FRiDaY, MaY 20, 2016 • Vol. 19, no. 5 • 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 ................................21-24A







Dunwoody is set to relocated its city hall to 4800 Ashford Dunwoody
Road, which currently houses Community & Southern Bank. Photo
provided by the city of Dunwoody

Interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May and Commissioner Larry Johnson plant flowers outside the new code
enforcement building.

Dunwoody moves forward

County launches beautification unit with city hall purchase
by Andrew Cauthen

by R. Scott Belzer

Being smarter about keeping the county clean is the
goal of a new entity in DeKalb
With the May 12 launch of
the Keep DeKalb Beautiful
Beautification Unit, several
existing entities under one
umbrella: Code Enforcement, Marcus Kellum is the head of the new beautification unit.
Foreclosure/Vacant Property
Registry, the mowing and herbicide and the litter abatement
Previously housed in
various buildings around the
county, the beautification unit
will be located at 1807 Candler Road in Decatur in the
old community development
The new unit, which eventually will have approximately
190 staff members, will “allow

See Beautification on Page 5A

Dunwoody’s police department, city staff, council,
mayor and municipal court will call a new building
home in late 2017 or early 2018.
Following a two-year search for an “optimum
location,” Dunwoody city council approved the purchase of an office building at 4800 Ashford Dunwoody Road with the intent of establishing a new
city hall.
The new building will cost the city approximately
$8.25 million. Another $20,000 will be used to obtain
a professional evaluation of the building.
Dunwoody has used an office building behind the
Crowne Plaza Ravinia across from Perimeter Mall
as its city hall since 2009. According to city officials,
Dunwoody’s city staff and police department currently occupy approximately 33,000 square feet.
The new location, offering 45,000 square feet and
180 parking spaces, is approximately 1 mile north
along Ashford Dunwoody Road near Ashford Gables
Drive and Valley View Road. The facility was built in
1994 and currently houses Community & Southern

The county’s new code enforcement building is on Candler Road.




See Dunwoody on Page 5A



The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 20, 2016 • Page 2A

DeKalb super: Students make ʻeconomy of tomorrowʼ

by R. Scott Belzer
DeKalb County School
District (DCSD) Superintendent Stephen Green
weighed in on the controversial tax allocation district
(TAD) conversation in an essay released May 5.
A TAD being proposed in
Doraville would help finance
multi-purpose redevelopment
of the 165-acre former GM
assembly plant. The project
requires participation from
the school district and county
commission, but DCSD has
denied formal presentations
from developers, Doraville
and other project supporters
on the grounds that the majority of the school board does
not support the project.
In addition, Green has
stated the district is in the
business of education, not
funding private projects.
Doraville Mayor Donna
Pittman has released an OPED piece and taken the time
in Doraville’s 2016 State of
the City Address to discuss
the topic’s importance. The
developers have since said
the project may be downgraded from a multi-use complex
to strip malls, residential buildings and auto-dealerships if
the TAD is not established.
On May 5, Green’s essay
“The little engine that does,”
equated DCSD to the children’s story The Little Engine
That Could in supporting its
102,000 student body and regional economy.
“Let’s be clear; first and
foremost, our school district
offers children a safe, stable
setting for their schoolwork
and social life,” Green writes.
“And we offer parents and
families the assurance that
every child will be respected
and taught in a healthy, holistic environment.”
Green then detailed how
DCSD financially supports the
area through preparing the
next generation for job creation, wage earning, tax paying and responsible citizenry.
“We also create the
economy of tomorrow in our
classrooms,” Green writes.
The first part of this engine, according to Green, is
the 15,407 employees, including 6,543 teachers.
“This makes the district
the second largest employer
in the county right behind
the Emory University complex,” Green writes. “Most of
the $634 million these good

Stephen Green, right, has been supported and opposed in his opinions regarding the Doraville TAD.

people make annually in competitive salaries goes straight
back into our Atlanta-area
economy, not into the coffers
of corporations in other states
or into the pockets of realty
Green writes the school
district has spent more than
$128 million in E-SPLOST
funds in partnership with local
businesses in the Atlanta region. The superintendent said
this amount was between
$210 million to $255 million if
one were “include a multiplier
effect for local sub-contractors
and other services.”
“The fact is that our little
economic engine turns out
not to be so little after all,”

Green writes.
Green also mentions how
an improving school district
has been responsible for attracting new residents and
businesses, specifically citing the district’s 11 percent
increase in graduation rates,
workshops for un- and underemployed parents, dual-degree programs and advanced
placement (AP) test expansion.
“When Daimler Benz
North American recently announced the relocation of its
headquarters to the area, it
partly based the decision on
the quality of local education,” Green writes. “And
Ray Gilley, president of the

On May 24, Vote
To Keep Judge
Clarence Seeliger

• Over 30 years’ Judicial Experience
• Lifetime Commitment to Ending
Domestic Abuse
• Dignity in DeKalb Courts

Facebook: SeeligerForJudge2016

Decide DeKalb Development Authority, recently said
DeKalb County is entering
a period where we will “continue seeing growth.” One
reason Gilley cited [being] our
‘very much improving school
district’ and a large, quality
workforce (thank you, DeKalb
Green concludes in asking businesses, local and
state governments to support
its local system, “instead of
[being] at odds with it.”
“The sparks thrown off
by the school district’s economic engine glow all around
us,” Green writes. “Some
examples may surprise – we
deliver economic value, with-

out pavement or pollution, in
unexpected, non-traditional
Green has found support
from the county he serves at
public meetings held in April
and May.
On April 18, former DCSD
board of education member
Paul Womack commended
the current board for opposing the TAD. Womack said
the developers knew the cost
before investing in the project
and should take responsibility.
Womack also echoed Green’s
sentiments of being an economic developer by way of
educating young minds.
“In 2009, we were asked
as a board to support a TAD
on Peachtree Road,” Womack said. “This board turned it
down because we realized we
had taken an oath to educate
children, not become bankers
for people who invest money.
Your oath is the same as we
took – to educate children.
You’re not in the business of
making millions of dollars for
On May 9, the board received similar support from
Ernest Brown, who commended Womack’s initiative.
See related story on page


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 20, 2016 • Page 3A

aVondale eStateS
Community club to host auction

The Avondale Community Club will hold its annual auction May 21 at
the club, 59 Lakeshore Drive. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. For more
information, visit

City to host dog event

Brookhaven second annual “Bark in the Park” will be held June 4,
10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Brookhaven Park. The event will feature music, dog
trick demonstrations, dog-related vendors, pet adoptions, food trucks
and beverages. All dogs will receive a gift to take home. All dogs must
be on a leash. Admission is free. The park is located at 4158 Peachtree
Road. Call (404) 637-0518 for more information.


City digitizes court payments
The city of Chamblee is now offering a more convenient way to pay traffic
In late April, Chamblee announced it had partnered with nCourt, a
“nationally recognized electronic payment provider,” to allow online payments
for traffic citations and other similar fines.
The website will allow for payments to be made “quickly and safely,”
according to city officials. The website will be available at any time, day or
“Not all citations require the defendant to appear in court,” reads
Chamblee’s website. “Depending upon the charges, many citations may be
paid before the court date in lieu of appearing in traffic court.”
MasterCard, VISA, American Express and Discover cards are accepted
as forms of payment in addition to debit cards. Customers may also pay by
phone by calling (855) 619-0150.
For more information, visit Chamblee’s municipal court website at


Milam pool celebrates opening
Clarkston will open Milam Park Pool, located at 3867 Norman Road,
on May 27. The event will include free admission, door prize giveaways
and music from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The park will remain open until Labor Day
Milam Park’s pool features a toddler pool, a kid’s pool as well as a lap
pool. It also features umbrella shaped fountains. The park also features a
dog park, tennis courts, playground, soccer field and baseball field.
Following Milam Park Pool’s opening, a $2 fee will be required for
admission for children and $3 for adults. Non-residents will pay more and
seasonal passes are also available.
For more information,


Community service board to meet
The May 26 board meeting of the DeKalb Community Service Board
is open to the public for those who are interested in services for mental
health, addiction and developmental disabilities.
The meeting will be held at 4 p.m. at 445 Winn Way, Room 421,
The advocacy committee meeting will be held in the same room at 3
p.m. and is also open to the public.
The audit, finance and compliance meeting will be held in the same
room on Tuesday, May 24, at noon, and also is open to the public.
Those with disabilities in need of assistance or accommodations to
participate in the meeting, please notify Community Relations at (404)

Farmers market owner to address DeKalb Chamber
awards luncheon

The DeKalb Chamber of Commerce has announced that Robert
Blazer, founder and owner of Your DeKalb Farmers Market, will be the
keynote speaker for its 2016 APEX Business Awards on Wednesday,
May 25.
The market, which was founded 40 years ago, employs an
ethnically diverse staff representing 50 countries. The farmers market
serves an average of 100,000 customers per week, the news release
The awards luncheon will take place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.
at the Atlanta Marriott Century Center, 2000 Industrial Boulevard NE,
Tickets to attend are $60 for chamber members and $75 for
nonmembers and guests. For more information and to register, visit


City to host public input meeting on growth
Residents wishing to voice their opinions on Dunwoody’s growth can
do so at Dunwoody City Hall May 24 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Dunwoody will host a public information and input meeting at which
residents have the opportunity to have impact info the city’s parks and
recreation master plan. The master plan is used to guide the city’s
growth in infrastructure as well as green space.
The meeting will also allow citizens to discuss survey findings
regarding the city with officials.
Dunwoody City Hall is located at 41 Perimeter Center East. For
more information visit

Nature Center to host summer camps
Registration is now open for a series of summer camps at the
Dunwoody Nature Center.
Beginning May 31, the center will host a series of full and halfday summer camps for kids aged 3 to 11 years old (or pre-K to fifth
grade). The four-day camps will feature such themes as “Up in the Air,”
“Nature’s Hide and Seek,” “Wilderness Adventure,” “Reptile Roundup,”
“Creek Week,” “Jeepers Creepers,” “Forest Adventures,” and more.
Each camp will allow students to participate in nature discoveries,
trail walks, arts and crafts, science experiments, games, free play and
In 2015, the Nature Center “served nearly 800 children through [the]
camps at Dunwoody Park and Island Ford.”
“Were their parents satisfied?” asks the event’s description. “You
bet! Among surveyed respondents, 99 percent said that they would
recommend the Nature Center’s camps to a friend and 98 percent plan
to return this summer.”
Camps will run until August 18. Half day camps for 3 and 4 year-olds
will cost $150 for members and $185 for non-members. Full day camps
will cost $240 for members and $275 for non-members. Camps taking
place at Island Ford Park will cost $265 for members and $290 for nonmembers.
For more information, contact Holly Loveland, summer camp
director, at

Stone Mountain
City to host music event

The Hannah Thomas Duo will perform May 27 at Stone Mountain’s
Tunes By The Tracks event in the Municipal Parking Lot, next to the
gazebo. Attendees can bring their lawn chairs. The two-hour concert
begins at 7 p.m. Tunes By The Tracks will be held every Friday until
June 24. For more information, visit


Efrain espinosa

For approximately 25 years,
Efrain Espinosa has been visiting
inmates at the DeKalb County Jail.
Espinosa, a member of
Atlanta’s Holy Cross Catholic
Church, is one of approximately 80
volunteer chaplains.
“I’m visiting the Hispanic
inmates,” Espinosa said about his
volunteer role. “I just try to bring
them the good word, the good
news that they are not alone, that
Jesus is with them and that there’s
hope for them.”
Espinosa said he tries to get
inmates to realize that “there can
be a change in them.”
“We just pray to God that [the

change] would be soon,” said
Espinosa, who visits the jail every
To augment his ministry at the
jail, Espinosa has recruited nine
others to ensure that the “Hispanic
community has more opportunities
to receive the word of God. They
are in need.”
“Doing it by myself, I’m not able
to fulfill my goal–to bring the word
of God at least two or three times
a month,” said Espinosa, adding
that he was unable to visit all of the
Hispanic inmates each month.
“Inmates on one side of the jail
would not be seen for two or three
months,” Espinosa said. “I needed

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 20, 2016 • Page 4A

more volunteers so [inmates]
could receive the good news more
Espinosa said his fellow
volunteers “like to keep coming
because they feel it from the
bottom of their hearts. This is a
good ministry for them.
“In the near future we’re
planning to bring in some more
volunteers,” Espinosa said.
Working with the inmates has
been very rewarding, he said.
“I [am] appreciative very
much to God that he gave me the
opportunity to come over here and
also to the sheriff to allow us to do
our ministry,” Espinosa said.

Efrain Espinosa

Volunteers honored by Sheriffʼs Office
by Andrew Cauthen
Pastor Ron Brown, a minister
at Spirit and Truth Sanctuary in
Decatur, has been a chaplain
at the DeKalb County Jail for
approximately 20 years.
His motivation for volunteering
at the jail is personal.
“Well, I was in jail myself once,
and for that reason I know that—
I’m not trying to brag on myself—
some of the best men in the world
pass through here,” Brown said.
DeKalb County Sheriff Jeffrey Mann said
“So you never know who you’re
volunteers provide an essential service to
going to meet. You just come and
try to do what you think God wants
you to do.”
“Your actions consistently help
Brown was one of
to ease the spiritual burden of our
approximately 80 volunteers
inmate population, thus easing the
who provide services to inmates
burden of our staff,” Tolbert told
and their families recognized
volunteers. “For that, we are truly
by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s
Office May 12 during an Annual
Melissa Manroe, director of
Volunteer Appreciation Banquet.
accreditation and inmate service,
The volunteers support
told volunteers that they deserve
DeKalb County Jail’s multicultural
more than a meal “because we
Chaplaincy Service Program,
know, coming to work here every
Sheriff’s Office Inmate Educational day, that this is not an easy place
Services and court-mandated drug to come into.
“For those who are here
As a chaplain, Brown said his
unwillingly, it’s incredibly difficult,”
“job is to try to come get [inmates], Manroe said. “For those who keep
if I can, before things get too
watch over those who are here
serious. My job is—if there’s
unwillingly, it can be as difficult in
somebody that’s maybe has done
many ways. A volunteer such as
some time before but they’re
[you] can make all the difference.”
almost out—to try to encourage
DeKalb County Sheriff Jeffrey
them to get out and stay out.
Mann told volunteers, “We
“That’s why I do it,” Brown
cannot…manage this environment
said. “Jesus says, ‘I was in jail
and this sheriff’s office without
and you came to visit me not.’
your servant leadership.
Somebody’s got to do it.”
“What you do makes a
Col. Larry Tolbert, DeKalb’s
difference in the lives of the more
chief jailer, said the appreciation
than 2,300 individuals we have in
banquet is held because “it is
this facility here today who have
essential to tell our volunteers how temporarily lost their freedom of
grateful we are for their committed movement,” Mann said. “We are
grateful for your help to make their

More than 80 volunteers who provide services for inmates and their families were
honored by the DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

lives better during such a difficult
Mann said the volunteers help
him fulfill one of his objectives
which is to “make sure...that
people who come into this facility
leave just a little bit better off than
when they first came to the facility.
“The entire community of
DeKalb County...owes a great debt

of gratitude to you all for reshaping
the behaviors of those individuals
that we see here,” Mann said.
Mann thanked the chaplaincy
program for logging more than
5,100 hours of volunteer service
in 2015 and “for bringing hope to
inmates by providing them a link to
their faith-based beliefs while they
are incarcerated here.”

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 20, 2016


Page 5A


Continued From Page 1A

DeKalb County Commissioner Larry
Johnson said the beautification unit
will make a difference in the county.

DeKalb County Commissioner
Kathie Gannon said she will focus
on legislation addressing the litter

Interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May said
the county needs to be smarter about
beautification. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Beautification Continued From Page 1A
us to focus on the beautification of the entirety of this county,” interim DeKalb County
CEO Lee May said. “We want our county
to be beautiful, visually aesthetic. We have
to be smarter in how we deliver those [services].
“So with this new beautification unit, we
are now bringing in many different functions
under one business unit,” he said.
As part of the new endeavor the county is
deploying a new litter abatement unit.
“We are hiring employees to do one thing
and one thing only—go around the county
and pick up the public right of way,”
May said.
“When people won’t do the right things—
when they take the Coke bottles and
Church’s chicken bags and dump them on
the side of the street, we now have staff that
will work to help pick that up,” he said.
“I know this is something that has been a
long time coming,” said Commissioner Kathie Gannon.
“We are a beautiful county,” Gannon said.
“We just need to get this to layer off the
ground so everyone can see that and begin
to take pride in that and begin to take responsibility for it. In the meantime we’re going to help you along by picking some of that
stuff up ourselves.”

Gannon said some of the causes of litter
must be addressed through legislation that
she plans to work on.
“There are entirely too many fast food
restaurants without garbage cans, and
people walking around with fast food in their
hands and when they’re done, they throw it,”
Gannon said. “For those people who don’t
know where to put their Coke bottles...and
their trash, we have a lot of education to do.
“This is our county,” Gannon said. “We
need to start pick up after ourselves.”
Commissioner Larry Johnson said county beautification is “a village effort.”
The beautification unit “is not the panacea for…all the litter being picked up in the
county, because government cannot do this
by itself,” Johnson said.
“The government is not throwing down
the trash,” he said. “It’s going to take all of
us working together” on beautification.
Johnson said he is excited about the
beautification unit because “it’s going to
make a difference in this community.”
Marcus Kellum, head of the beautification unit, said the unit is “the natural synergy
that we always needed.”
The unit will “prove to folks that we care
about our county and how it looks,” Kellum

“We performed extensive assessments and
evaluations of available, existing or vacant
properties within the city to see which might
be the most beneficial solution for our citizens
and city staff,” said Dunwoody Mayor Denis
Shortal. “As city leaders and staff reviewed
options, the 4800 building rose to the top of
our list as the most fiscally prudent and logistically sound choice.”
City Manager Eric Linton formally presented the item before the Dunwoody council for
approval with a slide presentation during its biweekly meeting held May 9. Linton explained
the city has a 90-day period to look over the
property before making a final decision, after
which the city will move into a 30-day closing
“The purchase is contingent upon council’s
approval on it tonight,” Linton said. “It’s an active building so, at first glance, we don’t foresee any major issues with it. We do want to
check the mechanical and roof system to see
what kind of condition they are in.”
Other city officials said the purchase seeks
to fulfill multiple goals: allowing for future
growth, obtaining a central identity, obtaining
an identity and building equity.
Shortal said the new building would give
Dunwoody City Hall a visibility that’s “second
to none.”
Councilman John Heneghan said the
building is a good fit for the city. The District 6
representative’s only concern involved being
in compliance in terms of sustainability.
“Great building, great location, good price,”
Heneghan said. “It’s going to suit our needs
for a long time.”
Councilman Terry Nall said the building
could serve either short or long term, as Dunwoody has considered properties closer to the
newly opened Park at Pernoshal Court with
active leases.
“That’s still on the horizon; it’s not forgotten,” Nall said.
According to the purchase agreement between Dunwoody, JHJ 4800 Ashford, LLC, and
RCB 4800 Ashford, LLC, current tenants have
until January and May, 2017 to relocate.
The council unanimously passed the resolution to purchase the property at 4800 Ashford Dunwoody Road. The city has already
made a $50,000 refundable deposit on the
property according to its city manager.

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 20, 2016


Page 6A

A lesson to learn from the death of Prince
The untimely death of
music phenomenon Prince
has left fans around the world
The tributes on radio, TV
and social media continue to
pour in as the enormity of his
body of work and influence
on contemporary culture is
beginning to be fully realized
and appreciated. Many, too,
are learning just how savvy
Prince Rogers Nelson was
in his business dealings. Not
only did his genius result in
such iconic hits as Purple
Rain and Little Red Corvette,
he also masterminded a
plan for independence and
creative freedom in the
business of making music.
After getting out of a contract
with Warner Bros., the singer/

Gale Horton Gay

Lifestyle Editor
also was an innovator,
distributing his own music
and creating his own studio.
His estate is estimated to be
worth $300 million.
However, the life and

death of Prince is also a
cautionary tale for the rest
of us—die without a will and
those we love are likely to
be left with a mess on their
hands. Prince’s family—one
sister, several half-siblings
and other relatives coming
out of the woodwork to claim
kinship to the late artist—
are at the very beginning
of what’s likely to be a
long process of interaction
with a court-appointed
administrator, lawyers and
other representatives to see
who gets what.
One doesn’t have to be
a superstar or have assets in
the millions to cause turmoil
upon one’s demise.
For those who die
intestate, without a will,

there’s no guarantee who will
inherit their estate—savings,
investments, real estate
and other property. In cases
where there’s no spouse, the
state steps in to determine
how and to whom the assets
should be distributed. In
contested situations, the
process could be long and
tedious and the outcome is
not guaranteed to satisfy the
parties involved.
The term “estate” sounds
grand but legally it refers to
any possessions—everything
from a few meager items
to extensive holdings and
According to a survey by
Rocket Lawyer, 51 percent
of Americans age 55 to 64
don’t have a will and among

the general population 64
percent of people have
not documented their final
Unless one has a wicked
sense of humor or despises
their loved ones, why put
them through the additional
emotional upheaval of
dealing with lawyers and
courts and trying to figure out
what to do with what’s left
Prince will be long
remembered for his brilliance
in music and the music
industry. Maybe the spotlight
on the battle over his assets
will spur some of us to get
our affairs in order so our
loved ones don’t face similar
drama when we die.

letter to the Editor

The Newslady’s slate of candidates
by Steen Miles
Early voting began May 2
ahead of the May 24 primary.
I would like to offer my
thoughts about candidates
for various DeKalb County
offices in the Democratic
Who am I to be so bold as
to suggest who one should
strongly consider voting
for? I am asked so often
privately that it makes sense
to offer my thoughts publicly.
Here are my credentials. I
am a 36-year resident and
observer of DeKalb County
people and politics. My two
daughters attended DeKalb
public schools. I worship in
the county. I reported on the
county as a multiple awardwinning reporter with the
local NBC affiliate. I served
the county in numerous
capacities including PTA,
business, education, social/
civic organizations, the
Chamber of Commerce and
received nearly 300 awards
for community service–not
the least of which is having
served as senator for the
43rd district.
I’m a senior citizen who
speaks only that which I
know. I know where the
bodies are buried and who
buried them!
I will only offer my
opinion on the contested
races. Those on the ballot


unopposed speaks volumes
as to the need to keep them.
So, fasten your seatbelts!
Here we go!
State Senate District
43–Hands down for Dee
Dawkins-Haigler for the
seat I once held. She
has the experience, the
commitment and the moxie
to take her legislative skills
from the House side to the
upper chamber. In addition,
she connects with the
community and has deep
ties to it. Haigler has been
at the forefront of critical
issues facing the state and
has worked tirelessly to
help move us forward in
the right direction whether
it is education, legislation to
combat human trafficking,
domestic violence and insane
gun legislation. To vote for
anyone else guarantees the
temporary Republican now in
the seat will keep it!

DeKalb District
Attorney – Sherry Boston,
the current solicitor is the
choice. It saddens me not to
go with the incumbent, but
sometimes the damage in
credibility is just irreparable.
Boston is bright, articulate,
and ethical—a young woman
of integrity, free from any hint
of impropriety. She will do
extremely well as our next
district attorney.
Tax Commissioner Here is another instance
where we need to keep who
we have! Irvin Johnson hit
the ground running the in
tax commissioner’s office
just as Claudia Lawson did
after the late Tom Scott.
Johnson has the know-how,
experience and integrity for
the job of keeping tabs on
the half billion dollars that
come through that office. If
not Irvin, attorney Susannah
Scott, daughter of the late
tax commissioner, would be
a good second choice. There
is nothing more worth saying!
Drop the mike. Walk away
from the podium.
CEO – Mike Thurmond
gets an enthusiastic nod
as our next CEO. He is the
quintessential public servant
the little engine that could.
This Athens native has a
good name maintained over
the years from his days selling his daddy’s vegetables.
The former legislator, state la-

bor commissioner and superintendent of DeKalb County
Schools can right our ship
and steer us to shine again.
Thurmond is a man of principle and integrity. He is fiscally
responsible and an excellent
leader. He is reasonable, approachable and a people person par excellence. This man
knows how to take lemons
and make lemonade!
Connie Stokes is a really nice person with plenty
of moxie and Joe Bembry
is right on the money on so
many issues but is viewed
as comedic relief. DeKalb’s
current state of affairs is no
laughing matter.
We need Mike Thurmond.
He is the right man, at the
right time for all the right reasons.
Commissioners District
4 – Lance Lawyer Hammonds is the choice here.
For Hammonds, it is people
over politics. He is a man of
impeccable integrity, a community servant who has been
content to work behind the
scenes. There is no ego here
or bravado. Because of Hammond’s years of devotion
to community, he is keenly
aware of the critical issues
facing the district and the
county. As an executive level
district sales manager he has
the experience and skill sets
to know what to do. Also, he
possesses the temperament

to know how to interact with
his fellow commissioners and
constituents to get things
done. The effectiveness of
the incumbent is severely
compromised by personal
issues that have spilled over
into questionable public practices.
Commission District 6 –
Keep Kathie Gannon. While
one doesn’t always agree
with her, Gannon is a woman
of great intellect and integrity.
She works hard for her district. She is fair and tries hard
to balance representation of
all her constituents. One of
Gannon’s greatest assets is
communication. She keeps
her constituents informed,
invites their input and listens
to them. She is a great public
servant and is visible in her
district throughout the year,
not just at election time. We
need more like her.
These are my choices
based on years of observation and interaction with most
of the candidates. Whomever
you choose, just vote. The
vitality of our county depends
on it. Our lives, the lives of
our children and grandchildren depend on it.
Steen “The News Lady”
Miles, a retired Emmy-award
winning journalist and former
Georgia state senator who
remains active in county affairs.

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 20, 2016


Page 7A


The folly of voting in anger
anger and fear—but thankfully also humor, have
tended to trump logic, literally and figuratively, this
election season. It is quite
understandable that Americans of all political stripes
and most every demographic are disenchanted
or simply disgusted by the
lack of action and results
against many of the challenges facing our communities and nation at the local,
state and federal levels.
This polarization, which
chills so much of all dialogue between groups of
any difference in demographics, background
or thought only moves
us all further and further
apart. With literally dozens
of significant and real challenges facing our public
education system, we will
likely sit back and let debates over “potty policy”
dominate the public arena
all summer. Pardon me, but
that is bull@*^#.
There you go—a reaction in anger. Not appropriate for a family newspaper,
and certainly not best for
polite adult commentary.
My mother used to remind me when I resorted
to cussing, that I had very
quickly exhausted all ratio-

Bill Crane


nal thought and justification. Fighting words are the
language of the ignorant, or
of those nearing the end of
their rope. It should not be
where we start a conversation or the environment in
which we select our leaders.
I realize that the bulk
of my Trump supporter
friends won’t bother to read
this, but in the event that
you do, please follow along
with my logic here. You
think that Obamacare, or
the Affordable Care Act, is
an abomination. Pun intended. So, you go and hire
a butcher you know well to
conduct the next surgery
you need, as you know he
is good with a knife.
You believe that the
trade policies of this and

several past administrations
are horrific, so we unilaterally break multi-nation, in
some case cross-continent
treaties, to build tariff and
trade walls back up around
America, and a real wall
down near the southern
border (on land we don’t
own, so it will have to be
acquired first). Perhaps
while we are waiting on the
construction and the trade
barriers to move in place,
we can go visit the presidential museum of the last
president who advocated
such trade barriers, high
tariffs and U.S. protectionism and isolation from the
global economy. His name
was Herbert Hoover.
Both Trump and Sanders would have you believe
that they disdain the political elites and consultant
class who built this rigged
system. It would not be
popular to acknowledge
or point out that getting to
this point also required a
whole lot of acquiescence,
compliance and incumbentfriendly voting by the same
Americans now roiling to a
I do not favor or recommend term limits, as it tips
the balance of power in the
direction of the appointed
and non-elected bureaucra-

cy; but we can, and likely
should, restructure the calendar and primary election
system. California now has
an open primary system, all
candidates from every party
run on one ballot, then the
top two vote-getters proceed to a runoff.
So, in your anger you
have had some great surgery by your local butcher,
resurrected Hoover’s
policy recommendations to
strengthen our U.S. economy (Hoover was president
during the great financial
market crash of 1929). So
now let’s hand regulation
of the aviation industry
to an exciting stunt pilot,
guaranteed to shake things
up despite a complete lack
of understanding of flight
schedules, jet avionics or
the complexities of flight
lanes and routing.
Congress has spent
most of the past several
years with an approval rating barely in double digits. The House speaker was
run out by his own party
though yes, technically he
stepped down on his own–
and few are reviled more
than U.S. Senate Majority
Leader Mitch McConnell
of Kentucky, and yet, as of
this writing, not one single
congressional incumbent in

either major political party
has lost a primary or runoff
election. I suspect more
than a few seats may be
lost in November, but that
may actually come as a
down-ticket result from anger voting.
Georgia’s General Primary Election is Tuesday,
May 24, runoffs will follow
in less than a month. Early
voting ended on May 20. If
you don’t know, and don’t
care, don’t vote. But if you
do care and do plan to vote,
exercise your brain, talk
with those whose opinion
you trust, do some reading,
a bit of Googling and make
an informed decision. There
is a lot riding on it.

Bill Crane also serves
as a political analyst and
commentator for Channel
2’s Action News, WSB-AM
News/Talk 750 and now
95.5 FM, as well as a columnist for The Champion,
Champion Free Press and
Georgia Trend. Crane is a
DeKalb native and business
owner, living in Scottdale.
You can reach him or comment on a column at bill.

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

‘It’s our

Public, officials discuss E-SPLOST before May 24 vote
by R. Scott Belzer

“In 2011, E-SPLOST IV
referendum voters made
it possible for us to get a
big auditorium and convert
two large classrooms into
dance rooms,” said Isaiah
Stevens, a third-grader at
DeKalb School of the Arts.
“These rooms would have
dance floors, wall mirrors
and wall bars. It’s our money. [The amenities] were
promised to us!”
Isaiah, 8 years old, detailed how he enjoys private
dance lessons and would
like to take his talents to the
stage in a school setting.
He also said that many of
his classmates would like
to do the same, but do not
have access to private lessons, as DeKalb School of
the Arts is a Title I school.
Title I schools serve
high numbers of low-income
families and students and
activities outside the classroom are often set aside.


or six minutes on
May 9, an audience
in DeKalb County’s
J. David Williamson
Board Room sat attentive
and silent while elementary
students Isaiah Stevens
and Elijah Stephens
The words echoing
through the auditorium-like
room were precise as they
outlined needs for DeKalb
School of the Arts, including a proper auditorium and
classroom expansion to
honor the school’s name.
Speakers mentioned
the education specific special local option sales tax
(E-SPLOST) to be voted
on May 24 and asked the
board of education, Superintendent Stephen Green
and other staff to use the
anticipated funds wisely.

“Just think of how many
students could train and be
better prepared at DESA if
we had better facilities and
equipment,” Isaiah said.
“There are more than 500
students enrolled at our
school and they come from
all across the county.”
Elijah Stephens, 7 years
old and in first grade at
DeKalb School of the Arts,
continued the plea.
“I am speaking tonight
because I want a big auditorium and two more
big dance rooms for our
school,” Elijah said. “In
2011, there were many
people who voted for ESPLOST IV. Their votes
made it possible for us to
get $4.3 million. Do you
know how much $4.3 million
is? I know–it would pay for
a big auditorium and pay for
two large dance rooms.”
The Stephens’ concerns
started a trend that would


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‐

last more than 40 minutes
and nearly all of the time
allotted for public input at
the DeKalb County School
District’s (DCSD) monthly
board meeting.
An E-SPLOST lasts
five years and the current
E-SPLOST is scheduled to
last until 2017. However,
the school district is taking
the expansion vote, which
would outline projects from
July 2017 to June 2022,
on May 24. It is estimated
to bring an additional $500
million to DCSD.

“Approval in May 2016
would ensure that the penny tax continues to be collected,” reads a statement
on DCSD’s website. “With
that knowledge, the DCSD
could more aggressively
plan the next building program to meet our students’
needs through June 2022.”
The majority of speakers supported the ESPLOST, or the 1 percent
sales tax used specifically
for construction and main-

See E-SPLOST on Page 9A


In compliance with O.C.G.A. §48-5, the Stone Mountain
Community Improvement District (“CID”) reports that
at its meeting on June 3, 2016, beginning at 9:30 A.M.
at the Pierre Construction Group, 1677 Lewis Way,
Stone Mountain, DeKalb County, Georgia 30083, the
Stone Mountain CID Board of Directors will vote upon a
proposal to levy an ad valorem taxation rate of 5 mills,
and will set its millage rate for the lawful purposes of the
District for the current calendar year. Set forth below are
the assessed taxable values of the properties subject to
taxes for the current year and the immediately preceding
five calendar years, the total dollar amount of ad
valorem taxes proposed to be levied for the current year
and levied in the immediately preceding five calendar
years, as well as the percentage and dollar increases or
decreases with respect to each immediately preceding
calendar year. All property levied upon is real property.
Assessed Value Taxes Levied

% Change

$ Change





$ 496,165




- 4%

- $ 20,732





$ 153,453





$ 51,142





$ 34,477





$ 148,252


J. Lynn Rainey, PC, 358 Roswell Street, Suite 1130, Marietta, Georgia
30060; (770) 421-6040. Attorney for CID - State Bar No. 592350


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 20, 2016 • Page 9A

E-SPLOST Continued From Page 8A

Construction crews began working May 10 to install light poles along the Mountain Industrial
Boulevard bridge. Photo from Stone Mountain CID

Mountain Industrial Boulevard gets new lights
by Carla Parker

DeKalb School of the Arts elementary student Isaiah Stevens
voiced his own concerns over the use of E-SPLOST V funds on
May 9, calling for a new auditorium and dance rooms. Photo by R.
Scott Belzer

tenance throughout school
districts, but said certain
needs were not being met.
DeKalb School of the
Arts teacher Irenea Seufert
asked the board to allocate funds for her school
and cited the school’s national ranking in US News
& World Report (third in
Georgia, 102nd in the US)
and a growing student body
as reasons to invest in the
“Our facilities are failing
and not keeping pace with
the incredible achievements
going on inside the walls,”
Seufert said. “Plumbing,
HVAC systems, safety and
other facility-specific issues
pose a challenge. Space for
the arts – the main focus for
our school – is reaching a
critical level with insufficient
spaces for practice and performance.”
DeKalb parent Allyson Gervertz thanked
the board and Green for
their approach to the new
E-SPLOST. She cited past
leadership as using politics
to create a project list rather
than empirical data and
commended leadership’s
“I acknowledge voting
‘yes’ for E-SPLOST boils
down to trust in Dr. Green’s

leadership,” Gervertz said.
“The determination of new
school locations has all happened with community input
along the way. This is totally
unprecedented in Dekalb
Teacher Ernest Brown
also voiced support of ESPLOST and called upon
fellow members of the public to vote ‘yes’ in its expansion. Brown cited the $2
billion spent on school facilities since the tax’s implementation.
“This type of investment
is consistent with this leadership team,” Brown said.
“If we need improvements
to our homes, we address
them as quickly as possible.
That is how we should view
E-SPLOST for schools.”
City Schools of Decatur
Superintendent David Dude
said the district would be
distributing fliers and notes
in newsletters before May
24 to garner support. Dude
said if the county did not renew E-SPLOST the effects
would be felt throughout the
“It would affect the entire
county,” Dude said. “It would
affect east Atlanta, part of
the Atlanta Public Schools
system, it would affect the
entire city of Decatur.”

The Stone Mountain Community
Improvement District (CID) hopes
Mountain Industrial Boulevard will be safer
after the addition of 10 light posts along
the bridge over Highway 78.
The light poles were installed May
10 and 11 to help increase safety and
visibility, according to the CID. Crews from
R.J. Haynie and Associates and Massana
Construction began modifying the bridge in
January to install the light poles and attach
LED lights and light assemblies.
CID President Emory Morsberger
said in a released statement that leaders
identified the bridge lighting project as a
key traffic safety improvement.
“Bridge lighting provides a distinct
gateway into our business community,
welcoming all of those who are part of
the continued success happening here,”
Morsberger said. “In addition to the
lighting, the CID has completed substantial
landscaping upgrades at the interchange

along with tree plantings and overall
upkeep throughout the district. We want
everyone to see the investments that
our businesses make into this incredible
In the last two years, the CID has
done various projects to spruce the
road to attract more businesses to the
district. In 2014, the CID and DeKalb
County partnered to implement landscape
improvements and beautify the exit ramps
at the Highway 78 and Mountain Industrial
Boulevard interchange.
In 2015, the CID partnered with
DeKalb County Board of Commissioners,
Keep DeKalb Beautiful and DeKalb County
Office of Planning and Sustainability to
plant hundreds of trees as along Mountain
Industrial Boulevard and East Ponce de
The bridge lighting project was funded
through a grant from the State Road and
Tollway Authority’s Georgia Transportation
Infrastructure Bank, according to the CID.
The CID funded the project’s design and
inspection costs.


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 20, 2016 • Page 10A

Media clerk reinstated
City Schools of Decatur spends more than $14,000 on investigation

By R. Scott Belzer


hose familiar with City
Schools of Decatur
(CSD) media clerk
Susan Riley characterize
her as welcoming, kind and
even inspirational to those
around her, especially when
it comes to students.
Following a twomonth ordeal involving
uproar, outcries and many
passionate pleas for a
sympathetic ear, City
Schools of Decatur can add
another characterization to
Riley’s persona: expensive.
On Feb. 26, Riley was
released from her position
as media clerk for Decatur
High School, prompting
public demonstrations and
advocacy on her behalf.
Riley was cited as
“one of the most beloved
employees at Decatur High
School” and even “a second
mother” by some.
City Schools of Decatur
did not release an official
reason behind Riley’s
termination due to it
being a personnel matter.
Matters dealing with school
employees, including
terminations and hiring, take
place behind closed doors
and have no obligation to be
made public.
According to Decaturish,
Riley’s attorney David
Hughes said Riley was
terminated for four reasons:
misappropriating school
equipment, not adhering to
a new job plan, discussing a
human resources complaint
and complaining about a
coworker’s mistreatment of
The district never
qualified nor disqualified
these claims.
An emergency executive
session was held by CSD’s
board of education two days
later to discuss the matter
due to public outcry.
Riley was placed
on administrative leave
pending a review of the
matter. The public outcry
was enough to give
Superintendent David
Dude pause and have
administration bring in a “full
and impartial” review of the
“Over the last two

days, some significant
accusations have been
raised regarding the validity
of the investigation, and
resulting information, that
led to the termination of
Mrs. Riley’s employment,”
said Dude in a public
statement. “In fairness
to all involved, I have
suspended the termination
and provided Mrs. Riley with
paid leave while I bring a
third party in to conduct a
full and impartial review.”
A third-party
investigation began on
March 3 and Riley was
reinstated on April 13.
In the interim, a rally
was held outside Decatur
High School by staff,
teachers and students.
Friends and coworkers such
as Tom Stubbs repeatedly
attended City Schools of
Decatur board meetings to
plead on Riley’s behalf.
On May 11, City Schools
of Decatur released an
invoice detailing a $14,757
employee termination
investigation from Strickland
Brockington Lewis, LLP.
The invoice describes an
investigation by Jonathan
Poole in which 16 district
employees, including David
Dude, were interviewed.
Individual employees
outside of Dude, Riley and
Hughes are not named for
confidentiality purposes.
Poole charged the
district $185 per hour to
investigate the matter, a
decrease in price from
the $235 originally quoted
for the investigation. The
invoice begins on March 7
and concludes on April 21.
Hourly rates were
calculated on a decimal
scale, logging such
activities as interview
preparation (0.70 hours
or $129.50), research
into potential issues (0.20
hours or $37) and even
email correspondence with
principal players (0.10 hours
or $18.50).
The invoice lists
0.50 hours of review in
regards to Riley’s overall
evaluations. However, it
also details interviews with
employees lasting more
than three hours at a time.
Certain employees were
continually spoken to via

City Schools of Decatur has been the center of controversy due to the firing and rehiring of media
clerk Susan Riley, which eventually cost the district more than $14,000. Photo by Travis Hudgons

email and telephone while
others provided unnamed
documents. Employees
were interviewed until April
12, one day before Riley’s
After interviewing three
CSD employees, Poole
reviewed personnel policies
for the district. The interview
with Riley herself took
place on March 17 after
11 employees had been
interviewed and lasted four
A total of 79.60 hours
were logged by Poole,
amounting to more than
$14,000. Throughout the
investigation, it appears
Riley’s attorney, David
Hughes, was kept in the
loop via email. According to

the document, Hughes also
“suggested questions” for
An attorney for an
unnamed employee,
referred to as “A. Lightcap,”
was also contacted
multiple times during the
No formal written
report was issued by CSD
following the investigation,
citing personnel reasons,
but Dude did offer a public
“My decision to
terminate Mrs. Riley’s
employment with the school
district was not a ‘right
decision’ as I believed,”
Dude wrote. “I made a
wrong decision based on
facts I belived were more

clear than they actually
were; for that I have
apologized to Mrs. Riley and
to the [Decatur High School]
staff and hereby apologize
to the greater community for
which I caused unnecessary
Dude also made several
personnel procedural
changes following Riley’s
reinstatement, including
having Human Resources
director David Adams
report directly to the
superintendent over Chief
Operating Officer Noel
Dude also said a task
force would be assembled
to look into employee
grievance, technology use
and promotion processes.


    There will be public hearings on the proposed 2016‐2017 budget for the City of Decatur at 7:30 p.m. on June 6, 

2016; at 6:00 p.m. on June 13, 2016; and, at 7:30 p.m. on June 20, 2016 in the City Commission Meeting Room at City 
Hall, 509 N. McDonough Street, Decatur.  The proposed budget is summarized below and is available in its entirety for 
public inspection at Decatur City Hall and at the Decatur Library on Sycamore Street.  After May 18 , the budget will 
be available on the City’s website at  All citizens are invited to attend the public 
hearings, to provide written and oral comments, and ask questions concerning the entire budget. 
Licenses, Permits & Inspections 
Penalties, Fines & Forfeitures 

Charges for Current Services 
Intergovernmental Revenues 
Miscellaneous Revenue 
Sale of Fixed Assets 
Operating Transfers 
Appropriation From (To) Fund Balance 
Governmental Control Department 
General Government Department 
Community & Economic Development Department 
Administrative Services Department 
Police Department 
Fire & Rescue Department 
Public Works Department  
Design, Environment & Construction Division 
Active Living Division 


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

The Lithonia Farmers Market will kick off June 5 at Lithonia Park.

Lithonia farmers market to provide healthy options for community
by Carla Parker


ithonia and the
DeKalb County
Board of Health have
partnered to bring a
farmers market to the city.
The Lithonia Farmers
Market will kick off June
5 at Lithonia Park. Along
with selling fresh fruits
and vegetables, the grand
opening will also include
a Zumba class as well
as a DJ to entertain the
crowd. There also will be
cooking demonstrations,
presentations about
nutrition, and discussions
different types of
entertainment on future
market dates.
Lithonia Mayor Deborah
Jackson said the city has
explored opportunities to
provide fresh locally grown
food to the community since
2010, when residents began
requesting a community
garden program.
“In November 2014, the
city sponsored a farmers
market as part of National
Recycling Day with the
community responding very
favorably,” Jackson said.
“As a result, during 2015, a
local business had a local
farmer available to sell fresh
produce and homemade
goods several weekends
throughout the year.
Additionally, the city signed
up to be one of the locations
for the newly launched
DeKalb Mobile Farmers

Lithonia Mayor Deborah Jackson
said she hopes this market will
encourage farmers or healthy
food-type business owners to
open businesses in Lithonia.

In October, the DeKalb
Board of Health contacted
the city to partner in
establishing a farmers
“We responded with [a]
definite yes because we
recognize the need for more
opportunities to provide
access to fresh fruits and
vegetables,” Jackson said.
“The city is very excited
about the opportunity to
work with the Board of
Health on this initiative
and looks forward to
contributing to improved
health outcomes in south
DeKalb,” Jackson added.
“I have established a
Community Advisory
Committee that will be
headed by councilmember

Diane Howard to work with
the non-profit group, Action
Not Words Project, which
is assisting the city with the
management of the farmers
The Board of Health is
funding the market through
the REACH grant from the
Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention.
“The grant is part of an
overall initiative to improve
health outcomes in south
DeKalb by supporting
physical activity programs
and farmers’ markets,”
Jackson said.
Jackson said the city
wants to have a variety of
farmers and vendors to
make the market attractive
and interesting for the
community. The application
process is still open for
farmers to apply.
“Potential vendors need
to complete the application
and submit it for review
by the market manager,”
she said. “Inquiries can
be submitted to Farmers.”
Jackson said she hopes
this market will encourage
farmers or healthy food-type
business owners to open
businesses in Lithonia.
“We already have the
Green Love Kitchen, which
is specializing in healthy
food options, including
vegan dishes,” Jackson
said. “I believe the Lithonia
Farmers Market will help
to educate the community
about eating healthy as well
as encourage more people


to engage in some form of
gardening. We also want to
support gardening projects
at the elementary school

and recreation center to
help our children learn
where food comes from and
how to grow it.”

Georgia Piedmont Technical College

2016 Spring Commencement

Dr. Jabari Simama, President

The Board of Directors of Georgia Piedmont Technical College
The Board of Trustees of the
Georgia Piedmont Technical College Foundation

Invite you to attend our

2016 Spring Commencement
Saturday, the Twenty-first Day of May,
Two Thousand Sixteen

Ten o’clock in the morning
Ms. Suzanne Shank, Keynote Speaker
Founding Partner, Siebert Brandford Shank & Company
at the

Georgia World Congress Center

285 Andrew Young International Boulevard, N.W.
Atlanta, Georgia 30303

495 N. Indian Creek Dr., Clarkston, GA 30021 • 404-297-9522
Equal Opportunity Institution


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 20, 2016 • Page 12A

A bell is rung as the names of fallen officers are read.

DeKalb County Police officers prepare to give a 21-gun salute during a memorial service for fallen officers May
11. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Officers salute during the memorial.

A new name was added to the Fallen Officer

Charkesha Toatley, widow of DeKalb Officer Kevin
Toatley, receives a hug.

Fallen officers remembered
by Andrew Cauthen
When local law enforcement
officials and families of 42 fallen
officers gathered May 11 for the
annual law enforcement memorial
program, there was a new name on
the memorial.
“This year we have added one
additional officer to this memorial
wall: DeKalb County Master Police
Officer Kevin Toatley,” said
DeKalb County Police Chief James
“Officer Toatley left a great
legacy through the officers he
trained and mentored, through his
teammates and opponents on the
basketball court and through his
wife,” Conroy said.
Toatley, a seven-year veteran
of the department, was killed Sept.
19, 2015, while driving home in his
patrol car in south Fulton County.
His patrol vehicle was struck by a
wrong-way driver.
“Each year when we gather
here to remember our brother and

sister law enforcement officers who
made the ultimate sacrifice, our
police survivors join us to remember
their sons and daughters, husbands
and wives, fathers and mothers
who gave their lives while serving
as law enforcement officers,”
Conroy said.
Among the police
survivors in attendance was
Charkesha Toatley, the widow of
the latest fallen officer.
Charkesha Toatley said she is
“trying to figure out what the new
normal is” and “trying to remember
him and honor him in the best way I
know how.” 
Wearing the couple’s
wedding bands on a necklace,
Charkesha Toatley said the police
memorial was “truly honorable.”
“It’s great to know that no matter
the day or time that he’ll never be
forgotten and as long as people
keep him in their hearts and on their
minds...his legacy continues,” she
“He was a good man,”
Charkesha Toatley said.

Interim DeKalb County CEO
Lee May said, “It’s difficult to
acknowledge the life and the
legacies of those who have stood
before us and have given their
“These are men and women [to
whom] we say ‘Thank you. Thank
you for your lives, thank you for
your commitment to our county,
thank you for what you have meant
to all of us,” May said.
To the families of fallen
officers May said, “Thank you
from the bottom of my heart for
lending us your loved ones [and]
for supporting them while they were
“Your very presence here is
empowering to us who remain to
make sure that we never forget
what the commitment that our men
and women in law enforcement...
really [means] to us,” May said.
The 42 fallen law enforcement
officers represented the police
departments of DeKalb County,
Decatur, Doraville, Clarkston, Pine
Lake and MARTA.

“The sacrifice made by the 42
officers shall never be forgotten,”
Chief Conroy said. “We will
continue to remember and honor
them. Each of us owes a great debt
to these fallen law enforcement
officers. Our repayment of that
debt is to continue the mission that
they started. We owe it to them
to continue serving each day with
pride, honor and integrity.”
Cedric Alexander, deputy chief
operating officer for public safety,
said, “We will never forget. We will
[always] recognize the importance
of supporting the men and women
who are out here doing this job
every day.
“To those who have given their
lives and to those who will give
their lives in the future, there is not
enough ‘thank you,’ but…we will
never, ever, ever stop supporting
our police, and we must never stop
being here every year recognizing
those who have paid and given
their lives.”


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


Decatur Lantern Parade

The annual Decatur Lantern Parade took place May 13. More that 2,000 participants marched through
Decatur’s streets carrying hand-crafted, luminated lanterns accompanied by live music from the Black Sheep
Marching Ensemble. The parade was co-sponsored by the Decatur Education Foundation, Decatur Arts
Alliance, Decatur Downtown Development Authority and Color Wheel Studio. Photos by Travis Hudgons

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 20, 2016 • Page 14A

Deirdre Pearce poses with Military Family Support Branch
youth director Mark Richards along with Sergeant Glenn and
Specialist Trent.

Eighth-graders Jakeria Daniels, Tyrees Lindsey
and Deshawn Williams help an educator select
books at Bethune Middle School.

Eugenia Crawford of Jennis Childcare was one of
many to take park in the 20,000 book giveaway on
May 13.

Bethune Middle lives up to namesake
by R. Scott Belzer

Mary McLeod Bethune
may have passed away in
1955, but her spirit was alive
and well in Decatur on May
13 and 14.
For two days, the
gymnasium at Bethune
Middle School, which
owes its name to Bethune,
transformed into a hub for
reading, education and
literacy. Over the course
of 14 hours, more than
20,000 books were carted
into the gymnasium before
being given away to the
The event was
coordinated by the Delta
Sigma Theta (DST)
sorority’s Decatur alumnae
chapter, the DeKalb Branch
of the National Council of
Negro Women (NCNW)
and First Book, a non-profit
specializing in providing
books for young people in
The event was open to
educators and registered
groups May 13 and the
general public May 14.
“We have 20,000 books
we’re giving away to young
people aged 0 to 18,” said
Deirdre Pearce with DST
and NCNW. “We’re helping
them increase their literacy
skills, summer reading and
establishing a home library.”
While the event lasted
for two days, event officials
say it had been in the
works since the beginning
of the 2015-2016 school
year. First Book begins
collecting unsold books from
bookstores and publishing
houses before distributing
them across the country.
“It took us a lot longer
than we thought [to get
20,000 books],” said Pearce.

“But once we hit 1,000
registrations, we qualified.”
Pearce said total
registrations have reached
1,400 and that the various
groups plan to continue
to 2,000 to receive more
“We’re going to keep
it going until we just get
tired and fall out,” Pearce
said. “The response from
the community has been
overwhelming and the
quality of books has been
Bethune Middle principal
Myron Broome said the
event captured the essence
of the pioneer it was named
after by bringing reading to
DeKalb County.
“As we already know,
reading is fundamental
and this is some of the first
steps we have in developing
children’s educational
standing and foundation,”
Broome said. “We’re named
and founded after one of
the most historic women in
history; the founder of the
[NCNW]; the founder of
colleges and universities; a
political activist; a stalwart
in education. Why not
have a reading campaign
in a building named after
a woman who believed in
Broome said Bethune
Middle was proud to host
the event and would be
ready, willing and able to
host the next 60,000 books
if necessary.
“We should be able
to have something at
our school that positively
represents Mary McLoud
Bethune, the middle school,
the community as well as
the school district,” Broome
Bethune Middle eighth
graders Di’El Johnson,

Jakeria Daniels, Deshawn
Williams and Tyrees
Lindsey said they had
been hard at work for two
days unloading pallets
stacked with books. Delta
Sigma Theta’s Carolyn
Trammell said the event
would have been impossible
without students organizing,
shelving and replenishing
“It’s a nice thing to
help the community,” said
Johnson. “I like to help
people in general and I love
to read.”
The event gave
educators a chance to
stock up on much needed
resources in the classroom.
Griffin Parrott, a speech
therapist in several DeKalb
County schools, said she
was collecting books for her
day-to-day responsibilities
in helping children and
“Since I work with a
wide range of ages, I’m here
to get books for all ages,”
Parrott said. “They help
with decoding, phonemic
awareness, vocabulary
development, narrative
development. When a
student learns parts of the
story, it helps them down
the road with developing
a story with a more robust
Community leaders
such as Mark Richards,
youth director for the Military
Families’ Service Branch,
said Bethune Middle’s
event provided an excellent
opportunity to serve children
in the community. Richards
said the program serves
more than 300 kids in the
metro Atlanta area.
“We started a literacy
program and this goes hand
in hand with that,” Richards.
“When we’re doing read-

along events, it will be great
to share books with them to
take home.”
For more information,

including registration in
obtaining 20,000 more
books, visit www.firstbook.

May 19, 2016
DeKalb County Community Development Department
330 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue, 6th Floor
Decatur, Georgia 30030
Telephone (404) 371-2727
The DeKalb County Community Development Department gives notice that it will
submit a request for release of grant funds and an environmental certification pertaining
to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) 15 days following this
publication. The request and certification relate to the following projects.
Project: Columbia Avondale Senior Residences
Location: 590 East Freeman Street, Decatur, GA 30030-4134
(Preliminary Address: property located between Sams Street and Derrydown Way, Decatur,
GA 30030)
Purpose:Columbia Residential will develop a market quality product as part of a mixeduse development in DeKalb County at 590 East Freeman Street off of Sams Street and
adjacent to the Avondale Marta Station in the City of Decatur . The subject is a proposed
92-unit senior Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC)/HOME/market rate project, where
86 units will be restricted to senior households 62 and older earning 50 and 60 percent of
the Area Median Income (AMI) or less and 12 units will operate as unrestricted market rate
units also targeting seniors 62 and older. Of the 86 affordable housing units, there will be
15 units that will operate with additional project-based rental assistance and tenants will
contribute 30 percent of their income towards rent. All units will be incorporated into one 5
story 96,000 SF (gross) / 74,000 SF (net) building served by an elevator.
Funding for the project includes 15 Units of Project Based Vouchers (PBV) along with the
$1,600,000 of HOME funds.
The Senior Housing will be part of the new mixed-use Transit Oriented Development
(TOD) located at the Avondale MARTA station called E.Co. Decatur. This vibrant urban
mixed-use node includes this senior living community as well as market rate
apartments, on-site commercial space and a MARTA station for bus and rail.
Columbia Avondale Senior will include a dining/dance room, business center, movie
theater, state of the art fitness center and more. The structure itself will lower resident’s
water and power bills by certifying EarthCraft Multifamily and the greater E.Co. Decatur
TOD is pursuing LEED ND certification; ensuring site wide sustainability and walkability
is achieved. This new community will provide high quality, affordable senior housing to
seniors with Avondale MARTA rail and bus transit station and retail just steps away. The 92
Units at Columbia Avondale Senior will consists of the following ratios: 10% of units HOME,
16% as Project-Based Rental Assistance (PBRA) and 7% market rate. A total of 93% of
units are set-aside for affordable rentals. Units will be 1 and 2 bedrooms in a well-tested
senior configuration typical of Columbia Residential senior communities.
It has been determined that such request for release of funds will not constitute an action
significantly affecting the quality of the human environment and, accordingly, DeKalb
County has decided not to prepare Environmental Impact Statements under the National
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (P.L. 91-190).
The reasons for such decision not to prepare such Statements are as follows:
An Environmental Assessment has been made for the project which concludes that
all adverse effects will be minor, short-term impacts will be mitigated by either the
requirements of the construction contract documents or by the requirements of applicable
local, state or federal permits and environmental ordinances. The positive effects of
eliminating public health hazards and improving environmental conditions for low and
moderate-income families outweigh any potential negative impacts. This project is
consistent with the goals and objectives of DeKalb County Government and the Community
Development Department.
The Environmental Review Record, respecting the proposed project, has been made by
DeKalb County which documents the environmental review of the project and fully sets
forth the reasons why such Environmental Impact Statements are not required.
The Environmental Review Record is on file at the DeKalb County Human and
Community Development Department, 330 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue, 6th Floor, Decatur,
Georgia 30030 and is available for public examination and copying upon request between
the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.
No further environmental reviews of the subject project are proposed to be conducted
prior to the request for release of Federal funds.
Public Comments on FONSI
All interested agencies, groups, and persons disagreeing with this decision are invited to
submit written comments for consideration by DeKalb County Community Development
Director. Written comments will be received at 330 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue, 6th Floor,
Decatur, Georgia on or before June 3, 2016. All comments received will be considered
and DeKalb County will not request the release of Federal funds or take any administrative
action on the proposed projects prior to the date specified in the preceding sentence.
At least one day after the termination of the public comment period for the FONSI, but
not before comments on the FONSI have been considered and resolved, DeKalb County
will submit a Request for Release of Funds (RROF) and certification to HUD. By so doing
DeKalb County will ask HUD to allow it to commit funds to this project, certifying that (1) it
has performed the environmental reviews prescribed by HUD regulations (“Environmental
Review Procedures for Title I Community Development Block Grant Program” - 24 CFR
part 58), and (2) the Certifying Officer, Allen Mitchell, Director, DeKalb County Human and
Community Development Department, consents to accept and enforce responsibilities in
relation to the environmental reviews or resulting decision-making and action. The legal
effect of the certification is that by approving it, HUD will have satisfied its responsibilities
under the National Environmental Protection Act, thus allowing DeKalb County to commit
CDBG funds to this project.
Objection to Release of Funds
HUD will accept objections to its approval of the release of funds and the certification only
if it is on one of the following basis: (a) that the certification was not in fact executed by the
Certifying Officer; or (b) that the applicant’s Environmental Review Record for the project
indicated omission of a required decision, funding, or step applicable to the project in the
environmental review process. Objections must be prepared and submitted in accordance
to HUD at the Regional Environmental Branch, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban
Development, 40 Marietta Street N.W., 15th floor, Atlanta, Georgia 30303-9812.
Objections to the release of funds on basis other than those stated above will not be
considered by HUD. No objection received after June 18, 2016 will be considered by HUD.
Allen Mitchell, Director
DeKalb County Community Development Department
150 E. Ponce de Leon Avenue Suite 330
Decatur, Georgia 30030
Date of Publication and
Dissemination of Notice
May 19, 2016


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 20, 2016 • Page 15A

County CEO among contested positions in May 24 primary
by Andrew Cauthen


pproximately 7,400
residents have
already voted on
nominees for various positions up for grabs
during the 2016 election
Contested positions in
DeKalb include the county’s
chief executive officer, sheriff, district attorney, solicitor
general, commissioners for
Districts 4 and 6, tax commissioner, two Superior
Court judgeships and a
State Court judgeship.
Additionally, eight state
representative and four senate positions have more
than one candidate.
Party nominees for the
various races will be selected in the May 24 primary.
Chief executive officer
Three Democrats are
seeking to replace Lee
May, who has been interim DeKalb County CEO
since June 2013. They are
former state senator Connie Stokes, former school
superintendent Mike Thurmond and automotive services business owner Joe
Retired businessman
Jack Lovelace is the only
Republican in the race.
The seat is currently
held by Sheriff Jeffrey
Mann, who has been in the
position since March 2014
after former Sheriff Thomas
Brown resigned to seek another office.
Mann is seeking re-election and challenging him
are Geraldine Champion,
a retired Atlanta Police homicide detective; Harold
Dennis, a former DeKalb
County Sheriff’s Office employee; Ted Golden, a retired special agent with the
U.S. Department of Justice
Drug Enforcement Administration; Kyle Keith Jones,
who worked in the police
department and sheriff’s office; and Michael Williams,
a DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office investigator.
District attorney
Sherry Boston, the
current solicitor-general, is
seeking to unseat Robert
James in the race for the
county district attorney position.

Two coworkers in the
solicitor-general’s office
are seeking to replace their
Nicole Marchand Golden, the county’s chief assistant district attorney, and
Donna Coleman-Stribling,
a deputy chief assistant
district attorney, are running
against each other.
County commission
In county commission
District 4, Commissioner
Sharon Barnes Sutton,
who has been a commissioner for eight years, is
facing two Democratic challengers: business development manager Steve Bradshaw and Lance Lawyer
Hammonds, who works in
chemical sales.
Willie Willis, a Republican tax examiner, will face
the winner of the Democratic primary in November.
Commissioner Kathie
Gannon who has represented Super District 6,
the western half of DeKalb
County, since 2005, is being challenged by Warren
Mosby, a consultant.
Judicial positions
Superior Court Division
Judge Clarence F. Seeliger, who has been on the
bench since 1985, is being
challenged by Stephone
Johnson, who worked in
the solicitor’s offices for
Fulton County and city of
In Superior Court Division 4, incumbent DeKalb
County Superior Court
Judge Gail Flake, first elected in 1993, is facing a challenge from Angela Brown,
a lawyer who has served as
an appointed judge in four
State Court Judge Dax
Lopez is being challenged
by Roderick Bridges, an
attorney and former traffic
court judge.
Tax commissioner
Candidates for the tax
commissioner position include Irvin Johnson, who
was appointed to fill the position after former tax commissioner Claudia Lawson
retired in December 2015.
Susannah Scott,
daughter of former county
Commissioner Jacqueline
Scott, is seeking to fill the
tax commissioner position
held by her father Tom
Scott from 1992 to 2006.
Former DeKalb County

Super District 7 Commissioner Stan Watson resigned his commission seat
to run for the position he
first attempted to fill in 1988.
State House of
Eight state representative positions are up for
In District 79, Rep. Tom
Taylor is being challenged
by Tom Owens, a military
veteran and self-described
government whistleblower,
in the Republican primary.
Rep. Taylor Bennett,
who represents District 80
has no Democratic challengers. Three people are
seeking the Republican
nomination for that seat:
business Alan Cole, and attorneys Catherine Bernard
and Meagan Hanson.
Seeking the District
81 Republican nomination
are businesswoman Alexa
Mendez Rourk, real estate
broker Jim Duffie, and
businesswoman Lane
Flynn. The winner of that
contest will face Rep. Scott
Holcomb, the incumbent
In District 82, Brian
Westlake, a public school
teacher, is trying to unseat
Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver.
District 84 Rep.
Rahn Mayo is facing
fellow Democrat Renitta
Shannon, a medical sales

Rep. Michele Henson,
of District 86, is being
challenged by Joscelyn
O’Neil, president of
Greater Towers Community
Earnest “Coach” Williams, who represents
District 87, faces businesswoman Ivy Green.
There are five candidates for the District 91
seat. The lone Republican
is Carl Anuszczyk, CEO
of Jackpot Software Inc.
He will face the winner
of the Democrat primary:
businessman Charles Hill,
retired educator David
Neville, consultant Rhonda
Taylor, or former DeKalb
County CEO Vernon
State Senate

Paul Maner, a financial
advisor, is challenging incumbent Republican Sen.
Fran Millar for their party’s
nomination for the District
40 seat. The winner of that
nomination will face Democrat Tamara JohnsonShealey, an advocate for
licensed beauty professionals, in November.
For the District 43 seat,
incumbent Sen. Janice Van
Ness is the only Republican
in the race. She will face the
Democratic nominee: Dee
Dawkins-Haigler, who represented House District 91
from 2008 to 2016; Toney
L. Collins, an engineer;
or former District 92 Rep.
Tonya P. Anderson.


The next generation of leadership for DeKalb County

Two Elections MAY 24
All Voters: Special Election to fulfill unexpired term of Claudia Lawson (retired)
Democratic Primary: Tax Commissioner 4-year term to begin January 2017


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 20, 2016 • Page 16A

Pilot dies in crash during performance at airshow
(AP) A pilot was killed May 14 when his
biplane crashed while performing a stunt at a
metro Atlanta airshow.
The pilot crashed and died while flying in
tandem with another plane during an aerial
acrobatics stunt the afternoon of May 14 at the
Good Neighbor Day Open House Airshow at
DeKalb Peachtree Airport, said DeKalb County
Public Information Officer Sheira Campbell. The
airport is about 11 miles northeast of downtown
The pilot was the only one aboard the plane
when it crashed at 4:49 p.m., DeKalb County
spokesman Burke Brennan said in an emailed
statement. It was the first accident in 30 years of
the PDK Good Neighbor Day Airshow, Brennan
Campbell said the pilot was identified as 50
year-old Greg Connell. Campbell also said there
were no other injuries on the ground and there
was no other damage other than the aircraft.
She said the National Transportation Safety
Board and Federal Aviation Administration were
both on the scene and investigating.
File photo


Taxi carjacker convicted
A DeKalb County jury convicted
a man who led a 2011 crime spree
robbing taxi drivers at gunpoint,
according to a news release by the
DeKalb County District Attorney’s
Tyre Gay was found guilty of
three counts of armed robbery,
three counts of possession of a
firearm by a felon, and one count
each of aggravated assault and
hijacking a motor vehicle, the news Tyre Gay
release stated.
During a five-day period in July 2011, approximately
10 cab drivers in Fulton, Clayton and DeKalb counties
reported being robbed and pistol-whipped by a trio
of passengers once they arrived at their destination,
according to the news release.
Gay’s conviction involved for three of those robberies.
Gay, 23, was charged with two other men. Ladarrius
Marquas Robinson pleaded guilty and will serve 12
years in prison followed by three years of probation, the
news release stated.
Jermaine Devonte Cheeks will stand trial at a later
Gay will be sentenced at a later date, but faces up to
four life sentences plus 45 years in prison. 

Junior deputy sheriff summer camp to
teach leadership, gang resistance
The DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Unit will
host a Junior Deputy Summer Camp program at the Army
National Guard Armory in Decatur June 20 to July 1.
The camp is open to boys and girls ages 8 through
16. Applications are available from 8 a.m. to 4:30
p.m. weekdays at the Sheriff’s Office Administrative
Lobby, 4425 Memorial Drive, Decatur. The deadline for
applications is noon on Friday, June 10. The program fee
is $65 per week.
Included in the curriculum are field trips and tours of
the jail and county courtrooms. Speakers will address
leadership skill-building, positive attitudes, staying in
school and graduating, preventing bullying, internet and
social media safety, resisting gang involvement, and
abstaining from crime and violence

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 hearings to be held at the 
Atlanta City Hall Complex, 55 Trinity Avenue, Atlanta, Georgia in the City 
Council Chamber located on the Second Floor on Wednesday, May 25, 2016 
at 11:30 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. 


City Schools of Decatur
Budget for Fiscal Year 2017
July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017
General Fund


Local Taxes
Local Other
State General
State Other
Transfers from Other Funds
General Fund Balance Obligated
Capital Fund Balance Restricted
Total Revenues



Pupil Services
Improvement of Instructional Services
Educational Media Services
Federal Grant Administration
General Administration
School Administration
Support Services - Business
Maintenance and Operation of Plant Services
Student Transportation Service
Support Services - Central
Other Support Services
School Nutrition Program
Community Services Operations
Facilities Acquisition and Construction Services
Transfers to Other Funds
Debt Service
Total Expenditures

Special Funds


Nutrition Fund

Capital Funds


















$ 49,070,328



$ 45,900,000







The Fiscal Year 2017 Tentative Budget will be considered for final adoption by the Board of Education at
6:30 PM at the regular board meeting scheduled for Tuesday, June 14, 2016. The meeting will be held in the
Board Room of the Central Office at 125 Electric Avenue.

$ 49,070,328


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 20, 2016 • Page 17A

Community leaders express support for Doraville TAD
by Kathy Mitchell
In a May 12 meeting hosted by
the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce
in the chamber’s Decatur
headquarters, the city of Doraville
and other interested parties
presented to representatives of the
news media information supporting
a proposed tax allocation district
(TAD) at the former GM Doraville
TADs, first authorized by the
state in 1985, allow public dollars
to be used in the redevelopment of
underdeveloped or blighted areas.
The chamber’s goal, according
to Katerina Taylor, president and
CEO of the chamber, is to educate
all parties so that each can make
informed decisions about the future
of the project.
Doraville Mayor Donna Pittman
expressed frustration that the
DeKalb County School Board
has declined to allow the city of
Doraville and investors in the GM
plant site to fully present their case
for a TAD. “I have never heard of
a government entity refusing to
listen to a legitimate, responsible
proposal that has the potential to
have a huge impact on the area,”
she said. “We want to be sure the
school board has all the information
before making a decision on
supporting the TAD. There are
rumors and misinformation out
there. This is too important for the
board to make a decision without
having all the facts.”
When General Motors opened
a production plant in Doraville
in 1947, it ushered in an era
of prosperity for the city and
surrounding area, Pittman said.
The plant closed in 2008; now it
is critical that it be replaced with
something that will have an equal
or greater impact on the local
economy, she said.
Bill Floyd, former mayor of
Decatur, a city with its own school
district, said DeKalb School Board
members who are being told that
a Doraville TAD would not be good
for the DeKalb school district “are
getting poor advice.”
“Everything about local schools
impacts the community as a
whole—from where schools are
located, to what time they open
and close to their overall quality. A
school system cannot isolate itself
from the business community any
more than other major players such
as the airport and MARTA can,” he
If the TAD doesn’t go through,
Floyd added, the negative impact
on the area will be so great “I won’t
live long enough to see the area
Floyd, Pittman and Taylor are
among the 97 signatories to a May
12 petition supporting the TAD

An artist’s rendering depicts what the completed mixed-use development at the former GM Doraville plant might look like.
An aerial view, below, of the site plan shows proposed locations for shops, roads and other details.

presented to the DeKalb County
School Superintendent Stephen
Green and the DeKalb County
School Board. The petition states:
“We listed below believe that
the prosperity and economic health
of DeKalb County as well as metro
Atlanta and the region are closely
linked with the willingness of the
school system to thoughtfully
consider participation in tax
programs that will fund public
infrastructure. A tax allocation
district does not take any existing
tax revenue away from education.
“We believe strongly in
education as well as making
smart decisions for economic
growth. A TAD is designed to work
for all parties involved. In most
jurisdictions, it is a ‘no brainer.’
We, as a coalition of citizens
representing DeKalb County
and the broader Atlanta area

ask the school board to accept a
presentation to the entire board.
“It is right to discuss in a public
forum the benefits of a TAD and
why one is needed to develop
the former GM Assembly site in
Doraville. Good decisions cannot
be made on hear-say. The school
system may not vote to participate
in the growth of the county but
it also shouldn’t block economic
progress under the pretense of
focusing on classrooms. In a county
where the tax base is dwindling,
important decisions need to be
made on logic, not just platitudes of
Others endorsing the petition
include former Atlanta mayor and
former U.N. Ambassador Andrew
Young; Chick-fil-A President and
CEO Dan Cathy; DeKalb County
commissioners Larry Johnson
and Jeff Rader; Juanita Baranco,

co-owner of Mercedes-Benz of
Buckhead and a former member of
the DeKalb Education Task Force
and the state school board; former
Southern Company President Bill
Dahlberg; and former DeKalb
County CEO Liane Levetan.
Organizations endorsing the
petition include the Metro Atlanta
Chamber of Commerce, the DeKalb
County Chamber of Commerce,
DeKalb Development Authority and
Leadership DeKalb.
Taylor also joined 77 others
in signing a letter to Green and
the school board supporting the
proposed TAD. In part, the letter
reads, “Like you, I am concerned
about the education of our children.
I am also concerned about the
precipitous drop in school taxes….
The success of a school system is
dependent on taxes. We need to
reverse the negative trend.”
Each of the signers attached
individual observations. Typical was
the comments of Doraville resident
Heather Dever, who said, “As a
Doraville resident and the parent
of two children in DeKalb schools,
I feel it is important for you to allow
the developers to present plans for
the multi-million-dollar mixed use
development. I find it disrespectful
and short-sighted to deny our
city officials and the developers
the opportunity to show you how
invested they are in this project, in
our community, our schools and
the economic success of the whole
See related story on page 2A.


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

City Schools of Decatur’s Chief Operating Officer Noel Maloof announced to the board of education that the district is being recognized for sustainability and green
practices. Photo by Travis Hudgons

City Schools of Decatur to be recognized for going green
by R. Scott Belzer


t’s a four-step process
that is constantly
A new building is
planned. The structure goes
from imaginary to a penciled
or painted rendering.
The building is built.
Glass, steel and stone
come together to forge a
haven for enterprise, shelter
or learning.
The building is used and
maintained. People travel
throughout the edifice; they
clean its corridors; they
run water through its steel
veins; they breathe air into
its vents.
The building is updated
or renovated. Segments of
steel, portions of glass and
pieces of stone are replaced
to allow new technology
or aesthetics. In certain
cases, the building is simply
replaced and the process
starts over again.
Like any other lengthy
process, this cycle is often
completed with time as
the first priority. Little to
no attention is paid to the
building’s surrounding
environment. Even less is
paid to the health of people
walking in, out and around
the building every day.
City Schools of Decatur
(CSD) has proven to be an
On April 22, or Earth
Day 2016, the U.S.

Department of Education
(DOE) announced City
Schools of Decatur as a
Green Ribbon School and
a recipient of the U.S. DOE
Green Ribbon Schools
District Sustainability Award.
The award is given to
school systems throughout
the country excelling in
“green practices,” including
reducing environmental
impact, improving the health
of students and staff as
well as providing effective
environmental education.
The distinction is
awarded each year to 47
independent schools, 15
districts, and 11 higher
education facilities
throughout the country. On
July 20, the district will be
honored in Washington,
D.C., during a national
CSD was specifically
recognized for sustainability
practices in its newer
buildings as well as retrofits
in its older buildings.
“It’s very difficult to have
100-plus-year-old buildings,
brand new buildings and
integrate them all in,” said
CSD Chief Operating
Officer Noel Maloof. “From
a facility and maintenance
standpoint, we have done a
lot of work over the last five
years to really retrofit.”
Maloof also mentioned
the district’s energy efficient
bus fleet and integration
of new technologies as
money-saving practices that

allow CSD to stand out.
CSD’s partnership
with the city of Decatur in
collecting rainwater in vaults
underneath facilities was
also applauded by the DOE.
“We store somewhere
in the neighborhood of
127,000 cubic feet of
rainwater under [Decatur
High School’s] stadium,”
Maloof said. “It gets filtered.
In the long run, this has
caused the flooding that
used to happen along Trinity
Place to go away.”
Maloof said the district
was also recognized
for its Farm to School
program, a “grassroots

effort led by parents,
teachers, administrators,
community members and
organizations” that focuses
on serving healthy meals
in cafeterias and providing
nutrition education in
“[The Farm to School
program] is a huge
cornerstone for us,” said
Maloof announced the
award to CSD’s board of
education on May 10. The
COO said it has taken CSD
about five years to reach
this point of “being green,”
and that this was only
the beginning of a larger,


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broader process.
“Long term, this is
a springboard for us,”
Maloof said. “It will really
help us stay focused
on building sustainable
buildings moving into the
21st century. It will help
us build a school system
that is responsible with its
resources and imparting
that to the education of our
students – that’s what we
Board chairman Annie
Caiola said the award
was a good example of
what goes on “behind the
scenes,” and aligns with
Decatur’s goals as a whole.


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 20, 2016 • Page 19A

Land purchased for 900-seat elementary school
by R. Scott Belzer
Approximately $7.5
million is being spent to
alleviate overcrowded
hallways and classrooms in
the Cross Keys cluster.
The DeKalb County
School District (DCSD)
announced the purchase
of 11.2 acres of land in
the Skyland Park area of
Brookhaven, including the
former Skyland Elementary
School site located along
Skyland Trail Northeast.
The site will eventually
house a 900-seat
elementary school that
will relieve overcrowding
in the Cross Keys cluster.
Overcrowding at Dresden,
Montclair and Woodward
elementary schools should
be reduced in fall 2019 when
the school is completed.
The total cost of the
school is projected to be
around $22 million.
“This is a major step in
our long-term plan to relieve
the serious overcrowding
in the Cross Keys Cluster,”
said Superintendent
Stephen Green. “The
situation in the Cross Keys
cluster where we have
more than 110 portable
classrooms is intolerable
and will not be allowed to
The purchase is part
of an intergovernmental
agreement involving the
city of Brookhaven and
the state of Georgia.
Approximately $2.8 million
will be used to purchase
the 5.3-acre former Skyland
Elementary School, which
now houses the State Vital
Records Office, from the
state. Approximately 4.2
acres will be transferred
to Brookhaven while the
remaining 10.6 acres will be
purchased from the city for
$4.7 million.
The purchase was
approved by the DeKalb
County Board of Education
during executive session on
May 9. The announcement
came the following morning.
“The board has already
implemented a short-term
redistricting plan that will
provide some relief,” said
Melvin Johnson, chairman.
“We are committed to
providing safe, healthy
learning environments for all
our students.”
The board transferred
$3.5 million in educational
special purpose local option

sales taxes (E-SPLOST)
during its board meeting on
April 18 for the Skyland land
The transfer, presented
by DCSD’s chief operation’s
officer in the Division
of Operations Joshua
Williams, was taken from
renovation projects involving
Terry Mill Elementary and
Warren Technical schools.
The project was discussed
further behind closed doors
during executive session.
“E-SPLOST funds
allocated for new facilities
and additions projects
will be used to relieve the
longstanding and critical
overcrowding in the Cross
Keys cluster,” Williams
said. “As per the recently
approved board redistricting
plan, these facilities are no
longer being considered
as options for relief for the
overcrowding schools in the
Cross Keys cluster.”
The temporary
redistricting plan, approved
March 7, will place 1,469
elementary students and
232 high school students in
different schools in the 20162017 school year. Chamblee
Charter High School, Briar
Vista, Fernbank, the former
International Student Center,
Montclair and Dresden will
be the new destinations.
The plan has received
a mixed response from
Most recently on May
9, during the board of
education’s public comment
session, a representative for
Chamblee resident Cindy
Cheatham Pietkiewicz
said the board’s move to
redistrict was rushed and
“When the plan was
announced, I was proud
to offer our Chamblee
community and there
were few, if any, calls for
resistance,” he said. “While
the district has [spoken
about] all the support
students will be receiving, I
see no evidence of that.”
representative said no
teachers have been brought
into Chamblee Charter
High to accommodate
the incoming students
due to DCSD alleging the
school was overstaffed.
The representative went
on to call for Title I funds
transferred from Cross Keys
High to Chamblee Charter
and for the board to use
planning funds appropriately.

Brookhaven released renderings of a potential school on the grounds of Skyland Park and the Vital
Records Office.

Skyland Elementary has since been changed to the Georgia Vital Records Office. It is scheduled to
change back to an educational facility.

Skyland Park is located in Brookhaven along Skyland Trail Northeast. Photos by R. Scott Belzer



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



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The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 20, 2016 • Page 21A

Devin Olsonʼs header clinches state soccer title

by Carla Parker


day that started with making a
difficult decision turned into a
sweet victory for the Decatur
Bulldogs soccer team.
Decatur came from behind
in the second half behind senior
Devin Olson’s two goals to win the
Class AAA boys’ state title May
12 at Mercer University in Macon.
It was the program’s first state
championship since 2003 and third
in program history.
Decatur was down 2-1 in the
second half when Olson scored to
tie the game at 2-2 with 17:17 left to
play. Olson scored six minutes later
with a header to give Decatur a 3-2
Olson credited his teammates
for putting the ball in the right
position for him to score.
“They [passed] the ball right [to
me] and I just went up and attacked
it,” Olson said. “Shout out to Lucas
Ryter and Tuck Rodi for giving
me two perfect balls. I couldn’t do
anything but score those.”
Decatur played tight defense
throughout the game to seal the
After a disappointing loss in the
final four last season, Olson said it
felt good to win the championship
his final year at Decatur.
“It was really tough [last year]
and I know how the other seniors
felt,” he said. “We all decided that

Decatur defeated East Hall to win the boys’ Class AAA state title. Photo by Carla

we were going to do this together
and we were going to win. I’m really
happy; this is a great moment.”
Olson and four other seniors,
all starters, had to make a tough
decision before the game. The
seniors passed on taking the
International Baccalaureate (IB) test
to play in the championship game,
which began at 2:30 p.m. The test
began two hours before game time.
Efforts to change the time of the
game failed.
The IB program for high school
students is a two-year program
filled with rigorous courses. If a
student fails an IB exam the year he

or she graduates, the student has
to wait until the following year to
retake it, according to its website.
All five students will still
graduate and attend the colleges
they’ve been accepted into,
however they will not receive IB
“We decided as a team that we
were going to stick together and we
all made the same decision to come
play in the state championship,”
Olson said. “I’m so glad we did
this. This is awesome to share
this moment with my team. We all
worked so hard for this.
“We just made the choice that

we weren’t going to get the IB
diploma; we’ll just get the regular
one,” Olson said. “We all made that
choice for the team. We decided it
was the best thing and we’re glad
because we’re walking home with a
state championship.”
Decatur coach David Harbin
said he was proud of how his team
handled adversity on and off the
“First off, East Hall was a great
competitor,” Harbin said. “It was
a fantastic game; that’s what you
expect out of a state championship
game, and [we give] all the credit
to them. [Decatur] played well
and fought. These guys battled
adversity throughout the year.
They’re incredibly tough and they
have a lot of faith in what they’ve
done. They fully bought into what
the program has been teaching
and this how they deserve to be
Harbin said he was not
surprised with the goals Olsen
converted to claim the win.
“He’s been phenomenal,”
Harbin said. “He is a very skilled
player and he’s scored some big
goals in some big games for us. He
is one of those special kids that just
has a will to score goals, and the
goals he [isn’t] supposed to score
he’s going to find a way to get it in
the back of the net and he did that
Decatur finished the season
with a 16-3-2 record.

Paideia takes down FCS in penalty kicks
by Carla Parker

It took four penalty kicks for
the Paideia Pythons to win its third
state title in four years.
Paideia defeated Fellowship
Christian 3-2 (4-3 in penalty kicks)
to win the Class A boys soccer
state title May 12 at Mercer
University in Macon. Paideia coach
Eric Thomas, who said his team is
usually on the losing end of games
that go into penalty kicks, said it
felt great to win by penalty kicks.
“Fellowship is an awesome
team and they took us to the end
and I knew they would,” Thomas
said. “I was kind of hoping the
game wouldn’t end in PK because
it sucks for both teams—for
[Fellowship] especially, for
whoever loses. And I’ve done it
many times—lost in penalty kicks.
It feels great. It’s really special.
This group of seniors is amazing.
They’re a special group of seniors.”
Fellowship scored first on
a goal from midfielder Jake
Williamson. The score remained

Paideia won its third state title in four seasons. Photo by Carla Parker

1-0 going in to halftime.
Paideia’s first score came in
the second half on a goal from
Josh Sumo to tie the game.
Paideia took a 2-1 lead later in the
half on goal for Perry Ardell.
Williamson scored his second
goal of the game later in the half
to tie the game at 2-2. Neither

team could score before the end of
regulation, sending the game into
Thomas said he was not
worried about his team after giving
up the second goal.
“They’ve done this over and
over and over again,” Thomas said.
“Every state championship we’ve

won, all three of them have been in
overtime or penalty kicks. They’re
resilient and they’re awesome.
We’re not that great in penalty kicks
in the regular season. We lose a lot
of games when we get in penalty
kicks. But when it counts they seem
to find a way to win.”
Two overtime periods went
by with no score before the
game went into penalty kicks.
Williamson was up first to kick
for Fellowship but his kick was
blocked by Paideia goalkeeper
Lehn Ellingson.
Paideia went on to make its
first four penalty kicks before
Fellowship’s Drew Williamson
attempted to tie the game on
Fellowship’s last kick attempt.
Williamson’s kick went high,
allowing Ellingson to block it and
seal the win for Paideia.
Thomas said Ellingson was
amazing in penalty kicks.
“He did a great job,” he said.
“I had a feeling [he would do well]
and he did great.”
Paideia finished the season 153-3.


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

St. Pius state champions for a fourth consecutive time
by Carla Parker

Junior midfielder
Caroline Orman had
gone a few games without
scoring a goal, according
to Coach Sara Schmitt.
“We’ve been waiting
and waiting,” Schmitt said.
“She hit the crossbar—[in
the semifinals] she literally
hit the crossbar four times.
We felt like this was going
to be the game and it
Orman scored two
goals, leading the St. Pius
X Lady Golden Lions to a
2-0 win over rival Marist
in the Class AAAA title
game on May 14 at Mercer
University in Macon.
“She was in the right
place at the right time and
she put the ball where it
needed to go,” Schmitt
said of Orman.
It was the second
consecutive year St. Pius
defeated Marist in the title
game. The championship
was the fourth consecutive
for St. Pius, the seventh in
eight years and the 10th
“These girls have
really worked hard since
January,” Schmitt said.
“Everybody thinks about
the game today, but they
forget that [the team] has
been practicing since
January. It’s just dedication
and their hard work. If
you’d asked me in January
I don’t know if we would’ve
been here. But they
slowly stepped up every
game and got better and
better. Playing our best in
the state championship
game—that’s what we
needed to do.”
Orman scored her first
goal in the first half to give
St. Pius a 1-0 lead. She
scored her second goal
in the second half at the
15:38 mark.
St. Pius defenders and
goalie Emory Wegener
also had a big game.
Wegener made several
saves to keep Marist out of
the net.
“Having [Wegener]
in the net you feel more
confident,” Schmitt said.
“She’s only a sophomore

St. Pius girls soccer

St. Pius boys soccer

and she continues to get
better and better every
year and having that kind
of confidence in the net
helps the defenders feel
that confident and I think it
carries into the rest of the
The Lady Golden

Lions’ senior class will
graduate in May with four
state titles under their
belts. Schmitt said the
senior class has made
many sacrifices for the
program to succeed.
“They’re a very diverse
group of girls, they’re

all very different and
they all bought in,” she
said. “Even if they didn’t
play all the time they
completely supported the
mission, which was as a
team to win another state
championship. That’s a
lot to say about a group

of girls and you really
respect that and their
sacrifice for the team.”
St. Pius finished the
season with a 19-4-2
record. Marist finished
with a 21-2-1 record.


The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 20, 2016 • Page 23A

Cedar Grove, Southwest DeKalb goes back-to-back with track state titles
by Carla Parker
Cedar Grove and Southwest
DeKalb boys’ track-and-field teams
repeated as state champions for
second consecutive year on May 14
at Memorial Stadium in Jefferson.
The Cedar Grove Saints ran
away with the Class AAA state title
with 74 points, 35 more points than
runner-up Blessed Trinity. It was the
second overall title for the Saints
program after winning their first title
last season.
The Southwest DeKalb
Panthers claimed their second
consecutive Class AAAAA title by
outscoring Cedar Shoals 58-44. It’s
the program’s 10th overall title.
Cedar Grove collected three
gold medals, three silver medals
and one bronze at the state meet.
Jessie Reverio won gold in the
300-meter hurdle with a time of
38.65. Jadon Haselwood finished
third in the same race, and finished
second in the 110-meter hurdles.
The Saints’ relay teams also
took home gold medals. The 4x100
team of Andre Burrell, Jacquez
Cooper, Kortney Cox and Israel
Spivey finished first with a time of
Burrell, Reverio, Spivey and
Mathew Young won gold in the
4x400 relay with a time of 3:22.57.
Burrell also won a silver medal in
the 400-meter dash with a time of
49.30. Johnny Thomas won silver
in the shot put with a throw of 5300.50.
The Conwell twins, Terry
and Terryon, dominated the track
events to lead Southwest DeKalb
to its second consecutive Class
AAAAA title. Terryon won gold in
the 100-meter (10.61) and the
200-meter dash (21.32), while Terry
won gold in the 400-meter dash
(47.54). Terry also won silver in the
200-meter (21.47).
The Conwells, Jaylan
Muhammad and Justin Tomlin
won gold in the 4x100-meter relay
with a time of 41.06.
Marist finished second in Class
AAAA with 44 points behind winner
Eastside’s 71 points. Frank Pittman
led Marist with two gold medal
victories—1,600-meter run (4:13.49)
and 3,200-meter run (9:23.87).
Leif Andersen finished third in the
1,600-meter (4:19.90) and second
in the 3,200-meter (9:26.11). Brian
Faust won a bronze medal in the
800-meter run with a time of 1:55.51.
Lakeside tied for third place in
the Class AAAAAA meet with 43
points. Andre Kent won gold in
the 1,600-meter run (4:13.07) and
the 3,200-meter run (9:08.45), and
Brian Herron finished second in the
400-meter with a time of 48.20.
Chance Boyd scored nine
points in wheelchair competitions to
lead Lakeside to a fifth place finish

Cedar Grove

Southwest DeKalb

in the Class 1 Wheelchair State
Championships. Boyd finished fourth
in the 200-meter dash (46.93) and
fifth in the 800-meter run (3:46.23).

Stephenson’s Denzel Harper
defended his 300-meter hurdle title
(37.57) and his long jump title (2304.00), leading Stephenson to a

sixth-place finish in Class AAAAA
with 30 points.
Decatur had a sixth-place finish

See Track on Page 24A


TRACK Continued From Page 23A
in the Class AAA meet with 32 points.
Sam Ellis brought home gold medals
in the 800-meter run (1:54.60) and the
1,600-meter run (4:13.10). The 4x400
relay team of Ellis, Colby Clark, Tray
Tice and Warner Williams III finished
second with a time of 3:26.88.
In Class 1A-Private, Paideia’s
Max Heaberlin won a bronze medal
in the 1,600-meter run (4:26.92) and
a silver medal in the 3,200-meter run
(10:05.21). Paideia tied for 14th place
with 16 points. W.D. Mohammed
finished 16 with 10 points, led by Zafir
Abdul-salaam who placed third in the
long jump with a jump of 22-02.00.
In Class AAAA, Arabia Mountain’s
Tyler Jones finished second in the
triple jump with a jump of 45-10.75,
and Michael Willingham finished third
in the discus throw (158-04). Arabia
Mountain finished 17th with 16 points.
Columbia’s Bobby Tillman won
a bronze medal in the shot put (5204.50). Columbia placed 26th with six
points. Chamblee finished 20th with 10
points and St. Pius tied for 35th with
two points.
In Class AAAAA, Miller Grove tied
for 31th place with six points behind
the 4x400 relay team which placed
third with a time of 3:20.25. Druid Hills
finished tied for 42nd place with three
points and Dunwoody tied for 52nd
place with one point.

The Champion FREE PRESS, Friday, May 20, 2016 • Page 24A

Dunwoodyʼs Josh Bronstorph named
Georgiaʼs Gatorade player of the year
by Mark Brock
Josh Bronstorph of
Dunwoody became the second
DeKalb County athlete to earn
Georgia Gatorade Player of the
Year in 2016 as he was announced
the boys’ soccer winner on May 10.
Bronstorph joins Miller Grove
basketball player and Connecticut
signee Alterique Gilbert as
honorees by Gatorade this school
“Josh Bronstorph is a very
good player,” said Thom Jacquet,
head coach of Greater Atlanta
Christian School. “He’s fast and a
very hard worker. We beat them
but he was a handful.”
The Dunwoody senior returned
to the high school soccer field for
the Wildcats in 2016 after playing
club soccer through the U.S.
Soccer Development Academy as
a sophomore and junior.
His 45 goals and 13 assists
as a senior helped lead the
Wildcats to their first region (6-5A)
championship in 20 years and a
12-7-1 record. His prep career,
including his freshman season at

Josh Bronstorph scored 45 goals and
had 13 assists as a senior. Photo by
Mark Brock

Dunwoody, puts him at 69 goals
and 23 assists.
“I’ve coached for more than 20
years in college and high school,
and had All Americans but never a
player who scored in every game
they played in;Josh is talented
but also very ambitious and this is
what sets him apart in high school,”
said Dunwoody boys’ soccer
coach Edgar Flores. “I hope he

continues to develop this on and
off the field as an adult.”
Winning the Georgia award
makes him a finalist for the
Gatorade National Boys’ Soccer
Player of the Year which will be
announced later in May.
Bronstorph became the first
Gatorade Georgia Boys’ Soccer
Player of the Year from Dunwoody,
the third overall from DeKalb
County Schools and first since
Redan’s Chris Faklaris was
honored in 1991 and a second
Redan player, Troy Garner, was
selected in 1996.
The 5-8, 160-pound Wildcat
was also named the Region
6-5A MVP this season. He has
maintained a B average in the
classroom and served in the
community as a volunteer at a
local homeless shelter and food
bank in addition to serving as a
youth soccer coach.
Bronstorph has signed a
National Letter of Intent to play
soccer on an athletic scholarship
at Georgia Southern University
beginning this fall.