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FRiDaY, apRil 22, 2016 • Vol. 19, no. 1 • FREE

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BEING CHALLENGED DECRIMINALIZATION

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‘Jobs not jail’ is
DA’s call to action
by Andrew Cauthen
Andrew@dekalbchamp.com

A recent graduate of DeKalb
County’s Anti-Recidivism Diversion
Court said she is happy with her
participation in the program.

“I’m so glad to be here and not
in jail,” said Anaia Johnson April
13 during DeKalb County District
Attorney Robert James’ “Jobs Not Jail:
A Call to Action” event.
Johnson said about events that led
to her run in with the law taught her

See Jobs on Page 5A

DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James wants local businesses to
give a second chance to youth graduating from a jail diversion program.
Photo by Andrew Cauthen

County agencies celebrate Crime Victim’s Rights Week
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com
Two metro Atlanta individuals
seem to prove one never has to
be a victim of circumstance.
As part of National Crime
Victims’ Rights Week, celebrated
April 10-16, the DeKalb County
Solicitor-General’s Office in
partnership with the DeKalb
County Domestic Violence
Task Force hosted a lunchtime
discussion in downtown Decatur.
The event’s two main speakers
were Michael Lash and Christy
Sims, victims of physical violence
involving a home invasion
shooting and domestic abuse
crime, respectively.
The purpose of the “Serving
Victims, Building Trust, Restoring
Hope” event was to promote
victims’ rights and honor victims
of crimes as well as those who
advocate on their behalf, said
Sherry Boston, DeKalb County
solicitor-general.
“Our speakers today are
truly amazing individuals – the
definition of the word survivor,”
Boston said.

See Victim on Page 5A

CHAMPIONNEWSPAPER

DeKalb County Domestic Violence Task Force co-chairman Asher Burk joins Solicitor General Sherry Boston in
a moment of silence.

Crime victim and public speaker Christy Sims shared her story of survival at
the April 14 event. Photos by Travis Hudgons

More than 50 residents and government officials came to Decatur Square’s gazebo DeKalb County Sheriff Jeff Mann was present at
to celebrate National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
a Crime Victims’ Rights ceremony to highlight the
scope of crime in the county.

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local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 22, 2016 • Page 2A

Less than half of voters support proposed tax

by Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com
Approximately 45
percent of DeKalb residents
currently support a 1
percent sales tax to fund
county infrastructure
projects.
Those are the results
of a recent survey of
1,000 residents who were
asked various questions
about whether they would
support a proposed special
purpose local option sales
tax (SPLOST) that would
be used to fund capital
projects.
County officials say
the proposed 1 percent
SPLOST would generate
more than $540 million
over five years countywide.
Those funds would be
divided among DeKalb
County and its cities,
according to population.
During the survey
approximately 20 percent
changed their minds in
favor of the SPLOST, said
Christine Lewis, director
of customer and employee

Members of the DeKalb Special Local Option Sales Tax Citizen Advisory Committee are conducting
a series of meetings to develop a suggested list of capital projects to be funded by the proposed tax.
Photo by Andrew Cauthen

research studies at Georgia
State University.
“With education and
some engagement the
percentage of voters
who will be comfortable
supporting this will
increase,” Lewis said.

“Without it, it looks like you
have 45 percent support
right now.
“What this suggested
is...as you provide more
education and more
information about this, a
larger percentage of voters

are more likely to support
the changes,” she said.
The subject of the
proposed SPLOST “is
going to be a topic that’s
going to be dominating
the news cycle...in DeKalb
County between now and

the election, so there will be
more information available,”
Lewis said.
The survey results
show that support for the
SPLOST could increase
approximately 20 percent
were voters more informed
about the proposal.
According the survey
the top spending priorities
were road resurfacing
and maintenance with 34
percent support, followed
by public safety and
then transportation
improvements.
“So if you look
at transportation
improvements and road
resurfacing as being road or
transportation related, that’s
50 percent, couple that with
public safety, those three
items are 70 percent,” Lewis
said.
Parks were at the
bottom in terms of spending
priorities, Lewis said.
Voters will have the
opportunity to vote on the
SPLOST referendum on
Tuesday, Nov. 8, during the
general election.

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aRounddeKalB

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 22, 2016 • Page 3A

aVondale estates

doRaVille

National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day is designed to provide
a safe, convenient and responsible means for people to dispose
of prescription drugs and learn about the potential for abuse of
medications. Avondale Estates Police Department officers will be
outside city hall’s rear entrance on April 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
collecting unused and unwanted prescription drugs and helping
residents safely rid their homes of these medications. AEPD also
accepts pet medications and medical devices, including syringes. City
hall is located at 21 North Avondale Plaza. For more information, visit
www.avondaleestates.org.

Those looking to engage with public officials, hear news about their
community and give their own insight into the economic and social state
of Doraville should plan to beat Doraville City Hall on Thursday, April 21.
Beginning at 6:30 p.m., Mayor Donna Pittman will share last year’s
accomplishments and discuss upcoming projects in Doraville. The
Dunwoody High School color guard will present and demonstrate colors
for the event while Frank Lisco provides entertainment. Pastries and
desserts will be provided by local businesses White Windmill and Hong
Kong Bakery.
Doraville City Hall is located at 3725 Park Ave. in downtown
Doraville.

City to host prescription drug take back day

BRooKHaVen

Junior pageant and talent show scheduled
Lynwood Park will host its annual Junior Miss Pageant April 30
at Lynwood Community Center from 4 to 7 p.m. Children ages 4 to
13 can participate. Refreshments and finger foods will be on hand.
Participants will get to show off their favorite talent or skill for the chance
to win prizes and a trophy, and all participants will get to ride in the
Brookhaven Community Day Parade the following week. The event cost
is $10 per entry. For more information, call (404) 637-0512.

claRKston

City honors officer Nam Le
The city of Clarkston honored one of its police officers during a
regularly scheduled monthly meeting.
Clarkston Police Chief Christine Hudson and Assistant Chief T.D.
Brown presented officer Nam Le with recognition of outstanding service
following an incident in early March.
On March 5, Le encountered a vehicle with an erratic driver. The
driver appeared to be nervous, fidgety and altogether nervous around
the police officer. Le conducted a plate check on the vehicle and found
the driver wanted in DeKalb County on felony murder charges. A felony
traffic stop procedure was conducted and the warrant was appropriately
served.
“We’d like to honor officer Le for his keen policing, ability to partner
with other agencies, and overall, bring that family suffering through that
loss some sort of closure through an arrest,” Brown said. “Although this
is just one opportunity to recognize officer Le, it’s important to note he
performs at this level consistently.”
In addition, Le was commended by DeKalb County for his
professionalism throughout the incident.

decatuR

Anti-underage drug and alcohol meeting set
The Decatur Prevention Initiative will host a town hall style meeting
April 28, 7 p.m., Ebster Recreation Center, 404 W Trinity Place,
Decatur. The theme ‘How Do I Impact Underage Drinking and Drug
Use?’ aims to promote a healthy Decatur community, free of the
negative effects of alcohol and other drugs on youth and families. The
public is invited along with local representation from law enforcement,
schools and parents, to engage in a solution-focused discussion.
For more information, contact Terrie Moore (770) 843-9698 or email
terriemoore@comcast.net.

City council and mayor host State of the City 2016

dunWoodY

Earth Day activities scheduled
Dunwoody will be celebrate Earth Day on Friday, April 22, and
Saturday, April 23, by opening the city’s newest park along North
Shallowford Road.
Beginning at 4 p.m., Dunwoody city council and mayor Denis
Shortal will host a ribbon cutting, bike-walk, soccer festivities,
community yoga, star-gazing and public movie viewing at Park at
Pernoshal Court, located at 4575 North Shallowford Road. The event
will last until approximately 10 p.m.
The following day, community members are invited to return to
the park at 9 a.m. for a stream cleanup at the Nancy Creek tributary
adjacent to the new park. The event will last until approximately 11 a.m.
Dunwoody Nature Center, in partnership with the Earth Day events,
will also host a paint recycling event at 5343 Roberts Drive. This is the
third annual recycling event where old paint is recycled and used again.
Residents will be charged $1 per gallon of paint.
For more information, contact Bob Mullen at (678) 382-6700.

litHonia

Opportunity School District community event
scheduled
Marbut Traditional Theme and Arabia Mountain High School
PTA/PTSA Legislative Committees will host a stand for Something
Community Empowerment Rally on Saturday, May 14, from 10 a.m. - 2
p.m. This event is free and open to the public and will be held at Marbut
Elementary Traditional Theme School, 5776 Marbut Road, Lithonia. An
announcement encourages the community to “come learn about the
Opportunity School District and meet your local state representatives”.
There will also be free health screenings, free concessions, give-aways, a fun zone for kids, music, performances and more. Attendees
will also have an opportunity to register to vote in the November
election. For more information, to volunteer, or to become a vendor;
send an email to legislative@ptaofmarbut.org or call: (404) 981-3893.

Parent group to host family resource expo
DeKalb County School District Parent and Family Engagement and
Joseph’s Network will host a free Family Resource Expo April 30 at
Miller Grove High School from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event will include
representatives from more than 40 agency providers and community
organizations. The school is located at 2645 DeKalb Medical Parkway in
Lithonia. For more information, contact Tamesha Favors at (678) 6763238 or email Tamesha_D_Favors@dekalbschoolsga.org; or contact
Demetria Purkett Brown (678) 874-1842 or email Demetria_R_
Purkett-Brown@dekalbschoolsga.org.

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 22, 2016 • Page 4A

Jihad Ali

While in college, Jihad Ali saw
the positive effect that giving back
had on others and on him.
“When I was a student athlete
at Georgia State we did a lot
of mentoring and community
service,” Ali said. “That’s when
I really got a passion for it…
like ‘wow, I’m really making a
difference, putting a smile on
people’s faces and things like
that.”
Ali, 26, who was a captain
on the Georgia State University
basketball team, wanted to
continue volunteering in the
community after college, so
he joined the Emerging 100 of
Atlanta. Emerging 100, the young
professional auxiliary of 100 Black

Men of Atlanta Inc. is composed
of men ages 25-35 who serve the
Atlanta community.
“We do a lot of volunteering,
a lot of mentoring at B.E.S.T.
Academy in southwest Atlanta,” Ali
said. “We do a lot of giving back
whether it’s Comcast Cares Day…
whether is planting or painting at
a school or something like that.
Giving back is really important.”
He also volunteers at events
that his friends host that focus on
giving back to the community.
“I definitely try to pitch in,” he
said.
Ali, a Decatur native and
M.L. King Jr. High School alum,
said giving back is important to
him because he was raised in a

Dunwoody OKs $129K in
pedestrian improvements
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com
Dunwoody city officials
moved forward on April 11
with a project to improve
pedestrian travel.
The city council of
Dunwoody approved a
request for proposal for the
design of a “multiuse path
between Peeler Road and
Dunwoody Club Road,”
along Winters Chapel Road
in March, according to city
documents.
The city commissioned
a study titled “Peachtree
Corners – Dunwoody Winters
Chapel Road Area Study” with
its neighboring community of
Peachtree Corners in April
2015. The study outlined
various improvements for the
corridor along Winters Chapel
Road; some of which are
already under construction.
The proposal, according
to a memorandum prepared
by Capital Projects Manager
Mindy Sanders, includes a
multiuse path from Peeler
Road in Dunwoody to
Dunwoody Club Drive, which
links Winters Chapel Road
to Happy Hollow Road. The
design of the path, which
runs along Winters Chapel,
will continue to Dunwoody’s
border with Sandy Springs.
The path will continue along
Winters Chapel until it hits

Spalding Drive.
“In addition, the design
will include restriping plans
for several areas along this
section of Winters Chapel
Road,” reads the city’s
memorandum.
The design team selected
for the project, Sprinkle
Consultants, will charge the
city $129,537 for the project,
which exceeds the $100,000
set aside by Dunwoody
officials in the 2016 budget.
The city will also authorize
an additional $15,000 in
contingency.
The project memorandum
also states the project will
“use excess funds from other
sidewalk projects as they are
available and will request
additional funding through a
future budget amendment for
any remaining shortfall.”
Sprinkle Consultants
was chosen over five other
companies with prices
ranging from $98,000 to
$286,500.
“Six qualified proposals
were received and reviewed
by staff from the city of
Dunwoody and the city of
Peachtree Corners,” reads
the city memorandum.
“Based on factors including
project understanding, scope,
schedule, experience, and
cost, Sprinkle Consulting
was identified as the highest
ranked firm for this project.”

community that gave to him and
other youth.
“Someone else did it before
me and it’s always good to pay
it forward for the next generation
so that they can see you doing
things and feel that sense of
community and want to give back
when they get older or even when
they’re young,” he said. “I think...
our purpose in life is to give back
and make things better than [they
were] when you found it.”
Ali said he believes everyone
should do something to make the
community better.
“I think it goes a long way and
you’ll definitely find happiness
when giving back to others,” he
said.

Jihad Ali

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 22, 2016

VIctim Continued From Page 1A

While the gathered crows may have been
expecting tales filled with terror, woe and
fear, they instead received tales involving
perseverance, character and faith.
On Aug. 16, 2015 Lash, his wife and their
two children had just returned home from a
Florida vacation. The following day, he was
supposed to start a new job. After hearing
the doorbell ring, however, Lash and his
family’s life changed drastically.
“I remember talking to my wife about our
faith, saying ‘God gives and he takes away,
he’s given us so much and we have to be
ready for that time when he takes away
because that is when it really matters,’” Lash
said. “Little did we know about what was
going to happen.”
Lash answered the door to find two young
men whom he said looked “no more than 14
or 15 years old.” After asking for help with
their car, one of the young men brandished a
firearm and demanded Lash get back inside
the house. Two more young men soon
joined them.
“I remember thinking ‘I cannot let these
guys in my house with my wife and kids,’”
Lash said. “And that’s exactly what I told
them.”
Lash stood in the doorway as the
assailant counted down from 10. Upon
reaching one, he shot Lash in the left leg.
When Lash stood back up, the young
man put another bullet in Lash’s right leg,
shattering his femur and his ephemeral vein.
The assailants entered Lash’s house and
continued shooting at his wife and newborn

local

daughter but missed. They soon fled the
residence with a laptop and other electronic
devices.
During the time between Lash denying
entry to the invaders and the first gunshot,
Lash’s wife was able to call the Atlanta
Police Department, which saved his life.
The officers responded in three minutes and
created a tourniquet. One of the officers,
Tyler Thomas, visited Lash in the hospital.
“I told him, ‘Thank you so much for saving
my life,’” Lash said. “And he told me, ‘You
were the first responder that day, you saved
your family’s life; I was just your backup.’”
Lash said being able to recover, move
back into his house, become a part of the
Atlanta community and accept his attackers’
apologies made him a victor, not a victim.
“We completely forgive the four that were
arrested and plead guilty to what they did,”
Lash said. “There’s a bigger plan here. We
don’t want division.”
Sims also shared a story involving victory
over adversity. On April 28, 2013, Sims’ exboyfriend threw sulfuric acid on her, resulting
in third- and fourth-degree burns on 20
percent of her body. For two months, Sims
was in a sustained coma and underwent
13 surgeries. She awoke with the resolve
to prosecute her attacker and not let such
violent circumstances define her life.
She has since become an advocate
for survivors of domestic abuse at the
international level. She currently serves as
a clinical mental health counselor. On April
25, 2015, the Fulton County Commission

Page 5A

officially named April 25 Christy Sims Day.
Sims said her entire life changed in
an instant, resulting in a lost career and
emotional distress for her family, but she
refuses to let the traumatic event define her
life.
“Yes, I guess you can call me a victim,”
Sims said. “But I’m here to let you know I’m
on the other side. I’m a victor. I’m here to tell
you yes, it is Crime Victims’ week, but I will
not be defined by my circumstance. I made
a decision early on in this process that I
would define the crime that happened to me,
it would not define me.”
Sims said the crime allowed her to pursue
her passion of helping people in the field
of counseling. Sims said she needed to
be humbled, but is ready to help people
by “telling her story until [she’s] blue in the
face.”
“I get called ‘courageous’ a lot,’” Sims
said. “My way of surviving was to get out
there and say, ‘Listen, this is what happened
to me, do something about it,’ not just for
me, but for everybody. April 28 was the
worst day of my life and the best day of my
life. I know for certain my pretty face with the
freckles and dimples could not have saved
the number of lives I’ve saved.”
DeKalb County Sheriff Jeff Mann was
present at the event to highlight the scope of
DeKalb County’s violent crime.
“In 2015 alone, we took in over 36,000
individuals into our custody,” Mann said.
“That means there were more than 36,000
victims in DeKalb County.”

Jobs Continued From Page 1A
something: “I knew that I could
not be in jail. That was not a
place for me.”
 After completing the county’s
diversion program Johnson is
now in the process of completing
her application to law school.
She plans to be a lawyer.
 “There are attorneys who
want to help children,” she said
about the program.  “They are
not all out here just to lock us all
up and throw us in jail.”
 James’ “Jobs Not Jail”
Local business leaders have the opportunity to provide jobs for participants in the county’s
program is designed to help
Anti-Recidivism Diversion Court. Photo by Andrew Cauthen
youth graduating from the
diversion program to find jobs in James said. “I want young
said. “It’s not just something
the community. 
humanitarian that we’re
people who we’re providing
Initiated in 2011, the Antidoing. It is humanitarian
a second chance, young
Recidivism Diversion Court is “a people who would otherwise
but ultimately this is a crime
way to prevent young, nonviolent be incarcerated, who would
prevention measure because
offenders from committing more
when somebody goes out
otherwise be in prison—I want
crimes after their first arrest,”
and…commits more crimes,
to make sure that they get
according to a news release
oftentimes they create more
employed.
about the program. 
victims.
 “Why? Because we know
As part of the program,
“If you can give them a job
that when young people are
James invited business and
and make them a taxpayer
working...the chances that
community leaders to participate they’re going to commit more
versus them being unemployed
in the event to encourage them
committing crimes living on the
crimes or recidivate ...drop
to provide jobs to graduates of
state’s dime and becoming a tax
dramatically,” James said. 
the program.
eater, I’ll take the option of giving
“This is not just something
 “I want kids to get jobs,”
them a job anytime,” James
cute that we’re doing,” he

said. 
James said he hosted the
event to “raise awareness.” 
“People need to be aware
of the problems we have with
recidivism...throughout the whole
country,” James said. “We have
almost 2 million people that are
incarcerated in this country.”
 James said he also wanted
to have “a call to action to bring
people to the table who are
employers and supervisors so
that we can put a significant dent
in this recidivism and this crime
problem… by offering people a
better opportunity which is jobs.”
 Darreous, another graduate
of Anti-Recidivism Diversion
Court, said, “I got into this
program by messing my own life
up.” He burglarized a home with
a friend.
 “The program came
and saved me, saved my
life,” Darreous said. “It sat me
down for a second. 
“I had a chance to sit down
and think what I did wrong,” he
said. “I have a second chance at
[life]. It changed my life for the
better.”

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 22, 2016

opinion

Page 6A

Chamblee takes one worry out of online shopping
I love it when a simple,
sensible solution is found
to a problem, and when
that solution is actually
implemented without much
cost and delay, that’s even
better.
My hat’s off to the city
of Chamblee for coming up
with an answer to a 21st
century problem involving
transactions between
individuals who meet online
via services such as Ebay
and Craigslist.
While the vast majority
of online purchases take
place without incident
and buyer and seller walk
away satisfied with each

Gale Horton Gay
gale@dekalbchamp.com

Lifestyle Editor
receiving the item/payment
expected, occasionally
that’s not the case. Crimes
have been committed in

some situations where
individuals meet and an
assault, robbery or even
murder has taken place.
Reports of these crimes
make many people wary of
engaging in a transaction
that begins at one of these
sites or similar ones.
Chamblee now has
two Transaction Exchange
Zones—both at the police
department (one in the
lobby and one in the
parking lot) where anyone
can come to exchange
merchandise and money
under the watchful eyes
of the police. They’ll also
check items’ serial numbers

to ensure goods aren’t
stolen. And a camera
system is in place to record
it all. Chamblee police just
ask that individuals call
them first before coming
over so they are prepared.
Obviously this will deter
some individuals with bad
intentions from taking negotiations any further once
the police department is
mentioned as the meeting
site. Another benefit is that
should disputes arise over
amount to be paid or quality
of goods at the exchange,
police personnel are right
on site and the situation is
less likely to escalate.

This is the type of
simple and sensible
service that other police
departments should
adopt and publicize. It’s a
tremendous benefit to the
community and shows the
police department’ goodwill
toward those they serve.
While I haven’t made
any online purchases that
require meeting a stranger
to exchange goods for
cash, if I decide to do so,
I’ll make a beeline to the
Chamblee Police Department. Thanks, Chamblee, I
sure hope other municipalities follow your lead.

Toddlers kill more people in the U.S. than terrorists do
This week, in my country, considered by
some of its more embarrassing denizens
to be the “greatest country in the world,, an
outspoken Florida “gun rights” advocate
left a loaded .45 caliber handgun in the
back seat of her car and was promptly shot
and wounded by her 4-year-old child. Truly
a pinnacle of human potential, much like
the invention of paper in second-century
BC China, or Aristotle holding forth in the
Lyceum, or whoever first pointed out that
Florida looks like America’s penis.
What do you say about the outspoken
Florida “gun rights” advocate who left a
loaded .45 caliber handgun in the back
seat of her car and was promptly shot and
wounded by her 4-year-old child?
I take no pleasure in violence and pain.
I’m not happy that Jamie Gilt, 31—who
has built a thriving web presence on the
argument that guns are not only perfectly
safe around kids, but necessary for their
protection—left a loaded handgun in reach
of her 4-year-old son, who then picked it up,
aimed it at his mother, and pulled the trigger.
I find zero delight in the thought of Gilt’s
toddler’s almost certain panic and horror
in that moment, nor the guilt he may well
carry for the rest of his life (guilt that only
his mother deserves). I’m sure being shot in
the back really hurts—even more so when
it comes with a side of nationwide liberal
schadenfreude.
But I have no interest in letting Gilt off
the hook. Her child could just as easily
have shot himself, or a passerby, or
someone else’s child. With just a few
tweaks of location and circumstance, he
could have shot my child. Someone else
still could, accidentally or with intention—
it’s a possibility you have to consider in a
country with so many guns and so few laws

regulating them. That’s the macabre truth of
parenting in 21st-century America.
I grew up with the same persistent,
low-grade fear of gun violence as any
American—my middle school was once
locked down because of a shooting at the
high school up the street, and I was a junior
at that same high school when we watched
the Columbine massacre unfold on TV—but
my family didn’t have guns, and we lived in
a liberal city so most of my friends’ parents
didn’t either. Guns were scary, but for the
most part they felt far away.
Growing up here myself didn’t prepare
me for how distinctly, viscerally frightening it
would be to raise children in a gun-obsessed
nation. My stepdaughters go to school in
a borderline-rural suburb, whereas I was
educated in central Seattle. They already
know of at least one friend-of-a-friend who
was killed in a school shooting.
Many of their friends’ parents are gun
owners. Not only that, but, over the past
few decades, the National Rifle Association
has been aggressively and successfully
rolling back firearm restrictions, making
gun ownership as quick and easy for
anyone’s irresponsible, drunk cousin as their
meticulous, gun-safety-trained dad. When
we send our kids to friends’ houses for
sleepovers, it sometimes feels like a leap of
faith.
In the United States in 2015, more people
were shot and killed by toddlers than by
terrorist. In 2013, the New York Times
reported on children shot by other children:
“Children shot accidentally–usually by other
children–are collateral casualties of the
accessibility of guns in America, their deaths
all the more devastating for being eminently
preventable.”
And I’m supposed to believe that

frightened Syrian refugees—or whomever
becomes the next rightwing scapegoat du
jour—are the real threat to my children? I’m
supposed to be afraid of sharks? Heavy
metal music? Violent video games? Horse
meat in my hamburger patties? Teenagers
pouring vodka up their butts?
States with more guns have more gun
deaths. Keeping a gun in your house
increases your chances of accidental death
by shooting, but does not make you safer.
A woman’s chance of being murdered by
an abusive partner increases fivefold if the
partner has access to a gun. “Good guys
with guns” are a fantasy. How much longer
will we keep participating in this great
collective lie that deadly weapons keep us
safe?
The accidental shooting of Jamie Gilt
is the object lesson that my absurd nation
deserves. When even supposed gun safety
experts cannot keep themselves safe from
their own toddlers, we should take that as
an unequivocal reminder that guns are
inherently dangerous. They are exploding
projectile machines designed specifically
for killing. And that’s not bleeding-heart
hyperbole—it’s the explicit reason why many
people are drawn to them. Cowboy games.
Vigilante justice. Power.
America does not get to claim some
hypercivilised global high ground when we
foster—legislatively and culturally—a system
in which incidents such as Gilt’s are not just
possible, but inevitable.
Lindy West is a Seattle-based writer,
editor and performer whose work focuses on
pop culture, social justice, humour and body
image. She’s currently a culture writer for
GQ Magazine and GQ.com, as well as the
founder and editor of I Believe You—It’s Not
Your Fault, an advice blog for teens.

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 15, 2016

opinion

Page 7A

ONE MAN’S OPINION

The United Straights of America?
“From a distance,
Georgia Gov. Nathan
Deal and North Carolina
Gov. Pat McCrory appear to be similar. Both
are conservative governors of Southern states
where religion plays a
strong role in public and
private lives.
They both live and
govern during times
of rapid change, particularly with the way
society treats gay and
transgender people. But
the two–with so much in
common–have arrived at
different conclusions to
the same basic question.
Should people be allowed
to discriminate against
their neighbors based on
their sexual orientation or
gender identity?”
Op-ed in the Charlotte
News & Observer, April
2016
I grew up in DeKalb
County, Georgia, during the 1960s, in the
midst of the Civil Rights
movement. Though the
birthplace and cradle
of that movement was
less than a dozen miles
from my home, and only
a couple of miles from
the hospital of my birth,
I was largely unaware
of the drama and strife
of those dramatic and
stressful times. The closest that world came to

Bill Crane
bill.csicrane@gmail.com

Columnist

mine was during numerous days and occasional
evening encounters with
the worlds of two women
who were near and dear
to our family—Lillie Mae
Fleetwood and Eloise
Morgan.
My grandmother was
our next door neighbor
growing up, and my parents and grandparents
both worked in the family
newspaper business.
Lillie Mae worked for
my grandparents, helping
to raise my aunt, her own
nine children and later my
brother, sisters and me.
Eloise worked for our
family from my days in elementary school through
long after my graduation
from UGA. These women
were as much a part of
our family in my mind as
my cousins, aunts and
uncles. We loved them,
and they loved us.

The Atlanta business
community and some
progressive state leadership (though not all),
helped Atlanta to set a
different example during
the civil rights era.
The “City too busy to
hate” experienced sit-ins,
and more than the occasional protest, but no
race riots or over-reacting
police chiefs or sheriffs
wielding fire hoses.
Thanks, I believe, to
the leadership and political courage of Georgia’s
current governor, we are
again taking point, the
lead and shining a light in
the right direction. Georgia can remain a conservative, Bible-quoting and
even gun-toting state,
without becoming viewed
or known as an intolerant,
hypocritical place where
the clock is being turned
back.
Knowing that this column will elicit hate mail
from friends in Georgia’s
faith-based community, I
will ask that they read, in
its entirety, the proposed
law that Gov. Nathan
Deal chose to veto. One
passage outlines clearly
that faith-based nonprofits (a category larger
than churches) would be
within their legal right,
and immune from litigation for damages, if they

were to terminate the
employment of an employee whom they suspected of being lesbian
or gay. Georgia is already
a right-to-work, “at will”
employment state. This
law would be a license to
discriminate.
Weeks before Deal announced his intentions,
he held a press briefing
acknowledging his support for the proposed
Pastor Protection Act and
offering that he would be
troubled to sign any bill
that he believed would
lead to discrimination.
The battle is apparently not yet over. Georgia’s lieutenant governor,
House speaker and numerous legislators say
they will be back next
year with another bill.
Eloise Morgan helped
me become the person
I am today. As she was
dying, fighting multiple
ailments while battling
cancer in the then nonair-conditioned tower of
Grady Hospital, I tried
visiting her at least once
a week. Though I had
only been a child during
the civil rights era, I kept
wishing I had been an
adult and in a position to
speak up, say something
and do more in those
times. I could not help
or change Eloise’s life at

that point; all I could do
was let her know that we
loved her, thank her and
try and help her son and
brother who survived her
in the years ahead.
Well, I am a grown
up now. And so clearly
is Governor Nathan
Deal. Our neighboring
governors and some
legislatures may still be
dreaming of “The United
Straights of America,” but
this son of the South is
hoping that they wake up
soon. We have already
been on the wrong side
of history two centuries in
a row, and it’s now time to
be on the right side, and
treat others as we would
want for them to treat
us. This one is for you
Eloise. Thanks again. We
still miss you.
Bill Crane also serves
as a political analyst and
commentator for Channel
2’s Action News, WSBAM 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.

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

local

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

Super district commission
seat being challenged
compiled by Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com
A DeKalb County Super District commissioner is being challenged for her seat.
Kathie Gannon has represented Super District 6, the western half of DeKalb
County, since 2005. She is being challenged by Warren Mosby, a consultant.
They will face each other in the May 24 Democratic primary.
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: Kathie Gannon

Name: Warren F. Mosby

Education:
Masters of social work, University of
Georgia; Masters certification, heritage
preservation, Georgia State University;
B.A. political science, Marquette
University, Milwaukee, Wisc.

Education:
Bachelor of electrical engineering,
Georgia Tech

Occupation:
Retired, program & policy development
social work. Founded Georgia CASA—
Court Appointed Special Advocates and
other programs for abused and neglected
children.

What political offices have you held in
the past?
None

What political offices have you held in
the past?
DeKalb County Commission Super
District 6.
Why are you seeking this office?
To continue my effort to provide good
government and quality of life for the
citizens of DeKalb. The job is not done.
We need a new government blueprint
of accountability, transparency and
responsiveness. I will continue to push
for public safety as a top priority in our
budget.
What expertise do you have that will
help you fulfill the duties of this office?
I have a record of 11 years
representing you. We are a team with
accomplishments in sustainability,
economic development, senior services. I
promote an open and inclusive decisionmaking process and a positive agenda
where your voice is at the table to focus
on essential services, neighborhood
protection, jobs.
Why should you be elected (or reelected) to this office?
At times like these a commitment to good
government is more important than ever.
Accountability has to come first with goals
that address the future of all of DeKalb, to
bring us back together as a county and a
community.
What is your campaign website
address?
www.kathiegannonlistens.com

Occupation:
Consultant

Why are you seeking this office?
Parity and justice. Warren Mosby will
work for all of the citizens of District
6, not just for those who reside in the
northern parts of the county as my
opponent does. Public service is just
a continuation of my family’s 38-year
calling to the people of DeKalb County.
What expertise do you have that
will help you fulfill the duties of this
office?
My faith in God and expertise in working
with His people. My engineering training
brings expertise in problem solving. I
have served in leadership capacities in
business and community organizations,
secular and religious. I have extensive
expertise in financial analysis and
reporting and, I am an expert in DeKalb
politics.
Why should you be elected (or reelected) to this office?
I will fight for commercial developments
in South DeKalb that will enhance our
communities as well as instill a true
sense of ownership of our County. I will
work to insure that our Government is
laser-focused on our issues to provide
meaningful solutions to the needs of our
families.
What is your campaign website
address?
www.DeKalbUnited.org

National chess tournament
held in Decatur
Decatur-based Unconditional Love for Children’s
CheckMate Chess Academy (CMCA) hosted the
center’s first chess tournament by collaborating with
organizer Frank Johnson of Chess-Coach.net on
April 9 to present the 64 Squares Master Challenge 25
tournament.
To participate, players were required to have a
United States Chess Federation rating of 1,799 or
above. The event drew players from as far away as
Chicago to CMCA’s headquarters on Snapfinger Woods
Dr. in Decatur for four rounds of play.
CMCA director Barry Gray said Johnson’s “chess
expertise is matched by his technological fluency.”
For the first time a CMCA event was broadcast live
online. Gray described it as “a real tour-de-force of
organizational complexity for an event hosted at a new
venue.”
Gray continued with, “The assembled field of six
nearly master-level players coped with the pressure of
playing for an international audience, but one coped
better than the rest, Sedrick Prude of Chicago.” The
44-year-old Prude won three games and conceded
one draw to outstrip the other competitors and take first
place.
Johnson and Gray were pleased with the
organizational success of the tournament, with Johnson
saying, “I’ve found an ideal partner [in] CMCA and will be
offering chess events at this venue in the future.”

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 22, 2016 • Page 9A

Doraville council quiet in parking dispute

by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com
Since mid-March,
residents on and around
Raymond Drive and
Wheeler Drive in Doraville
have voiced concerns
regarding their overcrowded
streets and alleged lack of
accessibility.
Tapestry Public Charter
School, located at 3130
Raymond Drive, according
to residents, has been the
cause of double-parking
in front of houses as well
as both sides of the street,
raising questions regarding
emergency vehicle
accessibility.
Residents approached
city councilmen, the mayor
and other officials to plead
their case in March. Tapestry
Public Charter has also
approached the city for help
in addressing the issue.
On April 11, for the
second consecutive time,
Doraville officials opted to
not make an official ruling.
The item at the
April 11 meeting was
titled “Discussion and
Consideration to approve no
parking ordinance (resident
parking only) on Wheeler
Drive and Raymond Drive
on both sides,” but was not
voted on.
Several people called
for a solution at the April
meeting.
Anne Simonetti, a
Raymond Drive resident,
said street parking along
Raymond Drive had not
been an issue until fall
2015. Simonetti alleged the
issue goes further because
Tapestry Public Charter also
rents its space for events.
“What we have today
is both sides of the street
being used as parking
lots for the Tapestry
School,” Simonetti said.
“[The school] needs to be
accountable for the people
they lease their building to.
It’s not OK for both sides of

the street to be blocked. If
there is ever an emergency
at my home, the emergency
vehicle will not be able to
pass.”
Residents Kenneth
Williams, Vicki Grace,
and Tim Snyder echoed
Simonetti’s concerns and
called for action.
“I ask you to enforce the
parking ordinance and stop
people from parking in front
of the school,” Williams
said.
“The school has so
much land,” Grace said.
“There’s more than enough
land to put parking on.
When they bought this
property, they knew the
ordinances requiring them
to have adequate parking.”
“We have a problem,”
Snyder said. “It’s a health
and safety issue. There are
obviously traffic problems
in having cars park on both
side of the street. It’s a
safety and welfare issue.
We have an ordinance
that says businesses must
contain their parking. Your
problem should not have to
be our problem.”
Candice Jordan,
director of development at
Tapestry Public Charter,
was present to speak in
the school’s defense with
Principal Barbara Boone.
Jordan recognized
parking as an issue in
the community but said
“diminishing the ability
to maintain some level
of flexibility” with parking
would harm the school’s
mission. She also said it is
“not fair to urge Tapestry
to purchase parking that
would inconvenience
staff, parents and visitors
to benefit [the school’s]
immediate neighbors.” Still,
Jordan said the school
would support an ordinance
limiting the street’s parking
opportunities to one side.
In addition, Boone said
the school would be open
to having a meeting with

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Double-parking issues in a residential neighborhood along Raymond Drive in Doraville has residents requesting action from the city council. Photo by R. Scott Belzer

residents to address the
issue.
Regardless, Doraville’s
city council did not move to
solve the issue other than
suggesting the two parties
meet to discuss the issue.
“My suggestion is that
we continue the discussion
with residents and the
school,” said Councilwoman
Dawn O’Connor. “This
should be the beginning
of a dialogue. We should
set up a meeting where we
can come to an agreement
residents can live with. The
next thing we should do is

have the school get with
residents to see what would
be a workable solution.”
City manager Shawn
Gillen said consideration
should be taken in
eliminating parking on one
side of the street but first
recommended speaking
to more residents and
the school. He also said
a “formal plan” should be
written.
“To me, an easy solution
right away would be to limit
parking to one side where
they aren’t parking in front
of homes,” said Mayor

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Donna Pittman.
Pittman also suggested
school staff, parents and
visitors park in the nearby
church parking lot until a
permanent solution could
be found. Councilman
Robert Patrick said the
city should act as an
intermediary between
the two parties while
councilman M.D. Naser
advised the school to
find parking on their own
property.
However, no official
motion was made to further
address the issue.

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 22, 2016 • Page 10A

Clarkston proposes marijuana decriminalization
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com
Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry
told media outlets the city’s public
safety committee will review
making misdemeanor marijuana
possession of less than one ounce
a ticket-only offense. If successful,
Clarkston will be the first city in
Georgia to do so.
“This is an idea sponsored by
all of the public safety committee
members,” Terry told The Champion
on April 8. “It was introduced in a
resolution to study the issue at the
[February] council meeting.”
According to public record of
that meeting, the resolution was
one of 15 items discussed in a
regularly scheduled city council
work session. Councilmen Dean
Moore and Mario Williams,
who make up the public safety
committee with Terry, were the
principal sponsors behind the
resolution.
Currently, possession of less
than an ounce of marijuana is a
misdemeanor crime in the state of
Georgia. According to the Georgia
Code, an offender has the option of
arguing for a conditional discharge
or diversion, meaning a judge can

Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry. File Photo

refer the offender to probation and
clear the marijuana charge from his
or her record.
If a conditional discharge
is not granted, the charge can
land an offender in jail for up to a
year, a $1,000 fine or both. The
drug charge will also stay on the
offender’s record.
At the February council
meeting, Moore stated the unfair
application of these punishments
warranted the resolution. The
councilman also said Clarkston
seeks to eliminate marginalization
and unfair arrest records from
residents.
“We’d like to look at the
circumstances and potential of
reducing the penalty in Clarkston,”
Moore said at the meeting. “We’d

District attorney candidates
discuss integrity during debate
by Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com

I

ntegrity was one of the
issues discussed April 12
when the two candidates for
district attorney faced each
other during a debate.
Solicitor-General Sherry
Boston, who is challenging
District Attorney Robert
James, said that “in DeKalb
County there is a great concern
that we have a district attorney
who breaks the law.
“We have a district attorney
who has admitted to violating
the law,” Boston said. “And
when that happens that drives
the entire system down and
it makes people question...
‘Is that system fair and do we
have a DA that is going to
prosecute others where he has
failed himself?’”
James welcomed the
opportunity to respond to the
“allegations which were true
that I didn’t file my election
paperwork on time.”
James said that he didn’t
raise money for four years as
district attorney.
“And even if you don’t

raise money, the state says
you’re supposed to go [online]
and press a button to [say
the fundraising is] zero every
year,” James said. “I didn’t do
it and like hundreds of other
politicians around Georgia—
like judges and even one
governor we have had—[we]
had to pay an administrative
fine.”
James said that it was
irresponsible to allege that he
committed a crime because of
that.
Boston and James
participated in a candidates’
forum for contested judicial
offices. With more than 150
people in attendance, the
forum held at Agnes Scott
College was sponsored by the
League of Women Voters of
Atlanta-Fulton County.
In addition to the
district attorney candidates,
candidates for State Court,
Superior Court, solicitor
general and district attorney
faced each other in the forum.
Boston said the county’s
district attorney must “operate

See DA on Page 11A

like to help with employment issues
surrounding political laws.”
The item was condensed
and added as a block item to the
council’s formal meeting held
later on in the meeting. It faced
no further public discussion from
councilmen or the public.
Terry said the public safety
committee’s meeting specifically
regarding the issue has a tentative
date of April 22. The mayor said he
expects it to be a lengthy affair.
“The committee will bring in
expert witnesses to speak on the
issue,” Terry said. “The meeting
could last over two hours. If the
committee has as favorable opinion
then it could be voted on as early
as the May council meeting.”
The Clarkston mayor said
most local residents have been
“fully supportive” of the measure
while others are requesting more
information. City manager Keith
Barker said there has not been
enough time to gauge a reaction
from city employees such as police.
“This issue has just been
referred to the public safety
committee for review and
discussion,” Barker said. “There
is currently no policy or ordinance
change for staff to react to.

Generally, speaking, as staff, we
take our policy direction from the
governing body; we will enforce the
ordinances as they appear on the
books.”
Terry said Clarkston will argue
the ordinance on the grounds of
concurrent jurisdiction. According
to georgiacourts.org, municipalities
such as Clarkston use concurrent
jurisdiction to enforce violations
such as ordinance violations,
shoplifting cases and misdemeanor
marijuana possession. Other
functions such as the issuance of
criminal warrants and conducting of
preliminary hearings also fall under
the term’s umbrella.
However, Chuck Spahos,
executive director of the
Prosecuting Attorney’s Council of
Georgia, recently told the Atlanta
Journal-Constitution that state
law will always outweigh city-level
ordinances.
“The only thing I can say about
that is no municipal government
has the authority to decriminalize
anything that the Georgia General
Assembly and federal government
still say is a crime,” Spahos said.
“State law and federal law will still
apply to the citizens within the
municipality.”

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Sealed  Bids  will  be  received  by  the  DeKalb  County  Board  of  Education  (the  “Owner”)  at  the  Sam  A.  Moss  Service 
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The DeKalb County School District invites qualified vendors (here and after called “Contractor”) licensed by the State 
of  Georgia  or  authorized  to  transact  business  in  the  State  of  Georgia,  to  submit  bids  to  provide  upgrades  and 
modifications to Druid Hills High School. 
The  ITB  document  and  will  be  available  Thursday,  March  17,  2015,  and  may  be  obtained  from  the  DeKalb  County 
School District website at:  http://www.dekalb.k12.ga.us/solicitations 
MANDATORY PRE‐BID CONFERENCE & SITE VISIT 
All prospective bidders are required to attend a mandatory pre‐bid conference to be held Tuesday,  
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All attendees of the pre‐bid conference will be required to register. Proper registration requires that the attendee has 
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May 24, 2016 
Bids Due   
 
 
 
 
 
May 31, 2016 not later than 2:00 pm 
Bids Opened* 
 
 
 
 
 
May 31, 2016 @ 2:00 pm 
Anticipated Board Review and Approval 
 
 
July 11, 2016 
 
*OPEN TO PUBLIC ATTENDANCE* 
Sam A. Moss Service Center 
1780 Montreal Road 
 
Tucker, GA  33404 
As security, the bid must be accompanied by a BID BOND, in the form required by DCSD for an amount not less than 
five percent (5%) of the bid if the bid is $100,000 or more (including the base bid plus any possible combination of 
alternates that could result in an award of $100,000 or more). 
Except as expressly provided in, or permitted by, the Bid Documents, from the date of issuance of the ITB until final 
Owner action of approval of contract award, the Contractor submitting a Bid shall not initiate any communication 
or discussion concerning the Project, the ITB or the Contractor’s Bid or any part thereof with any employee, agent, 
or representative of the Owner.  Any violation of this restriction may result in the rejection of the Contractor’s Bid. 
The Owner reserves the right to reject any or all bid, and to waive technicalities and informalities.   
 

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 22, 2016 • Page 11A

A packed Rebekah Scott Hall at Agnes Scott College listened as candidates for contested
judicial races participated in a forum ahead of a March 24 primary. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

DeKalb DA Robert James, left, and Solicitor-General Sherry Boston, right,
faced off in a forum organized by the League of Women Voters of AtlantaFulton County.

da Continued From Page 10A
at the highest level of
integrity” because the
position is “the highest
prosecution office for this
county.” 
“Right now here
in DeKalb we have a
community that has lost trust
with many of its leaders,”
she said. “We have to have
a district attorney that is not
only trying the law but fairly
applying the law. And right
now this community has lost
faith.”
James said he has
“done a good job” as district
attorney and has a “perfect
trial record as DA.”
He told how he created
the state’s first human
trafficking task force,
the county’s first human
trafficking unit and first elder
abuse task force.
James said he is running
for reelection because he
loves DeKalb County.
“I have done everything
I could for the last 14 years
of my life to protect the
citizens,” James said.
James said he believes
“the most expedient way

to effectuate change in
this society is through
governmental institutions.
“I can directly affect
someone’s life whether
they’re a survivor of a
murder victim, or a rape
victim or a child molestation
victim or victim of human
trafficking,” James said.
Boston said she seeking
the DA’s position because
“the opportunity to be a
voice for victims, be a
collaborative partner in
the community, speak for
people that can’t speak for
themselves and save lives
every day by [removing]
persons out of the criminal
justice system and back on
the right path is something
that I would do over and
over again everyday
regardless of the hardships
that it takes to be in an office
like this.”
When asked what
role the district attorney’s
position plays in restoring
the community’s trust in
government, Boston said,
“Absolutely there is a crisis

of leadership right now and
I don’t think we can ignore
that problem...in DeKalb.
“In order to change
that is one of the reason I
decided to run for district
attorney,” Boston said.
“I could have remained
solicitor general. It’s a welloiled machine in my office
and I’m very proud of my
service record. I made the
very difficult decision to step
up because I felt our county
was crying out for ethical
leadership operating at the
highest level.”
James said the district
attorney’s “role is to seek
justice. It’s not a political
office. My job is...to sit
down with someone, review
the evidence, make a
decision that’s based on the
evidence.
“I’ve heard several
media reports about several
of our public officials and I’ve
investigated every one of
those,” he said. “I don’t hold
a press conference every
time I investigate something.
“If we find that the

evidence isn’t there to prove
a case beyond a reasonable
doubt we don’t seek an
indictment irrespective of
the opinions of journalists,”

James said. “I’m a lawyer
and I seek justice in the
courtroom.”
The Democratic primary
is May 24.

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 22, 2016 • Page 12A

Volunteers prepare to-go meals for homeless

by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com

S

outhwest DeKalb High School
alums and other volunteers
gathered at the high school
gymnasium April 9 to prepare togo care packages for the homeless.
The event was hosted by Pass The
Love (PTL) Atlanta, an organization that
gives back to homeless people in metro
Atlanta. PTL partnered with Trinity Table
Soup Kitchen in Atlanta to prepare 225
to-go bags with sandwiches, candy
bars, water, a hand wipe and crackers
to give to the homeless. The bags were
distributed on April 10.
India Ali, who organized the event,
said she contacted Trinity Table to help
expand services to the homeless and
hungry.
“[They] told me that they have a big
event in April and they’re going to need
a large group to help feed 300 people
and they needed to-go meals as well,” Ali
said. “So I said I would help with that.”
Ali, who is a Southwest DeKalb
alum, needed a big space to prepare
the bags and she wanted to do it in her
community at her old high school.
“This is where I come from,” she
said. “I go so hard for DeKalb. I love
DeKalb with all of my heart, so I reached
out to coach [Kathy] Walton and told
her that I needed a big space. I wanted
it close to home and most of the people
here went to Southwest with me or are
from the area. I just wanted to keep it in
the community.”
Walton, the athletic liaison at
Southwest DeKalb, said she did not
hesitate to allow Ali to use the gym for
the event.
“She’s an amazing individual who
wants to give back,” Walton said.
Nearly 30 people came to the
school to prepare peanut butter and
jelly sandwiches and pack bags. Ali also
received donations of bread, other food
items and money. She was able to raise
nearly $500 to purchase food items and
water.
“I can’t say I didn’t expect it. It’s so
much love in DeKalb,” Ali said. “We’re all
friends, we’ve known each other since
high school, and we keep in contact with
each other and think everyone is on that
wave of giving back.
“We’re all blessed,” she added. “It’s
our duty to help other people and I think
the idea of Pass The Love is something
that we should do every day, regardless
of if it’s volunteering or shooting a ‘good
morning’ text to somebody to check and
see how they’re doing.”
Devarick Webb, a Southwest
DeKalb alum, said giving back to those
in need was instilled in him and other
students at the school.
“We always had different things
where we would either go to community
beautification projects, going out
and just helping the elderly with their
lawns and things like that,” Webb said.
“I believe we have to serve others
and when you serve others you get
blessings in return.”

Nearly 30 people prepare to-go bags for the homeless.

Volunteers prepare 225 to-go bags for the homeless.

Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches are prepared for the homeless.

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 22, 2016 • Page 13A

WeeKinPICTURES

Chamblee High School girls tennis, which was 9-1 in the regular season,
placed second in the regional playoffs after losing to Marist April 15 in a third
tiebreaker match. Photo provided

From left, Natalia Carlson, Isabella Huelsbeck, Avery Lauber and Rebecca Solomon,
members of the youth group at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church in Dunwoody, collect
parking donations during Lemonade Days to raise money for their mission trip. Photo by
Travis Hudgons

The Fernbank LINKS robotics team won the Engineering Inspiration award at the state championships in Athens April 14-16. The team will travel to St. Louis April 27-May 1
for the world championships. Photo by Andrew Cauthen

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 22, 2016 • Page 14A

Decatur Crossing Phase III proposed

by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
A third phase has been
proposed for the Decatur
Crossing development.
According to a notice
sent to DeKalb County
April 6 from the Atlanta
Regional Commission
(ARC), the ARC reviewed
and completed a
preliminary regional review
of the proposed project,
which was reviewed as a
Development of Regional
Impact (DRI).
The county sent the
proposal to the ARC for
review.
Phases I and II of
Decatur Crossing, a
mixed-use development,
are being constructed by
Fuqua Development at the
six-legged intersection of
Scott Boulevard, Medlock
Road, and North Decatur
Road. According to the
notice, Phase I consists
of multi-family residential
space with supporting
commercial and amenity
space. Phases II and III are
mixed-use developments.
“In total (Phases I, II
and III), this DRI consists
of approximately 94,293
square-feet of commercial
space; a 123,600-squarefoot self-storage facility;
14,118 square feet of office
space, 964 apartments,
and 102 senior affordable
apartments,” the notice
stated.
The review notice
stated that the planned
development of Phase
III triggered a DRI
review for the entire
site per the ARC’s DRI
rules. Each phase has
different ownership, with
one development firm
developing each site
separately, according to the
notice. The development is
projected to be constructed
in 2018.
In the preliminary
comment section of the
notice, the ARC stated that
the proposed development
is located in the “maturing
neighborhoods” area of the
region.
“Maturing
neighborhoods were
primarily developed
prior to 1970,” the ARC
stated. “These areas are
typically adjacent to the
region’s core and regional
employment corridors, and
combined they encompass

The Atlanta Regional Commission reviewed and completed a preliminary regional review of the proposed third phase of the Decatur
Crossing development.

49 percent of the region’s
jobs and 18 percent of its
population.”
Recommended policies
for maturing neighborhoods
include:
• Improve safety and
quality of transit options
by providing alternatives
for end-of-trip facilities
(such as bicycle racks) and
sidewalks and/ or shelters
adjacent to bus stops;
• Identify and
remedy incidents of
“food deserts” within
neighborhoods, particularly
in traditionally underserved
neighborhoods and
schools;
• Promote mixed-use
where locally appropriate,
specifically in areas served
by existing or planned
transit; and
• Develop policies
and establish design
standards to ensure new
and infill development is
compatible with existing
neighborhoods.
The ARC said the
proposed project “appears
to manifest” a majority of
the policies for the area.
“In particular, the mix
of uses, along with the
site’s proximity to bus
transit, offers the potential
for residents to work and
shop on site and for visitors
to park once—or arrive
by bicycle or transit—
and conduct multiple
trips on foot,” the ARC
stated. “These conditions
can reduce or eliminate

dependency on cars for
internal site circulation and
also encourage visitors
to arrive via alternative
transportation modes.”
The ARC said the
proposed project should
promote a functional,
safe, clearly marked and
comfortable pedestrian
experience on all streets,
paths and parking lots
on the site, as well as
all connections from the
project to neighboring

uses.
“This is especially
important as uses at
opposite ends of the site
which are separated from
each other by surface
parking lots and main
site driveways,” the ARC
stated. “The development
team is also encouraged
to ensure that end-of-trip
facilities (bicycle racks,
etc.) are provided for transit
riding-residents and visitors
at key locations throughout

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the site.”
The ARC concluded
that the proposed project
has the potential for
considerable impact on the
existing road network.
“The developer
and DeKalb County
should work together
to identify and prioritize
enhancements that will
mitigate the potential
impacts of this project in
the context of area-wide
growth,” the notice said.

FREE Family Reunion Planning
Workshop & Showcase
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local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 22, 2016 • Page 15A

Lithonia plaza steadily coming down
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com

Demolition of the city-owned portion of the Lithonia Plaza began on March 14. Photo
by Andrew Cauthen

Demolition of the city-owned
portion of the Lithonia Plaza is
still ongoing, according to City
Administrator Eddie Moody.
“It is coming down in a timely
manner as promised by the general
contractor,” Moody said. “Things
are progressing very well.”
Demolition of the Plaza began
on March 14. Wendover Housing
Partners will develop a $12 million
apartment complex that will include
75 units consisting of 24 onebedroom, 45 two-bedroom and
six three-bedroom apartments for
residents with incomes of up to
$40,000 a year.
The development will include
a pool, gazebo, computer room,
community room and other
amenities.
Wendover received low-income
housing tax credits from the
Department of Community Affairs to
construct the development.
Moody told the Lithonia City
Council on April 4 that the plaza
should be demolished within

the 45-day period the general
contractor set. The construction of
the apartment complex is expected
to begin this summer and last
approximately 12 to 18 months.
Moody said residents should
hear announcements about
applying for an apartment unit by
April 2017.
“We’re a year out,” Moody said.
Along with demolishing the
plaza, the city will also have the
public works building, located next
to the plaza, demolished. The city
plans to construct a new public
works facility. Moody said his office
is receiving bids to construct the
new facility.
“We got one in and we’re
going to be receiving some more
to get that project completed,”
he said. “As fast as [the plaza] is
going down we’ll probably get to
the demolition of the public works
building pretty quickly. We’ve
moved stuff out of the public works
building to the hut over at the park.
We’re moving as fast as we can to
get their new home renovated and
complete so that they can move
into another facility.”

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 22, 2016 • Page 16A

Brookhaven approves bicycle, pedestrian and trail plan
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
The Brookhaven City Council approved
April 12 the city’s first bicycle, pedestrian and
trail plan.
The plan was passed unanimously by
council members. According to the city,
the goal of the plan is to “develop a list of
implementable policies and transportation
projects aimed at accommodating all active
transportation users through a combination of
technical analysis, best practices in planning,
and engagement with the community.”
In April 2015, the city awarded a contract
to Pond and Company worth more than
$96,000 to develop a trail plan that will
integrate pedestrian, bicycle and multipurpose
trail facilities throughout the city.
The plan includes, 20.4 miles of new
sharrows (shared-lane marking), 6.9 miles of
new bicycle lanes or cycle tracks, 31.3 miles
of new sidewalks and 38.7 miles of new multiuse trails.
According to the plan, all projects were
identified as being either short-term (possible
to implement in the next five to 10 years), mid-

term (possible to implement in the next 10-20
years), or long-term (likely to implement in
20-plus years). Future changes in community
preferences and specific requests for
individual projects will likely require ongoing
alteration, according to the city.
According to the plan, the costs of each
phase (in 2015 dollars) is $9.2 million in the
short-term phase, $25.2 million in the midterm phase and $32.0 million in the long-term
phase.
Before passing the plan, the city council
amended it to include the formation of
committees to help the city implement the
plan. The city will also ask Pond to change
the sidewalks from 5 feet to 7 feet wide in the
plan.
“I really see the value of trails; multi-used
trails, including in Peachtree Creek Greenway,
but other ones throughout our city,” Mayor
John Ernst said before the vote. “I know they
are labeled as long-term projects but I think
those are going to be the ones that are most
appreciated by the citizens. Going forward I
hope that we use our discretion in grants and
other stuff to implement a multi-use trail policy
as quick as we can.”

The Brookhaven City Council approved the city’s first
bicycle, pedestrian and trail plan.

North senior center to be completed in six months
by Andrew Cauthen
andrew@dekalbchamp.com
It has been plagued with
problems that delayed its
completion but now construction
on the North DeKalb Senior Center
in Chamblee is expected to be
completed in September.
The DeKalb County Board of
Commissioners voted April 12 to
increase the contract amount by
up to $1.62 million and extend until
Dec. 31, 2017.
Construction on the center,
located at 3393 Malone Drive, was
halted Feb. 19, 2015, by DeKalb
County officials and the county’s
Board of Commissioners voted to
terminate the contract with Talbot
Construction Inc. The facility
originally was scheduled to open in
August 2014.
“We had a vendor that could
not perform,” said Zach Williams,
the county’s chief operating officer.
“We had a number of unforeseen
conditions in the soil. There was...
some cost that went into simply
paying to remediate and prepare
the site for development. In many
ways that was funding that you
just didn’t see in the above ground
construction.”
County officials said there
were groundwater issues and
multiple subcontractor issues. An
environmental site inspection failed
to turn up that there were large
concrete pillars buried beneath the
surface that had to be removed.
Williams said the county worked
with that contractor for a couple of
years “trying to get them to a point
where we could be able to get this

DeKalb County plans to seek legal action against a contractor that could not finish construction on the North DeKalb Senior
Center. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

facility built.”
“At the end of the day, after
working with the contractor
vigorously, we determined that we
just could not complete with this
contractor,” Williams said.
Asurety Construction Services
of Conyers, which completed the
work at the South DeKalb Senior
Center, was hired to complete the
work at the north center.
A review by Asurety of “what

was the shell of the north senior
center” determined that there was
“a lot of damage of the facility and
work that just had to be done just
because of how the facility was
left,” Williams said.
“It was not secured in a way
that we would have liked,” Williams
said.
County officials plan to pursue
“litigation ...relative to the previous
contractor and the work that was or

was not performed,” Williams said.
Once completed, the senior
center will be a 15,000-squarefoot facility with amenities
including community meeting
rooms, a computer lab, a fitness
area and more. Additionally, the
center will include classrooms to
accommodate the various activities
requested by the community and a
dining hall seating approximately
120.

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 22, 2016 • Page 17A

Georgia House Rep. Taylor arrested for DUI
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com
Georgia House Rep.
Tom Taylor, a Dunwoody
Republican, was arrested
and charged with driving
under the influence in
a northeastern Georgia
county last week.
According to a report
filed by officer Michael
Bennett with the Clayton
Police Department, Taylor
was booked on April 7 for
driving 72 mph in a 45
mph zone and had a 0.225
blood alcohol content
level. Bennett also reports
Taylor was driving with four
juveniles as passengers.
Taylor’s arrest was first
reported by The Clayton
Tribune.
Bennett reports being
stationed along Ga. 15 at
approximately 2:45 p.m.
and seeing a black 2016
Hyundai Santa Fe traveling
at “a high rate of speed.”
“Officer Bennett
checked the vehicle’s
speed at 72 mph in a 45
mph zone,” reads the
report. “Even after officer
Bennett checked the
vehicle’s speed, it never
slowed below 68 mph.”
When Bennett
attempted to stop the
vehicle it “ran over a curb”
while pulling over. Taylor
allegedly exited the vehicle
before being approached
by Bennett and admitted
he was in the possession
of a permitted firearm.
“Officer Bennett could
smell an overwhelming
odor of alcohol while
speaking with Mr. Taylor,”
reads the report. “Officer
Bennett asked how much
Mr. Taylor had to drink. Mr.
Taylor told officer Bennett
that he had ‘none at all.’”
Bennett also reports
Taylor’s “face was very
red and his eyes were
bloodshot.” Bennett was
joined by Clayton Police
Department sergeant John
Grist as well as chief
Andy Strait and assistant
chief Ryan Hamilton.
While searching
Taylor’s Hyundai, Grist
reportedly found an empty
Deer Park water bottle
“which smelled of alcoholic
beverage.” When Taylor
took a breathalyzer, he

“blew positive for a high
concentration of alcohol …
0.225.”
Taylor was arrested
for speeding in excess of
maximum limits, driving
under the influence of
alcohol, and possession of

an open alcohol container.
Taylor was elected
into the Georgia House
of Representatives in
2010. According to the
governing agency’s
website, Taylor serves as
a committee member in

Appropriations, Economic
Development and Tourism,
Governmental Affairs,
Regulated Industries and
the Metropolitan Atlanta
Rapid Transit Overview
Committee.
Taylor

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
The Mayor and City Council of the City of Chamblee, Georgia will hold a public hearing on Thursday, May 12, 2016, at the Chamblee Civic Center,
3540 Broad Street, Chamblee, GA 30341 at 6:00 p.m. to receive public comments regarding the following matters:

Andrew Blakey, representing Broward PIB, LLC requests approval of a Development of Community Impact in accordance with City of Chamblee
Ordinances, Appendix A, Unified Development Ordinance, Section 280-6 for the purpose of constructing a climate-controlled self-storage facility
consisting of 600 units and 3,599 sq. ft. of other commercial space and parking for 35 cars on 1.28 acres of property located at 5208 Peachtree
Boulevard, Chamblee, GA, being DeKalb County Tax parcel 18-300-08-002.

Hennessey Cadillac, Inc. requests approval of an Amendment to the Official Zoning Map to rezone 79 tax parcels from Village Commercial
(conditional) to Industrial Transitional (IT) including the following addresses: 0, 3413, 3436, 3408, 3360, 3401, 3390, 3326, 3294, 3316, 3412,
3380, 3424, 3345, 3419, 3396, 3418, 3351, 3310, 3430, 3356, 3332, 3339, 3322, 3446, 3437, 3384, 3344, 3304, 3431, 3424, 3443, 3407, 3425,
3402, 3298, 3370, 3338, and 3350 Catalina Drive; 3341, 3355, 3345, 3289, 3309, 3299, 3315, 3305, 3351, 3295, 3283, 3361, & 3319 Burk Dr.;
3388, 3382, 3394, & 3398 Chamblee-Dunwoody Rd.; 0, 2208, & 2214 Chamblee-Tucker Rd.; 0, 2220, 2226, 2214, 2231, 2225, & 2232 Coronado
Pl.; 3434 & 3428 Blackburn Way.

Hennessey Cadillac, Inc. requests approval of variances from the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) for 79 tax parcels including the following
addresses: 0, 3413, 3436, 3408, 3360, 3401, 3390, 3326, 3294, 3316, 3412, 3380, 3424, 3345, 3419, 3396, 3418, 3351, 3310, 3430, 3356, 3332,
3339, 3322, 3446, 3437, 3384, 3344, 3304, 3431, 3424, 3443, 3407, 3425, 3402, 3298, 3370, 3338, and 3350 Catalina Drive; 3341, 3355, 3345,
3289, 3309, 3299, 3315, 3305, 3351, 3295, 3283, 3361, & 3319 Burk Dr.; 3388, 3382, 3394, & 3398 Chamblee-Dunwoody Rd.; 0, 2208, & 2214
Chamblee-Tucker Rd.; 0, 2220, 2226, 2214, 2231, 2225, & 2232 Coronado Pl.; 3434 & 3428 Blackburn Way. Variances are requested from the
following provisions of the UDO:






Sec. 250-2(a)(4)b. All surface parking in excess of 100 percent of the minimum number of off-street parking spaces required by type of
permitted use shall be “Grasscrete” or “Grasspave” or other pervious paving or grass paving systems and as approved by he Development
Director.
Sec. 250-7(a)(4)a. Developments where 30 or more parking spaces are provided shall be required to provide compact parking spaces.
Sec. 300-17(c) Nonresidential and mixed-use developments with more than 600 feet of frontage along a single street shall be divided by
streets into blocks having a maximum length of 400 feet measured from street curb to street curb.
Sec. 320-21(a) Interior landscaping for off-street parking areas shall be required for all surface parking lots designed for 20 or more spaces.
Sec. 350-25. Utilities, including telephone, electric power and cable television in both public and private rights-of-way, shall be placed
underground for all new developments with total floor areas of 20,000 sq. ft. are feet or over.
Sec. 250-7(a)(1) Off-street surface parking shall not be located between a building and the street without an intervening building except where
otherwise permitted by Section 230-6 and Section 240-13(d)(1).
Sec, 350-2(c) To the maximum extent possible, sidewalks and parking lots serving adjacent lots shall be interconnected to provide continuous
driveway connections and pedestrian connections between adjoining lots and streets, except that this requirement shall not apply to lots zoned
for single family residential units. Where necessary, the City may require access easements be provided to ensure continuous access and
egress routes connecting commercial, office, and multifamily lots.

Gary Matthews of Parkside Partners requests variances from the following provisions of the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) for the
purpose of redeveloping an existing building for professional offices at 3453 Pierce Drive, Chamblee, GA being parcel 18-299-11-004, zoned
Village Commercial:
 Sec. 230-2(a) Space Dimensions Table to reduce the required 20 ft. rear building setback to 8.9 ft. to allow the existing building to remain in
place.
 Sec. 230-2(a) Space Dimensions Table that requires a maximum impervious surface coverage of 80% of the lot area.
 Sec. 230-2(a) Space Dimensions Table that requires a minimum of 20% of lot area to be open space.
 Sec. 230-6(a)(2) that prohibits automobile parking within the front yard.
 Sec.230-29(a)(1) that requires a building to have an entrance facing and accessible from the street.
 Sec. 230-33(a)(1) that requires building walls that exceed 100 ft. in length to use offsets such as projections, recesses and changes in floor
level to add architectural interest and variety; and requires parapets in building masses exceeding 100 continuous linear feet to be varied in
height and projection, and to use decorative elements such as crown moldings, dental, brick soldier courses, or similar detail.
 Sec. 250-2(a)(5)e. that requires inter-parcel access with adjacent properties
 Sec. 250-7(a)(1) that prohibits parking located between the building and the street.
 Sec. 250-7(b)(5) that requires adjacent parking lots to be interconnected.
 Sec. 320-20(a) that requires a ten-foot wide landscape strip along all street frontages.
 Sec. 320-21 (a)(1) that requires parking lots to be landscaped with landscape islands located no farther apart than every ten parking spaces
and at the terminus of all rows of parking.
 Sec. 350-2(a)(1)e. that prohibits driveways between the building and the street except when perpendicular to the street.
 Sec. 350-2(a)(2)c. that allows only one driveway for each 400 ft. of property frontage on a Secondary Street.
 Sec. 350-2(a)(2)a. that requires a minimum spacing of 219 ft. between driveways located on the same side of the street.
Gary Matthews of Parkside Partners requests variances from the following provisions of the Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) for the
purpose of redeveloping an existing building for professional offices at 3467 Pierce Drive, Chamblee, GA being parcel 18-299-11-009, zoned
Village Commercial:


Sec. 350-2(a)(1)c. that limits the width of a driveway to 24 ft.
Sec. 350-2(a)(1)f. that allows only one curb cut on the same street frontage with less than 400 feet of frontage.
Sec. 350-2(a)(2)a. that requires a minimum spacing of 244 ft. between driveways located on the same side of the street.

education

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

An online petition aimed at DeKalb County School District officials outlines improvements needed to Cedar Grove High School’s infrastructure. Photos by R. Scott Belzer

Cedar Grove parents petition school board
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com

A

group of DeKalb County
parents is seeking to have
their voices heard by the
superintendent and school

board.
More than 130 individuals
under the username “Cedar Grove
Parents” have come together via
change.org to petition for a new or
better version of Cedar Grove High
School. The petition lists violations
of Georgia’s Accessibility Code,
infrastructure failure, building age
and mold as the main reasons for
the petition.
The petition, which has
garnered more than 1,000
signatures but targeting is 1,500,
is directed toward Superintendent
Stephen Green as well as
DeKalb County board of education
members Melvin Johnson, James
McMahan, Stan Jester, Marshall
Orson, Michael Erwin, Vickie
Turner and Joyce Morley.
Many of the concerns raised
by parents had to do with the
DeKalb high school’s age. Cedar
Grove, located in Ellenwood, was
originally opened in 1972, making
it approximately 44 years old.
“The building has never
been renovated in the last four
decades,” the petition reads.

“The school system should care
about the physical and structural
appearance of the school. Other
high schools close by (Columbia
High School and McNair High
School) have been renovated but
no one seems to care about our
school.”
The petition’s first concern
deals with Cedar Grove High
School not being in compliance
with the Georgia Accessibility
Code.
“There are handicapped
students in the school and
the building does not meet
requirements,” reads the petition.
“In the event of an emergency,
handicap students cannot easily
and quickly get out of the building.”
According to the state
Accessibility Code, which
references the 2010 Americans
with Disabilities Act Standards
for Accessible Design of
1990, requires state and local
government facilities to be “readily
accessible to and usable by
individuals with disabilities.”
The DeKalb County School
District’s Special Purpose Local
Option Sales Tax (E-SPLOST),
which is primarily used for capital
improvements to schools, has
“Americans With Disabilities
Improvements” scheduled for
January 2019.

No past or upcoming
E-SPLOST projects, ranging
from 2013 to 2019, list Cedar
Grove High School specifically.
According to the district’s website,
Cedar Grove joined other schools
throughout the county in receiving
updated wireless, telecom 21st
Century Classroom, computer and
digital content distribution systems.
According to the petition,
however, it’s the overall building
that needs an update, namely
in the realms of infrastructure,
aesthetics and health.
“The structure of the building
is visibly decaying,” the petition
reads. “There are cement steps
that are broken and falling apart,
which is unsafe and a hazard for
our children to maneuver each
day.”
Other infrastructure concerns
include “non-existent” lighting on
practice and playing fields as well as
parking lots “so busted up, it is easy
to get a flat tire or knock out your car
alignment due to huge pot holes.”
The petition also mentions ineffective
security cameras due to age.
The petition goes on to say
the landscaping is not properly
maintained, the doors are rusty
and the overall look of the
building is “severely outdated
and unattractive.” In addition,
the “DeKalb County sign on the

building is falling apart.”
The Cedar Grove petition also
lists “mold and black patches”
throughout the school “which
regularly triggers allergies among
the students” as reason for student
health concerns. The school also
allegedly has “various holes” which
rats regularly use to enter and exit
the school.
“[This], given the dangerous
nature of rats, puts our children
at risk for disease and potential
bites,” the petition reads.
Cedar Grove Parents conclude
the document by saying the school
has succeeded academically and
athletically despite such conditions,
but questions how the environment
effects students.
“How are students supposed
to be excited about learning when
the building is falling apart?” the
petition reads. “Where is the
money that we were told was
spent on these renovations?
Our students should not have to
feel undervalued because the
previous school system officials
mismanaged funds that should
have renovated the school years
ago.”
Cedar Grove High School is
located at 2360 River Road in
Ellenwood. For more information
about the school, visit www.
cedargrovehs.dekalb.k12.ga.us.

education

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

Decatur school board, community updated on survey
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com
City Schools of Decatur (CSD)
officials vowed more student
involvement and community
partnerships following recently
released data indicating higherthan-average alcohol and drug
use.
At its regularly scheduled
meeting on April 12, CSD
school board members and
administration members discussed
the issue with the public. Since the
issue took place between monthly
board meetings, Superintendent
David Dude presented the data
as well as tentative plans to
combat such behavior with board
officials.
“The data is pretty shocking,”
Dude said. “But until you talk
about it, you cannot start
addressing it.”
An anonymous self-reported
survey conducted by the Georgia
Department of Education during
the 2014-2015 school year found
45.21 percent of Decatur High
School seniors had drank alcohol
at least once in a 30-day period.
This is more than double the state
average of 22.21 percent.
Reports were similar with
marijuana or hashish use. The
survey reported 29.25 percent of
seniors partaking within the past
30 days or reporting. The rate
was less when it came to juniors,
where 29.14 percent admitted
to using. Approximately 16.06
percent of DeKalb County seniors
and 13.41 percent of juniors
reported the same rate of use.
Approximately 300 were
present at Decatur High School’s
auditorium on March 28 to
discuss the subject and voice
concerns. The meeting officially
established the Decatur Parents
Network, which will address the
issues through a combination of
connecting parents and setting up
activities for teens.
According to The Self-Report
Method by Delroy L. Paulhus
and Simine Vazire, the advantage
and disadvantages of self-reports
arise in how one presents himself
or herself with anonymity.
“The notion that people are the
best-qualified witness to their own
personalities is supported by the
indisputable fact that no one else
has access to more information,”
write Paulhus and Vazire. “Why
should we trust what people say
about themselves? Impression
management includes such
[issues] as exaggeration, faking
and lying whereas self-deception
includes [issues] as selffavoring bias, self-enhancement,
defensiveness and denial.”
Several community members

City Schools of Decatur Board of Education members discussed a recent self-reporting survey April 12 that indicates high drug
and alcohol use in students. Photo by R. Scott Belzer

have brought up such points to
Dude, but the superintendent
remains convinced of the study’s
validity.
“I’ve heard from several folks
that they’re concerned about
the validity of the data; I would
say I think that’s kind of a red
herring,” Dude said. “They put
some questions in to try to trip up
whether students are randomly
answering or not. Students
provide honest responses [to
questions].”
Councilman Garrett Goebel,
who admitted to researching
articles disputing the survey’s
methodology, said the differences
from state averages are
“unquestionable.”
Councilwoman Bernadette
Seals said the survey was
powerful but stated it was
important to recognize where the
risky behavior was taking place.
“You have to know where the
problem is before you address it
correctly,” Seals said.
Nia Schooler, a
representative from the Decatur
Parents Network, was present at
CSD’s monthly meeting to voice
her own concerns and offer an
avenue by which the problem
could be alleviated.
“I’m here tonight as an active
supporter of arts and education
programs in our schools and

as a concerned member of our
community,” Schooler said. “We
need to support the positive
extracurricular activities our
children are involved in so that
drinking and drug use won’t be
one of them.”
Schooler specifically
mentioned the $75 million
“cafetorium” project potentially
taking place at Decatur Middle
School, stating the space
must be a acoustically correct,
technologically sound and have
backstage space.
“This communicates to the
students and incredibly talented
teachers that their talents are
valued,” Schooler said. “We
need to make sure our teenagers
have fun, constructive and time
demanding activities to engage
them. The arts help to build
positive social connections
between kids and the greater
community.”
Schooler continued saying
how a performance from a
student opens up avenues of
communication from adults in
the Decatur community through
appreciation.
“When we, as a community,
go to a stage performance or
concert and see the kids from
our neighborhood giving heartfelt
performances on stage, it allows
us to speak to them about it the

next time we see them, to let them
know we appreciate what a great
sense of timing they have or that
we never knew what an incredible
musical talent they were, or how
the chorus piece was so beautiful
that it moved [us] to tears,”
Schooler said. “We all know that
type of subliminal connection can
make a difference in the choices
they make later not to engage
in risky behaviors that could
jeopardize so much for them.”
Councilman Lewis Jones
said the community does have a
problem that “seems to be getting
worse.”
“This is something we really
need to tackle,” Jones said. “I
hope there are things we can
do from the policy end to really
support this effort.”
“I think this is a broader,
community issue than a school
issue,” Dude said. “I’m glad
community members took the
lead on forming all this. It goes
far beyond where the school has
influence.”
Council chair Anne Caiola
said the district is happy to shine a
spotlight on the issue rather than
sweep it under the rug.
For more information on the
self-report study, visit the Georgia
Department of Education’s
website at www.gadoe.org and
search for “student health survey.”

Classified

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 22, 2016 • Page 20A

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Business

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 22, 2016 • Page 21A

Owner Ron Patrie, right, says his caring and dedicated staff is the reason for the success of his business. Photo by Kathy Mitchell

Company restores fabric and lives
by Kathy Mitchell
Ron Patrie, owner of FRSTeam
of North and Central Georgia,
often tells friends and neighbors
that he hopes they never become
his customers. FRSTeam, a textile
restoration services provider, helps
to mitigate damage after a fire or
flood.
“We’re called in when
something bad has happened to
someone and we never want bad
things to happen to anyone,” Patrie
said. “However, when they do
happen, we do everything we can
to help.”
Based in Decatur, FRSTeam
of North and Central Georgia is a
franchise with a service area that
reaches as far south as Columbus.
“We don’t serve Georgia’s
southernmost cities such as
Savannah and Albany, but we serve
most of the state,” Patrie said.
He explained that his company
restores a building’s “soft contents”
such as clothing, bedding and
drapery in contrast to “hard
contents” such as tables and
appliances.
Patrie said his company is
occasionally called in following an
unfortunate event at a business,
but more than 95 percent of its
work is with residences. “We deal
primarily with families—people
who need to get on with their lives.
The first thing we do is have them
gather some clothes they need right
away and we get those items back
to them as quickly as possible so
they have clothes to wear to work,
school or church. I remember a
family that had a fire on New Year’s
Eve. We picked up clothes that

From left, Joshua Campbell, Vivien and Ron Patrie, Jim Nicholas. Photo provided

afternoon and worked all evening.
We delivered the clothes at 9 that
evening so they had something to
wear New Year’s Day,” he said.
FRSTeam is engaged by
insurance companies following
a loss, Patrie explained. The
company works directly with
the customer and is paid by the
insurance company. “We don’t set
our rates,” he said. “The insurance
companies do that.”
One of two national fabric
restoration companies, FRSTeam
celebrated its 10th anniversary
at its annual conference in Napa,
Calif. There FRSTeam of North
and Central Georgia received the
Franchisee Leader Award, the
company’s highest honor. “I had no
idea we had been chosen for this
until they called my name at the
conference,” Patrie said. “It was

a great honor to bring back to the
team.”
“The team,” as he refers to
his staff is the reason for the
company’s success, Patrie said.
“That’s the key; I choose good
people—people who care deeply
about other people and are going
to take a personal interest in
putting their lives back in order after
something bad has happened to
them.”
Patrie, whose background is
in the dry cleaning industry, said
he chose FRSTeam because the
corporation shares his values. “Of
course, as a company we have to
make money to stay in business,
but I wanted to be affiliated with
people who put the people we
serve first.” FRSTeam of North and
Central Georgia is the company’s
second franchise and has been

with FRSTeam almost since its
inception.
He said moving on from dry
cleaning was a necessity. “With
more people wearing washable
clothing there were too many
dry cleaners and not enough dry
cleaning,” he recalled, adding that
he enjoys his current business
much more.
“In the dry cleaning business
you almost never have customers
hug you and tell you what a
blessing you have been for them.
With us, that happens all the time,”
Patrie said.
Restoring items that have been
damaged from smoke, soot, mold
or water requires more expertise
than ordinary dry cleaning, he
explained. In addition to the
“decades of experience” on his
staff, Patrie said the corporate
office makes sure its franchisees
have state-of-the-art training.
The FRSTeam corporate office,
based in California, describes
itself as “at the forefront of
technical innovations, equipping its
franchisees with better tools so that
they can provide superior service to
customers who have experienced
a fire or water loss.” The company
reports that in 2014 it developed
FRSTrack, the first cloud-based
photo inventory system available
for textile restoration on a national
level, which delivers a detailed
photo catalogue and cost valuation
of all items being processed for
restoration.” FRSTeam, which now
has 48 franchise companies in
the United States and Canada, for
three consecutive years has been
on the Inc. 5000 list of America’s
fastest growing private companies.

spoRts

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

Construction workers are removing the old grass at Godfrey Stadium to replace it with artificial turf. Photos by Carla Parker

Renovations underway a three DeKalb stadiums
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
Fields and track surfaces are
currently being dug up at three of
the five DeKalb County stadiums for
renovation work.
Adams, Godfrey and Hallford
stadiums will have new field turf,
track surface, lights and more
when the high school football
season kicks off in August. The
DeKalb County Board of Education
approved the renovation projects
for the three stadiums at its Dec. 7,
2015, board meeting.
According to the renovation
proposals, Adams Stadium will
receive $1.6 million of renovations,
Godfrey was awarded $1.7 million
and Hallford will receive $1.9 million.
The funds were allocated under the
voter-approved E-SPLOST IV.
Adams Stadium, which was
built in 1962, will have the stadium
and parking lot lights replaced, new
fencing with vinyl coated fencing,
an artificial field turf and a new track
surface with a polyurethane surface.
The contractor, Deluxe Athletics
LLC, also will perform a detailed
engineering survey of the stadium
facility.

Baseball scores
April 13
Columbia 10, Arabia Mountain 8
Dunwoody 6, Southwest DeKalb 2
Lithonia 10, Cross Keys 0
M.L. King 6, Carver 1
Marist 16, Chamblee 4
Redan 11, Grady 5

The stadium will also receive a new polyurethane track surface.

Deluxe Athletics LLC also is
doing the renovations at Godfrey
Stadium. The stadium, built in 1968,
will receive the same renovations as
Adams Stadium.
Sports Turf Company Inc. will

St. Pius X 16, Stone Mountain 1
Stephenson 8, Banneker 1
Tucker 2, Alcovy 1
Creekside 9, Clarkston 1
Mays 4, Druid Hills 3
Rockdale County 4, Lakeside 3
Tri-Cities 8, Miller Grove 3
Galloway 8, Towers

work on Hallford Stadium, which
was built in 1968. Hallford also will
receive new stadium and parking lot
lights, fencing, and a new artificial
field turf and a polyurethane track
surface. A detailed engineering

survey of the stadium facility also
will be done.
The locker rooms, stadium
bathrooms and the concession
areas will not be renovated at the
stadiums.

April 14
Chamblee 22, Lithonia 1
Decatur 10, Cedar Grove 0
McNair 14, Therrell 4
Tucker 11, Rockdale County 10

St. Pius X 19, Grady 11
North Clayton 16, Clarkston 4
Fellowship Christian 8, Paideia 0
Blessed Trinity 2, Dunwoody 0
Rockdale County 3, Lakeside 2

April 15
Arabia Mountain 7, Chamblee 6
Columbia 35, Cross Keys 0
Marist 0, Lithonia 0 (Marist won by forfeit)

April 16
M.L. King 8, Columbia 7
Paideia 5, Druid Hills 2

sports

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 22, 2016 • Page 23A

Three Greenforest basketball players signed letters of intent to their perspective schools on April 15. Photos by Carla Parker

Precious Ayah, left, signed with Miami University, and guard John Ogwuche signed
with the University of New Hampshire.

Arielle Holloway signed with King University in Bristol, Tenn.

Greenforest basketball athletes sign scholarships
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com

T

hree Greenforest-McCalep
Christian Academy
basketball players signed
letters of intent on April 15.
Arielle Holloway, Lady Eagles
point guard, signed with King
University in Bristol, Tenn. From
the boys’ team, forward Precious
Ayah signed with Miami University
in Oxford, Ohio, and guard
John Ogwuche signed with the
University of New Hampshire.
Holloway said she chose to
sign with King after a visit to the
school.
“When I stepped foot on
campus the atmosphere was
great,” Holloway said. “I meshed
well with the team when I met
them and the coach showed me
a lot of attention on my visit—he
took care of me and my mom. He
showed a lot of interest and it’s a
Christian school as well. I’ve been

[at Greenforest] all of my life and
that foundation helped me to pick
that school.”
Holloway, who has played
for the varsity team since her
freshman year, led the team to a
27-1 record, its first region title and
its first state title game appearance.
Greenforest coach Allison Prather
said she is proud of the player and
person Holloway has become.
“We are so proud of her,”
Prather said. “She worked really
hard this year. She led her team
to an undefeated season, region
champs and we broke all types of
records here at Greenforest.”
Holloway said she expects to
play an important role in King’s
offense next fall.
“I think coming in I’ll be good
because I’m a point guard—just
leading the team and learning
where I fit in with everybody,”
she said. “I think I can give good
minutes to this team, provide
scoring as well.”

Ayah and Ogwuche both said
they want to be all-around players
for their programs.
“I’m typically a four [power
forward] but going into school I
would like to expose my game a
little bit outside—get to the three
[shooting forward] a lot more,” Ayah
said. “I just want to be the best
player I can be no matter what it
means doing—if it means playing
the three or playing the four or
playing whatever position that I
have to play. I’m basically going to
be an all-around player in college.”
“I want to play a little bit of
everything and just have the skill
sets, so when I’m called to do the
job of a point guard I’ll be fully
ready,” Ogwuche said. “When I’m
called to do the job of a three I’ll be
fully equipped to do it. I want to do
a little bit of everything in college.”
Ayah said he chose to sign
with Miami University because of
the relationship he built with the
coaches and those in the program.

“I took my visit and I liked it up
there,” Ayah said. “I felt comfortable
with everything I saw.”
Ogwuche said he chose to sign
with New Hampshire because of
the similarities to Greenforest.
“They’re family-oriented,” he
said. “They not only teach you
basketball, but they accept you for
who you are and want you to grow.”
In his senior season, Ayah
averaged 4.8 points and 4.8
rebounds per game. Ogwuche
averaged 13. 6 points and 2.6
assist per game.
Coach Larry Thompson said
he could not thank his two seniors
enough for the work they put in to
help lead the Eagles to a Class
A-Private state title.
“I appreciate how these guys
brought it for me every day,”
Thompson said. “I love [them] like
they’re my own sons. I’m looking
forward to seeing them do amazing
things.”

local

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, April 22, 2016 • Page 24A