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FRiDaY, apRil 8, 2016 • Vol. 18, no. 51 • FREE

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PAWS Atlanta celebrates 50 years of saving pets’ lives
by Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com

W

hat began in the mid1960s as a small
group of volunteers
concerned about the stray
animal population in DeKalb
County is now the 50-yearold PAWS Atlanta no-kill
shelter.
The volunteers began the
DeKalb Humane Society in
1966 and incorporated the
next year as a stand-alone
organization that operated
Jacki McDonald of PAWS Atlanta holds Cheeks.
through 1989. The volunteers
fostered animals until the
shelter opened to the public.
“They started taking in pets
in their own homes, doing
the spay/neuter themselves
and that grew. The concern
grew; the caring grew,” said
Jacki McDonald, director of
marketing and development
for PAWS Atlanta.
The organization made
land purchases on Covington

See Paws on Page 5A

PAWS Atlanta is located on Covington Highway in unincorporated
DeKalb County. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Cats are allowed to roam free in PAWS Atlanta’s cat house.

Jenica spends time with Jacki McDonald.

Stonecrest proponents win in state house
by Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com
DeKalb County’s 12th municipality could
be the proposed city of Stonecrest.
At the end of their 2016 session, state
legislators in March approved a bill that
could lead to the formation of the proposed
southeast DeKalb city, which would have a
population of 50,000.
As of April 5, the bill had not been signed
by Gov. Nathan Deal. If it is signed, voters
in the boundaries of the proposed city would
decide in November whether they want to
form the new city.
“I’m just beside myself in happiness,” said
Jason Lary, president of the Stonecrest City
Alliance, about the bill’s passage.
“It’s been a three-year walk for me and
the team,” he said. “The first year, our study

failed. The second year, we didn’t have
enough time to get through the General
Assembly. The third year, we passed with
everybody.
“Not only did we pass, it’s with flying
colors,” Lary said. “And that made a real
difference. Finally we can focus on the six
keys that we have determined...will help turn
around the corridor of Stonecrest.”
The six areas Stonecrest proponents want
to address include residential, commercial
and industrial concerns, as well as school
partnerships, tourism and economic
development, Lary said.
Addressing these six areas is key to
turning the Stonecrest corridor around and
making it a viable community, he added.
“Our biggest challenge is we lack jobs and
economic development,” Lary said.
“Companies aren’t moving to Stonecrest or

‘The first year, our
study failed. The
second year, we
didn’t have enough
time to get through the
General Assembly. The
third year, we passed
with everybody.’
-Jason Lary

See Stonecrest on Page 5A

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local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016 • Page 2A

“We are rolling forward
together as one”
-Interim CEO Lee May

Phase II

Recycling ◊ Garbage roll cart rightsizing ◊ Additional garbage roll carts
Changes to garbage and recycling container requirements and collection procedures
The DeKalb County Sanitation Division advances through Phase II of the
Rolling Forward to One sanitation service change program. Please see
below for county-provided recycling and garbage container options,
and information on soon-to-be-implemented changes to garbage and
recycling container requirements and collection procedures.

County-provided single-stream recycling options

18-gallon bin

65-gallon roll cart

40-gallon bag

County-provided garbage roll cart options

35-gallon
roll cart

45-gallon
roll cart

65-gallon
roll cart

95-gallon
roll cart

Coming April 18, 2016

Changes to garbage and recycling container requirements and collection procedures
Only county-provided garbage and recycling containers are approved for use

Approved

Not Approved
Customer-provided
garbage container

County-provided
recycling bin,
bag and roll cart

County-provided
garbage roll cart
Secure, durable
plastic bags for
excess garbage

Customer-provided
recycling container
or bag

For more information, please call or visit: (404) 294-2900 • www.rollingforwardtoone.com • Follow @ItsInDeKalb on Twitter

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016 • Page 3A

arounddeKalB
countYWide

doraville

The DeKalb County Department
of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Affairs
invites men and women 50 years of
age and older to participate in The
Senior Olympic Games.
Early registration deadline is
Saturday, April 30. DeKalb County
Senior Olympics is not responsible
for delays involving the United States
Postal Service.
Registration and entry forms may
be mailed or delivered to DeKalb
County Recreation, Parks & Cultural
Affairs, ATTN: DeKalb County Senior
Olympics, 1300 Commerce Drive Suite
300, Decatur, GA 30030. A liability waiver must be signed and turned in
with all entry forms.
For additional information visit www.dekalbcountyga.gov/parks or
call (404)-371-2711.

Those looking to get involved with the “healthy and vibrant” future of
Doraville should save the date of Wednesday, April 13, from 6 to 8 p.m.
The city of Doraville began updating its comprehensive plan on
March 28 through a public meeting at The Church of the New Covenant,
located along 3330 Chestnut Drive. That process will continue on April
13 with the help of attending residents, business owners, planners and
community advocates.
While part one of the two-part series focused on appropriately using
land, creating a design aesthetic for the city, and prioritizing initiatives in
improvement, the second part of the series will focus on implementing
action to achieve the city’s goals.
For more information on the upcoming comprehensive plan meeting,
visit www.doravillega.us or contact Enrique Bascuñana at enrique.
bascunana@doravillega.us or call (770) 451-8745.

Registration now open for Senior Olympics

avondale estates
City to host farmers market

Avondale Estates will host its farmers market April 10, from 10 a.m.
to 2 p.m. in the parking lot of My Parents’ Basement. The market will
have local produce and goods. My Parents’ Basement is located at 22
North Avondale Road. For more information, visit www.avondaleestates.
org.

cHamBlee

City to host 2016 Wellness Challenge
From now until April 23, DeKalb residents have the opportunity to
participate in group wellness activities in Chamblee. For completing
such tasks as having a gym membership, attending fitness classes,
registering in a sports league, participating in organized runs and races,
viewing Chamblee seminars and taking part in community cleanups,
Wellness Challenge participants earn points.
The highest point earners will win prizes with one grand prize
winner in the categories of adult and youth. Prizes will be presented at
Chamblee Family Field Day in Keswick Park on April 23.
The challenge is open to anyone residing in DeKalb County. For
more information on the 2016 Chamblee Wellness Challenge, including
information on submitting points and due dates, visit www.chambleega.
com.

decatur

Wylde Center to hold spring plant sale festival
Vegetables, herbs, trees, shrubs, annuals and perennials will be
available for purchase at the annual Plant Sale Festival hosted by the
Wylde Center at the organization’s Oakhurst Garden, 435 Oakview
Road, Decatur.
This year’s three-day event is presented by Cummin Landscape
Supply and will take place Friday, April 15, through Sunday, April 17,
from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Wylde Center members are invited to
shop at a preview evening, Thursday, April 14, from 6 to 8 p.m.
Proceeds from the Plant Sale Festival will benefit the numerous
educational offerings at the Wylde Center and help support the nonprofit
organization’s four public greenspaces.
For more information, visit www.wyldecenter.org/plant-sale.

City hosts public planning session

litHonia

Library group to start book club
The Friends of Stonecrest Library will be starting a book club.
Those who are interested in participating in the club are encouraged
to attend the first meeting at the Stonecrest Library on April 11, at 6 p.m.
For more information, call (770) 668-3060.

Nonprofits present Healthy ME Program for fifthgrade girls
Generations Connected Inc., with partners Lithonia Performing Arts
Zone and Family Ties Inc., present the Healthy ME Program for fifthgrade grade girls who live in south DeKalb County.
The program will be Tuesdays and Thursdays, April 12 to May 19,
from 3 to 5 p.m. Registration with a parent or guardian is a requirement
for participation in the Healthy Me Program. The registration deadline is
Friday, April 8.
The Healthy ME Program began in 2011 with wellness experiences
for high school girls. It now offers hands-on healthy activities to current
fifth-grade girls who will enter middle school in August 2016. This
wellness program builds healthy awareness choices with professional
women health trainers who demonstrate wellness activities with
experiences in food preparation; journaling, spoken word poetry;
dancercise and STEM—how to make a wellness shampoo/lotion or an
app.
The free program will be held at Lithonia Performing Arts Zone
studio located at 7245 Rockbridge Road, Suite 2100, Lithonia.
Further information and registration is available onsite at Lithonia
Performing Arts Zone. The registration form can be requested by
contacting Generations Connected at (770) 873-4049 or via email at
generationsconnected@gmail.com.

stone mountain
Teen girls group seeking new members

Coalition of Successful Young Women (CSYW), a nonprofit that
supports parents in raising healthy and well-balanced young women, is
seeking new members.
Some of the goals of the organization are to empower young women
to maintain control over their lives help them maintain their dignity and
self-respect provide volunteer opportunities for them to give back to
society and expose them to successful women and leaders.
Membership is open to young women ages 13 to 18. The
organization has five adult advisers. Parent participation is encouraged
but not required. The club generally meets in Stone Mountain at 2 p.m.
on the third Saturday of each month.
For more information or to join the organization, call or text Arlene
Fitts Winfrey at (770) 595-7888, or email her at afwinfrey@gmail.com.
Please use the subject CSYW in the email.

Clarification: The Champion would like to clarify information in a story titled “Dunwoody residents voice concerns, approval” in its March
24, 2016, issue. The originators of the Dunwoody Community Survey believe its estimations to be 95 percent accurate.

local

Laresa Jones

For longtime DeKalb resident
Laresa Jones, volunteering is just
another way of building up and
improving life for others.
Jones, 43, has lived in the metro
Atlanta area her entire life and has
called DeKalb County her home for
several years. She graduated from
Southwest DeKalb High School
before heading to the University of
Georgia where she pursued degrees
in family and consumer science
as well as organizational work
development.
While Jones has earned her
paycheck through the Coca-Cola
Company for the past decade, the
majority of her free time is spent
volunteering with the Junior League
of DeKalb County. She serves as
the chairwoman for membership
development.
“What membership development
does is bring in new members,”
Jones said. “I’m very much a

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016 • Page 4A

champion in developing women and
that we, as a league, can be the best
that we can.”
Jones said the focus of Junior
League is to promote volunteerism
throughout the county and is
specifically aimed at women. Jones
helps promote, recruit and educate
interested women in joining the
group. She said the group will have
20 new active members by May.
“We do a lot of great work in
DeKalb County and are a voice for
DeKalb County,” Jones said. “But
I think the other piece that a lot of
people don’t see is that we develop
women, not just inside the league,
but provide things that translate to
everyday life: leadership skills, how
to run an organization, how to run a
better meeting, how to lead a group
of women.”
Jones said DeKalb Junior
League’s current mission is fighting
childhood obesity. She takes part

in and helps organize sessions
in which children and parents are
educated on healthy eating habits.
By going to farmer’s markets and
organizing pop-up farmer’s markets
where people learn how to make a
healthy salad, Jones said this effort
is producing results.
“They thought, ‘Salad isn’t
supposed to be this good,’ and I
said, ‘It can be,’” Jones said.
Jones said the majority of her
service work is done through the
Junior League due to obligations
with Coca-Cola. However, she
makes sure she continues to be part
of the positive change happening in
and around Atlanta.
“I was born and raised here and Laresa Jones
I’ve watched the metropolitan area
go through tremendous change,”
County grow and prosper.”
Jones said. “It’s rare to find someone
Jones said she loves facilitating
born and raised here. I really take
such changes and seeing people’s
how our county grows and improves
eyes light up through the Junior
seriously. I want to see DeKalb
League of DeKalb County’s efforts.

Chamblee creates safe meetup zone
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com
It could happen to anyone.
An item, such as shoes
or car equipment, is wanted
and desired by an individual.
The usual channels of purchasing such an item are of
no use; the local store is out
or doesn’t carry a specific
model while the store requiring a day trip just sold out.
Friends suggest purchasing the item online.
Compared to hoofing
it and traditional shopping,
shopping online seems
like a revelation. The item
is found through a private
seller and a meetup is
arranged. Even though
websites such as Ebay or
Craigslist have their fair
share of bad press, it has
always seemed like a few
bad apples spoiling the
bushel.
The excitement, however, drowns out voices warning of potential dangers.
This is a stranger, after all,
and anything could happen.
The city of Chamblee
has taken steps to make
such a situation worry free.
On March 30, the city designated two downtown locations as “Online Exchange
Zones” where the public can
meet to buy, sell or trade
items.
The two areas, located
at the Chamblee Police De-

partment lobby and nearby
parking lot, offer a place to
conduct business 24 hours
a day and seven days a
week through constant
video surveillance.
“In addition, police officers will be available if
needed to stand by to increase everyone’s sense of
security,” reads a release.
“If requested, police officers
will check serial numbers
against stolen item databases in an effort to assure
they are not already reported stolen.”
In order to exchange
safely, users are instructed
to call the Chamblee Police
Department a few minutes
before their arrival.
According to Chamblee
Chief of Police Donny Williams, the idea was presented to the department
by councilman John Mason last year after seeing
a similar program in Holly
Springs.
“We’ve had it up and
ready to go for a while, we
just haven’t had the camera
system ready to go,” Williams said. “Now that we
have that accomplished, we
have the site up and ready
to go.”
Williams said the problem isn’t all that prevalent in
the Chamblee area but any
measure that guarantees
the safety residents is one
well taken.
“Occasionally, you may

On March 30, the city designated two downtown locations as “Online Exchange Zones” where the
public can meet to buy, sell or trade items. Photo provided

hear that someone was deceived and things of that nature, but it’s rare that something serious happens,” Williams said. “Nationally, it’s
known that serious incidents
occur and we’re looking to
host a safe option and provide transaction space in a
safe environment.”
Williams said zones
similar to the one in
Chamblee are a step in the
right direction for any police
department.
“If someone is up to
no good and looking to do
something serious, chances
are they will not complete
the transaction at a police
department,” Williams said.
Chamblee’s move to
make online transactions
safer does not come unwarranted. Last year, an Atlanta
couple, Elrey and June

Runion met Ronnie Towns
with the hopes of purchasing a 1966 Ford Mustang.
Rather than engaging in a
peaceful transaction, Towns
robbed and murdered the
Runions before dumping
them in a nearby body of
water.
Craigslist, possibly the
largest person-to-person
online market, engages in
hundreds of millions of postings and transactions per
year. Statistics provided by
a competitor in 2011 stated
330 crimes in the United
States took place via Craigslist, including 12 killings, 31
assaults, 74 robberies, 52
prostitution cases and 161
“other” crimes.
A spokesman from
Craigslist told Fast Company that same year “[It’s]
probably worth considering

we had over 573 million
postings on Craigslist last
year. What are the odds?”
In addition, Craigslist
states in its “Personal
Safety” section how “The
overwhelming majority of
Craigslist users are trustworthy and well-meaning,”
as well as “With billions of
human interactions, the
incidence of violent crime
related to Craigslist is extremely low.” The website
instructs users to meet in
public spaces, taking extra
precaution when selling
high-end items, taking a
friend and always carrying a
cellular phone.
The Chamblee Police
Department is located at
3518 Broad Street. For
more information, contact
the department at (770)
986-5005.

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016

The vet clinic is a new venture for PAWS Atlanta. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

local

Page 5A

PAWS Atlanta’s van is “saving lives one tail at a time.”

paws Continued From Page 1A
Highway in 1983 and 1997 that totaled 4.5
acres. And in 2002, its name was changed
to PAWS Atlanta Inc. “Because we kept
getting confused with DeKalb County Animal
Control,” McDonald said.
The original building on the property now
functions as a cat house. Additionally, PAWS
Atlanta has a dog house, dog kennels, a
separate intake building for dogs and an
isolation area.
The facility also has a vet clinic, a new
venture for PAWS Atlanta.
“We always had outsourced vetting
to take care of our own pets,” McDonald
said. “We initially started just vaccinating
for the public and having flea and tick and
heartworm preventatives. Now we can
actually do much more for the public. We
can do pet dentals. We can do spay/ neuter
services. You can come in to just do your
annual exam to get your pet checked up on.”
PAWS Atlanta is staffed by 23 employees,
McDonald said.
“It’s a very small staff for a lot that gets
done because we have about 160 animals
in our care at any given time—dogs and
cats,” she said, adding that the staff is
supplemented by “hundreds” of volunteers.
“We’re very lucky that we have such a
strong volunteer base, both individuals and
corporation that come out,” McDonald said.
McDonald said that most of the calls that
PAWS Atlanta receives are from people who
want to surrender their pets, and one of the
top reasons they give is because they are
moving.

“Someone said recently, ‘Are they moving
to Mars?’ Because where are you going that
you can’t bring a pet?” McDonald said.
Sometimes a pet owner is moving into an
apartment that does not allow pets or has
very high pet fees and initial deposits, she
said.
“If they would contact us sooner we could
counsel them,” McDonald said. “We know
apartments that are dog-friendly. Of course,
with bigger breeds—pit bulls, Rottweilers,
German shepherds—it is challenging in
apartments.”
Another reason owners give up pets is
they’re having a baby.
“Pets are not a starter kit,” McDonald
said. “They’re not [just to keep] until you
have a baby, until you get married. It
happens so often that someone will have a
dog for nine years and then say ‘I’m having
a baby; I’m just not going to have time for [a
pet].’
“That to me is heartbreaking,” McDonald
said. “Yes, you have a child but you just
have to take the dog for a walk and stuff.
He’s not asking for you to dance and party
with him every day. I know once you have a
child it changes your life, but it’s weird how
[some pet owners] can just turn it off—it’s
like the dog means nothing then.”
Other pet owners who surrender their
pets say they cannot afford the care.
“We offer a lot of solutions to that,”
McDonald said. “We offer low-cost vet care,
free food [and] free spay/neuter if we have a
grant...to cover it.

“I know they think they’re doing what’s
best for the animal,” McDonald said.
“Leaving your animals home eight hours a
day is better than putting them in a shelter or
a cage here with us.”
McDonald said PAWS Atlanta staff is
“always compassionate…whatever the
excuse or the reason [is that] someone has
to give up their pet.”
Staff members “really try to counsel them,
offer them a solution,” McDonald said. “If it’s
really about affording their pet, we have a
pet food pantry so we offer free pet food.  
“Our only requirement is that you spay/
neuter your pet,” she said. “We’re not going
to feed it for you to breed it.”
PAWS Atlanta, Georgia’s oldest nokill animal shelter, is celebrating its 50th
anniversary on April 16, from 3 to 7 p.m., at
Historic Fourth Ward Park, 680 Dallas St.
NE, Atlanta.
The event will feature food trucks, artists,
vendors, live entertainment, dog activities,
Creature Comforts Beer and a lantern-type
parade on the beltline.
“So much of this 50th [anniversary] is to
honor our adopters,” McDonald said. “We
love when someone from 10 years ago
comes back and tells us how much they
love their dog or if...they come back to adopt
another animal.”
“There’s so many that come back and say
‘my mom or my aunt volunteered here 20
years ago,’” she said.

Stonecrest Continued From Page 1A
Lithonia Industrial Boulevard where we have
500,000 square feet of available warehouse
space for light industrial, for manufacturing,
[and] for green opportunities.
“No one’s paying us any attention,” Lary
said. “Now we get a chance to sell the wares
of the Stonecrest corridor.”
Stonecrest will be attractive for
businesses because it has “a commercial
and industrial park that’s friendly, that
[has] greenspace available, that has
available land and has available stores and
warehousing space,” Lary said.
If Senate Bill 208, the Stonecrest
legislation, is signed by the governor and
approved by voters, the new city would be
run by a mayor and five-member city council.
Additionally, Stonecrest, which could begin
in May 2017, would start off with three
municipal services: planning and zoning,

parks and recreation, and code enforcement.
The other services, including police and
fire rescue services, would continue to be
performed by DeKalb County.
Lary said the next step for cityhood
proponents is to “continue to inform our
neighbors and...the business and industrial
community on why we’re doing this [and]
what the advantages are.”
The “most important thing…we have to
let the general public [know is that] there are
no new taxes and there’s not a double tax,”
Lary said, adding that tax increases would
have to be approved by residents of the
proposed city.
Lary said one reason Stonecrest
has made it as far as it has, while other
proposed cities, such as LaVista Hills
and Greenhaven, have not is because
Stonecrest proponents have worked with the

county.
“The reason that we’ve been so
successful so far is we’ve taken the
approach of having a partnership with
DeKalb County,” Lary said, citing the many
meetings Stonecrest proponents have had
with county officials.
“That’s where, quite frankly, some of
the other places have run into a problem
because they considered it to be an
adversarial relationship with the county,”
Lary added. 
Lary said he has high hopes for
Stonecrest.
“If you can get people to live, work, play,
worship [and] shop in your community, it’s
going to grow and it’s going to do well,” Lary
said. “It takes a brand to be able to do that. It
takes a new brand with new people with new
ideas and a fresh start.”

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016

opinion

Page 6A

How much do you make?
An always enjoyable part
of my job is participating in a
school’s career day.
I enjoy the break from
my normal journalistic duties
to mingle with school faculty
and other professionals. I
like the chance to play with
the digital whiteboards that
I would have tried to hack if
we’d had them when I was
a kid.
But most importantly,
as someone who has been
involved with youth ministry
and mentoring and tutoring
my whole adult life, I enjoy
being around the young
people.
I usually bring a stack a

Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com

Managing Editor

@AndrewChampNews

newspapers to pass to the
students and bring some of
the tools of my trade: a laptop, cellphone, camera and
notepad.

Using the now ubiquitous
digital whiteboards, I project
a PowerPoint presentation that shows the basics
about my job and includes
some cool photos such as
a student catching air as he
skateboards down some
stairs or serious photos such
as a Black Lives Matter rally
in Decatur.
I find it rewarding to tell
them about my job and answer their questions about
college, careers, salaries
and life in general.
And the students always
have interesting questions
like some I heard during a
career day at The Champion

School in Stone Mountain.
How much money do you
make? Have you met anyone famous? Have you ever
seen someone get shot?
In a letter to career day
participants, counselors from
The Champion School stated, “The career information
that you share with our students will be very valuable in
broadening their knowledge
of the world of work. Young
people need to know what it
takes to be successful in the
career they choose.”
Career day is an important part of the education
a school provides. It gives
students a glimpse of the

so-called real world, and it
provides them with a break
from their regular school routines. Additionally, it allows
community members the
opportunity to give back to
schools.
Schools are always looking for people of all careers
and trades and economic
levels to talk to their students about the various jobs
students can pursue.
So find a school and
volunteer for its next career
day. And be prepared to answer the “How much do you
make” question without actually telling how much you
make?

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016

opinion

Page 7A

One Man’s Opinion

So...here’s the situation....
“...There has to be
some type of punishment,” responds GOP
frontrunner Donald
Trump to MSNBC’s
Chris Matthews on
March 30 during a livetelevised Town Hall from
Green Bay, Wisc.
Hypothetical questions
are, with good reason,
the bane of many a candidate’s existence. Reporters and pundits love
them, as they are able
to engage in flights of
fancy and the occasional
“gotcha,” under the guise
of attempting to share
with their audience, listeners or readers how
the mind of a particular
candidate works. I have
often warned candidates
that if you are going to
walk down that road, and
respond to the hypotheticals, be prepared in advance with a wide array
of potential responses on
the major issues of the
day which are clear, concise and easy to recall.
Instead, we are
blanketed, or perhaps
trumpeted is a more appropriate phrase, with
catch phrases like “make
America great again,”
“build a 50-foot wall” or
“...just bomb the sh-- out
of them and take the oil.” 
Simplistic non-solutions,
many of which may fit on
a bumper sticker, typically

The

Champion

Bill Crane
bill.csicrane@gmail.com

Columnist

are impractical if not impossible to implement in
the complicated, layered
and real world in which
we live.
The same Donald
Trump who avoids
Megyn Kelly of the Fox
News Network, sees no
danger or illogic in sitting down with MSNBC’s
Chris Matthews, a practically self-avowed partisan for a town hall chat.
Matthews throws Trump
a hypothetical curve ball:
“President Trump and a
more conservative Supreme Court have outlawed abortion. But abortions still occur. Should
there be criminal prosecution or punishment? 
Who should be punished?”
Trump, who at first
struggles, says, “Well...
there would have to be
some form of punishment, yes.” 
“For the women?” Mat-

thews further probes.
“Yes, for the women”,
Trump replies. 
Matthews attempted
to get sentencing options
out of Trump, but by then
the candidate appeared
already aware of what he
had just stepped in.
Trump, who spent
decades self-labeled as
pro-choice, now declares
himself pro-life. With this
answer, he was able to
inflame and anger both
sides on perhaps the hottest social issue of our
time, while simultaneously accentuating the
GOP’s greatest Achilles’
heel among female voters.
Trump’s campaign
quickly issues a formal
follow-up statement, retracting his statement to
Matthews, now indicating
that it would be the doctor or technician who will
be prosecuted if abortion
is made illegal.  Score
two for Matthews. He has
the GOP frontrunner acknowledging a potential
goal of making abortion
illegal, and allowing that
he might prosecute the
prospective mother.
And then days later,
Trump’s campaign acknowledges what most in
the GOP leadership have
understood for a few
decades, Roe v. Wade
is now the established
law of the land.  Abortion

FreePress

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can be restricted, but not
abolished. In 1992, during
the Planned Parenthood
v. Casey deliberations,
eight of the nine members of the Supreme
Court had been appointed by Republicans. The
lone Democrat on the
court at that time was a
dissenter in the original
Roe v. Wade decision.
And yet that case upheld
a women’s legal right to
an abortion, while also
allowing states to place
restrictions on the timing
and particulars of the procedure.
The handful of folks
I know who are strong
Trump supporters will
argue, yell at and repeatedly tell me that I just
don’t get it. I understand
their beliefs and mindset,
I also happen to believe
that they are wildly underand misinformed. A majority of those who have
told me they have voted
for or plan to vote for
Trump also shared that
in many cases they have
not voted for decades or
have at least sat out the
past several election cycles. I again understand
the why on this, though I
don’t agree with that behavior either.
Former Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton has
been struggling with an
uninspired Democratic
Primary base vote, a

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John Hewitt

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Dr. Earl D. Glenn

Photographer:
Travis Hudgons

Managing Editor:
Andrew Cauthen

Staff Reporters:
Carla Parker
R. Scott Belzer

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Phone (404) 373-7779.
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stronger-than-expected
challenge by Vermont
Sen. Bernie Sanders
and an email review by
the FBI which just won’t
seem to fade away. And
now, with a few minutes
on MSNBC, Mr. Trump
has given her an ace to
play in the fall, at practically no cost. No wonder
his casinos all went bankrupt.
So here’s my hypothetical situation: A documented chauvinist, with
a long track record of
hateful Tweets and public
statements takes on a
more experienced, albeit
flawed, female opponent
to lead a country which
is poised to elect its first
female chief executive.
Whose odds do you like
better in that scenario, in
a country with a voting
base that is 54 percent
female?
 
 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. 

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
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local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016 • Page 8A

Photo by Travis Hudgons

Avondale Estates focusing on business growth
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com

In 2015, 22 new
businesses opened in
Avondale Estates and
the city hopes the trend
continues.
During his state of the
city address on March
28, Avondale Estates
Mayor Jonathan Elmore
expressed his excitement
for the new businesses and
laid out the plan for bringing
in more businesses, which
will be tasked by the city’s
Downtown Development
Authority (DDA).
“This year we’ve really
been working on innovating,
energizing and enabling
the DDA to better do their
job,” Elmore said. “We’re
in talks with them right now
to start funding them much
more substantially than

Elmore

we have in the past and
hopefully we’ll be reaching
an intergovernmental
agreement with them pretty
soon.”
Elmore said city officials
are looking for the DDA
to do more to promote
the city, promote the
existing businesses, help
the existing businesses,
and also bring in new
businesses, new events,
and more visitors to the city.

“As such, they have
decided to divide and
conquer and they have now
started these committees—
events, marketing, a
department of juvenile
justice representative,
business recruitment and
organization and land use
redevelopment,” Elmore
said. “These are incredibly
important things and we
look forward to working with
the DDA more closely and
pushing the goals of our
city.”
Elmore also stated in
his address that the city
has formed two new ad
hoc committees that will
focus on education and
greenspace.
“These are two things
that are important to all
of us,” Elmore said. “We
don’t have our own school
system here in Avondale

but [education] is something
that is very important to all
of us, so we’ve decided
to form an education
committee so they can help
us put information on the
website for people who are
moving here, for people
who live here about our
education resources.”
Elmore said the
committee includes
education professionals
who will keep an eye on the
“education politics” in the
county, “so that we know
what’s going on and we’re
better prepared for anything
that’s coming down the
road.”
Elmore said the
greenspace committee is
currently putting together a
draft for the residential tree
ordinance.
“They recently asked
us to commission a tree

canopy study, which is
under way, so we can take
a look at our tree canopy
to see if it’s increasing, is
it decreasing and where
we’re going,” he said. “It’ll
also better inform the tree
ordinance that they’re
drafting. They’re also
going to be looking at the
greenspace resources that
the city owns…to see how
we can possibly better
utilize the greenspace for all
of us.
“We’re really excited
to have both of these
[committees],” Elmore
added. “They’re ad hoc
committees, which means
they’ll be in place for a year.
At the end of that year we’ll
take a look at what they’ve
done and if we’re happy
with that we’ll reappoint
them. I’m looking forward to
seeing the results.”

Robbins, Monferdini win Tucker council seats
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
The final two seats of the
Tucker City Council are filled.
Matt Robbins won the District
2, Post 1 council seat, and Noelle
Monferdini won the District 2, Post
2 council seat in the March 29 runoff
elections. Monferdini thanked her
supporters on her Facebook page.
“Thank you all for your support,
your willingness to open up and
speak with me about the things
that are important to you, attending
our forums and meet and greets
and your vote,” Monferdini said.
“Without all of you I would not be
here today. Thank you so very
much and I am very excited to build
this city with all of you. I am proud
to serve you all.”
Monferdini won the seat
with 68.85 percent of votes. Her
opponent, Susan Wood, received
31.15 percent. Robbins edged out a

Robbins

51.56 percent to 48.44 percent over
opponent Katherine Atteberry.
The election had a voter turnout
of 13.30 percent.
The newly elected council
members joined the city council
after their swearing in ceremony

Monferdini

on April 1. The mayor and council
have been meeting since March 15
without representation for District 2.
The candidates acknowledged
residents’ concerns about the
council holding meetings with a
District 2 representative but did not

disagree with the council meetings.
“I want to make it very clear
that the four of us who are running
for District 2 will make a pledge
and partnership and participation
with the existing council,” Robbins
had said prior to the lection. “The
bottom line is we’re going to
serve the whole city. Yes, we are
segmented into [three districts]
with two going to be completed in
a couple of weeks. But the bottom
line is we want to work together for
the city and for the needs of the
city.”
Monferdini suggested at the
first council meeting that the council
consider changing the city charter
to address the issue of a district not
being represented due to a runoff
election.
“Remember that not everyone
agreed with a city to begin with,”
Monferdini said. “We’re trying to get
them on board. We want everyone
to move forward together.”

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016 • Page 9A

Bria Janelle, CEO of the Loud Genius nonprofit,
emceed the program.

The panelists were Mechel McKinley, executive director of the Stone Mountain Downtown Development Authority; small
business owner Diamond Sands; and Steve Bradshaw, a candidate for DeKalb County District 4 commission seat.

Brandon Brant, of Small Creek Alliance, sponsored
the community engagement forum at Clarkston High
School.

Local leaders encourage students to engage
by Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com
A local nonprofit brought
together four local leaders
to encourage Clarkston
High School students to be
engaged in their community.
Sponsored by Small
Creek Alliance, a local
nonprofit that aims
to curb violence, the
event featured Steve
Bradshaw, a candidate
for DeKalb County
District 4 commission
seat; Mechel McKinley,
executive director of the
Stone Mountain Downtown
Development Authority; and
Diamond Sands, owner
or Luxvi Hair, a seller of
luxurious virgin hair. The
program was emceed by
Bria Janelle, CEO of the
Loud Genius nonprofit,
an online news source
dedicated to the music,
comedy and sports culture.
“Today’s event was
really to expose the youth
to leaders in our community
and also give the leaders
in our community the
opportunity to listen and
engage the youth ultimately
in an effort to curb violence
in the central DeKalb
community,” said Brandon
Brant, of Small Creek
Alliance, which focuses on
quality of education, quality
of environment and quality
of health.
The panelists fielded
several questions including
one asking for their
motivation for community
involvement.
“The reason that I do
what I do is because what

I do makes a difference…
in the community I live in,”
McKinley said.
“I work with young
entrepreneurs who are
looking to open a business
and I help them with their
business plan and I help
them find a space for their
business and I help them
do their grand opening and
start to grow their business
and take it to the next level,”
she said.
Bradshaw said he is
motivated by “an interest
and a love for public
service.”
“I’ve been impressed
with public service since
I was very young,” said
Bradshaw, U.S. Army
veteran.
“When I was a child
growing up in Savannah,
I remember my father’s
dream was to be mayor of
Savannah one day,” said
Bradshaw, who also was
appointed by former Gov.
Roy Barnes to the State
Board of Examiners for the
Certification of Water and
Wastewater Plant Operators
and Laboratory Analysts.
“That never happened,…but
I guess it planted a seed in
my when I was young.
“I see an acute need
in DeKalb County for
leadership and that’s what’s
motivating me to run for
office,” Bradshaw said.
Sands said as a young
Black girl she had short hair
and was teased about it.
“A lot of AfricanAmerican women and
women of color…have
experienced similar stories
in terms of their hair,” she

McKinley talked with students after the forum. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

said.
Sands said she has a
philanthropic platform that
addresses self love.
“Because without
that nothing else matters,
whether your hair is natural
or you wear a weave,”
Sands said. “I have locs up
underneath this. I could take
this off and flaunt my locs. I
can wear the weave, I can
wear the wigs. It doesn’t
matter.
“As long as you love
yourself, as long as you’re
taking the proper steps to
be able to really and truly be
confident in the skin you’re
in, that’s all that matters,”
she said. “You can do
whatever you want to do. All

that matters is that you love
yourself.”
Brant said he sponsored
the program because “a
lot of times the people
that have the opportunity
to grasp their attention
and give them a message
are your athletes or your
rappers or your everyday
teachers.
“Today I felt like they
could get an alternative
perspective from a
viewpoint of people that
actually have achieved what
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they might have in mind,” he
said.
“Our research shows
that…the overall value of
DeKalb will be improved
if we can tackle and focus
our efforts in empowering
our youth and decreasing
violence,” Brant added.

STONE MOUNTAIN 
VILLAGE 
CITY‐WIDE YARD SALE 

922 Main St. behind Gazebo 

Sat., April 23 
 8:30 a.m.–3:00 p.m. 

Setup begins 7:30 a.m. on 
day of sale 
For info call City Hall 

(770)‐498‐8984 

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016 • Page 10A

Cross Keys freshmen engage with public, officials
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com

F

or three hours on March
30, the hustle and bustle of
the Plaza Fiesta shopping
center was met with dozens
trying to implement change.
One may think these voices
and ideas, echoing throughout the
Chamblee based Hispanic cultural
hub, originated from college
students or community advocates.
However, the voices calling for
affordable housing, access to
meetings for Latinos and better
infrastructure came from Cross
Keys High School freshmen.
March 30 marked the beginning
of Cross Keys High School’s BuHi
(Buford Highway) Project. From 6
to 9 p.m., approximately two dozen
freshmen from the DeKalb high
school shared ideas on how to
make the Buford Highway region
universally and inclusively better.
Local officials from Doraville and
Brookhaven, including mayor
Donna Pittman, joined students in
the lively, constructive discussion.
English teacher Rebekah
Morris said the project took root
when discussing issues with
Marian Liou of We Love BuHi, a
Buford Highway-specific enterprise
seeking to improve the corridor. In
realizing Liou and Morris’s interests
were similar, Morris devised the
project as a way of reading, writing
and critically thinking about the
question “What’s better – looking
out for yourself or looking out for
others?”
“We’ve been realizing
that when you look out for the
community, it directly impacts

your life,” Morris said. “Instead of
teaching them what displacement
means, they’re looking at
displacement in context. They
remember vocabulary and why it
matters.”
Jenifer Monzon and
Jacqueline Gutierrez, two Cross
Keys freshmen, said they want
their project to lead the way in
making Buford Highway a better
place to live.
“We are trying to find and show
people better ways to improve
Buford Highway so we can
appreciate it more,” Monzon said.
“We’re trying to find better ways to
improve our community.
Monzon and Gutierrez’s ideas
involve adding more bike lanes,
more access to travel information
for minorities and improved public
transit. The duo explained how if
more people, namely minorities,
in the BuHi area knew of and had
access to public meetings, better
changes would be implemented.
“People aren’t really informed
about meetings we have,” Monzon
said. “[Information] should get
out to everyone so they can get
involved more with the community.
We need people who live here to
give ideas; we don’t need people
who don’t live here giving ideas.
They don’t know how it is to live
here.”
Monzon, as did other freshmen
at Plaza Fiesta that evening, sees
Buford Highway as a thriving,
beautiful community. The students
explained how the proximity of
places to eat, businesses and
service industries make it an

See BuHi on Page 11A

Cross Keys High School teacher Rebekah Morris greets the public at the opening
of The BuHi Project, created by Cross Keys freshmen. Photos by R. Scott Belzer

Onlookers discuss one of several poster boards outlining potential Buford Highway
improvements.

Stone Mountain NJROTC receives annual inspection
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com
For most of the day March
30, the sounds of military
commands rang through the
halls of Stone Mountain High
School’s auditorium. They were
quick, direct and authoritative, all
for the purpose of obtaining an
exceptional score.
The commands’ forthrightness
stems from a years’ worth of hard
work. They seemed to represent
hours spent in the DeKalb school’s
gym memorizing steps, marches
and directions. The shouts
explicitly demanded the correct
turn and cadence, but seemed
to implicitly provide students with
things all the more important:
validation and meaning.
March 30 marked Stone

Mountain High School’s Naval
Junior Reserve Officer’s Training
Corps’ (NJROTC) annual
inspection. From 7:30 a.m. until
2 p.m., more than 100 students
dressed in military regalia stood in
formation, marched and presented
arms in unison.
Commander Patrick Callan of
the Navy Recruitment District of
Atlanta performed the inspection,
which consisted of judging cadets’
enthusiasm, cleanliness, ability to
follow orders and knowledge of
military direction. Six total platoons
were judged over a two hour
period amounting to 129 students.
The event concluded with a
ceremonial program consisting
of a presentation of colors and
national anthem, presentation
of awards and acknowledgment
of the highest ranking platoon,

demonstration by the armed
and unarmed drill teams, and a
pass-in-review in which students
passed by Commander Callum,
the two NJROTC teachers at
Stone Mountain High, as well
as assistant principal Tarristine
Simmons.
Immediately following, cadets
were briefed by their platoon
leaders and teachers on how
they performed. Lieutenant
Commander John-Michael
Jones, who teaches second
through fourth year NJROTC
cadets, will then send that report
to Stone Mountain High’s regional
manager.
According to Senior Chief
Haamid Malik, who teaches first
year NJROTC students at Stone
Mountain High, the event stood
as a school year culmination for

cadets. Malik recently retired from
the Navy after 26 years of service
and enjoys “continuing his service”
by passing along knowledge to
Stone Mountain students.
“This is like an annual report
card to show how motivated
students are,” Malik said. “It’s
an opportunity for the cadets to
show off what they’ve learned
throughout the year. It’s a show
time – it shows the discipline they
have.”
The importance of the event
could be read on each cadet’s
stern, unflinching face. The retired
Navy serviceman was the first to
point out how stressful such an
inspection can be for each platoon.
Small mistakes such as a wrinkled
shirt, improper turn or unenthused

See NJROTC on Page 12A

local

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

Maria Diaz and Liz Gelacio discuss their project with the
public. Photos by R. Scott Belzer

BuHi Continued From Page 10A
ideal neighborhood, but lacking
necessary infrastructure such as
bike lanes and safe sidewalks. The
streets, similarly, are constantly
crowded due to traffic and
discourage exploration.
Freshman Bryan Francisco
said the streets are also filled with
easily fixable problems such as
cracks, potholes and traffic light
malfunctions. Francisco suggested
such solutions as lowering speed
limits and including bike lanes in
original road planning.
“It makes it dangerous for
drivers,” Francisco said. “People
also don’t feel safe riding their bikes
on Buford Highway because they’re
afraid of getting hit. There are

Bryan Francisco stands proudly by his Buford Highway
improvement project.

huge chunks of sidewalk missing
and hard for people to just walk. I
know it’s our tax dollars and there’s
politics and all that, but it shouldn’t
be that hard to fix.”
Students Maria Diaz and Liz
Gelacio suggested changing lane
usage along BuHi. The duo outlined
how changing certain portions of
Buford Highway from seven lanes
to five and creating sidewalks or
bike lanes instead will make the
region more pedestrian friendly.
“It will be for people who can’t
afford vehicles or people who just
want to be healthy and help the
environment need bike lanes,” Diaz
said.
“We know that Buford Highway

Cross Keys High School principal Jason Heard
discusses The BuHi Project with teacher Rebekah
Morris.

is one of the most dangerous
highways,” Gelacio said. “For
buses, there are students who
have to cross it. So why not have
a specific place for pedestrians to
cross safely?”
Diaz and Gelacio also said in
order to make Buford Highway
“what it once was” improvements
also need to be made in the
realm of housing and food retail.
When it came to housing, the duo
suggested lowering rent across
the board and making it easier to
purchase a home. The pair also
pointed to the vast amount of fast
food restaurants along the highway,
which is ironically known for being a
food destination in metro Atlanta.

“I feel like a one bedroom, one
bathroom apartment doesn’t need
to be $900,” Diaz said. “That’s a
lot to pay. Isn’t $550 enough for
that? In order to make all of this
happen, we need to get together as
a community and help.”
Cross Keys High principal
Jason Heard said he was proud to
see students being the change they
wish to see.
“Students are not only bringing
to light issues but solutions to
problems,” Heard said. “It’s one
thing to talk about being change
agents, but another thing to actually
be a participant in making things
happen.”

District Attorney Robert James
hosts

Jobs Not Jail:A Call To Action
April 13, 2016
Historic DeKalb Courthouse
101 East Court Square
Decatur, GA 30030
10:00am-1:00pm
Complimentary Breakfast
• Two-thirds of every offender will be re-arrested within 3 years
• The DA’s diversion program holds youthful, non-violent offenders accountable
• Come learn more about our Anti-Recidivism Diversion Court
• Hear from our Anti-Recidivism Diversion Court graduates as they share their experiences

How You Can Help?
Provide employment to our graduates
Encourage others to employ our graduates.

For information about our programs RSVP for the event by 4/5/2016
kathomas@dekalbcountyga.gov



eaphillips@dekalbcountyga.gov

local

NJrotc Continued From Page 10A

response to Commander
Callan meant points off for
the entire platoon.
“Even as a senior person
with 26 years of experience in
the Navy, I still get nervous in
these situations,” Malik said.
Malik said NJROTC
programs throughout the
country help instill leadership,
discipline and values to
students. While students will
focus on academics one day
during the week, another
day will be dedicated to
fitness. The same amount
of importance is stressed in
the areas of drilling, learning
chain-of-command and
procedure.
In addition, NJROTC
programs help expose
students to things not
normally considered in the
high school setting. While
the program bases its
instructions and overall goals
on the United States military,
it is not a military program.
“We give them an
opportunity to lead their
peers and find additional
opportunities after high
school,” Malik said. “We
expose them to different

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016 • Page 12A

options. If they decide to go
into the service, we give them
accelerated advancement
in the military, but we do not
push it.”
According to Lt.
Commander Jones, the
NJROTC represents
approximately 15 to 20
percent of students attending
Stone Mountain High School
with a 3.5 or higher grade
point average and is one
of the most diverse groups
on campus. In addition, 45
percent of its membership
The Stone Mountain NJROTC Unarmed Drill Team performs during its annual inspection.
is female, making it one of
the most well-represented
groups at the DeKalb school.
“I just want to say how
proud I am in teaching our
cadets,” said Jones. “[Our
program] has made us proud.”
Simmons concluded
the event by extending her
own thanks to the cadets
attending Stone Mountain
High School.
“On behalf of all of the
faculty, administration team
and staff, I just want to thank
[the cadets],” said Simmons.
“Thank you for all of your
hard work and diligence, it
has all paid off.”
Commander Patrick Callan inspects one of six Stone Mountain NJROTC platoons. Photos by R.

PFT8543_Mrr_ReunionExpo_TheChampion_10.25x7.125_crv.indd 1

Scott Belzer

3/14/16 3:13 PM

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016 • Page 13A

WeeKinPICTURES

A banner asking daddy to be careful on a construction worksite as seen in downtown Decatur.
Photo by John Hewitt

Commander Patrick Callan consults inspection paperwork with an
assistant during Stone Mountain High School’s NJROTC annual
inspection. See story on page 10A. Photos by Scott Belzer

Senior Chief Haamid Malik, who teaches first-year NJROTC students, watches attentively while his class is inspected.

A platoon leader stands at attention while awaiting inspection during
Stone Mountain High School’s NJROTC annual inspection on March 30.

Stone Mountain High School’s color guard students stand awaiting inspection on March 30.

PHOTOS BROUGHT TO YOU BY DCTV
DeKalb County implements changes to garbage and recycling container requirements and collection
procedures April 18, 2016.
Only county-provided garbage and recycling containers are approved for sanitation collection service.
For more info, call or visit:

(404) 294-2900
www.rollingforwardtoone.com

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016 • Page 14A

Volunteers install erosion control features to the park’s hillside. Photos by Travis Hudgons

Chapel Hill Park gets makeover
by Travis Hudgons
travish@dekalbchamp.com
Chapel Hill Park in
Decatur received new
features and cosmetic
improvements April 2. In
conjunction with Earth
Day, Kaiser Permenante
partnered with Earth Share
Georgia, Park Pride and
Friends of Chapel Hill Park
to make improvements to
the park as part of its annual
environmental service
project.
Approximately 40
volunteers came to the park
to plant plants, install erosion
control features, powerwash
the pavilions and create an
outdoor classroom.
“We’re very happy to
be here...giving back to the
community,” said Sharon
Getties Johnson, manager
of community service with
Kaiser Permenante.
“[This] keeps our
community healthy–and
healthy is more than going to
the doctor. It’s greenspace,
clean water and clean air,”
Getties Johnson said.

Saturday, April 23, 2016
11am - 5pm
Join the Junior League of DeKalb County, Inc. for
the 4th Annual Tour of Kitchens. Tour of Kitchens
showcases some of the area’s best residential
kitchens with eye-catching yet functional designs
on a self-guided tour.

Benches for the outdoor classroom are assembled.

This year’s tour will feature newly renovated
kitchens by Splice Design,CSI Kitchen and Bath
Studios, Home Rebuilders as well as JLD’s historic
headquarters, the Mary Gay House, with a patio
remodel by Steve Brewer Landscaping.
There will also be chef demonstrations scheduled
throughout the event at each of the kitchens
by local chefs from:
Farm Burger, Parker’s on Ponce, Revival, M572,
Growler Time, The Marlay House, Strippaggio
Bamboo Juices
If you are looking for inspiration for your
kitchen renovation, need new ideas for
cooking meals at home or just want a fun
day out, don’t miss this wonderful event!
General Admission
VIP Admission

$15
$25

For more information on this year’s
Tour of Kitchens
and to purchase tickets,
visit www.jldekalb.org.

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016 • Page 15A

Dunwoody to spend more than $400K on stormwater repairs
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com

T

he Dunwoody City
Council approved
spending more than
$400,000 on five separate residential projects related to stormwater drainage,
including pipe, foundation
and sinkhole repairs at two
separate city council meetings.
The largest project presented before the council,
amounting to $162,018, included storm water repairs at
seven addresses along Vermack Road. According to the
document presented to the
public and council from David Elliott, stormwater manager for the city, “Problems
with this stormwater system
were originally located in
2012,” prompting repairs in
2014.
“Several sections of the
pipe system were partially
crushed during installation,
which resulted in a variety
of problems,” according to
the document. “The system
is roughly 40 years old and
beginning to fail from wear in
several areas. The repairs in
2014 replaced the most damaged portions of this system
and eliminated the immediate
risk of flooding.”
The $162,018 figure also
includes a 20 percent contingency, meaning the entire
amount may not be spent.
At the regularly scheduled March 14 meeting of
Dunwoody’s city council,
Councilman Terry Nall
brought up the issue of
stormwater repairs during
a discussion about paving.
Dunwoody officials have
stressed in the past that every road within city limits will
eventually be paved, prompting an opportunity to combine priorities.
“I’m all for extra paving,”
Nall said. “But we need to
have a conversation as a
council that when we start
adding a lot more money to
paving, it also impacts the
storm drain work. We always
go in and look at all the storm
drains [when paving], and we
may be pushing some storm
drain projects behind so we
can look at storm drain projects for newly paved roads.
Not to mention, it’s going to
eat into our storm drain fund.”
A project at a residence
along Devonshire Way will
cost the city $72,734, including a 10 percent contingency.
According to Elliott’s docu-

ment memorandum presented to the council, a complaint
concerning a sinkhole from a
resident eventually resulted
in the finding of a 300-foot
pipe “deteriorated throughout
its length.”
Another sinkhole complaint along Twin Branches
Way in Dunwoody will cost
the city $74,964 with contingency. Elliott told the council
via memorandum that this
particular case was caused
by an overgrown root mass,
which has since been taken
care of.
Sinkhole complaints
along Ben Creek Road found
a “failed brick junction box”
and “significantly deterio-

rated” pipe located near a
residence. The project, which
will cost Dunwoody $61,809
with contingency, will also require the rehabilitation of two
headwalls. Headwalls are
the concrete portion of outlet
areas where pipes drain and
are typically visible to the
public.
A project that initially cost
Dunwoody $83,100 along
Woodsong Drive will now
cost the city $100,545 following the city council approval
March 28, making the grand
total for all projects approved
$472,070.
According to Dunwoody’s
proposed 2016 budget, more
than 25 stormwater repair

and replacement projects
took place throughout the
city in 2015. According to
the city’s approved budget
for 2016, Dunwoody spent
approximately $2.1 million
on stormwater projects last
year and has requested $1.9
million for the remainder of
2016.
Dunwoody reserves approximately $3.4 million in
stormwater funds for repairs
and “catastrophic stormwater events.” The city also
sets aside $24,000 for street
sweeping to help combat
stormwater effects such as
debris and flooding.
Dunwoody holds public
city council meetings every

Stormwater pipe repairs
throughout several Dunwoody
residences will cost the city
more than $400,000. Photos by
R. Scott Belzer

second and fourth Monday at
6 p.m. For more information,
visit www.dunwoodyga.gov.

Dunwoody begins transition to LED lighting
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com

On March 28, the Dunwoody city
council unanimously approved an
initiative that will replace 2,221 regular
light bulbs with light-emitting diode
lights (LED) streetlights.
According to officials involved with
the project, the total monthly bill for
such a change will be $24,682.37.
That amount is $230 more per
month than the city’s current lighting
costs. According to Georgia Power
Company officials, no capital costs will
be presented to the city
Jessica Tolley, the LED
roadway manager for Georgia
Power, and account executive Jerry
Cook presented the matter before
Dunwoody’s city council on March
14. The presentation included a
PowerPoint display demonstrating LED
clarity in addition to information.
“Why are we even looking at
changing to LED? The current high
pressure sodium (HPS) lights are lit
by high pressure sodium and emit an
amber glow,” Tolley said. “But LEDs
are bright white light, they’re broad
spectrum so the eye actually sees a
little better.”
Tolley went on to say LEDs use
half the amount of energy of a high
pressure sodium HPS equivalent and
are easier to direct. As a result, she
said, there is little waste. In addition,
the lights have a longer life expectancy than normal HPS lighting.
“LEDs are very controllable in nature,” Tolley said. “We don’t get a lot of
wasted light. We can put light exactly
where it’s needed on the roadway.”
Tolley said more than 400,000
lights throughout Georgia Power’s
coverage area will be converted to
LED as part of the Georgia Power
LED Roadway Initiative, which began in February 2015. Last year, the
company converted 78,000 lights in
all. The company also will be able to
monitor bulb activity remotely from its

Dunwoody approved moving forward with LED lighting for the entire city, increasing
visibility while lowering energy costs. Georgia Power is set to update Dunwoody’s
lighting from high pressure sodium to light-emitting diode (LED) lighting. Photos by R.
Scott Belzer

home office.
“This is a voluntary program from
Georgia Power,” Tolley said. “I will tell
you the technology is really moving in
this direction.”
Tolley assured this would only
affect governmental and regulated
lighting. The normal, everyday “acorn
shaped” lights usually associated with
decorative lampposts will not be taking part in the change. Only the “cobra
head” lights will be changed out in the
current changeover.
Councilman Doug Thompson
asked Tolley whether the lighting
change would affect Dunwoody
residents in any way. Currently, as
Thompson pointed out, residents are
required to pay approximately $30 for
street light usage.
“LEDs are more expensive
fixtures,” Tolley said. “While you reduce
energy, you pay a higher fixture charge
than you would on a HPS fixture.”
Thompson said due to the minimal
change in the city’s monthly lighting

charge, residents would in all likelihood
not face an increase in charges.
“This is the way of the future,”
Thompson said. “We’re already doing
it in our houses. The bulbs cost more;
the energy usage goes down; how it
works out in the end, nobody really
knows, but I’m favorable.”
Council member Pam Tallmadge
asked if the lights would have the “blue
hue” normally associated with LED
lighting. Tolley assured her the amount
of energy being used was enough to
assure white lighting. In addition, Tolley
informed the board about shielding
measures such as paint in case
residents are not impressed with the
changeover.
On March 14 the council deferred
a decision on moving forward with
the LED initiative until March 28,
where it was unanimously approved.
Plans to begin the LED switch were
not announced, but Tolley said
Dunwoody was slated to take action
“later this year.”

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016 • Page 16A

Three seek tax commissioner’s seat
compiled by Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com
The current tax commissioner,
the daughter of a former tax
commissioner and a former
county commissioner will
face each other in the May 24
Democratic primary in the race to
fill the tax commissioner position.
Candidates for the position
include Irvin Johnson, who was
appointed to fill the position after
former tax commissioner Claudia
Lawson retired in December
2015 after serving as tax
commissioner for approximately
nine years.
Susannah Scott, daughter
of former county Commissioner
Jacqueline Scott, is seeking to
fill the tax commissioner position

Name: Stan Watson
Education:
Georgia State University (19801984), majored in criminal justice and
corrections, played basketball and
was 2nd Lieutenant in Army ROTC;
Columbia College (1976-1978), majored
in criminal justice/police science.

Johnson

Scott

held by her father Tom Scott from
1992 to 2006.
Former DeKalb County Super
District 7 Commissioner Stan
Watson resigned his commission
seat to run for the position he
first attempted to fill in 1988.
Watson also served as a state

Watson

representative August 1997 to
December 2008.
Each candidate was given a
questionnaire by The Champion
with instructions to limit answers
to 50 words. Answers that
were more than the limit were
truncated.

Name: Irvin J. Johnson

Name: Susannah Scott

Education:
B.A., liberal arts, Slippery Rock University
M.A., education, Slippery Rock University

Education:
Mount Holyoke College (BA)
Georgia State University College of Law (JD)
Trinity College Dublin University (LLM)

Occupation:
Tax commissioner, DeKalb County
What political offices have you held in the
past?
None
Why are you seeking this office?
• Provide trusted, ethical and transparent public
service
• Faithfully discharge the duties of this office.
• Be fiscally responsible once annual budget is
approved by the Board of Commissioners.
• Ensure the integrity and reputation of your tax
commissioner’s office in the future
What expertise do you have that will help you
fulfill the duties of this office?
• 15 years of multifunctional experience within
the DeKalb tax office since July 2000
• Customer service, tag and title, property tax,
delinquent collections, tax sale process
• Knowledge and training in the application of
above and the allowable exemptions
• Knowledgeable about tax digest preparation
and property tax billing and payment cycle
• Knowledge…. (answer truncated after 50
words)
Why should you be elected (or re-elected) to
this office?
My qualifications as listed above are uniquely
suited to perform the duties of the tax
commissioner on day one, no onthejob training
is required. I am currently performing the duties
of the tax commissioner (since Jan. 1) and the
team is meeting service expectations daily.
I received the enthusiastic endorsement ….
(answer truncated after 50 words)
What is your campaign website address?
www.irvinfordekalb.com

Occupation: Attorney
What political offices have you held in the
past? None
Why are you seeking this office?
I am seeking the office of DeKalb County
tax commissioner because I have the skills,
motivation, and fresh perspective needed to
serve the citizens of DeKalb fairly and ethically,
while striving to ensure the office adapts to the
needs of its constituents over time.
What expertise do you have that will help you
fulfill the duties of this office?
Through my work as a contract negotiator and
my volunteer service with the League of Women
Voters of DeKalb and Junior League of DeKalb,
I have developed skills in problem-solving,
working collaboratively with diverse groups, and
evaluating systems and processes for continued
improvement.
Why should you be elected (or re-elected) to
this office?
As a native of DeKalb, I care passionately about
DeKalb. I am dedicated to working for my fellow
citizens to provide ethical, efficient, and effective
services, while holding employees to a high
standard of public service and making sure staff
members are valued for their execution of quality
service.
What is your campaign website address?
www.ScottForDeKalb.com

Occupation:
I am a U.S. Navy veteran who also
has more than 16 years’ experience
as a healthcare professional. I have
worked as a regional manager for
Tenet Healthcare and served as the
vice president of government affairs for
Matria Healthcare, a division of Alere
Inc.
What political offices have you held
in the past?
I have served as Super District 7 County
Commissioner from January 2010 until I
resigned this position in March 2016. In
1997, I was elected to DeKalb County’s
91st district seat and served as a state
representative. I was the chairman of
DeKalb House Delegation and worked
with Republicans and Democrats served
on the healthcare, insurance, public
utilities and appropriations committees.
Why are you seeking this office?
My goal is to help DeKalb County
move forward by making sure I improve
access by adding another office and
upgrading technology to expand greater
customer service.
What expertise do you have that
will help you fulfill the duties of this
office?
I have a lifetime of service, both in
the private and public sector of the
community. I have skills in healthcare,
collections, reimbursements and credit
and in local government. I also worked
as a financial accounts examiner with
the U.S. Department of Education for
eight years with student loans.
Why should you be elected (or reelected) to this office?
As a state representative and
commissioner, I presented and
prepared budgets at the federal, state
and local level for over 18 years.
I would work with the appropriate
branches of our county government
to alert them of foreclosures, tax liens
and vacant properties that violate code
enforcement.
What is your campaign website
address?
www.stan4dekalb.com

Business

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016
• Page
July
201517A

2015
aprilJuly
2016

News and events of the
News
and
events
of
the
DeKalb Chamber of CommerCe
DeKalb Chamber of CommerCe

Two Decatur Town Center, 125 Clairemont Ave. Suite 235, Decatur, GA, 30030 • 404.378.8000• www.DeKalbchamberofcommerce.org

Two Decatur Town Center, 125 Clairemont Ave. Suite 235, Decatur, GA, 30030 • 404.378.8000 • www.DeKalbChamber.org

Two Decatur Town Center, 125 Clairemont Ave. Suite 235, Decatur, GA, 30030 • 404.378.8000• www.DeKalbchamberofcommerce.org

President’s Message
President’s
Message
For nearly 80 years
the DeKalb

Chamber team and know that we look Rick has been with the chamber for just
more than one month, and has already
forward to serving you.
Chamber of Commerce has faced
settled
his with
new the
rolechamber
perfectly.for just
hasinto
been
Vice President
of know
Operations,
Chamber
team and
that we look Rick
growth,
changes,
and transitions
that,
For nearly
80 years
the DeKalb
emily
our new
more
thanYang,
one month,
and has already
Kim Childs,
who holds
forward
to serving
you. a bachelor’s
at times, were
extremely challenging.
Chamber
of Commerce
has faced
Communications
and
Experiential
settled
into his new
role
perfectly.
degree
public relations
and is a
Vice in
President
of Operations,
Over thechanges,
past year,
thetransitions
Chamberthat,
growth,
and
Marketing
Manager,
joins the
emily Yang,
our new
former
banker,
comes
with more
Kim
Childs,
who
holdstoausbachelor’s
hastimes,
risen were
to meet
every challenge,
at
extremely
challenging.
Chamber team with
wide range
Communications
anda Experiential
than 20 inplus
yearsrelations
in corporate
degree
public
and is a
every the
change
through
Over
past year,
theemploying
Chamber
of technical
skills in public
relations,
Marketing
Manager,
joins the
America
in retail
and commercial
former
banker,
comes
to us with more
a highly
and
diverse
staff of
has
risenskilled
to meet
every
challenge,
marketing, team
socialwith
media
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Chamber
a wide
range
banking.
Focusing
streamlining
than
20 plus
yearson
in corporate
professionals
a wide
range of
every
changewith
through
employing
Bya
redeveloping
Suburban
Plaza,staff
Seligto
will helpinbring
$150 commercial
to $200 Kim
million
and
400 to
450
and part-time
jobs.
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branding.
Emily
knows
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of
technical
skills
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processes
and
is aannual sales
retailinprocedures,
and
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who
arediverse
committed
highly skilled
and
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business market
brings
a wealth of
marketing,
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networking
great addition
to the
team.
banking.
Focusing
on streamlining
putting the interest
our range
members
professionals
with aofwide
of
energy
to the Chamber.
She
a
and
branding.
Emily knows
theholds
DeKalb
racheaand
brooks,
Marketing
processes
procedures,
Kim is a
and the business
community
first. to
experience
who are
committed
bachelor’s
degree
publicarelations
business
market
andinbrings
wealth of
Specialist
and Assistant
to the
great
addition
to the team.
putting the interest of our members
and marketing,
and is a member
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energy
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She holds
President,
holds
an associate
rachea
brooks,
Marketingdegree
andFor
thenearly...???
business community first.
Public Relations
Society
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degree
in public
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in businessand
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a certified bachelor’s
Specialist
Assistant toisthe
(PRSA)
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theis PRSA
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and
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web designer
proud veteran
President,
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States Army. isRachea’s
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programs and events to deliver what
I amas
proud
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experience
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The
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redefined
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million
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HomeGoods,
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due to team,
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experienced
inthe
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last several
years—
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has said
is
Development
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of
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Year
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were
constantly
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in thethis
firstawesome
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Director
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Membership
She
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“DeKalb Chamber’s role in
Suburban Plaza was designed in
made to Suburban Plaza for a better
forward toexperience?
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Young,
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and
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twoofacres
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Katerina
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and Ceo
into
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to us as a former
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businesses.
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rick Young,
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original center was developed by Steve
this redevelopment. The site did not
Katerina Taylor, President and Ceo
thefinance
DeKalbcomes
market.toHaving
in
us as abeen
formera
I have not
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opportunity
to hire
given,
being
the first woman
and foundation for economic growth in
Selig’s grandfather, Ben Massell, in
previously contain any storm water
bba-marketing,
successful
banker
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the
last
16
years
retail
and
commercial
banker
in
a
truly
dynamic
team.
So
meet
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to
lead
this
Chamber,
but
because
DeKalb County,” said Vaughn D. Irons,
partnership with Morris Arnovitz, and
detention
or water mba-finance
quality control
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successful
banker
the last
a truly dynamic
team.
So meet
your

Taylor

Childs

Taylor

Childs

Selig Enterprises awarded inaugural DeKalb Chamber Economic Development Project of the Year

The redevelopment will bring an
estimated 400 to 450 full-and part-time
jobs, and generate $150 to $200 million
in annual sales, resulting in $3 to 4

redevelop Suburban Plaza?
After nearly 50 years, Suburban
Plaza reflected outdated design
philosophies, including a “sea

The status of health in
DeKalb County & its impact
on economic development

treated before being discharged into the
county’s drainage system. More than 90
percent of the electrical and mechanical
systems have been upgraded to become

San Francisco tech firm
makes stop in DeKalb to
help local entrepreneurs

The DeKalb Chamber of
The 2015 Nationwide County Health
Commerce is partnering with Weebly,
Rankings Report ranked DeKalb as the 19th
a global tech firm, to empower
healthiest county in Georgia, demonstrating
entrepreneurs to create their own
there is room for improvement.
website at the “Like a Boss” Bus Tour
On
April
21,
DeKalb
Chamber
will
host
the business community with an average
Clinic from 1:30 to 3:00 p.m. which offers
monday, august 31, 2015
on Friday,
15 atassessment
DecaturbySquare.
“The Status of Health in DeKalb of
County
and
115 participants. Approximately
144 April
a personal
a pro golfer,
Weebly
web
participants
come together this At
yearthe event,
a one-hour
lesson in
golf fundamentals,
over a decade,
the DeKalb
ItsFor
Impact
on Economic
Development”
forwillthe
the
business
community
withaan
average
1:30
to 3:00
p.m.complimentary
which offers
monday,
august
31, 2015
as 4-man
player
for
best
ball willClinic
networking
reception
and
Chamber
has been
orga-issues
experts
helpfrom
entrepreneurs
publicof
toCommerce
hear
about
health
facing
theteamsAvid
of
115
participants.
a
assessmentatby
a pro
scramble
tournament.Approximately
golfers will144
be
giftpersonal
bag. Immediately
3:30
p.m.golfer,
is our
nizing golf outings as our second largest
build
a website
in just
45 inminutes;
county,
take
to to
improve
quality of
participants
willlife,
come
this year
a
one-hour
lesson
golf
fundamentals,
For event
oversteps
aand
decade,
the
DeKalb
teeing
it up and
hittingtogether
long across
the
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est to the Pin, Longest Drive and
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fun! Networking! a Day of Golf!
fun! Networking! a Day of Golf!

golf tournaments have always enjoyed
strong participation and support from

ting Green contests. Back by popular
demand is our W|E|L|D Women’s Golf

chamber.org or Rachea Brooks rbrooks@
dekalbchamber.org at (404)-378-8000.

more energy efficient. White TPO roofs
have been installed on 95 percent of
Yang reduce heat
Brooks
the buildings, which helps
island effect and energy use associated
with interior cooling of
the buildings.
Yang
Brooks
The redevelopment provided an
opportunity for drastic improvement
by incorporating underground parking
for Walmart, shielding it from view and
allowing the building to be located
closer to North Decatur Road. This allows
better accessibility for and adheres
closely to the planning ideals the
community expressed in the LCI Medline
Young the parking areas for
Study. In addition,
the remaining portion of the center have
been redesigned
Young to include extensive
landscaping and sidewalks to make
them pedestrian friendly.

Upcoming events

upcominG events

July 9: 10 a.m.– 1 p.m. (registration begins at 9:30am), Constant Contact
Workshop: Successful E-mail Marketing; Holiday Inn Northlake–2158
Ranchwood Dr., Atlanta. Learn simple strategies to make your email and
July
9: marketing
10 a.m.– 1more
p.m. (registration
social
effective! begins at 9:30am), Constant Contact
Workshop: Successful E-mail Marketing; Holiday Inn Northlake–2158
Dr.,
Atlanta.
simpleMeeting
strategies
maketoyour
email
and
April Ranchwood
12 –21:
Cuba
Trip
Informational
–to5:30
7:00
p.m.

July
11:30–1:30
p.m. Learn
Membership
Orientation
Luncheon,
Cornerstone
social
marketingofmore
effective!
DeKalb
Chamber
Commerce,
125 Clairemont
Bank
Community
Room,
125 Clairemont
Ave, Decatur.Avenue,
Join us for Suite
lunch 235,
and hear how to leverage the various engagement opportunities, affinity
Decatur
July
21: 11:30–1:30
Membership
programs
and eventsp.m.
to maximize
yourOrientation
membershipLuncheon,
investment,Cornerstone
make new
Room,
Clairemont
Ave,–Decatur.
lunch
contacts
and grow
your
business.
April Bank
15 – Community
Weebly
“Like
a125
Boss”
Bus Tour
10 a.m.Join
tous4 for
p.m.

andSquare
hear how to leverage the various engagement opportunities, affinity
Decatur
programs
and events
maximizeAfter
yourHours
membership
investment,
make new
July 30: 5:30–7:30
p.m.toBusiness
Networking:
SOUTHBOUND,
and
grow
yourHealth
business.
5934
Peachtree
Road,
Chamblee.
Enjoy a casual
evening
networking
April contacts
21 – The
Status
of
in DeKalb
County
& ItsofImpact
on
and hear
updates of the
Chamber’s
Appetizers
will beMarriott
provided
Economic
Development
– 11:30
a.m.programs.
to 1:30 p.m.
- Atlanta
July
30:
5:30–7:30
p.m.
Business
After
Hours
Networking:
SOUTHBOUND,
by SOUTHBOUND.
Drink
Specials.
Cash bar.NE, Atlanta
Century
Center,
2000
Century
Boulevard
5934
Peachtree
Road,
Chamblee.
Enjoy a casual evening of networking
and hear31–11th
updatesAnnual
of theDeKalb
Chamber’s
programs.
be provided
august
Chamber
Golf Appetizers
Tournament,willDruid
Hills Golf
April by
28

DeKalb
District
Attorney
& CEO
SOUTHBOUND. Drink Specials. Cash
bar. Candidate Forum –
Club
6:00 to 8:30 p.m. – Oglethorpe University, Conant Performing Arts
Center,
448431–11th
Peachtree
Road
Atlanta
august
Annual
DeKalb
Chamber
Tournament,
Druid Hills Golf
September
23: 11:30
a.m.
toNE,
1:30
p.m. TheGolf
Atlanta
Journal-Constitution
Club
presents the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce Technology Symposium and
April luncheon
29 – DeKalb Relay for Life – 6:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. - DeKalb
County
Exchange
& a.m.
Recreation
Center,
2771Journal-Constitution
Columbia Drive,
September
23:Park
11:30
to 1:30 p.m.
The Atlanta
Decatur
presents
the19:
DeKalb
of Commerce
Technology
Symposium and
November
11:30Chamber
a.m. to 1:30
p.m. Save-The-Date
General
luncheon
Membership Meeting – Economic Outlook and Financial Impact 2016
May 25
2016 APEX
Business
AwardsPresident
– 11:30and
a.m.
to 1:30
with–Keynote
Speaker:
Dennis Lockhart,
CEO
of thep.m.
Federal
November
11:30
to 1:30 p.m.
Save-The-Date
General NE,
Reserve
Bank19:
ofCentury
Atlantaa.m.Center,
– Atlanta
Marriott
2000
Century Boulevard
Membership Meeting – Economic Outlook and Financial Impact 2016
Atlanta
with
Keynote
Speaker: available
Dennis Lockhart,
and CEO
of the Federal
Additional
information
on ourPresident
events page:
www.dekalbchamber.
Reserve
Bank of Atlanta
org information
For more
and to register for any of these events, please

Upcoming events

visit www.dekalbchamber.org.
Additional information available on our events page: www.dekalbchamber.
org

brought to you in partnership with: The Champion Newspaper
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Classified

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

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The Champion is not responsible for any damages resulting from advertisements. All sales final.

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Business

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016 • Page 19A

Restaurant owner Jay Cunningham said he wanted to open
a quality table-service restaurant in the neighborhood he
grew up in. Photo by Kathy Mitchell

Jesse’s brings table-service dining option to Wesley Chapel

U

ntil recently, people
craving a meal
in the Wesley
Chapel area around
Interstate-20 were left to
choose among a variety
of fast food restaurants.
Jesse “Jay” Cunningham
decided that needed to
change. In February, he
opened Jesse’s Restaurant
Lounge, a table-service
eatery that features
live entertainment and
international cuisine on
Wesley Chapel Road.
“I grew up in south
DeKalb County. I care about
this area. I want the people
who live here to have nice
dining options,” Cunningham
said. “A couple on a date or
a group of friends getting
together for an evening out
shouldn’t have to drive 15
or 20 miles from where they
live to be served a highquality plated dinner and a
cocktail.”
Cunningham’s
experience in the food
service industry began in
fast food, where he has
worked in a corporate office
and as a franchise owner.
He said there is much that

can be learned from the
fast food segment of the
industry. “The major fast
food chains emphasize
that customers care about
quality, service, cleanliness
and value. Those are a
part of any successful food
business. I want to build
on that and take it a step
further and give people a
sophisticated atmosphere
where they have more than
a great meal—they have a
great dining experience.”
In developing his
concept, Cunningham
said he visited a number
of popular Atlanta-area
restaurants. “People want a
nice ambiance, an inspired
menu and first-rate service,”
he said. “A great staff is
crucial.”
Currently Jesse’s
seats approximately 96
customers, but Cunningham
said he is looking at
expansion plans—both
in terms of enlarging the
current restaurant and
opening other restaurants
under the Jesse’s brand.
“But that’s long-term
thinking,” he added. “Right
now, I just want to get this
place on solid footing.”
Among Cunningham’s

past business enterprises
is a pizza franchise and
he said hand-made pizzas
are a specialty in his new
restaurant. “We make our
own dough and our own
sauces,” he said.
The menu includes
other Italian-inspired dishes
such as parmesan chicken
and lasagna along with
traditional Southern offerings
such as fried chicken, fried
fish, honey bourbon pork
chops, and shrimp and grits.
“The chicken and waffles
are very popular,” he said.
There also are steaks,
burgers and Mexican- and
Jamaican-inspired dishes
along with such traditional
bar food as wings and
nachos. At the urging of his
wife, who is a vegetarian,
Cunningham included a
section of vegetarian dishes
on the menu.
Although Jesse’s has
live entertainment in the
evenings, Cunningham is
quick to correct anyone who
refers to his establishment
as a “club.”
“Alcoholic beverages are
available, but the emphasis
is on the food. We are first
and foremost a restaurant.
There is no dance floor

and food service continues
during the entertainment,”
he said.
Cunningham said
he carefully selects
entertainment that is
appropriate for his elegant
dining concept. “The music
is primarily jazz and R&B.
You won’t hear music here
with lyrics that disrespect
women. I want ladies who
come here to feel safe and
respected. I want men here
to behave as gentlemen,”
Cunningham said.
In addition to table
service, Jesse’s has a
take-out counter that can
be accessed through a
separate entrance. He
said in the evenings he
closes “the barn door”
that separates the takeout
counter from the main dining
area.
While Jesse’s now
draws its biggest crowds in
the evenings, according to
Cunningham, the restaurant
also is open for breakfast,
lunch and Sunday brunch.
“People are discovering that
we’re a good place to come
for breakfast. They can relax
with their coffee and watch
the morning news on our
big-screen televisions.” He

Collaboration

said breakfast patrons tend
to gather in the 25-seat nook
in the front of the restaurant,
“but we can serve breakfast
anywhere in the dining area.
I tell business and political
groups they should hold
their breakfast meetings
here. I think they’ll be
pleased.”
Cunningham said he
encourages patrons to share
freely their ideas on how
the restaurant can improve.
“I want to hear the good,
the bad and the ugly,” he
said. “If for some reason we
fail to meet a customer’s
expectations, I want to hear
about it. I don’t want that
person to just never come
back. I want them to give me
the opportunity to correct the
problem. I want to be here
20 years from now.”

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

education

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016 • Page 20A

Speaker Shaka Senghor introduces himself to McNair High School with fellow speaker Capt. Barrington Irving. Photos by R. Scott Belzer

Shaka Senghor shakes up McNair High School
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com

F

or an hour on March 29, the
walls of Robert E. McNair
High School’s auditorium
echoed with the sounds of
truth, despair and redemption.
Celebrated author and speaker
Shaka Senghor made his way
to southern DeKalb County on
March 29 with hopes to make a
lasting impression on students. The
speaker delved into his personal
history involving drugs, death and
imprisonment in order to shock
students into making healthy and
positive decisions.
Senghorbegan by explaining
he was currently a three-week
New York Times bestselling
author. While he acknowledged
the difficulty in obtaining such
a title and shared his newfound
excitement in using it, he explained
it was a far cry from the titles he
has worn most of his life: drug
dealer, prisoner and murderer.
“I grew up in the city of Detroit
during the height of the crack
cocaine era,” Senghor said. “On
the outside looking in, I had a
beautiful middle-class family. But
unfortunately, as is the case in
many households, my mother was
extremely abusive.”
Senghor explained his mother
would beat him and his five
siblings “with little provocation” with
“anything she had in her hand.”
By the time he was 14, he decided
he had enough and ran away. For
two weeks, Senghor said he slept
in garages and basements while
stealing from grocery stores. In his

McNair High School’s auditorium was filled to capacity to hear bestselling author Shaka Senghor speak.

neighborhood, he was made fun
of for wearing the same clothes,
looking ragged and picked on “for
all the reasons we do to embarrass,
degrade and dehumanize each
other,” he said.
Senghor was soon approached
by a man who promised to buy him
clothes, food and support if he were
willing to sell drugs. The prospect of
starvation made saying “yes” easier
than Senghor liked to admit and
within six months, Senghor said
he experienced “every imaginable

horror” that comes with the drugdealing culture.
“My childhood friend was
murdered, I was robbed at
gunpoint, and I was beaten nearly
to death,” Senghor said. “Despite all
of that, I continued in that culture.”
When he was 17, an altercation
took place outside of a house
Senghor was dealing in front of and
he was shot three times. Senghor
had a brief stay in the hospital
before returning to the streets
“patched and bandaged up.” He

said that this was quite common in
Detroit at the time, with no services,
counseling, therapy or questions
asked before sending young men
back to the streets.
Afterward, Senghor admitted
to being paranoid, angry and
fearful enough to constantly carry a
firearm. Within 16 months, Senghor
said he shot four people during a
drug transaction. He said the “old
familiar feeling” of what it was like

See Senghor on Page 21A

education

SENGHor Continued From Page 20A
being shot crept up on him and
prompted him to act.
One of the men shot by
Senghor was killed and he was
sentenced to 17 to 40 years in
prison.
“I knew my life was over,”
Senghor said.
Prison life, what Senghor terms
as “gladiator school,” was every
bit as awful as most imagine it.
He said people were stabbed,
beaten or thrown off tiers every
day. Rather than laying low and
letting the time go by, Senghor
said he chose to participate and,
within five years, he accumulated
35 misconducts ranging from
contraband to assaulting an officer.
He was eventually sent to solitary
confinement.
Solitary confinement proved
to be worse than regular prison.
Senghor relates details of 23
to 24 hour lockdowns, barbaric
conditions, starvation, insanity and
beatings. Oddly enough, this was
the place Senghor found hope.
“I realized that my life was
the direct result of the way that I
thought,” Senghor said. “I thought
negatively, so I produced negative
results. But if you master your
thinking, you can produce whatever
outcome you want to happen.”
A letter from his son stripped
Senghor of his toughness, swagger
and persona. The prospect of
repeating the mistakes of his
mother prompted him into the
action of writing, questioning and
reading. He wrote his thoughts,
his fears and his history before
a narrative presented itself. The
narrative examined instances he
carried the burden of abuse rather
than his own hopes and dreams.
Senghor let some of the people
he was sharing time with read his
work, which inspired him to send
his work out to publishers, who in
turn, published his work. Within

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016 • Page 21A

Regional superintendent Ralph Simpson was present to introduce Shaka Senghor.

Shaka Senghor shared his story of fulfilling one’s potential with male McNair High
students. Photos by R. Scott Belzer

four years, he was put back into the
general prison population. In 2008,
he started his own company.
“If I can do that, from prison,
there’s no limit to what you can
accomplish,” Senghor said.
In 2010, 19 years later, Senghor
walked out of prison. He was
38 and had served half his life

incarcerated. Prison officials said
he would not make it due to being
inside too long and would either
be dead or back inside within six
months.
“Here’s what I did in the first
five years,” Senghor said. “I started
mentoring; I wrote for the paper, I
won the Black Male Engagement

award. Shortly after that I got a
fellowship at the MIT Media Lab.
Shortly after that, I got a fellowship
at the Kellogg Foundation. In
2014, I was invited to speak at
TED – the superbowl of speaking.
In 2015, I won the Innovator of the
Year Award at the University of
Manchester. They said I’d be back
in six months.”
Senghor has since been
interviewed by Oprah Winfrey and
taught courses at the University of
Michigan. On March 8, his book
Writing My Wrongs: Life, Death and
Redemption in an American Prison,
was named a New York Times
bestseller.
“Other people will always tell
you what you can’t do but every
day you wake up, you have to
tell yourself what you’re capable
of,” Senghor said. “You have to
believe it as much as you believe
in your next breath. You have to be
convinced there’s nothing standing
in your way other than yourself.”
In conclusion, Senghor
asked McNair students to make
a commitment to getting rid of
excuses and to master their
thinking.
“Be aware of what information
you’re taking in every day,”
Senghor said. “We make far too
many excuses for our failure. But
if you can think, you can compete
on any level. Leave here with that.
When I look at this audience, I
see myself. I see the potential I
had when I was young. Use your
potential instead of dying early or
ending up in jail.”
McNair principal Loukisha
Walker said she hoped students in
the audience took away a positive
and inspiring message.
“We have someone here that
has an amazing story,” Walker
said. “This story is definitely one
of inspiration. It’s a story of true
redemption.”

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sports

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016 • Page 22A

Carla’s Corner:

Don’t destroy the locker room chemistry

A team’s locker room, or
clubhouse for baseball, is
known as a secret place for
athletes.
It is known by athletes
that whatever is shared in
the locker room between
players usually stays in the
locker room. Somehow, Los
Angeles Lakers rookie point
guard D’Angelo Russell
did not get that memo.
Russell, 20, came under
fire late in March after a
video surfaced that shows
Russell recording a private
conversation between
himself and teammate Nick
Young. Mistake No. 1.
Young did not know he
was being taped. Mistake
No. 2.
In the video, Russell
is heard asking Young
questions about being
with other women. Young
is engaged to Australian

Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com

Sports Editor

@CarlaChampNews

rapper Iggy Azalea.
Somehow, the video
was leaked and a celebrity
gossip site published it.
Russell said at a March
30 press conference that
he does not know how the
video got leaked.
ESPN reported that
Russell lost the trust of
his teammates and they

have shunned him. ESPN
also reported that a source
said no Laker would sit
with Russell at a recent
breakfast meeting. The
source also said that when
Russell came into the locker
room and sat next to guard
Lou Williams, Williams got
up and walked away.
At the March 30 press
conference before the
Lakers went on to defeat
the Miami Heat, Russell
and Young addressed the
media separately about the
incident.
Young, who looked like
a broken man, spoke first
briefly.
“I think it’s best that
me and D’Angelo handle
the situation we have in
a private manner outside
the media,” Young said.
“I think it’s something we
really do need to sit down

and talk about. That’s about
it. What happened is what
happened. We’ve got to
work on it.”
Russell said he
apologized to Young and
takes full responsibility.
“I’ve reached out to
him, talked a little bit. I let
him know my apologies,”
Russell said. “I don’t know
if they were accepted. I
wouldn’t blame him.
“I feel as sick as
possible,” Russell said.
“Been asked 110 times, and
my answer and feelings
stay the same.”
Russell also said he
hasn’t been “isolated by the
team,” but that there is a
“bad vibe.”
“At this point the
damage has been done,”
Russell said. “The best
thing you can do is own up
to it. That’s what I did. I’m

just taking what comes with
it.”
What Russell did should
be a lesson for all young
athletes. Whatever is said
between teammates should
stay between teammates.
And whatever is said should
not be secretly recorded. It’s
wrong and it’s creepy.
Russell will probably
never be trusted again by
his teammates or other
players in the league. He
will forever be known as a
snitch and a rat, and those
are two labels no player
or person wants over their
head.
Russell is young and
he will learn from this,
and hopefully other young
athletes will learn from this
as well.
Never do anything to
destroy a locker room’s
chemistry.

Two Chamblee track-and-field athletes sign with Ivy League schools
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
Two Chamblee High School
students are heading to two of
the top academic colleges in
the country on track and field
scholarships.
Elena Brown-Soler
signed with the University of
Pennsylvania and Sydney
Holmes signed with Yale
University on March 29.
Holmes—who competes in
100-meter hurdles, pole vault,
triple jump and relay races—
selected Yale over Harvard and
Dartmouth after a two-day visit at
Yale.
“I [went] for an official visit
in September and I was able to
stay on campus overnight with
a few people who were on the
team,” Holmes said. “I went to
a few classes with them; I ate
breakfast, lunch and dinner with
them and I met a lot of students
that were there and they were all
very friendly and welcoming. By
the end of my visit I didn’t want to
go back home, and I didn’t have
that feeling when I went to the
other school visits like Harvard
and Dartmouth.”
Holmes has been running
track since she was 4 years old.
She dabbled in other events

before getting into hurdling. She
has placed second, third and
fourth at the state track-and-field
meets during her high school
career and hopes to finally win
gold this year.
“I’m going to work on a lot
of technical things in practice
to make sure that I fix anything
that’s holding me back at this
point,” she said. “I’ve come in
second, third and fourth in the
hurdles at state, so this year I
feel like I have no choice but to
come in first.”
Holmes, who has a 4.1 GPA,
said it is not easy balancing
academics and athletics, but she
has managed to do it.
“I’ve always been a student
athlete so I’ve had a lot of
practice in trying to figure it out,”
she said. “It helps to think of the
end goal whenever I get really
tired and I’m trying to get through
practice and trying to get through
homework. If I want to go to this
school, I’m going to have to know
how to balance my schedule and
manage my time. It just helps to
think about that.”
She plans to study
neurobiology to become a doctor.
Brown-Soler also competes in
the 100-meter hurdles, as well as
the high jump and 4x400 meter
relay.

Sydney Holmes poses with her family after signing her letter of intent to Yale
University. Photos provided

Elena Brown-Soler is photographed with friends after signing her letter of intent
to the University of Pennsylvania.

sports

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016 • Page 23A

Lakeside won its fourth county title in five seasons. Photos by Mark Brock

Lakeside wins fourth county gymnastics title in five seasons
by Mark Brock

I

n the second closest competition
of the DeKalb County
Gymnastics Championships, the
Lakeside Lady Vikings pulled
out a 0.15 victory over the Arabia
Mountain Lady Rams 95.65-95.50
at Dunwoody March 29 for their
fourth title in the past five seasons.
Coach Pat Floyd’s Tucker
squad pulled out a 0.05 victory
(102.50-102.45) over Redan
in 1991, the only DeKalb
County School District (DCSD)
Championship that had a closer
finish.
The beam was the final
event for both Lakeside and
Arabia Mountain and would be
the deciding factor in the win for
Lakeside.
Arabia Mountain, leading by
70.4 to 70.3, was up just before
Lakeside on the beam and the
duo of senior Nia Freeman and
freshman Noelle Senior both
posted 8.50 marks to move into
a five-way tie for the gold medal.

Arabia Mountain’s Noelle Senior won gold
in all-around, floor and bars.

Freshman Raine Julius added a
8.10 on the beam to give the Lady
Rams a 25.10 total in the event.
Lakeside followed needing

a 25.20 total in the event to get
the victory. Freshman Amelia
Stockwell put up a score of 8.00 to
help the Lady Vikings to cut into the
Arabia lead.
Senior Mira Munro scored an
8.70 to capture the gold and leaving
the Lady Vikings needing a score
of better than 8.40 by their final
competitor junior Paige Munro.
Munro delivered a score of 8.65 to
take silver and propel Lakeside to
the narrow victory.
Arabia Mountain’s Senior put
together an all-around score of
34.40, including gold in the uneven
parallel bars (9.00) and in the floor
exercise (8.70) and a tie for silver
in the beam (8.50), to become the
second consecutive freshman to
win the all-around title.
Senior also became the second
all-around champion from Arabia
Mountain, joining Camille Cassar
who won in 2011.
Paige Munro won two silver
medals and two bronze medals to
compile an all-around total of 32.65
to take second in the all-around

competition.
Redan sophomore Mya
Hemingway (32.15) was third
in the all-around for the second
consecutive year followed by
Lakeside freshman Amelia
Stockwell (32.10) in fourth,
Stephenson sophomore Isha’e
Harris (30.50) in fifth and Freeman
(30.00) in sixth.
Freeman also took gold in the
vault with a score of 8.60 to round
out the event winners.
Defending champion Redan
finished in third with 87.85 points
and Dunwoody was fourth with
87.05.
The title was Lakeside’s 20th in
the 51 years of competition (19662016). The 20 wins include a string
of 10 consecutive wins from 1972
to 1981. Coach Elizabeth Krieger
now has two titles in three seasons
at the helm of the Lady Vikings.
Tucker is in second with nine
DCSD titles followed by Redan
with eight and Dunwoody with
seven to account for 44 of the 51
championships.

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 8, 2016 • Page 24A

DA seeks to stop repeat offenders

DeKalb County District Attorney
Robert James will host “Jobs Not Jail:
A Call to Action,” an event designed to
inform community leaders about various
county programs aimed at decreasing the
number of repeat offenders.
“According to the Bureau of Justice
Statistics, approximately 67 percent of
individuals arrested will be re-arrested
within three years and more than 50
percent of those re-arrested will return
to prison for a new offense or violation of
their terms of release,” James stated in a
news release about the event.
“Part of my mission as your district
attorney is to strategically decrease the
number of repeat offenders in DeKalb
County,” he stated.
“Research has shown that young
offenders benefit greatly from being held
accountable for their actions and being
given the tools that allow them to shift to
a positive, productive mindset,” James
stated.
“To that end, I have created several
anti-recidivism/accountability programs
for youthful, nonviolent offenders,” James
stated. Additionally, James’ office has
partnered with the DeKalb County Drug
Court and the newly created Mental
Health Court.
“Through our efforts, we have
equipped our program graduates with the
necessary career and life skills to ensure
their success after they complete the

James

programs,” James stated.
The “Jobs Not Jail” event will be
held 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on April 13 in the
historic DeKalb Courthouse, 101 East
Court Square, Decatur.
During the event, graduates of
various county anti-recidivism programs
will share their experiences. James also
will challenge attendees to partner with
county efforts by helping ensure the
sustainability of the job bank.
“It is our goal that every participant
will have a job available to him or her
upon graduating from our programs,”
said James, who plans to hire several
program graduates to work in the District
Attorney’s Office.
To RSVP for the event, email Ebony
Phillips at eaphillips@dekalbcountyga.
gov.

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