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FRiDaY, MaRcH 18, 2016 • Vol. 18, no. 50 • FREE

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DeKalb interim CEO:

COUNTY IS ‘STRONG’
Lewis

DeKalb officer
receives
Congressional
Badge of
Bravery
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com

I

n December 2014, five
DeKalb County police
officers responded to a
home invasion and armed
robbery in process at an
apartment complex.
When the officers
arrived, they encountered
two heavily armed suspects.
Two of the five officers were
struck during the gunfire.
However, the officers
survived their wounds, due
to the assistance of one
officer, Jonathan Lewis.
Lewis, a Lithonia High
School graduate, was
able to confront the armed
suspects with force and
aided the two wounded
officers. One suspect was
arrested at the scene and
the second was arrested
after a four-hour manhunt.
Lewis was honored for
his heroic acts that day,
receiving the Congressional
Badge of Bravery on March
9. Congressman Hank
Johnson presented the
medal to Lewis at the Lou
Walker Senior Center.
“He acted with such
bravery in the face of
danger, and it’s really

From left, WSB-TV news anchor Erin Coleman interviews interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May for his State of the County address on March 10.
Photo by Andrew Cauthen

‘I FEEL PRETTY
GOOD ABOUT THE
JOB WE’VE DONE.’
Lee May

by Andrew Cauthen
Andrew@dekalbchamp.com
During his State of the County address on March 10, interim
DeKalb County Lee May has one word to describe DeKalb County.
“Strong.”
And it is legacy he hopes to leave.
“I don’t know if I’m as concerned about history remembering
my name...but I really want to know for myself that we—not just
me, but we—built a strong foundation for this county during a
tumultuous season when leadership seemed that it was unstable,
[and] at a time when the public didn’t quite know what was going
on,” May said.
In front of hundreds of county and business leaders, May sat
down with WSB-TV News Anchor Erin Coleman in a one-onone conversation about the county’s 2015 accomplishments and
goals for 2016. The conversation was during a business luncheon
hosted by the Council for Quality Growth and DeKalb Chamber of
Commerce.
May said that his goal is that “at the end of three and a half
years that the county has a level of stability that the citizens would
want and need.”

See County on Page 5A

See Officer on Page 5A

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local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016 • Page 2A

County roads and drainage workers want a raise, too
by Andrew Cauthen
Andrew@dekalbchamp.com
DeKalb workers who
take care of the county’s
roads and drains are upset
that they were not included
in a 4-percent pay raise recently approved by county
commissioners.
“It was dead wrong for
them to exclude us out of the
4-percent raise,” said Anthony Cade, general foreman in the stormwater division of roads and drainage
and a 30-year employee.
On Feb. 25 county commissioners approved the
DeKalb 2016 budget, which
includes a 4-percent pay
hike for police, fire, 911,
sanitation and watershed
employees. The salary raises, which will affect approximately 2,800 employees, will
go into effect in May.
“We are a vital part of
[the] roads and drainage [department] of DeKalb County,” Cade said. “We keep the
streets open. We keep the
citizens happy and we try to
take care of the citizens in a
timely manner.”

File photo/Andrew Cauthen

Cade said his fellow
workers are upset with the
“way that they treated us
over the past eight years—
we haven’t had a raise, the
pension has gone up, the
insurance has gone up.
“I think it’s time that they
need to come out and actually see what we do for a
living,” Cade said. “They
should give us a 4 percent
raise.”
Jeffery Stanley, a senior equipment operator
who has been working in the
roads and drainage division
for a decade, said, “I feel
that the 4 percent increase

PFT8543_Mrr_ReunionExpo_TheChampion_10.25x7.125_crv.indd 1

that was given to the five
departments was unfair to
roads and drainage because
I feel we are the first responders to everything.
“If there’s a [road] washout going on, they call roads
and drainage,” Stanley said.
“At three or four o’clock in
the morning,...they call roads
and drainage to get a tree
up. Anything that may happen emergency-wise, we
have a crew. We’re always
open. We’re always there.
“The little approval that
[commissioners] gave to
those five departments was
unfair for us. We should

have been...included in that
raise,” he said.
Calvin Alexander, a
senior equipment operator in
the roads and drainage division and a 19-year DeKalb
employee, said, “We need
to be considered as one of
the first responders. The
firefighters call us. They are
always calling us for everything. E911 is calling us all
the time for assistance.”
“Being excluded from the
4 percent pay raise is wrong
on every level and a hard
slap in the faces of roads
and drainage employees,”
Alexander told commissioners March 8.
“We respond first to the
county’s first responders to
help and enable them to respond to their calls,” he said.
“During the 2014 winter ice storm, we kept the
county’s road prepped for
the safety of the constituents,” Alexander said. “We
freed emergency vehicles...
that were stuck so that they
could respond to their calls.
We rescued the school
buses from an elementary
school so that they could be

driven home.
“We clear trees from
roadways year-round,” he
said. “We support firefighters
with our equipment to put
out fires.”
He also told how roads
and drainage crews worked
on Christmas Day because
of snow and ice.
Alexander said he was
“crushed” when commissioners did not include roads
and drainage employees in
the pay hike.
“I thought the commissioners really knew about
roads and drainage, but they
don’t, because if they had
we would have been included before [everyone] except
the police,” he said.
At the March 8 commissioners meeting, Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton introduced a resolution
to give a 4 percent pay raise
to all county employees, except those who just received
one.
“This covers all the employees under the purview
of the CEO,” Sutton said. “I
want to be responsive to the
needs of our employees.”

3/14/16 3:13 PM

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016 • Page 3A

arounddeKalB
atlanta

Fernbank Science Center hosts annual NanoDay
On Saturday, March 19, from noon to 3 p.m., Fernbank Science
Center will be the site of NanoDay.
This free event, part of Atlanta Science Festival, features live
presentations and hands-on displays designed educate the public about
advances in nanoscience.
NanoDay is geared toward the young scientists, ages 5 and older,
and includes a chemical magic show, nano-themed story time, and
games.
More information is available at the Atlanta Science Festival website,
www.atlantasciencefestival.org/events/event/1285.

Fundraising workshop scheduled
Registration is now open for “Under Construction: Build Your 2016
Fundraising Program with RYB,” a fundraising training workshop for
nonprofit organizations being held Friday, March 25, from 9 a.m. to noon
at Druid Hills Presbyterian Church in Atlanta.
“Attendees will learn how to write compelling stories that move
prospects to donors, create mission, vision and values statements and
build development teams that make light work of fundraising heavy
lifting,” an announcement about the event states.
The $49 registration fee includes a workbook and access to a free,
online training call. Organizations that register up to two additional
attendees will receive a 50 percent discount for each registration.
The training workshop will be conducted by Dianne M. Thomas, a
nonprofit resource development trainer, coach and consultant, who has
extensive fundraising experience.
Registration for the workshop is online at dmariethomas.com. Druid
Hills Presbyterian Church is located at 1026 Ponce de Leon Ave., NE,
Atlanta.

aVondale estates

City to host Easter egg hunt and dog parade
Avondale Estates will host its annual Easter egg hunt and dog
parade on March 26, from 10 a.m. until noon at Lake Avondale. Children
up to 10 years old are welcome to participate in the Easter Egg Hunt.
The hunt is divided into four sections based on age: 2 and under, 3-4
years, 5-7 years, and 8-10 years. Eggs are filled with toys and candy and
three eggs in each age category denote winners who will receive special
prizes. The Easter Bunny will also make an appearance.
The Annual Dog Parade will take place during the Easter Egg Hunt.
This event is free and costumes are not required to participate. Awards
categories include best behaved, best costume, best owner/dog duo,
and most spirited/enthusiastic. Check in/register onsite from 9:30-10:15
a.m. The first 50 registered participants to check in will receive a free bag
of goodies.

BrooKhaVen
Mayor to host town hall

Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst will hold a town hall meeting March
31, from 6:30 to 8 p.m. at the Marist School Centennial Center Gym.
The school is located at 3790 Ashford Dunwoody Road. For more
information, visit www.brookhavenga.gov.

City to host ‘parent’s night out’
Brookhaven will host Parent’s Night Out on March 25, from 6:30
to 9 p.m. at Lynwood Community Center. The event is an opportunity
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 pickup is promptly at 9 p.m. Cost is $15 per child; ages: 5-12. For more
information call (404) 637-0512.

clarKston

Georgia Piedmont Technical College to hold early
childhood workshop
Teachers, child care professionals and homeschooling parents will
have an opportunity to increase their knowledge of education at Georgia
Piedmont Technical College (GPTC) March 19 and March 26 from 9 a.m.
to 3 p.m. The cost for both days is $175.
The 12-hour workshop, officially called the Montessori Principles and
Practices for Early Childhood Educators, will focus on the Montessori
approach to child development. Developed by Maria Montessori in
the late 1800s and early 1900s, the approach places emphasis on
independence, freedom within limits, and a child’s natural physical,
psychological and social progress.
GPTC is located at 495 North Indian Creek Drive in Clarkston. For
more information, contact Annie Frazer at (404) 838-8472 or Roberta
Malavenda at (404) 736-6602. Both can be reached via email at annie@
montessori-partnerships.org and Roberta@cdfaction.org, respectively.

State Court judge announces annual S.M.I.L.E. summer
program
DeKalb County State Court Stacey K. Hydrick is accepting
applications for her fifth annual Summer Mentoring Initiative in Legal
Education (S.M.I.L.E. ) Program.
Hydrick developed this free program specifically for high school girls
interested in learning more about the criminal and civil justice system.
The S.M.I.L.E program will meet 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. every Friday from
June 3 to July 29. The sessions will be held in Hydrick’s courtroom (2A)
located in the judicial tower of the DeKalb County Courthouse, 556 N.
McDonough Street, Decatur.
The program will include speakers from DeKalb County Solicitor
General’s Office, DeKalb County Public Defender’s Office, Atlanta Legal
Aid, DeKalb County Probation Department, the Women’s Resource
Center, DeKalb County Superior Court, DeKalb County Magistrate Court,
DeKalb County Juvenile Court, DeKalb County Police Department DUI
Task Force, as well as attorneys working in private practice. The program
also includes a tour of the DeKalb County Jail.
The application deadline is April 15. For further information, visit the
program website at www.smiledekalb.com, or, contact Judge Hydrick
through her assistant, Tess Darisaw, at (404) 371-2350; or email at:
tdarisaw@dekalbcountyga.gov.

pine laKe

Post Office renaming bill passes US House
A bill renaming Pine Lake Post Office after a fallen city police officer
cleared the US House of Representatives March 1, moving on to the
next phase of federal approval.
Headed by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA 4th District), the bill, officially
known as HR 3274, has since moved on to the US Senate for discussion
before potentially arriving on President Barack Obama’s desk to be
signed.
HR 3274 was introduced by Johnson in July 2015 and has been read
twice in the Senate and referred to the Committee on Homeland Security
and Government Affairs, according to congress.gov.
If the bill is passed, the Pine Lake Post Office, located at the
intersection of Rockbridge Road and Spring Drive, will be named the
Francis Manuel Ortega Post Office. Officer Ortega was shot and killed
in front of the post office on Aug. 11, 2005, while conducting a traffic
stop. At the time of his death, Ortega was a part-time police officer with
Pine Lake and a full-time officer with Georgia Regional Hospital. He was
survived by his parents Francisoc and Luz, his sister Joann, as well as
his children Frankey and Kaylie.
Ortega was also pursuing a degree in criminal justice.
According to Johnson, Ortega stopped a vehicle for minor traffic
violations in front of the post office. While Ortega was communicating
with dispatch, the driver exited his vehicle and approached the police
officer’s cruiser. Ortega ordered the man get back in his vehicle, resulting
in a struggle.
Ortega was eventually shot and killed as a result. The perpetrator
then entered the Pine Lake Post Office and committed suicide.
“Ortega, like many men and women who choose law enforcement
as a career, was not driven by the mere pursuit of wealth,” said Johnson
before Congress. “Officer Ortega was motivated by the desire to serve
others by keeping our community safe.”

local

Delphyne Lomax

One DeKalb resident is taking
her volunteer skills to the county
level.
Delphyne Lomax, 57, was
recently appointed to the DeKalb
County Board of Health. She was
officially sworn in, March 14. Lomax
will be specializing as a consumer
representing “the county’s needy,
underprivileged, or elderly
community.”
Lomax’s appointment seems to
be years in the making, particularly
in the realm of health. Daily, Lomax
participates in specialty market
research which includes health
and medicine. Her work at V&L
Research and Consulting, her selfrun business, has linked her with
such organizations as Centers for
Disease Control and Prevention
as well as The Center for Child
Wellbeing.
“I’ve been in business for
over 25 years,” Lomax said. “We

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016 • Page 4A

do market research concerning
healthcare.”
Lomax said her expertise
in dealing with low-to-moderate
income consumers as well as her
chairperson status on Live Healthy
DeKalb makes her placement on
the DeKalb County Board of Health
all the more appropriate.
“[Live Healthy DeKalb] is made
up of people who live, work and
play a healthy lifestyle in DeKalb,”
Lomax said. “The overall mission
and goal is to have a healthy
community and environment. We
want to motivate healthy lifestyles
and make sure we have a walkable
community.”
Lomax also served on the
board for the South DeKalb YMCA
to further make use of her talents.
However, the new Board of Health
member cites her time spent
working with United Way as the
highlight of her volunteering career.

Delphyne Lomax

“I did some volunteer work for
the United Way,” Lomax said. “I
helped United Way in reviewing
grants. Some that we reviewed

had a lot to do with those in need,
including seniors.”
Lomax said her career in
research has opened her eyes to
broader, deeper societal problems
and that volunteering is her way of
instigating change. She said one of
her primary goals in serving on the
DeKalb Board of Health would be
assuring healthcare for her three
focus groups.
“As a business owner and
community member of DeKalb
County, I think we should give
back,” she said. “This is my way of
giving back.”
Lomax is originally from Akron,
Ohio, but has been an Atlanta
resident for more than 30 years.
In addition to the DeKalb Board
of Health, Lomax is affiliated
with Unconditional Love for
Children Inc. as well as the First
African Community Development
Corporation.

Georgia Piedmont announces 2016 GOAL winner
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com
LaShonda Jenkins, 42, has
not let being a mother, environment
enthusiast or full-time billing
specialist stifle her success in the
classroom.
Jenkins was recently awarded
the 2016 Georgia Occupational
Award of Leadership (GOAL)
by Georgia Piedmont Technical
College (GPTC) for her academic
excellence and leadership skills in
the classroom. She joins 23 other
winners from technical colleges
throughout the state.
“It’s not something I was
expecting or even looking toward,”
Jenkins said. “But, once I was
recognized and awarded, I realized
I did have a lot to bring to the
table.”
Jenkins has studied accounting
at GPTC since May 2015 and
plans to graduate by May 2016.
The student credits her short,
successful stay at the DeKalb
college to tenaciousness and hard
work.
“I am an overachiever,” Jenkins
said. “I got an 80 [percent grade] at
the beginning of my first semester
and started freaking out.”
Jenkins described accounting
as a great fit because of her

LaShonda Jenkins

work experience and affinity for
numbers. She said she has always
been the person in her family or
group of friends who obsessively
kept track of finances.
Jenkins admits the
technological changes inside
classrooms have taken some
getting used to. However, she also
said sticking to “old school” habits
and classic forms of study helped
her earn her recognition.
“I changed all my study habits
and went back to the ‘old school,’”

Jenkins said. “I busted out the
pen and paper. I can’t study on a
computer; I need a physical book.
I have to look at it, hold it, and flip
back and forth through pages. My
son laughs – he has all his books
on a Kindle while I walk around with
five binders.”
Zakar and Taneka Jenkins,
LaShonda’s children, are also
students at GPTC. Jenkins calls the
time spent at the college a family
affair that has come with its own set
of challenges.
“The juggling of personal and
student life in addition to working
has been a challenge,” Jenkins said.
Originally hailing from Jesup,
Ga., Jenkins came to Atlanta to
study psychology at Clark Atlanta
University. She’s been an Atlanta
resident for the past 20 years and
currently works for Acoba Inc., as a
billing specialist.
Jenkins said the company
falls in line with her personal
views regarding the environment.
According to Jenkins, Acoba
manages utilities on behalf of
mortgage companies and banks
and monitors energy usage in
the process. Jenkins cites the
company’s environmental policies
as an added bonus to being an
employee.
“The amount of [carbon

dioxide] we’re able to reduce
makes me love the company.
I’m a tree hugger; you can call
me that,” Jenkins said. “I’m a big
environmental change proponent.
It comes with growing up in a small
town – nature is part of my life.”
As GPTC’s 2016 GOAL
winner, Jenkins represented
GPTC on March 1 against other
regional schools. She was
interviewed by a panel of judges
representing business, civic and
higher education organizations.
According to a release about
the event, the selection criteria
include community involvement;
commitment to the college and
mission of technological colleges;
and constructively using innovative
learning techniques.
Jenkins’ theme focused on
allowing one’s past to make one a
better person. She will find out if
she has moved on to the state level
of the competition in early April.
Jenkins credits the overall
community of GPTC as a great
support system in taking on such
an endeavor.
“The people I’ve come into
contact with are phenomenal,”
Jenkins said. “They go above and
beyond and you can tell it’s more
than just a paycheck for them. It’s a
mission.”

recognizing and supporting the community

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016

COunty Continued From Page 1A

local

During his final State of the County address, interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May says the county is
strong, but needs infrastructure improvements. Photo by Andrew Cauthen

Additionally, “I want it
to be known that we were
thinking forward [and]
that in 20 years we would
be heavily invested in
infrastructure; that in 20
years it would be great to
have had some MARTA
rail extensions in DeKalb
County—two of them,
Clifton [corridor] and I-20;
[and] that our finances are
still strong,” May said.
“I’m really concern more
about the foundation of the

county,” he said.
This was May’s final
State of the County address
after deciding in February
not to seek the position he
was appointed to in June
2013 by Gov. Nathan Deal.
May filled the position
after county CEO Burrell
Ellis was suspended by
the governor after being
indicted on multiple felony
charges including extortion.
May served as a county
commissioner from July

2006 until he resigned from
the position in May 2015 to
allow for a special election
for the District 5 commission
seat.
Coleman asked May to
discuss taking office during
the turmoil the county ws in.
“When you take offices
like this there is typically a
transition period. You get
elected [and] take office four
to six months later,” May
said. “I took office literally
the next day.”

Page 5A

Upon taking office, May
said he began meeting
with county employees in
groups.
“Of all the work that we
do as a county, nothing can
happen if it’s not for our
employees,” May said.
“There was a sense of
uncertainty. They didn’t
know what was happening.
The moral was really, really,
really low at that time,” May
said. “So really stabilizing
the workforce was really
critical.”
May said the county
employees have done “an
awesome, awesome job
staying focused, doing their
jobs and really supporting
me in this role,” and thus,
have been successful in the
past three years.
“I feel pretty good about
the job we’ve done,” May
said.
For his second
consecutive State of the
County address, May again
discussed his idea for a
“Downtown DeKalb” along
Memorial Drive in the center
of the county.
Downtown DeKalb,
coupled with the proposed
development at the former
General Motors facility in
Doraville, “could transform
the economic landscape of
DeKalb County,” May said.
To address some

quality of life concerns,
May announced that the
county has formed a new
litter abatement group, 50
employees “pick up trash
and debris in the public right
of ways.”
When asked about his
goals for the remainder
of his term, May said
an important number to
remember is 417.
“That’s the number of
miles that need repaving in
DeKalb County,” May said.
Because of the county’s
needs for road paving
and other capital projects
such as police precincts
and fire stations, May said
a large focus during the
remainder of his term will be
the upcoming vote on the
special purpose local option
sales tax (SPLOST), which
would be used to fund these
capital projects.
The SPLOST “will allow
us to address that entire
backlog,” May said. “I really
believe that it’s going to us
build a strong foundation.”
“We’ve really come to the
point now that if we don’t
address our infrastructure
needs now, we’re going to
have a crumbling DeKalb
County,” May said.
“We’ve got to deal with it
now. We’ve got to take care
of home first,” May said.

officer Continued From Page 1A
remarkable that no one was
killed out there,” Johnson
said. “It has to do with the
response that Officer Lewis
and how he responded to
that scene”
Lewis thanked his family,
friends and his colleagues
who were with him that day.
“None of us would be
here without each other,”
Lewis said. “It was a group
effort and I’m just thankful
for each and every one of
them.
“Our profession—it’s a
hard time right now for it,”
Lewis added. “The small
percentages of officers
that make mistakes get
the majority of the media
attention. But I’m grateful
for the men and women that
I work with every day. It’s
only by the grace of God
that I’m still here today and
the other officers are still

here.”
The Congressional
Badge of Bravery is
reserved for the individuals
who show acts of bravery in
the line of duty.
“I’m so proud of this
young man because he
is a hometown boy from
Lithonia High School,”
Johnson said. “He could
have done other things but
he decided to go into law
enforcement. He’s been a
DeKalb County officer for
the last eight years. I think
it takes a special breed of
person to want to go into
law enforcement because
you really don’t do it for the
money. You do it for the
service.”
Interim DeKalb CEO Lee
May said the county was
grateful for Lewis’ bravery
on that day.
“We really respect you,

honor you and celebrate
you,” May said. “On behalf
of DeKalb County residents
we’re thankful that our
congressman clearly
understands the importance
that you have, individually
and collectively as officers,
to our great county. I’m so
thankful to have leaders like
[Lewis]. Each and every day
that all of our officers suit
up, every day that you suit
up Officer Lewis, especially
on that day, you show
tremendous love for all of
DeKalb County.”
DeKalb Public Safety
Director Dr. Cedric
Alexander said what Lewis
did was one of the most
heroic acts he has seen
during his 40-plus years in
law enforcement.
“They were relentless
and they didn’t give
up because it was just

Congressman Hank Johnson presented the Congressional Badge of
Bravery to Officer Jonathan Lewis. Photo by Andy Phelan

not about protecting
themselves, or Officer
Lewis protecting himself,”
Alexander said. “He knew,
and his other partners knew,
that he was the difference
between armed suspects

getting out into a community
against innocent people
who were not able to protect
themselves. They took that
stand and they did not stop,
they did not wavier.”

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016

opinion

Page 6A

Local political races shouldn’t be underestimated
The state of politics
in this country is a hot
mess right now and one
doesn’t have to look any
further than the current
presidential political race for
confirmation.
The GOP presidential
debate in Detroit on March
3 was dominated by
personal attacks, name
calling and an unbelievable
discussion of the size of
candidates’ hands and their
man-parts—occasionally
they touched on the issues.
This is all great theater
if one ignores that these
individuals are vying for
the highest office in the
land. And that this leader—
whether Republican or
Democrat—will be involved
in what does or doesn’t get
done and how the executive

Gale Horton Gay
gale@dekalbchamp.com

Lifestyle Editor

and legislative branches
work together going
forward.
While political races
for national leaders tend
to garner more of our
attention and conversation
than local races, to me
they also feel more remote.

These contenders take their
swings through our states,
and every now and then
through our cities, promising
that what we care about is
also what they plan to focus
on if elected. However, once
the last votes are cast and
the leader chosen, his or
her interest in and attention
on our communities and
local concerns always
seems to fade.
Such is not the case in
local races.
Those running to
be our county and city
leaders have nothing but
local issues to concern
themselves with and
it’s much easier for the
electorate to determine
whether candidates have
the knowledge, experience,
interest and temperament

to handle the job. Potential
voters have plenty of
opportunities right here at
home to attend candidate
forums, ask those vying
for office questions face to
face, talk to neighbors and
friends about what these
individuals have or haven’t
done and make informed
decisions.
March 11 is the
qualification deadline for
candidates vying for city,
county and state political
offices so the field then will
be set.
And it’s not too soon for
those of us who care about
our communities to begin
the process of finding out
what we need to know to
cast an informed vote in
these races. In some cases
it’s a matter of deciding

whether certain people
should be returned to office
or if new blood should
brought in. Our next chief
executive officer of DeKalb
County is just one of the
many races to be decided
as well as who should serve
on city councils, the county
commission and a range
of other political positions.
These men and women will
have a direct impact on the
quality of our lives and our
communities for years to
come.
Despite the razzle
dazzle that will continue to
surround the presidential
race for the next eight
months, it’s up to us to
focus our attention where
it really matters and where
we can have the biggest
impact—right here at home.

Clarifying misconceptions about the Assembly TAD
I was born and raised in
DeKalb County. I attended
DeKalb County Schools,
and my children all attended
DeKalb County schools. I
currently have a child in the
DeKalb County Schools
and I am proud of these
facts. I believe that the
DeKalb County School
System could greatly
benefit from the proposed
GM site redevelopment
known as the Assembly.
I have become greatly
concerned about the
misinformation being put
forward concerning this
redevelopment.
This does not just
concern me as the mayor
of Doraville, but as a mom.
There is a Tax Allocation
District (TAD) being
proposed for this plan to
work effectively which
could also help the School
System. When I consider
the future of our schools
and think about the tens of
millions of dollars that the
school district will not get
by saying no to the TAD, it
saddens me.
There are those that
would have us believe that
by participating in our TAD,
the schools will be giving up
tax revenue. In reality they
will only lose revenue if they
don’t participate.
Those that would have

Pittman

us believe that TADs are
bad for schools, make a
very misguided assumption.
That assumption is
that the development will
happen without the TAD.
During the TAD process,
a city or county is required
to prepare what the state
calls a “redevelopment
plan.” This is basically
a feasibility study. Many
communities produce these
in-house, but to avoid any
perceived bias, Doraville
used a highly respected
third-party firm. The study
projected an eventual buildout worth roughly $800
million in assessed tax
value.
Currently, the TAD
area is assessed at $40
million, which translates

into $1.7 million in property
tax revenue for the three
jurisdictions. The city,
county and school district
would continue to collect
that figure during the life
of the TAD. As the area
develops, taxes from the
increased value (“positive
increment”) are directed
toward paying off revenue
bonds that are used to build
the infrastructure needed to
allow the site to develop in
the first place.
The study determined
that, in theory, $247
million in bonds could
be issued. In reality, the
total infrastructure costs
are around $180 million.
This shows us that the
development plan will
more than support the
needed infrastructure costs
if all three jurisdictions
participate.
TAD funds can also
be used to leverage other
sources such as grants
which will greatly reduce
the needed increment and
bring the TAD to an end
sooner. Without a TAD,
neither Doraville nor DeKalb
County can afford the 20
percent match required for
large federal grants.
The State Farm facility is
being built in DeKalb right
next to a MARTA station.
We can have that too, but

first our MARTA station has
to actually connect to the
former GM property. The
rail line sits on the edge
of Peachtree Ridge (the
continental divide). The GM
property sits 35 feet below
a cliff.
Getting from the
Doraville MARTA station
to Assembly, as of now,
requires a 700-foot walk up
New Peachtree Road, down
a narrow and dangerous
flight of service stairs to
Motors Industrial Way. From
there, it’s another 1,200 feet
into one of only two entry
points. We have to keep in
mind the infrastructure was
designed over 70 years
ago. It was well suited
for an industrial facility
but not a dense, urban
development. Opposition
to TAD financing typically
stems from a misguided
assumption that the
development can happen
without it.
In the case of Doraville
and the Assembly project,
this assumption is simply
untrue. The uniqueness
of the site and the severe
challenges of access to the
MARTA station mean that it
will not develop except on
the fringes where streets
already exist.
This means that millions
of dollars in new revenue for

our schools will be lost.
Those that would have
us believe that using a
TAD means that we are
giving up tax dollars for
the sake of a development
are misrepresenting the
facts. Without the TAD,
the development does not
happen, thus the tax dollars
never materialize.
Additionally, these same
critics of the TAD never
seem to remember that it
only uses the property tax.
It does not use the personal
property tax or E-SPLOST
money. For instance, in the
case of the school district,
we need to compare the
two scenarios of using and
not using the TAD. Over
the next 25 years, the
school district will receive
approximately $4 million in
personal property tax if they
do not participate in the
TAD. If they do participate
in the TAD, they will receive
approximately $65 million.
Over the next 25 years, the
school district will receive
approximately $4.1 million
in E-SPLOST dollars if they
do not participate in the
TAD. If they do participate
in the TAD, they will receive
approximately $45 million.
All of these new dollars
can be used to pay teachers
and build much needed new
schools.

See TAD on Page 7A

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016

opinion

Page 7A

One Man’s Opinion

He’s got high hopes!
“...Anyone knows an ant
can’t...move a rubber tree
plant -- But he’s got Hi-igh Hopes, he’s got High
Hopes...he’s got high apple
pie in the sky hopes...” lyrics
from the Frank Sinatra
classic, “High Hopes”
(1959) and movie “Hole in
the Head.”
Frank Sinatra is not
surprisingly also a favorite
of GOP presidential frontrunner, Donald J. Trump,
and I’m certain he is familiar
with this tune. Which brings
me to The Donald’s favorite
campaign promise and
the audience participation
portion of most Trump
rallies, I’m talking about the
now 50-foot wall along the
U.S./Mexican border. Hey,
go big or go home right?
Along the Rio Grande First, a 1970 U.S./
Mexican boundary treaty
governs all structures
along the Rio Grande
and Colorado rivers at
the Mexican border. The
treaty requires that no
permanent or temporary
structure disrupt the flow
of these waters. The Rio
Grande flows across Texas
and 24 miles of Arizona,
defining the U.S./Mexican
border. Our entire southern
border is nearly 2,100 miles
from end to end. And, as
Mr. Trump well knows,
to develop any project or
parcel, it helps significantly
to own the land, to have the
appropriate zoning and a
friendly/healthy relationship
with the local governing
officials and authorities.
During the second term
of President George W.
Bush, Congress authorized
$1.2 billion to construct
several hundred miles

The

Champion

Bill Crane
bill.csicrane@gmail.com

Columnist
of double-layer fencing
along the U.S./Mexican
border. Some 650 miles
of various kinds of fencing
was built (estimated cost to
date $7 billion), including
a floating fence dividing
the ecologically fragile
sand dunes of Southern
California. Existing treaty
obligations and flood zones
also would require long
stretches of the Trump’s
proposed ‘Taj MaWall’ to be
built well inside the United
States. In addition to the
costs of land acquisition
of numerous ranchers
and private land owners,
property is owned by at
least one Indian tribe along
the border, and it may be
more than a bit challenging
to force Mexico to pay for/
manage construction on a
wall well into U.S. territory.
 
How high? And, why?
Many Mexicans still
believe that the U.S. in
effect stole Texas and
most of California and
the southwest from their
country, which depending
on how you interpret history
or the Mexican-American
War of 1846-47, we sort
of did. In 1844, then U.S.
President James K. Polk
offered to purchase millions

of acres of disputed lands,
guaranteeing the people of
the United States land for
expansion from the Atlantic
Ocean to the Pacific.
When that real estate
deal was rejected, Polk
sent in occupying troops
and the territories were
seized. War followed,
including the U.S. capture
of Mexico City, and a later
treaty in 1848, with Mexico
ceded Texas, California,
New Mexico, Arizona and
pretty much the entire U.S.
southwest for the princely
sum of $15 million, and
the assumption of $3.25
million in debt. Postexpansion debate in the
states over slavery in these
new territories would later
foment into the American
Civil War. Perhaps this
is more like what Trump
actually has in mind.
Squeezing the balloon
During the ongoing drug
war, many law enforcement
professionals, often
patrolling that same border
for illegal narcotic activity,
often point out that as long
as there is demand for more
product here in the United
States, there will always
eventually be supply. As
long as the United States
remains a beacon of hope
and economic opportunity,
there will always be demand
to reach our shores, and
as long as U.S. employers
are seeking hard-working
inexpensive labor, there will
also always be that type of
demand as well. 
The North American Free
Trade Agreement (NAFTA)
took years to negotiate and
finalize and, despite trade
imbalances, has expanded
the economies of Mexico,
the United States and

FreePress

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Canada. Trump is familiar
with several benefits of the
treaty, as much of his Trump
clothing line is currently
manufactured at textile
plants in Mexico. 
The Great Wall of
China remains a marvel
of engineering and human
will power. Nearly 4,000
miles of that wall still stands
across China, but even
that wall, built for collecting
tariffs as well as security,
was breached by the
Mongol hordes and others. 
However, if Trump’s
Mexican border wall is
actually constructed, it
may become more akin
to the Berlin Wall. Maybe
Mr. Trump should ask

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his good friend NBC’s
Brian Williams more
about that. They seem to
have a similar view of the
importance of facts and
telling the truth.
 
Bill Crane also serves as
a political analyst and commentator for Channel 2’s Action News, WSB-AM News/
Talk 750 and now 95.5 FM,
as well as a columnist for
The Champion, Champion
Free Press and Georgia
Trend. Crane is a DeKalb
native and business owner,
living in Scottdale. You can
reach him or comment on
a column at bill.csicrane@
gmail.com. 

TAD Continued From Page 1A
As someone who grew up attending DeKalb schools
and is now the parent of a student in DeKalb schools,
it concerns me greatly that we would dismiss this
opportunity.
The City of Doraville has made it clear to the
[DeKalb County] School District that we are willing to
work with them to make sure that students in the entire
district will benefit immediately from the Assembly
development.
We have shared with them our willingness to work
on a payment in lieu of taxes (PILOT) that would
direct new revenue to the school district immediately.
We have shared with them our willingness to make
the oversight of the TAD a true partnership. We have
shared with them our willingness and desire to direct
revenue to build new school facilities. All of these are in
addition to the tens of millions in new revenue they will
see through the life of the TAD.
I want to thank Dr. Green and his staff for taking this
issue seriously. I want to thank them for taking the time
to meet with us to discuss how we can make this TAD
work. We look forward to meeting with them again in
the very near future to find the solution that works for
everyone.
Donna Pittman
Mayor, Doraville

Publisher:
John Hewitt

Production Manager:
Kemesha Hunt

Chief Financial Officer:
Dr. Earl D. Glenn

Photographer:
Travis Hudgons

Managing Editor:
Andrew Cauthen

Staff Reporters:
Carla Parker
R. Scott Belzer

The Champion Free Press is published each Friday
by ACE III Communications, Inc.,
114 New Street, Suite E, Decatur, GA. 30030
Phone (404) 373-7779.
www.championnewspaper.com
DISPLAY ADVERTISING (404) 373-7779 x 110

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

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016 • Page 8A

Principal resigns following racial, sexual allegations
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com
Lakeside High School principal
Jason Clyne, who was accused
of making racial statements to staff
and coworkers in January, resigned
March 8 following the substantiation
of seven more allegations dating
back to August 2014.
Clyne’s resignation comes after
an investigation made public Jan.
27 and drafted in writing Feb. 17.
The investigation was prompted
by a flier posted on Twitter alleging
Clyne addressed custodial and
security staff by saying “You
don’t want to mess with me. I’m a
redneck with a master’s degree. I
run these 40!”
The flier went on to explain the
meaning behind “40 acres and a
mule,” and that Clyne was implying
Lakeside High School was a
plantation.
According to the investigative
report conducted by DeKalb
County School District, allegations
also include two other racial
conflicts, sexual harassment,
intimidation regarding an
unqualified student’s graduation,

Jason Clyne

changing grades, allowing parent
volunteers on the school district’s
database and loaning county
computer equipment – all of which
were substantiated.
A total of 18 other teachers,
counselors, custodians and staff
members in addition to Clyne were
interviewed to substantiate such
accusations.
“The allegation that Mr.
Clyne made inappropriate racial
statements towards his custodial

staff and assistant principal is
substantiated,” reads the report.
“Mr. Clyne told the staff that he
was in charge of all 40 acres that
Lakeside High School sat on and
he also told the staff that he was a
‘redneck with a master’s degree.’”
The investigation also
substantiated the claim of Clyne
improperly mediating students in
reference to a Confederate battle
flag. According to the report,
Clyne told students “the ‘redneck
students’ have the right to believe
in their southern heritage,” and
“Mr. Clyne blamed [Black] students
for ‘provoking’ offensive conduct
towards them, but he had no
evidence to support his assertions.”
In addition, the investigation
supported the claim of Clyne
making “racial comments about
[Black] males” to a colleague.
Clyne reportedly told another
school district employee “AfricanAmerican males with bald heads
and bowties are not the kind of
Black men that belong in Lakeside
High School.”
The investigation into Clyne
also revealed claims of sexual
harassment. A district employee

filed a formal complaint listing
several instances of sexual
harassment throughout the school
year since being hired in April 2015.
One instance mentioned asking
the employee “if [they] like to give
lap dances” during an interview
before bragging about it to another
employee. Another incident
involved Clyne giving the victim a
pamphlet titled “101 Ways to Make
Love Without Doin’ It.”
In all, Clyne was found to be
in violation of three standards
adopted by DeKalb County Schools
from the Professional Standards
Commission of Georgia: honesty,
confidential information and
professional conduct.
Green said the district is
“moving forward in partnership”
with the Anti-Defamation League
in an effort to “help the students,
staff and parents at Lakeside High
School heal from this experience
and the issue it has raised.”
“The focus of our efforts will be
to foster a culture of mutual respect
through candid conversations
and empathetic listening as
Lakeside High School engages in a
restorative process,” he said.

City clears Lithonia police chief, officer of wrongdoing
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
The Lithonia police chief was
not in the wrong when he put
his hand around a teen’s neck,
according to the city.
Chief Roosevelt Smith and
Captain Lloyd Owens were
cleared by City Administrator
Eddie Moody of any wrongdoing
in a Feb. 5 incident in which both
officers were accused of assaulting
17-year-old Isiah Harvey while he
was in custody for burglary.
According to Harvey’s lawyer,
Frank T. Smith, Moody met with
Mayor Deborah Jackson and the
city council in an executive session
during the March 7 regular council
meeting to present his conclusion
in the investigation of the incident.
After the executive session,
councilmembers voted 3-2 to
accept Moody’s findings. Council
members Shameka Reynolds
and Ric Dodd, who voted against
Moody’s conclusion, walked out
of the meeting after the 3-2 vote,
according to Attorney Smith.
Attorney Smith, who was the
city’s solicitor for 10 years, said he
was not surprised by the decision.
Smith sent an “ante litem notice
of demand” to the city on Feb. 11
to make them aware of the chief’s
actions. He gave the city 30 days
to respond to the notice before he
decides whether to file a lawsuit.

File photo/Travis Hudgons

“We kind of know what that
response will be based on the
decision from [the city council
meeting],” the lawyer said. “The
next step at this point is to move
forward with litigation. I probably
will not do that until the district
attorney’s office has concluded
their investigation, or if any other
law enforcement agencies—that
are investigating—conclude their
investigation. Then after that point
I will move forward with the civil
suit.”
The family of the teen
requested a $75,000 settlement
in the notice. Smith said they are
contemplating adding Moody to the
suit as well.
According to Harvey and

Lithonia Sgt. Angela Hatchett,
who witnessed the incident, both
said in written statements that
the chief choked Harvey while he
was handcuffed and Owens had
a struggle with the teen as well.
Hatchett and Harvey also said that
Smith pointed a Taser at the teen’s
head.
“Chief Smith and Capt. L.
Owens assaulted Mr. Harvey,”
Hatchett stated. “There was no
reason at all for them to put their
hands on Mr. Harvey in that matter.
Their actions were unjustifiable and
unethical.”
Smith admitted to putting
his hand around Harvey’s neck
and holding the Taser to Harvey
because he was being “combative.”

Outside of the incident with
Harvey, Chief Smith has been
accused of other acts by former
and current officers. Those officers
have complained to the city about
incidents involving the chief and
Owens, and the hostile work
environment Smith has created
with no resolution to the matter,
according to the officers.
Attorney Smith said the city
council meeting was divided with
Moody, Smith and Owens sitting on
one side of the room while current
and former officers were on the
other side.
“I cannot say readily right
now that there is one officer in
that entire department that is in
favor of the chief and the captain
remaining in their current position
whether it’s because of the Harvey
situation or whether it’s because
of their own personal gripes about
how hostile he has made that work
environment even prior to the
Harvey situation,” Smith said.
Former officer Foster Hill said
the city’s decision to clear Chief
Smith is “garbage.”
“I’m quite sure the DA will do
their job and handle this,” Foster
said. “Everybody is going to have to
answer to this. I’m just so surprised
in [the city council]. Why would
they put themselves in that type of
situation? I have no idea why they
are standing behind him.”

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016 • Page 9A

Avondale Estates
commission
approves body
cameras for police
officers

The DeKalb County ethics board can now get to work after hiring an ethics officer. Photo by Andrew Cauthen

County selects ethics officer
by Andrew Cauthen
Andrew@dekalbchamp.com

D

eKalb County
Commissioners voted 6-0,
with one abstention, to
approve the appointment
of Stacey Kalberman as the
county’s new ethics officer on
March 8.
Kalberman of Decatur served
as executive director of the
Georgia Ethics Commission from
April 2010 to October 2011. She
won $700,000 in a lawsuit against
Georgia’s ethics commission
after claiming that her salary was
reduced and her deputy removed
for investigating complaints against
Gov. Nathan Deal.
According to the Associated
Press, “Kalberman claimed in her
suit against the commission and its
current director that commissioners
had slashed her salary and
eliminated her deputy’s post after
the two sought approval to issue
subpoenas as part of the agency’s
investigation into Mr. Deal’s 2010
campaign reports and financial
disclosures.”
Most recently, Kalberman
worked as the senior director of
regulatory counsel at Asurion,
a cell phone insurance and
warranties provider.
According to her resume,
Kalberman has more than 20
years’ experience “counseling
clients on both regulatory and
business issues as both inhouse counsel in small and large
insurance companies and as
outside counsel in law firms.”
In a memo to commissioners,
Lawrence Schall, chairman of
the county’s ethics board, said
the board unanimously voted to

extend an offer to Kalberman, who
accepted it.
“Ms. Kalberman is passionate
about ethics in government and
brings a wealth of experience to
bear on the challenges facing
DeKalb County,” Schall wrote. “Ms.
Kalberman is a very highly qualified
candidate.”
Schall asked the
commissioners to confirm
Kalberman’s appointment “at the
earliest possible time so that [she]
can begin her work.”
Commissioner Sharon
Barnes Sutton tried to delay the
confirmation of Kalberman, saying
she wanted commissioners to
interview and vet Kalberman.
Sutton said allowing a
committee of commissioners to vet
the candidates would not take away
the power from the ethics board.
“Under normal circumstances,
when we are brought an
appointment, it goes through
committee,” Sutton said. “It has
not been deferred to committee. It
has not been heard in committee.
Isn’t it our responsibility at the very
least to meet the candidate and
interview the candidate so that we
can determine if this is someone
that we want to confirm.
“We’ve never met the
candidate,” Sutton said. “I don’t
know anything about the candidate
other than her conflict with the
governor and the Republican Party.
“This is a very important
appointment and I think it is
incumbent upon this board to do its
due diligence and not succumb to
political pressure,” she said.
Commissioner Jeff Rader said
the candidates had been vetted by
the ethics board.
“This is different from our

normal process,” Rader said. “The
due diligence is the responsibility
of the ethics boards.”
Rader said the state law
establishing the ethics officer
position was written to remove
the ability of commissioners
and other elected officials to
control the ethics board, thereby
“creating a level of independence
and insulation from the elected
officials that the board of ethics is
supposed to oversee.”
The position of ethics officer,
and its six-year term, was
approved by voters in November
2015.
In a related item,
commissioners approved an ethics
board request to increase its
budget from $215,242 to $300,000.
Schall said the ethics board
was concerned that its budget
would not be “adequate for
necessary expenditures for
the year. This potential budget
shortfall is due to the ethics
officer’s anticipated salary of
$125,000 to $135,000, as well as
the full-time and part-time staffing
needs, including office staff and
investigators.
Additional budget requests in
the future may be made because
of current and possible lawsuits
against the board, Schall said.
Sutton has sued the ethics
board, claiming that it was
unconstitutional.
In September the ethics board
found probable cause to have final
hearings for the ethics complaints
against Sutton and her aide, Judy
Brownlee, who are both accused
of misusing county funds.
Sutton did not vote on the two
items concerning the ethics board
on March 7.

by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
All Avondale Estates police
officers will soon have body
cameras.
During its March 2 regular
meeting, the Avondale
Estates Board of Mayor and
Commissioners approved the
five-year agreement with Taser
International to provide body
cameras to all officers.
The cost of the agreement is
$16,838, which is not included in
the city’s budget, according to City
Manager Clai Brown.
“It’s an additional cost,” Brown
said.
The agreement also includes
storage for the cameras,
maintenance, chargers and
additional equipment.
Avondale Estates
Commissioner Terry Giager said
the real benefit of body cameras
is protecting the city from liabilities
and lawsuits “from people possibly
saying something happened that
wasn’t quite what happened and
that type of stuff.”
“I think it’s a really, really good
thing for the protection of our
officers and for the liability of the
city,” Giager said.
Commissioner Adela Yelton
said the cameras would protect
the officers, the city and “also
the citizens involved in certain
situations.”
Body cameras for police
officers have become a hot
topic in America in the wake
of officer involved shootings of
unarmed citizens. State Rep.
Billy Mitchell along with other
state representatives sponsored
House Bill 32 during the current
legislative session that would
require law enforcement offices to
be equipped with body cameras.

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016 • Page 10A

Clarkston plans future facelift
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com

T

Clarkston city manager Keith
Barker answers questions
during a public meeting about
over Clarkston 2040, which
aims to help revitalize the city.
Photos by R. Scott Belzer

Alex Fite-Wassilak of TSW Planning discusses Clarkston 2040 during a public meeting. The plan will
amend Clarkston’s comprehensive plan to make the city more walkable and pedestrian friendly.

comprehensive plan was
made up of three main components: embracing diversity, improving the perception
of Clarkston as well as land
use connectivity for pedestrians and cyclists.
Fite-Wassilak mentioned
how residential neighborhoods being close to the
city’s downtown, combined
with Clarkston’s two colleges, were ideal in reaching
these goals.
“Residents and people
outside the city could really
stand to be educated about
what Clarkston has going
on,” Fite-Wassilak said.
Suggestions mentioned
by Williamson included renovating existing apartments
in the northwest portion of
the city for multi-use, exploring park potential near
Peachtree Creek, making
downtown walkable for college students, moving city
hall and creating a larger
green space for events, and
making Clarkston’s connection to Stone Mountain more
attractive.
“The idea is to take
existing buildings and renovate a lot of them,” said Williamson. “If you strengthen
your downtown core, you’ll
strengthen your community
in time.”
The audience was
polled via cell phones as to
what they would like to see
in Clarkston. Answers were
broadcast on a large screen
for both the audience and
the designers.
Attendees voted for
Clarkston’s city hall being
renovated, more mixeduse and transit oriented
development, as well as

a possible multi-use trail
through the downtown area.
Audience members indicated what they considered
Clarkston currently (diverse)
and what they wanted to
consider Clarkston in the
future (vibrant, modern).
Attendees’ primary concerns involved clarifications
as well as how soon they
could see improvements.
“When you talk about
a 25-year project, has the
springboard already started?” asked one attendee.
“I’ve seen very little, or no,
development in the past 10
years.”
Barker explained the
streetscapes project, which
would act as a “springboard” for Clarkston development, would be bid

out to developers within 10
months and under construction by June of next year.
“It’s going to tremendously change our main
corridor,” Barker said.
Other questions
had to do with how the
audience could get
involved in attracting new
businesses or ride the
wave of development from
surrounding cities.
“We’re selling a product
in development,” said
Barker. “We have funding,
that’s the important part.
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Help people understand this
is not a project in concept,
this is going to happen.
Tell people it’s going to
tremendously improve the
aesthetics of the diverse
community in the state.”
For more information
on Clarkston 2040, visit
clarkston2040.wordpress.
com. Team leaders can
be contacted by email at
sqawiy@cityofclarkston.com
as well as afitewassilak@
tsw-design.com.

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000215719r1

he city of Clarkston
began a 25-year facelift process on Feb.
29, starting a conversation that will last until
early summer.
City officials and residents came together at
Clarkston Community Center to discuss Clarkston
2040, a long-term update
to the city’s comprehensive
plan. The meeting was the
first of four, with the other
three coming in March, April
and May. At the event the
public participated in an
electronic poll, asked questions and heard about the
project from Clarkston 2040
team members.
“This is a very exciting time for the city of
Clarkston,” said Keith
Barker, Clarkston city manager. “This is [the public’s]
opportunity to give input into
our 25-year comprehensive
plan.”
Barker was joined by
Adam Williamson and
Alex Fite-Wassilak, representatives from TSW Planning, a design and architecture firm based in Atlanta.
Clarkston 2040 team member Shawanna Qawiy also
was present to discuss the
project with the public.
Clarkston 2040
comes as part of the city’s
Streetscape Project, a product of Clarkston’s Living
Community Initiatives (LCI)
grant awarded last year.
Clarkston 2040 will address
newly annexed portions of
the city, whereas the LCI is
aimed more at the downtown area. Officials hope,
the two projects will improve
city roads; create a sense
of place; catalyze civic and
economic revitalization; and
encourage investment.
Clarkston 2040 proposals must be submitted in
writing by October before
action is taken.
Fite-Wassilak said the
current comprehensive
plan, adopted in 2005,
needed updates to fall in
line with the city’s needs.
The comprehensive plan
guides city officials’ decisions regarding issues surrounding the mentioned issues, he explained, and the
public input is all-important
in making its alterations legitimate.
The designer said the

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local

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

Superintendent addresses high suspension rate

20
155

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285

Y

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285
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DeKalb County schools
superintendent Stephen Green
released a statement addressing
school suspensions on March 1
following an article published in the
Atlanta Journal-Constitution in midFebruary.
The story cited state data
showing DeKalb County high
schools accounted for five of
the top 10 schools with the
most suspensions and hinted
the county may be overly reliant
upon suspension as a disciplinary
measure. Columbia, Martin Luther
King Jr., McNair, Miller Grove and
Towers made up five of the top 10
listed and four of the top five.
Green wrote March 1 that the
county “might not agree completely”
with the data, but admits the
issue has been on his mind since
his arrival in July 2015. The
superintendent also said the county
may need to address its disciplinary
action.
“We’re not really proud of [the
data],” Green writes. “Suspension
should not routinely be the first
consequence when a student
runs into an issue of discipline.
A de facto suspension policy
for discipline violations teaches
students a lot about punishment
… but not so much about problemsolving, self-control, or compassion
for others.”
On Feb. 23, DeKalb County
School District released a public

of Student Conduct handbook,
the superintendent announced a
newly created Student Support
and Intervention Division that will
help cover the diverse needs of
the county’s students and families.
With 135 schools, 102,000
students hailing from 180 nations
and speaking 144 languages, the
division seems more than needed,
according to the superintendent.
Green states DeKalb
County School District’s spike
in suspensions are symptoms
of a larger problem, specifically
regarding young men of color.
“Our disciplinary system
disproportionately punishes male
students of color,” Green stated.
“More Black young men, and a
DeKalb County schools superintendent Stephen Green.
File photo/Travis Hudgons higher percentage of young Black
men, receive discipline than any
other group in public schools.”
advisory seeking input from
street corner problems? Absolutely
The superintendent said this
parents on a revised Code of
not.”
path of discipline creates broader
Student Conduct Handbook for
The superintendent outlined
the 2016-2017 school year. In his
how restorative practices differ from problems in the community at large.
“A kid out of school has a higher
statement on March 1, Green states punitive practices. In a punitive
chance of ending up in the criminal
the county’s intention “grafting
system, Green writes, discipline
justice system, not to mention the
restorative practices” and “more
“fails to make any real connections
reasonable penalties” into the
between punishment and the actual higher chance of being a victim
of a violent crime,” Green stated.
county’s educational system.
offense.”
“Without schooling, fewer young
Green stated the district should
“Authorities ask: What rule’s
men of color participate in the
be doing everything in its power to
been broken? Who’s to blame?
labor force compared to young
keep students inside the classroom, What’s the punishment?” Green
White men. This means higher
especially when disciplining them.
states. “The restorative approach
unemployment and poverty rates in
“…Dismissing a young person
asks questions that open a path to
adulthood … and a perpetual cycle
for bad behavior in school often
progress: What happened? Who’s
of hopelessness.”
simply pushes that bad behavior
been affected? How? How do we
For more information on the
out into the world,” Green states.
put things right? How do we move
DeKalb County School District, visit
“Is this the role of an educational
forward?”
www.dekalb.k12.ga.us or call (678)
system, sending classroom
In addition to adding
676-1200.
problems out the door to become
restorative practices to the Code

W

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sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com

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local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016 • Page 12A

Demolition begins on Lithonia Plaza

Lithonia Mayor Deborah Jackson says the plaza’s
demolition will transform the city.

A bulldozer begins reducing Lithonia Plaza to rubble. In approximately 45 days, this eyesore in Lithonia will be no more. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

by Andrew Cauthen
Andrew@dekalbchamp.com

W

hile dozens of residents
and community leaders
looked on, a bulldozer
took chunk after chunk
out of the old Lithonia Plaza, an

eyesore for decades.
“This is a great day,” said
Lithonia Mayor Deborah Jackson,
as the bulldozer worked in the
background. “It is a sign of progress
actually continuing to take place
in the city of Lithonia. We’ve been
talking about the plaza for many

years. This has been a journey that
we have all been on together.”
The city has been seeking to
redevelop the plaza since a Livable
Centers Initiative study was done in
2003. The plaza has been vacant
since 2009 when the last tenant
moved.

“We’ve been diligently working
on a way to get it demolished,”
Jackson said.
In the plaza’s place, Wendover
Housing Partners will develop a
$12 million apartment complex

See Demo on Page 17A

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016 • Page 13A

weeKinPICTURES

The Stephenson Area Elementary Band showcased its talents recently at a DeKalb County Board of Education meeting held March 7. The band is the only elementary level
band to be featured at the Georgia Music Educator’s Association’s annual conference. Photos by R. Scott Belzer

Commissioner hosts community ‘Stock the Fire Station Pantry’ party
DeKalb County Commissioner Stan
Watson on Feb. 27, joined neighbors
from homeowners associations and
churches to support the firefighters who
serve their communities.
Pounds of staple supplies,
snacks, seasonings, and drinks were
donated to DeKalb County Fire Station
No. 4 located on Flakes Mill Road
and Fire Station No. 16 located on
Pleasantwood Drive.
Representatives from Holly
Hills and Brook Glen joined Watson
and DeKalb County Fire Chief
Darnell Fullum at Fire Station No.
4, which serves the County Line/
Ellenwood area. Later that morning,
representatives from Chapel Hill,
Hartwood Estates, Summit at Chapel
Hill, Kings Park, Eagles Ridge, and
Hillcrest Church of Christ participated
in the pantry drive at Station No. 16,
which serves the Wesley Chapel/
Snapfinger Road area.
Watson organized the effort to
thank first responders for their sacrifice.
“I, along with representatives in
these communities, am humbled by
the commitment our firefighters make
each and every day,” Watson stated
in a news release. “I encourage the
community to go by and show your
appreciation to these unspoken heroes.
“It’s amazing how we take for
granted the services our firefighters
provide,” he said. “If we have not been
impacted personally, a visit to the
station to see how our fire fighters live
day to day, in wait, is overwhelming.”
Watson said. “I encourage you to stop
by, bring your children, and just say
‘thank you.’”

23

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local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016 • Page 14A

Panel ponders change in county government
by Andrew Cauthen
Andrew@dekalbchamp.com

T

he problem with DeKalb
County may not be its form of
government.
That’s what three top leaders
from the governments of Cobb,
DeKalb and Gwinnett counties said
during a March 8 panel discussion.
“It may not be the system,
it may be the people,” said
Gwinnett County administrator
Glenn Stephens, who functions
as the chief executive assistant
to Gwinnett County’s Board of
Commissioners and oversees of 12
departments. He has been in that
role since 2009.
“We all go through these little
difficulties in metro Atlanta,” said
Stephens, an attorney who has
worked for DeKalb County’s law
department representing the county
in land use litigation. “It’s the people
who fill the roles who make the
difference.”
In addition to Stephens, the
panel was composed of Zach
Williams, DeKalb County executive
assistant and chief operating
officer, and David Hankerson,
Cobb County manager. The
panel discussion on how a county
manager would change DeKalb
was sponsored by DeKalb
Commissioner Kathie Gannon
and Blueprints2, a group of DeKalb
residents who are studying forms of
government in the region.
Two pieces of legislation have
been introduced in the Georgia
General Assembly that would
abolish the CEO position in favor
of a county manager hired by
the Board of Commissioners and
managed by a full-time, elected
commission chairperson.
Williams agreed with Stephens
and said, “The structure of
government is incidental to other
things.”
Stephens said he worked for
DeKalb when Liane Levetan was
the county’s CEO. The form of
government “was a little awkward
then but it was doable.”
In Gwinnett, Stephens said,
“Our board went through a problem

From left, Zachary Williams, DeKalb’s executive assistant/COO; David Hankerson, Cobb County manager; and Glenn Stephens,
Gwinnett County administrator, discuss various forms of government. Photo by Andrew Cauthen

‘You can have any form of government, but
when leaders do not work together, it will tear
any form of government apart.’

– David Hankerson, Cobb County manager

where we had folks that did
things that weren’t right as board
members. I think it is important for
us all to remember that … it matters
who the people are.
“We are all humans. Folks make
mistakes,” he said.
Stephens cautioned DeKalb to
carefully consider any changes to
its form of government.
“Once it’s set, it’s difficult to
change,” he said.
Hankerson, who has been
Cobb’s manager since 1993, said
the government’s job is “about
serving the taxpayer.”
“You can have any form of
government,” he said, but when
leaders do not work together, “it will
tear any form of government apart.”
Hankerson said his county has
been “very fortunate” because it
has not had major problems with

ethics violations.
“We try hard to keep our
board of commissioners out of the
procurement process and a lot
of other things,” Hankerson said.
“That’s where we’re very strict. I
even stay out of the procurement
process.”
Williams said that DeKalb’s
new ethics board and ethics
officer should “position us to move
forward.”
“Understand [that] a lot of what
you have seen or heard are actually
actions and activities that may
have taken place three, four [or]
five years ago,” Williams said. “It
just has taken this much time to be
discussed.
“We’re moving forward,” he
added.
When residents had the
opportunity to address the panel,

former DeKalb school board
member Zepora Roberts said,
“Regardless of which form of
government we go with, the
problems in DeKalb County are
still going to be there until those
in office now put the county and
citizens’ needs first.
DeKalb CEO and
commissioners “must remove
personal agendas, put personalities
aside and do what is right and
what is best...to move this county
forward,” she said.
Roberts said the county is
divided racially, geographically and
along party lines.
“Until we remove these barriers,
and the board of commissioners
and the CEO decide that they are
going to work together, do the right
things and represent all...citizens in
DeKalb County, then we will forever
be doing the same things and
getting the same results,” Roberts
said.
“So changing our form of
government is not the answer,”
Roberts said. “What we need to
do is to tweak what we have and
then let the people in office decide
and make up their minds that they
are going to work together for the
benefit...of DeKalb County.”

Watson resigns to run for tax commissioner
by Andrew Cauthen
Andrew@dekalbchamp.com

DeKalb County Super District
7 Commissioner Stan Watson
has resigned his position to run
for another county office.
Watson, who was first elected
as a county commissioner in
2010, qualified to run for tax
commissioner March 11. Because
of his candidacy, Watson
resigned from his commission

seat the same day as required by
state law.
The two remaining years of
Watson’s four year commission
term will be filled by a special
election.
This is Watson’s second
attempt in filling the tax
commissioner’s seat. He ran
unsuccessfully for the position in
1988 against Gene Adams.
“He was a popular tax
commissioner back in the day

and I was probably one of the
first African Americans to run
countywide,” Watson said. “I lost
to him by about 30,000 votes.
That was my first attempt running
for a countywide office.”
In addition to running for
county commissioner and tax
commissioner, Watson has run
unsuccessfully for county CEO in
2008, losing to now suspended

See Watson on Page 15A

Stan Watson

File photo/Travis Hudgons

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016 • Page 15A

Chamblee High to memorialize longtime employee
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com

O

ne north DeKalb County
high school has honored a
former coach and beloved
community member by
renaming its gym.
Chamblee Charter High
School officials announced plans
to rename its gymnasium after
Theodore ‘Teddy’ Carter on
March 7. The issue was presented
and unanimously approved during
a regularly scheduled monthly
DeKalb County Board of Education
meeting.
The longtime coach, mentor,
supervisor and school district
employee died in May 2015,
prompting the Chamblee
community to unite for the purpose
of establishing a proper memorial.
A committee contacted school
board member Stan Jester, who
represents District 1 and the
Chamblee area; Jester organized
a meeting the following June.
There, a petition of more than
1,400 signatures was presented as
evidence of Carter’s popularity.
Originally from Brooklyn, N.Y.,
Carter earned a bachelor’s in
education from South Carolina
State University. Carter also served
in the United States Army for 20
years and retired as a major.
Carter was a 13-year campus
supervisor and coach at Chamblee
Charter High School. In that
time, he was able to positively
influence many students, staff and
teachers through his presence and
demeanor, according to school
representatives.
At the meeting, staff members
were quick to remember Carter’s
“hawkeyes,” or ability to spot
students misbehaving from a
distance. Others pointed out
Carter’s tendency to connect with

The DeKalb County Board of Education unanimously agreed to move forward with
renaming Chamblee Charter High School’s gymnasium after longtime employee
Theodore “Teddy” Carter. Photo by R. Scott Belzer

students raised by single parents
and non-traditional mentors. More
recall his willingness to set up field
trips to South Carolina State.
Tinikia Jones, head counselor
at Chamblee Charter, said every
school would be honored to have a
person like Carter at their school.
“[Carter] was a shining example
of what I think we need at every
school in DeKalb,” Jones said.
“He was not limited to his job as a
campus supervisor or coach. He
commanded a presence in school
unlike anyone I’ve ever seen. We
miss him every day.”
Jones said it was fitting to
rename the gymnasium after
Carter because of his diligence
in adhering to gym-specific rules
and commanding respect for the
structure.
Chamblee assistant principal
Shervette Miller-Payton and
teacher Javon Weatherly called
Carter a protector, friend and
disciplinary giant in the community.
“Carter’s awareness of and

Theodore “Teddy” Carter

sensitivities to [students] with
specific issues made him a master
of de-escalation and resulted in
proactive rather than reactive
supervision of students,” Weatherly
said.
“All [teachers] had to say was
‘Do you want Carter time?’ and

Chamblee moves forward with hotel tax increase
Visitors and overnight commuters in
northwest DeKalb County may pay more
at local hotels and motels following the
closing of the 2016 Georgia Legislative
Session.
On Feb. 16, Chamblee’s city council
unanimously agreed to pass a resolution
requesting to increase the city’s hotel and
motel tax rate from 5 to 8 percent.
Chamblee’s tax rate has remained at
5 percent for several years, even while
state law has allowed increases. Half of
the additional 3 percent will go toward
promotions, conventions and trade shows
while the other half will go directly to
tourism product development.
According to the written resolution,
made public on Chamblee’s official website,
the tax “would benefit the City of Chamblee
by providing additional revenues for the
promotion of travel and tourism and tourism

product development.”
Chamblee offers the city’s only
concentrated site of Chinese culture by way
of Atlanta Chinatown Mall, located along
New Peachtree Road. While efforts have
been made in the past to make Atlanta
Chinatown Mall a tourist destination, it has
yet to draw crowds that would demand
hotel or motel use.

students would straighten up,”
Miller-Payton said. “Carter was
known for going far above and
beyond in completing his duty,
sometimes going off campus to
keep truant students safe.”
According to Miller-Payton,
Carter mentored as a sponsor
in the Men of Distinction Club at
Chamblee Charter, which helped
young male students achieve their
goals. Through this program, MillerPayton said, Carter single-handedly
helped numerous students get
scholarships at his college alma
mater.
The assistant principal went on
to say how students found Carter
irreplaceable and that Chamblee
Charter High School would never
be the same.
“They’re right, Chamblee will
never be the same,” Miller-Payton
said. “But we still benefit from
Carter’s indelible impact and we
want the future Chamblee family to
see his indelible name on campus.”
Norman Sauce, principal of
Chamblee Charter, said he arrived
at the high school after Carter’s
death but felt the affection from
within the community.
“I began at Chamblee in July
2015, Coach Carter had already
passed,” Sauce said. “But you
quickly learn who the legends
are that have impacted a school
community in immensely positive
ways. It arose very quickly how that
person was Coach Carter.”
Under Board Policy Regulation
FDC-R (1), the board of education
has the option to waive a fiveyear waiting period for renaming a
school structure. This option was
taken March 7.
Following an upcoming yet to
be scheduled ceremony, Chamblee
Charter High School’s gymnasium
will be known as the Coach Teddy
Carter Gym.

WATSoN Continued From Page 14A
CEO Burrell Ellis.
Watson served as a
state representative August 1997 to December
2008.
Watson’s professional background is in
reimbursements and collections in the healthcare
industry.
“I’ve done account
receivables for over 25
years,” Watson said.
Watson said his campaign slogan is “collections
with compassion.”
“I would like to make
sure I improve access by
adding another office and

improve technology and
expand greater customer
service,” he said.
Other candidates
who qualified to run for
tax commissioner are
Tax Commissioner Irvin
Johnson and Susannah
Scott, daughter of former
county Commissioner
Jacqueline Scott and
the late Tom Scott,
who served as a state
senator and as county tax
commissioner.
The three candidates
will face each other in the
May 24 Democratic primary election.

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016 • Page 16A

Community garden boxes, a gazebo and playground equipment are in place at a new park being constructed on North Decatur Road.

Brookside Park construction under way
by Andrew Cauthen
Andrew@dekalbchamp.com
Construction is under way on
a new community park in DeKalb
County.
Brookside Park, located at
3661 North Decatur Road in
unincorporated Decatur, will feature
a walking trail, community garden
boxes, off-leash dog area and a
playground.
“It’s looking good. I’m excited.
It’s been a long time coming,” said
DeKalb County Commissioner
Kathie Gannon.
The park is on the former site
of an “old, dilapidated” apartment
complex, said Gannon, who used
District 6 park bonds funding to
acquire the property.
“They were foreclosed on and
they were just sitting there with
taxes accumulating and we couldn’t
sell it or do anything until we took
care of the tax lien,” Gannon said.
County officials “first discussed
with the apartment people next
door—they were renovating those
apartments—about potentially
doing a land swap or perhaps even
buying the property to add onto
the apartments,” Gannon said. But
those talks were not successful.
“So we just had that horrible
dilapidated, torn-down, rat-infested,

Brookside Park, located at 3661 North Decatur Road, is being constructed on the site of an old, rundown apartment complex.
Photos by Andrew Cauthen

drug infested [property],” she said.
Once the county acquired
the property, it demolished the
old apartments and removed
thousands of used tires that has
been dumped on the site and in the
nearby stream.
Recently workers have been
repairing a broken culvert on the

property. “And it looks like there’s
some grading issues they need
to take care of here too,” Gannon
said.
“But the big stuff is in,” she said.
“Once they get to the landscaping,
that’s always pretty easy. That will
happen pretty quickly, I think.”
Gannon said residents in the

community around the park have
already formed a Friends of the
Park group and will be focusing on
increasing its membership.
“I’m very excited. The neighbors
are very excited. It’s going to be
fun,” Gannon said. “It’s really a nice
addition to this neighborhood over
here.”

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016 • Page 17A

Library expands downloadable options
by Kathy Mitchell
Thanks to modern technology,
library users don’t always have to
go to a brick and mortar building.
“Sometimes the library can
come to you—24 hours a day,
seven days a week,” said Lesley
Barber, collections manager at
the DeKalb County Public Library.
She explained that the library
is expanding its downloadable
electronic offerings following the
March 1 launch of OneClick Digital.
“This is a new service offered
by a vendor we already were
using,” Barber noted, adding that
library patrons now have many
additional options for downloading
books and audiobook format
materials without leaving home.
Libraries have included
electronic products for decades
and continue to keep pace with
new technologies as they become
available. “The technologies,
formats, and systems associated
with e-books are changing rapidly,”
according to the American Library
Association’s website. “Libraries
help people develop the skills
necessary to make efficient and
effective use of e-books as a
technology and service.”
Approximately 85 classic titles
such as Charlotte Bronte’s Jane
Eyre, Shakespeare’s Hamlet,
L. Frank Baum’s The Wizard
of Oz and Mark Twain’s Life on
the Mississippi are now available
through the DeKalb County Public
Library’s OneClick Digital system.
These are available in both
downloadable audio and e-book

formats, Barber said.
“These classics are all in the
public domain and no royalties
are due an author or an author’s
heirs so they can be downloaded
in e-book or audiobook format and
kept permanently or as long as the
library patron wants,” according to
Barber.
“Many of these are available
for free at other places on the web,
but these are nicely formatted
and easy to access for library
cardholders,” she said.
“This is especially helpful for
students. If a teacher assigns
the class one of these classics,
an unlimited number of students
have access to the book. A special
feature of these classic e-books is
simultaneous access for all those
titles. That means the titles will
always be available and readers
won’t have to wait for a checkedout title to be returned,” Barber
said.
E-book technology also permits
several volumes to be downloaded
into a relatively light, compact
device such as an electronic
notebook or e-book reader such

as Sony Reader, Kindle or Nook,
enabling the student to avoid
carrying bulky; heavy printed
books. The technology also allows
readers to change the print size
and look up word meanings on the
same device.
Libraries handle e-books
differently than print books because
print books are purchased as
physical copies that the library
owns. Rights holders typically
license—rather than sell—access
to digital resources, according to
information on the American Library
Association’s website.
Materials with copyright and
licensing restrictions must be
checked out and returned within
a specified time period as with
traditional library materials even
though check-out and return don’t
require physically visiting the
library.
“We’re especially excited that
the new collection offers Pimsleur
foreign language courses in
downloadable audiobook format,”
Barber said.
“There has always been a
big demand for foreign language

learning materials. We had these
materials before in CD format,
but we never had enough. As
downloadable audio materials,
they never get damaged. We have
multiple copies of the most popular
languages and some in many
obscure ones,” she said.
Barber added that the library
has made an effort to replicate in
downloadable form the language
learning materials already on its
shelves.
The Pimsleur language courses
include more than 150 titles in
numerous languages—including
Arabic, Chinese, Korean, Farsi,
Russian and Spanish. Information
from the library also indicated that
28 titles in eight languages are
available for speakers of English
as a second language. The new
offerings supplement the library’s
OverDrive collection of eBooks and
downloadable audiobooks.
Despite their advantages in
certain situations, electronic books
are unlikely to replace printed ones,
Barber predicted.
Wall Street Journal columnist
Joe Queenan in his book One
for the Books put it this way:
“Electronic books are ideal for
people who value the information
contained in them…but they
are useless for people who are
engaged in an intense, lifelong love
affair with books. Books that we
can touch; books that we can smell;
books that we can depend on.”
Access to OneClick Digital will
require a library card and personal
identification number in good
standing.

demo Continued From Page 12A
with 75 units , including 24 one-bedroom,
45 two-bedroom and six three-bedroom
apartments.
Additionally, the development will
include a pool, gazebo, computer room,
community room and other amenities.
The developer received low-income
housing tax credits from the Department
of Community Affairs. Those credits will
be used to build the affordable workforce
units which are available to residents with
incomes of up to $40,000 a year.
Demolition is expected to take approximately 45 days. The construction is
expected to begin this summer and last approximately 12 to 18 months, Jackson said.
“To have the community here to see
the beginning of a new era, we’re very
excited,” Jackson said.
“Basically we’re creating an
opportunity for living and working and
playing in downtown Lithonia,” she said.
“I think it is going to transform [the
city] significantly,” Jackson said. “[We] will
have 75 families coming into the city. That
will help provide additional support for
our businesses that are in the downtown
area. It will increase opportunities in
terms of letting people know Lithonia is a
happening place to be.”

Residents and community leaders pose for photos before the razing of Lithonia Plaza begins. Photo by Andrew Cauthen

education

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

Photo by Travis Hudgons

School districts to purchase portable classrooms
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com

M

illions of dollars are
set to leave DeKalb’s
two school districts
to temporarily fix the
seemingly permanent problem of
growth.
The solutions come in many
shapes and sizes. They bear many
names, including modular, mobile,
demountable and relocatable.
Most commonly, however, they are
known as portables or portable
classrooms.
Both DeKalb County School
District (DCSD) and City Schools
of Decatur (CSD) have agreed
to spend more than $2 million on
portables to address overcrowding.
The agreements came during
regularly scheduled board of
education meetings held March 7
and March 8.
DCSD is enrolled in its fourth
education special purpose local
option sales tax (E-SPLOST)
expected to bring $475 million in
capital funding to schools. School
officials set aside $2.5 million for
structural improvements in October
2015.
DCSD officials unanimously
agreed to use that $2.5 million
to purchase 20 single wide and
eight quad units to help address
overcrowding in the Cross Keys
cluster. According to DeKalb
officials, the units will replace
older, outdated models and create
additional space.

“This is part of our preliminary
expectation,” said Joshua
Williams, chief operations officer
for DCSD’s division of operations.
“We’re assuming 20 [and 8 quad
units] based on preliminary data
available. We [sought] the $2.5
million in the event it’s more.”

preparation for the 2016-2017
school year.
Williams said DCSD ultimately
wishes to phase out portable
classrooms.
“However, in the interim, we
have to work through that point
and get to that place,” Williams

‘We need some
temporary classrooms
for various reasons.’
– David Dude, City Schools of Decatur superintendent
Overcrowded schools expected
to benefit from the purchase
include Briar Vista, Cary Reynolds,
Dresden, Fernbank, Montclair and
Woodward elementary schools,
Chamblee and Cross Keys high
schools, as well as Warren Tech.
Williams could not provide
the Board of Education specifics
at the time of the meeting on
which schools would receive
replacement classrooms and which
would receive new classrooms.
Regardless, the board moved
forward with the acquisition in

said.
Similarly, CSD allotted $2.3
million from its general obligation
bond funds to purchase 16
total portable classrooms. Six
classrooms will be built at Decatur
High School, six will be built at 4/5
Academy and the remaining four
will be given to either Oakhurst,
Winona Park or split between the
two.
“We need some temporary
classrooms for various reasons,”
said CSD superintendent
David Dude. “We’ve got to get

classrooms somewhere on the
southside for elementary on a
temporary basis. We need some at
[4/5 Academy] after an enrollment
capacity analysis. We need some
at [Decatur High School] because
we’re going to need swing space
during construction.”
Dude said school leadership
teams from Winona Park and
Oakhurst will discuss who will
get portable classrooms before
bringing a recommendation to
administration.
CSD considered the option
of leasing East Lake Elementary
from Atlanta Public Schools for an
estimated $7,000 per month as a
way of addressing overcrowding
issues and projected enrollment.
Dude cited staffing, renovation
and other costs as reasons not to
pursue the nearby school as an
option.
In addition, Dude said East
Lake would primarily provide relief
to 4/5 Academy.
“Once we looked at all the
costs and feasible scenarios that
had come up, there wasn’t much
financial incentive,” Dude said.
“Even bigger, by far, every single
person did not like the idea of
their student being bused off site.
I decided it was best to make do
with temporary classrooms to get
us through until we can find a
permanent solution.”
CSD board member Garrett
Goebel said the cost of staffing a
leased school, without including
teachers, was more than $500,000.

education

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

Thousands to redistrict in Cross Keys cluster
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com

M

ore than 1,700
DeKalb County
students can
expect to attend a
different school next
year, following a
regularly scheduled
county board of
education meeting.
On March 7, DeKalb County
School District (DCSD) officials
unanimously agreed to temporarily
redistrict an area from Ponce de
Leon Avenue in Atlanta to the
northeastern portion of I-285
due to overcrowding. Following
the decision, an estimated 1,469
elementary and 232 high school
students will attend a different
Hundreds attended DeKalb County School District’s public input meeting March 7. Photo by R. Scott Belzer
school at the beginning of the
2016-2017 school year.
While the plan was referred to
we’re facing in this area,” Williams
as “short term” and heralded by
said.
DeKalb officials, some Cross Keys
Board member Marshall
students and community members
arrived at the meeting to voice their Orson, who represents the
This story is currently online.
majority of the affected area in
concerns.
View the maps and share
District 2, championed the idea.
The plan, recommended by
your comments.
While he admitted the issue
Superintendent Stephen Green,
was “emotional,” he stated Briar
will see 61 elementary school
Vista and Fernbank’s leadership
students move from Woodward to
Visit:
expressed willingness to be part of
Briar Vista; 269 from Montclair to
the temporary solution.
Fernbank; 394 from Montclair to
“It’s important to note this has
the former International Student
been a longstanding issue in the
Center (ISC); 444 from Dresden
Cross Keys cluster,” Orson said.
to Montclair; and 301 from Cary
“It’s gone unaddressed by all of our
Reynolds to Dresden.
predecessors for a very long time.
In addition, 232 high school
The need to take action is really
students will move from Cross
moved are being taken away from
“Parents of students, many of
palpable. The fact that we haven’t
Keys to Chamblee.
programs and services that are
them
cannot
voice
their
opinion
done anything as a district is really
“We’re chasing a growth pattern
right down the street,” Huynh said.
on
the
situation
due
to
language
reprehensible.”
that’s already heading to other
Cross Keys community member
barriers
and
transportation
issues,”
James McMahan, another
schools,” Green said. “This is the first
Gonzalez said. “Many of them won’t Kim Gokce provided the board
step. We’re going to be wrestling with board member who represents
with reluctant support. While Gocke
have any idea what’s happening
District 4, echoed Orson’s support.
this for quite some time.”
voiced his appreciation to board
to students or schools. Most of the
“I look forward to our budget
Joshua Williams, the district’s
members first, he also warned
students
at
both
schools
are
not
process for next year. This was
chief operations officer, presented
them of not causing parents to
happy
about
it,
mostly
being
juniors
another wrinkle,” McMahan said.
the plan to the board during an
“vote with their feet” and move out
and
seniors
because
they
want
to
“I look forward to addressing this
afternoon work session on March
of district.
graduate
at
the
school
they’re
most
7. He explained the staff-proposed issue that’s 20 years overdue.”
“The Cross Keys community
comfortable
with.”
DeKalb officials said long-term
plan was devised following
has been looking for relief and
Victoria Huynh, a graduate
solutions being considered include
four community meetings from
focus on this matter for some time,”
of Cross Keys High School who
September 2015 to February 2016. two new elementary schools as
Gokce said. “Your support and
followed Gonzalez’s lead, said
well as the “feasibility” of more
The district states attendance at
response is very welcome. The
similar
considerations
should
be
middle
and
high
schools.
these meetings, in which various
situation is highly complex and the
taken
when
considering
short-term
A community outcry was not
plans were proposed, numbered
challenge has been years in the
redistricting.
This
includes
ensuring
heard until the public input portion
more than 1,900 community
making. There should be more time
language
support
systems
are
in
of DCSD’s monthly meeting.
members who voiced 1,400
to deliberate and there isn’t. There
place
so
parents
could
voice
their
Kelvin Gonzalez, a junior at Cross
comments.
should be more options; there
Keys High School, said redistricting opinions during public meetings,
“While we heard comments
aren’t. There should be a cost and
alleviating transportation issues,
would not be effective as outlined.
arguing for the district to do
pain-free way of moving forward;
and knowing similar programs are
The Cross Keys junior said
nothing, simply doing nothing or
there isn’t. This recommendation
available
at
different
schools,
such
focusing
on
a
long-term
solution
maintaining the status quo is not an
is the worst, except for all the
as
child
care
and
enrichment.
acceptable option given the current was much more favorable to the
alternatives.”
“Children
who
are
being
community.
and future overcrowding concerns

bit.ly/crosskeys

Business

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016 • Page 20A

Consignment shops plan moves to larger sites
by Kathy Mitchell
Finders Keepers, a cluster
of consignment shops that
recently celebrated 32 years in
business, announced that one of
its four stores, Finders Keepers
Furnishings, is moving soon—but
not far. The new location, a recently
vacated space at Twin Oaks
Shopping Plaza, is less than a mile
from the present location on East
College Avenue in Decatur.
Consignment stores act as
agents for individuals selling
clothing and other goods, which
typically are used. The store
owners, who receive a portion of
the sale price, decide whether to
accept items offered for resale.
Jack and Jill Children’s Resale
Boutique, a consignment shop that
specializes in children’s clothing,
will move into the space Finders
Keepers Furnishings is vacating.
Bonnie Kallenberg, who has
owned Finders Keepers since
1990, said that both she and Lisa
Doesburg, owner of Jack and
Jill, were considering options for
more space when the Twin Oaks
opportunity opened up. “Lisa and
I have been good friends for years.
Finders Keepers no longer handles
children’s clothing so we refer those
looking to sell children’s clothing to
Jack and Jill,” Kallenberg said.
She said both hoped to keep
their businesses in Avondale
Estates. They called it “divine
intervention” when everything
fell into place. “Lisa and I are
excited that we can expand our
businesses and continue to support
the Avondale Estates community,”
Kallenberg said.
“We were approached with
this opportunity at the perfect time
as we are bursting at the seams
with merchandise and business
is booming,” Doesburg said in a
statement announcing the move.
“We believe this move will enable
us to better serve our customers
and consignors while making space
for another longtime Avondale
business to grow, too.”
Avondale Estates has in the
past three decades become a
center for consignment and thrift
stores, with more than a dozen
such shops in the area. “I don’t
really know why that is,” Kallenberg
said. “We were the first of the
consignment stores and there’s a
big Salvation Army store that’s been
here for a while. Both have done
well and I guess success attracts
success.”

Finders Keepers Furnishings was looking for a larger space when a site
became available in Twin Oaks Plaza less than a mile away. Jack and Jill
Children’s Resale Boutique, lower inset, will move into the space Finders
Keepers Furnishings is vacating. Bonnie Kallenberg, top inset, owner of
Finders Keepers, says that she and Lisa Doesburg, owner of Jack and Jill, are
pleased to keep their shops in the same area.

Finders Keepers first opened
in 1984 as a small store that sold
children’s clothing and home
décor items. It soon expanded to a
larger store that also sold women’s
clothing and accessories.
“That turned out to be a good
move,” recalled Kallenberg, who
had worked for the previous owner
before purchasing the business.
“Career women, especially, like to
freshen their wardrobes without
breaking their budgets. When the
economy was in a slump, many
women who previously bought only
department store retail discovered
the bargains to be had in a
consignment shop. They continue
to shop consignment stores even
though their financial situations

have improved.”
Kallenberg said much of the
business’ success has been
because owners have been
discerning about which merchandise
they accept. “We have a reputation
for quality merchandise—well
made and in excellent shape. Our
customers want items they can wear
or use immediately.” Merchandise
not sold in a specified time period is
donated to charity.
There are certain types of
furniture and clothing that will not
be accepted because they currently
are not selling well. “There’s just
no market for television armoires
or Queen Anne furniture right now.
Furniture like fashion goes in cycles
with respect to its popularity. We

Collaboration

want items that are likely to sell
quickly,” Kallenberg said.
To showcase fashion-forward,
designer and couture clothing and
accessories Kallenberg opened
Finders Keepers Boutique in 2007.
There also is a Finders Keepers
Menswear. “We discovered that
men like having a separate place to
shop,” Kallenberg explained.
She said the moving dates for
the stores haven’t been established
yet. The Twin Oaks space will
require some renovation to bring it
up to code, Kallenberg explained.
“We’re hoping to move in May and
Jack and Jill wants to be in its new
space in June, but the actual dates
will be determined by the leasing
company,” she said.

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

Classified

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016 • Page 21A

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sports

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016 • Page 22A

Miller Grove to play for national title
Photo by Travis Hudgons

by Mark Brock
Georgia’s high school basketball
season came to an end the
weekend of March 5-6, but DeKalb
County’s Class AAAAA state
champions Miller Grove Wolverines
get the opportunity to play three
more games beginning March 31
in New York City as the No. 6 seed
in the eighth annual Dick’s Sporting
Goods High School Nationals
Invitational.
The 30-2 Wolverines earned
the bid via a seventh state
championship in eight seasons and
a final USA Today Super 25 Boys’
High School Basketball Expert
Ratings of 17th.
It is the first invitation for the
Wolverines and they give the
tournament its second consecutive
year with a Georgia representative
after Wheeler’s campaign to play
in the tournament was successful a
year ago.

“I’m extremely excited for our
guys to get this opportunity,” Miller
Grove Head Coach Sharman
White said. “It is great to see them
achieve a goal they set before the
season, one that no one knew
about but us. They’ve worked hard
and earned this opportunity to play
against some of the top teams in the
country.”
Miller Grove plays March 31 at 6
p.m. with a match up against the No.
3 seeded Findlay Prep Pilots (28-1)
from Henderson, Nev., at Christ the
King High School in New York.
Findlay Prep is a veteran of
the tournament making its eighth
consecutive appearance. The Pilots
have won the tournament four
times, including the first two (200910) and the fourth (2012). The
three-time champion is 12-4 in its
seven previous appearances
Senior point guard Skylar Mays
(LSU commit) is the floor leader
for Findlay averaging 10.5 points
and 5.4 assists per game. He is
joined by UNLV commit shooting
guard Carlos Johnson (14.7 ppg)
and Baylor commit power forward
Tristan Clark (9.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg).
Juniors shooting guard Markus
Howard (18.6 ppg, 3.4 apg) and
power forward P.J. Washington
(16.9 ppg, 9.4 rpg) are at the top of
the scoring and rebounding lists for
the Pilots.
The Wolverines counter with

their big senior trio of guards
Alterique Gilbert (20.3 ppg, 5.7
rpg, 5.8 apg, 4.3 spg) and Aaron
Augustin (10.0 ppg, 8.1 apg, 4.0
spg) and power forward Raylon
Richardson (9.7 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 3.1
bpg). The three led the Wolverines
back to the Class AAAAA state
championship for the third time in
four seasons after missing out in
2015.
Gilbert is an UConn signee as
well as a 2016 McDonald’s and
Jordan Brand All-American and
Georgia Class AAAAA First Team
All-State player. He became the first
DeKalb County player to join the
2,000 points (2,096), 500 rebounds
(600), 500 assists (710), and 500
steals (550) club. Gilbert is the only
boys’ McDonald’s All-American
playing in the tournament.
Junior Naquante Hardy (10.0
ppg) and senior Colin Young
(10.6 ppg) add more offense to the
Wolverines’ attack.
Six states will send affiliated
schools to the Dick’s Nationals
tournament, they are Arizona,
Florida, Utah, Georgia, North
Carolina Independent and South
Carolina independent schools.
Other teams allowed to participate
include schools that are not
associated with a state athletic
association such as Oak Hill
Academy, Findlay Prep and others.
The rest of the field includes No.

1 seed 25-1 Montverde Academy
(Montverde, Fla.), the reigning
three-time champion, No. 2 seed
41-1 Oak Hill Academy (Mouth of
Wilson, Va.), No. 4 seed 31-1 St.
Benedict’s Prep ( Newark, N.J.), No.
5 seed 24-3 La Lumiere (LaPorte,
Ind.), No. 7 seed 29-3 Wasatch
Academy (Mt. Pleasant, Utah) and
No. 8 seed 30-3 Providence Day
(Charlotte, N.C.).
The opening round games
televised on ESPNU include St.
Benedict’s vs. La Lumiere (noon),
Oak Hill vs. Wasatch Academy (2
p.m.), Montverde vs. Providence
Day (4 p.m.) and Miller Grove vs.
Findlay Prep (6 p.m.).
The semifinal games are also
at Christ the King and on ESPNU
at 3 and 5 p.m. on April 1 with the
championship game set for noon
at Madison Square Garden and
televised by ESPN.
Teams in the tournament
received all-expenses paid trip to
New York with a stay in the Westin
Grand Central. They are scheduled
to arrive in New York on Wednesday
March 30.
“The opportunity to play more
basketball together and all the
educational opportunities for them in
New York is a great reward for this
group of players,” White said. “They
get to see a different part of the
country and see how different it is to
where they grew up.”

Carla’s Corner:

I

Parents should pay close attention to Tennessee lawsuit

t is no secret that women
face discrimination,
sexual harassment and
are sometimes victims
of sex crimes on college
campuses.
On some occasions,
these acts occur within
an athletic department,
whether it’s a female
employee or female athlete.
Today, women still fight
for the same opportunities
and protection that their
male counterparts receive
even though by law—
Title IX of the Education
Amendments of 1972—
they should be receiving
those opportunities and
protection.
However, that is not the
case at the University of
Tennessee, according to
several women. Six women
filed a federal lawsuit Feb.
23 claiming the university
created a student culture
that allows sexual assaults
by student-athletes,

Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com

Sports Editor

@CarlaChampNews

especially football players,
and then uses an “unusual,
legalistic adjudication
process that is biased
against victims who step
forward,” according to The
Tennessean.
According to the
newspaper, the lawsuit was
filed by plaintiffs identified
only as “Jane Does” and
accuses five Tennessee
athletes of sexual assault.
The players are former

basketball player Yemi
Makanjuola, former football
players A.J. Johnson,
Michael Williams and
Riyahd Jones and a
current football player
identified as a “John Doe.”
The women said the
university violated the Title
IX laws, and created a
hostile sexual environment
for female students by
showing “deliberate
indifference and a clearly
unreasonable response
after a sexual assault that
causes a student to endure
additional harassment,”
according to the lawsuit.
A sexual assault report
and order of protection was
filed against Makanjuola
in 2013, according to
The Tennessean. An
administrative law judge
at the university found that
Makanjuola had violated
university codes of conduct
by sexually assaulting the
woman, but the district

attorney did not pursue
charges, according to the
newspaper.
Jones was accused
of a sexual assault that
allegedly occurred at an
off-campus apartment in
February 2015, according
to The Tennessean. The
accuser chose not to pursue
charges against Jones.
Williams and Johnson
have been indicted for
an alleged assault of the
same woman during a
football party in December
2014, according to The
Tennessean. The lawsuit
also said that a former
Tennessee player, Drae
Bowles, was assaulted by
a teammate for helping the
victim get to the hospital
after she was assaulted by
Williams and Johnson.
Bowles claimed in
a signed affidavit that
Tennessee coach Butch
Jones told him he had
“betrayed the team” after

Bowles helped the woman.
Jones has denied
the claim, and university
officials said they will
respond to the lawsuit.
Parents of an athlete, or
any student looking to go to
college, should pay close
attention to this case.
No one should have to
go through this in a learning
environment. All students
should be protected
and held accountable
for their actions by the
administration, whether they
are athletes or not.
Parents should be
assured that if their child is
assaulted in any way that
they will receive the proper
care and will be treated
fairly and justly during
the trial process. If they
have not done so already,
parents should start doing
their own investigation into
the colleges and universities
to see how sexual assault
allegations are handled.

sports

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016 • Page 23A

highlights: decatur 12, paideia 2

Photo by Travis Hudgons

BaseBall scores
march 9

dunwoody 7, druid hills 3
cedar grove 4, towers 2
chamblee 14, columbia 8
redan 11, arabia mountain 1
st. pius 15, lithonia 0
southwest deKalb 10, m.l. King 3
stephenson 21, tri-cities 4
Banneker 8, clarkston 2
Blessed trinity 12, decatur 2
Kennesaw mountain 7, lakeside 0
north clayton 8, mcnair 4

march 10

tucker 15, dutchtown 2
fellowship christian 4, paideia 3

march 11

decatur 13, mcnair 3
dunwoody 4, m.l. King 1
marist 8, columbia 5
paideia 2, strong rock christian 1
redan 14, lithonia 3
southwest deKalb 12, Banneker 1
st. pius 12, chamblee 2
stephenson 17, clarkston 2
towers 12, washington 5
tucker 5, gac 3
grady 14, cross Keys 1
mays 15, miller grove 0

march 12

decatur 12, paideia 2
lithonia 11, clarkston 1
stephenson 11, grady 1
cedartown 8, arabia mountain 1
mount paran 12, m.l. King 7

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, March 18, 2016 • Page 24A

Tucker mayor, councilmembers sworn in
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com

Newly elected Tucker Mayor
Frank Auman and four councilmembers were sworn in to their positions
on March 8 at Tucker High School.
DeKalb County State Court
Judge Ronald Ramsey swore in
Auman along with councilmembers
Anne Lerner (District 3), Michelle
Penkava (District 3), William
Rosenfeld (District 1) and Honey
Van De Kreke (District 1).
The seats for District 2 are in a
runoff election scheduled for March
29. Once the candidates are voted in
Frank Auman is sworn in as his wife
there will be a separate swearing in
Gaye looks on.
ceremony for them.
After being sworn in, Auman
build a foundation for the city.
addressed his constituents and
“We have to get the revenue,
thanked them for the work they put in
get
the
logistics set,” Auman said.
to turn the community into a city.
“We
don’t
have a bank account, a
“We simply want to care for
phone
number
or anything. We have
our own community and those
to
get
all
of
that
in place and build a
things that we can do better for
foundation
so
we
can get on to the
ourselves,” Auman said. “We simply
aspirational stuff.”
want to perpetuate and enhance
DeKalb Interim CEO Lee May
the amazing quality of life that we
said
he is excited to work with the
enjoy that has been passed down to
new
leadership of Tucker.
generations before us and that we
“You
all have a group of
will pass down to our children and
individuals
that I’m excited about,”
grandchildren. Now, starting today,
he
said.
“They
understand people,
we have that opportunity.”
they
understand
business, and they
When Auman was elected mayor
understand
what
a community really
on March 1, he said his first goal is to
is all about.

From left, Michelle Penkava William Rosenfeld, Honey Van De Kreke and Anne Lerner
recite the oath of office. Photos by Carla Parker

“It’s pleasing to see a moment
like this where we can acknowledge
the official swearing in of your
leadership in this city,” May added.
“We have partnered with you all to
make sure that Tucker’s service will
be maintained.”
Ramsey, who worked with the
Tucker group as a state senator on
the cityhood bill, also acknowledged
the new city leaders for their work.
“I had the opportunity to see
you work,” Ramsey said. “You all
embodied the thoughts of Martin
Luther King about how a small
group of thoughtful and committed
citizens can truly change the world;

and indeed that’s what you’re doing
this evening.”
Auman said he wants residents
to continue to be involved in the
community as they were before
Tucker became a city.
“The worst that can happen
as a result of cityhood is that we
somehow come in on top of all of
that city-mindedness, volunteerism
and strength of community and
the spirit that exists, and let the
impression grow that now [since] we
have a city they’ll take care of it,” he
said. “Please don’t let that happen.
Please keep being Tucker.”