FRiDaY, MaY 13, 2016 • Vol. 19, no. 4 • FREE



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

Business ................................. 17A
Classified ..............................20A
Opinion ...................................... 7A
Sports ............................... 21-23A








Sharman White, who led Miller Grove to seven state
titles in eight seasons, is leaving the program to be
an assistant coach at Georgia State. Photo by Travis

Coach leaving Miller
Grove for Georgia
State University

Volunteers join hands with Brannon Hill residents after hours of cleaning up the condominium complex located near Clarkston.
Photo by Travis Hudgons

Community helps
Brannon Hill clean-up

by Carla Parker


he most winning coach in Miller
Grove High School history is moving up to the college level.
Boys’ basketball coach Sharman
White is leaving Miller Grove to be an
assistant coach with coach Ron Hunter’s Georgia State University men’s
basketball staff. During the last few
weeks, White’s name has been linked
to a couple of college assistant coaching jobs from Georgia Tech to Georgia
White said he felt Georgia State was
the best opportunity for him to transition
to the college level.
“It was about hitching myself to the
right wagon when that right opportunity
came,” White said. “That had a lot to
do with me transitioning to college. It
wasn’t so much about just trying to get
into college, but I wanted to be able to
get into a situation where I feel like I
can thrive and work with someone who
is doing it the right way and doing a lot
of great things, and Coach Hunter definitely has that going.”
White said he will be doing “everything” in his new role from coaching to
“[Hunter] told me that I am a basketball coach and that’s what he hired me

See White on Page 5A


by Andrew Cauthen
Two boys were among more than 150 people
who helped clean up Brannon Hill. Photo by
Andrew Cauthen

DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes
Sutton works on a community garden in Brannon Hill. Photo by Travis Hudgons


Approximately 150 people—politicians, community
activists, religious leaders,
students and residents—
banned together May 7 to
begin the cleanup of severely dilapidated Brannon Hill
Condominium complex.
Located off of Memorial
Drive and a few hundred feet
from the Clarkston campus
of Georgia State University,
Brannon Hill has been called
DeKalb County’s worst
neighborhood by some.
To Clarkston business
owner Manna Samuels, the
Brannon Hill Condominium
complex looks “very sad.”
“This looks like a third
world [country] where we just
came from,” said Samuels,
an Eritrea native and owner
of Merhaba Shawarma restaurant. “It shouldn’t look like


Samuels closed her restaurant for a few hours to
help “to show the community my support because most
of my friends lived here and
live here. I just want to show
my support.”
At the complex, several
buildings are either burned
or boarded up, and, in some
cases, boards have been
removed and units are occupied by homeless people.
Multiple abandoned cars,
some of which look lived in,
fill parking spaces throughout Brannon Hill.
“There have been a lot
of problems at Brannon Hill
so we are trying to revitalize
this community and bring
everybody together. This
is a beginning,” said Omar
Shekhey, president of Somali American Community
Shekhey said the next
steps include addressing
safety concerns, removing

See Brannon Hill on Page 5A



The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 13, 2016 • Page 2A

About two dozen people were present at Clarkston’s May 3 city council meeting to discuss the
city’s proposed indoor smoking ban. Photo provided

Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry has been making headlines recently by
speaking out against tobacco use but promoting the decriminalization
of marijuana. Photo by R. Scott Belzer

Clarkston may crack down on smoke

by R. Scott Belzer

At a “normal” city
council meeting, it’s
common to hear terms
such as “agenda,”
“minutes,” “quorum,”
“budget,” and “ordinance.”
During a Clarkston City
Council meeting held May
3, it was more common to
hear “vaping,” “flavors,”
“e-cigs” and “nicotine.”
More than 50
people were present at
Clarkston’s monthly city
council meeting to protest
an indoor smoking ban
ordinance making its way
into city law. Attendees’
concerns primarily lay with
e-cigarette use, also known
as vapor or vaping.
Protesters from as far
away as Albany, roughly
200 miles away, voiced
their concerns directly
to Mayor Ted Terry and
council members Dean
Moore, Beverly Burks,
Awet Eyasu, and Ahmed
Hassan. City manager
Keith Barker also was
On April 5, Clarkston
officials submitted a
resolution to the city’s
community safety and legal
committee calling for less
second-hand smoke within
city limits. The resolution
would ban indoor smoking,
hookah use, as well as
indoor e-cigarette use.
The ordinance states
“there is indisputable
evidence that implementing
100 percent smoke-free
environments is the only
effective way to protect
the population from the
harmful effects of exposure
to secondhand smoke,”
and cites 32 separate

Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry recently engaged the public via Twitter regarding the dangers of e-cigarettes, also known as vaping.

The ordinance
specifically cites the
U.S. Food and Drug
Administration (FDA)
in naming e-cigarettes
as a source of “known
carcinogens and toxic
chemicals,” and defines it
as a form of smoking. The
ban would include all public
places, including bars, as
well as semi-private places
such as hotel rooms,
nursing homes and outdoor
places of employment.
Violators of the
ordinance face fines
beginning at $100 and
growing to $500 within one
year. Business owners
face having their license
suspended or revoked.
The item was
scheduled to be discussed
during Clarkston’s May
3 council work session
but was skipped because
councilmen Mario Williams
and Robert Hogan were
absent. Those who had a
vested interest in the topic
were encouraged to speak
during the public meeting’s
commentary section.
Their voices did not go
Jason Wells with
the Georgia Smoke Free
Association (GSFA) said
Clarkston’s ordinance
would “muddy the waters,”
by including electronic
cigarettes. Wells said
the ordinance set bad

precedents for surrounding
cities and the rest of
“We would like for you
to consider tobacco harm
reduction principle,” Wells
said. “These are standards
that help people remove or
reduce the risk associated
with combustible tobacco
use. If we deter even
one person looking at an

alternative that has proven
to be a lot less harm on an
individual, it’s bad for public
Jeremy Dollar, owner
of Good Life Vapor in
Albany, said Clarkston’s
indoor smoking ban could
economically impact local
e-cig store owners. Dollar
also to referenced Terry’s
Twitter account, where

he engaged the public in
debates regarding whether
or not Clarkson’s 1.4
square miles could affect
other people in what has
become known as the
Dollar called the e-cig,
or vapor, business one that
has grassroots and is free

See Vape on Page 4A



The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 13, 2016 • Page 3A

aVondale estates
City to celebrate national police week

Avondale Estates will celebrate National Police Week May 15-21, to
honor and remember law enforcement officers and the family members,
friends and fellow officers they left behind. For more information about
similar events throughout the United States visit the National Law
Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund website.

‘Parent’s Night Out’ scheduled

Brookhaven will host Parent’s Night Out on May 20, from 6:30 to 9
p.m. at Lynwood Community Center. The event allows parents to drop
off their children on a Friday and get some time to themselves. The
event will include dinner, games, activities and options to keep children
entertained. Pre-registration is required and pick-up is promptly at 9 p.m.
Cost is $15 per child; ages: 5-12. For more information call
(404) 637-0512.

City to host 5K race
The Brookhaven Bolt 5K will take place May 21. The race was
created by Bill Sluben in 2007 with about 200 runners the first year.
Since then the Brookhaven Bolt Community Association has raised
more than $250,000 for Ashford Park Elementary and now hosts more
than 1,800 runners annually. One hundred percent of the proceeds will
be donated to Ashford Park Elementary School. The race course is
USATF certified. The 2016 Brookhaven Bolt is presented by the Jim Ellis
Automotive Group. Visit for more information
and to sign up.


City hosts summer concert series
For four Saturdays in four months, one Chamblee park will transform
into a concert venue.
Beginning in May, the first Saturday of each month will be the date
of the performance at Peachtree Park, located at 5468 Peachtree Road,
as part of Chamblee’s Summer Concert Series.
Groups will perform from 6:30 to 10 p.m. and will include
Supernatural, a Santana tribute band on May 6; Face to Face, a Billy
Joel and Elton John tribute show on June 3; Departure, a Journey
tribute band on July 4; and the Molly Ringwalds, an ‘80s tribute band on
Aug. 5.
Food and beverages–including beer and wine–will be available to
attendees onsite.
For more information on Chamblee’s Summer Concert Series, visit


Fourth annual reading festival planned
Those looking for The Cat in the Hat in person, a day filled with arts
and crafts, and three hours’ of cultural literacy may want to be at the
Clarkston Community Center on May 21.
The Clarkston Early Learning Network and Clarkston Development
Foundation are partnering to host the 4th Annual Clarkston “Tell Me a
Story!” Cultural Literacy and Language Festival. From 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.,
children of all ages will be able to see their favorite characters brought
to life, hear stories and participate in book themed arts and crafts.
For more information on “Tell Me a Story!” contact the Clarkston
Development Foundation by visiting or calling
(404) 736-6602.

Community center to host first-ever workshop open
The Clarkston Community Center, which serves more than 40,000

adults and children annually, will hold its first Workshop Open House,
according to Cindy Bowden, the new executive director of the nonprofit
Scheduled for Sunday May 15 from 3 to 5 p.m., the free event
will include light refreshments and will feature performances and
demonstrations including computer skills, dance, photography, music,
drumming, cake-decorating and more.
Guests will be able to try some of the activities, talk to the leaders
and learn when the actual workshops will take place. “Whether you want
to improve an existing skill or try something new, we hope you will take
advantage of what we have to offer,” Bowden said.
The activities will take place in the center’s newly renovated special
event space, Angora Hall, 3701 College Ave., Clarkston.
For a list of worships to be showcased, visit


Clerk of Court to host annual mental health and
wellness fair
DeKalb County Superior Court Clerk Debra DeBerry is inviting the
community to a day of changing the look of mental healthcare in DeKalb
on Saturday, May 14, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The second annual Mental Health and Wellness Fair will feature
presentations by behavioral health care providers, information sessions,
access to new and innovative therapy methods, numerous resources
and representatives from DeKalb CSB, Behavioral Health Link, NAMI
DeKalb, DeKalb County Jail, Veterans Affairs and local community
behavioral health agencies and providers.
The event is free and open to the public and will be held at the
Manuel J. Maloof Auditorium, 1300 Commerce Drive, Decatur.
For more information on the Mental Health & Wellness Fair, call
Dana Patterson at (404) 687-4076.


Community soup kitchen begins service
Decatur Bible Chapel Soup Kitchen in Lithonia serves a “hot hearty
meal” every second and fourth Tuesday from 3 to 6:30 p.m., according
to a news release.
The community is welcome and the meal is free.
Decatur Bible Chapel is located at 3355 Snapfinger Road in
For additional information call (770) 322-1495 or visit

stone Mountian
Church to hold candidates’ forum

The Victory for the World Church, 1170 North Hairston Road, Stone
Mountain, will host its 2016 candidates’ forum on May 17, from 7 to 8:30
The forum will feature candidates running for CEO, sheriff and tax
commissioner offices.


County commissioner urges residents to support
DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester is asking residents to
support the fire stations in District One.
Jester requested that community residents and businesses to “show
our appreciation for these hard working heroes by helping to stock the
pantry at our stations,” states an announcement about the events.
Food items such as sugar, salad dressing, seasonings, cereal,
snacks, coffee, tea, sodas, and sports drinks will be collected for Fire
Station 5, 4013 Lawrenceville Highway, Tucker, on Saturday, May 21,
from 9 to 11 a.m.
Children are invited to come see the trucks and equipment.


Zerita buchanan

As Dr. Zerita Buchanan went
through her journey of becoming
a dentist, she had a mentor—a
fellow dentist—who took Buchanan
under her wing and helped guide
her through undergraduate and
medical school.
The impact Buchanan’s mentor
had on her life led her to want to
have the same impact on college
students working their way into the
dentistry field as well.
Buchanan, 28, practices
dentistry at her family’s practice—
Dental Dreams LLC in Lithonia—
alongside her father Dr. Brian
Buchanan graduated from
Paideia School in Atlanta, Spelman
College and the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill where she
earned her doctorate of dental
It was at North Carolina
where she was introduced to the
Increasing Diversity in Dentistry
(IDID) program. The program

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 13, 2016 • Page 4A

mentors underrepresented minority
students attending college for
careers as dental professionals.
When she moved back to
Atlanta, Buchanan got involved
with the IDID at the Atlanta
University Center, and now serves
as the associate director for the
“Since the program started
we’ve had maybe 10 to 15
students successfully gain entry
into dental school and other postgrad programs,” Buchanan said.
“It’s a really great program. We
have about 25 students...from
Morehouse, Spelman, Georgia
State and a few students from
Howard University. We basically
try to create a pipeline to get them
into dental school.”
Buchanan also is actively
involved at Spelman through the
Sister2Sister mentoring program,
which allows alumnae to mentor
current students.
“We meet once a month

and we’re paired with a current
student in our major. I was a
biology major so I was paired
with a junior biology major,” she
said. We meet once a month to
talk about different things in terms
of getting ready for your career
field, but also she comes out to
my office, she shadows me and
we meet for dinner. [The program]
is really more of a big sister, little
sister [relationship] but focused on
getting those students into their
career path.”
Buchanan also volunteers
at Arabia Mountain High School
through its annual science
technology fair and the STEMwars
after school competition. She
said she gives back to young
people because of the doors
that were opened for her through
“I feel obligated to keep those
doors open for other people,” she
said. “I met a mentor who finished
Spelman and she went on the

Zerita Buchanan

University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill for dental school and
she took me under her wing. I feel
like she is the real reason why I
attended Carolina. I feel obligated
to give back because I wouldn’t
be where I am if I [hadn’t had] a
mentor myself.”

VAPE Continued From Page 2A

New digital Doraville debuts

by R. Scott Belzer


oraville unveiled a
new city website on
May 2, intending
to demonstrate
functionality and connectivity for
“We have come a very
long way,” said Mayor Donna
Pittman. “[We’ve gone from]
where we have nothing to
putting some things together
and growing.”
The website was presented

to the Doraville City Council
during its regularly scheduled
biweekly meeting on May 2.
Council members and the
attending public were impressed
with how far the city has come
in terms of transparency and
access to information.
Doraville’s new website
features a collection of
pictures from city events and
recognizable locations. Four
boxes welcome online visitors
to an agenda page, a forms and
application page, an interactive
maps page, and a contact page.
The city’s current website

has a simple beige background
with a map of Georgia
highlighting Doraville’s location.
City manager Shawn Gillen
said the new website was put
into the budget with the intention
of making it user friendly for
residents and city workers.
Gillen said it should take fewer
than three clicks to accomplish
such goals as paying bills,
contacting the appropriate
city contact and updating
“The old system was

See Doraville on Page 8A

from industrial meddling.
“I employ 30 people in my company
and these are 30 families; we operate
as a family,” Dollar said. “If a ban goes
through here, for electronic cigarettes,
it could infect into Atlanta, it could move
south to Macon and it could move
south to Albany.”
Councilwoman Burks asked Dollar
how Clarkston would directly affect the
30 families under his employ. Dollar
said putting up any sort of mandated
deterrent over allowing business
owners to choose could set certain
“If there’s a ban put in place …
you’ll have county commissioners
in other counties saying ‘Well, let’s
propose a ban here,’” Dollar said.
Dollar said he could not operate
a shop if people could not sample
flavors indoors and experience what
vapor, and smoking reduction, is all
about. The business owner said vapor
is made up of four compounds as
opposed to 6,000 chemicals.
John O’Connor, the owner of three
e-cigarette stores in northwest Georgia,
encouraged any smoker looking to quit
to visit their local vapor store and ask
workers about improving their health.
An admitted former smoker,
Joe Smith, said more than 8,000
businesses have been formed due to
the vaping industry and cited 40,000
jobs created in the process. Smith said
the purpose of these businesses is to
discourage cigarette use.
If Clarkston’s smoking ban
ordinance were to pass, it will not apply
to “businesses operating at its current
location or pursuant to a valid business
license,” on or before April 1, 2016.

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 13, 2016


Page 5A

White Continued From Page 1A
for,” White said. “That includes improving the practice planning, the workouts, everything.”
White has been the leader of the Miller Grove
boys’ basketball program for 10 years, and in
March, led Miller Grove to its seventh state basketball championship in eight years with a 30-2
Many of White’s players have gone on to play
on the college level and two Tony Parker (2012)
and Alterique Gilbert (2016)–were selected as
McDonald’s All-Americans.
White, who coached at Carver High School before moving to Miller Grove, has an overall record
of 372-90 during his 20-year coaching tenure. He
was named the National High School Coaches Association’s National High School Boys’ Basketball
Coach of the Year for 2016.
White was also named the USA TODAY AllUSA Coach of the Year in 2014 and was recently
named as an assistant coach for the 2016 USA
Basketball Men’s U17 World Championship. White
won a gold medal with the USA Basketball Men’s
U16 National Team as an assistant coach in 2015.
White said being able to stay in metro Atlanta
was a bonus in his decision, although it was not
the determining factor for him.
“Being able to stay home and not having to relocate was definitely big,” he said.
White has had conversations with his players
and coaching staff about the move and he said the
conversations went well.
“I just told them [that with] as much success [as]
we’ve had it was going to happen at some point,
we just didn’t know when,” he said. “I think they
took it very well. I told them the program was built
by players, it was maintained by players and it will
continue to be sustained by players.”
As far as who the next coach will be, White said
he will give his two cents to the administration on
who he [would] like to see lead the program.
“I am going to have a little bit of say, but I don’t
know which direction [they’ll take] exactly yet,” he
said. “I’m pretty sure they’ll be thorough—getting
somebody that has a pedigree of success and being able to come in and try to continue the culture
that we have established already.”
White will leave Miller Grove with good memories, including seven state championships, but he
said it is the people of the Miller Grove community
he will miss the most.
“Not just the players, but the parents, the
coaches, the community—I’m going to miss all
the people that make up Miller Grove,” he said.
“It’s not just the players and coaches. It’s the faculty and staff, the administration, people at large
around the country who know who we are [and]
the alumni. It’s so many parts to this machine…
and it makes it bitter sweet, but everybody is excited for me. It’s a great opportunity and I’m excited.”
White said he has no doubt that the program
will continue to be successful after he leaves.
“The players have to make sure they understand that this program, again, was built by players, made by players and it has to be maintained
by players,” he said. “Yeah, I was the forefront and
the leader, but I think they are [the] nuts and bolts
that make it happen. I don’t think this program will
take a downfall. I think it will continue to be one of
the forces in high school basketball. The faces will
be just a little different on the bench.”

DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy Jester picks up trash in the neighborhood she has concerns about. Photo by
Andrew Cauthen

Brannon Hill Continued From Page 1A
the debris of burned buildings and improving the effectiveness of the homeowners
“We are trying to show the world that
we have pride in our community,” Shekhey
said. “We are working hard to better our
DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon
Barnes Sutton, in whose district Brannon
Hill is located, said the community event
was organized “as part of the agreement
with DeKalb County and it has to do with
our [lawsuit] against the homeowners association.”
The DeKalb County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Jan. 26 to file
a lawsuit against the complex’s condominium owners association to declare it a
public health nuisance.
Sutton said, “We came to an agreement that we would allow them to work
and clean up as much as they can then we
would go back to another hearing and then
the judge would decide if the county needs
to come in and take over because it’s a
public nuisance.”
“We’re here today to...assist the community,” said La’Die Mansfield, who described herself as a friend of the community. “We are here...because the board and
the residents here on this property asked
for a community cleanup day and celebration.
“The community has answered that call
and showed up,” she said.
“I’m so pleased and impressed with the
turnout here today. It’s a wonderful thing,”
said Judy Marx, executive director of Interfaith Community Initiatives, “a collaboration of faith leaders that work together to
make the world a better place.”
“People live here and want to stay living
here so, as a greater community, it’s our
obligation to help them out,” Marx said.
“Today is a great thing,” said Dowlay
Mohamed, a Brannon Hill resident since
2005. “I’m very, very excited. Many people

are standing with us—students, volunteers
[and] friends.”
Mohamed, who immigrated from Africa,
said Brannon Hill “was a great, great community and was nice. Everything was OK.”
Many of the residents, particularly the
elderly and disabled, don’t want to move
from the community, Mohamed said. “We
are a great community that loves each
other and we help each other.
She added, “If people want to tear down
this place, we’re not letting them.”
Jonathan Austin of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints said he
“brought a little army of missionaries to
come help…out.
“We believe that when you are in the
service of your fellow man you’re in the
service of God,” Austin said. “We just love
the opportunity to serve and get to know
people and see where there’s a need
where we might be of help.”
DeKalb County Commissioner Nancy
Jester, who has been outspoken in the
need to clean up Brannon Hill, said, “Lots
of folks are here to help this community, so
that’s great. I’m very proud of the DeKalb
community for coming out here.
“Trash is being picked up and things are
being weed-wacked,” Jester said. “We’re
picking up bottles. We’ve picked up a lot of
Despite the community cleanup day,
Jester said “the big problems are still going
to be remaining,” citing the “big dumps of
tires, furniture and all kinds of things and
debris,” collapsed buildings and a “terrible
sinkhole” on a road in the community.
“So there’s real big structural health issues I’m concerned about,” Jester said.
“This is a health hazard,” Jester said.
“We can clean it up. We can cut the grass
and all that, but it’s still going to have
these...structural problems that are devastating here. The saga continues in Brannon Hills.”

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 13, 2016


letters to the Editor

Georgia needs more licensed
clinical social workers
by Gayle Cruz and Kandyce Johnson
Symptoms of mental illness in
seniors can include confusion, anxiety,
depression, delusions, memory problems
and/or substance abuse issues.
Seniors are among the most vulnerable
populations but are many times
overlooked or forgotten. Families struggle
to get appointments for their loved ones
with Medicare providers; oftentimes the
wait is too long and the ongoing services
they require are not easily obtained.
Professionals in the geriatric workforce
are struggling to provide services and
keep up with the high demand of clients.
Getting adequate access to mental health
services is a challenge due to a shortage
of trained mental health professionals in
geriatric services that opt into Medicare.
The Georgia in Perspective 2013
report by the Governor’s Budget and
Planning states that Georgia’s older
population has increased and those
who are older than 65 account for 10.7
percent of the population, which is an
increase of 31.4 percent since 2000. It
further states that Georgia’s public mental
health system currently provides services
to only 21 percent of the adults who live
with serious mental illnesses in the state.
What about the other 79 percent? How
can services be provided to the higher
population of mental health patients? We
can start by getting a proposed policy
The Improving Access to Mental
Health Act of 2015 was created to
improve access to the interventions and
assessments that licensed clinical social
workers (LCSWs) provide for Medicare
recipients, particularly those living in
skilled nursing homes, as well as leveling
the reimbursement rates between clinical
social workers and other mental health
professionals from 75 percent to 85
Authors T. Nuygen and N. Count
reported that Georgia is ranked seventh
nationally on the top 10 list with the lowest
need for mental health services, which is
identified to be related to the prevalence
of mental health issues within the state.
There are a total of 7 million residents in
Georgia and out of that number 349,000
adults live with mental health issues.
The National Alliance of Mental
Illness (NAMI) states that 12.3 percent
of persons in the state of Georgia have
committed suicide, which puts the state
in the No. 1 spot. The 923 deaths were
contributed to the lack of proper mental
health treatment. Jonathan Bor, author
of Health Affairs: Among the Elderly,
states that many mental illnesses go

undiagnosed, and that in the majority
of cases the issue is that their mental
health illness is going left untreated or
undiagnosed due to the lack of trained
professionals in the specialized field.
LCSWs are not authorized to perform
(or be reimbursed for) evaluations and
management services, or health/behavior
assessments and interventions, but by
nature, both are identified as services
provided by LCSWs. LCSWs are among
the three mental health professions that
are permitted to provide psychotherapy
services to Medicare beneficiaries. The
exception to this is when patients are in a
hospital, a hospital-like setting, or a skilled
nursing facility, when reimbursements
become bundled with the facility. LCSWs
are not listed as providers alongside
qualified psychological professionals.
The process for a mental health
provider to opt into Medicare services is
very tedious and could cause one to stray
away from opting in. The exposure to the
new amendment and the benefits for the
clients and the LCSWs could be viewed
as an incentive. The incentive for more
LCSWs is the increase in reimbursement
from 75 percent to 85 percent and the
incentive for mental health patients is that
they will have an array of providers they
can chose from.
The actual amendment is being
proposed to provide better treatment.
LCSWs are known for providing a holistic
style of treatment that not only addresses
the mental health issues but the person
within his or her environment, community
and as an individual with the hopes of
maintaining stability in all areas of one’s
life. With the increase in population that is
expected in Georgia in the next couple of
years the state of Georgia, it is important
that policies such as this be brought to
the forefront for change to take place.
As a community, we have the
responsibility to advocate for the most
vulnerable and we can do so by urging
our elected officials to support the
proposed policy. Improving Access to
Mental Health Act of 2015 will expand
the access to mental health services to
seniors in our communities, helping them
live longer, healthier and more meaningful
Kandyce Johnson, a resident of
McDonough, and Gayle Cruz, an Atlanta
resident, are both second-semester
graduate students in the University of
Southern California’s Virtual Masters of
Social Work Program. 

Page 6A

New restroom
ordinance in effect
As anyone knows who has been in the
home of a sharecropper in Toomsboro, Ga,
or worked in the state Capitol: “laws are
like sausages; you should never see them
A restroom ordinance, which received a
unanimous vote by the DeKalb County Commission Nov. 10, 2015, added an element
of toilet taboo to the famous saying, yet this
particular ordinance really helps all citizens
of DeKalb.
The ordinance declares that “… facilities
that include public restrooms are regulated in
order to prevent the nuisance of public restroom facilities in bad repair.”
In short, throughout unincorporated
DeKalb, though not its 11 cities, DeKalb
County buildings, such as the Manual Maloof
building, county parks such as Redan, and
places such as QT, CVS and corner convenience locations, which are businesses,
stores or offices where goods and services
are sold, may not indefinitely leave a toilet,
urinal or sink with a black garbage bag over
the fixture.
Patrons are encouraged to discuss with
management plans to repair restroom fixtures. If no improvements are made DeKalb
residents should report the violation of Section 16-211 through 16-215 to the Office of
Code Enforcement, now located at 1897 S.
Candler Road, (404) 687-3700 or send a
message to
The facility owners in violation of Section
16-214(d) may be subject to a minimum penalty $250.
Definitions of important terms are found
in Section 16-212 and no facility may allow
a state of bad repair during regular business
Furthermore, a provision requiring the
Board of Health to inspect the two school
restrooms closest to the cafeteria has also
been implemented.
Consider that the “restaurant” for students
is the school cafeteria, and that the “patrons”
of that eating establishment – the students
– need restrooms for washing their hands
before eating and for bodily functions after
Board of Health inspections of handwashing (2D), functional plumbing (16A), and adequate supplies in a clean setting (17A) are
now being implemented and scored for the
first time. These health inspections apply to
the two most important restrooms in all public elementary, middle and high schools.
With new buildings being built by the
county and district, with constant renovations, and with a growing demographic, this
restroom ordinance reminds DeKalb residents that cleanliness is next to godliness,
and that sanitation is part of citizenship.
Dr. Tom Keating, educator, is founder of
The Center of Sanitation and Citizenship
and coordinator of Project CLEAN (Citizens,
Learners, and Educators Against Neglect).

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 13, 2016


Page 7A


Thankfully, some very good choices
“We don’t tell you
what to think. We tell you
what to think about”–veteran broadcast journalist
Sander Vanocur, during remarks to the nowdefunct Georgia Association of Newscasters in
Savannah. Vanocur was
an NBC White House and
political correspondent
for most of the 1960s
and ‘70s, and later a correspondent for ABC and
I have lived most of my
life in DeKalb County, and
when the time comes,
my ashes will be spread
here; this is my home. As
friends and family have
moved elsewhere, and
our county has suffered
greatly through a period
of significant reputation
decline, I remain, among
many, who know we can
turn things around, and
that with the right leadership team, anything remains possible.
So after several election cycles of scrolling
down ballots that read
more like the lapse and
fall list of the DeKalb and
state ethics committee
active investigations; and
witnessing charges, trials
and convictions of those
holding our highest positions of trust, more than a
few silver linings are finally poking through those

Bill Crane


dark clouds.
I have had the pleasure of moderating
many a candidate forum,
and have already early
voted. Balloting began
on Monday, May 2, and
continues up through the
week of May 16.
From the office of CEO
and most every county
commission district, to
sheriff, district attorney,
solicitor, state House
and Senate and the long
list of judicial elections,
DeKalb County actually
has a wealth of highly
qualified, talented and
worthy candidates seeking to lead.
Several candidates are
incumbents, many are
noted challengers with
relevant experience, most
at least bring with them
pure intent and a desire
to serve, versus self-service and lining their own
Especially in top of

the ticket races such
as president, senator
and governor, I am saddened by how frequently
I hear folks saying, “I’m
choosing the lessor of
two evils.” Or, “I voted for
the person who I thought
would do less damage.” I
voted in this primary, and
will subsequently vote in
the runoff where the action is. In DeKalb County,
the bulk of those offices
and candidates will be
decided in the Democratic primary and runoff.
And I can easily say
for offices including sheriff, several legislators,
judges and a majority
of the DeKalb commission, it was easy for me
to proudly vote to return
the existing office-holders
to the seats which they
now hold. That said, there
are also more than a few
whose records are either
clouded or undeserving
and even a few who warrant a stiff kick out the
door. But as Mr. Vanocur
suggested above, I’m going to try and leave those
decisions on the “who” to
Ask around. Seek the
opinions of your community and neighborhood
leadership. Ask your
pastor. Talk to those who
have experienced government service challenges, who has helped them,

how and when? Which
elected officials bother
to show up for candidate
forums? Who returns
phone calls, regardless of
the race or circumstances
of the citizen/voter?
These are simple
questions, and yet the
answers for many incumbents in particular,
I find astonishing, given
that their office, salary
and more than occasionally abused expense accounts are all taxpayer
Voting for president–
given the candidates
remaining in the field–will
be a real challenge for
me this fall. But those
who know where I call
home will note there is no
shortage of candidates
covering our modest front
Do some research
and a bit of your own
Googling. Avoid candidates encumbered with
phrases such as “ongoing
ethics investigation,” “repeatedly refused to return
phone calls” or “again
declined to give voters
the opportunity to ask
questions at candidate
forums.” These are warning signs.
Our DeKalb County
can be great once again,
and viewed as a model
for others to follow, only
this time with a more di-

verse and expansive field
of leaders with proven
backgrounds and experience.
We cannot expect our
problems or lack of solutions to change if we
re-elect those who did
not deliver in their prior
term. Simply being the
incumbent is not sufficient
for re-election. Look at
their records; don’t only
listen to the candidates.
Read the paper; do your
homework. As with our
kids in school, this is too
important to skip class
and the heavy lifting.
And if you really want
to know who I think you
should consider voting
for–just drive through
Scottdale, and look for
the sea of yard signs.You
can’t miss it. But whoever you decide to vote
for. Please vote.
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@

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We sincerely appreciate the
discussion surrounding this and any
issue of interest to DeKalb County.
The Champion was founded in 1991
expressly to provide a forum for
discourse for all community residents
on all sides of an issue. We have no
desire to make the news only to
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The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 13, 2016 • Page 8A

DORAVILLE Continued From Page 4A
cumbersome and took hours of training to learn how to
use,” Gillen said. “This one is not that way: it’s easier to
upload photos; it’s easier to update content; it’s easier
to keep it fresh.”
Doraville staff member Lisa Ferguson said the
new website will eventually feature pages for events,
elections and other new topics but the primary goal
beforehand was to make sure the content from the
city’s old website makes a smooth transition.
Ferguson said the new website will be “completely
customizable,” and that her favorite improvement thus
far is the contact page.
“There is nothing that I hate worse than going to a
website and not being able to find a phone number or
email address,” Ferguson said. “We have a button right
on the front page. It’s going to continue to evolve.”
The new website also has interactive maps.
The maps are capable of filters showing stormwater
management, acreage, zoning, district and zip code
for every parcel of land within city limits. The maps
also show bus routes and train routes from Doraville to
Hartsfield-Jackson Airport.
Pittman said the concern she hears the most from
residents about Doraville’s website is attempting to
watch city council meetings and finding agendas. She
subsequently suggested making access easier for
Doraville resident Susan Fraysse said she was
happy to hear of the new website and looks forward to
using it. Fraysse remembers using city hall’s physical
bulletin board to hear about city events in 2004 and
enjoys Doraville’s currently level of connectivity.
“I have watched us evolve,” Fraysse said. “It took
years and years. Luke Howe is to be commended for
his early work on the website. It’s never going to be
perfect, and it’s going to continue to evolve and evolve.”
Fraysse said having a functioning website is
important, valuable and accurate, especially for
residents who cannot make it to meetings. She also
requested “as many newsletters as possible” to
increase government transparency.
The website is live at

Interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May signs the executive order creating the DeKalb Charter Review
Commission. Photo provided

Group to study county government structure

by Andrew Cauthen


15-person commission soon will be established to study the
county’s form of government and make recommendations about whether it
should be changed.
On April 25, interim
DeKalb County CEO Lee
May signed an executive
order creating a charter review commission to study
the county’s form of government.
“I am very much in support of changing our form of
government to be more like
the other 158 counties in
the state,” said May, who for
years has been vocal about
his support for a county
manager form of government.
“But ultimately it’s not my
decision alone,” said May,
who will be leaving office at
the end of the year. “It’s a
decision that the people—
the voters of DeKalb County—have to make. But we
don’t want them to make a
decision in a vacuum.”
Under the executive
order, the commission will
be comprised of one appointee by each member of
the Board of Commissioners
(May will make the appointment for the vacant District
7 seat); and one member
each appointed by the
DeKalb House delegation,
DeKalb Board of Education,
DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, Georgia Municipal

Association, Association of
County Commissioners of
Georgia, and two additional
members—who will serve
as co-chairs—appointed by
County officials asked
the state legislature to pass
a measure establishing the
charter review commission,
but that legislation “unfortunately” fell through, May
“My preference would
have been the legislature
to do it, but we been down
this road before,” May said.
“We have asked them to put
forward various legislative
opportunities that would help
us in DeKalb County. When
they have failed to do that,
we’ve taken action into our
own hands.”
May said he expects it
to take at least a year for the
commission “to bring forward
their litany of recommendations” to the CEO and Board
of Commissioners, who will
in turn give those recommendations to the state
legislators that represent
DeKalb County.
The commission will
have a budget of $150,000
for technical assistance.
Per the executive order,
the commission must hold
its first meeting no later than
June 30 and submit its final
recommendations no later
than June 30, 2017, to the
Board of Commissioners
and CEO and to “each member of the General Assembly
from DeKalb County, the
governor, the lieutenant gov-

ernor, speaker of the house
and chairpersons of the Senate state and local governmental operations committee
and the House governmental
affairs committee.”
“We believe this is a local issue and this is a local
county making a decision on
what’s the most appropriate
form of government,” May
said. “This is a decision that
the citizens and residents
of DeKalb County ought to


DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management Public Advisory 
Interstate 85 & Oakcliff Industrial Court Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation 
May 6, 2016   
Advisory Issue Date 








June 6, 2016  
Advisory Close Date 

   This advisory is issued to inform the public of a receipt of an application for a variance submitted 
pursuant to a State Environmental Law. The Public is invited to comment during a 30‐day period on the 
proposed activity. Since the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) has no authority to zone 
property or determine land use, only those comments addressing environmental issues related to air, 
water and land protection will be considered in the application review process. Written comments should 
be submitted to: Program Manager, Non‐Point Source Program, Erosion and Sedimentation Control, 4220 
International Parkway, Suite 101, Atlanta, Georgia 30354. 
Type of Permit Application: Variance to encroach within the 25‐foot Sate Waters Buffer. 
Applicable Law: Georgia Erosion and Sedimentation Act O.C.G.A. 12‐7‐1 ET seq. 
Applicable Rules: Erosion and Sedimentation Control Chapter 391‐3‐7. 
Basis under which variance shall be considered {391‐3‐7.05(2) (A‐K)}: A 
Project Description & Reason for Initiating:  
I‐85 and Oakcliff Industrial Ct. Sanitary Sewer Rehabilitation Project is a rehabilitation project of an 
existing sanitary sewer located between the North Fork of Peachtree Creek and just northwest of Oakcliff 
Industrial Ct. in the City of Doraville, GA.  Specifically, the site is located in land lot 314 & 318 of the 18th 
district in DeKalb County, GA. The proposed construction will include the rehabilitation of approximately 
2,275 linear feet of 10", 12", and 15" sewer pipe.  The project is needed due to the numerous sewer spills 
along the existing sewer outfall. 
Project Location: 
This project is located in land lot 314 and 318 of the 18th district of DeKalb County. Beginning at terminus 
of Oak Cliff Industrial Court and running south to Interstate 85 and continuing south to the confluence of 
the North Fork of Peachtree Creek for a total distance of approximately one mile.  
The Public can review site plans at 1580 Roadhaven Drive Stone Mountain, Georgia 30083.  Phone: 770‐


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 13, 2016 • Page 9A

County CEO position up for grabs
compiled by Andrew Cauthen
Two former state
lawmakers, a frequent
political candidate and
a retired businessman
want to be elected as
DeKalb County’s next chief
executive officer.
Former state senator
Connie Stokes and
former representative Mike
Thurmond join automotive
services business owner
Joe Bembry in the
Democratic primary for the
CEO’s position.
The winner of this
contest will face Republican
retired businessman Jack
Lovelace in November.
They will face each
other in the May 24
Democratic primary. The
winner of the November
election will replace Lee
May, who has been interim
DeKalb County CEO since
June 2013 when he was
appointed to the interim
position after county
CEO Burrell Ellis was
suspended by the governor
after being indicted on
multiple felony charges
including extortion.
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.

The Champion was
unable to get in contact with
Name: Joe Bembry
Education: Studied at
DeKalb College
Occupation: Manager of
automotive services
What political offices
have you held in the
past? I have not held any
official office. I have been
a “community advocate” for
more than 40 years. I lead
the focus when it came to
corruption in our county.
Why are you seeking this
office? We need at least
one good choice in this
election. I am concerned
about the current state of
DeKalb County as it relates
to corruption in our political
system, crimes in our
communities and loss of
businesses. I am committed
and dedicated to positive
improvements in the county.
What expertise do you
have that will help you
fulfill the duties of this
office? My ability to listen
and communicate with
people on all levels, which
is a gift from our maker,
and my understanding of
business principles will
assist me in the duties

Joe Bembry

Connie Stokes

Mike Thurmond

of this office. I have
interacted with many county
departments and will strive
for a more customerfocused environment.

Bachelor’s business
administration (BBA)

Why should you be
elected (or re-elected) to
this office? I am a 43-year
resident of DeKalb County.
I really care about the state
of the county. Again, I am
committed and dedicated
to overall improvements.
Since I have not held office,
you may consider me an
outsider, who will work
for all citizens of DeKalb

What political offices
have you held in the
past? State senator (10
years) and Super District
commissioner (six years)

Why are you seeking this
office? I am running for
CEO to be the change we
need to get the results we
want in improvements in job
opportunity, public safety,
pot holes, senior and youth
services, equal pay for
women, and small business

What is your campaign
website address? Please
feel free to contact me at
(678) 754-2424.
Name: Connie Stokes
Education: Master’s public
administration (MPA),

Occupation: Real estate

See CEO race on Page 10A


Notice of Public Hearings May 16 & 19, 2016
Notice is hereby given that the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit
Authority will hold public hearings for the purpose of considering the

Proposed Fiscal Year 2017
Operating and Capital Budgets
Including Elimination of the Holiday Group Fare One-Day Tickets and

Proposed Bus Service Modifications for Aug. 6, 2016
for the following routes:
Route 3: Martin Luther King Jr. Drive / Auburn Avenue; Route 4: Thomasville /
Moreland Avenue / MTC; Route 13: Fair Street / Mozley Park; Route 15: Candler Road / South DeKalb; Route 51: Joseph E. Boone; Route 117: Rockbridge
Road / Panola Road; Route 125: Clarkston / Northlake; Route 181: Buffington
Road / South Fulton P/R; and Route 191: Justice Center / Hartsfield International.
All route information, a video with Hearing information and
comment forms are available at


Mon, May 16

Mon, May 16

Fulton County
Govt. Center
Conference Room

Clayton County Govt.
Office Board Room

141 Pryor Street
Atlanta, GA 30303
Community Exchange:

6-7 p.m.

HEARING: 7 p.m.

Riding MARTA: Routes 32,
49, 55, 74 & 186.

112 Smith Street
Jonesboro, GA 30236

Community Exchange: 6-7 p.m.

HEARING: 7 p.m.

Riding MARTA: Bus routes 191, 192,
193 &194 from the Justice Center exit
at Tara Blvd and Smith Street for a 0.5
mile walk due to construction closure of
Smith Street.

Thurs, May 19

1300 Commerce Drive
Decatur, GA 30030
Community Exchange:

6-7 p.m.

HEARING: 7 p.m.

Riding MARTA: Walk one block
west of Decatur Rail Station.

Copies of the proposed Budget and Bus Service Modifications will also be available for public viewing at MARTA’s Headquarters Office of External Affairs, 2424 Piedmont Road, N.E. Atlanta, Georgia 30324 during regular business hours, Mon-Fri
8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The next generation of leadership for DeKalb County

For formats (FREE of charge) in accordance with the ADA and Limited English Proficiency regulations contact, (404)
848-4037. For those patrons requiring further accommodations, information can be obtained by calling the Telephone
Device for the Deaf (TDD) at 404 848-5665.

Two Elections MAY 24

In addition, a sign language interpreter will be available at all hearings. If you cannot attend the hearings and want to
provide comments you may: (1) leave a message at (404) 848-5299; (2) write to MARTA’s Office of External Affairs, 2424
Piedmont Road, N.E. Atlanta, GA 30324-3330; (3) complete an online Comment Card at; (4) or fax
your comments no later than May 26, 2016 to (404) 848-4179.

All Voters: Special Election to fulfill unexpired term of Claudia Lawson (retired)
Democratic Primary: Tax Commissioner 4-year term to begin January 2017

All citizens of the City of Atlanta and the counties of Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton and Gwinnett whose interests are affected
by the subjects to be considered at these hearings are hereby notified and invited to appear at said times and places and
present such evidence, comment or objection as their interests require.

Keith T. Parker, AICP, General Manager/CEO


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 13, 2016 • Page 10A

Avondale Estates commission discusses proposed development agreement
by Carla Parker
The Avondale Estates Board of
Mayor and Commissioners had a
work session May 4 to discuss the
development agreement between
the city and South City Partners,
South City owns 3.18 acres at
Sams Crossing and East College
Avenue and plans to redevelop
the property, according to the
agreement. South City proposed to
build a mixed-use development to
be Sam’s Crossing, which features
apartments with a parking deck and
retail shops. The plans also include
a small park.
During the meeting, city
manager Clai Brown said the
development agreement is being
done based on the site plan.
“On that site plan is where the
variances don’t fit our zoning,”
Brown said. “On March 25, the
architectural review board (ARB)
approved the exterior plans for the
development. It then went to the
planning and zoning board on April
18, which struck a timeline for them
to come up with a recommendation
to give back to the board.”
Brown said the planning and
zoning board are in a 60-day
period, where at the end of the
period—June 17—the board will
have to make a recommendation to
the mayor and commissioners.
“They have a hearing on May
16 to go through their process,
along with a meeting to come

South City proposed to build a mixed-use development named Sam’s Crossing, which features apartments with a parking deck
and retail shops. The plans also include a small park.

up with a recommendation
to the [board of mayor and
commissioners],” Brown said.
The board discussed changes
they would like to see made to the
design. Brown said all of the plans
are subject to change and South
City is working on minor changes to
the design.
“We won’t know [about South
City changes] until we get those
plans back,” Brown said. “They
might have to go back in front of
the ARB, but that really won’t have
anything to do with zoning unless

[the issue is] the height. They’re
not planning to change the height;
mainly just exterior changes.”
Brown said his staff added to
the design the similar streetscape—
light fixtures—that are already in
the city, going all the way down
Sams Crossing to make it look
Some residents suggested
adding more trees, more public
parking and a path to the park area.
Mayor Jonathan Elmore said a
path to the park is a good idea.
“I think it’s completely

achievable,” Elmore said. “Even
though they’re going to hold on to
the park, it’s in the development
agreement that we have to have
free access at all times. I think it’s
now or never. We have to ask them
to consider these things.”
Commissioner Adela Yelton
said she thinks the project is a great
opportunity for the city.
“If we have the chance to start
introducing some things to the
conversation, let’s take advantage
of it,” she said.

CEO RACE Continued From Page 9A
What expertise do you
have that will help you
fulfill the duties of this
office? Leading the
budgetary process and
working with departments
on issues including senior,
libraries, parks, and road
improvements. Serving
as state senator working
with federal, state, and
local officials. A master’s
degree (MPA) in public
management. Receiving
the gender justice award for
issues like domestic abuse
and equal pay for women.
Why should you be
elected (or re-elected) to
this office? The leadership
experience of balancing big
budgets, as a commissioner
chairing the budget
committee and a senator
serving on appropriations
and fiscal affairs. I have
experience as an advocate
speaking out for women
and children. Leadership
as state director of Women

in Government. National
president of the Women’s
What is your campaign
website address?
Name: Mike Thurmond
Education: Paine College
with a bachelor’s degree
in philosophy and religion,
Juris doctorate from
the University of South
Carolina’s School of Law
Occupation: Attorney
What political offices have
you held in the past?
• Served as superintendent
of the DeKalb County
School District, the third
largest district in the state
of Georgia, 2013-2015.
• Georgia Labor
Commissioner, 1998-2010
• Served in the Georgia
Legislature, 1987-1992

Why are you seeking
this office? DeKalb
County desperately needs
an experienced, proven
leader who will work to
rebuild trust between the
county government and the
citizens of DeKalb. We must
have a government that is
transparent, honest and
focused on providing high
quality taxpayer financed
What expertise do you
have that will help
you fulfill the duties of

this office? I have held
leadership positions with
private and public agencies:
The 9,000-employee
Division of Family and
Children Services, 19941997; the 4,000-employee
Georgia Department of
Labor, 1998-2010; and the
13,000-employee DeKalb
County School District,

inclusive, holistic vision
for DeKalb County. Hard
work, integrity, transparency
and service will be the
cornerstones of the
Thurmond administration.
Working with DeKalb’s
leaders and all citizens and
residents we will transform
our current frustrations and
disappointments into bold
and exciting opportunities.

Why should you be
elected (or re-elected) to
this office? My primary
focus will be building an

What is your campaign
website address?

   The Mayor and the Atlanta City Council will adopt a millage rate which will 

require no tax increase. 
   All concerned citizens are invited to the public hearing to be held at the Atlanta 
City Hall Complex, 55 Trinity Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia in the City Council 
Chambers located on the Second Floor on Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at 6:00 p.m. 


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

New vendor to provide lifeguards at Browns Mill pool






A worker posts a “facility closed” sign as Browns Mill Aquatic Center in July 2015. The center was
closed for a few days after staffing problems. Photo by Andrew Cauthen


A new contractor has
been chosen to provide
lifeguard services at a DeKalb
County-owned aquatic facility
that came under scrutiny last
year after a near drowning.
On April 26 the
DeKalb County Board of
Commissioners approved
the contract for Stand Guard
Aquatics of Alpharetta to
provide lifeguard and pool
services at Browns Mill
Family Aquatic Facility. The
amount of the contract is up
to $177,000.
“There were problems
with the...contract for
the lifeguards last year,”
said DeKalb County
Commissioner Mereda
Johnson, in whose district
the Browns Mill facility is
An investigation by The
Champion revealed that
the county did not have
certifications on file for seven
of the contracted lifeguards
working at Browns Mill on
the day of a near drowning
in June 2015. The county’s
contract with the vendor, USA
Management LLC, required
these to be kept onsite at all
Approximately one month
after the near drowning, the
Board of Commissioners
voted to terminate
the contract with USA
Management because “we

learned that they did not have
certifications for the guards
that they hired,” Roy Wilson,
the county’s parks director,
said at the time.
In April, Wilson told
commissioners that the new
vendor “is not associated with
the vender that we had last
“If you will recall there
were some issues last year
where we had to terminate
the contract,” Wilson said.
“And we had a vendor to step
in and rescue us so that we
would be able to get through
last season, which we did
Wilson said Browns Mill
is a “busy facility,” with more
than 66,000 visitors in 2015.
“It is important to us that
every visitor that comes
to the Browns Mill Family
Aquatic Center has a safe
experience,” Wilson told
commissioners. “The new
vendor...will ensure that every
visitor will have that safe
“We think that the
selected vendor will do a
great job,” he said.
In addition to selecting a
new vendor for the aquatics
facility, the county has hired
an “aquatics professional
whose job is to only focus
on aquatics and to ensure
that all of the terms of the
contract—all of the scope of
service that is listed in the
contract—are met,” Wilson


by Andrew Cauthen


Carmen Echols, M.D.

Susan Lee, FNP-BC

Ebonique Pillot, PA-C

New Practice, Same Great Care
DeKalb Medical Physicians Group welcomes Carmen Echols, M.D., and associates Susan
Lee, FNP and Ebonique Pillot, PA, to Lithonia Primary Care. Formerly Kendrick Family
Practice, Dr. Echols and medical staff offer over 50 years combined healthcare experience
and will continue to provide the same great service to their community. To schedule your
appointment, visit or call 770.400.9274 today.


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 13, 2016 • Page 12A

Ex-judge tries to unseat incumbent State Court judge
compiled by Andrew Cauthen

and effectiveness within the
state court system.

A former traffic and
State Court judge wants to
unseat an incumbent State
Court judge who has been
on the bench for six years.
Roderick Bridges, an
attorney and former State
Court judge, is running
against State Court judge
Dax Lopez. The two 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.

What is your campaign
website address?

Name: Roderick Bridges
Education: Saint Louis
University School of Law,
1998, Juris Doctorate;
Tulane University School of
Public Health and Tropical
Medicine, 1995, Masters
of Public Health; Xavier
University of New Orleans,
1991, Bachelor of Science
in chemistry
Occupation: Attorney/
judicial candidate

Name: Dax E. Lopez
Education: B.S.,
Vanderbilt University
(political science) cum
Laude; J.D., cum laude,
Vanderbilt Law School

Roderick Bridges

Dax E. Lopez

What political offices have
you held in the past? none

my experience as a traffic/
state court judge, I am
experienced in criminal/
civil litigation. I encompass
integrity and a commitment
to justice that enable me to
make sound legal decision
based on the law and facts.

Why are you seeking this
office? DeKalb County,
Georgia, is a great place
to live, and deserves a
State Court judge that will
ensure that anyone who
comes before the court is
treated with dignity and
respect regardless of their
race, religion, gender,
age, nationality, social or
economic standing.
What expertise do you
have that will help you
fulfill the duties of this
office? I am a resident of
DeKalb County, 18 years
and counting. In addition to

Why should you be
elected (or re-elected)
to this office? I have had
the honor and privilege of
serving the citizens of the
DeKalb Community as a
traffic/state court judge for
13 years. I am dedicated
to the improvement
of the judicial system,
enhancement of safety
in the community, and
increasing the efficiency

Occupation: Former
attorney, incumbent State
Court judge of DeKalb
County, Division 6.
What political offices have
you held in the past? I am
entering my sixth year as a
State Court judge here in
DeKalb County.
Why are you seeking
this office? I am
seeking re-election to my
position to ensure that
our communities receive
fairness and justice. As your
judge, I preside over several
thousand criminal and
civil cases annually. My
rulings have consistently
been affirmed by the higher

courts, which reflects
my commitment to fairly
applying the law.
What expertise do you
have that will help you
fulfill the duties of this
office? The State Court
hears criminal and civil
cases. I have extensive
experience in both, having
served in private practice
and as a clerk to a federal
judge prior to becoming
the incumbent State Court
judge in 2010. Additionally,
I operate the only Spanish
speaking DUI court in the
metro area….(answer
Why should you be
elected (or re-elected) to
this office? It is a privilege
to be one of your judges.
For nearly six years I have
worked to honor the trust
that you place in me as a
member of one of the most
diverse benches in Georgia.
I am committed to ensuring
justice through fairness for
our DeKalb community.
What is your campaign
website address? www.

Brookhaven announces finalist for city manager
by Carla Parker
Brookhaven announced May 6 that
Christian Sigman is the finalist to be
the city’s second city manager.
Sigman will succeed former city
manager Marie Garrett, who resigned in
January and reached a settlement with
the city. Sigman will be responsible for
the day-to-day operation of the city and
the management and direction of its 150
Sigman worked in local government
administration for more than 20 years,
according to the city. He recently
served as the county administrator
for Hamilton County, Ohio. During his
tenure as county administrator and
assistant county administrator, he led
a government with more than 4,000
employees and an annual budget of $1
Sigman also helped lead the
development of the “Banks Project,”
creating a residential, work and
entertainment district surrounding the
stadiums for the Cincinnati Reds and the
Cincinnati Bengals, which revitalized the
downtown area.
Sigman previously served as budget
director for Cincinnati. He also worked
in several local governments in the
metropolitan Washington, D.C., area.

“In addition to Mr. Sigman’s
distinguished career, his compassionate
leadership style, his budgetary prowess
and his visionary approach to ‘rightsizing’ development for the community
make him the ideal candidate to lead
Brookhaven as the city’s second chief
operating officer,” Brookhaven Mayor
John Ernst said.
Sigman is a graduate of Indiana
University where he earned a bachelor
of science degree and a master’s
degree in public financial management.
He is also a credentialed member of the
International City/County Management
Sigman said in a statement that
he is excited to serve as the next city
manager for Brookhaven.
“Brookhaven enjoys a high quality
of life and I look forward to embracing
the vision for Brookhaven as a premier
community in the Atlanta metro region,”
he said. “I am particularly interested
in executing the city’s high-quality
planning efforts related to expanding
and protecting park space as well as
managed development activities to
mitigate traffic congestion. I look forward
to being an active participant in the
The city council will formally vote on
Sigman to be the new city manager at
its May 24 meeting.

Christian Sigman is the finalist to be Brookhaven’s city manager.


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 13, 2016 • Page 13A


Fire rescue personnel line a road at First Baptist Church in Atlanta as a fire engine drives by
carrying the body of DeKalb firefighter Jason Blalock.

A wreath displays fireman Jason Blalock’s

A bell is rung signaling the end of Jason Blalock’s watch.

A DeKalb fireman stands guard by the casket of fireman Jason Blalock. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Two boys help take bagged trash to a pickup truck
during Brannon Hill’s cleanup day May 7.

A large sinkhole at Brannon Hill condominium
complex is filled with tires and debris to keep cars
and children away. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Two drummers begin a community celebration
after the cleanup.

Children pick up trash between dilapidated buildings at Brannon

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


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 13, 2016 • Page 14A

Some Kroger stores now have self-service tag renewal

DeKalb Tax Commissioner Irvin J. Johnson introduces a kiosk that
allows county taxpayers to renew their automobile tags at participating Kroger stores.

by Kathy Mitchell


ow customers shopping for milk, eggs
and bread can renew
their automobile tags
in the same grocery store.
Some Georgia Kroger stores,
including those at Embry Village and on North Decatur
Road, have partnered with
the DeKalb County Tax Commissioner’s Office to provide
self-service tag renewal kiosks inside the stores.
“These are ideal for those
who need to renew their tags
at times when our offices are
closed—people whose work
schedules don’t permit them
to get away from the office
during the day,” commented
DeKalb Tax Commissioner
Irvin J. Johnson, who was
on hand for the ribbon cutting
at the North Decatur Road
“It will also be a great
time saver for those who
have simple renewals. They
do not have to stand in line
behind those who have more
complicated business with
the tag office. It can be a
quick lunch-hour errand; it’s
possible to be finished in a
few minutes. That’s perfect
for people who have small
children or who are caring for
other family members and
don’t have a lot of free time,”
Johnson said.
Only tag renewals can be
completed using the kiosks,
but according to the Georgia Department of Revenue
website, other services may
be added later.
At the kiosks, which were
first introduced at an Ellenwood Kroger store, users
enter their tag number, VIN
or driver’s license number to
retrieve registrations. Users
of the self-service system

must live in a participating
county, have a Georgia driver’s license or renewal notice
with the owner’s correct address, and, where applicable,
have proof of insurance and
vehicle emissions inspection
on file. Seventeen Georgia
counties currently participate.
Johnson said Georgia
drivers in any participating
county can use any kiosks—
not just those in their own
county. “If a DeKalb County
driver is on the way to Florida
for a vacation with the grandkids and suddenly remembers that his tag will come up
for renewal while he’s gone,
he can stop at a kiosk in Bibb
County and take care of it.”
Currently, there is a convenience fee in addition to
the registration fee and taxes, but Johnson said, “We’re
working on that. The kiosks
save the county money because we need less space
and fewer staff members. We
may eventually be able to do
away with the convenience
fee, which is only a few dollars and worth it to many
people because of the time
they save.”
Taxes and fees can be
paid with a debit or credit
card and some kiosks accept
cash. Users see the total before finalizing the transaction.
Glynn Jenkins, director of communications and
public relations for Kroger’s
Atlanta Division, called the
machines, which are only in
participating Kroger stores,
a “great addition to DeKalb
County Kroger stores.”
“This is something we
were able to negotiate with
Kroger,” Johnson explained.
“If other retailers show an
interest in the future, we will
certainly give it consideration.”

Kroger and county officials cut the ribbon, officially opening the kiosk at the North Decatur Road

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The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 13, 2016 • Page 15A

Welcoming signs

Doraville to spend $152K on signage
by R. Scott Belzer
Those driving in Doraville
can expect to see new city
signage within the next few
Doraville’s city council
recently approved a $152,100
purchase for 10 new welcome
signs. Six of the signs will
be stone columns while the
remaining four will be aluminum.
“This is something that’s
been worked on for quite some
time,” said Mayor Donna
Pittman at the council’s
May 2 meeting. “The council
and citizens voted on their
preference for the sign. We’re
excited to finally get new signs.”
The 10 new signs will
replace eight existing signs and
add two more to the city.
According to the quote
dated April 12 from A1 Signs,
each of the six stone columns
is priced at $13,845 while
installation is $3,175, bringing
the total to $102,120. The
stone columns will stand
approximately 12 feet high and
feature a 5 feet wide sign.
The same quote lists the
four aluminum signs at $9,495
each with installation costing
$2,875. Doraville will pay
$49,480 total for the aluminum

Mayor Donna Pittman

signage. The aluminum signs
will stand approximately 12 feet
high and also sport a 5 feet
wide sign.
Another $500 fee was
on the quote for “structural
engineer drawings for each sign
The signs were created
by Doraville resident Michael
Halbert, who drew up many
designs before arriving upon the
final product.
Parks, Recreation and
Public Works Director Rip
Robertson said the stone
signs will be stationed along
Buford Highway at the I-285
interchange, along Chestnut
Drive, Tilly Mill Road, Winter’s

Chapel Road and Peachtree
The aluminum sign locations
were not disclosed at the
City Manager Shawn Gillen
said A1 Signs submitted the
only bid on the project and the
$152,000 was the exact budget
set aside for signage.
“We wanted five; we got in
touch with five companies, but
only got one,” Gillen said. “The
others said they did not want to
[participate]. They said it was a
very involved process.”
Pittman asked Gillen about
park signs following discussions
with residents who felt a need
to welcome visitors to various
parks throughout the city. The
city manager explained that the
welcome signs would be a good
starting point for the rest of
Doraville’s signage.
“We can take these types
of concepts and develop a
consistent look for each of
our parks,” Gillen said. “A
citizen came to me with these
[welcome sign designs] and
discussed changing the emblem
to a park emblem. That will be
Phase II of this.”
The city council
unanimously approved A1
Signs’ quote and moved forward
with the project.


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 13, 2016 • Page 16A

County parks and recreation department
to open new Brookside Park
The DeKalb County Department of Recreation, Parks
and Cultural Affairs will hold a dedication and ribbon cutting
ceremony Saturday, May 21, at 10 a.m. for the new Brookside
Park, located at 3661 North Decatur Road in Decatur.
The new seven-acre park will feature a playground, pavilion,
walking trails and a community garden, with a dog park area
coming this summer. The public is invited to this free event to
learn more about the features and coming attractions of this
newly created neighborhood park.
For more information, contact LaShanda Davis, public

Veteran prosecutor named to DA’s gang unit
Career criminal prosecutor Lance Cross is joining the
DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office to work with the
organized crime unit, according to a news release.
“In nine years as an assistant district attorney with the
Fulton County District Attorney’s Office, Cross made a name for
himself prosecuting and convicting deadly murderers and gang
members,” the news release states.
Among Cross’ noteworthy cases in Fulton are the death
penalty trial of De’Kelvin Martin, who was convicted for
murdering his girlfriend’s grandparents and 12-year-old son; the
30 Deep gang robbery and murder that resulted in the January
2009 death of Atlanta bartender John Henderson, and the trial
for the Jack Boys robbing crew that led a murderous month-long
crime spree through Atlanta in 2010.
“We’re pleased to add a prosecutor of Lance’s caliber to our
ranks,” DeKalb District Attorney Robert James stated.
Cross is a graduate of Georgia State University Law School
and Hawaii Pacific University where he earned a degree in
political science, and he was a prosecutor in Paulding and Cobb
counties before moving to Fulton County.
Cross replaces Antonio Veal, whose work in the gang unit
helped build cases against, among others, members of the
Georgia H.A.T.E. Committee of the Gangster Disciples and
members of the Rollin’ 60s Bloods. Veal recently left to join a
national private law firm.
“I look forward to working with DA James and helping him to
build the best gang unit in the nation,” Cross said.
420-385904 5/12,5/19,5/26,6/2jb
NOMINEE FOR MORTGAGE INVESTORS CORPORATION dated FEBRUARY 24, 2010, and recorded on MARCH 5, 2010, in DEED BOOK 21879, PAGE 453, of the DEKALB County, Georgia Records; as last assigned to GREEN PLANET
SERVICING, LLC N/K/A PLANET HOME LENDING, LLC, by Assignment dated DECEMBER 13, 2013, and recorded on DECEMBER 18, 2013, recorded at DEED BOOK 24178, PAGE 251, aforesaid records; conveying the after-described
property to secure a Note in the original principal amount of ONE HUNDRED TWELVE THOUSAND, NINE HUNDRED SIX Dollars and 00/100 ($112,906.00) with interest thereon as set forth therein, there will be sold at public
outcry to the highest bidder for cash before the courthouse door of DEKALB County, Georgia, within the legal hours of sale on the first TUESDAY in JUNE, 2016 the following described property:
The indebtedness secured by said Security Deed has been and is hereby declared due and payable because of, among other possible events of default, non-payment of the monthly installments as required by said Note and Security Deed. The debt remaining in default, this sale will be made for the purpose of paying the same and all expenses of this sale, as provided in the Security Deed and by law, including attorney’s fees (notice of intent to collect
attorney’s fees having been given) and all other payments provided for under the terms of the Security Deed and Note.
Said property will be sold subject to any outstanding ad valorem taxes (including taxes which are a lien, but not yet due and payable), any matters which might be disclosed by an accurate survey and inspection of the property,
any assessments, liens, encumbrances, zoning ordinances, restrictions, covenants, and matters of record superior to the Security Deed first set out above.
The sale will be conducted subject (1) to confirmation that the sale is not prohibited under the U.S. Bankruptcy Code and (2) to final confirmation and audit of the status of the loan with the holder of the security deed.
The entity that has full authority to negotiate, amend, and modify all terms of the mortgage with the debtor is: Planet Home Lending, LLC f/k/a Green Planet Servicing LLC, 321 Research Parkway, Suite 303, Meriden, CT 06450,
(866) 882-8187. To the best of the undersigned’s knowledge and belief, said property is also known as 2565 Cloud Lane, Decatur, Georgia, 30034, and the parties in possession of the property are Mario Antonio Payne and
Chrystina E. Robbins, nka Chrystina E. Payne or a tenant or tenants of said property.
Kenney & Medina, P.C., 3302 McGinnis Ferry Road, Suite 100, Suwanee, Georgia 30024,(770) 564-1600


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 13, 2016 • Page 17A

Jamba Juice offers nutrition-oriented fast food
by Kathy Mitchell

Jamba Juice in April held
grand openings at five area stores,
marking the brand’s expansion
into the Atlanta market. Among the
stores celebrating on April 23 was
the store on North Decatur Road.
Ernie Young, operations
director for the store—one of
several operated by Aimee and
Julian Peterson of For Pete’s
Sake LLC—said the Californiabased brand chose Atlanta as a
good match for the profile for its
health and wellness brand.
“I’m not sure what is included in
the profile, but the city of Decatur’s
fitness initiative and the closeness
to Emory University and Emory
Hospital were probably factors in
choosing the Decatur location,”

Young said.
During the grand opening,
customers were offered free
samples of the store’s signature
offering—fruit smoothies. “These
are all made from natural, straight
from the Earth ingredients and
need no added sweeteners to
taste delicious,” Young said. “Many
of our customers choose our
products because they’re healthful,
but some just like the taste.”
The menu also includes the
wide variety of fresh juices that
the brand originated with. While
waiting for their orders, customers
can watch a see-through machine
slice and squeeze fresh fruit.
“Boosts,” upping the caffeine,
vitamins, minerals or protein
content, can be added to drinks
and smoothies. “These are
all natural, created with such

ingredients as soy protein, ginseng
and green tea,” Young explained.
“We never use chemicals, artificial
colors or preservatives.
“Everything we offer is a betterfor-you alternative to what you find
at traditional fast-food restaurants.
At Jamba Juice you can grab a
quick bite to eat when you’re on
the go without sacrificing nutrition,”
Young said.
Jamba Juice also offers
oatmeal, available topped with
fresh fruit; energy bowls made
with such ingredients as fresh
fruit, yogurt, granola and honey;
baked goods, including artisan
flatbreads; breakfast wraps and
bistro sandwiches.
The company was started
in 1990 by California resident
Kirk Perron, who liked having
healthful snacks after exercising

and reasoned that others would as
well, Young explained. Unable to
convince banks the idea could be
parlayed into a profitable business,
Perron borrowed money from his
mother to open a business he first
called The Juice Club.
The Jamba Juice website
reports that the new business
had 2,600 customers during
its first weekend—and kept
growing. Perron then decided the
business needed a name that
better “reflected the fun, healthy
atmosphere that had cultivated
inside our walls.” The company
now has more than 800 locations
worldwide—some are corporate
owned and others, including the
North Decatur Road store, are


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

County schools improve in recent college prep scores
by R. Scott Belzer


he DeKalb County
School District
(DCSD) has shown
improvement in
college preparedness in
a scoresheet released by
the Georgia Department of
Education (DOE).
On May 3, the DOE
released College and
Career Ready Performance
Index (CCRPI) scores for
the 2014-2015 school year.
The CCRPI score is made
up of progress points,
achievement points and
achievement gap points.
The three types of points
add up to 100.
DCSD’s elementary,
middle and high schools
all showed at least 34
“progress points,” or
“percentage of students
earning typical or high
growth in performance on
statewide assessments
relative to students with
similar past achievement,”
according to the DOE.
In Georgia, schools
can earn a maximum of 40
progress points.
Achievement points
record student performance
on state assessments,
high school graduation
rates, and “[engagement]
in opportunities to prepare
them for college and
careers,” according to DOE.
DCSD high schools earned
28 of 50 achievement
Achievement gap
points, which are defined
by “the progress the
lowest-achieving quarter
of students are making”
when compared to the
state average, can also be
earned by schools. Out of a
possible 10, DCSD earned
6.7 at both the middle and
high school level and 5.8 at
the elementary level.
Schools can also earn
up to 10 challenge points
gauging the performance of
economically challenged,
disabled or English learning
students. Challenge
points can also be earned
by implementing “other
practices to prepare
students for college and
careers,” according to DOE.
“Our students
demonstrated significant
academic growth,” said
Superintendent Stephen
Green. “Learning comes
from mastering content and

our students are proving
they are making progress.”
At the high school level,
DCSD earned 36 progress
points, 28 achievement
points, 1.1 challenge points
and 6.7 achievement gap
points for a total score of
71.8 out of a possible 100.
Ten of the district’s
27 high schools showed
double-digit growth in
overall scores, including
McNair, Clarkston, Gateway
to College Academy,
Destiny Achievers Academy
of Excellence, Dunwoody,
Elizabeth Andrews, Tucker,
Arabia Mountain, and
Columbia high schools.
Arabia Mountain,
DeKalb Early College
Academy, and DeKalb
School of the Arts’ High
School each demonstrated
maximum growth (40
points) at the high school
level by scoring more than
90 CCRPI points.
Columbia was
considered eligible for an
Opportunity School District
(OSD), or school with a
three-year average CCRPI
score under 60. OSD
schools are considered
“persistently failing” by the
state and, as such, can be
temporarily taken over by
state authority following a
Following its 20142015 score, Columbia
High School is no longer
considered an OSD school.
Because of its 55 points or

higher three-year average,
Towers High School is on a
similar track.
At the middle school
level, DCSD earned 35.4
progress points, 24.2
achievement points and 6.7
achievement gap points for
a total score of 66.3.
According to a release
from DCSD, 17 of 31 middle
schools demonstrated
growth with Kittredge
Magnet and Wadsworth
Magnet earning maximum
growth (40 points). Kittredge
and DeKalb School of the
Arts’ middle school earned
a CCRPI score above 90.

The release also states
Freedom and Salem middle
schools are on track to be
considered a non-OSD
school within one to two
years, while Cedar Grove
could be off the list in two to
three years.
At the elementary
school level, DCSD schools
scored an average of 25.1
achievement points, 34
progress points and 5.8
achievement gap points.
Austin, Brockett,
Dunwoody, Idlewood, Indian
Creek, Laurel Ridge and
Wadsworth elementary
schools all demonstrated

maximum growth. Austin,
Dunwoody, Fernbank and
Vanderlyn all scored higher
than 90 in total CCRPI.
12 elementary schools
had double digit growth
with eight of these schools
being considered Title I,
or qualifying for free or
reduced lunch costs. A total
of 66 out of 84 elementary
schools in DeKalb County
showed growth.
Stoneview, Flat
Shoals and Meadowview
elementary schools were
deemed as “in need of
intensive, enhanced
assistance and services.”

Poochie ID# 30830324 is a sweet senior Poodle
mix that is looking for a home to spend her golden years.
She can’t see or hear, but her foster family says she gets
around just fine. She has a canine companion in her foster
home and they do great together. Poochie gets along with
cats too! Poochie is about ten years old and spends most
of her time keeping it pretty low-key, but she does hop and
play occasionally! Poochie is housetrained and heartworm
negative. If you are interested in meeting Poochie, please
email to set up a
Poochie qualifies for our May “Adopt a May Flower” promotion. Adoption is only $20 for dogs over
25 lbs. and for all cats! Adoption includes spay/neuter, vaccinations, microchip and more! If you would
like more information about Poochie please email or call (404)
294-2165. All potential adopters will be screened to ensure Poochie goes to a good home.


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

DeKalb NAACP clarifies E-SPLOST comments
by R. Scott Belzer

The National Association for the
Advancement of Colored People’s
(NAACP) DeKalb Branch recently
issued a press release clarifying
comments on the upcoming E-SLOST
On April 19, DeKalb’s NAACP
president John Evans wrote a letter
to DeKalb County School District
(DCSD) Superintendent Stephen
Green requesting “a project list or
criteria” for how the incoming $500
million E-SPLOST revenue will be
The special-purpose local-option
sales tax (SPLOST) is a method
for funding capital projects for
county governments. E-SPLOST, or
education specific tax, is an optional
1 percent sales tax in DeKalb County
that goes to a vote May 24.
“This branch neither questions the
integrity or the intent of the DeKalb
School Board nor the superintendent
to put the resources where they are
needed,” Evans wrote. “However,
the process of asking the voters to

John Evans

first approve the ballot initiative, then
to have a July-September period
for public meetings on system and
project selection criteria, followed by
a Nov. 5 review of the project list and
a Dec. 7 approval of the project list is
somewhat disconcerting. This is not
the transparency that the citizens of
DeKalb deserve.”
The letter continues in requesting
a “formula which will be used to
expend the $500 million in anticipated
E-SPLOST extension funds.” The
letter specifically asks for attention
to projects listed in the E-SPLOST
IV, including Stone Mountain High
School renovations, McNair Middle

School replacement and Rockbridge
Elementary School replacement.
The letter also requests attention
to renovations at Clarkston and
Towers High Schools, overcrowding at
Cross Keys High School, renovations
at Redan High School and “other
old schools which have not received
any funds from the current of past
E-SPLOST referendums.”
“The NAACP stands ready to
support an equitable and transparent
E-SPLOST initiative and request the
above-mentioned information in order
to garner that support,” reads the
On April 26, the Atlanta
Journal-Constitution published
a story titled “NAACP to DeKalb
Schools: E-SPLOST proposal lacks
transparency,” in which reporter
Marlon Walker referred to the DeKalb
Branch of the NAACP “the latest
opponent of [DCSD’s] E-SPLOST
However, according to another
letter written by Evans, the DeKalb
Branch’s concerns were alleviated the
previous day.
On April 27, Evans wrote an

apology letter to Green stating
“the meeting so graciously held on
Monday, April 25 and the promised
data were sufficient to address the
concerns of this branch.”
“The online news post regarding
the letter was disingenuous,” Evans
wrote. “The NAACP DeKalb Branch
has not stated that it is opposed to
E-SPLOST V and I will inform that
news source of their misinterpretation
of facts.”
On April 28, Evans released a
press release stating Walker’s article
was “deliberately misleading,” and that
the NAACP DeKalb Branch has not
taken any position on the E-SPLOST
vote. Evans again clarified how the
branch’s concerns were alleviated
during the April 25 meeting.
“The NAACP wanted assurance
that the funds generated by
E-SPLOST V would be equitably
expended throughout the county and
would address the greatest school
needs,” the letter states. “The NAACP
was completely satisfied with the
outcome of that meeting.”
Evans stated a retraction has
since been requested.

Educational profile: Susan McWethy
For more than eight years,
one DeKalb County educator
has been providing students
and teachers with valuable
resources: the written word.
Susan McWethy, a media
center specialist – or librarian
– at Druid Hills Middle School,
said she considers herself and
others in her field all-around
educators and providers.
“It’s nice to come to the
library and relax, refresh, get
away and escape,” McWethy
said. “That’s what [we] do
for everybody. We provide
resources for teachers; we
collaborate on teaching
classes; and we provide good
reading material for students.”
McWethy would know, as
she’s been a French teacher
in multiple continents for many
years. As a French major from
the University of North Dakota,
McWethy taught the language
– as well as English – in such
places as North Dakota,
Missouri, England and even
Australia before bringing her
talents to Atlanta in 1993.
She has since earned an
additional degree from Georgia
State University.
“Something [about
education] was interesting
to me,” McWethy said. “It’s
inherently interesting and fun.
It’s extremely important. When
working with children, it’s
exciting to watch them learn
new things and watching little
lights turn on in brains.”
McWethy said she needed
a change due to the nature of

education changing.
“Teaching has become
more and more challenging,”
McWethy said. “More is
expected of teachers and
they’re not getting as much
support as they need.”
That change led McWethy
to the library. Here, she says,
she is able to teach all students
without specificity. Surrounded
by books, she can aid the entire
school in access to information
and finding the perfect story.

“We focus on two
extremely important skills:
reading and research,”
McWethy said. “Reading is
pleasure as much as learning;
you need to enjoy learning,
and reading is a way to do that.
It gives context for learning.
Research is something we do
all the time, every day, when
we ask questions.”
In addition to being a
librarian, McWethy runs Druid
Hills Middle School’s website

and has coached the school’s
reading bowl team. She
considers her overall goal as
an educator to make learning
accessible and enjoyable, a
goal she says she hopes to
have accomplished.
The 2015-2016 school year
marked McWethy’s final year
in the DeKalb County School
System before retirement.
McWethy said she plans
on devoting her free time to
reading and travelling.
Susan McWethy



The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 13, 2016 • Page 20A



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The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 13, 2016 • Page 21A

Girls go the distance in state track meet
by Carla Parker
DeKalb County did not have a
team hoist a first place award at the
Georgia High School Association
girls’ track-and-field state meet in
Albany on May 7.
However, five teams—Marist,
Cedar Grove, Tucker, Chamblee,
Stephenson—finished in the top 10
of their respective classifications.
Marist finished second in the
Class AAAA state meet with 62
points behind state champions
Monroe−Albany, which scored
81 points. Marist was led by
Josie Wirtz, who won gold in the
1,600-meter run (5:07.17) and the
3,200-meter run (10:54.72).
Tamira Gitonga was the
other gold medalist—winning the
300-meter hurdles with a time of
42.21. Meg Fennelly finished third
in the 800-meter run with a time
of 2:21.02. Kamryn Brinson won
silver in the shot put (41-01.00) and
Anais Marenco won bronze in the
pole vault (10-00.00).
Chamblee tied for sixth place
in the Class AAAA meet with
28.50 points. Chamblee was led
by Venida Fagan who won silver
in the 400-meter dash (54.53).
St. Pius’ Myia Dorsey won the
400-meter dash at a time of 54.44.
Chamblee’s 4x100 team added
to the team’s score with a secondplace finish (46.91).
Arabia Mountain finished 11th
with 22 points, led by gold medalist
Destinee Rocker who won the
100-meter hurdles (14.11) Jazmine
Johnson finished third in the shot
put with a throw of 38-02.47.
St. Pius placed 15th with 22
points, led by Dorsey, who also
placed third in the 200-meter dash
Redan placed 16th with 17
points, Columbia tied at 25th with
five points and Cross Keys finished
32nd with three points.
In Class AAAAAA, Tucker
finished fifth with 38 points.
Kaylah Lumsden won gold in

Marist’s Josie Wirtz won gold in the 1,600-meter run and the 3,200-meter run.

the 100-meter dash with a time of
11.74. Emoni Coleman finished
second in the 800-meter run with a
time of 2:11.44.
Lakeside tied for 28th place
with four points.
Cedar Grove also had a top
10 finish, placing fifth in the Class
AAA state meet with 32.50. Amani
Taylor led Cedar Grove with a first-

place finish in the discus throw with
a throw of 123-09.
McNair, which placed 13th,
was led by Ashanti Johnson
who placed second in both the
100-meter dash (12.33) and the
200-meter dash (25.06).
In Class AAAAA, Stephenson
finished 10th with 21 points.
Timberly Molden led Stephenson

with first-place finishes in the shot
put (43-08.50) and the discus throw
Dunwoody, which finished
25th with eight points, was led by
Ansley Heavern who won bronze
in the 1,600-meter run (5:10.47).
M.L. King finished tied for 28th
place with six points.


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

St. Pius goes it alone in baseball playoffs

by Carla Parker
The St. Pius Golden Lions
were the lone team from
DeKalb County to play in
the quarterfinals of the state
baseball playoffs on May 10.
St. Pius hosted Eastside
May 10 in the Class AAAA
playoffs for a best of three
series. Scores were not
available by press time.
The Golden Lions advanced
to the quarterfinals after
sweeping West Laurens 6-5 and
8-4 in the second round.
Marist fell to Veterans at
home in three games in the
second round. Marist lost the
first game 11-6, came back and
won the second game 8-0, but
fell in the clinching game 2-1.
Lakeside was swept by
Lambert in the second round of
the Class AAAAA playoffs and
was held scoreless. Lambert
won the first game 2-0 and the
second game 10-0.
Decatur also lost in the
second round, falling to
Cedartown in the Class AAA
playoffs. Decatur lost 5-2 in the
first game and fell 13-8 in the
second game.

Lakeside pitcher Cole Chisholm throws out a pitch. Photo by Mark Brock

Rickey Gross leaving DeKalb athletics
by Carla Parker
A familiar face will no longer be on
the sidelines when the 2016 DeKalb
County high school football season kicks
off in August.
Assistant coach and equipment
manager Rickey Gross moved to
Monroe, N.C., to be the running back
coach and equipment manager at
Central Academy of Technology and
Arts. Gross also will coach at North
Carolina Sports University in Concord,
“I applied for the job back in
December,” Gross said. “The best thing
about leaving is that I have an aunt in
Raleigh whose health is not doing to
good and I need to be near her.”
Gross has been in DeKalb County
for more than 30 years and involved with
the athletic programs at Stone Mountain,
Druid Hills and Arabia Mountain high
schools as an equipment manager and
assistant coach.
Gross, who has scoliosis, also
assisted in activities at Hallford Stadium,
and was custodian for the school
district for 20 years before his second
back surgery forced him to leave his
custodian job.
Gross said he connected with the
baseball staff at North Carolina Sports
University when recruiters came to
recruit one of Arabia Mountain High
School pitchers.

Rickey Gross, who spent more than 30 years assisting at multiple high school athletic programs, moved to North Carolina. File photo

“The guy called me, wanting to know
a little bit more about the kid,” Gross
said. “And he asked me if I wanted to
put ‘college’ on my resume, and I said
‘yeah.’ They’re going to let me [assist in]
basketball, baseball and I’m going to do
Gross said he excited about his new
jobs, but will miss all of the students he
has worked with.

Chris Chilton, athletics specialist
of the DeKalb County School District
athletic department, said Gross’ love for
his school sports has been significant in
the county.
“He has put in a lot of time and effort
without getting much in return because
of his love for the kids and sports,”
Chilton said. “He is someone that is very
acknowledged in DeKalb County.”


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 13, 2016 • Page 23A

Carla’s Corner:

Young athletes: Don’t be a Laremy Tunsil

A self-recorded video of Laremy Tunsil smoking an unknown substance through a bong gas mask was posted through his Twitter account minutes before the 2016 NFL
draft. The once-projected top-5 pick dropped to No. 13 to the Miami Dolphins.


FL Draft night is
supposed to be a special
night for NFL draft
The players dress
up in their finest suits, walk the red
carpet with family members and
get to experience the fame of an
NFL player as they patiently wait
to get a call from an NFL team
informing them that they have
been drafted.
The night did not go that
smoothly for offensive lineman
Laremy Tunsil.
Tunsil, a former Ole Miss
player, was sitting in the green
room with his family, friends and
other players at the Auditorium
Theatre of Roosevelt University in
Chicago on April 28 when a selfrecorded video of him smoking
an unknown substance through
a bong gas mask was posted
through his Twitter account
minutes before the 2016 NFL draft.
People began retweeting the
video, NFL media began reporting
on it and Tunsil had no idea
because his Instagram and Twitter
accounts had been hacked.

Carla Parker

Sports Editor


At that moment, Tunsil’s NFL
career and life took a major hit.
Tunsil, who was once considered
the No. 1 draft prospect, saw
his draft stock drop immediately.
Teams that needed offensive line
help passed on Tunsil.
ESPN reported that the
Baltimore Ravens would have
drafted Tunsil at No. 6 if the video
had not surfaced on social media.
The Ravens selected Notre Dame
offensive tackle Ronnie Stanley.

Tunsil’s dreams of being
selected in the first round were
quickly fading away until the Miami
Dolphins selected him with the
13th pick.
The slide from a top five pick
to 13th reportedly cost Tunsil $7
Minutes after he was drafted,
Tunsil did not make the night
easier for himself.
During his post-draft press
conference, an image appeared
on Tunsil’s Instagram account
showing a text message
conversation allegedly between
Ole Miss assistant athletic director
John Miller and Tunsil. In the
messages, Tunsil asked Miller for
money to cover his rent and his
mother’s electric bills.
When Tunsil was made aware
of this leak during the press
conference, he admitted that
he did receive money from the
coach—which is a NCAA violation.
There were reports that Tunsil’s
stepfather was behind the hacking.
Tunsil’s stepfather filed a suit
against him three days before the
NFL draft steaming from a fight

between the two men in 2015.
Tunsil said he was protecting his
mother from his stepfather, who he
alleged was abusing his mother.
Tunsil’s stepfather told TMZ.
com that he was not behind the
hacking. There were also reports
that a financial adviser, who
worked for Tunsil and was fired
days before the draft, was behind
the hacking.
Whoever was behind the
hacking will get what’s coming to
them. However, young athletes
should take notice of what
happened to Tunsil and let it be
a valuable lesson: do not make
dumb decisions that will cost you
millions of dollars.
It is understandable that
teenagers sometimes make bad
choices, but they should never
record those bad choices. We live
in a world where nothing is kept
secret. Anything you do or say can
be recorded or photographed, and
it can be released to the public.
Don’t be the laughing stock of
social media on one of the biggest
nights of your life. Don’t be a
Laremy Tunsil.


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 13, 2016 • Page 24A

Senior Connections to host seventh annual senior prom in May

Senior Connections, a local
nonprofit organization providing
home and community-based
services to seniors in metro
Atlanta and middle Georgia,
will spotlight Dr. Donald and
Mary Ellen Harp of Peachtree
Road United Methodist Church
as guests of honor at the 2016
Senior Prom, scheduled for
Saturday, May 21, at the Thalia
N. Carlos Hellenic Center in
The Harps will receive Senior
Connections’ 2016 “Community
Connections” Award, which
recognizes older adults who
are outstanding business and
community leaders and who
have given back significantly to
their communities.
The Harps’ commitment to
community extends far beyond
the church. In addition to his
leadership position at Peachtree
Road United Methodist, Dr. Harp
also serves on the boards of
both Fidelity Bank and Fidelity
Southern Corporation as well
as a member of the Buckhead
Coalition and a Trustee of Young

Harris College. He currently
teaches at the Candler School
of Theology at Emory University.
He received his undergraduate
degree from Huntingdon
College, his Masters of Divinity
from Emory University and
his Doctorate of Divinity from
McCormick Theological Seminary
at the University of Chicago.
Mrs. Harp delivered Meals
on Wheels with different
groups throughout her life. She
continues to participate in the

United Women’s Methodist
monthly meetings where she
writes hundreds of notes with
the group to seniors on a regular
basis. A recent $10 million
Youth Center was erected and
dedicated as the Don and Mary
Ellen Harp Youth Center. Most of
the youth who attend the center
today are the same babies Mrs.
Harp rocked in the nursery.
The Harps will receive their
award at Senior Connections’
2016 Senior Prom, with this

year’s theme “Celebrating
Aging!” WSB-TV news reporter
Audrey Washington will serve
as emcee for the event, and local
“soul line dancing” phenomenon
Beulah Boys will perform. The
event will also include dinner,
dancing and a silent auction.
Senior Prom’s corporate
sponsors include Fidelity Bank,
Choate Construction, Autotrader,
Senior Life Services, Publix,
Georgia Natural Gas, Young
Harris College, Georgia Power,
Silverman CPM, Emory Alliance
Credit Union, Kaiser Permanente
and Brooks, McGinnis &
Company LLC.
All proceeds raised will
provide funding for Senior
Connections’ programs and
operational expenses.
For more information about
the event, including becoming a
corporate sponsor, purchasing
tickets and/or donating silent
auction items, contact Sharon
Steele at (770) 216-2576 or