of Chamblee Dunwoody Road along 
Peachtree Road in the City of Chamblee, DeKalb County.  The Georgia Department of Transportation 
Standard Specifications, 2013 Edition, applicable Supplemental Specifications and Special Provisions apply 
to this project.   
   Bid documents may be obtained from the State of Georgia/DOAS website at 
https://ssl.doas.state.ga.us/PRSapp/ and the Procurement Page on the City’s website at 
www.chambleega.gov.   
   If you have any questions regarding this project please contact Marc Johnson, Chamblee City Manager, 
at 770‐986‐5026.  Chamblee reserves the right to accept or reject any or all bids and to waive 
technicalities.     

The Champion FREEPRESS, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

local

Page 10A

DeKalb County’s firefighters, among the lowest paid in the metro area, are seeking better compensation. Photos by Travis Hudgons

DeKalb firefighters leave county for more money
by Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com
On Sept. 11, 2013, interim
DeKalb County CEO Lee May, just
two months on the job, promised to
hire 300 firefighters over three years
at a rate of 100 per year.
May said hiring the new personnel would improve response times,
give greater support to first-responders who may need backup and relieve
some of the pressure public safety
personnel experience from high call
volume.
Since then, 147 firefighters have
been hired, according to county officials.
“We’re in 2016 and we’ve still
just hired the one group,” said Tom
Burrell, a fire rescue captain and secretary of the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 1492. “We
haven’t even opened up applications
for another group yet. We’ve already
failed at that as a county.”
May said that prior to that public
address in September 2013, the fire
department had ceased hiring. There
hadn’t been any academies for “quite
a while.”
Since his commitment, the

county has had “a number of them,”
and May has attended two fire rescue
academy graduations.
“We have another eight months
or so for that three-year period,” May
said. “We’re still hiring. We still have
a ways to go, really, to get to that 300,
but I feel good about the momentum
that we’ve had. We’ve completely
turned that around—the trajectory of
hiring in DeKalb County.”
In addition to the aggressive
hiring plan, May announced pay increases for promotions.
In the past when a firefighter was
promoted, he or she received a 5 percent raise when the initial paperwork
went through, and then was placed
on probation for six months, Burrell
said.
“After six months, if you did
well…you received another 5 percent,” Burrell said. “The second 5
percent was taken away.
“The commitment in 2013 was
that we were going to bring that
back,” Burrell said. “And that we were
actually going to go back retroactively a year.
“Here we are in 2016 and…we
have people here now who not only
missed one promotional raise,…

many have missed two,” he said.
“My commitment was to look
at and address that,” May said. “We
haven’t done that as of yet. Just the
cost of that was too difficult at the
time for us to accomplish. But, that is
not off the table.
“Our balancing act has been
making sure we’re expanding…our
fire rescue personnel…while at the
same time compensating the people
who have been here for years,” May
said. “They are both very costly measures and we have done our best to
address both.”
Burrell said, “We’ve seen a steady
rise in attrition here in DeKalb
County in the fire department, very
similar to the police department.”
In the past five years, more than
150 sworn firefighters have resigned
their positions, he said.
“This week we’ve lost three people—this morning two alone,” Burrell
said Jan. 13. “Since 2011…we’ve lost
two sworn employees to resignations
per every retirement.”
Burrell said the average employee
that resigns has 5.9 years on the job
in DeKalb.
“And they’re going somewhere
else,” Burrell said. “They’re going

to Cobb County. They’re going to
somewhere like Clayton or Henry
[counties]. All these places start over
10 percent more starting pay.”
In DeKalb County the starting
pay for a firefighter/EMT is $33,444.
The same position pays $37,964 in
Henry County and $39,633 in Gwinnett, according to their respective
websites. In Atlanta, upon graduation
from the fire academy, firefighters
start off at $35,255.
Burrell said DeKalb County loses
its investment each time a firefighter
leaves.
The “big investment of the side
of the DeKalb County taxpayer” for
firefighters—including the initial
salary, benefits, gear equipment and
training costs—is $60,000 per firefighter, Burrell said.
That’s $9 million per the 150 fire
personnel who have resigned in the
past five years, he said.
May said, “Retention is still a
challenge that we have identified and
that we are dealing with head on.”
That was the impetus behind
the county’s pay and class study, an
18-month process of comparing the
compensation of its employees with
similar employees in the region.

See Firefighter on Page 12A

In

The Champion FREEPRESS, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

WEEK

local

Page 11A

PICTURES

A group holding American flags and signs celebrated in the rain after an indictment was announced late Jan. 21 for a police officer who shot an unarmed man. See story on page 1A.
Photo by Andrew Cauthen

The East Metro Orchids, a social/civic organization of professional women living in DeKalb, Rockdale, Newton and Gwinnett counties, recently made a $1,500 donation to the Earl and
Carolyn Glenn Unconditional Love for Children Foundation (ULC). Pictured from left are Lisa Moreaux, attorney Saundra Davis-Forrest, Isha Western, The Champion publisher Carolyn
Glenn of ULC, East Metro Orchids president and State Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler, Steen Miles, Lois Keith and Debbie Hillman. Photo by Travis Hudgons

23

PHOTOS BROUGHT TO YOU BY DCTV
DCTV Channel 23
@DCTVChannel23

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

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

E-mail us at DCTV@DeKalbCountyGA.gov

The Champion FREEPRESS, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

local

Page 12A

Tucker city council District 1 candidates
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
Leading up the March 1
Special Election, The Champion will publish a Q&A with
each candidate in the city of
Tucker elections. The first
Q&A segment features the
candidates for City Council District 1 Post 1 and 2:
Honey Van De Kreke (Post
1) and Jon Carr (Post 2).
Candidate William Rosenfeld did not respond to the
questionnaire.
1)Why did you decide to
run for a city council
seat?
Van De Kreke: “I thought
with my experience in working in the community and
DeKalb County for the last
20 years would be useful in
setting up the foundation for
the new city.”
Carr: “Tucker needs qualified leadership and representation; someone with a
record of long-term business
and community involvement.”
2) W 
hat are your top three
priorities if you’re elected
to the city council?
Van De Kreke: “Tucker
will be taking on land use
and zoning, parks and code
enforcement. I think it is
crucial that all three of these
responsibilities have equal

Rosenfeld

attention.”
Carr: “1) Support producing
a plan to decrease community and business crime; 2)
support hiring a city manager with “new city” experience; 3) support producing
a conservative city budget
with no increase in property
taxes.”
3) What qualities do you
have that will help you be
a good city council member for Tucker?
Van De Kreke: “I currently
serve on several boards of
Tucker organizations that
have been working on solutions for Tucker residents
and business. I also serve as
District 1 appointee to the
DeKalb Parks Bond Citizens
Advisory Board since 2001.
As a small business owner, I
do possess a working knowledge of budgets, responsibilities and promises kept.”

Carr

Carr: “My proven leadership
and business skills with experience in producing budgets,
purchasing and negotiating
contracts. My master of business degree from Mercer
University, and my successful
ownership and business skills
in operating a community
pharmacy.”
4) What do you believe
some of the challenges
will be for Tucker?
Van De Kreke: “Tucker is
unique in that we have great
community involvement. I
sincerely hope the involvement continues. That being
said, the new city will not be
able to meet all of the desires
of the citizens at once. Meeting expectations in a short
period will be a huge challenge.”
Carr: “Tucker will be a city
with yearly budgets that will

Kreke

allow us to live within our
anticipated income without
raising property taxes. Maintaining community roads
and secure grants for revitalization of our community
parks.”
5) If elected, what kind of
city will Tucker be at the
end of your term?
Van De Kreke: “My term
is set for two years. I would
like to make certain that all
policies and procedures are
in place for a successful future. My sincere hope is that
Tucker will be the model
other communities and cities
use as a standard for governance.”
Carr: “Tucker will see
growth in its population and
businesses. The new Tucker
will be a clean, neat and safe
family and business oriented
community.”

Avondale Continued From Page 6A
the effects of cash flow,” the
report states.
The Institute used the
2010 U.S. census block data,
census estimates for 2014
and tax maps. According to
the report, they estimated
the 2014 population of the
study areas, would be 461
in study area 1 and 2,040 in
study area 2.
The institute estimated
that if the study areas were
annexed into the city in

fiscal year 2014, the city
would have produced nearly
$526,339 in gross revenues
or $1,141.73 per capita in
study area 1. Study area 2
would have provided $1.6
million in gross new revenues or $795.95 per capita,
according to the report.
“We assumed that the
residents and businesses of
the annexed area would have
been charged the same tax
rates, fees and service charg-

es that were in effect for city
residents during fiscal year
2014,” the report stated.
The institute also interviewed department heads
and asked them to consider
their individual department
budgets for fiscal year 2014,
according to the report. The
department heads were then
asked to project the effect
the annexation would have
on their budgets, including
personnel-related expendi-

tures, operating expenditures
and equipment.
“According to what we
learned from these interviews, there is very limited need for personnel and
equipment increases,” the
report stated. Only public
safety, public works and sanitation departments would
need any additional personnel.”

reduce - reuse - recycle

firefighter

Continued From Page 10A
“The point to that study
is really to tell us…where we
are across the board with all
of our employees, in terms
of the market and the region,
in terms of pay and class
[and]…where we ought to
be,” May said.
Soon county officials will
try to determine how to “implement this study to make
sure that people are fairly
compensated and ultimately
to reduce the number of people that are leaving because
…of pay,” May said.
“We’ve seen through our
attrition numbers that we
have a ways to go,” May said.
“We are not where we want
to be, but we have truly made
progress in that area.”
Burrell’s message to elected officials is “we have put
our employees in a bad position. We have not honored
their service; and frankly,
we’ve made commitments to
them that we have not kept.
“We did not follow
through on the promotional
raises,” he said. “The fire
department never saw what
was promised to them.”
He is meeting with
commissioners during the
county’s budget period and
urging them to “bring back
promotional raises that were
cut in half in 2010.”
“We think that will start
to close the back door and let
us keep people,” Burrell said.
“What you’re hearing is
over a decade worth of frustration—of employees feeling
like they have not been fairly
compensated, feeling like
things have been taken away
from them over the years,”
May said.
“On that Sept. 11, I
promised a 3-percent incentive to all sworn public safety
personnel,” May said. “They
received that. We did a 3 percent cost of living adjustment
the year after that. Every employee received that including our fire rescue.”
The county also held
back some of the rising pension cost from employees,
May said.
“We want to be fair and
we want to make sure they
are fairly compensated for
the hard work that they do,”
May said. “We want our fire
rescue personnel to come
into the academy and we
want them to retire here in
DeKalb County.”

The Champion FREEPRESS, Friday, Jan. 29, 2016

DeKalb DA Robert James announces the police officer’s indictment.

Hill

local

Supporters kneel in prayer before the indictment’s announcement.
Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Page 13A

Darrick Lindsey was one of those camping. Photo by Travis
Hudgons

Continued From Page 1A

“The jury saw what we already saw, the evidence, the truth. I’m really speechless,” said Carolyn Guimmo, the mother of Anthony Hill, 27, an
Air Force veteran.
Hill was shot by Olsen, who responded to The
Heights at Chamblee apartment complex around
1 p.m. March 9, 2015, on a call about a man acting “deranged,” knocking on apartment doors and
crawling on the ground, Cedric Alexander, deputy chief operating officer for public safety, said at a
news conference after the incident.
James said the two murder charges are “felony
murder. They are not malice murder. We did not
present to the grand jury an indictment that alleges that it was malice or anger or ill will or anything like that.
“What’s been alleged was while in the commission of a felony, the officer...did cause the death of
Anthony Hill,” James said.
James said there are two murder charges not
because there were two victims, but because the
felony murder was charged two ways: one with the
aggravated assault as the cause of death, and one
with the cause of violation of oath of office.
The false statement charge was the result of
Olsen allegedly telling DeKalb County Police Officer L. Anderson during the investigation of the
shooting that Hill “physically assaulted [Olsen]
prior to the shooting by pounding on [Olsen’s]
chest,” according to the indictment.
“My job as a prosecutor is to seek justice,”
James said. “My job as a prosecutor is...to do what
I believe is right under the law. That’s what we do
in every case and that’s what we did in this case.”

In October 2015, a civil grand jury stated that
it was “unable to reach a consensus on recommending indictment because there were contradictions and inconsistencies in the testimonies
presented.”
“The grand jury that heard the case and issued
a civil presentment asked us to do more work and
to do more investigation,” James said. “We took
them seriously and that’s in fact what we’ve done
in the course of the last several months.”
James said his office presented evidence in the
case for eight hours.
Outside the courthouse before the indictment
was announced, Zan Thornton, a Decatur resident and veteran of the U.S. Army Reserves, displayed a sign that read, “ Vets Support Anthony
Hill. Mental Illness is not a Crime!”
“I’m here because Black lives matter, but our
veterans matter as well,” Thornton said. “This is
just an egregious shooting and death of somebody
that clearly had a mental illness. My family has
had PTSD in it from the veterans that have served,
so I am standing here for other veterans that can’t
be here.”
Rev. Jeffery Benoit, who started camping
outside the courthouse on Jan. 26, said, “As president of the local chapter of the National Action
Network, under the Rev. Al Sharpton, we stand
for justice. We see this particular situation reeks of
injustice.”
Benoit, a 32-year Army veteran, said the case
was personal for him.
Hill was a “veteran who has gone to war and
come back with various ailments,” Benoit said.

“Our Veterans Administration system has failed
him. And now our local law enforcement has taken him. This is an outrage and an outcry.
“We are standing here for justice, but we are
also standing for veterans [who didn’t get] the care
they need when they come from a war,” Benoit
said.
Chris Chestnut, the attorney for the Hill family, said, “Justice was served.”
He thanked the veterans and other supporters
who gathered and camped at the courthouse all
week.
“We need you to come back,” Chestnut said.
“There’s going to be a criminal trial. We need a
conviction. This has the potential to set a national
precedent.
“An officer being convicted of murdering Anthony Hill sets a precedent, not only for veterans
but for African Americans,” said Chestnut, who
also thanked James “for his courage and being
very diligent and meticulous.”
“This is a day in history,” Chestnut said.
According to Chestnut, the difference between
the civil grand jury and the grand jury that indicted Olsen “was [during] the civil grand jury the
DA was not allowed to advocate. In this instance
he was able to. He was able to actually advocate.
He was able to lawyer.
“There was a lot of evidence that needed to be
explained,” Chestnut said.
–Travis Hudgons contributed to this story.

illustrator Continued From Page 1A
Horn Book Award and more.
Christie said he was not
surprised by his success.
“I was just confident in my
work,” he said. “I had no doubt that
[art] was what I wanted to do. I put
so much focus and effort toward
it. No one that grew up with me is
surprised that I’m doing art because
that’s all I did as a kid. I didn’t go to
prom; I didn’t do anything but just
draw. I loved drawing and painting.
I didn’t have a doubt that I wouldn’t

succeed.”
What did surprise him is his
artwork providing opportunities to
travel the world.
“I was never thinking
international; I was thinking about
going across the country as a kid,”
he said. “It had an immense impact
on my life—just leaving the United
States and seeing other forms of art
and where other artists lived.”
Christie is well-known for his
artwork for children’s books.

“It’s a powerful thing to do
children’s books—in the sense of I’m
doing artwork for generations that
aren’t even here yet,” he said. “That’s
a huge responsibility. Most artwork
that children will see will come from
a children’s book. It’s something that
I take as an honor.”
Christie currently works as a
freelance illustrator and operates his
autographed children’s bookstore
named GAS-ART GIFTS at North
DeKalb Mall in Decatur. He hosts art

classes for children on weekdays and
weekends. There are also classes for
adults in painting and book binding.
He lectures in schools and
libraries, teaches in after-school
programs and is a skilled bookbinder.
“I want to show kids that you
can be anything you want to be if
you focus,” he said. “It’s great for
the kids to see a man doing positive
things. I’m just trying to help the
community through art.”

The Champion FREEPRESS, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

local

Page 14A

NEWSBRIEFS

Seabrooks

Suspect arrested in
homicide of teen
DeKalb County Police obtained a warrant
for 29-year-old Deandre
Seabrooks charging him
with the murder of 17-yearold Sariah Wilcoxson, who
was shot to death on Jan. 11
at approximately 9 p.m. at
2051 Flat Shoals Road near
the MARTA bus stop.
According to police, Wilcoxson was shot in the neck
while she waited for the bus.
DeKalb Sheriff ’s Office
Fugitive Squad located and
arrested Seabrooks on Jan.
21 in Stockbridge without
incident.
An ongoing dispute is
believed to have led to the
shooting.

Former county zoning
board of appeals member
sentenced for bribery
Former DeKalb County
Zoning Board of Appeals
Member Jeremy “Jerry”
Clark and Ismail Sirdah
have been sentenced to federal prison on corruption
charges.  Clark accepted a
bribe from Sirdah in exchange for voting for a zoning variance for Sirdah’s latenight billiard hall, according
to a news release by the U.S.
Attorney’s Office.
“This is another unfortunate incident of corruption
in DeKalb County,” said U.S
Attorney John Horn. “Again,
I reiterate that the citizens

of DeKalb County expect
public officials to act with
honestly and integrity. Public
officials who may be tempted
by money and graft remember: we remain committed to
investigating and prosecuting
acts of corruption regardless of who commits them or
where they are.”
“Today’s sentencing
serves as a reminder to not
only these defendants but
other public officials that
there are consequences for
such actions as seen in this
case,” said J. Britt Johnson,
special agent in charge, FBI
Atlanta Field Office. “Because of the extensive potential damage involved, the FBI
regards public corruption
investigations as its number
one criminal investigative
priority and, as such, urges
the public to partner with
our agents in reporting those
who abuse their public offices.”
On Feb. 19, 2015, Clark,
43, of Lithonia, pleaded
guilty to accepting a bribe
from Sirdah. He was recently
sentenced to nine months
in prison followed by three
years of supervised release
and ordered to pay a $3,500
fine. Sirdah, 53, of Duluth,
pleaded guilty to bribing
Clark and was recently
sentenced to six months in
prison followed by two years
of supervised release and ordered to pay a $10,000 fine. 
According to the U.S.
Attorney Office, Sirdah was
the owner and CEO of 2841
Investments Inc. which did
business as LuLu Billiards, a
Tucker pool hall.
Based on a new zoning
ordinance, in November
2011, the DeKalb County
Department of Planning and
Sustainability informed LuLu
Billiards that it was grandfathered in only as a late-night
business–and thus could neither operate as a nightclub
nor have a dance floor, according to the news release.
When Lulu Billiards
continued to operate as a
nightclub with a dance floor,
the county’s planning department in September 2012

issued a warning to Sirdah,
who was again advised that
LuLu Billiards could not operate as a nightclub or have a
dance floor without a special
land use permit, according to
the news release.
Sirdah appealed to the
DeKalb County Zoning
Board of Appeals. Prior to
the hearing on the appeal,
Sirdah met with Clark and
made it clear if the Zoning
Board of Appeals approved
Sirdah’s petition to operate as
a nightclub, Clark would be
rewarded, according to the
news release.
Sirdah’s request to operate as a nightclub was approved in November 2012
with Clark voting in favor of
the permit.
“In return for the vote,
Sirdah paid Clark approximately $2,000 in cash and
donated approximately
$1,500 to a nonprofit interest with which Clark was
involved,” the news release
stated.

New K9 deputies join
DeKalb Sheriff’s Office
On Jan. 15, Sheriff Jeff
Mann officially introduced
two new K9 deputies to the

K9 Deputy Viper with Deputy M.
McRae

DeKalb County Sheriff ’s Office field and jail divisions.
“Our canine deputies
add special value to operations inside the jail, in the
courthouse, and out in the
community,” said Mann.
“Their unique law enforcement skills and training
equip them to serve specific
purposes as partners with
our officers. The duties they
perform greatly expand our
capabilities.”
The new K9 deputies
were imported from Europe
by Florida-based Southern

Coast K9 office at the end of
last year. Officers selected to
become their partners were
required to complete a fourweek K9 handler course before taking the assignments.
With the addition of K9
Deputy Astor, the DeKalb
County Jail becomes the only
jail in the area with a lithium
(cell phone) detection dog,
according to the news release. Astor is a 15-monthold German shorthaired
pointer, single-purpose,
dual-detection dog that partners with Officer T. Theus, a
member of the jail emergency services team, to detect
both drugs and electronics.
K9 Deputy Tomi is a
20-month-old German
Shepherd dual-purpose dog
that partners with Deputy
P. Snow in the field division
to serve warrants and arrest
fugitives. Tomi detects drugs
and can also be used for
tracking and apprehending
suspects.
The new canines join
K9 Deputy Viper, a veteran
Belgian Malinois partnering
with Field Division Deputy
M. McRae since 2009.

The Champion FREEPRESS, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

education

Page 15A

Bates

Justin Bates, a welding student at Georgia Piedmont Technical College, has been selected to represent the college in a statewide adult education competition. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Welding student to represent GPTC’s adult education program
by Andrew Cauthen
Andrew@dekalbchamp.com
A Georgia Piedmont
Technical College (GPTC)
welding student is competing
to be a statewide adult education ambassador.
Justin Bates, 21, will represent Georgia Piedmont in
March during the upcoming
EAGLE Leadership Institute.
The EAGLE Leadership Institute, sponsored by the Technical College System of Georgia’s Office of Adult Education, recognizes students who
have demonstrated superior
achievement in adult education classes and programs.
In May 2015, Bates enrolled in GPTC’s Accelerating
Opportunities program and
has earned a GED and two
welding certificates.
Bates said he did not plan
to compete in the program,
but was encouraged to do so
by his instructors.
When he looked at the
EAGLE program’s goals, he

Bates demonstrates his welding skills which he said will give him a “leg up on the world.”

said, “I felt like that’s me.
“I’m not coming to school
to mess around,” Bates said.
“I’m coming to get my grade

and to get everything ready
because this is life. You can’t
do anything in the real world
without an education. That’s

just fundamental.”
Bates said the skills he is
learning at Georgia Piedmont
have given him an advantage

“versus going to a regular
four-year college because now
all those people... are overeducated and underemployed.
“But you can take this
route and then you can make
sure that you’re getting a job
straight out of school, so I
feel like I get a leg up on the
world,” Bates said.
When he leaves the program, he plans to “weld, weld,
weld.”
“I love welding. It’s really...
therapeutic. When you get in
there, you know what you’re
doing and you can get a
good-looking end result...you
feel like you did something,”
he said.
“I feel like my instructors are really getting me on
the right [track],” said Bates,
who learned about the GED
program from his mother
who is a caterer for Georgia
Piedmont. “I feel like I can go
into a basic welding job and
know what to do. I wouldn’t
just be blind and not knowing
what to do. I feel like they’re

See Welding on Page 20A

The Champion FREEPRESS, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

The

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The Champion FREEPRESS, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

Business

Page 17A

From left, Celebrating the opening of Taziki’s Mediterranean Café in downtown Decatur with a donation to a local charity are Naomi Green of The Giving Kitchen; Keith Richards, Taziki’s
founder and chief development officer; Jim Keet, Taziki’s chief executive officer; Dean Robb, Taziki’s vice president of operations; and Melissa Brown, Taziki’s sales and marketing director.

Mediterranean flavors come to Decatur
by Kathy Mitchell
When Keith and Amy Richards
came back from a 1997 vacation in
Greece, they brought back more than
souvenirs; they returned with a business idea.
“They not only loved the food in
small Greek restaurants, they loved
the intimate family atmosphere that
reflects the Mediterranean lifestyle,”
explained Dean Robb, vice president
of operations for Taziki Mediterranean Café, the business born from the
Richardses’ vacation experience.
Residents of Birmingham, Ala.,
the couple recalled their Southern
roots as they created the Taziki’s
menu. The result, Robb explained, is
Mediterranean with a Southern twist.
Tasiki’s website calls the fare “a
vision materialized in their hearts and
minds of a place somewhere between
the tasty Mediterranean markets and
their mothers’ kitchens.” The restaurant’s slogan is “Originality is our nationality.”
“It quickly became amazingly
popular,” said Robb, noting that there
are now 52 Taziki’s locations nationally with five in Georgia. Some are
franchises and some, such as the newest Taziki’s in downtown Decatur, are
owned by the corporation.
Restaurant Business magazine
listed Taziki’s Mediterranean Café
17th among its 2015 “Future 50” fastest-growing restaurant chains in the
United States. The list, according to
the magazine, “spotlights chains with
annual sales between $25 million and

The fifth Georgia location, the Decatur Taziki’s is on West Ponce de Leon.

$50 million and unit growth of at least
10 percent last year, a milestone signaling chains on the brink of national
recognition and remarkable growth.”
The 2,600-square-foot restaurant
that opened in mid-January on West
Ponce de Leon seats 78 inside. Additional seating will be available on
the patio when the weather is warmer.
Material created by Taziki’s describes
its interior design as “Mediterranean
décor with hardwood furnishings,
natural stone, wood finishes and residential lighting.”
Robb said even though competition for restaurant customers is steep
in Decatur he predicts the new Taziki’s will be a hit. “People in this area
have discerning taste in food. They
also are health-conscience. We use
original chef-driven recipes prepared
from scratch daily from fresh ingredients. It’s a concept that Decatur diners

really like. One customer told me,
‘This tastes so fresh,’ and I said, ‘That’s
because we just made it.’”
The menu features a variety of
Mediterranean-inspired appetizers,
salads, soups, sandwiches, gyros, entrees—including vegetarian dishes—
and desserts.
Taziki is a fast casual restaurant, a
concept that Forbes magazine says “is
gaining market share in the restaurant
industry.”
In an article Forbes published in
mid-2014, the business magazine
described fast casual as “a relatively
fresh and rapidly growing concept,
positioned somewhere between fast
food restaurants and casual dining
restaurants. Technically, being the
hybrid of the two concepts, they provide counter service and offer more
customized, freshly prepared and high
quality food than traditional [quick

InnovatIon

service restaurants], all in an upscale
and inviting ambiance.”
At a fast casual restaurant, typically the customer orders at a counter
as he or she would at a traditional fast
food restaurant, but instead of waiting
at the counter for food, the customer
is seated and food is brought to the
table.
Another departure from what
quick service customers might expect
is beer and wine, available at the Decatur Taziki’s and others.
Robb said the choice to come to
Decatur is proving to be a good one.
“The community has been so welcoming,” he said. “People have been
so gracious.”
He added Taziki’s has been able
to find the type of employees it looks
for to staff all its restaurants. “I’m really proud of our staff. It’s fun to work
with them. They not only put in the
extra effort to make everything right,
they know how to extend Southern
hospitality and we want that to be a
hallmark of our restaurants.”
Robb said that giving back to the
community has been part of Taziki’s
culture since its inception. The website notes “to dine with the Greeks
is to gather around the communal
table.” In that spirit, the Decatur
restaurant during its grand opening
presented a check for $2,000 to The
Giving Kitchen, a nonprofit organization that describes itself as “a resource
at times of unanticipated crisis for
anyone employed in the Atlanta restaurant community.”

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

The Champion FREEPRESS, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

sports

Page 18A

basketball
State title on the minds of Greenforest boys’, girls’ basketball teams
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
The Greenforest girls’ basketball
program has had pretty good teams
in recent years.
The program went 17-10 in
2013, 15-10 in 2014 and 11-9 last
season. However, no one, not even
the players expected to be undefeated (17-0) and ranked No. 3 in
Class A-Private through the month
of January.
“In the beginning of the season—when we were playing in the
summer—I never thought we would
be where we’re at now because of the
number [of players] we were working with and everybody on the team
was dealing with an injury,” said
senior guard Arielle Holloway. “I
thought we were going to have a better season than last year, but I never
thought we would have been here.”
“It’s the Lord that is doing all of
this,” said Coach Allison Prather. “If
it wasn’t for Him, none of this would
be possible.”
In the eight years that Prather
has been the head woman, she hasn’t
changed her coaching routine during
the offseason and season. And this
year is no different. The team’s success is due to the players’ work ethic.
“The difference between this
year and last year is we have some
new players,” Prather said. “We have
more players that are serious about
basketball, that are not just doing it
for their dad or mom or whatever.
They actually love the game. We
have players that are trying to take
their game to another level, not just
playing until they finish high school
and move on. By the players being more serious about the game it
makes my job easier. Of course when
you work hard success comes with
that.”
Some of those new players include a couple of exchange students
from Nigeria. The team has four Nigerian players, including senior forward Theodora Odia. Odia has been
in Georgia and playing for Greenforest for two years.
“When I first got here, it was
kind of hard, being away from
family, and playing basketball and
school,” Odia said.
With the help of Prather and her
teammates, Odia was able to adjust
to her new surroundings. Odia said
all of the girls on the team get along,
which she says plays a role in the
team’s success this season.
“In practice we try to be together
as a team—everyone is doing the
same thing,” she said. “We’re like sisters so we don’t fight or do stuff that
most people do. If I have a problem
with someone, I will go to them and
tell them how I feel. All we do is talk

From left, Arielle Holloway and Theodora Odia hold the holiday tournament trophies Greenforest won in December.

and play.”
Prather said she tells her players
constantly that they are destined to
be successful.
“And they believe that,” she said.
“They believe in what I’m telling
them, they believe that God is the
reason why we’re undefeated, they
understand that without Him we
wouldn’t be undefeated. He’s taken
care of us as far as injuries. They get
hurt and amazingly they heal. The
main thing that they know is it’s
God.
“We are state bound,” Prather
added. “We are prepared, we work
hard and we’re continuously working
hard. We have the right attitude to be
successful, and every game, whoever
we play, we’re ready to fight. We’re
ready for the battle.”

Greenforest boys
Since losing in the Class A-Private, the Greenforest Eagles set their
sights on returning to the state title
game and having a different outcome.
“It was a tough loss,” said senior
forward Precious Ayah. “No one goes
into a championship game expecting to lose. It made us come back and
work even harder because we know
that it’s not going to be given to us; we
have to take it.”
“It’s been in our mind ever since,”
said senior guard John Ogwuche.
“Every game we play is a reflection of
that game. Every game we play is to
get back to the championship game.”
“We look at every game as the
state championship game,” said senior
guard Justin Forrest. “We try to take
all the bad feelings we had from that

game out on all the teams we play
against.”
The Eagles have played like a
championship team so far with an
18-2 record, claiming the No. 1 spot
in the Class A-Private rankings. The
team averages 70.6 points and 27.5
rebound per game.
The Eagles also are doing all of
this under first-year coach Larry
Thompson. Although this is his first
season as head coach, this is Thompson second year with the program. He
was an assistant coach last season.
Thompson said the transition
from assistant to head coach was
smooth.
“It’s been great and it’s predicated
all because of the kids that are in the
program,” he said. “I had a great relationship with them last year and it’s
even better now that I’m around them
every day.”
Thompson said the players took
the championship game loss as their
driving force, the fuel for their fire.
“We talked about it after that
championship game and the kids
have always kept it in the back of their
minds,” he said. “They didn’t want to
have that feeling, especially my seniors. They didn’t want to have that
sick feeling again for their senior year.
That has been the driving force to
come out and play with reckless abandon almost each and every night.”
Just as the girls’ team, the boys’
team has several [five] exchange students from Nigeria as well. And just
like the girls, the boys get along as
well and consider each other family—
one of the reasons behind the team’s
success.
“We’ve been playing as a unit, as
a family,” Ogwuche said. “It’s more
than just basketball for us. On and off
the court we’ve incorporated that. We
don’t play selfish.”
“We really just rely on each other,”
Forrest said. “Some people might have
games off, others might have games
on, but we never have a night where
everybody is off. We always play together, we always rely on each other to
play good.”
Thompson and the players said if
they continue to stay focused and play
Greenforest basketball, they could get
back to the title game and win it this
time around.
“If we continue down the path
that we’re on—and that’s coming to
work every day, taking every rep in
practice, every film session, every
time we assemble the team to get better then the sky is the limit,” Thompson said. “I do think that if we are
fortunate enough to stay injury free
and continue to play the way we are I
do think we have a great opportunity
of getting back there and having a different result.”

The Champion FREEPRESS, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

sports

Page 19A

basketball

Miller Grove guard Alterique Gilbert was selected for McDonald’s All American Boys team. He received his game
jersey during a Jan. 25 ceremony. Photos by Travis Hudgons

Interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May gives Alterique Gilbert a proclamation from the county.

Alterique Gilbert named McDonald’s All-American
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
When Alterique Gilbert
set foot on the Miller Grove
High School campus, no one
outside the boys’ basketball
program thought he would
become a McDonald’s All
American player, according
his coach Sharman White.
“But me and him had
this in our mind,” White said.
“This was planned; this was
predestined because I felt like
he was the type of kid that
could do it because of the
talent that he had. Not only
that, but because of his work
ethic and his commitment to
the game.”
Gilbert was named to the
2016 McDonald’s All American Boys team Jan. 17, and
he received his game jersey
Jan. 25 in front of his family,
teammates, coaches and the
Miller Grove student body.
Gilbert is among the top 24
boys basketball players in the
country to participate in the
39th annual game on March
30 in Chicago.
The game will be aired
on ESPNU.
Gilbert, who will play
college basketball at Con-

From left, Alterique Gilbert with his basketball coach Sharman White and interim DeKalb County CEO Lee
May.

necticut, said being a McDonald’s All American is a
dream come true.
“I’m just honored to be
recognized as one of the best
in the country, and I thank
God for everything,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to it.
I know it will be very exciting to get on that stage and
showcase my talent against
some of the best in the country. I think it will be great for
me.”

Gilbert is the sixth player
from DeKalb County to be
named to one of the McDonald’s All- American teams.
He is the second player from
Miller Grove to receive the
honor, joining former player
Tony Parker (2012). Gilbert joins St. Francis’ Kobi
Simmons as the only two
McDonald’s selections from
Georgia this season
Gilbert is averaging 20.5
points per game this season,

as well as 5 rebounds, 4 steals
and 5.9 assists per game. He
said it took a lot of hard work
to get to this point in his basketball career.
“Especially behind closed
doors when no one is watching,” he said. “But it’s a lot—
being consistent is the key.
I just try to stay hungry and
humble.”
White, who has known
Gilbert since he was in seventh grade, said Gilbert is

more than a phenomenal
basketball player.
“He’s even a better person than he is a basketball
player,” White said. “His approach on life means everything, and that’s why I think
he’s as successful as he is.”
Prior to his McDonald’s
All American selection, Gilbert was also named a Jordan
Brand All-American. Gilbert has received numerous
awards and last summer was
named to the 2015-16 USA
Men’s Junior National Team
October Minicamp roster.
Gilbert said he would
rank his McDonald’s All
American very high.
“It’s just a dream come
true to be recognized for
these prestigious awards,” he
said. “I’m just thankful.”
Interim DeKalb County
CEO Lee May gave Gilbert
a proclamation from the
county.
“It’s really an honor to
celebrate an accomplishment
that somebody has worked
so hard to get to,” May said.
“It takes a lot of hard work, it
takes a lot of discipline and it
takes a lot of perseverance to
get here.”

The Champion FREEPRESS, Friday, Jan. 22, 2016

education

Page 20A

From left, Willie Harvey, director of Georgia Piedmont’s welding program, provides one-on-one instruction to Justin Bates, who will represent the college in the upcoming EAGLE Leadership Institute’s competition. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Welding Continued From Page 15A

setting me up for success here and it feels like there’s
support.”
Willie Harvey, welding instructor and director
of GPTC welding program, said students “not only
learn how to be welders but they learn something
about being young men as well and how to conduct
themselves out into the world so they get the best of
both things here. They get the training and they get
the soft skills that are lacking out in the industry.”
Researchers “are discovering that a lot of people...are college prepared as far as the credentials
go, but they are lacking the soft skills,” Harvey said.
“We just make it an automatic thing. It’s only a benefit to the students and to us.”
Last year, GPTC had a state winner, Justin Wal-

ters, who also began as a welding student before
moving to Georgia State, where he will major in
early childhood education.
“It feels like a lot of responsibility considering
how long I’ve been here,” Bates said about the possibility of being the statewide adult education ambassador. “I feel like I’m the right one. I take school
seriously. I know what it’s for. It’s not just daycare.
It’s a job.”
There are more than 60,000 adult education
students in Georgia and 4,000 at Georgia Piedmont,
which has the largest program in the state, according to Hazel Simmons, a GPTC transitions specialist.
“The adult education [program] gives people

who for whatever reason...couldn’t complete high
school...a second chance,” she said.
“We take personal interest in each one of our
students to encourage them to finish,” Simmons
said. “We are very proud of our students and our
students leave here to go on to college career ready
with great job skills and ready to compete in today’s
workforce.”
About Bates, she said, “Justin has worked very
hard to earn his GED and he is ready to hit the job
market. He is very young, but he is determined to
be a success with the skills he has learned here.
“I believe he is going to be the state winner,”
Simmons said.

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