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the DeKalb

FRIDAY, September 2, 2016 • VOL. 19, NO. 21 • FREE

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

• A PUBLICATION OF ACE III COMMUNICATIONS •

by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
hildren and adults in Stone
Mountain now have a new
place to play and read.
Stone Mountain residents and
elected officials celebrated the
newly redeveloped Randolph
Medlock Park with a “Rock the
Block” event on Aug. 27. The
group also dedicated the new
children’s lending library inside
the park, located on Main Street.
The small-boxed library
allows readers to drop off a book
for visitors to the park to read.
The park, which has been in
the city since the 1970s, has not
been used for sporting events
and other recreational activities
in years and resident Sara
Abrams wanted to change that.
“In 2015, I was walking my
dog here, because honestly I
wasn’t going to come to this
park by myself, which is a sad
statement but I didn’t feel safe
here,” Abrams said. “I literally
heard a voice that said ‘this is
your project.’ I’m not crazy, I
don’t hear voices often, but I
said OK let’s see what we can

The children’s lending library allows readers to drop off a book for people to read at the park.

A child puts a book inside the children’s lending library.

Volunteers cleaned up the football field at Randolph Medlock
Park.

championnewspaper

Stone Mountain resident Sara Abrams talks about her dream of redeveloping Randolph Medlock Park.

championnews

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See Library on Page 5

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local

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, September 2, 2016 • Page 2A

Health center
petitions to
reinstate
Marta bus line
by Horace Holloman
horace@dekalbchamp.com

South City Partners has proposed to build a mixed-use development, which features apartments, a parking deck and
retail shops.

Avondale Estates approves rezoning
request for future mixed use
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
Avondale Estates is close to
coming to an agreement with a
developer for a proposed mixeduse development.
At its Aug. 22 regular
meeting, the Avondale
Estates Board of Mayor and
Commissioners approved
an application for a map
amendment that would rezone
the property at Sams Crossing
and East College Avenue.
The property will be rezoned
from a central business district
to a central business district plan
development zone. The rezoning
will allow the city to enter into
a development agreement with
South City Partners.
South City owns 3.18 acres
at Sams Crossing and East
College Avenue and plans to
redevelop the property. South
City proposed to build a mixed-

use development to be called
Sam’s Crossing, which features
apartments, a parking deck and
retail shops. The plans also
include a small park.
During the Aug. 17 work
session, attorney Stephen
Nicholas said the board of
mayor and commissioners
approved last month to
change the text of the zoning
ordinance, which created the
central business district plan
development zone.
“South City has filed an
application to take advantage
of that zone and that’s called
a map amendment,” Nicholas
said. “South City has asked to be
rezoned from CDB plain to CDB
plan development, which allows
them to enter into a development
agreement.”
The board also approved
to authorize Mayor Jonathan
Elmore to execute all documents
necessary to carry out the intent

of the development agreement
subject to the city attorney
approving the documents as to
form.
Commissioner Terry Giager,
who made the motion, said he
made the motion in that verbiage
because in the work session the
board talked about easements
that had to be given to South
City for proper construction
for the development, including
safety measures and fire access.
“We just received, this
evening, those documents,”
Giager said. “This motion
approves the development
agreement, and then subject to
form will approve the easements
as stipulated in our meeting, with
the city attorney’s approval also.”
“These are documents
necessary to create a functioning
project,” Elmore said. “Not all
of them are final yet but we do
want to move forward with the
development agreement.”

Avondale Estate commission pushes
meeting time up one hour
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
The Avondale Estates Board
of Mayor and Commissioners
beginning in September will meet
an hour earlier for its regular
monthly meeting.
At its Aug. 22 regular
meeting, the board approved,
with a 4-1 vote, to change the
regular meeting times from 7:30
p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Commissioner
Terry Giager was the lone “no”
vote.
Giager said he voted against

the time change because of the
language in the ordinance. The
ordinance states that the board
“desires to adopt an earlier
starting time of 6:30 p.m. rather
than 7:30 p.m. for its regular
meeting in order to make the
operation of city government
more efficient and to encourage
citizen participation at regular
meetings.”
“I don’t see, and have
not seen, any statements by
anybody saying that they can
make the 6:30, but the 7:30 is
out of the question for them,”

Giager said. “We’ve done this for
decades, and I’m not a person
that is just going to fight change
just because it’s change. I don’t
believe in that; I believe there are
better things.
“I think the time being
changed is for [the] convenience
for certain people,” Giager
added. “It has worked for
decades, and I don’t believe
those are sound enough reasons
for me to vote for this ordinance.”
The ordinance went into
effect immediately after the vote.

A DeKalb health center is urging
MARTA to reinstate a bus line that
provided “safe and reliable” transportation
to its patients.
A previous route ran near Clifton
Springs Health Center, located on Clifton
Springs Road in Decatur.
However, the route was recently
changed causing patients who rely on the
public transportation to walk to the health
center.
During her commute to work, DeKalb
District Health Director Elizabeth Ford
said she’s noticed women pushing
strollers in the grass en route to the Clifton
Springs Health Center.
“It’s awful. Especially for a pedestrian,”
said Ford. “You don’t want to see people
put their lives at risk especially to
receive medical care. “At one time that
bus line did stop at the Clifton Springs
Health Center, but for reasons we’re not
understanding, the route was cancelled
and now mothers are having to walk [to
the center] with no sidewalks on either
side.”
According to an online petition
the current No. 15 south DeKalb bus
route ends at Georgia State University
Perimeter College. The route forces
clients to walk a “very busy road” with a
blind curve.
“This situation is dangerous both to
our clients and employees who use the
bus for public transportation. We’ve had
numerous complaints and inquiries from
clients,” the online petition states.
The online petition had 61 signatures
as of Aug. 24, and Ford said she has
circulated another petition, which has
received more than 800 signatures.
Ford said there is no “goal” for the
number of signatures in the petition, but
hopes with community support the right
people will take notice.
“We’ve gotten a lot of support.
Everyone that frequents that center has
signed it,” Ford said.
Alisa Jackson, spokesperson for
MARTA, said MARTA is working with Ford
to resolve the bus-line issue.
Jackson said typically bus lines are
discontinued because of complaints or a
low volume of passengers riding. Jackson
said she was unsure why the No. 15 south
DeKalb bus route no longer stops in the
health center’s parking lot.
“If there are any changes to any route
we have a public hearing. The hearings
are generally held 60 to 90 days prior
to the route changing,” Jackson said.
“We usually try to hold [hearings] well in
advance.”
Jackson said MARTA could address
the issue in December at its next meeting.

local

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, September 2, 2016 • Page 3A

AroundDekalb
Avondale

doraville

Avondale Estates will host a 9/11 ceremony on Sept. 9, from 8:30
a.m. to 9 a.m. at Dewey Brown Plaza. For more information, visit www.
avondaleestates.org.

Two of Doraville’s family-oriented and city-sponsored events have
combined to bring residents fun, food and excitement.
On the first Friday of each month, Doraville will begin a feature film at
8:15 p.m. On Sept. 2, attendees can view Star Wars: The Force Awakens
free of charge at Honeysuckle Park, located at 3037 Pleasant Valley
Drive.
The film will be shown on Doraville’s recently acquired 21-foot outdoor
screen and accompanied by a video presentation regarding renovations
of the city swimming pool and Flowers Park.
The Sept. 2 event is being combined with the monthly Doraville
Food Truck Rally and food trucks will begin serving patrons at 6:30 p.m.
Guests are encouraged to bring lawn chairs, blankets and other outdoor
amenities to comfortably watch the film.

City to host 9/11 ceremony

BROOKHAVEN
Doggy dip day scheduled

First Friday Under the Stars set

dunwoody

Nature Center to host ECOExplorers classes

Brookhaven will host a “Doggy Dip Day” Sept. 11 at Murphey
Candler Pool from 1 to 4 p.m. The cost per dog is $10 with free entry
into “Biggest Splash” contest, which will take place at 3 p.m. Dog owners
are not permitted to swim during event. All dogs must be up-to-date on
vaccinations. The pool is located at 1551 West Nancy Creek Drive NE.
For more information, visit www.brookhavenga.gov.

chamblee

City hosts women’s self-defense class
Women can learn how to defend themselves courtesy of the
Chamblee Police Department and Team Octopus free of charge on Sept.
3 from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m. Team Octopus is a mixed martial arts studio
based in Chamblee. The classes will take place at Team Octopus’s gym
located at 3695 Longview Drive in Chamblee. To sign up and receive
more information, contact Officer Chris Poythress at (470) 395-2441 or
cpoythress@chambleega.gov.

Beginning Sept. 10, the Dunwoody Nature Center will begin hosting
ECOExplorer classes for $10.
ECO stands for every child outside. In the ECOExplorers program,
participants and an adult partner will take part in an interactive class
before exploring the nature center and the surrounding Dunwoody Park.
“Each class will have a nature-based theme, craft, activity stations,
circle time and hike,” states the program description from the Dunwoody
Nature Center. “Please dress for the weather as we’ll go outside rain or
shine!”
According to the center, “Classes offer children the opportunity to
learn and explore at their own pace; when real learning and growth
comes from play in a guided environment that fosters a unique sense of
accomplishment and self-awareness.”
Class dates are Sept. 10, Oct. 8, and Nov. 12 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.
For more information, visit www.dunwoodynature.org.

Session on Judaism kicks off at Marcus Jewish
community center
The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta (MJCCA) will host a
19-week course on Judaism beginning Aug. 28. Classes will begin at 10
a.m. and run through 11:30 a.m.
“This course is provocative, challenging, and stimulating,” says
Rabbi Brian Glusman, MJCCA director of outreach and community
engagement.. “It is taught from a pluralistic approach, and encourages
class discussions and activities, without the pressure of homework or
exams.”
The Atlanta Rabbinic Association stated the program, Derech Torah,
is a good start for individuals considering converting to Judaism. To
register or receive more information on the 19-week session, contact
Shelley Buxbaum at (678) 812-4152.

clarkston

stone mountain

The Clarkston Community Center is set to hold an International Food &
Wine Gala on Sept. 10. from 6 to 9 p.m.
For $25, attendees will receive food and wine samples as well as an
informative talk from the event’s keynote speaker, Stephen Green. Ticket
sales will go toward such community resources as the Caring 4 Clarkston
program, the Seniors on the GO program as well as art and computer
classes.
“With foods from a multitude of cultures, diverse wines, and even a
keynote speech by the superintendent of DeKalb County schools, the
Clarkston Community Center’s international wine and food tasting is sure to
be an incredible experience!” stated the Community Center press release.
For more information, visit www.clarkstoncommunitycenter.org/events/
international-food-and-wine-gala/

The Stone Mountain Farmer’s Market will be held Sept. 13 from 4
to 7 p.m. The market will take place in the municipal parking lot next to
the gazebo every Tuesday until Nov. 22. For more information, call (770)
498-8984.

Community Center plans International Food & Wine Gala

Farmer’s market coming

local

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, September 2, 2016 • Page 4A

Clarkston employee’s accusations dismissed in DeKalb County court
Mayor Ted Terry
addresses comments
on Facebook
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com
Clarkston resident Chris
Busing’s battery charges involving
city manager Keith Barker were
dismissed Aug. 19 by DeKalb
County Solicitor General Sherry
Boston.
The charges stem from an
incident in October 2015 involving
Busing and Barker outside of a
Clarkston Business Association
meeting.
Attorney Catherine Bernard,
who represented Busing on the
charges, detailed her version of
events on Aug. 19 via Facebook.
“[Busing] had found evidence
that a city contractor providing
licensing and audit services
was engaged in large scale
legal violations and shared this
information at [the meeting],”
Bernard said. “[Barker] confronted
[Busing] and told him to leave.
[Busing] left but continued to speak
as he walked to the door. [Barker]
got up from his seat and pursued
[Busing], then later made a police
report accusing [Busing] of battery.”
According to Bernard, Busing
was subsequently arrested and
spent 36 hours in jail. She said video
evidence was located that does not
support Barker’s claims, resulting in
the Aug. 19 dismissal.
“This was a case of a public
official using the criminal justice

Clarkston resident Chris Busing was
arrested and detained for 36 hours in
October 2015 following a dispute with
City Manager Keith Barker. Attorney
Catherine Bernard celebrated the victory
online resulting in responses from
Mayor Ted Terry. Photo submitted.

system to retaliate against a
taxpayer and today was an
important step towards correcting
that injustice,” Bernard said.
Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry
commented on Facebook Aug. 19
and Aug. 20 to address Bernard’s
statement.
“To be clear, [Solicitor Boston]
dropped the charges; no court
proceeding happened at the request
of numerous people, including
the city staffer that was accosted
by Mr. Busing,” Terry stated. “The
argument stems from a much longer
personal dispute between the two
that goes back several years. These
two citizens of the United States
couldn’t come to a parlay on their
disagreement. One of these citizens
felt physically threatened by the
other and pressed charges, thus
moving the mediation of the matter

Clarkston City Manager Keith Barker
accused resident Chris Busing of
battery charges in October 2015. The
charges were dismissed Aug. 19. Photo
by R. Scott Belzer

Mayor Ted Terry used social media to
discuss the dismissal of charges filed by
Clarkston City Manager Keith Barker on
Aug. 19 and Aug. 20. Photo by R. Scott
Belzer

to the judicial branch.”
According to Terry, the “video
evidence in question shows two
adults having a disagreement in
public.” Terry repeatedly referred to
Barker as a city staffer at a public
event, after hours and using the
police department the way any
other resident would. He also said
no long-term consequences were
forced on either party.
Terry said Clarkston residents,
including himself, “[should]
respectfully reserve judgment,
especially in the absence of all the
facts.”
“No insult to attorney Bernard,
however, this post on the incident
reads like political speak,” Terry said.
“No one reading this post, other than
those intimately involved, can truly
know the reality of the situation.”
Other Facebook users replied to

Terry’s post and pointed out that a
36-hour jail sentence was a serious
consequence and the arrest may
stay on his record. Others suggested
that Barker’s ties to the Clarkston
Police Department may have led to
Busing’s arrest.
“That’s an interesting first and
fourth amendment interpretation,”
said Lee Weber. “Evidently a
citizen’s judgment or opinion is not
necessary. Citizens, not judges or
prosecutors, sit in judgment.”
Anne-Caroline Brown Taylor
said Barker “misused public
resources and abused his political
power to have his foe arrested for 36
hours based upon a lie.”
“This should be examined very
closely and he should be stripped
of his position if he lied or abused

See Clarkston on Page 9A

Chief auditor hired for DeKalb County
by Horace Holloman
horace@dekalbchamp.com

With allegations of misusing
taxpayer money over the past few
years, newly-hired DeKalb County
Chief Auditor John Green will have
his hands full.
On Aug. 23, the DeKalb County
Commission voted unanimously to
hire Green as the county’s chief auditor.
Green will oversee the county’s
budget and serve as a “watchdog”
for the county.
Green, who worked with the
department of transportation in Tallahassee for 22 years and was an
inspector general for the Florida
Secretary of State’s Office, said honesty is important in his position.
“What I do affects people’s life.

When I do an audit I take it very
seriously. I try to develop relationships with people. I always want
to be the person that tries to add
value to make things better,” Green
said.  “You have to do what you
have to do to get the job done. In
this type of job, you have to stick
to your core values and what you
believe in. You have to be fair and
honest with people. My morale
character is more important than a
paycheck.”
During an interview with the
board of commissioners Aug. 19,
Green said he’s willing to investigate
any matter dealing with fraud or taxpayer money.
“Anything that’s missing is taxpayer money. It’s not my money, it’s
not your money; it is the taxpayers of
DeKalb County’s money. You have

to consider that. Any time someone
is getting money or has some type
of benefit, you have to look into it,”
Green said.  
While in Florida, Green said he
investigated a government employee using a Sam’s Club gift card for
personal use. In DeKalb County, the
DeKalb County ethics board fined
a former government employee
$1,000 for a similar infraction.
One DeKalb County resident
said the hiring of Green is a step in
the right direction to building trust
with the community.
Viola Davis, leader of the civic
organization Unhappy Taxpayer &
Voter, said an independent auditor
may take her claims of the county’s
mishandling of funds seriously.
Davis said the county may have
misappropriated $70 million in tax-

payer money.
“We submitted documentation
concerning $70 million dollars missing. The county is saying its a typo
and there’s evidence that say there
may be some wrongdoing,” Davis
said. “That would be an excellent
case [for Green] to start with.”
According to reports from Davis,
DeKalb County spent nearly $72 million to fix a sidewalk; however, the
actual cost of the project was less
than $2 million.
“I have every bit of confidence
that the auditor will take this issue
seriously. That’s why we passed the
legislation,” Davis said. “Overall,
I think the atmosphere in DeKalb
County has improved. We’ve had
an ethics watchdog and an auditor
watchdog and the main reason for
this is to increase public trust.”  

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, September 2, 2016

Library

Continued From Page 1
do.”
Abrams said she went
to a city council work
session to find out how
she could spruce up the
park. Her mission was to
redevelop the 10.3-acre
park; make it safe, clean,
enjoyable, accessible and
eco-smart for all people in
the community.
Once she had a
plan, she, the city and
other volunteers came
together to clean up the
football field and add the
lending library, which was
donated by Park Pride.
“We said [adding the
library] is great because
[although] it is a park—
you can come and
throw a basketball—but
it’s not just a park. It’s
a community center,”
Abrams said. Why not
come and read a book in
the park? That’s a great
idea.”
Abrams said she still
wants to upgrade the
playing field and put in
a new jungle gym and
make it more visible than
the current one.
“How do we
accomplish these goals?
We need your help, we
need your labor, we need
your insight and we also
do need money,” she
said.
Abrams said there is
a Go Fund Me page to
donate money.
“We’re just starting
small but we know we
can bring this park back
to life,” she said for park
improvement.
Mayor Pat Wheeler,
who played a role in
establishing a football
field in the park years
ago, said it is a great
endeavor that Abrams
and her group have taken
on.
“This has always been
a great park,” Wheeler
said. “It has not been
used a lot in the last few
years. There are kids that
come up here and play.
But with Sara’s help and
all of the volunteers we
know it will be a great
place in the future.”

local

Page 5

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, September 2, 2016

opinion

Page 6

Getting to a better tomorrow means learning from mistakes today
Gale Horton Gay
gale@dekalbchamp.com

They are going to make
mistakes. It’s practically
guaranteed.
High school and college
students as well as young
professionals are bound to trip up in
big and small ways. Their mistakes
may make the news, may be life
altering or may jeopardize their
finances and/or freedom.
The start of the school year
is the time when we—full-grown
adults whose youth is so very far
behind us—see young people and
imagine where their future can
take them. With an abundance
of educational resources and
opportunities before them, we
see lives that should be headed
for greatness or, at least, being
productive members of society and
achieving personal satisfaction.

While we focus on all they
have to offer and their tremendous
potential, we seem to forget the
difficulties of being young and that
part of the process of learning
is making mistakes. Mistakes—
whether errors in judgment,
miscalculations, bad choices, poor
planning, being misguided—can be
tremendous teaching experiences.
The pain and sometimes
embarrassment of having messed
up often serves as a life-altering
guide for future decision-making.
For the smart ones, making
mistakes leads to growth and
getting better at handling life’s most
challenging and difficult situations.
Of course we hope that our own
children and young people of our
communities don’t, as a result of
their mistakes, injure themselves
or cause injury or death to anyone
else, face imprisonment, financial
loss, addiction, homelessness or
so many of the other unfortunate
results from making mistakes.
However, those too are bound to
happen. Remember that many
successful and productive adults,
ourselves and people we know,

have fallen down on their life’s
journey but have gotten up and
positively changed their lives and
the lives of others.
So as we cheer on our young
people, let’s ease up on some
of the harsh criticism, negative

comments and suggestions that
they are a hopeless generation.
Yes, we should still offer our advice,
but let’s combine some tenderness
and understanding along with our
admonishments.

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, September 2, 2016

opinion

Page 7

When opportunity knocks
Among Georgia’s 182 public
school systems, there is a wide
range of outcomes.
Each system receives the
same state funding of $8,400 per
student, per year. Public school
investment consumes roughly
two-thirds of Georgia’s entire
budget each year. Local property
and sales tax revenues, private
PTAs and booster organizations
also contribute to significant
differences in per student
expenditures across the state.
Although the spending levels do
matter, those spending the most
often do not deliver the best
educational outcomes.
Some of the consistently
highest-performing school
system results come from the
smallest systems including the
cities of Bremen, Decatur and
Jefferson, or Pierce County, all
of which are within top 10 test
score rankings.
Using the College and
Career Performance Index
(CCRPI), a key accountability
measurement of the Georgia
Department of Education, the
governor’s office has identified
6 percent, or 139, of Georgia’s
2,184 public schools, that
have received an “F” rating
for at least three consecutive
years. A disproportionate
number of these schools are
in economically disadvantaged
communities or in urban areas
with a heavy majority/minority
population.
Add to those realities the fact
that our most talented educators

‘One Man’s
Opinion’
Bill Crane

bill.csicrane@gmail.com

and principals gain some choice
and privilege with seniority,
and typically prefer or select
assignment to higher-performing
schools in their communities. 
In November, voters will
consider allowing the creation
of an Opportunity School
District (OSD), with its own
superintendent, appointed by
the governor and confirmed
by the State Senate. The OSD
would become an operational
unit of the Office of Student
Achievement and report directly
to the governor.
The OSD would have the
same powers and authorities as
another Georgia local education
agency (LEA) or school
authority.
Gov. Nathan Deal and first
lady Sandra Deal–a career
educator–,are committed to
giving those children with the
least opportunity a chance by
offering, via the state, a hand
up to those schools persistently
struggling.
The state would intervene,
form a charter school or take
over the operations of a failing
school after three years without
significant improvement. The
OSD would take on no more
than 20 schools per year, and
manage no more than 100

OSD‐eligible schools at any
given time. Such a shift in whose
hands control those levers of
power will always be a subject
for great debate.
An OSD school or system
would remain under OSD
supervision for five consecutive
years, or an OSD charter school
for the term of the charter.
However, if the school improves,
and for three consecutive years
does not receive an “F” on the
CCRPI index, the school may
return to local control. If the
same occurs within an OSD
charter school, it will continue
operating under the authority
of the State Charter Schools
Commission. The opportunity
of assistance has a mandate, a
time frame and an end date in
mind.
In more than 100 Georgia
counties, the local school
system is the largest employer.
Without placing undue blame
on teachers and classrooms,
educators are afforded more
protection from firing, or being
reassigned, by the State Merit
System than are the students in
their charge. Political patronage
and the job and benefits security
of a career in local education still
occurs too often for the wrong
reasons in many communities.
Having a daughter and ex‐
wife who are both educators,
I learned some time ago of
the critical role which a school
principal plays. As a fish rots
from the head down, there are
hundreds of principals across
Georgia whose performance

calls for bringing in some fresh
fish.
Deal may not seek re‐
election. Even if he could,
counties such as Clayton,
DeKalb and much of Fulton
(Atlanta Public Schools), have
been less than fertile ground
for GOP political support. If the
governor is not creating the OSD
for the benefit of students stuck
in non‐performing schools, what
else could be the political reward
for expending so much political
capital?
I think I learned in
kindergarten to not look a gift
horse in the mouth, and when
opportunity knocks, to answer
the door and the opportunity.
If you decide later that the
direction was wrong, simply
reverse course.
There are nearly 3,000 public
schools in Georgia, and the state
is offering additional resources
to improve performance and
change the outcomes of up
to 100 of the most challenged
schools. If local communities
can’t muster those resources
on their own, not accepting this
offer must be more of that new
math that I just can’t understand.
Bill Crane also serves as a
political analyst and commentator for Channel 2’s Action News,
WSB-AM News/Talk 750 and now
95.5 FM, as well as a columnist for
The Champion, Champion Free
Press and Georgia Trend. Crane
is a DeKalb native and business
owner, living in Scottdale. You can
reach him or comment on a column at bill.csicrane@gmail.com.

Subscribe to The Champion Newspaper
To subscribe, visit TheChampionNewspaper.com or call 404.373.7779

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P. O. Box 1347, Decatur, GA 30031-1347;
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views. Letters should be brief, typewritten and contain
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EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions written by columnists and contributing editors do not necessarily reflect the opinions
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Publisher is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts.

Publisher:
John Hewitt

Photographer:
Travis Hudgons

Chief Financial Officer:
Dr. Earl D. Glenn

Staff Reporters:
Carla Parker
R. Scott Belzer
Horace Holloman

Production Manager:
Kemesha Wadley

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

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

local

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, September 2, 2016 • Page 8A

Decatur business
addressing concerns with
extending business hours

by Horace Holloman
horace@dekalbchamp.com
DeKalb County
residents looking for
late-night bowling on the
weekends may be in luck
after Comet Pub & Lanes
started the process to
request a special land
use permit for a late-night
establishment.
The bowling alley
and restaurant plans
to extend their hours of
operation on the weekends.
Currently, the pub is open
from 10 a.m. to 12:30
a.m., Mondays through
Saturdays. According to a
public notice report, Comet
Pub & Lanes proposes to
extend their business hours
to 1 a.m. on Thursdays
and to 2 a.m. Fridays and
Saturdays. The business
would also like to stay open
from 11 a.m. to 12:30 a.m.
on Sundays.
“I think it was always
in our plans to be open till
1 a.m. and we were taken
by surprise that we were
required to fill out a [special
land use permit],” said
Ethan Wurtzel, co-owner of
Comet Pub & Lanes. “We’ll
work hard to make sure
we’re good stewards of the
licenses.”
As part of the
application process,
owners met with community
members in a pre-submittal
community meeting at the
establishment, Aug. 17.
Wurtzel said the pub
tried to address community
concerns about safety

and loud noise during the
weekends.
Located on north
Decatur Road in Suburban
Plaza, the pub is
surrounded by businesses
and residential complexes.
“I think we’re able to
have a positive dialogue
with many of those people.
It felt like it was a very
positive connection and
letting them get to know us.
We weren’t surprised with
the concerns they had. The
[area] provides 24-hour
security,” Wurtzel said.
The pub and bowling
alley also plan to divert
late-night customer parking
away from residential
areas and monitor “loud”
conversations that happen
outside the establishment
as to not disturb
neighboring complexes,
Wurtzel said.
However, one residential
complex administrator
doesn’t view the extended
hours as a concern or
nuisance. Kyle Huhtanen,
executive administrator for
Decatur Christian Towers
senior living complex,
said the pubs’ extended
business hours are a
welcomed addition to the
area.
“In no way do we see it
as a negative,” Huhtanen
said. “We also think that
the property managers
and [businesses] have
been proactive to address
security concerns. In
our community we don’t
anticipate that being a
problem, not to say that

it couldn’t be, but we’re
supportive of the new life of
the shopping center.”
The Decatur Christian
Towers complex does
not have many “in-house
amenities” so places such
as a pub are a better

option than an empty
establishment, Huhtanen
said.
“If you have a house or
a property nearby I could
see that being a concern
for late-night hours, but
I think overall we as an

organization are excited
about the opportunities in
the area of north Decatur,”
Huhtanen said. “We feel
like overall the growth of the
area will serve our seniors
without having to create inhouse amenities.”

local

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, September 2, 2016 • Page 9A

Leadership DeKalb announces members of the class of 2017

Fifty-seven individuals have been selected
to participate in Leadership DeKalb’s Class of
2017.
“The Class of 2017 will have an opportunity
to explore the current issues faced by DeKalb
government and businesses and to experience
the largely overlooked beauty of DeKalb’s
natural resources and culture. The program
provides an emotional journey that will challenge
assumptions and change perspectives,” said
Leadership DeKalb Program Chair and member
of the class of 2015,Sandra Zayac.
Members of the Class of 2017 include:
Brent Adams - Private Bank of Decatur
Stephen Barresi - DeKalb County Solicitor General
Office
Daniel Baskerville - Dentons US LLP
John Bayalis - MARTA
Candace Bazemore - SunTrust Bank
Corlan Beasley - DeKalb County Government
Douglas Bentley - DeKalb County Police
Kimberly Bentley - DeKalb Medical at Hillandale
Kimberly Blackwell - The Blackwell Law Group LLC
Catherine Bonk MD - Atlanta Gynecology &
Obstetrics
Todd Bruce - Emory University
Vonetta Daniels - VYD and Associates

Araba Dowell - Decide DeKalb Development
Authority
George Dusenbery IV - Dusenbery Consulting LLC
Fatima El-Amin - DeKalb County Juvenile Court
Janeane Giarrusso - Brown and Caldwell
Environmental Engineering
Quinn Green - Century 21 Connect Realty
Neeru Gupta - Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough,
LLP
MaLika Hakeem - DeKalb County Government
Chris Hayward - DeKalb County Government
Ivan Harrell - Georgia Piedmont Technical College
M. Cole Jones - Covello, LLC
Scott Kemp - CDC
Felicia Kennedy- St. Phillip AME Church
Jacqueline Kimbro - DeKalb County Public Library
Kimani King - Kimani King Law
Sheri Lake - Smith & Lake LLC
Carolyn Lloyd - Metro Atlanta Chamber of
Commerce
Melody Maddox - Georgia Piedmont Technical
College
Russell Madison - City of Decatur
Manomay Malathip - DeKalb County School District
Jim McMahan - DeKalb County School District
Adrianne McVeigh- Assessment Solutions,
TalentQuest
Garrett Miller - Smith, Currie & Hancock, LLP
David Moore - Smith, Gambell & Russell LLP

Laine Morgan - Spiritual Living Center of Atlanta
Keri Norris - The Fulton-DeKalb Hospital Authority
Kristy Offitt - Ogletree Deakins
Sonya Porter - DeKalb County Police
Ronald Ramsey Sr. - State Court of DeKalb County Traffic Division
Shanease Ray - Gas South
Steven Richards - Robert Half Management
Resources
Monica Richardson - The Atlanta JournalConstitution
Toni Roberts - DeKalb Volunteer Lawyers
Foundation
Janice Robinson - United Way of Greater Atlanta
Lisa Robinson - LR Robinson, LLC
Dasheika Ruffin- City of Atlanta
Shara Sanders - Oak Grove United Methodist
Church
Carla Smith - Signature HealthCARE
Jason Smith - DeKalb County Fire Rescue
Ashton Staniszewski - Jackson Spaulding Inc.
Luke Story - Georgia Association of Broadcasters
ChaQuias Thornton - City of Stone Mountain
Vickie Turner - DeKalb County School District
Nedra White-Shaw - The Alliance of DeKalb County
Derrica Williams - Concepts, Inc.
Adela Yelton - Self-Employed

clarkston Continued From Page 4A
his power,” Taylor said.
“The government should
be impartial in this case,
which clearly [Terry] is
not.”
“What kind of person
chases a man out of
a building because he
has lost his temper and
falsely presses charges
against him?” asked
Darryl James McKoon.
“That is a real problem
and is inexcusable and
abusive.”
Terry maintained
Barker was a city staffer
at a public event after
business hours. He
maintained the arrest
would not prohibit
Busing from doing
anything, including
suing Barker for falsely
reporting a crime. Terry
also volunteered to write
a letter of expungement
on Busing’s behalf if
necessary.
“The incident was
handled appropriately
by the judicial branch,”
Terry said.
Terry summed up
his statements later in
the evening on Aug.
20, stating “All due
respect to attorney
Bernard, this post was
trying her case outside
the courtroom [and]
only she presented
evidence. Please
forgive me for trying to
provide context, albeit

on her territory with all of
her Facebook friends. Talk
about a kangaroo court;
forgiveness and compassion

[are things] both sides on this
incident need to work on.”
Terry did not comment as
to whether any action will be

taken against Barker.
“Our city manager has
elevated Clarkston in a
multitude of ways and has

been an overall positive
benefit for the city,” Terry
said.

NOTICE OF PUBLIC HEARING
The Mayor and City Council of the City of Chamblee, Georgia will hold a public hearing on Thursday, September 15, 2016, at the Chamblee Civic Center, 3540 Broad Street, Chamblee, GA 30341 at 6:00 p.m. to receive
public comments regarding the following matters:
Stein Investment Co., LLC requests approval of a Development of Community Impact in accordance with City of Chamblee Ordinances, Appendix A, Unified Development Ordinance, Section 280-6 for the purpose of
constructing a climate-controlled self-storage facility with commercial office space at 3693 Clairmont Rd., 1959 and 1965 Bragg St., being DeKalb County Tax Parcels #18-244-04-004, 18-244-04-005, and 18-244-04-006 and
zoned Corridor Commercial.
Apollo Sign and Lighting requests approval of a variance from Sec. 260-6(b)(2)a. of the City of Chamblee Code of Ordinances, Appendix A, Unified Development Ordinance that limits properties occupied by a single business
to one principal building sign on each street frontage with a curb cut, so as to allow an additional sign on the northwest face of the building where there is no curb cut on property located at 5000 Peachtree Boulevard, being
DeKalb County Tax Parcel ID 18-300-00-001, zoned Corridor Commercial.
Curry Honda, c/o Laurel David requests approval of a stream buffer variance in accordance with Sec. 310-19 of the City of Chamblee Code of Ordinances, Appendix A, Unified Development Ordinance for properties located
at 5525 and 5547 Peachtree Boulevard, being DeKalb County Tax Parcel IDs 18-308-12-017 and 18-308-12-014 and zoned Corridor Commercial.
Curry Honda, c/o Laurel David requests approval of variances from the following provisions of the City of Chamblee Code of Ordinances, Appendix A, Unified Development Ordinance for property located at 5547 Peachtree
Boulevard, being DeKalb County Tax Parcel ID #18-308-12-014 and zoned Corridor Commercial:
•Sec. 230-30(b)(1) that requires the first floor of a building fronting a Storefront Street to have a minimum floor-to-ceiling height of 18 feet.
•Sec. 230-28 that prohibits an exterior wall of a building façade to have the appearance of a metal building and requires such walls to be architecturally designed to have the appearance of brick, glass, wood,
stucco, or stone.
•Sec. 320-39(a)(1) that requires nonresidential sites to supplement plantings where tree replacement is necessary to meet the minimum tree density standard of 100 inches DBH per acre.
•Sec. 250-7(b)(5), Sec. 300-17(a)(7), and Sec. 350-2(c) that require interparcel driveway connections be provided for all adjacent properties having commercial, office or multifamily uses.
•Sec.350-2(a)(1)e. that prohibits driveways located between the sidewalk and a building, and requires that such driveways shall be perpendicular to any adjacent street.
C&G Property Holdings requests approval of variances from the following provisions of the City of Chamblee Code of Ordinances, Appendix A, Unified Development Ordinance for property located at 5404
Peachtree Road and 3476 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, being DeKalb County Tax Parcel IDs #18-299-16-056 and 18-299-16-057, respectively, consisting of 0.72 acres and zoned Village Commercial:
•Sec. 230-2(a) “Space Dimensions Table” that limits impervious surface in the Village Commercial zoning district to a maximum of 80 percent.
•Sec. 230-5(b) “Street Type Dimensions Table” that requires a minimum sidewalk width of 8 ft.
•Sec. 230-27(c)(1)a. that requires a landscape strip with a minimum width of 7 ft. adjacent to the street curb.
•Sec. 230-13 that requires that the side setback of a corner lot be 2/3 of the front yard setback for that street (15 ft. on American Industrial Way).
•Sec. 230-30(b)(1) that requires the first floor of a building fronting a Storefront Street to have a minimum floor-to-ceiling height of 18 feet.
•Sec. 240-13(a)(1)a. that requires each lot in a single-family attached development to have a minimum lot width of 20 feet.
•Sec. 240-13(a)(1)b. that requires each lot in a single-family attached development to have a minimum lot area of 1,600 square feet.
•Sec. 240-13(a)(1)d. that requires each lot in a single-family attached development to have a minimum of 200 square feet of private space.
•Sec. 240-13(a)(1)g. that limits the length of a building in a single-family attached development to a maximum of 8 attached dwelling units or 200 ft. whichever is less.
•Sec. 240-13(a)(1)j. that requires townhouse buildings to include a continuous 5 ft. wide sidewalk connecting front entrances of all dwellings.
•Sec. 240-13(a)(1)n. that requires townhouse facades to be separated by at least 40 ft.
•Sec. 230-29(d) that requires buildings with more than four residential units at the street level shall have front-facing entrances that are directly connected to the public sidewalk with a pedestrian walkway that is
perpendicular to the street and a maximum of five feet wide.
The City of Chamblee Mayor and Council propose to amend the Future Development Map of the City of Chamblee Comprehensive Plan by changing the character area designation of the following parcels from “3 – Motor Mile”
to “5- Central Gateway”:
18 308 11 001
3695 LONGVIEW DR
18 308 11 002
5578 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 11 003
5588 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 11 005
3715 LONGVIEW DR
18 308 11 007
5594 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 309 01 002
5600 PEACHTREE BLVD
The City of Chamblee Mayor and Council propose to amend the Future Development Map of the City of Chamblee Comprehensive Plan by changing the character area designation of the following parcels from “7 – Peachtree
Boulevard Corridor” to “5- Central Gateway”:
18 299 01 001
18 299 01 002
18 300 08 001
18 300 08 002
18 300 08 003
18 300 08 005
18 300 08 007

5270 PEACHTREE BLVD
5260 PEACHTREE BLVD
215 MARRAY DR
5208 PEACHTREE BLVD
5220 PEACHTREE BLVD
5214 PEACHTREE BLVD
3445 SEXTON WOODS DR

18 300 08 008
18 300 08 009
18 300 08 015
18 300 08 016
18 300 08 017
18 300 08 018

205 MARRAY DR
180 MARRAY DR
3455 SEXTON WOODS DR
200 MARRAY DR
206 MARRAY DR
212 MARRAY DR

18 300 08 019
18 300 10 010
18 300 10 011
18 300 10 012
18 300 10 014
18 300 10 048

230 MARRAY DR
5162 PEACHTREE BLVD
5158 PEACHTREE BLVD
5154 PEACHTREE BLVD
5130 PEACHTREE BLVD
5180 PEACHTREE BLVD

The City of Chamblee Mayor and Council propose to amend the Official Zoning Map of the City of Chamblee in accordance with City of Chamblee Code of Ordinances, Sec. 280-2 of Appendix A, the Unified Development
Ordinance by changing the zoning of the following parcels from Corridor Commercial (CC) to Village Commercial (VC):
Tax Parcel ID
Site Address
Tax Parcel ID
Site Address
Tax Parcel ID
Site Address
18 299 01 001
5270 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 300 10 014
5130 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 11 005
3715 LONGVIEW DR
18 299 01 002
5260 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 300 10 048
5180 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 11 007
5594 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 299 01 003
5280 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 02 030
5300 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 13 002
3618 CHAMBLEE DUNWOODY RD
18 299 01 004
5290 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 05 008
5544 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 13 003
3614 CHAMBLEE DUNWOODY RD
18 300 08 001
215 MARRAY DR
18 308 05 010
3655 CHAMBLEE DUNWOODY RD
18 308 13 004
5388 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 300 08 002
5208 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 05 024
3699 CHAMBLEE DUNWOODY RD
18 308 13 005
5360 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 300 08 003
5220 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 05 025
3667 CHAMBLEE DUNWOODY RD
18 308 13 008
5370 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 300 08 005
5214 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 05 027
3695 CHAMBLEE DUNWOODY RD
18 308 13 009
3641 PIERCE DR NE
18 300 08 007
3445 SEXTON WOODS DR
18 308 05 028
3665 CHAMBLEE DUNWOODY RD
18 308 13 010
3643 PIERCE DR
18 308 05 029
5560 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 14 001
3645 CHAMBLEE DUNWOODY RD
18 300 08 008
205 MARRAY DR
18 308 05 031
5556 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 14 002
5410 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 300 08 009
180 MARRAY DR
18 308 05 033
3685 CHAMBLEE DUNWOODY RD
18 308 14 004
5404 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 300 08 015
3455 SEXTON WOODS DR
18 308 05 035
5516 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 14 005
5442 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 300 08 016
200 MARRAY DR
18 308 05 037
5468 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 14 006
3689 IVY LN
18 300 08 017
206 MARRAY DR
18 308 05 038
5450 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 14 007
3633 CHAMBLEE DUNWOODY RD
18 300 08 018
212 MARRAY DR
18 308 05 039
5558 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 14 008
3625 CHAMBLEE DUNWOODY RD
18 300 08 019
230 MARRAY DR
18 300 10 010
5162 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 11 001
3695 LONGVIEW DR
18 308 14 009
5420 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 300 10 011
5158 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 11 002
5578 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 19 001
3640 CHAMBLEE DUNWOODY RD
18 300 10 012
5154 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 11 003
5588 PEACHTREE BLVD
18 308 19 002
3652 CHAMBLEE DUNWOODY RD

local

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, September 2, 2016 • Page 10A

Post office honors fallen officer
by Horace Holloman
horace@dekalbchamp.com

Joann Ortega Romero,
sister of Francis Manuel
Ortega—a Pine Lake police
officer who was shot and
killed while on duty—said her
brother always set the path for
her.
During a ceremony at
the Pine Lake Post Office
Romero, along with the
Ortega family and more than a
hundred supporters, honored
her brother’s sacrifice once
again.
On Aug. 27, Pine Lake
Post Office officially renamed
its facility after Francis Ortega.
“It fills my heart. There
was never closure, but this
is something headed in that
direction. Despite how long it’s
been, he continues to have
an impact,” Romero said in an
interview with The Champion.
A father of two, Ortega
worked as a part-time officer
with the Pine Lake Police
Department. In August of
2005, Ortega was conducting
a traffic stop in front of the
post office when he was shot
and killed.
Romero said she
remembers her brother as
a leader. Growing up in
Massachusetts, Romero said,
her brother would “pave her
path for her” while the two
walked to school in the snow.
“I feel like my entire
life, that’s the epitome and
metaphor for him paving the
way for me and he continues
to pave the way. It was a lot
of me looking up to him and
me trying to keep up with
him,” Romero said. “It’s an
honor to see that despite so
many years people are still
appreciative of what he did
and the sacrifices he made.”
Officers from the DeKalb
County Police Department
were in attendance during
the ceremony Aug. 27.
Congressman Hank Johnson
and Pine Lake community
officials were also in
attendance.
Johnson stood with the
Ortega family and unveiled a
plaque during the ceremony.
Johnson sponsored H.R.
3274, which named the post
office the “Francis Manuel
Ortega Post Office.”
Ken Nunn was the third
officer on the scene when
Ortega was killed in 2005.
During the ceremony, Nunn
spoke with the Ortega family
and took pictures around the
plaque dedicated to officer

Photos by Travis Hudgons

Joann Ortega Romero, sister of Francis Manuel Ortega speaks during the ceremony.

From left, former Pine Lake mayors Kathie deNobriga, Greg Zarus and current mayor
Melanie Hammet.

Ortega.
“I removed officer
Ortega from the scene
when we arrived and it was
tunnel vision for me,” Nunn
said. “I heard a gunshot
inside and that was when
the [suspect] shot himself.
We tried to get Ortega

out of the line of fire, but
unfortunately he was
pronounced dead. Seeing
everybody coming together
like this 11 years later, it’s
great.”
Nunn, a former officer
with the Stone Mountain
Police Department, said

he made it a point to give
his respects to the Ortega
family.
“I wanted to be here. I
wanted to meet the rest of
the Ortega family because
I only met a couple of them
in the past. This is a really
good thing and a really

good outcome,” Nunn
said. “It hurts. It makes you
angry and sad, but being
a police officer is a calling.
The community needs
people like officer Ortega
and we’re going to keep
pushing and pushing.”

local

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, September 2, 2016 • Page 11A

weekinpictures

DeKalb County police officers enjoy refreshments at Dunkin Donuts
during a fundraiser event. Photo by Horace Holloman

The Southwest DeKalb Fathers Being Involved and Nichelle Tanks presented game balls to interim
head football coach Fletcher Salter and Principal Dr. Thomas Glanton Jr. to acknowledge the team’s
first win of the season.

Interim CEO Lee May takes a selfie before helping to demolish a
dilapidated home in DeKalb County. Photo by Horace Holloman

Goodwill opened a new Career Center on Aug. 25 in DeKalb County. Photo courtesy of the DeKalb
Chamber of Commerce.

Half Price Books celebrated its grand opening on Aug. 25 at 2615 N.
Decatur Road in Decatur. Photo courtesy of the DeKalb Chamber of
Commerce.

23

Nine Dunwoody Municipal Court volunteer bailiffs were honored with the President’s Volunteer
Service Award from the White House. Each member received an official federal medal and letter
from President Barack Obama for completing 1,452 hours of community service.

photos brought to you by dctv

DCTV Channel 23
@DCTVChannel23

Get your front row seat to all things DeKalb County
through your EMMY Award-winning station

DeKalb County Gov
Ustream.tv/channle/DCTV-Channel-23
VISIT US AT WWW.DCTVChannel23.tv

E-mail us at DCTV@DeKalbCountyGA.gov

local

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, September 2, 2016 • Page 12A

Volunteer coach had full access to school building
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
A former McNair High
School volunteer coach,
who is accused of sexually
assaulting a student, had
full access to the building,
according to an anonymous
source.
Ronald Wright
was arrested Aug. 24
on charges of cruelty
to children and sexual
battery for allegedly having
inappropriate contact with
a female student at the
school. Wright was given a
$1,000 bond.
According to the arrest
warrant, Wright allegedly
applied muscle cream to
the victim’s leg for sore
muscles, and allegedly
slid his hand inside her
underpants without her
consent and rubbed and
massaged her vagina,
causing severe pain.
Wright also allegedly
gave the victim access
to the shower, saw her
naked and adjusted her bra
straps after she dried off,
according to the report.
The DeKalb County
School District confirmed
that Wright was dismissed
from the school on Aug. 22.
When the story of the
incident broke, a source
close to the McNair football
program revealed to The
Champion more allegations
toward Wright.
Our source, who
requested to remain
anonymous, said Wright
has had full access to
the school for seven
years. Wright was not an
employee of the school.
“He also had access
to all of the head coaches’
keys on a daily basis,” the
source said. “If (you) ask
any kid from McNair they
will tell (you) the same.”
The source also said
when the football team was
on the field for practice,
Wright was allegedly in the
building.
“He [even] participated
in other sports around the
school,” the source said.
“The principal is very aware
of him along with everybody
else around the school.”
When The Champion
brought these allegations
to the school district,
the district released the
following statement:
“We cannot comment
on a matter that is being

handled by the DeKalb
County criminal justice
system. We will honor
the rights of due process.
Failure to do so may
compromise the case and
allow someone to avoid
prosecution.”
In a letter sent home to
parents about the incident,
Principal Loukisha Walker
said she “shares the
concerns of parents about
the allegations.”
“However, the allegation
is not against any employee

of McNair High School. It is
against a volunteer for the
McNair High School Athletic
Program,” Walker said.
“While these events
are alarming, I want every
parent and student to know
that we will continue to
provide a safe and nurturing
learning environment for all
students at McNair High.
The investigation into the
case is continuing, and I
want to assure you that we
are cooperating fully with
the criminal investigation

being conducted by the
DeKalb County School
Police Department. Also,
I have informed the
volunteer not to return
pending the outcome of the
investigation. The safety
of your children while
attending our programs is
my highest priority, and I will
ensure that our operating
protocols, training,
recruiting, and monitoring
procedures will be carefully
reviewed and updated, if
needed.”

Ronald Wright was arrested
Aug. 24 on charges of cruelty to
children and sexual battery for
allegedly having inappropriate
contact with a female student.

local

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, September 2, 2016 • Page 13A

A conflict of opinion
City officials, Dunwoody Homeowners Association receive
opinions on conflicts of interest from outside legal counsel

by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com

I

s it a conflict of interest
for a city official to
also be a member
of an association
with an expressed
agenda concerning new
development? Is a city
susceptible to lawsuits
if a government official
is a member of such an
association?
These are questions
Dunwoody city officials, the
Dunwoody Homeowners
Association (DHA) and
Dunwoody residents have
been asking since June
17, when a memo from
unnamed city officials
banned membership in the
DHA while also serving on
the planning and zoning
commission, zoning board
of appeals and construction
board of adjustment and
appeals, as well as the
design review committee.
A line from the memo,
obtained by Dunwoody
resident and blogger Bob
Lundsten, states “the
mayor and city council
have determined it would
be a [conflict of interest] for
members of these boards
to also be members of the
DHA.”

Mayor Denis Shortal
said the reason for the
memo was to protect board
appointees and the city
from potential lawsuits, as
the DHA has been viewed
as a quasi-governmental
agency. Shortal said
businesses poised against
Dunwoody—“with millions
of dollars and deep
pockets”—could use such
conflicts of interest in court
if, for example, a zoning
variance is not granted.
A verbal policy banning
membership in DHA was
subsequently put in place
but suspended during a
June 23 special-called
meeting.
On Aug. 22, three
different legal opinions
addressing the issue were
released to the public
during a Dunwoody City
Council meeting, the latest
of which—written by a third
party from Gainesville,
Ga.—opined a conflict of
interest does exist.
The opinion, written by
Abbott Hayes of Hulsey,
Oliver & Mahar, begins
by referencing Dick v.
Williams, a 1994 Georgia
Court of Appeals case
where it was found “local
county and municipal
governments are free to

impose higher standards,
and individuals who seek
and retain office in local
jurisdictions are bound
by the standards of the
government they serve.”
Hayes called the
question of a conflict
of interest “not crystal
clear” and “a judgment
call” for Dunwoody
officials but “[agreed]
that active participation
by Dunwoody elected
officials and appointees
in DHA activities, such as
service on committees,
service as an officer and
attendance at meetings
to consider rezoning and
other applications made
to the city, is a conflict of
interest that arguably tends
to impair the independence
of his or her judgment or
action in the performance
of official duties.”
Hayes specifically
mentioned a letter written
by DHA on July 17 that
states, “We have fought
some developments—and
supported others.”
“When serving as an
appointee or an elected
official, a public servant
must be independent
when hearing applications
and making decisions on
applications,” Hayes states.

“To align oneself with the
DHA, which expressly
states that it supports and
opposes developments,
would raise a potential
appearance of conflict.”
Hayes’ opinion agrees
with an opinion written June
6 by city attorneys Cecil
McLendon and Lenny
Felgin that spurred the
June 17 email.
An opinion from DHA
attorney Seth Weissman
offers a different
perspective.
Weissman references
state statues addressing
conflicts of interest in
zoning laws as “limited to
rezoning actions and only
applies to local government
officials.”
“The term local
government official includes
city council members,
as well as members of a
planning commission,”
Weissman said. “All
rezoning applications
initiated by a property
owner or his or her agent
would fall under the statute.
Therefore, this specific
statute does not apply to
other types of governmental
zoning actions, such the
issuance of a building
permit or variance.”
Weissman’s opinion

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also references conflicts of
interest such as financial or
property interest as well as
nepotism before arguing for
the right of association and
freedom of speech.
“While there are a
couple of issues where the
DHA and [Dunwoody], out
of abundance of caution,
may want to take limited
steps to avoid running afoul
of the law, there is no logic
or justification for the broad
limitations imposed by the
city in its unwritten policy,”
Weissman concludes.
Councilman John
Heneghan in his blog said
he “is not an attorney but
[knows] that legal opinions
are just that—opinions.”
“As such, I plan to
attend as many community
meetings that my busy
calendar can handle to
be well informed on all
items that may come in
front of me, including the
next monthly DHA meeting
on Sept. 11 and then on
Monday, Sept. 12 at the
Dunwoody City Council
meeting,” Heneghan said.
Heneghan said Hayes
would likely present his
findings at the Sept. 12 city
council meeting when it will
be discussed.

education

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, September 2, 2016 • Page 14A

Lakeside High School’s Viking Marching Band will play at the 75th Commemoration of the Pearl Harbor attack in Waikiki, Hawaii. Photo by Lynn Kessler

Lakeside High band to play at 75th anniversary of Pearl Harbor
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com
Lakeside High School’s
Viking Marching Band will
be flying halfway across the
Pacific Ocean in November
to honor “a day which will
live in infamy.”
Lakeside’s Viking
Marching Band will fly
to Honolulu, Hawaii,
to take part in the 75th

Commemoration of the
Pearl Harbor attacks on
Nov. 25.
According to David
Fairchild, Lakeside High
School music director, the
101-member band is the
only high school marching
band in the Atlanta area
invited to participate in
the event. They will join
31 other music programs
from across the country

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in commemorating the
battle that led to the United
States’ involvement in
World War II.
Fairchild said Lakeside
performed on a “trial run”
performance in Hawaii
during Spring Break 2013
and has been planning
the 2016 trip since. An
application submitted in
April 2013 secured the
band’s trip this year for
what event organizers
have called “the big event,”
according to Fairchild.
“The trip went really
well; while we were
there, parade organizers
heard us perform and
invited us to play the 75th
Commemoration,” Fairchild
said. “Each band will
represent a different ship
that went down.”
Selected to represent
the U.S.S. New Orleans
with a banner and
Louisiana-themed
orchestral pieces, the
band will march one mile
along a torch-lit Kalakaua
Avenue and Waikiki Beach.
Fairchild said he expects
the band to play “When the
saints go marching in,” and
“Basin city blues” to honor
the American city and the
ship itself.
“New Orleans has a
great musical heritage
and we’ll do our best to
represent that music as
well as the South,” Fairchild
said.

Students will also play
patriotic pieces at the
U.S.S. Arizona Memorial
and the U.S.S. Missouri
Memorial in addition to
visiting the Dole Plantation
and the Polynesian Cultural
Center.
“This trip will be a oncein-a-lifetime experience for
many of these students,”
Fairchild said. “We will
join other school marching
bands from across the
country [in addition to]
Hawaiian bands, military
units, local officials and
dignitaries.”
Fairchild said the
trip will give participating
students, teachers and staff
a sense of history, culture
and community.
“Having visited the
[Arizona Memorial], seeing
the smokestack come
through the memorial and
seeing the ship in the water,
you can’t help but feel a
sense of history,” Fairchild
said. “Hawaii offers all the
benefits of going to another
country without being in
one. The culture is so
prevalent everywhere.”
The Hawaii trip will
cost Lakeside High School
approximately $259,400, or
$2,600 per person.
The Lakeside Viking
Marching Band has
funded the trip by selling
cheesecakes, baked goods
and fruit to students, staff
members and parents

for the past three years.
Funds raised will also help
pay for future instrument
purchases, instrument
repair, travel expenses
and general music costs,
according to Fairchild.
Fairchild said an
anonymous donor offered
scholarships to two
students to make their
Hawaiian experience
expense-free.
“We’ve been working on
this for the past two years,”
Fairchild said. “We’ve been
collecting small amounts of
money over a long period of
time. Everything is in but we
can always use extra help.”
Fairchild said he hopes
to repeat the trip every
four years. The plan for
Lakeside High’s band,
orchestra and choral
departments is to promote
the trip to younger students
so they know what to look
forward to once they start
high school.
In addition to taking part
in the 75th Commemoration
of Pearl Harbor, Lakeside
High School’s Viking
Marching Band will
take part in the opening
parade for Dragon Con,
Atlanta’s largest parade, on
Peachtree Street Sept. 3.
Lakeside High’s
Viking Marching Band has
performed in Chicago,
Myrtle Beach, Washington,
D.C., Daytona Beach and
Charleston.

education

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, September 2, 2016 • Page 15A

Kings of Halftime will raise $400,000 to travel to Tournament of Roses Parade. Photos by Travis Hudgons

MLK High to march in ‘Superbowl’ of marching bands
by R. Scott Belzer

sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com

I

n early 2014, Martin Luther King,
Jr. High School’s marching band
began a journey that will end in
Pasadena, Ca., on Jan. 2, 2017.
MLK High’s marching band,
also known as the Kings of Halftime
and Marching Lions, are one of 21
marching bands and one of 12 high
school marching bands selected to
play in the 128th Rose Parade.
More than 1.5 million people
will be watching the Kings of
Halftime as they march a 5.5-mile
route, showcasing their ability and
musicianship with other bands from
California, Oklahoma, Nevada,
Japan, Mexico and the armed
forces. Millions more around the
world will be watching the band on
television.
“For marching bands, this is our
Superbowl,” said MLK High band
director Travis Kimber. “This is the
largest parade a high school band
can participate in.”
MLK principal Ennis Harvey, a
former band director at Stephenson
High School who also has led a
band to the Rose Parade, called
the event “a great opportunity for
the students as well as the MLK
community to have exposure.”
“This is a great chance for
students to create lifelong memories
to take away from MLK High
School,” Harvey said. “This will, in
no doubt, aid [students] on their
journey in becoming productive
citizens.”
According to Kimber, video
footage, pictures and letters of
recommendation regarding MLK’s
marching band were submitted to
parade officials in early 2014. Two
hundred marching bands—the
Kings of Halftime included—were
subsequently asked to submit

MLK High band director Travis Kimber along with his assistants and drum majors are presented with the Tournament of Roses
Parade Flag from the President of the Tournament of Roses Parade Brad Ratliff, during halftime Aug. 27 at Hallford Stadium.

applications.
“From there, it was whittled
down to 50, from there to 25, and
from there, down to a final 12 high
school bands,” Kimber said.
MLK High School’s band is no
stranger to distinction. While the
band regularly receives superior
ratings at the district and county
level, in 2006, the band traveled
to Johannesburg, South Africa,
to showcase its talent. In 2007,
the band played before a national
audience at the Cotton Bowl in
Dallas, Texas.
MLK’s crimson, silver and black
could be seen competing at the
2011 Bands of America competition
and the 2014 Ohio State Buckeye
Invitational.
“This is our first time performing
at this major event, but not the first
time we have performed at a major
venue,” Kimber said.
Kimber said the Rose Parade is
unique in its longer-than-usual route
(5.5 miles as opposed to a typical
2-mile route) and non-stop pressure.

“In a typical parade atmosphere,
you have a high, a low, and another
high, when the pressure is on you at
the beginning and the end,” Kimber
said. “At this parade, there are 1.5
million people on the route itself.
There is no low point and [the route
is] three times the length of a ‘long’
parade.”
Kimber said the Kings of Halftime will not deviate from the training
brought them to this point: two and
a half hours each day dedicated to
marching and fundamentals.
“This is the regimen that has taken us to the parade,” Kimber said.
“We believe the regimen will take us
through the parade.”
Approximately 200 students, 25
parent chaperones and an eightperson staff will travel to Pasadena,
each with an estimated price tag of
$2,000. In total, the trip will cost the
Kings of Halftime $400,000. According to Kimber, the amount will be
completely funded by students, parents and program members. Parents
will supplement what the program

cannot raise on its own, according to
Kimber.
“We want students to understand there is a much broader world
out there outside of DeKalb County,”
Kimber said. “This is the beginning—
a worldwide event where they can
watch and learn from bands from
Japan, the Carribbean and throughout the United States. What they do
at MLK High School can put them on
the worldwide stage.”
MLK High’s band hosted a
two-hour concert titled “Jazz Under
the Stars” on Aug. 26 featuring the
school’s jazz band as well as professional musicians. On Sept. 25, the
band will host a Band Extravaganza
and Battle of the Bands at Hallford
Stadium. A final fundraising event
will take place at the Ray Charles
Performing Arts Center at Morehouse College.
For more information, including
how to donate to the band’s trip, call
(678) 847-5402, contact info.mlkkoh.com or visit www.mlk-koh.com.

Classified

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, September 2, 2016 • Page 16A

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business

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, September 2, 2016 • Page 17A

Entrepreneur opens cool business

By Kathy Mitchell

Dion Page enjoys
selling frozen treats in
neighborhoods around
Decatur. “I love kids and
it really thrills me to see
them so happy to see me
coming,” he said.
Page opened a Kona
Ice franchise in April and
says he’s never had a
moment’s regret. Before
buying the franchise Page
operated a recording studio,
but said the constantly
changing technology
made it difficult to remain
profitable.
“I’ve made more money
in four months with Kona
Ice than I made in four
years with the recording
studio,” he said. Kona Ice
is a tropical–themed mobile
shaved ice business with
franchises in 46 states.
After considering
a number of franchise
possibilities, Page and his
wife, Tameka, chose Kona
Ice. “I saw what most frozen
treat trucks in the area were
offering and I felt there was
a need for a better option,”
he said.
That observation was
similar to the one that
inspired Tony Lamb to
found Kona Ice in 2004 in
his home state of Kentucky.
Disappointed with his
experience with frozen
treat trucks, Lamb asked

himself some questions,
according to the Kona Ice
website: “What if the vehicle
had been attractive and
sanitary? What if it had an
‘open kitchen’ concept that
made its operation more
transparent? What if the
driver had been clean-cut,
friendly and welcoming?
What if the loud, scratchy
music coming from the
van had been something
that created a party
atmosphere? And what if
the product had been a
delicious treat that appealed
to both children and
adults?”
Kona Ice offers shaved
ice in such “gourmet” flavors
as Orange Ya Happy,
Strawberry’d Treasure,
Island Rush and Tiger’s
Blood. “The Tiger’s Blood is
my best seller,” Page said
of the flavor that combines
strawberry and coconut and
may include watermelon
or cherry. Customers can
order from the window or
choose and mix their own
flavors from the Flavorwave,
a self-service row of 10
syrups.
“We bring the party to
you,” Page said. “We have
great party music and fun
items such as cups that
change color when the ice
is added.”
As with all Kona
Ice franchises, Page’s
business often partners

with nonprofits at festivals,
fairs, sports events and the
like. “It’s an easy fundraiser
for the nonprofit because
we do all the work and
the organization gets 20
percent of the profits,” Page
said.
Because the syrups are
made with fruit, Kona Ice
is “Smart Snack” compliant
with the United States
Department of Agriculture’s
“all foods sold in schools”
standards. Page said the
treats are available in
sugar-free and other diet
sensitive versions and can
be ordered with an added
vitamin powder.
The company appeared
on Entrepreneur magazine’s
Franchise 500 list in 2013,
and was named the No. 1
new franchise. Entrepreneur
rated Kona Ice No. 27
among the fastest-growing
franchises in the country.
On Kona Ice’s website,
Lamb compared the
designation to being “the
pretty girl at the prom.
We’re getting a lot of
attention,” he said.
The corporate office
assigns each franchise an
area and owners respect
one another’s territories,
said Page, whose territory
is North Decatur. “If I
get a call for an event in
someone else’s territory, I
refer the customer to the
right person. We all do that,

but when an owner needs
an extra truck or has an
event he’s unavailable for,
he invites another franchise
owner to set up in his
territory. If the event is not
in an assigned territory, any
franchise owner can take it,”
he explained.
Because he opened the
business in April, Page has
not yet experienced winter
in the frozen treat business.
“Of course it will slow down,
but I don’t expect it to stop
completely,” he said. Page

said he is planning to get
a cart, which can be taken
inside buildings so his Kona
Ice can be sold at indoor
events.
Another advantage of
a cart, he said, is that it is
more likely to comply with
local ordinances. “The city
of Decatur regulates food
trucks pretty strictly,” he
said, “but the rules about
food carts are more lax. You
can take food carts places
food trucks aren’t allowed.”

For more information & to register:
www.dfreewithsmlac.eventbrite.com
economicdevelopment@smlacdst.org

sports

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, September 2, 2016 • Page 18A

Decatur takes
down Chamblee

by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
The Decatur Bulldogs
got their first win of the
season after a 19-6
victory over the Chamblee
Bulldogs on Aug. 26 at
home.
Decatur was dominating
in the first half, shutting
out Chamblee’s offense
from the end zone. Decatur
found the end zone twice in
the first quarter.
Terrill Hall gave
Decatur a 6-0 lead after a
1-yard rushing touchdown.
The following extra point
was blocked.
Decatur went up 13-0 at
the end of the quarter on a
3-yard rushing touchdown
by Doneiko Slaughter.
Decatur coach Scott
Jackson said he was
pleased with how his team
got off to a fast start.
“We had a really good
first half,” Jackson said.
“We really fought and
competed. We made some

mistakes but we didn’t let it
get us down.”
Chamblee came out
firing in the second half.
Quarterback Connor
Whitley found Jansen
King deep up the field
and connected on a 77yard touchdown pass. The
missed extra point left the
score at 13-6.
However, the Decatur
defense held strong the
rest of the game and kept
Chamblee out of the end
zone. Decatur scored early
in the fourth quarter on a
14-yard touchdown pass
from quarterback Brayton
Reed to wide receiver
Andre Carter, bringing the
final score to 19-6.
Jackson said he was
proud of how his team
persevered after the
Chamblee touchdown.
“When we came out in
the second half we wanted
to go down and score but
we didn’t,” Jackson said.
“They got the touchdown
and we came right back

Decatur’s Coby Webb tries to push off a Chamblee defender. Photo by Carla Parker

with a scoring drive and
that was really good. I was
proud that our kids didn’t
get down on themselves.
They rallied and came back
and up two scores again,
so that was really big and
encouraging.”
With a young football
team, Jackson said his

players have to continue
to grow each game to get
better.
“We’re a very young
football team,” he said.
“We start a freshman, three
sophomores and a junior
on the offensive line and
this is their second live
game. We’ll continue to get

better because we’ll get
experience and we’ll grow
in that way.”
Decatur (1-1) will take
on Cedar Shoals Sept. 2 to
move to 2-1 on the season.
Chamblee (0-2) will try to
get its first win on Sept. 2
against Dunwoody (0-1).

McNair’s Terry Grier tackles a Clarkston ball carrier. Photos by Travis Hudgons

Weekend football scores - Aug 26
McNair (1-0) 55, Clarkston (0-2) 12
Decatur (1-1) 19, Chamblee (0-2) 6
Columbia (1-1) 34, Druid Hills (1-1) 19
Miller Grove (2-0) 30, Stone Mountain (0-2) 0
Redan (1-1) 24, Lithonia (0-2) 20
Mill Creek (2-0) 32, Stephenson (0-2) 7
Banneker (1-0) 26, Towers (0-2) 0
Tucker (1-1) 48, Lakeside (1-1) 10

SW DeKalb (2-0) 21, Cedar Grove (1-1) 20
Lovett (1-1) 29, Marist (0-1) 28 (2OT)
Aug. 27
Arabia Mountain (2-0) 34, M.L. King (1-1) 0
Open: Cross Keys (0-0), Dunwoody (0-1),
St. Pius X (0-1)

Arabia Mountain’s Eric Ross II eludes Stephenson defenders.
Photos by Travis Hudgons

sports

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, September 2, 2016 • Page 19A

Softball tournament
benefits fast pitch club
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
A softball tournament was held at two DeKalb County high schools
on Aug. 27 that benefits the DeKalb County Fastpitch Club. The DeKalb
County Fastpitch Club hosts a banquet at the end of the softball season
where the top softball players are honored. The tournament was held at
Southwest DeKalb and Stephenson high schools.

The Southwest DeKalb High School girls’ basketball won the 2016 Class AAAAA
state title. Photo by Travis Hudgons

Rings campaign started for
SWD girls’ basketball team
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com

T

Scores
Southwest DeKalb location
Lakeside 16, Tucker 4
Southwest DeKalb 18, Druid Hills 1
Westlake 18, Cedar Grove 1
Stephenson location
Decatur 13, Stephenson 6
Arabia Mountain 10, Stockbridge 0
Miller Grove 2, Rockdale County 1
Chamblee 8, Rockdale County 4

he Southwest DeKalb High
School girls’ basketball
team may get its state
championship rings sooner than
expected.
After previous state
championship wins, it would take
more than a year for the team to
get rings. However, with the help of
the Southwest DeKalb alumni, the
team could have the rings by the
first game of the 2016-17season.
A Go Fund Me account was
started by Southwest DeKalb
alumnus Mia Mason Porter to
raise money for the rings and to
cover the costs for a parade. Porter
set a goal of $6,000 and $5,580
was raised in 11 days.
Coach Kathy Walton said she
was not surprised that the alumni
stepped in to help.
“There has to be another word
for it because I really believe in
the alumni and the power that they
have, so I’m not surprised,” Walton
said. “We have a wonderful alumni
[association], so I’m just thrilled
that they have come together [to]
support us.”
Porter, a 1988 Southwest
DeKalb graduate, said she
started the Go Fund Me account
after learning about the girls not
receiving rings.
“I was a Southwest DeKalb
High School cheerleader and I
remember cheering for the boys
and I remember cheering for the
girls. There was always a big
difference in attendance and in
support, and I see that has not
changed since I’ve graduated,”
Porter said. “For them to have
won the championship and to not
have their rings immediately is an
abomination to me. I was like what
are we doing?”

According to the Go Fund Me
page, each ring is $195. For 15
players, five coaches and two team
managers, the total cost for rings is
$4,290.
“When I saw how much it
was, I thought all we need is 300
alumni to contribute $20, 600
alumni to contribute $10 or 1,200
to contribute $5,” Porter said. “I
knew a small amount [from] a lot of
people could make it happen.”
Walton said the program have
always had to raise money for
rings.
“[For] the first two
[championships], the booster club
and parents had to raise all of the
money. The last two or three we
did get funds from [DeKalb County
School District] athletics to help
us,” Walton said. “Of course it
wasn’t enough but at least it was
something. I’m hoping with what
the alumni are doing and whatever
support we’ll get from athletics, it
looks like we’re going to be over the
top. We’ll be able to get those rings
sooner than what I anticipated.”
Porter said she hopes this
campaign garners more support for
the girls’ basketball program.
“We want to create a stir in the
community and I also want the girls
to know that they are supported
and that they are cared about, and
that their championship matters to
the community and it matters to the
other little girls playing basketball,”
she said.
Walton said this campaign
shows the players that their
accomplishments are appreciated
by the alumni.
“It is huge,” Walton said.
The boys’ track and field team
also has not received its state
championship rings. Porter said
once the campaign for the girls’
basketball team is complete, the
focus will shift to the track team.

local

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, September 2, 2016 • Page 20A

Brookhaven seeking residents’ vision for community
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
Brookhaven is planning to
refine the character areas in its
comprehensive plan 2034 and has
asked residents to assist with the
project.
The city has begun hosting
charrettes—seven total—for
character area studies with the last
charrette taking place Aug. 31. The
Character Area Map, according
the city, identifies 13 areas of the
city—eight are residential, and
five are community activity centers
of “varying intensity envisioned
as central locations for jobs,
entertainment, mixed use, and a
live-work-play environment.”
The first round of charrettes
will be used to gather input from
the public on each area, according
to the city. The second round, to
be announced at a future date,
will allow the public to weigh in
on suggested revisions to the
comprehensive plan.
Brookhaven Deputy Director of
Community Development Patrice
Ruffin said a representative
from each character area will
address the city council with
recommendations.

Residents from Brookhaven Heights, Brookhaven Fields and Briarwood Park
communities participate in a charrette at St. Martin’s Episcopal Church. Photos by
Carla Parker

“The spokesperson that
[the residents] selected will
work with the consultant on the
presentation, which will go to the
planning commission and the city
council about what [the residents’]
recommendations are for each
character area,” Ruffin said.
Brookhaven, with the help
of residents, finalized the
comprehensive plan in 2015. The
city-wide plan sets the direction

for the future of land use in
Brookhaven. According to the city,
the plan identifies and provides
descriptions, vision statements and
implementation strategies for 13
character areas.
“That document was a
great start; however, the city is
embarking upon a character area
study to continue to refine the
character areas,” the city stated.
“This study will include additional

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review and recommendation/
policy development in each of the
character areas to further maintain,
preserve and enhance the
character of existing single-family
residential neighborhoods.”
Ruffin said the
recommendations from residents
will not replace the character areas
in the plan.
“It will be a supplement to the
comprehensive plan,” Ruffin said.
“We’re not changing what we
already have. This will be just an
addition to what we already have in
our document.”
After the Aug. 22 charrette
with residents from Brookhaven
Heights, Brookhaven Fields and
Briarwood Park, some participants
said they appreciate the city for
trying to get residents involved in
the process.
Ruffin said most residents who
have attended the charrettes were
excited about participating.
“They’re looking forward
to continuing to work with the
city through the process and
presenting their ideas to the city
council,” she said.
The study is expected to be a
six-month process.