FRiDaY, MaRcH 11, 2016 • Vol. 18, no. 49 • FREE



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

Business ................................ 18A
Classified .............................. 19A
Education................................ 17A
Opinion ...................................... 7A
Sports ................................10-12A









by Carla Parker

Miller Grove pulls out a close victory to win seventh state title

The Miller Grove Wolverines won their seventh state title in eight seasons. Photo by Carla Parker

Miller Grove defeated Allatoona 50-48 to win the Class AAAAA state championship. Photos by Travis Hudgons




he 10-year anniversary of
the Miller Grove High School
basketball program became
more special with the program
winning its seventh state title in
eight years.
The No. 1-ranked Miller Grove
Wolverines defeated No. 2-ranked
and previously undefeated Allatoona
50-48 to win the Class AAAAA state
championship. Coach Sharman
White called the run to another
state title “incredible.”
“This run has been one of the
most special runs in the country,”
White said. “I’m just proud of the
way our kids fought. That was a
picture of how we fought all year
long. Even though we were coming
back off of losing [in the playoffs last
year] and not winning the state title
last year, we played as if we had to
attack a title and that’s what we did
all season long—we attacked the
Miller Grove had a 49-48 lead
with 19.5 seconds remaining in
the game when Alterique Gilbert
missed a free throw that would have
given the Wolverines a two-point
On the following Allatoona
possession, Colin Young stretched
his hand out in the air to steal the
ball. He was fouled and sent to the
free throw line with five seconds
remaining. He made one of two free
throws to give Miller Grove the twopoint victory.
Young said when he saw the ball
in the air he knew right away to go
after it.
“Coach teaches us to go after
loose balls, so hard work did that,”
Young said. “Before, I wouldn’t
have went for it but working hard
with Coach White, listening to what
Coach White said, I was able to get
that steal and knock down one free
throw, which I should have knocked
down two. But we won the game.”
Allatoona played tight zone
defense on Miller Grove, allowing
the team to hit only 17 of its 40 shot
attempts. Gilbert, the team’s leading
scorer this season, was 4 of 13 from
the field and 0 of 4 from the threepoint arc.

See Championship on Page 5A



The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 11, 2016 • Page 2A

Chamblee passes on LaVista Hills annexation
by R. Scott Belzer

Chamblee officials decided to
not move forward with the annexation of LaVista Hills on March 2
following closed-door discussions
between Mayor Eric Clarkson and
the city’s council.
Chamblee provided an open
letter from Clarkson on March 2
and an informational meeting held
March 8 at the city’s Civic Center. The meeting provided council
members an opportunity to state
their case to the public.
A previous meeting was held
Feb. 16 to gauge public interest.
Approximately 100 concerned citizens voiced their opinions to Clarkson and the council, rejecting the
idea outright.

Clarkson’s reasoning for passing on annexing LaVista Hills and
its 35,000 residents was stated
clearly in the letter: the request
from potential residents required
too fast a decision.
“Many have stated that the
timeline for this proposal is too
short and that things are moving
too quickly. The city council and
I agree,” Clarkson said. “Unfortunately, the timing of a decision is
not always perfect, and in this case
the council, staff, and I have decided to take a pause in the consideration of annexing any other residents into Chamblee at this time.”
The Chamblee mayor stated he,
council members and City Manager
Mark Johnson have been working
on a feasibility study and found the
annexation financially viable for the

city. Time constraints required to
present a resolution to the Georgia
legislative session made the proposal difficult to agree upon.
The letter began by outlining reasons to be grateful to the
original founders of the city, naming services, local government and
responsive representation as specifics. Clarkson cited these as reasons LaVista Hills – and any other
part of DeKalb County – would
seek a municipality or join one such
as Chamblee.
“So, it should come as no surprise that others have looked to
form new cities or be annexed into
existing ones,” Clarkson wrote.
“Chamblee has practically tripled
in both land area and population
since 2010.”
Clarkson’s letter states Cham-

blee would not hamper its efforts
to modernize and draw more residents to their already established
“Regardless of our size, Chamblee will continue to redevelop
even further into a modern community while maintaining that small
town charm that has lured so many
here in the past and will continue
to draw others to this city in the
future,” Clarkson wrote. “The city is
working hard to further create this
sense of place, complete with bike
and pedestrian trails, landscaped
streets, and architectural designs
that invite people to stroll down
wide sidewalks and gather at festivals.”
To view Clarkson’s entire letter
online, visit

Frank Auman elected as Tucker’s first mayor
by Carla Parker


File Photo/Travis Hudgons

Convicted county
CEO out of prison
by Andrew Cauthen
DeKalb County CEO Burrell
Ellis is free.
According to Georgia State
Board of Pardons and Paroles
website, Ellis was released
early from prison on parole on
March 1.
Ellis, accused of strong-arming county vendors to contribute
to his re-election campaign, was
sentenced to five years to serve
18 months for attempting to commit extortion, and five years to
serve 18 months on three counts
of perjury. The sentences were to
run concurrently.
Ellis’ incarceration began on
July 9, 2015.
Ellis, who remains suspended
from office while his appeal
makes its way through the
courts, was replaced by interim
CEO Lee May.
May has led the county
government operations since
being appointed to the position
in July 13. He is filling Ellis
unexpired term, which ends at
the end of the year. May has
announced that he will not run for
the position.

Frank Auman, one of the
leaders of the Tucker 2015
cityhood initiative, was elected as
the city’s first mayor on March 1.
Auman won the mayoral seat
with 69.89 percent of the vote.
Bruce Jackson came in second
with 16.36 percent and Lorne
Cheek received 12.10 percent.
Auman said he and the voters
in Tucker are on the same page
about turning Tucker into a thriving
“We’re ready to go to work,”
Auman said. “It’s good to have a
big majority and I feel like everyone
understands what we’re trying to
get done and is ready to get to it.”
To become a thriving city,
Auman said the residents must
understand that the newly elected
officials have to put certain items in
place first to get the ball rolling.
“We have to get the revenue,
get the logistics set,” Auman said.
“We don’t have a bank account,
a phone number or anything. We
have to get all of that in place and
build a foundation so we can get on
to the aspirational stuff.”
Auman has lived in DeKalb
County since 1974. He graduated
from Southwest DeKalb High
School in 1981. He moved to the
Tucker area in 2005 and owns and
operates a business in the city.
Auman said he does not feel
any pressure with being the city’s
first mayor.
“There is an eagerness to get
on doing what we’ve been talking
about for three years,” he said.
“Managing expectations will be
part of it. There is a lot to do; we
have to build that foundation and if
we don’t get that right we’re going
to be building in trouble down the

Frank Auman (pictured the night Tucker cityhood was passed by voters) was elected
the first mayor of the new city. Photo by Carla Parker

road. We have to be patient, get
things right the first time and move
as fast as we can while making
sure we’re doing it the right way.”
Four were elected to six of the
city council seats, while two seats
will head into a run-off. Honey
Van De Kreke (District 1, Post 1)
and Michelle Pankava (District
3, Post 1) ran unopposed for their
respective seat.
William Roasenfeld won the
District 1, Post 2 seat with 53.08
percent of votes, beating Jon Carr
who received 46.21 percent.
Anne Lerner beat out Ruth
Hoffman for District 3, Post 2
council seat with 81.38 percent to
17.79 percent.

The District 2, Post 1 seat
and District 2, Post 2 seat will be
decided in a runoff election on
March 29. Katherine Atteberry
and Matt Robbins will face off
for the post 1 seat, and Noelle
Monferdini and Susan Wood will
battle for the Post 2 seat.
Atteberry received 42.93
percent of the vote, while Robbins
received 24.78 percent. Wood
received 19.67 percent of votes
and Monferdini received 18.68
The runoff election will be held
on March 29. Early voting will be
held March 16-25 at the DeKalb
County Board of Registrations and
Elections in Decatur.



The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 11, 2016 • Page 3A


County recreation department opens seasonal summer
employment opportunities
DeKalb County Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs is accepting
applications for seasonal summer employment opportunities until March
18. Summer job positions include food monitors, camp counselors,
recreation assistants, and bus drivers. All applicants must be 18 years of
age or older.
Those applying for pool lifeguard positions in aquatics are required
to submit proof of current certification in CPR, first aid, lifeguarding and
water safety instruction, provided by the Red Cross, YMCA or other
nationally recognized aquatic training programs. All applicants selected
will be required to successfully complete a drug/alcohol screening and
criminal background check prior to employment.
Applicants can apply online through the DeKalb County human
resources employment page by navigating to
and clicking on the “job opportunities” link.
For more information, contact, LaShanda Davis, public education
specialist, at (404) 371-3643.


City to host softball tournament
The second annual Ballin’ for Brains coed softball tournament will be
held March 19 at 8 a.m. at Blackburn Park in Brookhaven. Team entry is
a $500 donation to the Southeastern Brain Foundation with a minimum
of three females and seven males per team, or $50 per individual. The
park is located at 3493 Ashford Dunwoody Road. To register, visit www.

Library supporters to hold book & bake sale
The Friends of Scott Candler Library will hold Book & Bake Sale on
Saturday, March 19, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and on Monday, March 21,
from 3 to 6 p.m.
“Libraries need friends and our efforts are important to maintain a
dynamic and exciting library for the community to come and partake of the
numerous benefits the library offers,” states an announcement about the
event. “The Friends of Scott Candler library provides that additional layer
of excellence that allows our library to offer programming for children,
workshops for adults and other services.
“Through membership dues, donations, book and bake sales and
other fundraising activities, the Friends enable our library to provide
a level of service and quality that patrons have come to expect,” the
announcement states.
The Scott Candler Library is located at 1917 Candler Road, Decatur.
For more information, call (404) 286-6986.


Nature Center holding wine class series
Those looking to educate their palates in cheese, chocolate and
wine may want to visit the Dunwoody Nature Center on March 16 and
March 30 from 7 to 9 p.m. For two hours at each session, attendees
have the chance to participate in wine tasting classes on the facility’s
newly renovated porch and deck space. On March 16, Alon’s Bakery,
located along Ashford Dunwoody Road, is lending the class itschef
Peyman Farzaneh to educate the public on five different wines and their
appropriate cheese pairings. The following week, Farzaneh will switch
gears to chocolate pairings. Classes are $40 each for members and $45
each for non-members or $70 for both. For more information, contact the
Dunwoody Nature Center at (770) 394-3322.


Nonprofit to hold immigration clinic
An Atlanta nonprofit will be helping those in need start the process of
becoming American citizens.
Asian American Advancing Justice Atlanta (AAAJA) will be hosting
a free immigration legal clinic on Sunday, March 13, from 2 to 6 p.m. at
Clarkston Community Center.
The four-hour clinic will specialize in U.S. citizenship and Green Card
application assistance. An AAAJA trusted lawyer will be present to provide
legal assistance in starting and carrying out the application process.
Those interested in applying for U.S. citizenship are advised to bring
two passport style photos, their Green Card, Social Security number,
employment and residence history for the past five years and evidence of
public benefits (food stamps and Medicaid).
Those interested in attending for assistance in applying for a Green
Card are advised to bring their birth certificate with an English translation,
foreign passport and a completed I-693 form.
Clarkston Community Center is located at 3701 College Avenue. For
more information, contact AAAJA at (404) 585-8446 or immigration@


Camp Funtastic offers summer fun for campers with
moderate disabilities
Registration for DeKalb County’s Department of Recreation, Parks
and Cultural Affairs Camp Funtastic is now open at the Mason Mill
Recreation Center, at 1340-B McConnell Drive in Decatur.
Camp Funtastic is a summer day camp designed and staffed
especially for participants ages 13 to 21 with mild to moderate disabilities.
Summer camp runs June 13 through July 22, Monday through Friday from
8 a.m. - 4 p.m., at a cost of $85 per week.
Participants must bring their own breakfast and lunch. A copy of the
student’s Individualized education program is required upon registration.
To access online registration, visit and
click the “register online” button on the department’s homepage or register
in person at the Mason Mill Recreation Center.
For more information, contact LaShanda Davis, public education
specialist, at (404) 371-3643.

sTone MounTain
Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day at Art Station

ART Station, in historic Stone Mountain Village, will hold its 20th
annual St. Patrick’s Day Celebration and Fundraiser, “Raising of the
Green,” on Thursday, March 17, from 6 to 10 p.m.
The event will feature silent and live auctions, “A Taste of Stone
Mountain,” music and complimentary green beer. Tickets are $25 at the
door or $20 in advance. For more information or to purchases tickets call
(770) 469-1105 or visit
The live and silent auctions offer art work, theater tickets, meals at
Atlanta restaurants and various goods and services. All items in the
auction have been donated to ART Station by local theater companies,
restaurants, businesses and ART Station’s individual members. The
proceeds will benefit ART Station.
“A Taste of Stone Mountain” will highlight restaurants and caterers in
the Stone Mountain area.
“Complimentary green beer, good music and lots of fun make ‘Raising
of the Green’ one of Atlanta’s most unique St. Patrick’s Day celebrations,”
states the event’s announcement.
ART Station is located at 5384 Manor Drive, Stone Mountain.
For additional information regarding “Raising of the Green” or ART
Station programming call (770) 469-1105 or visit


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 11, 2016 • Page 4A

Rochelle Callender

Rochelle Callender
said she started volunteering as a child.
“Whether it was knocking on doors to get NAACP
memberships, working with
the Urban League, United
Way, YMCA—all along, as
a part of my life...came a
heightened awareness to
volunteer,” Callender said.
Callender is president
of Hartwood Estates Homeowners’ Association, chairwoman of the Recreation,
Parks and Cultural Affairs
Citizens Advisory Board for
District 7, and is on leave
with the National Coalition of
100 Black Women.
She attends Spirit of

Truth Sanctuary in Decatur,
where she is a founding
member of the prayer shawl
“We make lap blankets
and shawls and babychristening blankets,” she
said. The lap blankets and
shawls are for people who
are going through some
type of challenges—whether
it’s cancer, dementia, some
type of medical or emotional
or physical challenge. We
pray over the items that are
given away.”
Additionally, Callender
is president of the Friends
of Flat Shoals Park, a community park she helped develop.

For 25 years she played
at a tennis center which is
on the site of the current
park. During that time she
began to push for the resurfacing of the tennis courts
and for the lights to turned
“I woke up one day
and said, ‘It’s not about the
tennis players. It’s about
the community. What [we]
should really be doing is
focusing on getting a park in
this community,’” Callender
Now Flat Shoals Park
has a chess/checker station, tennis courts, half-mile
fitness walking trail with
outdoor exercise stations,

Ali Foley, left, and Joe Penn, right, of the Bright Star Touring Theatre company.

two playgrounds, pavilion,
gazebo, clubhouse and picnic tables.
“It took us a couple of
years but I really think that
if you’re able to partner with
those that have the power
and get the community involved in what they really
want to see in some type of
master plan, you can make
it happen,” Callender said.
“And that’s what happened.”
Callender said she of
volunteering, “It’s a lifestyle
for me. I really feel as though
we should be giving back,
especially those that have
unique talents from the corporate world.” Callender retired from IBM after 38 years.

Rochelle Callender

Students from Glenwood, E.L. Miller and Cedar Grove elementary schools attended
the two-person production. Photos by R. Scott Belzer

History Center brings education to life
by R. Scott Belzer


or more than an hour on
March 2, hundreds of students from three elementary schools saw history
brought to life.
Second-, third- and fourth-graders from Glenwood, E.L. Miller and
Cedar Grove elementary schools
attended the two-person production Struggle for Freedom: The Life
of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., hosted at the DeKalb History Center in
downtown Decatur.
Actors Joe Penn and Ali Foley
of the Bright Star Touring Theatre company took students on a
journey through the life of Martin
Luther King, Jr. in honor of Black
History Month. Penn and Foley
were able to educate the students
on one of American history’s most

memorable figures in approximately 45 minutes before answering
Though the play dealt with
such subjects as racism, segregation, civil rights, peaceful protests
and assassination, programs and
preservation coordinator Jenny
Goldemund said Bright Star tinkers its subject matter to be age
“[Bright Star] develops stories
and makes it so you can use it inside the classroom,” Goldemund
Penn and Foley navigated
several characters throughout the
production, going from playing a
humorously nagging couple one
second to portraying the titular
character and a racist store owner
the next. The variety had students
both laughing and paying strict attention.

“Imagine living in a world where
people told you that you couldn’t
sit somewhere or do certain things
based on the color of your skin,”
Penn said to the audience.
Penn and Foley also brought to
light such famous historical scenes
as Rosa Parks’ 1955 bus boycott,
in which 42,000 people were able
to refuse public transit service for
381 days, as well as lunch counter
sit-ins, Birmingham’s Freedom Riders from 1963 and King’s famous
“I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C.
Though the production did
touch on King’s assassination, the
actors insisted the play was a celebration of the historical figure’s
life and accomplishments when
questioned further by students.
“We’re trying not to focus too
much on [King’s] death today,”
Foley said. “We’re trying to focus

on what he was able to do during
his life.”
The duo responded to questions such as why King wanted to
devote his life to knowledge. The
actors, seemingly familiar to dealing with elementary school children, answered the questions with
“The more you know about the
world around you, the more you
know how to change it,” Penn answered.
“With greater knowledge comes
greater change,” Foley said.
For more information on the
DeKalb History Center’s programs
for schools, contact Goldemund
or visit
For more information on Bright
Star Touring Theatre, visit www. or call (336)

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 11, 2016

Miller Grove fans cheer on the team. Photos by Travis Hudgons


Page 5A

Miller Grove coach Sharman White (second left) holds up the state championship trophy.

Miller Grove guard Alterique Gilbert prepares to shoot a free throw.

Continued From Page 1A

Miller Grove’s Raylon Richardson backs down a Allatoona defender.

Gilbert, who finished with 15 points and five steals, said it
was tough to get through Allatoona’s defense.
“They’ve got a great team,” Gilbert said. “They played well
as a team, but we just capitalized offensively, made our free
throws and we got it done.”
White said he was more concerned about the Wolverines’
defense than what they did on offense.
“I thought we gave up a lot of easy baskets that we’re
normally not accustomed to giving up, and that just shows how
well they were executing their game plan,” White said. “They
were a great team, a great opponent and I’m just proud of how
they responded.”
Allatoona shot 51.6 percent from the field, but had 23
turnovers, 10 less than Miller Grove. The Wolverines had 15
White said he was proud of how the seniors responded this
season after falling in the playoffs last season.
“They showed resiliency, they showed the ability to be
able to have character and to be able to lose it, and then
gain some from losing,” White said. “I tell them all the time
[that] sometimes you have to lose in order to win, and I think
that’s what they showed throughout the season. They were
determined to get to this day and try to win this day.”
Senior Aaron Augustin led the team with 16 points.

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 11, 2016


Page 6A

Thanks for guns on college campuses
Thanks a lot, Georgia
House of Representatives.
On Feb. 22, state
representatives, with a 11359 vote, passed House
Bill 859, which would allow
anyone 21 or older with a
weapons license, including
college students, to carry
a gun anywhere on a
public college or university
campus, except for inside
dormitories, fraternity, and
sorority houses and at
athletic events.
Thanks a lot for giving
college students the right
to carry guns on campus.
Thanks for making it a
little easier for our sons
and daughters to get shot
in a college classroom,
parking lot, library or walking
between buildings.
Thanks for allowing
college students and others

Andrew Cauthen

Managing Editor


to arm themselves on
campuses and not requiring
them to be trained in how
and when to use weapons.
Thanks a lot.
Rep. Karla Drenner
(D-Avondale Estates) is just
as “grateful” as I am.
“I am disappointed in
the passage of House Bill

859 as school gun violence
is a problem in Georgia and
the rest of the country,” said
Drenner in a statement.
“There are far too
many scenarios that show
why allowing guns on our
campuses endanger our
students,” she stated.
“For example, a student
who received a bad grade
could show up to class and
use a gun to threaten his
professor, or a distraught
student could use a gun to
intimidate his colleagues.
Proponents of this bill
will point out that dorms
and sporting events are
protected, which shows that
we understand the danger
of guns. However, allowing
guns on campus means we
are ignoring it.”
This is a bad piece of
legislation and one problem

with it is where do legal guntoters who live on campus
put the guns? Guns can’t
be in dorm rooms or frat
houses. Would they be left in
unattended cars where they
can be stolen? If they are left
in cars, then they’re not very
So effectively, only
commuters, faculty and staff
can carry weapons, as long
as they don’t visit student
housing or go to an athletic
event. But they can go to a
campus concert or political
rally or to the campus gym
or student center or cafeteria
or to visit a professor—as
long as the weapon is
concealed, like in a purse
or backpack or gym locker.
Sounds like a very bad idea.
According to a statement
by Rep. Dewey McClain
(D- Lawrenceville), the

Unlock transit funding gridlock
Much attention and controversy has been
focused on expanding transit further into north
Fulton, and those commuters who have to
endure traffic gridlock on GA 400 are quick to say
it is greatly needed. No doubt, additional transit
would bring relief and hopefully elected officials
will allow the voters to decide what they desire to
have in their community.
But let’s not lose sight of other MARTA
projects on the priority runway also awaiting the
opportunity for citizens in DeKalb to decide their
fate. One of those projects is an 8.8-mile light rail
expansion from the Lindbergh MARTA station
to the Avondale Station that would serve the
heavily congested Clifton Corridor, which is the
largest employment center in the Metro region
that has no direct access to MARTA’s rail system
or an interstate highway. The more than 30,000
employees who work in the corridor and the
many patients, visitors, students and residents
who have no choice but to endure wasted time
sitting in their cars on the ancillary roads leading
to the area, beg for an alternative. The Clifton
Corridor is home to Emory, the largest employer
in DeKalb and third largest in Metro Atlanta;
Emory Healthcare, the most comprehensive
health care system in Georgia; the Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention; Children’s
Healthcare of Atlanta; the VA Medical Center
and other organizations that contribute billions of
dollars annually into the region’s economy.
Since the 1960s, regional planning maps
have included a proposed transit line connecting
the Clifton Corridor into the MARTA system and
the current proposed light rail project has been
progressing through the federal planning process
for over 15 years. Countless community meetings

and stakeholder planning sessions have taken
place over the years and there is overwhelming
support in the corridor area for this light rail
line. In addition to providing an option for those
already commuting to the corridor, it would give
new transit access to thousands of other jobs for
commuters from the Avondale Station and would
serve the DeKalb Medical Center and the many
large commercial and residential redevelopments
already planned along the route.
The Metro region is already decades behind
in expanding MARTA and the long-awaited
transit relief for the Clifton Corridor is still stuck
in transit funding gridlock. Legislation currently
before lawmakers at the state Capitol would
provide the funding desperately needed to build
the Clifton Corridor line and other rail expansion
MARTA needs to keep our region competitive
and provide services our citizens want and need.
Rather than let a handful of elected officials
decide our region’s prosperity and fate, it’s time
to let the voters weigh in on their future and those
of generations to come. We have an opportunity
to unlock transit funding gridlock and we cannot
afford to wait any longer.
Betty E. Willis
Senior associate vice president,
Government & Community Affairs
Emory University
Executive director,
Clifton Community Partnership
Clifton Corridor Transportation Management

bill “creates a dangerous
environment for our
“Our children should be
exposed to the wonder of
learning, not the worry of
who is carrying a concealed
weapon,” McClain stated.
“If our goal is to create
a safe learning environment
for Georgia students, then
allowing students to carry
concealed weapons on
campus is not the answer,”
said Rep. Patty Bently
(D- Reynolds). “We ought
to leave the security of our
students and faculty to the
well-trained guards and
officers employed by the
Thanks a lot,
representatives, for giving
parents more to worry about.
Hopefully, the Senate will
see the light.

Saluting Judge Seeliger
for donations to
nonprofit groups
To the Editor:
On behalf of the State Bar of Georgia,
I would like to thank DeKalb County
Superior Court Judge Clarence Seeliger
for making a generous contribution totaling
$15,000 in assistance to three local,
nonprofit legal organizations.
These admirable contributions of $5,000
each will benefit the DeKalb Volunteer
Lawyers Association and Atlanta Legal Aid,
both of which provide civil legal services to
those who cannot afford an attorney, and
the DeKalb Lawyers Association, which
presents a local scholarship in Judge
Seeliger’s name. These gifts will have
a lasting, positive impact on the lives of
DeKalb County residents.
All Georgia lawyers and judges can be
inspired by Judge Seeliger’s continued
commitment to serving the needs of
the community, which in turn serves to
promote the cause of justice and uphold
the integrity of the legal profession in our
Robert J. “Bob” Kauffman
President, State Bar of Georgia

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 11, 2016


Page 7A

One Man’s Opinion

Promises, Promises
“I want to go further,
though. I want us to have
an absolute commitment to
getting rid of lead wherever
it is. Because it’s not only
in water systems. It’s also
in soil, and it’s in lead paint
that is found mostly in older
home. We will commit to a
priority to change the water
systems and we will commit
within five years to remove
lead from everywhere,”
former Secretary of State
and Presidential candidate
Hillary Clinton during the
Democratic Party candidate
debate in Flint, Mich., on
Saturday, March 5.
There is no question
that what is happening
to the people of Flint,
Mich., and the continuing
contamination of their water
supply is a tragedy. There
is no easy, silver bullet
or simple answer. The
corrosive water of the Flint
River, used temporarily as
a less expensive option
than Detroit’s municipal
water supply, broke loose
years of sediment, heavy
metals and has done
permanent damage to lead
piping throughout the water
delivery system in Flint.
Readers may recall,
that facing a federal court
order, the city of Atlanta
borrowed and spent $3
billion, primarily during the
administrations of thenMayor Shirley Franklin to
separate a then combined
central sewage overflow
(CSO) system. Prior to the
construction of underground
sewer pipes—100 feet
in diameter—and a new
underground sewage
treatment plant underneath
the lower lawn in Piedmont
Park, raw sewage would
back up onto Atlanta streets
and fill the banks of Clear
Creek (which was anything
but that) running through a



Bill Crane

culvert in the same area of
Piedmont Park.
DeKalb County is
spending more than $1
billion on its water system,
replacing leaking and aging
water mains across the
county, as well as dealing
with decades of neglect and
clogs to waste lines caused
by illegally discarded oils,
commercial grease and
other contaminants. 
This brings me back
to the poor people of
Flint. Their need is real, but
I’m not sure it is the proper
responsibility of our federal
government to step in and
re-plumb that city. Given the
declining population of Flint,
it might be more realistic and
financially feasible to simply
relocate the town’s entire
population. Re-plumbing
Flint would cost billions. We
have known of the dangers
of lead, as well as asbestos,
for decades. And yet, to
this day the city of New
York employees 300 fulltime people engaged in the
ongoing removal and safe
destruction of asbestos.
If there is one easy
lesson to be learned from
the palpable anger and
frustration of many voters
in this presidential election
cycle, it is with the broken
promises of politicians, who
will say what they think
voters want to hear prior to

an election, and then not
deliver. This resentment is
present in both parties, and
manifesting to some extent
in the surging candidacies of
Donald Trump and Bernie
And yet, Trump draws
cheers, as well as some
jeers, forever promising an
ever-growing wall between
the United States and
Mexico, paid for by our
neighbors—without legal title
to the border lands, access
for construction, budget
estimates or a construction
Sanders promises free
college education, on top
of existing K-12 public
education. The latter
(K-12) costs nearly $30
billion per year in Georgia
(combined state and federal
expenses). Where is the
funding source for “free
college?”  There are simply
not enough “rich people” to


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Clinton is now promising
to rid the United States of
lead, again without any
cogent thought offered on
how to pay for this, simply
because lead is bad. Well,
cancer and AIDS are pretty
damn scary as well, and the
United States did not supply
the non-ending funding to
end those two critical threats
to public health.
Clearly, some type of
federal disaster relief is
appropriate for Flint, starting
with a long-term supply of
bottled water. And during
the decade ahead, this crisis
should become a wakeup
call for the beginning of
massive reinvestments in
our crumbling infrastructure;
but as with Atlanta’s sewer
pipes, the majority of those
expenses should fall on the
locals and those who will
use and benefit from the
new investments. Empty

John Hewitt

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Kemesha Hunt

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Dr. Earl D. Glenn

Travis Hudgons

Managing Editor:
Andrew Cauthen

Staff Reporters:
Carla Parker
R. Scott Belzer

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promises without detail
or funding are about as
useful and lasting as a
rainbow. Perhaps beautiful
and making you feel good
for a few seconds, but
quickly fading and vanishing
in the harsher sunlight of
reality. And as it specifically
relates to eradicating
lead and lead pipes, even
Superman could never see
through lead.
Bill Crane also serves as
a political analyst and commentator for Channel 2’s Action News, WSB-AM News/
Talk 750 and now 95.5 FM,
as well as a columnist for
The Champion, Champion
Free Press and Georgia
Trend. Crane is a DeKalb
native and business owner,
living in Scottdale. You can
reach him or comment on
a column at bill.csicrane@ 

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


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 11, 2016 • Page 8A

From left, DeKalb Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton hosted a forum with District Attorney Robert James, Solicitor General Sherry Boston, Police Chief James Conroy
and county CEO candidate Michael Thurmond. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

DeKalb leaders discuss county’s positives, negatives
by Andrew Cauthen
DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes
Sutton held a community
meeting Feb. 29 in Tucker
so residents could ask questions and learn about some
of the county’s positives and
Sutton said attendees
had the opportunity to “hear
about the good things in
DeKalb County—what we’re
doing with your tax money,
how we’re protecting you,
how we’re taking care of our
infrastructure, how we’re
educating our children, how
we’re making this place an

even better place to live.”
DeKalb County District
Attorney Robert James
talked about how his office
is attacking gangs and human trafficking.
“We have gotten to a
place now where we have
national gangs. They have
members of their leadership that live here in DeKalb
County and they operate out
of DeKalb County,” James
“We have had several
gang-related murders in
the course of the last two
years,” he said. “I hate to be
the bearer of bad news but
this has become more commonplace. We’re starting to

see more and more of this.”
James said it is important to continue funding his
gang unit, made up of two
prosecutors, two investigators and a victims advocate.
Funding also is needed
in the police department because “myself and the chief
just can’t be reactive to stuff
all the time,” he said.
“I’m pleased with the
budget that was passed; we
can start addressing some
of these things on the front
end,” James said. “I feel
like we’re finally getting to
a place where we’re getting
the resources where we
don’t have to be reactive.”
In addition to gangs, the

county has a human trafficking problem, James said.
“The average age that a
young girl enters prostitution
or the sex trade or trafficking trade is 13 and 14 years
old,” James said. “We’re not
talking about grown women
that are standing on the
corner like you may see on
Memorial Drive. Even some
of those women started out
as young girls.
“We are talking about
13- and 14-year-old girls
that are sold into trafficking,”
James said. “It’s serious. It’s
modern-day slavery. They
are losing their lives. These
young girls are branded,
these young girls are beat-

en, some of them are murdered and we have to do
something about it.”
A positive that DeKalb
County Solicitor General
Sherry Boston said she is
proud of is her community
prosecutor program.
“We have [two] prosecutors embedded in the community,” Boston said. “They
each have a precinct within
the county and they have
direct relationships with the
police in that community,
with the homeowners associations, with the commissioners whose area that
covers, with the churches,

See Leaders on Page 9A

Stone Mountain downtown group reveals plans for revitalization
by Carla Parker
Stone Mountain Downtown
Development Authority (DDA)
is looking at different ways to
revitalize the city’s downtown area.
The DDA presented its 2016
DDA/Main Street Work Plan on
Feb. 18. The plan outlined the
2016 task forces that will help
bring in new business and grow
current business, according to
DDA Executive Director Mechel
“Instead of having four point
Stone Mountain Downtown Development Authority will use six task forces to
committees like we had in the
revitalize the downtown area. Photo by Carla Parker
past, we’ve identified six different
task forces that we’re going to be
a year to give information about
task force would stay “in touch
working on,” McKinley said. “We’re
the village, the businesses and the
with property owners and connect
trying to help our existing and new
different city events to park goers.”
potential businesses with the right
businesses thrive and succeed.
Stone Mountain is a city that
properties for their businesses.
The six task forces will focus on
“Making sure that if somebody
communication, cycling, real estate, cyclers usually ride through.
McKinley said the cycling task force wants to open an office they’re not
the historic train depot, business
will be used to share information to
looking at a retail space,” she said.
develop and the look of the city.
cyclists about cycling in the city and “We’re also working with potential
With the communications task
DeKalb County.
investors, bringing them to town,
force, McKinley said the DDA will
“We want to take advantage of
showing them what we got going
try to reach all subdivisions inside
that opportunity by partnering with
on and getting them excited about
the city limits as well as those
the DeKalb Convention and Visitors Stone Mountain as well.”
outside and adjacent to the city
In 2015, the city had $352,000
limits to see if residents identify with Bureau, Clarkston, Decatur and
Stone Mountain as their downtown. Lithonia on an interactive web page worth of renovations done to the
that provides information about
historic train depot. McKinley
“We want to make sure that
cycling in DeKalb County,” she
said the city in on the community
they are aware of what’s going
said. “We’re a featured destination
development block grant budget for
on in Stone Mountain and we’re
on that site, and we’re also looking
2016 for a $149, grant that would
encouraging them to participate in
at other ways we can help our
help the city comply with ADA
the things that we have going on,”
regulations, including adding an
she said. “We’re also going to reach businesses be more cyclingfriendly.”
ADA compliant bathroom.
out to the campgrounds at Stone
McKinley said the real estate
“We’re hoping to get that grant,”
Mountain Park five different times

she said.
McKinley also said the DDA is
trying to get more things done to
the train depot so it can be used
“We will be looking at [having]
exhibits for this summer that would
allow people to come into the
depot,” she said.
The business development
task force will continue providing
more grants for business owners to
continue to grow their businesses.
“We have access to other
programs like the downtown
development revolving loan fund
tax credits available to help people
with their business plan,” McKinley
said. “The big thing is we’re going
to be starting a Stone Mountain
downtown revolving loan fund this
summer. They will be small loans to
assists business property owners
who needs upgrades and those
kinds of things. They will be low
interest loans with a short payback
period so that we can constantly
loan out money.”
The sixth task force will focus
on improving the look of the city by
adding more welcome signs at the
various entrances of the city.
“We’ve been working with the
design studio out of Athens and
we’re working on five different
gateway areas,” McKinley said.
McKinley said the gate entrance
project is $75,000.
“We’re looking for sponsors
and partners, and we’re looking for
grant opportunities,” she said.


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 11, 2016 • Page 9A

Clarkston City Manager Keith Barker, left, explains the issue of coin-operated
amusement machines (COAMs) to board members, including Beverly Burks, right.

Clarkston City Council members Mario Williams, left, and Dean Moore, right, listen to
the issue of COAMs in the city. Photos by R. Scott Belzer

by R. Scott Belzer

as the consequences for breaking
them. Barker said the current ordinance was “not real explicit” on the
50 percent limit or the due process
following a violation.
“We’re currently in the process
of reviewing license applications for
COAMs,” Barker said. “We’ve found
instances where they fail to report
monthly gross revenues, which are
required by state and city law; some
of them are exceeding the 50 percent limit. This amendment to our
ordinance closes a loophole in our
city ordinance.”
In addition, the amendment outlines a track in which violators can
face fines up to $1,000, six months
imprisonment, and revocation of
COAM and alcohol licenses.
During the council’s work session, Mario Williams proposed
Clarkston set its own percentage
lower than 50 percent in an effort to
discourage COAM use. Quinn said
the city must be in accordance with
state law and Clarkston did not have
the option of being more restrictive.
Quinn said the problem in dealing with COAMs is not restrictive
rules, but enforcement. While city
police have the option of enforcing state law, a city ordinance only

Clarkston council amends game machine ordinance

Leaders Continued From Page 8A

the civic associations, the
CIDs if they exist—all the
entities in that area.
“The reason we do that
is we want to find out what
the concerns are in your
area and address them specifically,” Boston said. “We
do that by being a part of
the community. We can’t assess all the problems by sitting down at the courthouse
in Decatur because we can’t
see what is happening in
your neighborhoods.”
DeKalb County Police
Chief James Conroy announced that his department
has “a clearance rate that’s
above the national average
for every crime and category
that’s tracked by the FBI.”
“One big reason for
that is our relationship with

the community,” he said.
“Community-oriented policing is our philosophy here
in DeKalb County. The relationship between the police
department and the community is vitally important.”
Conroy said, “Around
the country, where there’s
friction between the police
department and the community,...the clearance rates
are horrendous. If you look
at Chicago, if you look at
New Orleans, their clearance rates for homicides are
30 percent and less.
“Our clearance rate is
over 80 percent, so we have
a tremendous clearance
rate for homicides,” Conroy
“Our detectives pride
themselves on clearing cas-

es and making sure they are
cleared appropriately so that
they can be prosecuted by
the district attorney and the
solicitor,” Conroy said. “I can
arrest people all day long,
but if they are not getting
prosecuted, we’re not doing
our job properly.”
County planning director Andrew Baker said that
while the trend once was for
people to move out to areas such as Alpharetta, the
trend is now for people to
move back to inside or near
the perimeter.
“I like to tell anybody
that’s in DeKalb: stick
around, because with all
that traffic and congestion,
people are trying to move
back into the metro [and]
inside the perimeter,” Baker

gives Clarkston officials the authority to cancel or suspend a business’s
“The rules are in place at a state
level,” Quinn said. “But what we’re
not having is agents of the state
coming here and enforcing them.
We’re bringing it to the local level.”
Barker said the state, with “limited resources” was focusing on the
“bigger picture” at the state level.
The city manager said Clarkston
is doing more than most cities in
ensuring businesses are knowledgeable about current and future
COAM law.
“We probably do more in terms
of frequent, face-to-face, hands
on education with our businesses
than any city in the state,” Barker
said. “Our business owners know
absolutely what the regulations
are. Sometimes they say we visit
them too much. I want to be very
clear, the city in no way targeting
businesses that have COAMs, we
are merely trying to ensure the machines are utilized in the method at
which they are legally authorized.”
Mayor Ted Terry said the issue
goes beyond Clarkston’s borders.
“This is not just a Clarkston issue,” said Terry. “This is statewide.”

said. “I expect that all your
[property] values are going
to continue to improve.”
DeKalb County CEO
candidate Michael Thurmond told the group that if
the county takes positives
“and leverage them against
a population that’s poor
and unemployed and underserved, leverage them
against challenges we have
with our infrastructure, leverage them against any
challenge we may have,
and we can fix it.
“I don’t come to this job
with any lack of optimism
or enthusiasm,” Thurmond
said. “I’m extremely pragmatic, but I can tell you
something: we’re getting
ready to move in a new
direction. This government

will be about learning from
the past but shaping a new
future for the county.”

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The city of Clarkston tightened
its grip on stores with coin-operated
amusement machines (COAMs) on
March 1 during a regularly scheduled council meeting.
Clarkston’s city council unanimously voted in favor of amending
Chapter 11, Article 4 of Clarkston’s
city ordinances, clarifying profit
limitations, legal ramifications and
due process for businesses hosting
A bona fide COAM is defined as
“any type of machine or device that
will automatically provide music or
some other type of entertainment
when a coin, token or some other
object, such as a credit card, is deposited,” by the Internal Revenue
Service (IRS). This includes arcade
video games, pinball machines,
jukeboxes, pool tables and slot machines.
Clarkston officials state approximately 60 COAM machines exist in
10 businesses throughout the city.
State law prohibits any business housing COAMs from earning
more than 50 percent of its total
profits solely from the machines to

avoid the issue of “gaming rooms,”
or businesses acting as miniature
“Gaming rooms is the term that
folks in the COAM business use
when referring to businesses that
primarily exist only for the purpose
of collecting revenue from COAMs,”
said Keith Barker, city manager of
Clarkston. “This is a term used by
many master license holders, the
folks that own machines. In conversations with them, they are not in
favor and oppose gaming rooms.”
The proposed amendment,
written by Barker and city attorney
Stephen Quinn, states how the
potential for gambling on COAMs
is “deleterious” to the city and, as
such, requires strict regulation.
An exposé published by Creative Loafing in July 2015 highlighted Clarkston’s struggle in
dealing with gaming rooms, as one
business took a $250 COAM fine
to the Georgia Supreme Court. The
city’s current ordinances are copied
directly from state law, but Clarkston
is having a hard time enforcing
The city hopes the amendment approved March 1 will quell
any doubts on COAM laws as well



The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 11, 2016 • Page 10A

Cori Bostic (right) and Daisa Alexander embrace after
winning the Class AAAAA state title.

Southwest DeKalb won its fifth state title in nine seasons. Photos by Travis Hudgons

Southwest DeKalb wins fifth state title in nine years
by Carla Parker


he No. 1-ranked
Southwest DeKalb
Lady Panthers shot
26.4 percent from the field,
but still managed to pull out
a 49-48 win over WinderBarrow to claim the Class
AAAAA state championship
on March 4 at the Macon
The state title was the
fifth in nine seasons for
coach Kathy Walton and
the Lady Panthers program. Daisa Alexander led the team in Cori Bostic had seven rebounds
in the game.
“That was probably the scoring with 19 points.
toughest of all five of them,
but they’re all nice,” Walton
because we were really
22 steals and forced 27
said. “I’m so happy for the
focused on our defense and turnovers for Winderkids.”
rebounding. When we play
Barrow. One of those
Southwest DeKalb was
defense and rebound, that’s turnovers occurred in the
19 of 72 from the field and
going to at least keep us in
final second of the game.
1 of 14 from the three-point
the game. Sometimes you
With 1.5 seconds
arc. The team’s two top
have good scoring nights,
remaining in the game,
scorers—Daisa Alexander
sometimes you don’t, but
Southwest DeKalb forced
(8 of 29) and Jada Walton
you can always play good
a turnover on a Winder(2 of 25)—struggled to get
defense and rebound and
Barrow pass that went
their shots to fall.
that’s basically what we
out of bounds, giving the
“We really struggled
focused on.”
Lady Panthers the final
offensively,” Walton said.
The Lady Panthers
possession of the game to
“The main reason we
outrebounded Winderseal the victory.
struggled offensively was
Barrow 44-41. They had
With a poor offensive

Chantz Cherry goes up for a

night, Alexander said she
and her teammates had to
“dig deep and believe in
each other.”
“It’s not about [Walton
and me]. It’s about the team
and we had to realize that,”
Alexander said. “We’re the
top two scorers on the team
and when it wasn’t falling
for us, it just felt like our
world was falling apart, but
we had our teammates to
fall back on, to encourage
us and we just had to come

together and play as a
Alexander, a senior,
said she felt on top of the
world after winning the state
“It feels amazing,” she
said. “Not winning my junior
and sophomore years—it
just feels good to leave
knowing that I won a state
“[The senior class]
just missed one their
sophomore year and last
year was just a total fiasco,
but that’s the reason why
they got here,” Walton said.
“After last year they really
worked hard. They went to
work right after we lost and
it’s been a year-long battle
for them and they made the
Alexander finished the
night with 19 points and five
steals. Freshman Raven
Thurman added 13 points
and seven rebounds.
This is the fourth
consecutive year a DeKalb
County team has won the
Class AAAAA girls’ state
title since 2013.

Coaches upset championship baskets were not at regulation length
by Carla Parker

The GHSA confirmed that the basketball
goals were not at the regulation length for
all championship games. Photo by Travis

Some basketball coaches
who played in the Georgia High
School Association basketball
championship games March
3-5 in Macon were upset that
the basketball goals were not
at the regulation length for all
championship games.
The Marietta Daily Journal
first reported that the GHSA
confirmed that the stanchions that
support the baskets were placed
roughly one foot farther back from
the baseline. The baskets are
supposed to measure 15 feet from

the foul line; however, they were
placed 16 feet from the foul line.
GHSA Executive Director
Gary Phillips said in a released
statement that the GHSA will not
change the results of the title
“The goals were the same
distance into the court at both
ends of the floor,” Phillips said.
“The playing conditions were
exactly the same for both teams
on the court and for all of the 14
championship games that were
played. So I can’t see any reason
we would consider changing the
“Only one coach even

mentioned a possible problem,
and my basketball staff watched
the games closely and did not
notice any appreciable effect on
the shooting or the play of any of
the teams,” Phillips said. “Some
of the teams even shot extremely
well from both the floor and the
free throw line. But, overall, it
looked like typical championship
Southwest DeKalb girls’
basketball team, which won the
Class AAAAA championship, had
a field goal percentage of 45 this
season. During the championship

See GHSA on Page 12A


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 11, 2016 • Page 11A

Sweet revenge
Greenforest knocks off defending
champs to win state title
by Carla Parker


he Greenforest Christian Academy
Eagles never let go of the bad taste
they had after losing to St. Francis in the
Class A-Private championship game last
The Eagles used that loss as fuel to help
drive them back to the title game with the goal of
winning. They did return to the state title game,
against St. Francis, and accomplished their goal.
The Eagles defeated St. Francis 78-66 to
win the Class A-Private championship on March
5 at the Macon Centreplex. The state title is
Greenforest’s second title in four seasons. Head
coach Larry Thompson, who was an assistant
coach on last year’s team, said the team went
into the game remembering that losing feeling
from last year.
“They didn’t want to have that feeling again
that we had in the locker room this time last
year,” Thompson said. “That was in the back of
their minds the whole entire way. They wanted
to come out, especially my seniors, and go out
as champions, and that’s exactly what they did
Greenforest, the No. 1-ranked team in Class
A-Private, faced a St. Francis team with the No.
1-ranked player in the state, Kobi Simmons.
Simmons averaged 26.5 points per game this
season on a 62 shooting percentage.
Although Simmons scored 31 points, mostly
from the free-throw line, in the championship
game, he was 8 of 25 from the field and 3 of
7 from the three-point arc. Greenforest senior
forward Precious Ayah said he and the other
players were given an assignment coming into
the game to keep Simmons from getting hot.
“We had to get the ball out of his hands and
that’s basically what we did,” Ayah said. “We had
to limit his touches because we know St. Francis
is built around him. We had an assignment,
which was that, and we had to come out and
execute it.”
“He’s a guy that when he gets touches in his
comfort zone he’s going to hurt you,” Thompson
said about Simmons. “He’s an incredible
ballplayer; we knew he was going to score. We
wanted to make sure that when he caught the
ball it was not right at the three-point line to
give us time to come and double-team him. We
wanted to front him, face guard him all night long
and keep the ball out of his hands and keep him


Greenforest won its second state title in four seasons
after beating defending champions St. Francis. Photos
by Travis Hudgons

as uncomfortable as possible.”
Greenforest’s defense held St. Francis to a
30.2 shooting percentage from the field and 33.3
percent from the three-point arc.
Greenforest shot 40.9 percent from the field,
led by senior guard John Ogwuche who scored
27 points. Ogwuche said it felt good to finish his
high school career as a champion.
“I feel blessed to be among this group of
guys,” Ogwuche said. “It’s a dream come true for
Thompson said he is proud of how his
seniors played.
“They grew up today,” Thompson said. “If
they weren’t grown already then they grew up
today. John Ogwuche played incredible. He
carried us the entire second half. Our point
guards fouled out, but he just said ‘not today.’
He said there was no way we were losing this
basketball game and he persevered. He wanted
the ball in his hands and he made play after play.
I couldn’t be more proud of him.”

Abayomi Lyiola holds up the Class A-Private state
championship trophy.

Class A-Private girls’ title game
The Greenforest Lady Eagles suffered their
first loss of the season with a 63-37 loss to St.
Francis in the Class A-Private title game on
March 5 at the Macon Centreplex.
It was the team’s first trip to a state title
game in program history after having its first
undefeated season and winning its first region
title. Despite the championship loss, Coach
Allison Prather said she was proud of the team
and what the players accomplished this season.
“We accomplished all of our goals that we set
forth in the beginning of the season, except for

John Ogwuche led Greenforest with 27 points.

one,” she said. “I’m proud of them for fighting
and not giving up. It’s a hard loss because we
haven’t lost this year. So it’s hard but I’m proud
of them.”
Sophomore Chioma Nnamani led the team
in scoring with 17 points and nine rebounds.

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The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 11, 2016 • Page 12A

Ghsa Continued From Page 10A
game, they shot 26.4
percent from the field.
Southwest DeKalb shot
66.7 percent from the
free throw line, which
was slightly better than
its season average of 57
Southwest DeKalb
coach Kathy Walton
said the placement of
the backboards was
unfortunate and should
have never happened.
“Although, the 2016
GHSA state basketball
tournament is over and is
now in the history books,
I believe the placement of
the backboards affected
the quality of play,”
Walton said. “I don’t
believe the teams that
played this past weekend
were able to put their best
foot forward, nor given a
chance to showcase the
amazing basketball talent
in the state of Georgia.”
The team’s two
top scorers—Daisa
Alexander (8 of 29) and
Jada Walton (2 of 25)—
did not have their best
shooting performance in
the championship game.
Coach Walton said she
and her team knew during
warm-up something
was off with the basket
“However, at that
time, we had more
pressing issues, in getting
prepared for the game,
and chose to block
that out,” she said. “As
the game progressed,

it was apparent that
the placement of the
backboards was affecting
our play. Some of
the players made the
adjustment by telling each
other there was a depth
perception adjustment
they had to make.
However, towards the end
of the game, because our
shooting percentage was
so horrible, I finally had
to instruct the players not
to take any more outside
Greenforest girls’
basketball coach Allison
Prather said her players
were upset about missing
their free throws.
“Even when they
made adjustments their
shots were still short,”
Prather said. “I think
GHSA should have taken
care of this as soon as
they were made aware of
the situation.”
Greenforest shot 42.9
percent from the free
throw line and was 26.4
percent from the field.
Phillips said that while
the misplacement of the
baskets “was not an ideal
situation, we think the
conditions were fair for all
the teams.”
“And, more
importantly, it was the
same for all the teams,”
he said. “We have plans
to make sure this never
happens again, but we
have no plans to change
anything that happened
this week in Macon.”

Tucker coach Robin Potter looks on as Tucker struggles with its offensive against McEachern. Photo by
Travis Hudgons

Tucker girls fall to McEachern in 6A title game
by Carla Parker
The Tucker Lady Tigers did not have
enough to top McEachern and fell 71-51 to
the now three-time defending champions in
the Class AAAAAA title game on March 5 at
the Macon Centreplex.
After being down 15-9 in the first quarter,
Tucker went on a 15-14 run in the second
quarter to come within a five-point deficit at
However, McEachern opened the third
quarter on a 7-0 run to pull away for the
20-point victory. Tucker coach Robin Potter
said after the game that despite the loss her
team had a great season.

“We talked about at the beginning [of the
season] getting back to the championship
game,” Potter said. “We were returning
nearly the whole team. We graduated two
[players] last year, so I knew we were senior
heavy and we would be very competitive.
Adding Kierra Johnson-Graham and Jayla
Morrow really solidified the whole group. We
did it. We got back, even though I think we
were not expected to necessarily. We proved
a lot of naysayers wrong, but McEachern is
a great team.”
Morrow and Najla Shamsid-Deen led
the team in scoring with 15 points each.
Shamsid-Deen added 10 rebounds and
Johnson-Graham led the team in rebounding
with 12.

Former Tucker football
player dies
by Carla Parker

Tucker alum Solomon Jackson died Feb. 29 after suffering a
medical emergency during a conditioning session. Photo by
Travis Hudgons

The Tucker High School community is
mourning the loss of a former student and
standout football player.
The Tucker football Twitter account announced March 1 that Solomon Jackson
passed away that morning. Jackson, a
sophomore defensive end for the University of Buffalo football team, was hospitalized Feb. 21 after suffering a medical
emergency during a conditioning session,
according The Spectrum, the university’s
student newspaper.
The newspaper said Jackson was in
critical condition on Feb. 22, but no update
was given on his condition.
Jackson played in 19 games for Buffalo where he accumulated 16 total tack-

les, three tackles for a loss and two sacks.
During his senior year at Tucker in 2012,
Jackson had 33 total tackles, four sacks
and 10 tackles for a loss.
Tucker football coach Bryan Lamar
said Jackson was more than a talented
football player.
“He was a great kid,” Lamar said. “He
was a leader, a hard worker, [and] he had
an infectious personality. He had a huge
smile on his face all the time. He was
talented but more so he was just a great
Lamar said he will miss Jackson’s
smile the most.
“Every time you would see him he
[had] this huge smile on his face,” Lamar
said. “He was just a jovial person, he was
a fun kid. We’re going to miss that energy
from him.”


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 11, 2016 • Page 13A

Organization helps build shelters to rebuild lives
by Kathy Mitchell


shelter operated by
Solomon’s Temple,
a southwest Atlanta
organization that provides
transitional housing to women and
children, recently received a fresh
paint job and other improvements
with help from Tucker-based
HomeAid Atlanta and workers from
Sherwin-Williams’ Pro Painters
Institute Painter Training Program.
The project, which was
completed Feb. 24, is the first of
approximately 10 HomeAid Atlanta
Care Days planned for 2016.
“Typically, we do six to 10 Care
Day projects a year,” said Jean
Hilyard, HomeAid Atlanta director
of community engagement.
HomeAid Atlanta, founded in
2001, is a nonprofit organization
that assists homeless families and
Picnic tables, playground equipment and other upgrades are added at a nonprofit facility thanks to volunteers from Paran Homes.
individuals through housing and
community outreach. Housed in
the same building with the Greater
Atlanta Home Builders Association,
HomeAid Atlanta works in
partnership with the association and
other building industry organizations
to provide charitable assistance to
the temporarily homeless.
Through Care Days, shortterm projects are completed using
volunteer labor and donated
materials. The Solomon’s Temple
project, for example, took six days.
In addition to its Care Days,
HomeAid works year-round to
reduce the cost of construction and
remodeling for organizations that
serve homeless people. Hilyard
cited another recent project through
which HomeAid was able to reduce
the cost to the service provider of
building a shelter by 45 percent
because of industry donations.
“With charitable organizations,
every dollar counts, so reducing
Volunteers from Paran Homes, Smith Douglas Homes, Greater Atlanta Home Builders Association and other organizations display
the cost of building or remodeling
a sign that summarizes their commitment to projects to help the homeless.
a facility by 40, 50, 60 percent or
more means there is more money
“Those in the building and
seeks to help, Hilyard explained,
a client of DCM who was able
available to help the service
remodeling industries already have
adding “HomeAid takes great pride
to rebuild her life because of a
provider’s clients,” Hilyard said.
the expertise to build and renovate
in assisting families with obtaining
partnership between HomeAid
“On Care Days, 100 percent of the
shelters for America’s homeless
dignified housing, whether we’re
Atlanta and DCM. “My financial
costs are covered through donated
families. Many people working in
building a new facility or helping
situation took a deep spiral
materials and volunteer labor, and
those industries are willing to give
upgrade a current one.”
downward and I just could not
for larger projects, the costs are
their time and skill to help their
Hilyard cited Decatur
keep up with anything. I felt so
significantly reduced.”
communities,” she said. “Even
Cooperative Ministries (DCM), a
depressed, but when I saw the
HomeAid Atlanta is an affiliate
office workers, who may not have
transitional housing program with
HomeAid Atlanta-built Glenhill
of HomeAid, started in 1989 in
specific construction skills such as
eight homes in DeKalb County, as
home, my spirits lifted,” the woman
California by a building industry
plumbing or electrical work, often
one of several nonprofits HomeAid
states. “The home was beautiful.
association that invited its members help with cleaning and painting.
Atlanta works with to return people
DCM offered counseling, financial
to give products and service to
“One of our challenges is to
to stable lives.
classes, group support, home
community nonprofits. The national
match the needs of a service
In a statement quoted on
necessities and clothing. Since
organization now has 16 chapters
provider with the volunteer help and HomeAid Atlanta’s website, Beth
being at DCM I feel like I’ve had a
in communities throughout the
donated materials that are offered,” Van of DCM said, “Several years
new birth. My children are so happy
United States.
she added.
ago two of the older homes used
now and I must say it’s because
“They discovered that many
Many circumstances leave
by the program were in need of
their mother is happy, too.”
companies prefer giving this way
people in need of temporary shelter, renovation and repair. HomeAid
Since its inception, HomeAid
to simply donating money,” Hilyard
including domestic violence and
and its partners upgraded the
Atlanta has completed 53 housing,
explained, adding that donations of
abuse, job loss, readjustment
houses, made them more energy
remodeling and care day projects.
materials and labor from local and
after military service and natural
efficient and the space much more
For more information, visit www.
national partners make large and
or manmade disasters, she said.
functional and family friendly.”
small projects possible.
These are the people HomeAid
The website also quotes


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 11, 2016 • Page 14A

Community park gets chess tables
by Andrew Cauthen

Flat Shoals Park, in unincorporated Decatur, has two new
chess tables, thanks to park
The two metal tables with
built-in benches on each side
are the result of efforts by
Friends of Flat Shoals Park.
The idea for the tables came
from Cherry Ridge Subdivision
homeowners’ association.
“When we were in the process of laying out the design
for the park, we met with many
of the subdivisions around here
to talk about what was going
to be in the park—what they
wanted, what they didn’t want,”
said Rochelle Callender,
president of the park group.
Seniors suggested the
chess tables, Callender said,
but the idea was put on the
backburner for five years.
Recently, Friends of Flat
Shoals Park submitted a grant Friends of Flat Shoals Park raised $3,600 to purchase two chess tables. Photo provided
application to Park Pride, a
nonprofit organization that
helps communities improve
their parks. Park Pride gave
Friends of Flat Shoals Park a
$1,600 matching grant toward
the $3,600 cost for the tables
and their installation.
“We raised the remaining
money through the businesses
in the community,” Callender
The tables will only be used
for games—posted signs read
“No Picnicking.”
The five-year-old park
already has several picnic
tables, in addition to tennis
courts, a half-mile fitness walking trail with outdoor exercise
stations, two playgrounds, pavilion, gazebo and clubhouse.
Callender said the chess
tables will aid in children’s education.
“We know that there is a
Commissioners Larry Johnson and Judge Angela Brown play a game of chess. Photo provided
big push for our students,
especially African-American
students, to get focused in
STEM—science, technology,
engineering and math,” Callender said.
“It is a fact...that games like
chess foster that analytical
thinking which aids in math
concepts,” Callender said.
“Children are learning chess
in the chess clubs after
school and parents and, so this is a great
intergenerational station.
“When people come to the
park, it’s not just about sitting
in the pavilion and having
nothing else to do, except for
the children,” she said. “We
want to have things that the
adults and families can do
Flat Shoals Park is located
behind the county-owned
Community Achievement
Center, 4522 Flat Shoals
Because the table will only be used for games, “No picnicking” signs are posted. Photo by Andrew Cauthen


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 11, 2016 • Page 15A

One county CEO candidate drops out
A former MARTA employee and past
candidate for county commission and CEO
has decided to drop his candidacy for
DeKalb County CEO.
Calvin Sims, who currently serves on
DeKalb County Parks and Cultural Affairs
Citizen Advisory Board, stated in an email
to The Champion, “I am writing to inform
you that I have withdrawn my candidacy for
DeKalb County CEO, and I am putting my
support behind Michael Thurmond.”
Sims ran unsuccessfully for county
commission in 2008 and the CEO’s position
in 2004.

Announced candidates for DeKalb
County CEO include Thurmond and
Connie Stokes.
Thurmond is a former state labor
commissioner who served as the
superintendent of the DeKalb County
School District from February 2013 to June
Stokes is a former state senator and
county commissioner who in 2014 was
the state Democratic Party nominee for
lieutenant governor.
Qualifying for all races continues
through March 11.

High school student fatally shot

by Carla Parker
DeKalb County police have identified

a teen shot and killed March 2 as 17-yearold Rakwon Reid.
Reid was a student at Stephenson
High School, according to DeKalb
County School District spokesman Quinn
According to DeKalb County Police
Major Stephen Fore, officers responded to
a call of a person shot at 722 Shore Drive
in Lithonia at approximately 9:15 p.m.
“When the officers arrived, they found
a 17-year-old male victim lying on the
ground suffering from a gunshot wound to
the chest area,” Fore said. “EMS arrived
and the victim was pronounced dead at the
Fore said family members at the scene
said after hearing several gunshots they
went outside and found Reid lying on
the ground. Fore said the investigation is

DeKalb County Community Development Department
2015 Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER)
The DeKalb County Community Development Department is preparing to submit its Consolidated Annual
Performance and Evaluation Report (CAPER) to the United States Department of Housing and Urban
Development (HUD). The report covers the status of activities and programs carried out through the use of
Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnerships Program (HOME), and
Emergency Shelter Grant (ESG) funds during the most recently completed program year that ended
December 31, 2015.
The Consolidated Annual Performance and Evaluation Report is available for citizens’ review and
comments at the office of DeKalb’s Community Development Department upon request as of March 1, 2016
at the following address:

DeKalb County Community Development Department
330 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue, 6th Floor
Decatur, GA 30030
Telephone: 404-371-2727
The office hours are 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Contact: Byron K. Campbell, Grants and Administrative Manager
The CAPER will be available at the local libraries listed below as of March 8, 2016
(Written comments should be submitted to the 330 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue address.)
All locations are accessible to persons with disabilities.
The document may also be reviewed at the DeKalb County libraries listed below.
Please contact the libraries for hours of operation.

Chamblee Branch
4115 Clairmont Road, Chamblee

Decatur Branch
215 Sycamore Street, Decatur

Redan-Trotti Branch
1569 Wellborn Road, Lithonia

Wesley Chapel-William C. Brown Branch
2861 Wesley Chapel Road, Decatur

Food drive nets tons of donations
The annual DeKalb County Food Drive to replenish the
shelves of the Atlanta Community Food Bank has been
deemed a great success after a total of 4,756 pounds was
collected from barrels at DeKalb County public libraries
and government buildings, according to a news release.
The donations will provide approximately 4,000 meals
to families and seniors in need. Additionally, $100 was
raised through online contributions. These funds will also
go toward helping DeKalb County residents through the
food bank.
DeKalb County Commissioner Kathie Gannon organized the food drive, with sponsorship from Clerk of
Superior Court Debra DeBerry, Solicitor General Sherry
Boston, Tax Commissioner Irvin Johnson, Clerk of State
Court Melanie Wilson, and the DeKalb County Public Library system.


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 11, 2016 • Page 16A

Tessa Loperfido, left, and Brooklyn-Rose Prempeh pose with
Maryum Lewis, executive director of Scottdale Early Learning.

Scottdale Early Learning Center serves approximately 150 children per year at its main building.
Photos by by Andrew Cauthen

Right, Ronan Critchlow looks at the camera while the classes
listens to a story.

Nonprofit serving young children gets new name
by Andrew Cauthen


39-year-old nonprofit that focuses
on early learning
has changed its
name for the third time.
To succinctly communicate its mission. Scottdale
Early Learning Inc. has
shortened its name from
Scottdale Childhood Development Center and Family
Resource Center of Central
“Over the years that
name had become a little
unwieldy and it can be
hard for people to understand what all we do,” said
Maryum Lewis, executive
director for the organization. “Now people talk about
early learning and that is
what we are all about for all
of our programs.
“We wanted to keep the
Scottdale name because it
is a big part of our history,”
Lewis added.
In 1977, the organization began as Scottdale
Day Care.
“We were in the Tobie
Grant housing project,”
Lewis said. “We were just
serving in that community.”
In 1996, the center
moved to its current location, at 479 Warren Ave. in
the Scottdale community.
“When they expanded
to this location, the name
expanded to reflect that
they were doing more,”
Lewis said. That’s when it
became Scottdale Childhood Development Center

and Family Resource Center of Central DeKalb.
“Our board of directors felt a strategic name
change would highlight our
ongoing focus on the importance of early childhood
education,” Lewis said in a
statement. “Along with the
name, we have a new logo
and a comprehensive new
website created by a team
of talented digital marketing
professionals who donated
their time through 48in48,
where some of Atlanta’s
most innovative thinkers
built 48 websites for 48
nonprofits in 48 hours.”
Scottdale Early Learning Inc. has three main
programs. The Scottdale
school, the nonprofit’s main
location, provides early care
and education for children
from 6 weeks to 5 years
old, Lewis said.
The program has Head
Start and Early Head Start
programs, and uses a sliding scale for low income
families “with the whole
goal being that regardless of a family’s income,
their child has access to
high-quality early learning,”
Lewis said.
The program is accredited by National Association
for the Education of Young
Children. “Only about 8 percent of centers nationwide
are accredited,” Lewis said.
Scottdale School serves
up to 90 children at a time
and approximately 150
each year.
Scottdale Early Learning also has community-

based programs, including
its Parents as Teachers
program, which serves 75
“That program goes into
the homes of low income
families with very young
children between 0 and 3
years old,” Lewis said. “The
concept is that parents are
their child’s first teacher.
And these are parents who
are not going to use the
center because maybe
mom is home or she can
work it out with a family
“We have parent educators that go into the home
and work with the parent on
tools and techniques they
can use to keep their child
developmentally on track
and ready for kindergarten,”
Lewis said.
The third major program
of Scottdale Early Learning
is Clarkston Ready School,
“an early learning program
for Arabic-speaking children,” Lewis said.
Scottdale Early Learning is funded by DeKalb
County, Head Start, Bright
from the Start, Early Head
Start and United Way in addition to private and corporate donations.
The nonprofit’s goal
“is that children will start
school ready to learn,”
Lewis said. “We want them
to go to kindergarten and
be fully prepared. If children go to kindergarten and
they’re not ready, then they
quickly fall behind and we
have to do remedial things
which are less effective.”

In the future, Scottdale
Early Learning is “looking
to deepen what we offer to
the community. We want to
make sure we are still being
very pointed in the way we
offer services to low-income
families,” Lewis said.
Additionally, the non-

profit wants to be “smart
in terms of our community
based support. We’re looking to add partnerships in
ways that can deepen the
way families are supported
in early learning even
outside bringing a child to a
center,” Lewis said.



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also affectionate and cannot wait to meet you and be
your friend!

Dusty qualifies for our March “Adopt a Lucky
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over 25 lbs. and $25 for all cats! Adoption includes
spay/neuter, vaccinations, microchip and more! If you
would like more information about Dusty please email or call (404) 2942165. All potential adopters will be screened to ensure
Dusty goes to a good home.


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 11, 2016 • Page 17A

DeKalb nutrition official lobbies for schools

by R. Scott Belzer


onsidering the
numbers, it may
seem easy to
determine the
importance of school
nutrition in DeKalb County.
The DeKalb County
School District is
responsible for providing
73,500 lunches and
26,300 breakfasts per day,
according to its website.
These 99,800 daily meals
eventually equal 18 million
per school year. As of
2015, the district sets
aside approximately $50
million for school nutrition,
covering costs ranging from
healthy meals to proper
According to Joyce
Wimberly, DeKalb
County School District’s
executive director of school
nutrition services, with
the increase in meal and
health standards, this is not
From Feb. 28 to
March 1, Wimberly
joined hundreds of other
nutrition directors in
Washington D.C. for the
44th annual Legislative
Action Conference hosted
by the School Nutrition
Association (SNA), a
nonprofit organization
representing 56,000 school
districts throughout the
For three days,
Wimberly joined the
Georgia SNA, which
represents 6,000 nutrition
officials across the
Peachtree State.
“[Attending the
conference] gives me an
opportunity to network
with other districts and
directors,” Wimberly said.
“It gives me opportunities
to discuss the challenges
school districts are having
in terms of funding.”
According to a
news release from the
organization, SNA’s
main goal in hosting
the conference is to
lobby the Child Nutrition
Reauthorization bill. The
bill would see federal
investment in school
meals and help provide

‘Any product with a greater
nutritional value comes with
a higher cost.’
– Joyce Wimberly
healthier menus to students
Wimberly said the
conference would help
her seek aid in covering
ever-rising nutrition costs
in DeKalb schools. Many
of the increases in costs
come from updated
nutrition standards from
the U.S. Department of
Agriculture (USDA). These
include not only a fruit and
vegetable requirement per
meal, but also whole wheat
By the end of the 2016
fiscal year, SNA estimates
this will cost school districts
a combined $3 billion in
food and labor costs.
The executive director
said these whole grain
requirements are difficult
to implement on a financial
level as well as the student
enjoyment level.
“Any product with a
greater nutritional value
comes with a higher
cost,” Wimberly said.
“We’re having difficulty
finding products that are
acceptable. Whole grain
crusts on pizza are OK,
but in Georgia, whole grain
grits are not us.”
The area that
concerns DeKalb County
the most, according to
Wimberly, is per-meal
reimbursement. The school
nutrition director said
the Reauthorization bill
would allow DeKalb to be
reimbursed 35 cents per
meal for lunch and 10 cents
per meal for breakfast.
If the county website’s
statistics are correct, these
proposals would reimburse

DeKalb County School District’s executive
director of school nutrition services, Joyce

Wimberly attended the 44th annual Legislative Action Conference, hosted by the School Nutrition Association (SNA), in Washington D.C.

the district over $5 million
per year.
Wimberly and
other members of the
Georgia SNA scheduled
appointments with
such officials as U.S.
Representatives Buddy
Carter (R-GA 1st District),
Lynn Westmoreland (RGA 3rd District), Austin
Scott (R-GA 8th District),
Jody Hice (R-GA 10th
District), Rick Allen (R-GA
12th District), David Scott
(D-GA 13th District) and
Tom Graves (R-GA 14th
“I’m looking forward
to telling our local
representatives about
the healthy changes in
our cafeterias, and how

we need their support to
sustain this progress,”
Wimberly said. “I’m also
looking forward to telling
the numbers of students we
serve (102,000) and some
of the challenges we’re
Wimberly said the bestcase scenario for her and
other members of SNA
would be an adoption of the
reauthorization bill. If the
bill does not pass, however,
she said the county would
seek all avenues to ensure
students receive the best
nutrition possible.
“We will do what we
normally do in DeKalb
and continue to apply for
different grants,” Wimberly
said. “We will form

partnerships with different
groups and continue to
work with our district to
get funding from different
The school nutrition
director said healthy meals
stand as the foundation for
a good education.
“The whole idea
behind getting a good
education is to be a wellnourished child,” Wimberly
said. “It helps when
receiving instruction, class
participation, test taking
and being an overall good
For more information
on DeKalb County’s School
Nutrition Services, visit


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 11, 2016 • Page 18A

Boutique hotel focuses on Southern hospitality
by Kathy Mitchell


he white mansion-like
structure with a wide porch
and imposing white columns
that sits atop a hill on Stone
Mountain’s Main Street may appear
to be straight off the set of Gone
With the Wind, but “it’s an optical
illusion,” owner Adam Holcomb
said with a chuckle.
The building may evoke
thoughts of the antebellum South,
but it’s actually approximately 20
years old, built to give visitors to the
1996 Olympic Games a sense that
they had indeed come to Dixie.
The lodging, previously known
as Silver Hill, was purchased
last year by Holcomb, who spent
several months redecorating and
bringing the building up to code in
preparation for its reopening as a
boutique hotel to be renamed Stone
Mountain Manor. A ribbon cutting
for the facility was held March 3.
“A boutique hotel is one that
emphasizes design and personal
service. It’s a concept that started
gaining popularity in the late 1980s
and has now become quite trendy,”
Holcomb said. “Boutique hotels
are one-of-a kind. You won’t find
a chain of them. I want guests to
feel comfortable and at home and
not as though they are at one of
hundreds of nearly identical hotels.”
Holcomb grew up in Chatsworth
and attended college in south
Georgia. “I knew the north part
of the state and the south part,
but I hadn’t spent much time in
the Atlanta area. Growing up, all
I knew about Stone Mountain
was the park. Discovering Stone
Mountain Village has been exciting.
I love the small town charm that’s
so abundant in Stone Mountain
Village. My first goal, of course, is
to make a go of Stone Mountain
Manor, but my second goal is
to help Stone Mountain Village
continue to develop as the truly
special place it is.”
He said local individuals and
organizations, especially the City
of Stone Mountain Downtown
Development Authority and
the Stone Mountain Business
Association, provided valuable help
as he was preparing to reopen the
facility, which has had two previous
After working in other fields,
Holcomb was driven by shifts in
the economy to change careers. “I
was living in San Francisco when
I decided to reinvent myself. I
had always been interested in the
hospitality industry so I went back

Owner Adam Holcomb spent months redecorating before he officially opened the nine-bedroom lodging and event venue to the
public in this month. Photos by Kathy Mitchell

The inn may resemble an antebellum mansion, but it’s actually
approximately 20 years old.

to school and got a degree in hotel
management from San Francisco
City College. I worked six years
in hospitality there. I wanted my
own place, but even small inns in
the San Francisco area start at $5
million. So I decided to come back
to Georgia.”
Holcomb said he looked into
several properties before settling
on the inn he turned into Stone
Mountain Manor. The Old South
flair, he said, was part of the
appeal. “I was raised on good
food and good manners with lots
of charm.” Stone Mountain Manor,
he said, “embodies that Southern
charm and honors the past, while

Previously known as Silver Hill, the boutique hotel is
now called Stone Mountain Manor.

looking forward with modern style
and amenities. It’s a lovely peaceful
setting that’s only 20 minutes from
downtown Atlanta, so guests can
come here and have the best of
both worlds.”
Stone Mountain Manor has nine
guest rooms and common areas
and gardens decorated to suggest
gracious living. In addition to being
a unique lodging option, the facility
is being marketed as an event
venue. “It’s a beautiful place for
weddings, showers, family reunions
and other celebrations. There’s a
gazebo in the courtyard that we’re
still doing a little work on that would
be perfect for a small wedding.


We’re also still designing the
gardens and those should be really
impressive when we’re done.”
A sunroom on the north side
of the building looks out on the
gardens and gazebo. “This is
absolutely breathtaking at sunrise
or sunset,” commented a Holcomb
family friend who has stayed
overnight at the inn several times.
Behind the main building are
a pool and a log cabin. Also on
the property is a cottage that is
Holcomb’s residence. “I live right
here, so I’m here nearly all the
time,” he said. “If someone wants
a tour of the property I’m usually
available to give it to them.”

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



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The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 11, 2016 • Page 20A

Stone Mountain Elementary celebrates Read Across America
by R. Scott Belzer


n March 2, Stone Mountain
Elementary joined thousands of schools across
the country in celebrating
the written word and honoring a celebrated author.
As part of the National Education
Association’s (NEA) annual Read
Across America event, Stone Mountain Elementary played host to more
than a dozen guest readers, including parents, community volunteers
and officers from the Stone Mountain Police Department. The volunteers cycled through classrooms to
read classics of children’s literature
to attentive students.
March 2 also marked the birthday of Theodor Seuss Geisel, better
known as Dr. Seuss. Teachers, staff
and students donned their best “Cat
in the Hat,” “Cindy Lou Who,” and
“Grinch” costumes to herald the occasion. It was not at all unusual to
see red and white striped hats lining
up single file for lunch or recess or
Thing 1 and Thing 2 leading a lesson.
According to Read Across America’s website, the event began in
March of 1998 as a way to celebrate
reading. NEA wanted an event like

Members of the Stone Mountain Police Department read to classes throughout Stone Mountain Elementary as part of Dr. Seuss’
birthday and the annual celebration of Read Across America. Photos by R. Scott Belzer

a pep rally to excite students about
reading rather than sports. The organization decided on Dr. Seuss’
birthday in order to gain a larger
following. The first celebration has
since been referred to as “the largest
celebration of reading this country
has ever seen” by NEA.
Stone Mountain joined 73 other
elementary schools in DeKalb County and thousands of others across
the country in participating. To culminate the event, Stone Mountain preschool, kindergarten and first grade
students held a parade through the
school while dressed up as their favorite characters from literature.
However, according to
Shaknequa Richard, Stone Mountain’s parent liaison, the event was
about more than dressing up.

“We do this every year,” Richard
said. “Children begin to understand
that it’s very important to read and
that literacy, across the board, is
very important. Literacy is key, period; it’s a focal point for our children
to do better in education.”
Librarian Sindy Levitt, who has
participated in the event for several
years, said Dr. Seuss’ birthday provides a great platform to encourage
“It’s a great way to encourage
reading,” Levitt said. “Dr. Seuss is so
well-known by everyone, he’s a legend. It’s a nationwide celebration.”
Stone Mountain principal Corey
Davidson said involvement from
parents and members of the Stone
Mountain Police Department were
integral to creating a sense of com-

munity for not only students, but
the school as a whole. The school
advertises the event early in order to
attract plenty of volunteers.
“We want to bridge that gap,
because there is a gap between
schools and the community,” Davidson said. “It’s important that children
are able to see different individuals
come in and spend their time reading. When they see grandma, mom,
dad, police officers and a neighbor
from down the street come in and
read, it builds morale; teachers feel
appreciated and supported; children
see and recognize faces they see in
the neighborhood.”
To learn more about National
Education Association’s Read
Across America program, visit www.