FRiDaY, FEBRUaRY 26, 2016 • Vol. 18, no. 47 • FREE



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

Business ................................ 16A
Classified ............................... 17A
Opinion ...................................... 7A
Sports ............................... 18-20A







Local judge, two attorneys receive community service award
by Andrew Cauthen
A DeKalb County judge
and two attorneys were
honored Feb. 23 for their
community service.
DeKalb State Court
Judge Dax E. Lopez and
attorneys Juanita Powell Baranco and Michael
Thurmond received the
17th Annual Justice Robert
Benham Lifetime Achievement Award for Community
Presented by the State
Bar of Georgia and the
Chief Justice’s Commission
on Professionalism, the



awards recognize outstanding contributions in community service of Georgia


judges and lawyers.
“It’s absolutely humbling
to receive an award named

after one of the giants of
Georgia jurisprudence, Justice Robert Benham,” Lo-

pez said. “It’s humbling just
to be mentioned as a potential candidate for that award.
To receive it is something
completely different.
“I was really excited to
receive it,” Lopez said.
Lopez has been a
DeKalb County State Court
judge since 2010, presiding
over approximately 1,800
criminal misdemeanor matters and 1,000 civil cases
per year. He also presides
over Georgia’s only Spanish-speaking DUI court.
“I think I received [the
award], ironically enough,
for my work…in the Hispan-

See award on Page 5A

Lithonia police chief under internal investigation
by Carla Parker
Lithonia Police Chief Roosevelt
Smith and another officer are accused of using excessive force on a
suspect while in custody.
Smith and Lithonia Police Captain
Lloyd Owens are both under investigation for an incident that occurred
on Feb. 5 involving a 17-year-old boy
who was in custody for burglary.
On Feb. 10, Lithonia mayor and
city council held a special called executive session to discuss a personnel matter. The city would not elaborate on the specifics of the personnel
matter, other than to confirm that an
internal complaint was filed against
a police officer, according to City Administrator Eddie Moody.
On Feb. 19, The Champion received documents from an anonymous source that explain the basis
of the internal complaint. The documents include the police report of a
Feb. 5 incident involving Smith and
The documents also include a
“summary of the events” from the
suspect, a 17-year-old male. The

summary was in an “ante litem notice
of demand” from the teen’s lawyer–
Frank T. Smith–which was delivered
to the city.
According to the police report and
statements given by the teen’s lawyer
and the responding officer–Sgt. A.

The teen, who was handcuffed, was
placed in Smith’s patrol car and the
other suspect was placed in Hatchett’s patrol car.
The teen had scratches on his
face and arms from running through
“thick brushes” from the crime scene,

‘There was no reason at all for them to put
their hands on [the teen] in that matter. Their
actions were unjustifiable and unethical.’
- Sgt. A. Hatchett

Hatchett–Hatchett responded to a
burglary call at a home on the evening of Feb. 5.
Two suspects were arrested,
including the 17-year-old boy, according to the report. After the suspects were taken into custody, Smith
and Owens arrived on the scene.

according to Hatchett’s statement.
From that point, the teen’s and
Hatchett’s statements differ from
Smith’s and Owens’ statements.
When Smith—who was sitting
in front of his patrol car—was made
aware of the scratches on the teen’s
face, Smith turned around and asked

See Lithonia on Page 5A








The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016

Page 2A

Chamblee residents reject LaVista annexation
by R. Scott Belzer


oughly 100 concerned
residents were present at a
Chamblee town hall meeting
held Feb. 16 to discuss the issue of
annexation with elected officials.
After its failed attempt at
incorporation in November 2015,
the area of DeKalb County known
as LaVista Hills is considering
being annexed into surrounding
cities. Chamblee was approached
as an option, which would add
approximately 35,000 residents into
a metro neighborhood of roughly
An initial question-and-answer
session was held at the Chamblee
Civic Center on Feb. 9 between
residents, potential residents and
local government. There, Chamblee
Mayor Eric Clarkson, along with
councilmembers John Mesa, Brian
Mock, Darron Kusman, Thomas
Hogan and Leslie Robson
divulged they would have to
make a decision by the end of the
legislative session in early March.
On the evening of Feb.
16, the second question-andanswer session before a regularly
scheduled city council meeting,
Chamblee residents seemed to
make their message clear: support
will not be given until officials
provide a complete picture.
For more than 90 minutes,
more than 20 residents voiced their
concerns to the mayor and council
regarding economic feasibility,
structure of government and even
a new school system. A minority of
attendees also voiced their support
for such a merger.
Chamblee resident Ed Ewing
told council members it is “ironic”
how the same “LaVista Hills gang”
who spoke out against annexation
in 2015 is now desperate to join a
city capable of the act.
“There’s certain logic here
at work: when LaVista Hills
[supporters] couldn’t quite muster
the votes to create their own little
city, maybe they could come take
over yours instead,” Ewing said.
“Does anyone have any idea
whether or not annexation would
benefit the citizens of Chamblee?”
Dan Schafstall, a resident in
the potentially annexed LaVista
Hills neighborhood, told attendees
he and his neighbors wanted what
residents of Chamblee have: proper
representation and better city
“It looks like and feels
sometimes like we’re the enemy,”
Schafstall said. “That’s not true.

Georgia State Rep. Scott Holcomb addresses a packed house at Chamblee Civic Center during a public meeting. Photo by R. Scott Belzer

‘Does anyone have any idea
whether or not annexation would
benefit the citizens of Chamblee?’
– Chamblee resident Ed Ewing
We don’t want to make Chamblee
worse. No one who lives in that
area wants to make Chamblee
worse. We’d try to make it better.”
Robson assured Ewing a
feasibility study was in the works
and would be shared with the public
in approximately 10 to 14 days.
Councilman Kusman also pointed
out the study, considered step one
of the process, would “really open
the door to conversation.”
“Then you will get into some of
the more qualitative aspects of the
annexation: what do our residents
want? What does the area bring to
the table that benefits Chamblee?”
Kusman said.
Randall Reusche, another
Chamblee resident, pointed out
that this move was “all about the
numbers,” and questioned why the
town hall meeting was even taking
place without them.

“We’re having the [annexation]
conversation without the numbers,”
Reusche said. “Who all here is
going ahead without the numbers?
We’ve been waiting on the numbers
for well over a week now.”
Clarkson responded by stating
the city chose to make the issue
public and admitted the timing
could not be worse, especially
considering how late it was in the
legislative session, which had
approximately 30 days remaining
as of Feb. 16.
Chamblee resident Tom Heaps
criticized the lack of information
provided by city government. He
reminded attendees how once the
decision was made, it would be
harder to reverse it. Heaps also
brought up two former annexations
in Chamblee’s history, which
increased the population from 9,000
to 15,000. The second annexation

raised that number to 28,000.
“How many weeks did you
have to do a first annexation? How
many months did you have to do a
second annexation?” Heaps asked.
“I have a great deal of confidence
in this council, but what I don’t
understand is pushing this through
without making informed decisions.”
Hogan said three factors make
the idea of annexation attractive
to him personally: reduction in city
fixed costs and taxes, growth in
political strength, and the prospect
of starting a Chamblee school
“However, I will not even
consider it if it’s not financially
viable, if it is not beneficial to the
growth of Chamblee, and if I don’t
have your support,” Hogan said.
Clarkson echoed Hogan’s
“I don’t believe that I, or any of
your elected officials here, would
ever do anything to negatively
impact those in our community,”
Clarkson said. “These are our
neighbors, our friends and our
loved ones.”
Chamblee is expected to hold
a special-called meeting if city
officials decide to move forward
with the annexation, as only one
more regularly scheduled meeting
remains before the end of the
legislative session.



The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 • Page 3A


Group to discuss proposed Greenhaven cityhood

“Love Run 5K to End Domestic Violence” scheduled


DeKalb County Solicitor General Sherry Boston is hosting its
inaugural “Love Run 5k” to raise money and awareness about domestic
violence issues.
The event also coincides with Teen Dating Violence Awareness month
which is observed during February.
“We are excited about partnering with the public in a fun and healthy
way to focus attention on a very serious issue impacting our community,”
Boston said. Each year, the Solicitor General’s Office prosecutes
approximately 3,500 misdemeanor domestic violence cases, many of
which are handled by the Special Victims Unit created by Boston.
The run will start at the Decatur Square, located at 101 E. Court
Street, Decatur, at 8:30 a.m. Runners will follow a fast, certified-course
through historic downtown and the surrounding scenic neighborhoods.
All proceeds will be donated to The Women’s Resource Center to End
Domestic Violence to benefit its children’s programs.
For more information about participating in the event or providing a
financial contribution, visit

Brookhaven is hiring lifeguards and pool managers for the pool season
(Memorial Day through Labor Day). Positions are flexible part time and
pay $8 to $12 an hour. Uniforms and training will be provided. To apply,
visit and click “careers” on the left side of the


City to offer flag football league

For the seventh consecutive year, the city of Dunwoody and Rotary Club
of Dunwoody will host the 2016 State of the City, an annual event discussing
the year in review as well as plans for the future.
The event will take place on Thursday, Feb. 25, from 6 to 9 p.m. at
Crowne Plaza Ravinia hotel. Topics will include the local, social and economic
climate of Dunwoody courtesy of Mayor Denis Shortal. Shortal will also share
his vision for the future of the city.
Representatives and leaders from community service organizations,
local businesses and government will be present at the event. The public is
encouraged to attend and participate in the discussion.
For more information, visit or call (678) 382-6700.

The Concerned Citizens for Cityhood of South DeKalb will host a
meeting on cityhood to address questions from the community regarding
Greenhaven, a proposed new city in southern DeKalb County.
In the meeting, titled “Cityhood: Don’t Deny Us the Right to Vote,” the
discussion will cover: why Greenhaven is being proposed, the impact it
can have on residents, the status of the bills in the Georgia legislature and
why county residents should have the right to vote on Greenhaven.
The meeting will take place Thursday, Feb. 25, at 6:30 p.m. at St.
Philip AME Church, 240 Candler Road, SE, Atlanta.

City hiring lifeguards and pool managers

Fusion Sport & Social and Brookhaven Parks & Recreation this spring
will offer flag football at Lynwood Park. The league is open to men and
women ages 21 and older. The season consists of seven regular games
plus playoffs for all teams. League play will be held on Sunday afternoons
at Lynwood Park from March 6 through May 15. Registration closes March
1. For more information or to register, visit www.FusionSportsLeagues.
com. Email Fusion at


Rotary Club to host State of the City

Eatery hosts ‘Coffee with a Cop’
Clarkston residents curious about local law enforcement will have the
chance to share a cup of Joe with the boys in blue on Saturday, Feb. 27,
from 10 a.m. to noon at Refuge Coffee Company.
As part of Clarkston’s participation in the annual “Coffee with a Cop”
event, Refuge will serve as an ideal setting to engage with, voice concerns
to, and get to know the Clarkston Police Department according to and
“We hope that community members will feel comfortable to ask
questions, bring concerns, or simply get to know our officers,” said
Clarkston Police Chief Christine Hudson. “These interactions are the
foundation of community partnerships.”
For more information, contact Sharee Ashford at (404) 296-6489 ext.
234 or Refuge Coffee Company is located
at 4170 E. Ponce de Leon Ave.


County recreation department to host Neon 5K Fun Run
DeKalb County Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs will host a Neon
5K Fun Run on Saturday, March 12, at 6:30 p.m. at Mason Mill Park, 1346
McConnell Drive, Decatur.
Registration will continue until March 4.
“This event is for all ages and is less about speed and more about
enjoying an illuminating night of lights with family and friends,” states an
announcement about the event.
Runners and walkers may register as a corporate team of 10 for $100,
a team of five for $40 or as individuals for $15. Children ages 10 and
younger are free and should be accompanied by an adult.
In addition to the race, the event will include free refreshments, music
and shirts for each registered participant.
To access online registration, visit and
click the “Register Now” button on the department’s homepage or register
in person at a recreation center.
For more information, contact the Athletics Office at (770) 414-2111.


Arabia Mountain. Photo by Travis Hudgons

Monadnock Madness events planned for March
According to a release by Arabia Alliance, a monadnock is a “special
type of mountain formed when hard blobs of lava are compressed under the
Earth’s crust.”
There are three monadnocks nearby– Stone Mountain, Panola
Mountain and Arabia Mountain—and Monadnock Madness will be
celebrated at all three.
Throughout March, Monadnock Madness will bring a variety of
activities to the public, including photography lessons, advanced archery
classes, Reptile Day, and behind the scenes hikes all made possible
through the Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance in partnership with
the Davidson-Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve, Panola Mountain State
Park and Stone Mountain Memorial Association.
The highlight of the month is the Monadnock Madness Triple Hike
Challenge which brings adventurers together to summit all three of Metro
Atlanta’s monadnocks in one day. All hikers earn a unique souvenir they can
wear as a badge of honor. Triple Hikes will take place on March 1, 5, 19, 20,
and 31. RSVPs are required.
For more details on Monadnock Madness events and to purchase tickets
for the triple hike or photography classes, visit
Arabia Mountain Heritage Area Alliance is located at 3787 Klondike
Road in Lithonia.


Evelyn Johnson

For the past 40 years,
DeKalb County educator
Evelyn Johnson has made
molding young minds her
highest priority.
“I’ve always told
students, ‘I will give you my
best and I expect the same
in return,’” Johnson said.
“Now I have former students
who come in and tell me
they want me to teach their
Since graduating from
Fort Valley State University
in 1970, Johnson has run
the gamut of education.
Attractive job opportunities
in and around Atlanta is
what led to her becoming
a math teacher at Decatur
High School, a job she would
hold for 30 years. Though
city life was much different
than life in her native

Statesboro Johnson found
the opportunity rewarding.
“Everyone was coming
here; people were paying
more. It was a very good
experience,” Johnson said.
“I was able to see the school
change from predominantly
White to what it is today.
I also saw the student
population fluctuate from
about 1,200 to less than
Throughout her career,
Johnson brought together
parents and teachers
while volunteering with the
Parent Teacher Association
(PTA). The educator said
her interest started with a
need to be involved with
her children’s education, a
need that has not yet left the
DeKalb teacher.
“I’ve worked with the PTA

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016

from the time my children
were in kindergarten until this
past summer,” Johnson said.
“I loved working with parents,
getting them to engage and
become involved.”
Johnson’s enthusiastic
involvement earned her
placement as a council
chairwoman for, regional
PTA boards. There, she
was able to ensure board
members served their
respective counties in
DeKalb, Rockdale and
Newton. She played a major
role in training, guiding
PTAs through the process
of membership, and even
resolving conflict.
“I like to think, if they
were doing their jobs, they
were always helpful in
impacting the community,”
Johnson said.

Though Johnson retired
after 30 years at Decatur
High School, she has not
been able to stay away from
teaching. She has since
gone on to stints at Georgia
Piedmont Technical College
as well as in the towns of
Douglasville and Covington,
where she remains. These
tenures included teaching
remedial adult education
classes and General
Education Diploma (GED)
prep classes.
“Adult education was
very fulfilling – students only
wanted to come to me,”
Johnson said. “One of my
first GED people told me
passing the math test is
what gave her confidence to
complete the exam.”
Johnson left her post in
adult education to return to

Page 4A

Evelyn Johnson

teaching younger minds at
Bethune Middle School in
Covington, a process she
calls bittersweet. She hopes
to pass on her philosophy.
“All children can learn,
but not at the same pace and
in the same style,” Johnson
said. “That’s always been my

Sheriff’s Office gets body cameras
DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office deputies are now equipped with body cameras.
The investment in state-of-the-art body cameras for uniformed field deputies will
significantly impact the effectiveness of his office’s law enforcement responsibilities, DeKalb
County Sheriff Jeffrey L. Mann stated in a news release.
“Body cameras are increasingly necessary tools of the trade,” Mann stated. “They collect
evidence for the prosecution of those who violate the law, provide protection to deputies and
citizens, and provide a higher level of transparency and accountability to the public.”
The Sheriff’s Office paid $298,000 from its confiscated funds account for 60 “point-ofview” body cameras from Taser International, according to the news release. The cameras are
designed to be mounted in a way that the camera sees what the deputy sees. The equipment
package includes a five-year contract for software, storage and redaction services and new
camera replacement in two-and-a-half years.
“Uniformed field deputies will wear cameras during each entire tour of duty and activate
them during traffic stops, emergency equipment activation, when exiting vehicles on any
law enforcement related activity, and when making contact with the public on a non-law
enforcement related action that may escalate or has the appearance of escalation,” the news
release stated.
According to Mann, “the cameras provide the advantage of accurate documentation of
public contacts–whether those are arrests or other critical incidents; enhance the ability to
review probable cause for arrest, officer and suspect interaction; and, enhance the ability to
review evidence for investigative and prosecutorial purposes,” the news release stated. “As
well, body cameras allow for additional information for officer evaluation and training.”
“They will likely become standard equipment for all law enforcement agencies,” Mann said.

Community Service Board CEO
named Psychiatrist of the Year
Joseph Bona, CEO of DeKalb Community
Service Board, was honored with the Psychiatrist of
the Year Award at the Georgia Psychiatric Physicians
Association (GPPA) awards luncheon on Feb. 13, at The
Ritz-Carlton Buckhead.
Bona also serves as an adjunct clinical professor in
the department of psychiatry and behavioral science at
Emory University School of Medicine. Bona is currently
the president-elect of GPPA and will assume the position
of president in May 2016.
From left, Joe Morgan and Joseph Bona
The GPPA Psychiatrist of the Year Award recognizes
a GPPA member who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to psychiatry and has
used his or her skills as a psychiatrist in service to the community.
It is truly fitting that Dr. Bona was selected for the GPPA Psychiatrist of the Year Award,”
stated Stephen Preas, chairman of the GPPA awards committee. “He has demonstrated
an exceptional commitment to psychiatry through his unflagging dedication to providing
psychiatric services to the public sector.”

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016


lithonia Continued From Page 1A
to see his face, according to
all accounts except Owens.
“When [the teen] turned
his head in an unsatisfactorily
manner, Chief Smith quickly,
and without provocation, became enraged, leaned over
his seat and made punching
movements at the face of
[the teen] before grabbing
him by the lower chin/jaw and
squeezing tightly,” the teen’s
lawyer stated.
Hatchett stated that when
the teen turned his head,
“Chief said, ‘Boy, don’t you
play with me.’”
“[The teen] then continued turning his head really
[quickly] left to right,” Hatchett
stated. “Chief Smith became
very angry, took his left hand,
grabbed [the teen] by his
lower jaw area and started
squeezing very hard inflicting
pain on [the teen].”
The teen’s lawyer and
Hatchett both stated that the
teen began screaming at
Smith for him to release his
jaw. The lawyer said Owens
was standing outside the car
and the teen called out to Owens asking him for help.
“But none was given,” the
lawyer stated.
According to both statements, Smith then grabbed
the teen’s throat and started
“Chief Smith choked [the
teen] for at least seven to 10
seconds,” Hatchett stated.
The lawyer stated Owens
then opened the rear driver’s
side door and held the teen
while Smith continued to
choke him.
“[The teen] continued his
objections to the offensive
touching [while] trying to free
himself from Chief Smith’s
throat hold,” the lawyer
stated. “In retaliation, Chief
Smith, while leaning over his
front seat, purposefully and
without justification, wrapped
his hands around [the teen’s]
wrist, squeezed, and then
continued to hold the handcuffs around [the teen’s] wrist
to the point where blood was
drawn and the areas swelled.”
Hatchett stated that Smith
wanted to put the teen in the
seat belt.
“At that point, Captain
L. Owens opened the back
door of Chief Smith’s vehicle
and they began pulling, tugging and grabbing on [the
teen] and a struggled ensued.
There was no reason for
Chief Smith and Captain L.
Owens to make any attempt
to try and place [the teen]
in a seat belt in that vehicle
because I was transporting

both subjects to the jail in my
vehicle,” Hatchett stated.
The lawyer and Hatchett
both stated that Smith then
asked for Hatchett’s Taser.
Hatchett stated that she gave
the Taser to Smith but did not
see if he used it or attempted
to use it as she was in her
patrol unit getting the paper
work ready for transport.
“I only heard [the teen]
said, ‘Oh, you going to Taser
me?’ Hatchett stated.
The teen’s lawyer said
Smith turned on the Taser.
“Chief Smith then held
the Taser gun at [the teen’s]
side before pulling back and
pointing the Taser gun at [the
teen’s] head. [The teen] had
a real belief that Chief Smith
was going to discharge the
Taser gun while Chief Smith
pointed the Taser gun at
his head,” the teen’s lawyer
The lawyer stated all of
this occurred while the teen
was handcuffed.
Hatchett stated that what
Smith and Owens did was
“Chief Smith and Captain L. Owens assaulted [the
teen],” she stated. “There was
no reason at all for them to
put their hands on [the teen]
in that matter. Their actions
were unjustifiable and unethical.”
The incident report of
Smith and Owens tell a different account.
Smith stated that as he
was checking the teen’s face
for cuts, the teen became
“combative and began to try
and kick, unlocking his seatbelt.”
“The suspect kneed me in
the chest and began to threaten my life, making statements
of killing me,” Smith stated. “I
placed my hand around the
suspect’s neck to gain control of him. Sgt. Hatchett and
Capt. Owens helped me to
control him in the seat.”
Smith said the teen tried
to kick the door open, and
then Smith asked for Hatchett’s Taser, turning the light on
“At no time was the Taser
deployed,” Smith stated.
In Owens’ incident report,
he stated he heard the teen
kicking and making threats to
kill Smith. He said he opened
the door to assist Smith in
securing the teen in the seatbelt. When Owens tried to secure the teen in the seatbelt,
Owens said the teen tried to
unbuckle the seatbelt.
“[The teen] continued to
unbuckle the seatbelt, and

at some point was able to
unlock the door and pull the
door handle, kicking the rear
door open, hitting myself and
Sgt. Hatchett, knocking her
glasses off of her face.”
Smith would not comment
on the incident and the allegations because it is under
“I’m letting them do what
the city does; what it’s authorized to do,” Smith said. “We’ll
go from there.”
Moody, who is conducting
the investigation, did not give
a timetable of when the investigation could be completed.
“I’m still in the process
of pulling this stuff together,”
Moody said. “It’s still an open
The teen’s lawyer has
given the city 30 days to respond to the ante litem notice
of demand before he decides
whether to file a lawsuit. The
notice was dated Feb. 11.
“As of right now they have
not responded,” he said.
The lawyer said the goal
of the notice was to let the
city know of the chief’s actions.
“The hopes were that they
would at least put the chief
and the captain on administrative leave while they investigate it,” the lawyer said.
“They didn’t do that. I believe
it was a 3-2 vote to let him remain in his position while he’s
being investigated. And then
they dragged their feet after
that, especially in light of Sgt.
Hatchett’s statement.”
The family of the teen
requested a $75,000 settlement in the notice. Attorney
Frank Smith was the city’s
solicitor for 10 years, and said
he knows how slowly the city
moves in handling legal matters.
“I just didn’t think they
would move,” he said. “So to
put a light under their feet,
if you start to ask for money
then they’ll take things more
Smith also said he and
the teen’s family are opposed
to Moody conducting the investigation. Moody was the
chief of police before he was
promoted to city administrator. Moody recommended
Smith to take over as chief.
“I think it’s biased [not
to have] someone from the
outside, the GBI, the District
Attorney’s office or anybody
other than someone who you
frequently go to lunch with
investigate you for something
that serious,” Attorney Smith

Page 5A


Continued From Page 1A
ic community,” Lopez said.
Lopez serves on the advisory board of
Caminar Latino, a domestic violence intervention
program for Latino families. He also serves on the
board of directors of CETPA, a behavioral health
organization in Georgia providing mental health and
substance abuse services to Latinos.
Lopez is active and a frequent speaker with
Athena’s Warehouse and the Hispanic Organization Promoting Education, two organizations helping
high-risk high school students focus on education
and empowerment.
Each year he presides over a mock trial for 100
Black Men of Atlanta and Greenberg Traurig’s “Lawyer for A Day” program at B.E.S.T. Academy, and is
a frequent guest reader at several DeKalb County
elementary schools.
Lopez has served as president of the Georgia
Hispanic Bar Association and is on its board of directors. He is a board member of the Georgia Association of Latino Elected Officials and is an executive committee member of Lamar Inns of Court.
Baranco, who is currently executive vice president and chief operating officer of Mercedes Benz
of Buckhead and Smart Center Buckhead, has
been a member the State Bar of Georgia since
1977. She served as an assistant attorney general
for Georgia.
Baranco serves on the boards of directors of
Southern Company, Woodruff Arts Center, Buckhead Coalition and Commerce Club, and is chairwoman of Clark Atlanta University’s board of trustees.
In the past, Baranco has served on the boards
of directors of several companies and organizations, including The Federal Reserve of Atlanta,
Georgia Power Company, the Atlanta and DeKalb
County chambers of commerce, First Union Bank,
and Sickle Cell Foundation of Georgia.
From 1985 to 1991, Baranco was a member of
the Georgia State Board of Education.
In 1995, she became the first Black female
chairwoman of the Georgia Board of Regents.
Baranco also served as chairman of the education committee for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic
In her local community, Baranco actively supports the Scottdale Child Development Center, Project Impact DeKalb County, Partners in Education,
and Pierre Toussaint House. She is also a member
of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc. and Atlanta
Chapter of Links Inc.
Thurmond, an attorney at Butler Wooten Cheeley & Peak LLP, in 1986 became the first Black
elected to the Georgia General Assembly from
Clarke County since Reconstruction.
After serving in the legislature, Thurmond became the director of the state’s Division of Family
and Children’s Services. In 1997, he was a distinguished lecturer at the University of Georgia’s
Carl Vinson Institute of Government and in 1998,
Thurmond was elected as the state’s labor commissioner, a position he held for three terms.
In 2014 Thurmond took a two-year leave from
law practice to be the superintendent of the DeKalb
County School District.
Under Thurmond’s leadership, the school district’s financial crisis was reversed, and governance
problems that led to the removal of several board
members and threatened district’s accreditation
were solved.
Thurmond’s latest book, Freedom: Georgia’s
Antislavery Heritage, 1733-1865, received the
Georgia Historical Society’s Lilla Hawes Award, and
Georgia Center for the Book listed this book as one

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016

“You shall love your
neighbor as yourself.”
Matthew 22:39
In the past two weeks,
two of my longtime
neighbors have died.
On Jan. 31, my wife
Deanna got a call that
Louise Harris had passed
I met Miss Louise, who
died in a nursing home,
after getting married and
moving into the house my
wife already had. Miss
Louise, who lived across
the street, was a friendly
soul who loved to walk in
the neighborhood, tend
to her yard and watch her
sports–especially University
of Georgia football.
As she got on in
years, Miss Louise began
succumbing to Alzheimer’s,
so my wife and I would keep
an eye on her for her family


Love your neighbor

Andrew Cauthen

Managing Editor


who live in another part of
the Atlanta area.
Because of her disease,
Miss Louise became a target
for those wanting to take
advantage of her. She lost
money a few times due to
Once, she drove her car
to Carrollton and wrecked it
in a ditch. After that incident,

her family took the car away.
From then on, because
of the Alzheimer’s, Miss
Louise believed her car was
in a repair shop. She would
walk a couple of miles to a
repair shop that no longer
exists looking for her car.
I can’t count the times I
would find her walking to the
repair shop, now a shopping
center, to retrieve her
vehicle. I would convince her
to get in my car and I’d drive
her around to look for the
vehicle, knowing it wasn’t
there. Then I’d take her to
her home. Several times this
made me late for work.
I also did some
handyman work for her
and tried to protect her
from those trying to
take advantage of her.
Additionally, my wife and
I kept in touch with her
daughter and let her know

when Miss Louise could no
longer live on her on.
At Miss Louise’s
graveside ceremony, my
wife and I were mentioned
as good neighbors.
On Feb. 9, we found
out that another neighbor,
Barbara Daws, had been
found dead in her home.
Miss Barbara had a
rough life and for decades
lived alone in her home
down the road from us, with
little contact from her two
sons. In fact, for her last
Christmas, she didn’t even
hear from them.
But for years my wife
and I were friends with
Miss Barbara. She watched
our house and dog when
we were away and even
babysat our daughter
when we would go out on
dates. My wife spent many
an hour talking with Miss

Page 6A

Barbara about life and the
happenings around the
Each Christmas we
would give her some small
gift and she would proudly
present me with some
home-baked banana bread.
Last Christmas, after
finding out that her TV was
broken, we gave her an old
but good flat screen TV that
we had just replaced. The
police who found her said
she died in a chair watching
that TV.
These are just two
recent reminders for my wife
and I that life is short and
that we should love those
around while we have a
chance, because as my wife
says, “casket kisses” are

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016


Page 7A

One Man’s Opinion

The very high costs of free
“It was a scheme, and
it went on for years,” Abraham Ortiz, former lab director, Puerto Rico Power
Authority (PREPA) during
U.S. Senate hearings on
Puerto Rico’s impending
Puerto Rico once had
a small number of private
energy service providers,
largely based in each of the
major population centers on
the island. The Puerto Rico
Power Authority (PREPA),
was originally created as
the Puerto Rico Water Resources Authority in 1941,
as a government monopoly
to manage the island’s fresh
water resources. Over time
its mission was expanded
to include electric power
generation and distribution,
and later still to expand the
island’s economy through a
variety of economic development initiatives.
Privately owned utilities,
generally monopolies in
their service territories, pay
billions collectively stateside in local property and
sales taxes. As an example,
Georgia Power is by far the
highest property taxpayer in
most every Georgia county
where it is the primary provider of electricity. Sales
taxes are paid on every
kilowatt generated and
sold, and property taxes are



Bill Crane

paid on every light pole and
transmission grid element
as well as right of way.
To avoid this tax collection and redistribution, as
the provincial government
of Puerto Rico made PREPA a publicly-owned utility,
instead of collecting property and sales taxes and
paying these to the island
state, PREPA provided free
electricity to cities on the island. The thinking was that
the free power was “cheaper” than the collecting/redistribution of taxes. However
PREPA still had to operate
profitably, as it financed
most of its growth and expansion via bonded debt.
More than $9 billion in
Puerto Rico’s current mushroom cloud of $70-plus billion in unserviceable debt
is on PREPA’s books. So
as the island’s population

and tourism grew, PREPA
was goosing the economic
engine with free juice. Today in San Juan, you will
find no shortage of open air
markets and malls, usually
owned by the government,
blowing free air conditioning into century old buildings without insulation,
and via older lower SEER
equipment, as there is little
money available for capital
expenditures to upgrade
equipment. On this balmy
island paradise, there is
even a covered, municipally owned ice-skating rink,
which runs year round on
more free energy.
While most of the rest of
the world used coal, natural
gas, nuclear or more recently developed renewable
fuel sources such as solar,
wind or even hydro and
ocean currents, PREPA’s
primary fuel source remains
fuel oil. Not only is fuel oil
among the most expensive
sources, it also has among
the worst emissions. PREPA was buying the dirtiest
of the sludge, the literal
bottom of the barrel from oil
tankers and what is basically left after most all other
distillates are removed from
crude oil. Sludge is horrible
to burn, heavily polluting the
air and ground nearby, but
was even worse in Puerto
Rico, as none of the power


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.

plants there have any emission controls or scrubbers
on their smokestacks.
While predominantly
U.S. tourists basked on the
beaches of San Juan, natives of Puerto Rico in places like Catano, an industrial
community nearby, were being blanketed in hundreds
of millions of pounds of sulphur dioxide ash, one of the
most toxic emissions and
remnants of burning sludge
oil. After area residents
waylaid the chief administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
(EPA), attending a conference on the island, insisting on air emission quality
testing and inspections, the
E.P.A. determined, as early
as 1999 that PREPA was by
far the biggest air polluter
in the E.P.A eastern region,
which includes New York,
New Jersey and even the
then world’s biggest coalburning plant in Cartersville,
Ga. The EPA brought its
findings to the U.S. Justice
Department and since 2004,
operating under a consent
decree, PREPA agreed to
limiting its sulphur emissions as well as other hazardous substances.
However, PREPA found
it was much cheaper, instead of upgrading its fuel
supply or plant fleet to
cleaner burning energy

John Hewitt

Production Manager:
Kemesha Hunt

Chief Financial Officer:
Dr. Earl D. Glenn

Travis Hudgons

Managing Editor:
Andrew Cauthen

Staff Reporters:
Carla Parker
R. Scott Belzer

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.
DISPLAY ADVERTISING (404) 373-7779 x 110

sources, to simply falsify
the reports monitoring its
own emissions. This allowed PREPA to continue
buying and burning sludge,
and throwing “free” energy
out the window as fast as
it could be generated. U.S.
Senate hearing uncovered
several years ago that PREPA had borrowed hundreds
of millions to construct new
plants, but the plants were
never actually built, while
those borrowed dollars are
now gone.
Meanwhile PREPA has
nearly half-a-billion in debt
payments due on July 1,
with virtually no cash reserves to make such a payment, and meanwhile, the
free electricity just keeps
on pumping.  Ice skating on
the Caribbean, snow cones
anyone? Hey, it’s free.
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. 

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, Feb. 26, 2016

Page 8A

Suspensions high in DeKalb County

‘This has been on [the county’s]
radar from the beginning.’
– DeKalb Superintendent Stephen Green

by R. Scott Belzer
It’s a story familiar
to many schools in the
A student arrives on
campus. He or she does not
want to be there because of
problems at home, trouble
in the classroom or conflict
with another student.
By many routes, trouble
becomes another routine.
It becomes so routine, like
homework or getting on
the bus, that suspension is
According to recently
released data, suspensions
are common in DeKalb
County schools.
A database released
by the Atlanta JournalConstitution (AJC) and

sourced by the Georgia
Department of Education
states five DeKalb high
schools accounted for the
majority of out-of-school
suspensions in the metro
Atlanta area during the
2014-15 school year.
Columbia, Martin Luther
King Jr., McNair, Miller
Grove and Towers made up
five of the top 10 listed and
four of the top five.
Other metro areas
included in the database
are Clayton County, Cobb
County, Fulton County,
Gwinnett County, Atlanta
Public Schools, Buford City,
City Schools of Decatur,
and Marietta City Schools.
The report states
Columbia had 1,649
suspensions last year,

DeKalb Superintendent Stephen Green. File photo/Travis Hudgons

while Martin Luther King
Jr., McNair and Miller
Grove ranged from 941 to
1,161. While Towers High
was lower on the top 10, it
accounted for 721 DeKalb
Only Meadowcreek
High School in Gwinnett
had more suspensions than
Columbia, Martin Luther
King Jr., McNair and Miller
Grove with 2,566 out-ofschool suspensions.
Suspensions at 14 other
DeKalb high schools ranged



   YOU ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED that Tuesday, March 1, 2016, the date chosen by the Secretary of 
State of the State of Georgia for the presidential preference primary pursuant to Georgia law, a 
[special]  election  will  be  held  in  all  of  the  precincts  of  the  City  of  Atlanta  (the  “City”).    At  this 
election there will be submitted to the qualified voters of the City for their determination the 
question  of  whether  a  special  one  percent  sales  and  use  tax  should  be  reimposed  within  the 
City, upon the termination of the special one percent sales and use tax presently in effect, for a 
maximum period of time of 16 calendar quarters, for the purposes of funding water and sewer 
projects  and  costs,  at  an  aggregate  maximum  cost  of  Seven  Hundred  Fifty  Million  Dollars  and 
Zero Cents ($750,000,000.00). 
   Voters  desiring  to  vote  for  the  reimposition  of  such  sales  and  use  tax  shall  do  so  by  voting 
“YES” and voters desiring to vote against the reimposition of such sales and use tax shall do so 
by voting “NO,” as to the question propounded to‐wit: 
"Shall  a  special  1  percent  sales  and  use  tax  be  reimposed  in  the  City  of 
Atlanta  for  a  period  of  time  not  to  exceed  16  calendar  quarters  and  for 
the  raising  of  not  more  than  ‐  Seven  Hundred  Fifty  Million  Dollars  and 
Zero  Cents ($750,000,000.00) for  the  purpose  of  funding  water  and sewer 
projects and costs?" 
   The several places for holding the election shall be in the regular and established precincts of 
the  City,  and  the  polls  will  be  open  from  7:00  a.m.  to  7:00  p.m.  on  the  date  fixed  for  the 
election. Those qualified to vote at the election shall be determined in all respects in accordance 
and in conformity with the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America and of the 
State of Georgia. 
   This notice is given pursuant to joint action of the City Council of the City of Atlanta and the 
Municipal Election Superintendent of the City. 
Rhonda Dauphin Johnson 
Municipal Clerk/Election Superintendent 
City of Atlanta 

from 130 (Dunwoody High
School) to 642 (Stephenson
High School).
Decatur High School,
part of City Schools of
Decatur, reported 90 outof-school suspensions last
According to DeKalb
Superintendent Stephen
Green, the issue caught his
attention before the data
was released. Green said
a disproportionate number
of Black males appear in
the state-provided data on
suspension and expulsion.
“This has been on [the
county’s] radar from the
beginning,” Green said.
“This is consistent with
national data concerning
urban and suburban school
Green also said there
may have been clerical
errors in DeKalb’s recording
of suspensions.
“The numbers
reported showed there
was duplication,” he said.
“We’re not putting aside the
fact that it’s a significant
issue, but we’re being
more insistent about record
keeping in the process.”
Green said diligence
would not end with record
In the DeKalb County
School District, according
to its code of student
conduct, students only
face suspensions after a
conference, which does
not necessarily include
parents, as well as a phase
called an “intervention.”
From there, students can
face suspension for one to
three days, four to 10 days,
10 or more days with a
probationary contract, and
a “long term suspension”

before facing expulsion.
According to the school
district’s student code of
conduct, offenses including
bus misbehavior, school
disturbances, profanity
and cell phone usage can
potentially force a student
out of the classroom.
Out of the seven levels
of consequence, four result
in suspension.
Ten out of 19 total bus
violations have suspension
as the consequence for
a first offense. These
violations have to do
with physical violence,
including fighting, assault,
multiple assault (where
two students gang up on
another), inciting to riot, and
possession of a weapon.
Vandalism and violating the
school’s drug and alcohol
policy also bear the same
The decision for
suspension ultimately falls
upon school principals,
officials said.
When asked if DeKalb
County was too reliant
upon suspensions, the
superintendent did not
hesitate to answer “yes.”
Green said the state of the
county school district has
improved since the adoption
of the code of conduct years
“We have authorized
a task force to review the
student code of conduct,”
Green said. “It’s currently
under review, as we’ve
received feedback that it
needed to be reviewed.
It’s been used in the past
as a mechanism to curb or
address behavior, but we
need something consistent
with where we are now.”


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 • Page 9A

Members of the DeKalb County ethics board are making plans to hire an ethics officer to investigate ethics complaints. Photo by Andrew Cauthen

Ethics board in holding pattern
by Andrew Cauthen


he DeKalb County
Board of Ethics is
still in a holding
pattern because of
a lawsuit filed by DeKalb
County Commissioner
Sharon Barnes Sutton and
the lack of an ethics officer.
On Feb. 18, the ethics
board decided not to
give an advisory opinion
concerning an ethics
complaint against Sutton.
Viola Davis, of
Unhappy Taxpayer
& Voter and Restore
DeKalb, stating that “new
evidence, documentation
and witnesses have come
forth to prove the code of
ethics and state law were

violated,” asked the ethics
board to issue an advisory
opinion that her ethics
complaint against Sutton
should be forwarded to
a special prosecutor with
the district attorney and/or
solicitor general’s office.
She also asked to ethic
board to opine about the
need for “an expansion of
the public integrity unit to
include a cross section of
law enforcement such as
the local police department
under Dr. Cedric
Alexander with the FBI/GBI
as oversight agents.”
The role of the public
integrity unit is to investigate
allegations of wrongdoing
by elected officials and
appointed officials.
In her request for an

The Mayor and City Council of the City of Chamblee, Georgia will hold a public
hearing on Tuesday, March 15, 2016, at the Chamblee Civic Center, 3540 Broad
Street, Chamblee, GA 30341 at 7:30 p.m. to receive public comments regarding the
Andy Lasky, of Blue Top, LLC requests variances of the following provisions of
the City of Chamblee Ordinances, Appendix A, Unified Development Ordinance with
respect to a lot consisting of 0.273 acres zoned Village Commercial located at 5362
Peachtree Road, Chamblee, GA being DeKalb County tax parcel 18-299-16-006:
1. Sec. 240-13(c)(1) that requires restaurants with outdoor seating to locate such
seating in the front or side yard and abutting a sidewalk.
2. Sec. 350-2(c) that requires interconnection of adjacent commercial parking lots
with interparcel driveways and sidewalks. 

advisory opinion, Davis
said that the organizations
she represents filed a “well
documented” complaint that
showed that Sutton and her
aide, Judy Brownlee, had
violated the county’s ethics
In September the
ethics board found
probable cause to have
final hearings for the ethics
complaints against Sutton
and Brownlee, who are
both accused of misusing
county funds.
“Unfortunately, …
Sutton filed a lawsuit
against the Board of Ethics
proclaiming the board
was unconstitutional. She
questioned the authority of
the board to sit in judgment
of officials’ behavior,

arguing that it undermines
now mandated by state law.
the fundamental due
The board nominated
process rights,” Davis said. Stacey Kalberman,
“Despite DeKalb voters
former Georgia ethics
approving the new ethics
commissioner director, to
law by 92 percent back in
the position. The nomination
November 2015, Sharon
must be approved by the
Barnes Sutton delayed
county CEO and Board of
the ethics board hearings
which ultimately denied the
Bender said the board,
public justice.”
under state law, would have
“Don’t get me wrong,
to table all ethics complaints
I think the lawsuit’s
until an ethics officer is
frivolous,” said ethics
hired because complaints
board member Scott
now must be investigated
Bender before the ethics
by that officer.
board decided not to give
an opinion at this time.
“I don’t think there’s
anything we would opine
The ethics board also
discussed the hiring of an
ethics officer, a position

(404) 975-9002

DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management
Public Advisory
January 29, 2016
Advisory Issue Date

February 29, 2016
Advisory Close Date

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


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016

Page 10A

Riverdale police officer’s funeral held in DeKalb
by Andrew Cauthen
Traffic came to a stop for
approximately 30 minutes
on Memorial Drive as the
funeral procession for a fallen
Riverdale Police major made
its way to Saint Philips AME
Church in DeKalb County Feb.
Riverdale Police Major
Gregory E. Barney was
shot and killed Feb. 11 while
assisting the Clayton County
SWAT and Clayton County
Police Department in serving
a no-knock search warrant
in Riverdale, according
to the Georgia Bureau of
Investigation (GBI).
When officers entered a
Riverdale apartment, 24-yearold suspect Jerand Ross ran
out of the back door. Barney
chased the suspect and was
shot four times–allegedly by
Ross, in the abdomen, arm,
leg and lower back, according
A long line of law enforcement vehicles travels along Memorial Drive
to the GBI.
for the funeral of a Riverdale police major. Photos by Andrew Cauthen
“Major Greg Barney was
not part of the entry team for
the warrant nor the perimeter
security team,” the GBI stated
in a news release. “He was
an onsite supervisor who
witnessed Ross running from
behind the apartment while
the SWAT team made entry.”
Barney was taken to
Southern Regional Medical
Center in critical condition
where he later died, according
to the GBI.
A couple watches and records the funeral procession.
Ross has been charged
with murder.

A police officer manages traffic as funeral attendees make
their way to the church.

A trio watches the parade of police vehicles.

A Clayton County Sheriff’s deputy stands at attention during
the procession.

It all falls down

On Feb. 17 demolition began of the commonly referred to “erector set,” the metal frame of an Avondale Estates structure that has set unfinished since 2008. Photos by John


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 • Page 11A


Georgia State Rep. Hank Johnson hosted a job resource fair at Georgia Piedmont Technical College (GPTC) Feb. 18, offering job-readiness training as well as employment
opportunities. Photos by R. Scott Belzer

The GPTC job resource fair offered employment opportunities from such agencies as Bojangles, the armed forces, DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office, Home Depot and AT&T.

Streetz 94.5 personality Jazzy McBee, right, was present at the GPTC job resource
fair interviewing such representatives as Staff Sgt. Myresha Allen of Buford, SC.


DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office was one of many government agencies offering
employment opportunities at GPTC on Feb. 18.

DCTV Channel 23

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through your EMMY Award-winning station

DeKalb County Gov

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The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016

Page 12A

Crocheting hooks group
by Kathy Mitchell

hen Shantrice
was working
at a DeKalb
County Library she decided
it would be the perfect place
to involve others in one of
her passions—crocheting.
Inviting friends and whoever
was interested, she founded
Creative Expressions
Crocheting Group, which
now attracts as many as
30 needlework enthusiasts
to the Covington Highway
Library every second
Whitehead, who said
she believes in “sharing the
crochet love,” is inclined to
put a crochet hook and a
ball of yarn in the hands of
any attendee who’s unsure
of how to proceed. She then
gives patient step-by-step
instruction, assuring the
novice that she will quickly
get the hang of it.
Linda Bryan, who said
she started crocheting with
a group from her church,
is now a faithful member of
Creative Expressions. “My
mother used to crochet doll
clothes—all kinds of things—
when I was growing up. Now
I find I really like it. I like the
social aspects of doing it as
a group. Everyone is so nice
and I get great ideas from
the others.”
Although the library’s
description of the
organization says it’s “for
adults who have an interest
in crocheting,” a regular
attendee, and one of the
first to arrive at the February
meeting was Yasha Young,
who’s now 14 and has been
crocheting since she was 6.
“I like to keep my hands
busy so crocheting is perfect
for me. I tried knitting and
didn’t like it as much,” Young
said. She added that she
enjoys the comradery of
crocheting as a group.
“In addition to giving
each other ideas and
encouragement, we have
fun. If you have something
negative going on in your
life, you park that at the door
and just relax and have a
good time,” she said. Young
said she earns a little pocket
money selling bookmarks,
scarves and other items she
Tamika Strong, who
is the organization’s liaison
with the library, said, “We

Shantrice Whitehead, left, and Tamika Strong show a sign for the
organization they helped to found. Photos by Kathy Mitchell

Shantrice Whitehead, who once worked at the library, is the
founder of Creative Expressions.

Melanie Williams crafts a tote bag using “plyarn,” made from
plastic shopping bags.

have some really talented
people here, but Creative
Expressions is for everyone
who crochets. It doesn’t
matter whether you’re just
starting or you’ve been
doing it for years. We
have a group project, but
participation isn’t mandatory.
People are free to work on
their own projects or just
There is a core group
that shows up at nearly
every meeting. Others
attend occasionally. Some
are there promptly at 10
a.m., others come and leave
as their schedules allow.
They share tips, ideas and
Pamela Fuller
announced that she had
to leave early, but told the
group of a goal she set for
herself. “This is the year I
turn 50,” she said, “and I
promised myself that before
my 50th birthday I would

crochet 50 hats to give
to charity.” With her selfimposed deadline coming
up in the fall, Fuller asked
for the group’s support.
The structure is
quite loose, Whitehead,
explained. There are no
officers, no strict rules of
order and all one has to
do to join is show up. “You
don’t really have to crochet.
It’s OK to bring knitting and
other needlework,” she said.
Leslie Deveaux
Christian was chosen
by informal acclamation
as hostess for the day. A
native of the Bahamas,
Christian said she feels that
people who do needlework
are special. “I come from
six generations of people
who do needlework,” she
said. “It’s part of who I am.
It’s essential to my life.”
Christian said she created
a needlework rendition of
her country’s coat of arms

Linda Bryan puts the finishing touches on a hat.

that hangs in the Bahamas
Senate chamber.
Melanie Williams said
she started crocheting when
she was expecting a baby
and decided she wanted
to create a hand-crotched
blanket for the infant. The
“baby” is now 35 years old,
but Williams still enjoys the
hobby. Her current project is
a tote bag being constructed
of “plyarn” that another
group member gave her.
“Plyarn,” she explained,
is made from plastic
shopping bags cut into strips
about the width of a thumb.

“This is a great way to
recycle those bags that we
all have hundreds of—I think
mine are reproducing on
their own. A lot of them can’t
be recycled the usual way
because they are already in
their second generation of
recycling. Using them this
way keeps them out of the
Creative Expressions
meets at the Covington
Library every second
Saturday, 10 a.m.-noon,
except holidays. For more
information, call (404) 5087180.


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 • Page 13A

Students recognized for app creation
by Carla Parker


hree Stone Mountain
High School
students received
monetary awards for
their submissions to
Congressman Hank
Johnson’s inaugural App
The challenge is a
competition that encourages
high school students to
create mobile applications.
Twenty students from
high schools in the 4th
District entered the contest
and Heru Samuel, Tariq
Booker and Nikedra
Dooley were the top three
students, respectively, of
the challenge.
Samuel, who won
first place, received $300.
Samuel presented the idea
of creating an app that
would allow cell phone
users to easily transfer files
from one phone to another.
He said he came up with
the idea soon after he heard
about the challenge.
“When they came
into the lunch room I
was shocked, so I had to
come up with something
really fast, in less than 10
minutes,” he said. “I like to
send files a lot and it takes
a long time for them to
transfer. So, I said ‘why not
this?’ That’s how the idea
came about.”
Joshua Smith,
community outreach liaison
for Johnson, said he and
other staff members thought
Samuel’s app would be
convenient for many cell
phone users.
“A lot of times you might
switch from T-Mobile to
Sprint and try to go in and
switch your numbers over,
but maybe only five would
go over or they just say that
they can’t do it,” Smith said.
“That would take out going
to the store and doing that.
You could just take his chip
and put it from phone to
Samuel, 18, said he was

shocked after learning he
won first prize.
“I actually thought I was
going to get third place, so
it was a shocker but I’m
happy about it,” he said.
Samuel plans to
attend Kennesaw State
next school year to study
electrical engineering. He
hopes to own a business
that “will be bigger and
better than Microsoft or
Booker, a junior at
Stone Mountain, came in
second and won $200.
Booker’s app, Challenger,
is a social media app that
would help users “enhance
each other.”
“It’s basically based off
of challenging each other
to do well,” he said. “So, I
would challenge you to run
a mile every day with me. I
would challenge you to go
hug somebody every day.
“My next step is learning
how to make apps. I know
how to make some apps
but I want to learn how to
put them on Apple or an
android, and then see if I
can get some sales off of it.”
Dooley, who came
in third and received a
$100 award, proposed the
College App.
“An app where you can
apply to any type of college
you want to,” she said. “It
would be quick, fast and
easy. Instead going on to
different [college websites]
you would be able to apply
to any college you want to
in the state or other states.”
The submissions were
viewed by a panel of judges
which included Super
Soaker inventor Lonnie
Johnson, CISCO instructor
Theresa Williams, Hip
Hop recording artist/
reality show personality
Yung Joc, Sciberus CEO
Laron Walker and NBA
analyst Dennis Scott. They
evaluated the apps on
creativity, convenience and
The App Challenge
highlighted the value of

Congressman Hank Johnson hosted the top three students of his inaugural App Challenge. Photos by
Carla Parker

Stone Mountain senior Heru
Samuel was the first-place
winner in Congressman Hank
Johnson’s inaugural App

computer science and
STEM education (Science,
Technology, Engineering
and Math), according
to Smith. Of the 435
members of the House of
Representatives, Johnson
ranked in the top 10 for the
number of app competition
“Science and
technology are transforming
our world and we must do
all we can to ensure our
kids are taking part in and
helping shape the changing
economy,” Johnson said.
“I’m proud of the students
who participated in our
first challenge. They have
showcased some of the
4th congressional district’s
brightest young minds as
they take on cutting-edge
technology that is becoming
an increasing part of all our

Stone Mountain junior Tariq
Booker won second place in the
App Challenge.

Stone Mountain senior Nikedra
Dooley finished third in the App



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The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016

The Hightower Highbots team members are Andy Quintanilla, Orlando
Gama, Sebastian Ramirez, Bryce Marshall, Brenda Sanchez and
Katherine Portillo. Also pictured are Principal Sheila George, left, and
technology teacher Sondra Owens, right. Photos by R. Scott Belzer

• Page 14A

Nasir Sheikj, Andy Quintanilla, Orlando Gama, Katherine Portillo and Sebastian Ramirez
demonstrate how a LEGO robot works.

Hightower Highbots showcase DeKalb’s engineering skills
by R. Scott Belzer
While most DeKalb
County residents are in the
daily grind, at least seven
elementary school students
in Doraville are practicing
the arts of collaboration,
innovation, strategy and
What’s more, the seven
are earning trophies in the

Hightower Elementary
School’s “Highbots,” or
Robotics Club, recently
competed in the Georgia
FIRST LEGO League at the
state level against 32 other
teams. The competition,
held Jan. 23 at Georgia
Tech, saw the Highbots win
first place in the “Strategy &
Innovation” category.
The team is made up
of third graders Bryce
Marshall and Brenda

Sanchez; fourth graders
Nasir Sheikh and
Katherine Portillo; as
well as fifth graders Andy
Quintanilla, Orlando
Gama and Sebastian
As part of Georgia’s
STEM (science, technology,
engineering and
mathematics) program,
Hightower Elementary
School’s Robotics Club
offers third-, fourth-

and fifth-graders an
extracurricular outlet to be
creative, practice teamwork
and put their knowledge into
practice through technology.
“We challenge each
other, practice gracious
professionalism and
cooperation,” Portillo said.
The Hightower Highbots
practice their skills using
a small LEGO robot.
The students are able to
assign such tasks as safe
transport, construction
and demolition through a
computer program.
The Highbots are judged
on how well these tasks
play out on a large gridded
table within a time limit.
At competitions, six tables
stand next to one another
to raise a competitive spirit.
Problems that may appear
small at first glance, such as
dirty wheels, make a large
difference in success.
Judges also ask
teams why a robot was
programmed a certain way,
how they came up with their
plans and how they work
together as a team.
The Highbots explained
how they experiment
with wheel rotations,
timing and other aspects
of programming before
the small robot moves.
From the start, the team
is testing, reprogramming
and retesting. It’s from
this process the Highbots
gained their award-winning
strategy: trial and error.
“It’s all trial and error,
from the very beginning,”
said Sondra Owens,
technology teacher at

Hightower Elementary
and Highbot coach.
Owens, along with teacher
Kimberly Johnson and
engineer Charles Vance,
advise the team twice a
week after school.
“I’m very proud,” Owens
said. “When you get these
kids at the beginning of the
year, they’re not familiar
with each other; they don’t
want to talk because they
don’t know how. But seeing
them grow just makes
me proud to be a part of
Robotics Club.”
Hightower’s group
of young engineers was
granted a place in the state
tournament after winning
competitions at Tucker
High School and Clarkston
High School. While the
team did not win overall, a
trophy was still taken home
in “Strategy & Innovation.”
The trophy was won by not
only demonstrating proper
robotics, but by developing
a project dealing with food
waste through a tumbler
compost bin.
The school’s principal,
Sheila George, said hard
work earned the Highbots a
first-place ranking.
“They’re awesome,”
George said. “They have
done a lot of hard work
as proven in competition.
They’ve gained a great
understanding of robotics
and programming through
their excellent coaches.
We’re really proud of them.”
When asked what they
enjoy most about being
a Highbot, students did
not cite awards, prestige,


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016

• Page 15A

Agnes Scott celebrates past, present and future
by R. Scott Belzer


he Agnes Scott
College community
came together Feb.
19 to celebrate 127 years
of education, inclusiveness
and excellence.
Students, faculty and
staff gathered in Agnes
Scott’s Rebekah Scott Hall
to celebrate the college’s
annual Founder’s Day
Convocation. The event
highlighted how far the
Decatur school has come
in inclusiveness. The
hour-long program also
defined the college’s plan
to progress diversity in the
“Since 1918, Agnes
Scott has celebrated
Founder’s Day as an
opportunity to look back
in gratitude on all those
who have made today’s
Agnes Scott possible and
to remove and reaffirm
our vision for the future,”
said Agnes Scott president
Elizabeth Kiss.
Kiss pointed out that
the convocation celebrated
50 years of integration
at the Decatur college.
The president said the
celebration of such an issue
could not come at a more
critical point in time given
the social climate.
“It’s highly important
as we gather here for
Founder’s Day that we
seek to understand our
past, acknowledge both
the achievements and
persistent challenges of
our present, and renew our
commitment to the ongoing
journey of creating a just
and inclusive community for
all,” Kiss said.
In acknowledging the
past, Kiss highlighted that
Agnes Scott was not always
as culturally diverse as it is
today. The college president
mentioned that the founders
would have in all likelihood
found it inconceivable,
perhaps offensive, that
Agnes Scott would be as
ethnically rich as it is today.
“Among our students,
no single racial ethnic group
is in the majority,” Kiss said.
“For many of our founders,
this would have seemed
alien, frightening, even
The Agnes Scott
president acknowledged
that this fact is key to
maintaining a sense of
reformation, which stands

Agnes Scott College president Elizabeth Kiss
The Agnes Scott College student choir opened and closed the hour-long Founder’s
delivered the university’s annual address, which
Day Convocation on Feb. 19 with hymns. Photos by R. Scott Belzer
dealt with continuing and expanding inclusiveness.

as one of the college’s core
values. She mentioned how
the “Agnes Scott girls” were
once just the Black young
women who came to the
campus to housekeep.
“It was not until 50 years
ago that Gay Johnson
McDougall arrived on our
campus to integrate our
school. Just imagine what
that felt like to her,” Kiss
said. “It was not until 1971
that we had our first Black
graduate. It should give us
pride to think about how far
we’ve come in the past 50
Kiss finished her
address by reminding
attendees how great a role
racist history plays in the
country and the school’s
campus. The college
president mentioned
both broad and specific
instances of race-based
shootings, systemic racism
and xenophobia as prime
“We have a long way
to go to create a safe,

inclusive and welcoming
campus for all,” Kiss
said. “It’s important to
acknowledge how these
events shape our students’
lives. We are greatly
reformed and in need of
Kiss stated goals
to remedy this situation
included having 30 percent
of tenured faculty and 40
percent of staff to come
from underrepresented
ethnic groups by 2020.
The convocation
kept this theme by
acknowledging past alumni
and faculty that paved
the way for Agnes Scott’s
diverse campus. Campus
leaders such as Kristian
Contreras, director of
diversity programs; Mary
Cain, associate history
professor, Nada Gill,
Muslim student association
president; Kayla Sloan,
chairwoman of Agnes
Scott’s coalition of student
multicultural associations
(COSMO); Madeline

Monday, March 7, 2016
5:45 p.m.

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

The DeKalb County Board of Education will hold a public budget
input meeting to solicit feedback from the public regarding the
2016-2017 school system’s budget.

Dekarske, honor court
president; and Kijua
interim vice president for
student life and dean of
students, acknowledged
past students who faced
prejudice and exclusion so
that present Agnes Scott
attendees do not have to do
The 127th Founder’s
Day Convocation concluded
with Kiss’s announcement
that two facilities will be
named after the college’s
first Black student, Gay
Johnson McDougall, as

well as notable alumna
Gue Perdue Hudson.
The event also saw the
entire gathering pledge
to continue “diversity and
inclusive excellence.”
Presbyterian minister
Frank Gaines founded
Agnes Scott College in
1898 as Decatur Seminary
School for Women. The
private liberal arts college
has remained affiliated with
the Presbyterian church and
is considered one of the top
liberal arts colleges in the
country, according to U.S.
News & World Report.


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016

• Page 16A

‘The first thing I did
was listen. I wanted
riders to tell me why
they don’t want to
ride MARTA.’
– Keith Parker, general manager
and CEO of (MARTA)

File photo

Chamber annual meeting features MARTA head
by Kathy Mitchell
Keith Parker, general manager
and CEO of Metropolitan Atlanta
Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA),
as keynote speaker at the DeKalb
Chamber of Commerce 78th annual
meeting, shared his vision for
MARTA’s future.
The meeting was held Feb. 18 at
the Georgia Aquarium in downtown
Parker took the helm at MARTA
in 2012, when the transit authority’s
performance reflected a nationwide
economic slump. “They told me that
MARTA was more than $35 million
in the red and on track for continued
deterioration of its financial
performance. In a few years the
system likely would be bankrupt—
welcome to Atlanta,” he recalled.
But the prophecy of doom
was not fulfilled, he said. In fact,
under Parker’s leadership, MARTA
now has a $9 million surplus and
its financial picture continues to
improve. Parker explained how he
is applying public involvement and
technological innovations to boost
MARTA’s financial performance
as he had previously done at the

San Antonio and Charlotte transit
“The first thing I did was listen,”
Parker said. “I wanted riders to
tell me why they don’t want to
ride MARTA. One of the biggest
complaints I heard was that the
restrooms had been closed. This
was a cost-saving measure and we
couldn’t just reopen the restrooms
without a big impact on our budget.
So the challenge to us was to
find a cost-effective way to make
restrooms available.”
The answer, he said, was
technology, which is now used to
replace functions that once required
having human attendants. “We now
electronically monitor people as they
come and go and even automatically
ask, ‘Is everything OK?’ if a person
stays too long in the bathroom. The
system can even call an ambulance,
if necessary.”
Technology, Parker said, is one
of the keys to making public transit
attractive and workable. He uses
the acronym SEAT—for service,
economy, arts and technology—to
underscore those keys.
He said to attract riders, a
public transportation system must

safe, efficient and cost effective,
asserting that MARTA is all of those.
“Today, a person can take MARTA
from the baggage claim area of
Hartsfield-Jackson Airport and reach
downtown Atlanta in approximately
16 minutes at a cost of $2.50. A
comparable trip by taxi would not
only take longer it would cost about
$50,” he said.
Parker said DeKalb is and has
been from the beginning important to
MARTA planning. “The first train on
MARTA’s system ran from Georgia
State to Avondale Estates,” he
noted. He showed slides of artist’s
renderings of plans for not only
the Avondale Estates station, but
those at Brookhaven/Oglethorpe,
Edgewood/Candler Park and other
points in DeKalb.
Having public transit serve the
community in the future means
envisioning a system that goes
beyond traditional buses and
trains. “Imagine a man sitting in his
home on a Sunday afternoon and
deciding he’d like to go to the park,
but he does not want to walk there.
His MARTA app tells him he can
get a bicycle near his front door and
ride it to the park. While he’s out, he


decides he needs a few groceries.
He bikes to the store and again
consults his app and arranges for
a car to take him home with his
groceries. Then he pays for it all on
his cellphone.”
A highlight of the meeting
was the presentation of the
chamber’s inaugural DeKalb
Economic Development Project
of the Year Award, which went
to Selig Enterprises Inc. for its
redevelopment of Suburban Plaza
in Decatur. The award, according
to the chamber, recognizes a
major economic development
project completed in DeKalb and
the recipient’s accomplishments in
Other awards presented at the
meeting were the Sirius Award for
Public Service and Leadership,
which went to John Kelley,
Georgia Power area manager,
and the Ambassadors of the Year
Awards for outstanding volunteer
contributions to the chamber.
Those were presented to Joshua
Pacini, a real estate executive
with PalmerHouse Properties, and
Michele Rucker, director of sales
at Holiday Inn Atlanta-Northlake.

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



The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016 • Page 17A



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The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016

• Page 18A

Eleven teams advance to Elite Eight
by Carla Parker
The Elite Eight of five of the seven classifications
in the state basketball playoffs will feature 11 teams
from DeKalb County.
In Class AAA, the Cedar Grove Saints will play in
their third consecutive Elite Eight on Feb. 26 against
Westside of Augusta at Augusta University. Game
time is set for 8:15 p.m.
Cedar Grove defeated Dodge County 66-48 in
the first round and East Jackson 68-54 in the second
round. The Saints are on a 10-game winning streak.
In Class AAAAAA, Tucker’s Lady Tigers will take
on Woodstock Feb. 25 at West Georgia. Game time
is set for 3 p.m. Tucker defeated Campbell 81-63 in
the first round, and beat Mountain View 72-54 in the
second round.
Class A Private
Greenforest boys and girls advanced to the Elite
Eight after winning their first round matchups. The
boys defeated First Presbyterian 78-40 in the first
round, and will face Tattnall Square in the Elite Eight
on Feb. 25 at Kennesaw State University. Game time
is set for 4:45 p.m.
The Greenforest girls defeated Paideia 46-23
in the first round and will face No. 6-ranked Tattnall
Square in the Elite Eight on Feb. 26 at Kennesaw
State University. Game time is set for 3 p.m.

Cedar Grove point guard Jaquan Acie runs by a
Dodge County defender. Photos by Travis Hudgons

Cedar Grove guard Makale Carter scores on a layup.

Class AAAA
The Lithonia Bulldogs will face Sandy Creek on
Feb. 25 at Fort Valley State University. Game time is
set for 4:45 p.m. The Bulldogs defeated NW Whitfield
88-36 in the first round, and beat New Hampstead 8261 in the second round.
The St. Pius X Golden Lions will play Jonesboro in
the Elite Eight on Feb. 26 at Fort Valley State. Game
time is set for 8:15 p.m. St. Pius defeated Cartersville
63-46 in the first round, and beat Thomson 55-56 in
the second round.
On the girls’ side, Arabia Mountain’s Lady Rams
will be making their first trip to the Elite Eight in their
second playoff appearance. They beat Heritage 46-44
in the first round, and defeated Burke County in the
second round.
The Lady Rams will face Buford on Feb. 26 at Fort
Valley State. Game time is set for 6:30 p.m.
The Marist Lady War Eagles will take on
Americus-Sumter Feb. 26 at Fort Valley State
University. Game time is set for 4:45 p.m. Marist
defeated Gilmer 41-34 in the first round, and beat
Baldwin 49-40 in the second round.

Tucker guard Morgan Collins attempts to shoot a
basket over a Mountain View defender.

The Miller Grove Wolverines will take on South
Paulding Feb. 26 in the Elite Eight at Columbus
State. Game time is set for 4:45 p.m. The Wolverines
defeated Sprayberry 101-41 in the first round, and
beat Richmond Academy 64-57 in the second round.
Southwest DeKalb boys’ and girls’ advanced to
the Elite Eight. The boys will take on Allatoona Feb.
25 at Columbus State. Game time is set for 4:45 p.m.
Southwest DeKalb defeated Kell 66-42 in the first
round, and beat Warner Robins 65-60 in the second
Southwest DeKalb’s Lady Panthers will take on
Columbus Feb. 26 at Columbus State. Game time is
set for 3 p.m. The Lady Panthers defeated Rome 6522 in the first round, and beat Cross Creek 62-42 in
the second round.

Redan forward Taylor Tucker looks to pass as two
Southeast Whitfield players defend. Tucker rallied
the No. 9 Redan Lady Raiders to a 61-54 Class 4A
first-round playoff victory over Southeast Whitfield,
but had its season come to an end on Feb. 19 with a
47-40 loss to Veterans.

Tucker guard Morgan Collins runs by a Mountain
View defender.


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016

• Page 19A

Cross Keys more confident
after championship loss
by Carla Parker


he Cross Keys boys’
soccer team made
program history
last season with its first
championship game
The team suffered a
1-0 loss to St. Pius X in the
game, but the loss did not
keep them down for long,
according to their coach
Derrick Burgess, he said
the hunger the players had
last season is still in them.
“They had the hunger
last season, but what I
see now is hunger and
confidence,” Burgess said.
“The confidence that they
go into games with now is
just unbelievable.”
That new confidence
has led to a 2-0 record to
start the season.
“We’ve done really
well,” Burgess said. “With
the success of last season,
the boys and everyone
at the school were really
excited for us on making
the state finals but also
disappointed that we lost.
After playing the game
they felt that they had the
quality and experience to
do even better this season.
With the talent, the quality
and experience from last
season’s playoff run, we
have high expectations for
A majority of players
from last year’s team
returned, including team
leading scorer and county
second leading scorer
Gilberto Ramos (16) and
Roberto Matinez, who led
the team in assists and
finished tied for first in the


‘They had the hunger
last season, but what
I see now is hunger
and confidence.’
– Derrick Burgess
Cross Keys boys’ soccer coach

Photos by Travis Hudgons

Gilberto Ramos

county (16). Although five
seniors from last year’s
team graduated, Burgess
said the leadership is still

intact this season.
“[The current seniors]
were the actual leaders
of the team last year,”
Burgess said. “Nothing has
really changed in terms of
the leadership on and off
the field.”
During the offseason,
Burgess said the team
did not focus much on
soccer. Instead, Cross Keys
focused on raising money
for the program.
“During the offseason
we let [the players] kind
of relax and put some
plans in place in terms of
fundraising and budgeting,”
he said. “A lot of schools
have more resources
than us so we’ve tried to
level out the playing field

by spending some of the
offseason time increasing
our budget.”
The team was able
to raise money through
donations given from
local businesses in the
community. The team made
some significant changes
with the funds raised to
help the team compete on a
higher level.
“When I first took over
the program our boys
were always quick to get
tired,” he said. “So we now
have pregame meals, we
have trainers, we got new
uniforms and things of that
nature. That all comes from
them just working in the
offseason to raise funds to
compete against the private

The team is still
collecting donations and
has set up a Gofundme
account to help cover
expenses for this season.
Burgess said he wants
his team to be more than a
winning soccer team.
“One of our goals
is to be a pillar in the
community,” he said. “We’re
a heavily international
school in a heavily
international community
and soccer is the most
important sport in that
community. We want
to represent our entire
community and hope that
they can be proud of Cross
Keys soccer.”


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 26, 2016

• Page 20A

Wrestlers bring home state medals
by Carla Parker
Marist’s Andrew Pace was the lone
wrestler from the DeKalb County area to win
a gold medal at the GHSA state wrestling
tournaments Feb. 13.
Pace, a freshman, won gold in the Class
AAAA 113-weight class with a pin over Sandy
Creek senior Jake Lee. Marist had four other
wrestlers to place in the top six in their weight
class to lead Marist to a fifth-place finish in
Class AAAA with 92.0 points.
Junior Reed Bethune won a bronze
medal in the 126-weight class after pinning
Cartersville’s Robby Earick in the third place
match. Senior Robert Larmore also won a
bronze medal—in the 182-weight class—with
a pin over Chestatee’s Isaac Alarcon in the
third-place match.
Marist had two sixth place finishers in
freshman Jake Boyd (106-weight class) and
senior Chris Bradley (170-weight class).
St. Pius X finished 10th in team standings in
Class AAAA with 63.0 points. St. Pius X had four
medalists—led by silver medalists sophomore
Max Spearman and junior Jack Marsh.
Spearman lost to Buford’s Jack Barber
by a 7-2 decision in the 145-weight class
championship match. Marsh lost by a 5-3
decision to North Hall’s Nick Whitmire in the
170-weight class championship match.
St. Pius also had two fifth-place finishers in

Marist freshman Andrew Pace won gold in the Class
AAAA 113-weight class with a pin over Sandy Creek
senior Jake Lee. Photo by R. Findley Photography

senior Zack Ramirez (160-weight class) and
senior Eric Long (220-weight class). Ramirez
won by injury default over Buford’s Tristan
Bozoian in the fifth-place match, and Long
won by a 8-5 decision over Hampton’s Monex
Lithonia finished tied at 32nd in Class
AAAA with 10.0 points led by senior Bimysola
Attobra, who placed fifth in the 132-weight

How can

make your

class. Attobra won by a 7-4 decision over
Woodword’s Tucker Witmer.
DeKalb County wrestling champions
Dunwoody finished 17th in Class AAAAA with
28.0 points. Senior Daniel Gothard finished
fourth in the 285-weight class after losing by a
4-1 decision to Cass’ Seven Richards in the
third-place match.
Junior Chris Solo placed sixth in the
126-weight class after losing by major decision
(9-1) to Clarke Central’s Patrick Isip in the
fifth-place match.
Lakeside finished 15th in Class AAAAAA
with 40.0 points. Senior Spencer Wilson
placed fourth in the 132-weight class after
losing by a 5-2 decision to Rockdale’s
Stephen Hart in the third-place match.
Junior Kamal Feracho placed fifth in the
195-weight class after defeating Lovejoy’s
Que Taylor by a 1-0 decision. Junior Gordan
Lewis (285-weight class) also had a fifthplace finish after beating Brookwood’s Shane
DeFreitas by a 10-4 decision.
McNair placed 16th in Class AAA with
42.0 points led by senior Muadh As-Siddiq,
who placed second in the 132-weight class.
As-Siddiq was pinned by Jefferson’s Tanner
Thurmond in the championship match.
Decatur placed 25th with 23.5 points led
by Deaundre Wilson, who placed third in
the 182-weight class. Wilson won by a major
decision (17-5) over Rockmart’s James