FRIDaY, FEBRUaRY 19, 2016 • Vol. 18, No. 46 • FREE



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

Business ................................ 16A
Classified ..............................20A
Education............................... 16A
Opinion ...................................... 7A
Sports ................................21-24A








Firefighters fighting for
new stations in addition
to salary increase
by Andrew Cauthen


any of DeKalb County’s fire rescue personnel
don’t feel valued by the county government.
That’s what Tom Burrell, a fire rescue captain and secretary of the International Association of Fire
Fighters, Local 1492, told county commissioners on Feb. 9.
For weeks now, DeKalb County Fire Rescue personnel
have been appearing en masse at the county commissioners’ meeting to ask for money for salaries.
Burrell told commissioners that funding also is needed
to improve the poor conditions of many of the county’s
fire stations.
“The problem is how this government values our men

See Fire on Page 5A

DeKalb County Fire Station No. 7, which houses the busiest engine in the county, is in need of
replacement, according to a study performed for the county. The more than 60-year-old structure has mold, rotting wood and open ceilings. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Avondale Police builds community through citizen patrol
by Carla Parker
Police departments
often exhaust all of their
recourses to stop crime, but
sometimes those resources
are not enough to catch every criminal who menaces a
The creation of neighborhood watch programs
allow residents to assist
police officers in spotting
suspicious activity and helping curb crime in residential
Avondale Estates took
it a step further two years
ago by creating the Citizen
Patrol Unit. The unit allows
residents to patrol neighborhoods in a decommissioned
police car. Police Chief Gary
Broden said the goal behind
forming the unit two years
ago was to have more eyes
and ears on the streets.
“Criminals don’t like to
be watched,” Broden said.
“If you have more eyes out

Matt Miller, director of the Avondale Estate’s Citizen Patrol Unit, stands in front of the unit’s only patrol car
with Police Chief Gary Broden. Photo by Carla Parker

there watching you, you’re
probably going to go somewhere where you’re not being
watched. Our group is totally
nonconfrontational; they observe and report. We do the
Members of the patrol

unit are graduates of the
city’s the Citizen Police
Academy. Once participants
graduate from the eight-week
academy and decide they
want to do more to help by
joining the patrol unit, they
receive additional training.

Through all of the training,
participants are taught what
suspicious activities and vehicles are and more.
“Not only are they taught
what to look for, but they’re
taught how to report it correctly and how to call it in

correctly,” Broden said. “So
you can’t have too many of
those out there.”
The unit started out with
40 members. One of those
members included Matt
Miller, who is now the director of the Citizen Patrol
“I joined it because I
grew up in the neighborhood and I was retired and
was looking for something
to do,” Miller said. “I have
plenty of hobbies but I
was looking for something
meaningful. It just kind of
all came together with this
Miller said the unit
maintains a steady number
of members.
“We’re constantly growing with additional training,”
he said. “We’ve included
some traffic control training
for some of our people who
are comfortable with that.
We have enough people in
the program right now with
one car. We’re pretty happy

See Avondale on Page 5A






The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 • Page 2A

MARTA workers want county to intervene in privatization plans

by Andrew Cauthen


ome MARTA workers
want DeKalb County’s
government to oppose
a pending privatization
of the transit system’s Mobility

service for disabled passengers.
At the Feb. 9 DeKalb
County Board of
Commissioners meeting, Paul
McLennon, a retired member
of Amalgamated Transit Union
Local 732—an organization
that represents more than

3,000 transit workers in metro
Atlanta, including DeKalb
County—spoke against
MARTA’s privatization plan for
its Mobility service.
“We would like to see
some accountability in terms
of the representatives on the
MARTA board who represent
DeKalb County and voted for
this,” McLennon said.
In November 2015,
MARTA’s board of
directors voted to hire MV
Transportation to take over
the operations of the Mobility
“The decision to
outsource Mobility was a
difficult and necessary step
toward improving customer
satisfaction, increasing
on-time performance and
leveraging private sector
know-how to achieve greater
operational efficiencies,” wrote
Joseph Erves, MARTA’s senior
director of operations, in a
letter to the Atlanta JournalConstitution.
According to Erves, MV
Transportation plans to “hire
incumbent Mobility drivers
with good performance
histories, pay them wages
comparable to their current
rate and offer competitive
Current Mobility drivers
who want to remain with
MARTA can apply for other
open positions within the
transit service, Erves stated.
“MARTA tried this before

back in the ‘90s and it did
not work,” McLennon told
commissioners. “We know
that privatization will have a
detrimental effect on workers
and the disability community.
MARTA is a public asset that
is supposed to be providing a
services not make a profit.
“Apparently the contract
has not yet been signed
and we’re hoping it can be
stopped,” McLennon added.
The board of directors
of disABILITY LINK, an
advocacy group for people
with disabilities, also is
opposing the privatization
of MARTA and the MARTA
Mobility service.
“Transportation is an
important issue for the
disability community as
lack of access to transit
is the No. 1 reason why
people with disabilities stay
at home, prevented from
participating in the life of the
community including access
to employment, education,
worship and leisure,” according
to a statement by disABILITY
“Paratransit service is
mandated by the Americans
with Disabilities Act of 1990
and the Rehabilitation Act
of 1973,” according to the
statement. “Transportation is
a public service and a human
“Privatization adds the
profit motive. In order to make
money, service will likely be

cut, fares may be raised, and
safety could be compromised,”
according to the statement.
Stanley Smalls, a DeKalb
County resident and member
of the Amalgamated transit
Union, said, “The MARTA
board made a decision to go
forward with outsourcing 370
jobs. Another [proposal] is
going forward with more jobs
on the line.
“It hurts me to the core
[your] appointees voted and
didn’t ask us any questions,”
Smalls told commissioners.
“MARTA is bragging and
boasting...last week that they’re
about to lay 371 people off like
[they’re] not about to harm
371 people.
“This is starting to become
a mockery with people’s
livelihoods,” he said.
“For MARTA to tell us we
don’t have a job on March 25,
is a slap in our face,” Smalls
said. “We come to work every
day.... We’re out here in all
types of weather doing what
we have to do to make sure
our seniors get to where they
need to go.
“For MARTA to tell us,
‘Thank you, you’re out of your
pension, you’re out of your
healthcare,’ it’s a travesty,” he
Smalls urged
commissioners to “talk to your
“It does hurt the bulk of
your [residents] in DeKalb,”
Smalls said.

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. 19, 2016 • Page 3A



DeKalb Chamber names six to board of directors

The DeKalb Chamber of Commerce recently announced the
appointment of five new members to serve on the organization’s board of
directors. New board members will serve a three year term. 
“These board members will bring a new perspective along with a
wealth of knowledge and experience that will help us as we continue to
work toward creating a more prosperous business community in DeKalb,”
said Katerina Taylor, the chamber’s president and CEO.  
The new board members include: Erik Bryant, vice president, Atlanta
Commercial Group, BB&T; Tom Burns, owner, Toro Properties Rehab
LLC; John Funny, president and CEO, Grice Consulting Group; Vaughn
Irons, founder and CEO, APD Solutions; Andrew Lewis, executive vice
president, Georgia Charter Schools Association; and Jason Ressman,
general manager, Hyatt Atlanta Perimeter at Villa Christina.
The new board members will be installed at the Chamber’s 78th
Annual Meeting on Thursday, Feb. 18 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the
Georgia Aquarium, 225 Baker Street NW in Atlanta.
 MARTA CEO and General Manager Keith Parker will serve as the
keynote speaker during the event, addressing MARTA’s impact in DeKalb,
initiatives for small business and women- and minority-owned business
and the transit system’s expansion plans for 2016.

Avondale Estates
City creating new directories

Avondale Estates is in the process of updating its residential and
business directories. The directory—which includes names, addresses
and phone numbers of participating Avondale Estates residents and
businesses—will be sent to each household in mid-June 2016. Directory
forms requesting information can be found in the upcoming March/April
newsletter that will be delivered the week of Feb. 29. PDF copies of the
form can also be viewed on the city’s website at www.avondaleestates.
org. Completed forms can be hand delivered or mailed to City Hall, 21 North
Avondale Plaza; faxed to (404) 299-8137 or emailed to Gina Hill at ghill@ Forms are due on or before April 1.

City to celebrate Arbor Day
The Avondale Estates Tree Board and members of the Avondale
Estates Garden Club (AEGC) will hold a tree planting dedication ceremony
Feb. 19, at 1 p.m. at 22 Dartmouth Avenue to celebrate Arbor Day. AEGC
donated funds for the purchase of the tree. For more information, visit


Applications open for citizen’s police academy
Applications are now open for the Brookhaven Police Department’s third
annual Citizen’s Police Academy.
Anyone who lives or works in Brookhaven is invited to attend. The class
is open for all those older than 21 years of age. A criminal background
check will be conducted on applicants and the police department reserves
the right to deny enrollment to those with a criminal history.
The academy will meet every Thursday from 7 to 9:30 p.m. and takes
place March 3 through May 5. The first meeting will be held at the police
For more information and to apply, download and complete the
application and background check consent form at www.brookhavenga.
gov/Home/Components/News/News/371/17 and return it to Russell.davis@ or in person at the Brookhaven Police Station, 2665
Buford Highway, by Feb. 19. 

City to host ‘parent’s night out’
Brookhaven will host Parent’s Night Out on Feb. 26, from 6:30 to 9 p.m.
at Lynwood Community Center. The event is a way for parents to drop off
their children on a Friday and get some time to themselves. The event will
include dinner, games, activities and options to keep children entertained.
Pre-registration is required and pick-up is promptly at 9 p.m. Cost is $15 per
child; ages: 5-12. For more information call (404) 637-0512.

Mayor to host town hall
Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst will host a town hall Feb. 22, 6:30 to
8 p.m. at Briarwood Community Center. For more information, visit www.

$96,000 awarded for highway revitalization

Chamblee and Doraville will receive $96,000 as part of a study grant
awarded by The Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). The grant, known
as the Livable Centers Initiative (LCI), will help the cities construct a plan
to revitalize Buford Highway by way of connectivity, affordable housing
and pedestrian safety. The ARC has awarded approximately $800,000 in
LCI study grants to nine metro Atlanta communities, with funding coming
from federal transportation dollars. Recipients are required to make a
20 percent match. Since LCI began in 2000, more than $197 million has
been awarded to 112 communities. Communities eligible for LCI study
grants cover less than 4 percent of a region’s land area, contain 7 percent
of its recent residential development, 29 percent of its recent commercial
development, and 69 percent of its recent office development. For more
information, visit or contact Teresa Taylor at or (470) 395-2309.


Employment resource fair coming to GPTC
Georgia Piedmont Technical College (GPTC) will host Rep. Hank
Johnson’s (GA-04) 2016 Resources Fair on Thursday, Feb. 18, from 10
a.m. to 2 p.m. The fair seeks to connect DeKalb residents with local, state
and federal agencies that will provide job-readiness training, information
on Atlanta’s booming television and film industry as well as employment
opportunities. The event will also include training for veterans and exoffenders on resume development, interviewing skills and job readiness
workshops. Small business forums as well as discussions regarding
pathways out of poverty will also be available to attendees. GPTC is
located at 495 N. Indian Creek Dr., Clarkston.


Law enforcement looking to engage with the public
DeKalb residents looking to learn more about those who serve and
protect will have the opportunity to do so Tuesday, Feb. 23, as the Dunwoody
Police Department will host its annual “Coffee with a Cop” program from 7
a.m. to 9 a.m. at Crema Espresso Gourmet. The event will provide the public
an opportunity to ask questions, voice concerns and get to know officers
serving the community. No formal agenda or speeches will be given, as the
event is an opportunity to sit down with local law enforcement for a general
conversation. For more information, contact officer Mark Stevens at mark. or call (678) 382-6917. Crema Espresso Gourmet
is located at 2458 Mount Vernon Rd. in Dunwoody.


City to host Mardi Gras ball
Lithonia will host its annual Mardi Gras Ball Feb. 27 from 7 to 11 p.m.
The event will be held at The Academy located at 6886 Main Street in
Lithonia. The event will include a live jazz band, an open bar and food.
Cocktail attire and masks are required. Tickets are on sale on eventbrite.
com. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Randolph Foundation.

City to host contractor’s workshop
In conjunction with a major housing development, Lithonia will be
holding a series of contractors’ workshops. These workshops are designed
to identify, qualify, and increase the participation of local contractors in
the project. Bid opportunities exist in the following areas: demolition, site
preparation, GC services, and interior and exterior services, including
general labor. The first workshop will be held Feb. 27, at 10 a.m. at
Bruce Street Community Center, 2484 Bruce Street. To RSVP, email


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 • Page 4A

Gina Mangham

Gina Mangham, a
practicing attorney and
mediator who lives in
Lithonia, says she is “a doer.”
“I just care about
people and I care about my
community,” said Mangham,
who has been a community
advocate for 20 years. “It’s up
to us not to just complain,
but to make things happen.”
Mangham represents
DeKalb’s District 5 on the
Zoning Board of Appeals,
and is the board vice
chairwoman for the Friends
of the Stonecrest Library and
president of the Hosanna
choir at New Bethel A.M.E.

As treasurer for the
South DeKalb Improvement
Association, Mangham
said she is “trying to get
the organization in the
position to attract funds and
expand its ability to provide
“That’s not the pretty
work. The policies, making
sure that we are doing
everything according to the
book, making sure that we
are in a position to attract
grants—that doesn’t get a
lot of play,” said Mangham,
who has a bachelor’s degree
in business administration
finance from the University
of Michigan, and a juris

doctorate from John
Marshall Law School in
“The programs are
important, but capacity
building is absolutely
essential,” Mangham said.
When her commission
district was without
representation for
approximately two years,
Mangham was an outspoken
advocate for District 5. She
even made an unsuccessful
bid to be the commissioner.
“I worked really
hard on the fifth district
representation,” she said.
“Most of the issues
I’m involved in affect my

community,” Mangham said.
“It’s really about protecting
our community and
standing up for our rights.”
She has worked to
protect the environment
in the Lithonia area by
opposing a proposed
biomass gasification plant.
She also has focused on
“making sure representatives
are listening to us” and on
“zoning issues in general.”
“I try to get involved
where I can be of service,”
she said. “It’s in my blood.
“Every time I say I’m
going to take a break, I just
can’t,” Mangham said. “It’s
just innate in me.

“Sometimes somebody
has to take leadership,” she
said about volunteering.
“It’s not about who gets the
credit. It’s about getting the
job done.”

Avondale Estates delays annexation plan
by Carla Parker


vondale Estates city officials
have decided to forgo
annexation this year.
“Upon discussion and
mutual agreement with our state
leaders, the Board of Mayor and
Commissioners has decided not
to pursue annexation plans for
the remaining 2016 year,” Mayor
Jonathan Elmore said in a released
statement. “We believe annexation
can be a positive means for the
growth of the city and we will revisit
annexation plans in the future.”
The city was looking into
annexing two areas. One area
included 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 area also included
properties along Old Rockbridge
Road and Berkeley Road, and
residential properties west of the
city along Katie Kerr Drive and
South Columbia Drive.
The city contacted the Carl
Vinson Institute of Government
last November to conduct an
annexation study on the two areas.
The study areas contained
commercial and industrial parcels
with a 40 percent assessed value of
$10.9 million in study area 1 and
a 40 percent assessed value of $4.1
million in study area 2, according to
the annexation 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
The institute used 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.
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 expenditures, 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

Avondale Estates had two annexation feasibility studies done before deciding to
delay action.

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016


Page 5A


Continued From Page 1A

A study performed for DeKalb County says DeKalb County Fire Station No. 7, located off of Glenwood Avenue, is in “need of
maintenance for foundation issues, cracks, leaks and mold.” Photos by Andrew Cauthen

An engine from DeKalb County Fire Rescue Station No. 7 responds to a call.

fire Continued From Page 1A

and women and the services they provide in this community,” Burrell told
commissioners. “Our men and women
are not feeling valued in general these
“When a third-party study of county operations reveals that nearly threequarters of your fire stations, where
our men and women live a third of
their lives, are not in good condition,
you don’t feel valued,” Burrell said.
The study report Burrell referred
to is the 2015 Organizational Effectiveness Study the county contracted to
have done.
According to the study, “most stations have issues that need to be addressed.” Several were described as being in “poor condition.”
The study states that a “majority
of the stations have major issues with
leaks, molding and cracks. A lot of stations have ceilings falling out. Most
stations needed the kitchen area, stove
and counters repaired. A majority of
stations need A/C and heating units
The report states that the county
should “adopt a formal facility maintenance program which requires the
period inspection of all fire facilities
and procedures for the timely repair of
reported deficiencies.”
“When half your stations have
untreated mold issues, you don’t feel
valued,” Burrell told commissioners.
“When the county hasn’t committed
significant capital funding to a firehouse in this county in a decade, and
your ceilings are falling in over your
head, you don’t feel valued.”
On Feb. 11, The Champion toured
several fire stations and noted some of

the poor conditions mentioned in the
The report states that Station 7,
located off of Glenwood Avenue at
1776 Derrill Drive in unincorporated
Decatur, “is in need of maintenance
for foundation issues, cracks, leaks and
Further, the report notes that male
and female personnel share the same
living quarters and the light fixtures
need proper securing and maintenance.
Burrell said the building, which
formerly housed the county coroner’s
office or a funeral home before being converted to a fire station in 1954,
“could be as old as 70 years old—we’re
not really sure.”
After DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester visited Station 7,
stated in August 2015 that “mold is
putting the lives of DeKalb County
firefighters at risk inside a crumbling
“We ask these heroes to put their
lives on the line every day,” she stated.
“We have a responsibility to give
them a safe, working environment. Let
me be clear, DeKalb County is failing
our fire and police men and women
when we vote to give millions to build
a soccer complex while we fail to fund
safe, working environments.”
The station has been the subject of
several budget requests by the fire department, Burrell said. The department
had put the building in its 2016 budget
request for replacement, but that was
Burrell said the fire department is
attempting to qualify for federal funding to construct a new Station 7.

“We are awaiting the approval or
denial of that community block development grant,” Burrell said.
The department also has plans to
make some emergency repairs to the
station “not to make the station usable
for another 10 years, or even 20 years.
It’s to make the facility usable until we
can get funding to replace the station,”
Burrell said.
The report list five more stations in
poor shape.
“We have seven of our 26 stations
that have an average age of 55 years
old,” Burrell said. The fire department
wants to replace those seven.
“We have kicked the can on these...
seven stations that are an average age of
55 years,” Burrell said. “At some point
you reach a tipping point of where
there’s so much to do…you can’t conceivably figure out how to catch up.
“When you hear about a windfall
from a refinancing of those 2006 bond
referendum and there’s $20 million out
there that can be used, and Station 7…
was just denied in the budget again,
you see why our [firefighters] say ‘Why
cant we use $3 million to replace a fire
station?’” Burrell said.
“The employees are disheartened
and they’re voting with their feet. We
had someone resign today. A captain.
That’s unheard of.
Fire personnel “feel like the government has quit on them,” Burrell said.
“It is time to remind these men and
women that you value the hard work
they do, the dangerous work they do,
but most importantly, the good work
they do every single day across this
community,” he told commissioners.

with the current status of the
The unit currently has 37
members, including a majority of the original members.
Broden said there has
been a slight decrease in
crime since the unit began
patrolling the streets.
“If you take these last
two years and the two years
previously, the crime stats
are a little bit lower,” he said.
“But what you can’t measure
is deterrence. To say how effective it is we can’t say, but
we do believe it is effective,
not just in crime deterrence
but it’s also effective in building a relationship with the
community and the police
“A lot of times people
think they know what we
do until they go through the
Citizen Police Academy and
then they find out what we
actually do and how to do
it right,” Broden added. “It
also gives the community
ownership in the community.
If we have a little spike of
[automobiles being broken
into] or something, it’s not so
much what is the police department is going to do. It’s
‘what are we going to do as a
“It’s neighbors watching
neighbors and helping neighbors,” Miller said. “We’re riding by our own homes and
we’re helping each other. It’s
such a good volunteer program and I highly encourage
other cities to do it.”
Although Miller is happy
with the number of people
on the unit, he still focuses
on recruitment and training.
“People may change interest,” he said. “They may
move, so it’s a constant goal
to keep it staffed with 30 to
40 people.”
Broden said the police
department enjoys the relationship with the volunteers
and their effort.
“This is strictly volunteer,” he said. “They don’t
have to be doing this. They
choose to do it and they’re
helping us. It shows good

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016


Page 6A

Racism is alive and well
Every so often we get
clear reminders that racism
still exists.
A case in point are the
comments to a reporter and
recent bills filed by Rep.
Tommy Benton (R-Jefferson), who proudly states on
his website that he is a sixth
generation resident of Jackson County, which is 88.8
percent White and 7.2 percent Black, according to the
U.S. Census Bureau.
Benton also is a member
of the National Rifle Association, and three Confederate
organizations: Sons of Confederate Veterans, Military
Order of the Stars and Bars
and the Gainesville Chapter
of the Sons of the American
In one comment reported by the AJC, Rep. Benton,
a former middle school his-

Andrew Cauthen

Managing Editor


tory teacher, opined that the
Ku Klux Klan “[was] not so
much a racist thing but a
vigilante thing to keep law
and order.
“It made a lot of people
straighten up,” he told the
AJC. “I’m not saying what
they did was right. It’s just

the way things were.”
To combat efforts of
some to remove prominently
placed Confederate icons,
Benton, chairman of the
House Human Relations and
Aging Committee, recently
introduced three items:
House Resolution 1179,
which would have led to a
constitutional amendment
protecting Stone Mountain
Park as a Confederate memorial; House Bill 854, in
which any street named for
veterans that [was] changed
after Jan. 1, 1968, would
revert to the original name;
and House Bill 855 which
would have made Robert E.
Lee’s birthday and Confederate Memorial Day legal holidays in Georgia.
One would think a
middle school history
teacher would understand

history better than others.
As a former history teacher,
Benton should understand
better than most the toll the
KKK and racism has had on
Blacks. I know of people who
support the Confederacy but
would never tell a reporter
that the KKK was there to
“keep law and order.”
The remarks are insensitive at best, racist at worst.
Benton, who graduated
from high school in 1968,
lived through the historical
Civil Rights Movement of the
1960s. He would have seen
the way Confederate flag was
used by those tormenting
Blacks in the name of the Ku
Klux Klan. So how could this
politician be so insensitive
It probably never crossed
his mind that he would not
be able to get away with the


The Board of Education should
support smart growth in DeKalb
Chris Carr, the commissioner
for economic development for the
state of Georgia, had some sobering commentary on DeKalb County recently. He said the bad publicity is hurting the local economy,
and that DeKalb should get its act
together and turn over a new leaf.
 I am usually not in lockstep
agreement with the appointees of
Republican governors, but when
they are right about something, I
have to agree.
 DeKalb County has been
plagued by political infighting and
turf wars for decades, with nearsighted politicos cashing in on
short-term victories at the expense
of long-term progress. We are at
those crossroads again.
 Carr points out that jobs are
skipping over DeKalb in favor of
Fulton, Cobb and Gwinnett, and
why not? The grass is greener
there. If you were a developer, and
all things are equal, why wouldn’t
you go along with the others?
 DeKalb needs to step up its
game and do something different,
and the opportunity is in front of
us. There are 155 acres at the precipice of redevelopment in north
DeKalb, but it is stalling for lack
of economic development incentives. The plan is for commercial,
retail and residential in a transitoriented environment. That’s

huge! Doraville has signed up for
tax incentives, and so has DeKalb
County. That is two steps in the
right direction.
 That leaves the school
board. The DeKalb County Board
of Education (BOE) has been reluctant to be a team player when
it comes to anything other than
running schools. Don’t get me
wrong, schools are very important,
but they do not exist in a vacuum
apart from the larger framework of
community and economy. Roughly
three-quarters of property taxes
are school taxes, so the overtures
of Doraville and DeKalb mean
little if the Board of Education
doesn’t take an interest in corporate investment and job creation.
 Their rationale is that they
don’t want to tie their hands with
any tax incentive that would dictate where and how freely they
can spend tax money. This is the
flaw in their logic: at the moment,
no one is living on the former
home of the General Motors facility, but they soon will. With the
BOE’s involvement, there could
be a significant infusion of smart,
quality growth. With that comes
jobs, and with jobs come families. With families come children,
and those kids will need to go to
a nearby school. Under normal
circumstances, there might need to

be a tax increase to pay for those
schools, but with an infusion of
capital investment, property values
go up, and there won’t be a need to
raise taxes. 
DeKalb Schools should support the Doraville Tax Allocation
District. Certainly in this case, and
many similar cases, it becomes a
self-fulfilling prophecy—tax incentives spur commercial investment, which in turn increases the
value of real estate. Increases in the
value of real estate mean more tax
proceeds, and those tax proceeds
fund education for children—winwin-win—win! The only caveat is
those proceeds created from the
growth must be reinvested in the
same area. 
 I have served on the DeKalb
Board of Education, and I have
served on the Development Authority of DeKalb County. I support education, and I support
economic development. These
concepts are not mutually exclusive. Economic Development and
quality education actually go hand
in hand.  Good schools are good
for businesses and vice versa. The
DeKalb BOE should consider the
long term benefits for the community at large and approve tax
incentives, before it’s too late.
Eugene P. Walker, Ph.D.

statements he made and the
bills he authored. It probably
never crossed his mind that
such statements and ideas
are best left back home in
Jackson County. It probably
never crossed his mind that
some who work with him
in Atlanta, “the cradle of
the Civil Rights Movement,”
might consider his words
and actions racist.
And if these did occur to
him, he didn’t care.
As long as Benton and
his collaborators—Reps.
Joe Wilkinson (R-Atlanta),
Mike Cheokas (R-Americus), Jesse Petrea (R-Savannah) and Stephen Allison
(R-Blairsville)—are in office,
racism is alive and well in the
Georgia General Assembly.

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016


Page 7A


There’s a battle brewin’
“Under Georgia’s wacky
system a restaurant located
beside a brewpub can sell that
brewpub’s beer in a growler
to go while the brewpub that
made it cannot. What kind of
sense does that make?” queries Terrapin Beer Company
cofounder John Cochran. 
Within hours after
F.D.R. signed the ratification
of the 21st Amendment to
our U.S. Constitution into
law on Dec. 5, 1933, repealing the 18th Amendment
and Prohibition, August
Busch had a Clydesdale
wagon deliver a case of beer
to the president at the White
House. The adult beverages
industry has always appreciated the teamed needs of
marketing and keeping their
regulators happy campers.
Mass market brewers
such as Anheuser-Busch/
Imbev took note, several
years ago, as consumption of
their primary brands began
an extended period of sales
decline. Micro, craft and
regional brewers, is where
the majority of growth has
moved to in the beer business. 
Yet state laws related to
the manufacture, distribution and sale of alcoholic
beverages vary greatly. Georgia maintains a convoluted
three-tier system for beer
and distilled spirits with the
manufacturers, wholesalers/
distributors and retailers/
resellers all facing a vast array of taxes, license fees and

Bill Crane


regulations. While in 48 other states, craft brewers may
also legally sell their product,
fresh brewed, to consumers.
Athens, Ga., based Terrapin Beer Company, brews
a wide array of products
now sold primarily via distributors, in all or parts of 12
states, Washington, D.C. and
Puerto Rico. Terrapin was
founded in 2002 by Brian
“Spike” Buckowski and John
Cochran, and now has more
than 100 full- and part-time
employees. And, just as Terrapin has rapidly expanded,
Georgia brewers are growing
in number and clout, while
assembling a healthy head of
Last year the Georgia
General Assembly passed
a watered-down brewery
bill, allowing limited on-site
brewery product sales, variable levels of tour pricing
and a few other options to
interact with their brewery
tour customers. For Terrapin

alone, that is roughly 30,000
visitors per year.
The wholesale distributors made their opposing
views known on the front
end, and then after the law
passed, they in effect went
around to the loading docks
to chat more with the Georgia Department of Revenue
(DOR), the state agency
charged with regulating and
controlling the spirits industries. This past fall, DOR
issued a rule that in effect
nullified most impacts of the
new law. 
Later Georgia House
Speaker David Ralston and
other legislators cried foul
that the DOR had, in effect,
ignored the legislative intent
of the bill...and that they
could either fix it by rule, or
the legislature would amend
the law. But instead a compromise deal was reached,
several weeks in the making,
and largely foisted on the
industry. If this holds, it basically has the same impacts
as last year’s law, with a few
The brewers may also
now sell food onsite at their
breweries, as one example.
But the new deal does very
little to actually alter the
cumbersome three-tier distribution system, which perhaps by design is most lucrative for the middle men who
deliver the product, versus
those who make it or who
actually sell it. 
Wholesalers by law, can-

not sell directly to consumers, but they face limited
competition, other than
price point differences from
manufacturers, in how they
price their products to retailers and restaurateurs and bar
The Georgia House has
a resolution, HR 1345, with
91 co-sponsors, which calls
for the appointment of a
study committee on craft
brewery and distillery competitiveness, authored by
State Rep. Michael Caldwell
(R-Woodstock). The resolution is not an act of law, it
in effect expresses more the
sense and sentiment of the
chamber, and involvement
is not required for the State
Senate for the study committee to begin researching beer
laws in other states. 
The beer purchasing
public wants more craft beer
product. Georgia wineries
gained the ability to sell directly to consumers decades
ago. Though brewers will
still rely on distributors to
ship, place and support the
marketing of their products,
they are making a reasonable
request to expand a noncompetitive offering of what
they and only they directly
brew to whomever takes the
time and pays the price to
visit their breweries. 
So before another full
blown battle gets brewin’
next year, with public sentiment generally siding with
the brewers, let’s hope that

the wholesale distributors
begin to open their minds
to supporting this logical
business expansion for one
of their fastest-growing customers and business partners.  I’ll drink to that.
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

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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. 19, 2016 • Page 8A

Tucker city council District 3 candidates
by Carla Parker
Leading up the March 1 Special
Election, The Champion will publish
a Q&A with each candidate in the
city of Tucker elections. This Q&A
segment features candidates for
City Council District 3 Post 1 and
2: Michelle Penkava (Post 1), Ruth
Hoffman (Post 2) and Anne Lerner.
Why did you decide to run for
a city council seat?

Penkava: “The Tucker
community voted overwhelmingly
to support cityhood. Residents
want a city that will be fiscally
conservative—starting responsibly
and building a strong foundation. I
want to be part of the council that
will establish our city as the voters
Hoffman: “Provide an honest,
transparent and accountable voice
for the residents of this district.
For too long politics in this state
has been dominated by business
interests that are often diametrically
opposed to quality of life goals.”
Lerner: “Having poured my
heart and soul into the cityhood
process, I want to make sure the
promise of the Tucker charter is
upheld and preserves what makes
Tucker unique, while implementing
the community’s vision for the
future. It would be an honor to
continue to serve the people of
Tucker in an even more meaningful



What are the top three
priorities you will focus on if
you’re elected to city council?
Penkava: “1) Responsible
implementation and a smooth
transition of services with DeKalb
County; 2) effective communication
with Tucker’s volunteer
organizations to ensure broad
citizen input on decisions impacting
Tucker; 3) ongoing dialogue with
the school district and DeKalb
County to ensure comprehensive
success for Tucker.”
Hoffman: “Keep government
honest and hold it accountable to
the citizens of this community;
environmental awareness in
government contracting and city
services; and community outreach
including educating constituents on
services provided by the city.”


decisions based on community
input; be fiscally responsible;
provide responsive and effective
What qualities do you have
that will help you be a good
city council member for
Penkava: “I’ve been immersed
in the cityhood process for Tucker.
I participated in writing the
charter, was part of the feasibility
study committee and worked with
legislators to ensure Tucker the
opportunity to direct our own
future. I will continue listening
to the community, working by
consensus, to move Tucker forward.”

Hoffman: “First and foremost,
I am a concerned citizen. I want
to see all of the community
represented during the formative
Lerner: “Throughout the
stages of Tucker city government.
cityhood process, I’ve listened to
residents express their hopes for our Perspective: I bring a world-view to
new city, hearing loud and clear they this position that others, who have
first want Tucker starting on a solid spent their lives here, do not have.”
foundation for lasting success. Their
Lerner: “For 19 years, I’ve
priorities are my priorities: make

Lithonia investigating
complaint against officer
by Carla Parker
The Lithonia mayor and city council held
a special called executive session Feb. 10 to
discuss a personnel matter.
City officials would not disclose all the
details discussed in a meeting, but City
Administrator Eddie Moody said the meeting
stemmed from an internal complaint filed
against a police officer.
“I don’t know the full extent of what all
that’s going on,” Moody said. “I do know
enough to tell you that there will be an
internal investigation. I’m going to do my due

diligence on it to see what all is happening. I
can’t comment on it right now. Time will be
invested to see what’s actually happening.”
After the meeting, Mayor Deborah
Jackson said the issue surrounding the officer
and the complaint were recently brought to
her attention.
“Apparently, something happened over
the weekend and we just need to get some
information about what that is and any actions
that were taken that should not have been
taken,” she said.
Moody said more information will be
released once the investigation is completed.

worked with the community
to address concerns and build
relationships to benefit Tucker. I
bring extensive knowledge of the
planning and zoning process as
an involved citizen and a DeKalb
County planning commissioner.
With my proven commitment to
the community and my experience
in the issues affecting our new city,
I can better serve the people of
What do you believe some
of the challenges will be for
Penkava: “Excitement for our
new city is palpable. There will be
a period of time, especially in the
beginning, when things will appear
to move slowly, though there will be
much important work transpiring at
many levels. This may prove difficult
for those that are most excited about
Tucker’s future.”
Hoffman: “The day-to-day
minutia of setting up a new city
government; keeping the lines of
communications open between
the community and government;
educating the community on the
Tucker city value proposition.”
Lerner: “The tasks to accomplish
in the first year of cityhood are not
glamorous, but they are important.
We’ll need community members to
stay engaged and be patient as we
work together to implement their
vision for Tucker. Some things will
take time, but we’ll get it done the
right way for lasting results.”


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 • Page 9A

East Lake neighborhood seeks to be annexed by Atlanta

by Andrew Cauthen
No one spoke during a public hearing
before the Atlanta City Council’s finance
committee Feb. 10 about the proposed
annexation of the Olmsted at East Lake
neighborhood into the city of Atlanta.
Located off Glenwood Avenue on
the border of the city of Atlanta and
adjacent to the historic East Lake Golf
Course, Olmsted at East Lake is a
neighborhood of 91 residences and a
population of approximately 275. The
community of Craftsman-style homes,
established in 2001 and inspired by the
famed landscape designer Frederick Law
Olmsted, has a centrally located two-acre
park and is surrounded by seven acres of
According to the Atlanta city
ordinance introduced by Atlanta City
Councilwoman Natalyn Archibong, at
least 60 percent of the residents of the
neighborhood—the minimum number
required by state law— have petitioned
the city of Atlanta for annexation.
According to an annexation service
plan by the city of Atlanta, the city is
“prepared to provide municipal services
to Olmsted at East Lake residents.”
“The proposed Olmsted at East Lake
annexation is a very small area that could
be absorbed into [police department]
beat 611 with current staffing levels,”
the report stated about the provision of
police services.

The 91-residence community of Olmstead at East Lake is petitioning the
city of Atlanta for annexation. Photos by Andrew Cauthen



   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 


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 • Page 10A

MARTA holds workshop for proposed
Brookhaven station development
by Carla Parker

MARTA representatives
are meeting with Brookhaven
residents to receive feedback
on the transit system’s
proposed transit oriented
development (TOD) for the
MARTA officials
met with residents in the
District 2 area on Feb. 11 at
Briarwood Recreation Center
to present preliminary plans
for the project. The project
will be located on 15 acres of
under-used surface parking
on both the east and west
sides of the Brookhaven/
Oglethorpe Station on
Peachtree Road.
MARTA is proposing a
mixed-use development with
residential space—126 senior
affordable apartments and
560-580 market rate units;
40,000 to 60,000 square feet
of retail space; 120,000 to
400,000 square feet of office
space; 10,000 to 40,000
square feet of civic space and
a community green transit
Brookhaven City Center
Partners (BCCP), a master
development joint venture
of Integral and Transwestern
Development Company,
was selected as MARTA’s
development partner for the
BCCP’s conceptual
master plan aims to
transform the station surface
parking lots into a mixeduse development that will
connect residents to the
station and new amenities
and services, according to
Amanda Rhein, MARTA
senior director of TOD,
said the project is part of
MARTA’s broader TOD
“We’re really focused
on the development on our
property being integrated
with transit to ensure
that we issue the goals
that we want to through
our program, which are
to increase ridership,
generate revenue for our
operations, support local
community development,

A project developer shares information about the Brookhaven/Oglethorpe Station project with residents. Photos by Carla Parker

Amanda Rhein, MARTA senior director
of transit oriented development, gives a
presentation on Brookhaven/Oglethorpe
Station project.

as well as regional economic
development,” Rhein said.
MARTA officials said the
major connecting element of
the plan is an active public
park/plaza that connects
Peachtree Road and Apple
Valley Way through the
station. The group wants to
reduce traffic while creating
an “active station surrounded
by all the elements that
encourage a live, work, play
lifestyle while seamlessly
integrating into the existing
fabric of Brookhaven.”

Brookhaven residents voice concerns about traffic issues around the Brookhaven/
Oglethorpe Station.

Rhein said the project
will be a lengthy process.
“This process, we expect,
will unfold over four years—
four years, just including the
first phase of development,”
she said. “There is a lot
of activity that will be
happening over the next
years that will allow for us
to be in the position to start
construction ideally early
next year.”
Rhein said MARTA
is still in design right now
and the purpose of the

community workshops is
to solicit residents’ input
on multiple aspects of the
project, including design.
Mary McPherson said
the station does need to be
“I am concerned mostly
about the traffic because
that is a very congested
area,” she said. “We’ve had
two apartment complexes
go up and townhomes are
about to go up, and then this
will be on top of that. Every
time something is added

more and more traffic is
added which means more
McPherson said she
would like to see more
greenspace in the area rather
than a large development.
“Some retail would be
wonderful—some unique
retail,” she said. “Locally
owned, independently
operated retail, small
businesses—I would
really like to see that.
But greenspace would be


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 • Page 11A

‘Training this weekend
will allow immediate
deployment to a fire line.’
– Mike Ward

Mike Ward, a fuel specialist for the National Park Service, served as one of five firefighter instructors at Stone Mountain Park. Photos by Travis Hudgons

Stone Mountain Park hosts veteran firefighter training
by R. Scott Belzer

Sage Decker, center, a three-year Army veteran, explains the ins
and outs of proper ignition and weather control to firefighter

Justin Waters, left, a National Guard veteran, along with J.C.
Gillespie, a Team Rubicon member training to become an EMT,
pack up an emergency fire shelter after a demonstration.

or three days
last week, Stone
Mountain Park
played host to men
and women sporting hard
hats, shovels, axes, flares
and fire blankets. More
than 15 pounds sat on
their shoulders, while they
concentrated and listened.
Heavy yellow hardhats
caused perspiration
across their brows as they
were asked to quickly
demonstrate detailed
Regardless, each
individual could be seen
smiling. The gear, the drills,
the exercises and precise
instruction all seemed
familiar, perhaps welcome.
It seemed to remind them
of something they were
already used to: service.
Approximately 30
military veterans from
such places as Ohio, Texas,
Florida, North Carolina and
Idaho received wildland
firefighter training at
Stone Mountain Park. The
program, which lasted from
Feb. 12 to Feb. 14, came

According to fire
courtesy of The Bureau
management manuals
of Land Management
provided by The Nature
(BLM), the Department of
Interior (DOI) as well as the
See Training on Page 14A
veteran-led nonprofit Team
Rubicon for the second
consecutive year.
The weekend training
ensured participants
received Firefighter
Type 2 (FFT2) training.

(404) 975-9002


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 • Page 12A

Twenty-one new firefighters will hit the streets after the DeKalb County Fire Rescue classes 103
and 104 graduated from the county’s fire academy Feb. 11. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Kevin Fleming gets his badge pinned on for the first time.

DeKalb County firefighters graduation

Ellic Jackson, right, shakes the hand of Fire Chief Darnell Fullum.

From left, Carter Jackson pins a badge on his father Killroy Jackson.

The new graduates take the firefighters’ oath.

Juan Rosado III poses for pictures after his graduation.

Gabriel Haskins wears the helmet belonging to his father Khalil.


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 • Page 13A

Thurmond to join race for county CEO
by Andrew Cauthen
Mike Thurmond is planning
to run for the county’s top
government position.
Thurmond, a former state
labor commissioner who served
as superintendent of the DeKalb
County School District from
February 2013 to June 2015,
told The Champion on Feb. 16
that he would be releasing a
statement later in the day officially
announcing his candidacy for the
DeKalb CEO position.
“Hopefully we can get DeKalb
back on track,” Thurmond, who
turned 63 in January, said.
Under his leadership, the



school district’s financial crisis
was reversed, and governance
problems that led to the removal
of several board members
and threatened the district’s
accreditation were solved.
Thurmond’s pending candidacy
will put him in a race with two
others who also have said they will


run for DeKalb County CEO.
Calvin Sims, a former MARTA
employee and candidate for county
commission in 2008 and the CEO’s
position in 2004, also has said he
will run for CEO. Sims currently
serves on DeKalb County Parks
and Cultural Affairs Citizen
Advisory Board.


Elisa Clark, top row, center, a principal dancer with the Alvin Ailey American Dance
Theater Company, hosted a class for the J Dance Company from the Marcus Jewish
Community Center of Atlanta in Dunwoody on Feb. 9. Photo provided

The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta and Trees Atlanta held a
Family Tree Planting Day on Feb. 7 in Dunwoody. Photo provided

Trees Atlanta planted 21 trees outside of the Marcus Jewish Community
Center of Atlanta’s Kuniansky Family Center. Photo provided

DeKalb County Fire Rescue Station No. 24 personnel enjoy a break between
calls. Photos by Andrew Cauthen


Connie Stokes, a former state
senator and county commissioner,
said in January that she would
enter the race. In 2014, Stokes
was the state Democratic Party
nominee for lieutenant governor.
As a senator under former Gov.
Roy Barnes, Stokes served as
chairwoman of the Health and
Human Services committee and
secretary of the Banking and
Financial Institutions committee.
Interim DeKalb County CEO
Lee May announced earlier this
month that he would not seek the
elected position.
Thurmond said a campaign
kick-off rally is scheduled for 11
a.m. Feb. 20 at the Comfort Suites
in Tucker.

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The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 • Page 14A

Training Continued From Page 11A
Conservancy, Type 2
firefighters take part in
controlled burns as well as
wildland fire responses.
Mike Ward, a National
Park Service fuel specialist
serving as an instructor,
said the certification allows
participants immediate
work in the field. According
to a release from BLM, in
2015, service was required
in Nevada, California,
Oregon, Washington
and even Alaska due to

a dangerously busy fire
season. The government
agency oversees responses
to more than 13,000 fires
“Training this weekend
will allow immediate
deployment to a fire line,”
Ward said. “Last year, those
who passed the test went
straight to Wyoming and
eventually Alaska to help
fight fires.”
Sage Decker, a threeyear army veteran also

serving as an instructor,
commended the event
for providing a solid
employment foundation
outside of military service.
“The overall program is
great,” Decker said. “It gives
people another avenue to
pursue work similar to the
The veterans cycled
through 40-minute sessions
at five separate stations.
These included lessons
pertaining to ignition

devices and weather, line
construction, gridding and
communication, field hose
laying and pumping, as well
as emergency equipment
For emergency
equipment, Ward detailed
how to properly use mobile
emergency fire shelters.
At first glance, the shelters
resemble aluminum sleeping
bags. Students, however,
were quickly taught the bags
can make all the difference

The Mayor and City Council of the City of Chamblee, Georgia will hold a public hearing on Thursday, March
10, 2016, at the Chamblee Civic Center, 3540 Broad Street, Chamblee, GA 30341 at 6:00 p.m. to receive public
comments regarding the following matters:
•Serge Shevchenko, representing Peachtree Crossing, LLC requests a variance from Sec. 260-9(f) of the City of
Chamblee Ordinances, Appendix A, Unified Development Ordinance to allow an oversize temporary construction sign for
a proposed shopping center on 11.12 acres zoned Corridor Commercial at 5001 Peachtree Blvd. being parcels 18-27814-002, 18-278-14-006, 18-278-14-007, and 18-278-14-008.
•Julie Sellars, representing RRB Development, LLC requests approval of a Development of Community Impact in
accordance with City of Chamblee Ordinances, Appendix A, Unified Development Ordinance, Section 280-6 for the
purpose of constructing a self-storage facility consisting of 712 units and 3,960 sq. ft. of other commercial space and
parking for 49 cars on 0.94 acres of property located at 1801 Savoy Drive, Chamblee, GA, being DeKalb County Tax
parcels 18-345-05-004, 18-345-05-007, and 18-345-05-006.
•Andrew Blakey, representing Broward PIB, LLC requests approval of a Development of Community Impact in
accordance with City of Chamblee Ordinances, Appendix A, Unified Development Ordinance, Section 280-6 for the
purpose of constructing a self-storage facility consisting of 600 units and 3,599 sq. ft. of other commercial space and
parking for 35 cars on 1.28 acres of property located at 5208 Peachtree Boulevard, Chamblee, GA, being DeKalb County
Tax parcel 18-300-08-002.
•Daniel A. Edwards requests approval of a Planned Unit Development in accordance with City of Chamblee Ordinances,
Appendix A, Unified Development Ordinance, Section 280-6 for the purpose of constructing 36 townhomes on 2.8 acres
of property located on the following parcels in Chamblee GA: 4041 and 4047 Clairmont Rd.; 1961 Fifth St.; 1938 and
1962 Sixth St., being DeKalb County Tax parcels 18-279-05-001, 18-279-05-002, 18-279-05-003, 18-279-05-010, and 18279-05-011.
•Steven Ellis of Pro Building Systems requests variances of the following provisions of the City of Chamblee
Ordinances, Appendix A, Unified Development Ordinance with respect to a lot consisting of 11.1171 acres zoned Corridor
Commercial located at 5625 and 5665 New Peachtree Road, Chamblee, GA being parcels 18-309-05-001 and 18-309-05005:
1. Relief from Section 230-5 that requires a 7 ft. wide landscape zone behind the curb along the frontage
of New Peachtree Road.
2. Relief from Section 230-5 that requires an 8 ft. wide sidewalk behind the landscape strip along the
frontage of New Peachtree Road.
3. Relief from Section 230-33(a)(1)c. that requires that the facades of buildings over 50 feet in height
step back that portion of the building greater than 50 feet in height a minimum of ten feet away from the
remainder of the building façade.
4. Relief from Section 240-13(h)(1)b. that requires that external openings of above-ground parking
decks that face public streets shall be screened with decorative elements such as metal grill-work, brick
screens, or louvers.
5. Relief from Section 240-13(h)(1)d. that requires that above-ground decks of parking structures
that have a total length or width of 250 feet or more along a public street shall provide at least one lighted and
signed 5 foot-wide pedestrian entrance and walkway passing completely through the parking structure connecting
with buildings or other sidewalks leading to adjacent buildings or to the surrounding streets.
6. Relief from Section 240-13(h)(1)f. that requires that the roof level of multi-story parking structures be
landscaped to provide adequate shade cover for a minimum of 40 percent of the upper surface.
7. Relief from Section 250-2(a)(4)b. that requires that surface parking provided in excess of 100 percent
of the minimum number of required off-street parking spaces be constructed of approved pervious
paving systems.
8. Relief from Section 250-7(a)(4)a. that requires developments with 30 or more parking spaces provide
compact parking spaces, amounting to a minimum of five spaces, or ten percent of the total number of
parking spaces (whichever is greater.
9. Relief from Section 300-17(c) that requires that non-residential and mixed-use developments with
more than 600 feet of frontage along a single street be divided by streets into blocks having a maximum
length of 400 feet.
10. Relief from Section 320-21(a)(1) that requires landscape islands be located no farther apart than every ten
parking spaces and at the terminus of all rows of parking.
11. Relief from Section 320-21(a)(2) that requires that there shall be at least one overstory tree, ten low shrubs
and a minimum of 60 percent living groundcover, sod, and/or annual or perennial color in each landscaped island.
12. Relief from Section 320-21(a)(4) that requires rows of head-to-head parking to provide a five-foot grass strip
separating the wheel bumpers.
13. Relief from Sec. 350-2(c) that requires sidewalks and driveways connecting parking lots serving adjacent
commercial and multifamily residential properties.
14. Relief from Section 350-25(a) that requires that existing overhead utilities be placed underground for all new
developments with total floor areas 20,000 sf or over.

in life or death situations.
“These have saved a lot
of lives,” said Ward. “They
are by no means foolproof,
and firefighters rely heavier
on their intelligence and
The trainees were given
a single chance to quickly
take out the bags, cover
themselves and wait for
the all clear. The test was
repeated with more urgency
in a patch of nearby woods
soon afterward.
“These are ‘very lastminute’ fire shelters,” said
Justin Waters, a National
Guard veteran participating
in the weekend training.
“They’ll give you a much
better opportunity to live.”
Meanwhile, Decker
explained to trainees
the proper way to go
about ignition. After
demonstrating how to light
a flare, the army veteran
showed how to construct,
prepare and use an ignitor
While communicating
via radio or walkie-talkie
may seem like a simple
task to the average person,
instructor Kelly Woods
explained how talking
incorrectly can hamper a
firefighting team’s efforts.
“If you’re too wordy or
don’t know what to say or
how to say it, it can be very
confusing for the receiver,”
Woods said. “If you talk
too long, you can also wear
down your battery.”
Team Rubicon, which
specializes in disaster
response, seeks to help
veterans by “[providing]
them with a sense of
purpose, community and
identity often missing
following their military
service,” according to a
release regarding the event.
The DOI contacted Team
Rubicon last year to fortify
the country’s firefighting
For more information
on future veteran
firefighting training,
contact the Bureau of Land
Management’s Fire and
Aviation help desk at (888)
364-6432 or visit www. More information
can also be found at The
Department of the Interior’s


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 • Page 15A

Dunwoody residents take part in national bird counting event

Ayla Maeroff, 7, looks through binoculars to track and identify
birds at the Dunwoody Nature Center. Photos by R. Scott Belzer

by R. Scott Belzer


ore than 60
residents broke
out binoculars, cradled
clipboards and counted
feathered friends as part of a
weekend, worldwide event.
The Dunwoody Nature
Center (DNC), as part of
the 2016 Great Backyard
Bird Count (GBBC), played
host to young and old bird
enthusiasts alike on Feb. 12
and Feb. 15. The GBBC sees
ornithologists throughout
the world count and identify
birds in their region before
recording them online.
The 22-acre nature center,
located off Roberts Drive in
northern DeKalb, has hosted
the free event for the past
four years and typically draws
a crowd of approximately 60
over two sessions.
Headed by Holly
Loveland, program director
at the DNC, the local bird
count offers attendees
chances to learn birdwatching
tips as well as the chance
to put that knowledge into
Once they finish, they
record the species of birds
seen, how many they have
seen, as well as the time and
location on gbbc.birdcount.
org. There, birdwatchers
join thousands worldwide in
tracking bird populations,
migration patterns and which
species are choosing what
“It’s great to do events
like this so we can track
changing bird populations,”
Loveland said. “The more
people we can get counting
and submitting their findings,
the bigger difference we can
make. It’s one of those things
where every little bit counts.”
According to the DNC
program director, the most

common species seen in the
northern DeKalb area are
Carolina chickadees, tufted
titmice, cardinals, crows,
robins, red-tailed hawks,
bard owls and eastern screech
Loveland said the annual
event casts a bright light on
areas of wildlife not typically
thought of by the average
person. Since the event is
held in late winter as bird
populations are making
their way to their respective
breeding grounds, it provides
a great opportunity to track
recent habits and trends.
“[The Backyard Bird
Count] brings a lot of
attention to our backyard
habitats,” Loveland said.
“We’re trying to preserve
and bring people’s attention
to birds in the area. We try
to bring attention to our
fluctuating bird populations,
which have changed a lot
over time.”
According to Loveland,
even setting out a simple
feeder can help local bird
populations feel welcome and
sustained. While the DNC
program director insists
local bird populations have
remained steady, an annual
count can ensure no species is
endangered or declining.
Loveland seemed
impressed with the turnout
for this year’s GBBC, which
brought more than 60 locals
to the DNC for birdwatching.
“[The response] from the
community has been very
good,” Loveland said. “We’ve
had a very good turnout; a
garden club came and so did
a lot of moms with their kids.”
For more information
on the Great Backyard Bird
Count, visit gbbc.birdcount.
org. For more information
on future events at the
Dunwoody Nature Center,
visit www.dunwoodynature.
org or call (770) 394-3322.

Austin Loveland participates in Dunwoody Nature Liam Shepherd and Valerie Shepherd eagerly
Center’s annual hosting of the Great Backyard
hunt birds at Dunwoody Nature Center for the
Bird Count on Feb. 12 and Feb. 15.
annual Great Backyard Bird Count.

From left, Regan Cox and Ayla Maeroff, 7, take part in the 2016 Great Backyard Bird Count at
Dunwoody Nature Center.


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 • Page 16A

Wine connoisseur brings sip and shop to Avondale Estates
by Kathy Mitchell
Steffini Bethea has been
interested in wine most of her adult
life—so interested that her husband
remarked she had put so much time
and money into wine research she
should make a living at it.
The remark inspired Bethea
to launch The Purple Corkscrew
Wine Shop & Tasting Room. Bethea
said her previous experiences as a
pharmaceutical representative and as
owner of a fitness franchise prepared
her to open a business built around
her original concept.
Initially located in Emory
Village, The Purple Corkscrew was
actually two shops—a retail shop
where bottles were sold for offsite
consumption and a wine room where
customers could sip vino in a living
room type setting.
“I enjoy getting together with
friends and sharing good food and
good wine. I know others like that,
too. I wanted to create a space that
feels like an extension of my own
home,” Bethea said.
The concept was so popular
within four years Bethea was looking
for a larger space. In January, The
Purple Corkscrew moved into a
space on North Avondale Road in
Avondale Estates that had been a gas
station before being remodeled into a
real estate office.
“It had taken lots of work to
convert the space from a gas station,
but I really liked what the real estate
agent had done with it. All we had to
do was move in,” Bethea recalled.
In the new location, Bethea and
her staff are able to sell bottles of
wine or pour flights—tasting-size
portions of wine—for consumption
in the shop. “Although local laws
don’t allow us to sell full bottles or
full glasses for consumption on the
premises, customers can still have
two or three two-ounce servings to
sip with friends. We still have the sip
and shop concept.”
The Purple Corkscrew also offers
wine-related items such as scented
candles. There are special events
such as tastings and presentations on
specific types of wines, and Bethea
said cooking classes and other such
events will be arranged in the near
“We like to partner with our
neighbors for special events and
cross promotions,” she said, offering
as an example a “wine and vinyl”

A jar of corks suggests the many wines
staff members sample before offering them
to customers.

evening in partnership with a nearby
record shop. Customers were invited
to bring vinyl records for listening as
they sip wine.
Paintings on the walls are the
work of local artists, she pointed out.
The Purple Corkscrew specializes
in small vineyard, boutique wines.
“These aren’t wines you’ll find in
the grocery store,” Bethea said,
explaining that she and her team
of wine consultants sample wines
offered by distributors to decide
which the shop will stock. “We
probably sample 30 or more wines a
week. We choose what we like and
what we think will appeal to our
“We have different tastes,” Bethea
said of herself and her consultants,
“so European wines are more likely
to have been chosen by [wine
consultant] Racquel [McCreary],
and another consultant who’s more
interested in California wines will
probably choose those. Everything
we sell one of us has tasted within
the past 60 days. When a customer
asks what a particular wine is like,
we don’t just tell the person what the
label says; we’ve actually tasted it.
“We deliberately keep the
inventory small so we have the
flexibility to add new wines we
discover or discontinue those our
customers don’t seem interested in,”
she said.
Bethea said the wines are offered
at a wide variety of price points. “We
have every day wines that someone
might drink at a cookout or with
an informal meal and pricier wines
that would be suitable when the
person is doing special entertaining.
We want The Purple Corkscrew to
be a comfortable place for all wine

The Purple Corkscrew specializes in small vineyard, boutique wines that aren’t
available in grocery stores, according to owner Steffini Bethea.

drinkers from the novice to the
seasoned connoisseur.”
Although the shop has only
been open a few weeks it’s already
popular, according to Bethea. “A
wine shop that had been on this
same street closed not long ago and
people in the neighborhood miss


it and are stopping by to see what
we’re like. I’m pleased that a lot of my
Emory Village customers are coming
here now that we’ve moved. People
passing through Avondale Estates—
people from Decatur, Lithonia,
Clarkston and other nearby cities—
stop by as well.”

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

February 2016

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

DeKalb Chamber to host 78th Annual
Meeting and Business Luncheon
Since 1938, the DeKalb Chamber
of Commerce has been the voice for
business in the county and has been
dedicated to the success and growth
of the business community. At our
78th Annual Meeting and Business
Luncheon, presented by AT&T and
Oglethorpe Power, more than 400
business, civic and government
leaders will join DeKalb Chamber
for a celebration of the Chamber’s
accomplishments and impact in
DeKalb County and the metro region.
Keith Parker, CEO and General
Manager of MARTA, will serve as
the keynote speaker for the Annual
Meeting and speak on MARTA’s
impact in DeKalb, initiatives for small
business, women- and minorityowned business, and the transit
system’s expansion plans for 2016.
At the meeting, 2015 Board Chair
Al Edwards, Managing Director of
CERM, will pass the gavel to 2016
Board Chair Diane McClearen,
Director of Community and External
Relations at Oglethorpe Power.
DeKalb Chamber will formally
introduce and install the six new
members to the Board of Directors.
The new members include Erik
Bryant, vice president, Atlanta
Commercial Group, BB&T; Tom
Burns, owner, Toro Properties Rehab
LLC; John Funny, president and CEO,
Grice Consulting Group; Vaughn
Irons, founder and CEO, APD
Solutions; Andrew Lewis, executive

DeKalb Chamber 2015 Accomplishments
• DeKalb Chamber increased its membership base over 2014
by 15 percent.
• DeKalb Chamber developed a partnership and business
alliance with Decide DeKalb Development Authority to review
and approve all new projects over $75 million in the county.
• DeKalb Chamber partnered with the DeKalb County
School District to host the official welcome reception of
Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green.

MARTA CEO Keith Parker to serve as keynote
speaker at the 78th Annual Meeting.

vice president, Georgia Charter
Schools Association; and, Jason
Ressman, director of operations,
Hyatt Regency Atlanta Perimeter at
Villa Christina
In addition, the Chamber will
present its inaugural Economic
Development Project of the Year
Award, an award recognizing a
major economic development
project completed in DeKalb and
its accomplishments in 2015. The
Chamber will also recognize the
Ambassadors of the Year for their
contributions to the Chamber and
an individual for the Sirius Award for
his or her characteristics of integrity,
work ethic, vision and values, and
outstanding public service.

• DeKalb Chamber created more opportunities for women
to assemble and connect, attracting more than double the
women over the previous year for the 2nd Annual Women in
Leadership Golf Clinic, more than 100 for a multigenerational
leadership panel discussion with women executives and
a private exclusive event on personal and professional
branding workshop.

DeKalb Chamber 2016 Goals
• Increase revenue and membership by providing quality
programming, developing strategic engagement
opportunities and exploring retention efforts.
• Providing more resources for businesses to make an impact
through the Chamber’s 2016 Legislative Agenda and the
launch of the Industry Council Initiative, an initiative for
businesses to gain access to opportunities that will increase
the efficiency of their business development efforts.
• Expanding the Chamber’s community involvement by
continuous engagement with local partners; highlighting
DeKalb economic development projects through the
Chamber’s new DeKalb 360 Project; creating awareness
about the physical health of our county through the Keep
DeKalb Healthy Initiative.

Upcoming Events
February 18 – 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. 78th Annual
Meeting & Business Luncheon presented by AT&T and
Oglethorpe Power. Georgia Aquarium, 225 Baker Street
NW, Atlanta.
February 23 – 8:00 to 9:00 a.m. – Breakfast Club
presented by the Martial Arts Center, 2947 North Druid
Hills Road, Atlanta.

March 10 – 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. – DeKalb State of the
County Address presented by Gas South. Thalia N. Carlos
Hellenic Center, 2500 Clairemont Road, Atlanta.
March 15 – 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. – New Members
Orientation presented by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Lunch sponsored by Taziki’s Mediterranean Café.

May 25 – Save the Date – 2016 Apex Business Awards.
Additional information available on our events page:

Brought to you in partnership with: The Champion Newspaper


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 • Page 18A

Stephenson High students wear their pride

Student advisor Vernada Habeeb-Ullah sits with Stephenson High
School’s Sankofa Club during “Dashiki Day” for a group picture.
Photos by R. Scott Belzer

by R. Scott Belzer


ore than
150 Dekalb
high school
students, staff and
faculty chose to celebrate
Black History Month
by donning colorful,
patterned, loose-fitting
On Feb. 11,
Stephenson High School
in Stone Mountain
celebrated “Dashiki Day,”
where members of the
school, ranging from
students to the principal,
dressed in pullover
garments known as
dashikis. Though widely
popular in west Africa,
the garments found
popularity in the United
States during the Civil
Rights Movement of the
1960s, sporting colors
and patterns reminiscent
of the continent.
Dashikis were sold
by student advisor and
Dashiki Day founder
Vernada Habeeb-ullah,
who heads the school’s
Sankofa Club. The club
meets every week to
discuss Black history,
pride and heritage, a
theme that spread to the
day’s overall message.
“During the ‘60s,
dashikis meant so much
– they meant pride,”
Habeeb-ullah said. “I
wanted the kids to love
themselves and each
other instead of turning

on each other. [Students]
need to understand
where we’ve been. I want
students to get back to
that pride.”
The advisor said such
pride was evident the
moment dashikis were
put on.
“When they put
them on, it’s like they’re
transformed,” Habeebullah said. “When you
put on a suit, how do you
feel? When you put on
something that’s related
to your culture, you
feel connected. You feel
connected to a sense of
Habeeb-ullah went on
to explain how Sankofa
Club focuses on honoring
Black history throughout
the year rather than
limiting the practice to
Some students at
Stephenson seemed
thrilled at the thought of
learning more about who
they are and where the
culture they come from.
“Sankofa Club basically
represents looking at your
past in order to move
forward with your future,”
said Folake Shonekae,
a senior at Stephenson
and member of Sankofa
Club. “It’s about getting
connected with your
According to Rasheed
Tillman, another senior
and club member at
Stephenson High, the
wearing of a dashiki is a
source of pride and unity.

Principal Michael Jones and members of Stephenson High School’s Sankofa Club give the “Black
Power” salute during “Dashiki Day.”

“The dashiki shows
unity among our race
right now,” Tillman said.
“It helps uplift our race.”
More than 100
Sankofa Club members
gathered on the morning
of Feb. 11 for a group
picture in the school’s
auditorium. According
to Habeeb-ullah,
approximately 50 more
staff members throughout
the school were wearing
“There are probably
around 150 throughout
the school,” the advisor
said. “A lot of them
couldn’t get out of class
because they’re teaching,
so we’ll get their picture
after school.”
Principal Michael
Jones was among the
staff members wearing a
dashiki. His, like many
students’ garb, matched
Stephenson High’s blue,
black-and-white school
“Wearing the dashikis
is a tribute to the past.
It’s about not just
recognizing the past but
realizing what we can do
in the future,” Jones said.
“The dashiki represents
the heritage, the struggle
and hope for the future

for our people.”
For more information
on Stephenson High
School and Sankofa Club,
visit www.stephensonhs.
home.aspx or call (678)



Lula (ID# 29261876) is a sweet, wiggly girl who would love to be
your new best friend! This gorgeous 2 year old gal seems to love every
human she meets. Lula’s favorite activities include getting belly rubs, going for car rides, and playing with squeaky balls. She already knows how
to sit and she would love to learn more. Lula prefers to only have human
friends, she isn’t a fan of other dogs. She would do best in an only dog
home, one where she could have you and your family all to herself. She
is already spayed, microchipped, vaccinated, and heartworm negative.
Lula is currently in a foster home. If you would like to meet Lula please
email or call (404) 294-2165. She’s
waiting to meet you.
Lula qualifies for our February “Find the One” promotion, where
all cats and all dogs over 25 lbs. are only $14! Adoption includes spay,
vaccinations, microchip and more! If you would like more information
about Lula please email or call
(404) 294-2165. All potential adopters will be screened to ensure Lula
goes to a good home.


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 • Page 19A

From left, Sooriya Senthilkumar, Aaditya Saha, Alexander Jovanovic, Sanjeev
Anand and Ashvij Hosdurk make up the KMS Recycling Cougars.

Kittredge Magnet School in Dunwoody helped facilitate the KMS Recycling Cougars, five
sixth graders who collected more than 700 recyclable bottles and 600 pledges.

Kittredge Magnet students enact environment change
by R. Scott Belzer


ince September 2015,
five DeKalb middle
school students have
done more for local
recycling than most do in an
entire year.
The Kittredge Magnet
School (KMS) Recycling
Cougars, made up of
sixth grade students
Sanjeev Anand, Sooriya
Senthilkumar, Ashvij
Hosdurk, Aaditya Saha,
and Alexander Jovanovic,
as part of this year’s Lexus
Ecochallenge, have impacted
the Dunwoody community
by recycling approximately
700 plastic bottles in the
span of a week.
“We chose plastic
bottles because it’s one of
the biggest problems in our
ecosystem,” Anand said.
The task of collecting
bottles was not easy. Each
of the five sixth-graders
went door-to-door, asking
local businesses, churches
and civic organizations to
participate. A week later,
the students returned to
collect the bottles for proper
Places such as Centers
for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC), The
Varsity, local gyms, eateries
and construction companies
helped support the students’
efforts. In the end, more
than 20 facilities became
“We put ‘Recycling
Cougar’ boxes in facilities

to collect water bottles,”
Senthilkumar said. “Each
week, we collected the
According to Hosdurk,
some companies realized
they had never considered
recycling and had no excuse
not to help the Cougars’
“After a soccer practice,
I went to a [mixed martial
arts] gym and they have
this huge water bottle area,”
Hosdurk said. “Someone
there asked, ‘Hey, why aren’t
you recycling?’ and they
didn’t have an answer. We
showed up the next day and
gave them a box.”
The team, advised by
teacher Luan Ngyuen,
continued its efforts by
collecting 600 signed pledge
forms from contacted
organizations. According to
Ngyuen, the team had three
weeks total to assemble, plan
and complete the project.
“We were under kind of
a time crunch,” said Ngyuen.
“From there, they met to
develop this solution.”
“We collected over 600
signatures and 700 plastic
bottles in a week, which is
amazing,” Saha said.
The Cougars were thus
chosen as one of 16 national
winners for “Phase 1” of the
Lexus Ecochallenge, and
received commendation
from DeKalb superintendent
Stephen Green. However,
the team members claim
they have only just begun.
As part of “Phase 2” of
the Lexus Ecochallenge,

where the Cougars will
compete nationally against
32 other teams, the fivesixth graders will expand
their efforts into tackling the
issue of plastic bags.
“We were happy with
what we accomplished,
but we wanted to help the
environment even more,”
Anand said. “Since we don’t
have as big of a time crunch,
we were trying to think big.”
According to Anand,
plastic bags are the deadliest
type of waste in water
systems, which include
lakes, rivers and oceans
throughout the world. To
help implement change, the
students are collecting more
signatures for pledges and
petitions inside Kittredge
Magnet School.
“The winning grade will
receive reusable cloth bags
from Kroger,” Jovanovic
Inspiration for the KMS
Recycling Cougars came
from the nonprofit One
More Generation (OMG),
an organization founded
by two elementary students
looking to make a change
in the environment. The
Recycling Cougars are quick
to recall the presentation
given to them by OMG,
which featured animals
affected by plastic pollution.
The deadline for the
KMS Recycling Cougars
is Feb. 20. By then, they
hope to not only receive
signatures on pledges and
petitions, but also contacting
community leaders.

“Even after the deadline,
we’re trying to keep our idea
alive for many years into the
future,” Saha said. “We want
to keep [the idea] alive.”
The KMS students hope
to implement their ideas
as a model for not only the
DeKalb County School
District, but regionally,
state-wide and at a national
Nyguen said he was
impressed and proud
with what his team has
been able to do so far and
looks forward to future
accomplishments. He also
said he will never look at

plastic the same way again.
“I’m very proud of
my students and their
accomplishments,” Nyguen
said. “They each have a lot
of extra-curricular activities
and their schedules are very
full. It’s a great cause and I
can see that it has impacted
them as well as myself.”
For more information
on the KMS Recycling
Cougars, including
information on how
to contribute to their
efforts, contact Kittredge
Magnet School, visit www. or call
(678) 874-6602.



The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 • Page 20A



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The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 • Page 21A

DeKalb picks up top 10 finishes in state swimming meets
by Mark Brock
DeKalb County put
together one of its best
GHSA State Swimming
and Diving Meets
performances in years with
four teams finishing in the
Top 10 of their respective
classification on Feb. 6.
The Dunwoody Lady
Wildcats came within 10
points of a state title with
215 points just behind state
champ Marist’s 225 to take
the runners-up spot.
Dunwoody finished
fourth a year ago with six
Top 10 finishes and two
silver medals. The Lady
Wildcats gave a run at the
state title with eight Top 10
finishes and a pair of relay
gold medals.
The relay team of
Laura Spratling, Hannah
Robison, Allie Reiter and
Kaleigh McGrady swam
to gold medals in the 200yard freestyle (1:38.10) and
400-yard freestyle (3:32.95)
relays. It was Dunwoody’s
first 400 freestyle relay
gold at state since 1987 and
DeKalb’s first 200 freestyle
relay gold medal since
Briarcliff in 1964.
Reiter contributed
a bronze medal for
Dunwoody with a thirdplace finish in the 100-yard
breaststroke (1:02.68) after
finishing with a silver a
year ago in the same event.
The Chamblee Lady
Bulldogs jumped from a
44th place finish a year ago
to fifth place in the 2016
meet with four Top 10
Freshman Jade Foelske
led the way for Chamblee
picking up a gold medal
in the 100 butterfly
(54.31) and silver in the
200 individual medley
(2:01.43). Foelske is the
first DeKalb gold medal
winner in the butterfly
since Kristina Ulveling of
Tucker in 1990.
Druid Hills moved up
one spot to finish in the
Top 20 at 20th behind a
pair of Top 10 finishes by
Caroline Olson. Olson
took fourth in the 100
backstroke (56.66) and
sixth in the 200 freestyle

The Dunwoody girls’ relay team won gold medals in the 200-yard freestyle and 400-yard freestyle relays.

Chamblee’s John Mitchell won
gold in the 50 freestyle and 100

The Chamblee Bulldogs
finished third in the boys’
state meet for the second
consecutive year despite
improving on their eight
Top 10 finishes with 10

and moving from one gold
medal to three.
St. Pius nipped the
Bulldogs for second behind
Westminster with 256.5
points to the Bulldogs’ 256.
John Mitchell became
the first individual double
gold medal winner for
DeKalb since Lakeside’s
Jack Lane won the 100
and 200 freestyle in 2011.
Mitchell captured gold in
the 50 freestyle (20.89) and
100 freestyle (45.73).
Mitchell’s win in
the 50 was the first gold
for DeKalb in the event
since Chamblee’s Nigel
Plummer (21.03) in 2008.
The 100 freestyle victory
was the first for DeKalb
since 1995 by Dunwoody’s
Donny Johnson (47.90).
The 400 freestyle relay
team of Noah Oh, Liam

Bell, Alex Perry and John
Mitchell made it backto-back state titles for the
Bulldogs with the gold
in a time of 3:08.28. The
victory gave Chamblee the
honor of being the only
DeKalb 400 relay team
to win back-to-back gold
medals in the event.
Bell picked up two
silver medals with secondplace finishes in the 200
individual medley (1:50.53)
and the 100 breaststroke
Druid Hills finished
25th in the teams standings
with two Top 10 finishes
including a bronze medal
for Jackson Ford in the
100 breaststroke (57.23).
Class 6A
The Lakeside swim
teams both finished in

the Top 25 in the Class
6AAAAAA Swimming and
Diving competition.
The Vikings came in
20th with 51 points behind
a pair of Top 10 finishes by
Kyle Bundesman.
Bundesman was
seventh in the 200
individual medley (1:55.08)
and 10th in the 100
breaststroke (1:00.04).
Sam Witcher put
together a score of 386.00
in the 1-meter diving to
finish ninth overall.
Jordyn Sak led the
Lady Vikings to a 21st
place finish with a 1-meter
diving total of 407.90 to
capture the bronze medal.
Julia Shuford added
to the Lady Vikings’ total
with a fifth-place finish
in the 100 breaststroke


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 • Page 22A


Fifteen basketball teams
punch tickets to state playoffs
by Carla Parker
DeKalb County will be
highly represented again in
the Georgia High School
Association state basketball
Fifteen DeKalb teams,
from public and private
schools, will play in the first
round of the playoffs, which
began Feb. 16. Five of the
teams enter the playoffs as
a No. 1 seed after winning a
region title on Feb. 13.
The Tucker Lady
Tigers won their second
consecutive Region
2-AAAAAA title after
beating Newton County 7972 in the region title game.
Tucker hosted Campbell
Feb. 16 in the first round of
the Class AAAAAA state
playoffs. Score was not
available at press time.
The Tucker boys’ team
also hosted Campbell in the
first round on Feb. 17. Score
was not available at press
time. Tucker claimed the No.
2 seed after falling to Newton
County 61-46 in the Region
2-AAAAAA title game.
The Southwest DeKalb
Lady Panthers earned a
No. 1 seed after beating
Mays 64-48 in the Region
6-AAAAA title game. The
Lady Panthers hosted Rome
Feb. 16 in the first round
of the Class AAAAA state
playoffs. Score was not
available at press time.
Southwest DeKalb boys
hosted Kell in the first round
of the playoffs. Score was
not available at press time.
The Panthers claimed a No.
2 seed in the playoffs after
falling to Miller Grove 8658 in the Region 6-AAAAA
title game.
Region champions
Miller Grove earned the
No. 1 seed and hosted
Sprayberry Feb. 17. Score
was not available at press
time. The Miller Grove
Lady Wolverines, a No. 4
seed, went on the road to

Sequoyah for their firstround playoff matchup.
Score was not available at
press time.
Defending Class
AAAAA champions
Stephenson will also go on
the road for its first-round
playoff matchup. The No.
3 seed Lady Jaguars faced
Creekview Feb. 17. Score
was not available at press
In Class AAAA, the
Marist Lady War Eagles won
the Region 6-AAAA title
after defeating Redan 44-25.
Marist hosted Gilmer Feb.
16 in the first round. Score
was not available at press
No. 2 seed Redan hosted
Southwest Whitfield County
in the first-round Feb. 16.
Score was not available at
press time.
No. 3 seed St. Pius went
on the road to Northwest
Whitfield Feb. 16 for its
first-round matchup. Score
was not available at press
time. The St. Pius Lady
Lions earned the No. 3
seed after beating Arabia
Mountain 47-44 in the
region consolation game.
The Arabia Mountain
Lady Rams earned the No.
4 seed and went on the road
Feb. 17 to Ringgold to face
Heritage. Score was not
available at press time.
On the boys’ side,
Lithonia claimed the No.
2 seed after suffering a
heartbreaking 61-58 loss
to Grady on a last second
half-court shot in the
Region 6-AAAA title game.
Lithonia hosted Northwest
Whitfield in the first round
of the Class AAAA playoffs
Feb.17. Score was not
available at press time.
Columbia entered the
playoffs as a No. 3 seed after
beating St. Pius 63-55 in the
Region 6-AAAA consolation
game. The Eagles went on
the road Feb. 17 to face
Heritage in the first round.
Score was not available at

Tucker Lady Tigers win their second consecutive Region 2-AAAAAA title. Photo by Janée Blake

Southwest DeKalb Lady Panthers earned a No. 1 seed after beating Mays 64-48 in the Region
6-AAAAA title game.

press time.
No. 4 seed St. Pius went
on the road to Cartersville
Feb. 17 for its first-round
matchup. Score was not
available at press time.
DeKalb will have only
one team represented in the
Class AAA state playoffs.
The Cedar Grove Saints

enter the Class AAA playoffs
as a No. 1 seed after winning
the Region 4-AAA title with
a 60-55 victory over North
Clayton. The Saints hosted
Dodge County in the first
round Feb. 16. Score was not
available at press time.
The playoff schedule
for Class A-Private has not

been set as of press time.
However, both teams from
Greenforest won the Region
5-A title, earning a No. 1
seed in the state playoffs.
They swept Our Lady of
Mercy in the title games
with the boys winning 7661, and the girls winning


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 • Page 23A

middle school

Stephenson, Champion win county
middle school basketball titles
by Carla Parker


he Champion girls’
and Stephenson boys’
basketball teams
topped off an undefeated
season Feb. 13 with DeKalb
County middle school
basketball titles.
Stephenson’s team (17-0)
is back-to-back champions
after defeating Miller Grove
59-51. The Jaguars went into
halftime down 29-22, but
came out hot in the third
quarter—going on a 19-8
run in the third quarter to
end the quarter with a 41-37
Stephenson Coach
David Mitchell said his
players were not having fun
in the first half.
“We told them [that]
above all you have to make
sure you’re having fun,”
Mitchell said. “Just make
sure at the end of the day
that you have no regrets. If
you can play with no regrets,
then I can’t ask anything else
from you. They did exactly
what we needed them to do.
I’m proud of my boys.”
Mitchell said the
second consecutive title
means that his program is
turning into a dynasty.
“It’s not enough to get
it once; it’s not enough to
get it twice,” he said. “We
have to get it over and over
again. We want a pattern of
Champion won its
second title in three years
after a 23-20 win over
defending champion
Stephenson. The
Champion Lady Chargers
also came back from a
second half deficit (13-9) to
Champion Coach
Rishaundra Gartrell said
she told her girls at halftime
to keep their heads up and
to keep fighting.
“Life is tough,” she said.
“Everything that you want
to win you have to fight for.
They kept their heads up

The Champion Lady Chargers won their second title in three years with a win over defending champion Stephenson.

The Stephenson Jaguars defended their DeKalb County middle school basketball with a win over Miller Grove.

and they came out with the
Champion came within
one point (18-17) at the end

of the third quarter, and
went on a 6-2 run in the
fourth quarter to win the

“My girls worked hard
all season and they truly
deserve it,” Gartrell said. “It
was all about them. They

came together as a team and
they just played with heart,
and I tell them all the time—
heart wins everything.”


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, Feb. 19, 2016 • Page 24A


Redan won the girls’ junior varsity basketball title with a double overtime over

Miller Grove won its third consecutive DeKalb County boys’ junior varsity basketball

Redan, Miller Grove win JV basketball championships
by Carla Parker
It took stout defense for Miller
Grove to win its third consecutive
DeKalb County boys’ junior varsity
basketball championship, and it
took double overtime for Redan to
win the girls’ title Feb. 13.
Miller Grove defeated Lithonia
44-30 to win the JV title. It was the
second year in a row the Wolverines
defeated Lithonia in the JV title

game. Head Coach Johnathan
Robinson credited the team’s
defense for the win.
“We got real stops and our
defense was stellar,” Robinson said.
“We always say we won’t allow six to
eight points a quarter and they only
scored 30 points this game. Our
defense is why we won the game.”
The game was tight in the first
quarter with the score tied at 9 at
the end of the quarter. Miller Grove
began to pull away from Lithonia in

How can

make your

the second quarter with a 10-4 run,
going into halftime with a six-point
Miller Grove outscored Lithonia
25-17 in the second half to win the
With less than 10 seconds to
play, the Stephenson Lady Jaguars
had a two-point lead before they
tied the game at 50 all to go into
Neither team could break the
tie at the end of overtime (56-56),

sending the game into double
overtime. Redan went on a 7-3 run
in double overtime to win the game.
Coach Raymee Burrell said her
players did what they had to do to
pull out the win.
“They came out, played as a
team and worked hard,” she said.
“I’m just happy about it. The girls
worked very hard, we have a good
coaching staff, everybody put their
effort in to work hard and we got
what we got.”