New foreclosure listings and tax sales in the champion

See page 6 for locations

the DeKalb

FRIDAY, October 7, 2016 • VOL. 19, NO. 26 • FREE

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


‘A sense of togetherness’
Pine Lakefest
2016 celebrates
by R. Scott Belzer


he 16th annual Pine
Lakefest was held on
the shores of Pine Lake
on Oct. 1 and Oct. 2, welcoming poets, artists, musicians,
vendors and families. It also
featured food varieties from
throughout DeKalb County
and beyond.
Pine Lakefest 2016 featured nature-oriented kid
activities, live poetry readings, chalk art contests, a pet
parade, a floating parade and
a sand sculpture contest—all
along Lakeshore Drive near
Pine Lake’s eponymous body

See Lakefest on Page 5

Business owner supports other business owners
by Carla Parker

Whenever La Detra White turned
on the news she saw more negative
than positive stories about the AfricanAmerican community in metro Atlanta.
She grew tired of seeing and hearing
the negative coverage and decided to
do something about it. In July, White
launched “The Putting Your Money
Where Your Heart Is Project” to help the
African-American business communities.
White ambushes small business
owners with a monetary donation, and
sometimes customers, while streaming
on Facebook Live.
“First, I went and opened up a
checking account at a Black-owned

bank, but the feeling wasn’t sufficient,”
White said. “Later, I was riding through
Main Street in East Point with my
husband around the same time, and
I spotted a quaint cupcake shop that
looked worthy of patronizing. The idea
hit me like a brick.”
The following week, she surprised the
business owners with a cash donation
and other resources.
White, who owns a marketing firm,
took the profits from her book This
Is My Story, But It Is Not My Life and
donated the funds to small, Black-owned
businesses in metro Atlanta. Since
the launch of the project, White has
donated cash or provided services to six
businesses in the amount of $100,000.
One of those businesses was Gator’s

See Business on Page 5A



La Detra White bought 100 meals Gator’s BBQ and Soul Food in
Clarkston through her “The Putting Your Money Where Your Heart
Is Project.”




DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 7 2016 • Page 2

Resident committee to address DeKalb County blight issues

by Horace Holloman

A committee of DeKalb
County residents plans to tackle
the county’s issues with blighted
properties and businesses
throughout DeKalb.
The eight-member committee,
formed by DeKalb County
Commissioner Nancy Jester, will
“study data against businesses
that have repeatedly failed to
take reasonable steps to correct
objectionable conditions and
businesses that have not responded
to complaints for violations of code,”
according to Jester.  
Members of the group are
assigned to specific areas and
include Ann Rosenthal, Janel
Green, Sandra Holmes, Mike
Cooper, Joel Edwards, Jeff Long
and Harmel Codi. Martha Gross
will serve as the group’s facilitator.  
Edwards said the county’s code
enforcement “moves at a snail’s
pace” and he wants something to
be done about blighted properties in
the area.
“Some of these properties are
an eyesore for the county and it
lowers property value. We are
seeing houses that are vacant that
are not being attended to and we’re
hoping we can do something about
it,” Edwards said.

The DeKalb County Citizens Nuisance Business and Blight Committee, a committee
of DeKalb County residents, will address blighted areas across DeKalb County.
Photo by Travis Hudgons

In 2014, data collected from
DeKalb County officials showed
there were 427 apartment
complexes in unincorporated
DeKalb County with a total of
66,016 units.
According to information
provided by county officials, “many
of these complexes were in a state

of disrepair and lacked compliance
with county codes.”
Jester said the committee,
called the DeKalb County Citizens
Nuisance Business and Blight
Committee, will report to DeKalb
County taxpayers and the board of
commissioners after the committee
assesses properties in the area.

The committee will present
recommended policies to the
commissioners, Jester said.
“We want to come out with
suggestions on how to deal with
these types of problems. We’re
looking at how other states have
dealt with abandoned properties or
have dealt with abandoned homes,”
Jester said. “The purpose is to
document problem areas and show
the commissioner that this is what
we think can be done. We think it’s
a very collaborative approach and
we’re excited about it.”
From January to June of 2016,
the county received 6,919 code
enforcement complaints, according
to code enforcement documents.
The almost 7,000 complaints is
an increase of nearly 25 percent
compared with 2014 during the
same time-frame.
From January to June of 2016
code enforcement officials served
2,740 warning notices, which is a
decrease of 39 percent compared to
the same period last year.
“I think there’s a need in DeKalb
to look at properties and businesses
that are blighted because they
are impacting property values and
other residents,” Jester said. “It’s
a quality of life issue and we need
to have a concerted and deliberate
strategy. Quite frankly, it impacts
our development.”

Brookhaven denies overlay district contract to consulting firm, seeking new firm
by Carla Parker
Brookhaven is seeking
a consulting firm to
review and rewrite the
Overlay District after the city
council denied a contract
award to a consulting firm.

The city council voted
unanimously to deny a
resolution that would have
authorized the city manager
to execute a contract with
Sycamore Consulting and
TSW for $136,500.
The city council voted
Sept. 13 at its regular
meeting to table the

resolution. Councilman
Bates Mattison made the
motion to table it due to little
awareness of Sycamore
and the discussion
surrounding the review of
the district. At the Sept. 27
meeting, Mattison said he
values the further study
of the overlay district, but

doesn’t believe Sycamore
Consulting and TSW are
the right firms to do the
“I’m very supportive of
Sycamore and TSW; they’re
good firms,” Mattison
said. “This is not to mean
any reflection upon them.
They’re just not the right
firms for this project. I would
like to see the city proceed
with putting out that [request
for proposal] so that we can
open this up to find the right
firm for this BrookhavenPeachtree corridor overlay
district study because it is
extremely important that we
further define it as it was
originally intended when
it was in DeKalb County,
that we would do a further
Mattison said the city
should bring in a firm with a
background in urban design
to “get a good product out of
this rather than just having it
as a completed project.”
Councilman Joe Gebbia
agreed with Mattison.
“I think it’s more
important that we really are
sure that we’re going to
get the high quality job that

needs to be done because
the impact on this is going
to last beyond the study
period, regardless of how
well it’s timed towards the
end,” Gebbia said.
The BrookhavenPeachtree Overlay District
is a zoning district created
by DeKalb County in
2007 to organize the
recommendations of the
Brookhaven LCI Study.
The district lays out the
specifics of building,
parking and streetscape
for new development
along Peachtree Road and
Dresden Drive.
Councilwoman Linley
Jones said she supports
sending out a RFP.
“This area is our city
center and one of its
council members, the one
representing the greatest
portion of that city center,
would like to bring in a
dedicated, top-notch, urban
planning firm to handle
this—to make absolutely
sure that we are getting the
very best results we can,”
Jones said. “I think that is
important to do.”



DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 7 2016 • Page 3



Lakeside High
School’s music students
are poised to selling fresh
citrus fruit.
Sales from the
citrus—supplied by
Florida Indian River
Groves—will help fund
the school’s band,
orchestra and chorus
programs. Specifically,
the sales will fund free
public concerts, new
instruments, instrument
repairs, travel expenses,
music costs, guest
clinicians, group lessons and sectionals.
“We are asking the community to support the Lakeside citrus sale
again this year,” said David Guthrie, Lakeside Band Association
president. “Numerous studies have shown the many benefits of arts
education, especially music, in terms of enhanced learning abilities,
greater comprehension of math and language and higher graduation
Citrus will be sold throughout the month of October with a delivery
scheduled for Dec. 3. To order citrus, attend one of Lakeside’s free
concerts or email
Lakeside High School’s concerts are at 7 p.m. in the school
auditorium on Oct. 13, Oct. 18 and Nov. 3. The band also performs at
every football game during halftime.

Chamblee Main Street will host its second annual Harvest Festival
on Oct. 15 from noon to 6 p.m. in the parking lot of Interactive College of
Technology located at 5303 New Peachtree Road.
The festival will feature handmade arts and crafts from metro Atlanta
artists and craftsmen. In addition, the Harvest Festival will include a
pumpkin patch, face painting, games, food trucks, live music, yoga and
other performances, according to event officials.
Profits from food at this year’s festival will benefit the nonprofit
Sheltering Arms, an early education and family center in Chamblee.
Admission to the event is free.
For more information, visit

Lakeside High School sells, delivers citrus

Avondale Estates

Avondale Community Club to host pig roast event
The fifth Annual Avondale Community Club Pig Roast will be held
Oct. 14-15, at 6 p.m. The event will feature music, food from Flatbread
Bistro and The French food truck, ghost stories around Lake Avondale,
a pig pinata and other activities. Camping is available at the Scout Hut.
Tickets are limited and will be available at Finders Keepers Furnishings,
Pine Street Market and city hall. Adult tickets are $15 and kids (12 and
younger) tickets will be available for $5. Avondale Community Club
is located at 59 Lakeshore Drive. For more information, visit www.

City to host arts festival

Brookhaven will host the second Annual Brookhaven Arts Festival
Oct. 15-16 behind the Brookhaven MARTA Station, located at 4047
Peachtree Road Northeast. More than 100 participating artists
will feature works of fiber, glass, jewelry, mixed media, painting,
photography, sculpture and other mediums. There will also be musical
performances and food. The event will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
on Oct. 15, and noon to 5 p.m. on Oct. 16. For more information, visit

City to host ‘parent’s night out’
Brookhaven will host Parent’s Night Out on Oct. 14, from 6:30 to
9 p.m. at Lynwood Community Center. The event is a way for parents
to drop off their children on a Friday and have time to themselves. The
event will include dinner, games, activities and options to keep children
entertained. Pre-registration is required and pick-up is promptly at 9
p.m. Cost is $15 per child; ages: 5-12. For more information call (404)

City hosts second annual Harvest Festival


Wylde Center to host S’Mores For All throughout
October and November
The Wylde Center in Decatur will host several free family nights
at green spaces throughout October and November in Decatur and
East Atlanta from 5 to 7 p.m. The first event will take place at Oakhurst
Garden, located at 435 Oakview Road.
“This is a free, casual evening designed for children and adults
to enjoy the garden and indulge in some old-fashioned fun,” said
Stephanie Van Parys, executive director of the Wylde Center. “We
will provide all of the fixings – marshmallows, graham crackers and
chocolate! Christy Foelsch of ‘Kids Go Wild’ will entertain with
storytelling each of the five nights.”
The event will continue Oct. 16 at Hawk Hollow (2304 1st Ave.,
Atlanta), Oct. 21 at Sugar Creek Garden (415 East Lake Drive,
Decatur), Oct. 30 at Mulberry Fields (1301 Iverson St., Atlanta), and
Nov. 13 at Edgewood Community Learning Garden (1503 Hardee
Street, Atlanta).
For more information, visit

Community day scheduled
A Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Community Day will be held Oct.
15 from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. at 5362 Covington Highway in Decatur.
The event will include free food, a DJ, prizes, face painting, a clown,
balloons and a bounce house.
For additional information, call (678) 523-3598.

DeKalb hosting household hazardous waste recycling
The DeKalb County Sanitation Division will host a household
hazardous waste recycling event Oct. 15, from 8 a.m. to noon, at the
Sanitation Division’s Central Transfer Station, 3720 Leroy Scott Drive,
Decatur, GA 30032.
Participants will have an opportunity to properly dispose of
dangerous household chemicals that are no longer in use. The event
is open to all DeKalb County residents and residents will be able to
dispose of aerosols, batteries, adhesives, flammables, lawn care
products, fluorescent light bulbs, photo chemicals, artist supplies, paint
and paint-related products will be accepted.
Participants will be limited to 10 gallons of paint per vehicle.

stone mountain
City to host music event

Heather Luttrell Duo will perform Oct. 14 at Stone Mountain’s Tunes
By The Tracks event in the Municipal Parking Lot, next to the gazebo.
Attendees can bring lawn chairs. The two-hour concert begins at 7 p.m.
For more information, visit


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 7 2016 • Page 4

DeKalb County police hiring officers
by Horace Holloman

Currently, the DeKalb
County Police Department
(DKPD) is hiring for three
police officer positions
and two E911 operator
positions, according to
department officials.
DKPD is actively filling
police positions for the
department’s next academy
which starts on Dec. 5, said
DKPD Background and
Recruiting Officer Lonzy
Starting salary for an
officer with no degree is
$38,151. An officer with a
four-year degree will make
$40,059 and a certified
officer with two years
of experience will make
Starting salary for E911
senior operator is $33,444
and $31,560 for a general
operator position.
Robertson said the
department hires officers
year round, but will look for
certified officers who can
complete a three-to-seven
week abbreviated academy.
Media coverage of
police-involved shootings
has deterred some potential
officers from working in the
profession, Robertson said,
which can make recruitment
of officers difficult.
“I think some of the
negative press and the

922 Main St.
(behind Gazebo)

Saturday, Oct. 22,
8:30 a.m.–3:00 p.m.
Setup begins 7:30 a.m. on
day of sale
For info call City Hall



General cutline: DeKalb County Police Officers gather at a
fundraising event to help a fellow officer battling illness. The
DKPD announced they will be hiring for positions within the
department. Photo by Horace Holloman

fact that there are more
opportunities for jobs that
don’t require life-threatening
situations are contributing
to the decreased numbers
of police applicants,”
Robertson said. “I am
in constant contact with
other agencies that have
applicants dropping out
mid-process because of
what they see in the news.

We try not to focus time
on those people who fear
doing the job because of
what they may see on TV or
in social media.”
From Sept. 1, 2015
to Sept. 1 of this year,
62 officers resigned from
DKPD. The department has
hired 57 officers during the
time frame, but Robertson
said not all of them have

completed the academy.
Robertson said the
department is looking for,
“qualified applicants who
want to hold that line that
doesn’t allow criminals
to prey on law abiding
To be considered for
hiring, officers must be
U.S. citizens at least 20
years old with no felony
or domestic violence
convictions. They also must
have a high school diploma
or GED, valid driver’s
license and an honorable
discharge if the applicant
was a veteran.  
DeKalb County officials
and residents have
advocated more pay for the
county’s officers and fire
and rescue personnel.
In January, dozens of
DeKalb County officers and
fire and rescue personnel
demanded pay raises in
front of the DeKalb County
The county has tried
to address pay concerns
with raises and pay studies.

All sworn public safety
personnel received a
3-percent incentive and in
2014 all county employees
received a 3-percent costof-living adjustment.
Robertson, a 14-year
veteran of DKPD, said the
department’s size makes it
easier to advance or work
in different departments.
“We are also considered
a large department. We
have many opportunities for
officers to work in various
divisions and specialized
units. There is opportunity
for professional growth
here whether an applicant
wants to work to get into a
specialized unit or progress
up the chain of command,”
Robertson said.  “I’ve
been here 14 years, I’m
currently a lieutenant and
I’ve had the privilege of
working in several different
units where I have gained
a better grasp of how a
police department works. I
couldn’t get that at a smaller

The DeKalb County School District through the Building S.P.A.C.E.S Initiative is holding an informational
meeting and the second round of five (5) regional public input meetings. The Building S.P.A.C.E.S. Initiative is
an effort to determine how, where, and why future revenues from the E-SPLOST program should be dedicated
to the improvement and modernization of our buildings and infrastructure. Voters approved the 2017-2022
E-SPLOST program on May 24th, 2016
The meetings will be held on the following dates and times at the locations shown:

Time/Date of Meeting

Meeting Location

Informational Meeting

Tuesday, September 27, 7 – 9 PM

1701 Mountain Industrial Blvd
Stone Mountain, GA 30083

Region 2

Tuesday, October 4, 7-9 PM

Tucker High School
5036 LaVista Road
Tucker, GA 30084

Region 4

Tuesday, October 11, 7 – 9 PM

Miller Grove High School
2645 DeKalb Medical Parkway
Lithonia, GA 30058

Region 1

Thursday, October 13, 7 – 9 PM

Chamblee High School
3688 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road
Chamblee, GA 30341

Region 5

Monday, October 17, 7 – 9 PM

Columbia High School
2106 Columbia Drive
Decatur, GA 30032

Region 3

Tuesday, October 18, 7 – 9 PM

Stone Mountain High School
4555 Central Drive
Stone Mountain, GA 30083


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 7, 2016

Page 5

Lakefest Continued From Page 1
of water.
Live music performances included eclectic blends of country, rock ‘n’ roll, gospel, folk,
Americana, urban jazz, electric
pop-rock, bluegrass and blues.
When patrons weren’t sipping mango citrus tea courtesy
of Kushina Catering or purchasing s’mores funnel cakes,
they could be seen chatting in
one of Pine Lakefest’s many
conversation coves—meant to
foster conversation and ideas
via cozy seating arrangements—or watching Judy
“Mama Jude” Forster hand
spinning yarn.
It also featured nonprofit
representatives such as Jen
Leon spreading the word
about local causes. Leon was
present Oct. 1 and Oct. 2 to
engage with the community
regarding All Minds Welcome,
a program offering a welcoming dining experience for those
with autism.
In one area, attendees were
encouraged to register to vote
and hear from local politicians
such as George Chidi and
Randall Mangham.
On Oct. 1, the festival
reached a fever pitch with a
flash mob dance made up of
residents, city officials and
police officers. The dance began by honoring the late artist Prince via lip-syncing and
choreographed dance, faked
being broken up by police, and
ended with a community-wide
dance to Kool & The Gang’s
Debbie Liam, organizer for
Pine Lakefest’s flash mob for
the past four years, said the
purpose of the dance was to
bring people together.
“It started with ‘Thriller,’ the
next year we did ‘YMCA,’ and
this year we had a vision of

an 80s medley,” Liam said.
“We had the police crash our
mob to bring our community
Liam said six practices—including one at the Pine Lake
courthouse—and one instructional YouTube video ensured
dancers knew each step.
“The police stole the show,”
Liam said. “People saw them
in a different light dancing to
‘Celebration,’ and it’s just so
healing. This year has been
Pine Lake Police Chief Sarai Y’hudah-Green said the
flash mob enabled the public
and police to enage in “the
conversation” and “doing away
with the elephant in the room”
concerning police and public
“Where do you start?”
Y’hudah-Green asked. “They
have the flash mob every year.
After a while, it just made
sense. Any time you deal with
the police, it’s usually because
someone has called 911 over
a less-than-favorable situation.
This is a chance to bump into,
dance side-by-side with police
and for people to see it from
the outside. I’m glad we did it.”
According to Mayor Melanie
Hammet, the festival—seemingly highlighted by the flash
mob—celebrates Pine Lake’s
unique ability to join residents,
artists and local officials to create something special.
“It really means something
when police and people come
together to create artwork,”
Hammet said. “It really creates a sense of togetherness.
You’ve tasted the food, you’ve
seen the art, you’ve listened to
the music—you be the judge.”
For more information on
Pine Lakefest, visit www.

Business Continued From Page 1
BBQ and Soul Food in
Clarkston, owned by Trae
Pass, whose nickname is
White supported
Gator’s by purchasing 100
meals for his customers.
She said the video of her
ambushing Gator’s BBQ
had nearly one million
views in a week.
“[Pass’] story is
special because I wasn’t
intending to ambush his

business that day,” White
said. “I had gone to two
other businesses in the
county first, and they
declined the blessing.
“After talking with Gator, I
realized that his business
was truly one that
deserved the donation
and surge in business.”
In the video, Pass, who
was visibly emotional,
said he was overwhelmed
by White’s support.

“Thank you,” he told
When seeking
businesses to help,
White said she looks for
a business that can see
results right away.
“They have to have
a product that people
can enjoy, that’s easy
to purchase and easily
accessible,” she said.
She ambushed her
first out-of-state business

in Killeen, Texas, on Oct.
1. White said she sees
her project becoming
a statewide effort and
eventually, a nationwide
“I would love to see
larger media channels
help us spread the word
as well,” she said. “We
all win when we help
our small businesses.
Today, 98 percent of Black
spending is done outside

our community. I am trying
to change that. We all win
when we come together
to support one another.
I am a strong believer
in working together we
are stronger. I especially
believe in putting my
money where my heart
Business ambush
suggestions can be sent
to awesomelifeministry@

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 7, 2016


Page 6

Taking politics too seriously
I am regularly amused by
comments that are made online
and in-person by those who feel
particularly supportive of a specific
political candidate, especially
presidential candidates.
Broad-reaching statements are
made that often are based on few
or no facts—or even speculations
and lies—and are presented as if
they are highly researched political
Some people become so
engrossed in their support of their
preferred candidate that they turn
against those with whom they have
long-term relationships.
There are a number of ultraconservative and ultra-liberal
websites, Facebook groups, blog
sites and similar online groups that
amuse me with the memes, photos
and posts that are presented and
often shared by thousands of
I often wonder if people actually
believe some, or any, of what

John Hewitt

appear be to total fabrications and
distortions of fact. Many will share
these posts and many others will
comment, either in support of or
in opposition to, with what often
appears to be highly emotional
Terms such as deplorable,
dishonest, hypocrite, racist,
homophobe and other less-thandesirable labels are often used
by candidates and individuals to
refer to those with whom there is a
lack of agreement on a particular
candidate or position.
One president or administration
cannot be held responsible
for national debt, increases or

decreases in employment numbers,
upward or downward swings in the
stock market or social unrest in
foreign countries; but supporters
and opponents will often use these
talking points when attempting
to sway the opinions of others.
This simply is not how the political
process works.
In reality, officials from opposing
parties are constantly making
deals to further the causes of their
own or of those who support them
There are so very many
backroom deals and add-ons
attached to new bills or legislation
that are introduced that we rarely
know all the particulars of what our
elected officials are voting on or
what special favor earmarks may
be added to entice more support by
fellow officials.
When elected officials are
successful at securing funding
for special projects in their home
districts—whether needed or

not—they can use these financial
benefits to their advantage when
campaigning and when soliciting
financial support.
I am of the opinion that it really
doesn’t matter all that much who
is elected as president or which
of the two major political parties
has control of the Senate and
Congress. We the people are rarely
affected in a direct way.
Our votes do not truly count in
the way many seem to believe they
do. The final decision as to whom is
elected as president is determined
by the electoral college; and in
many states electoral delegates
have the power to vote differently
than the voters if they so choose.
Individual voters have little say
in our political system. The political
system is not about those who cast
their votes. It is more like us vs.
them…and we the people will likely
always be on the losing end.

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 7, 2016


Page 7

Food, glorious food
“Food glorious food!  We’re
anxious to try it.  Three banquets
a day—-Our favorite diet!” lyrics
from the musical Oliver, re-telling
the Dickens’ tale of orphan Oliver Twist.
I have been to a few thousand
dinner parties in my life, this one
was inspiring. Decatur’s Dinner
Party 2016 was a true feast of
farm-to-table locally grown food
and produce. The event was
the single annual fundraiser for
Global Growers Network.   
Our entire menu was grown
and cultivated by local farmers
within seven miles of the event
site, in private and community
gardens. The event was held in
the historic Decatur Cemetery,
which at 58 acres is the city’s
largest green space. Chefs from
14 of Decatur’s most popular
and well-known restaurants
contributed by cooking and preparing dishes that evening. And
I’ll say that again, on a busy fall
football Saturday night, these
chefs left their own restaurant
kitchens where many are the
owner/proprietor and donated
their culinary expertise, recipes
and talents to this cause. 
Bill Bolling, retired founder
of the Atlanta Community Food
Bank, served as honorary chair
of the host committee and welcomed the sold out crowd on
nearly 200. As Bolling always
does, he set the tone for the
night by reminding everyone
of the transformative power of
food, ending real hunger and the

‘One Man’s
Bill Crane

bounty that lies easily within our
reach if we simply maximize use
of our existing resources.  
So what is Global Growers
Network, one may ask? As one
type of news coverage attempts
to raise fear, potential hate and
cause our region to question the
practice of welcoming political
and human suffering refugees.
Positive news is coming from
parts of unincorporated DeKalb
which have become the temporary home for hundreds of
families, and thousands of oppressed people from some of the
world’s most impoverished and
war- torn areas. These folks from
Africa, the Sudan and yes, Syria;
the communities of Clarkston,
Stone Mountain know how to do
one thing incredibly well—grow
food on the tiniest, most seemingly imperfect scrap of land or
There is no debating that produce raised locally, if possible
organically, and consumed at
its freshest is the best nutrition
one can consume. The question
is how can we produce more,
and still get it to market, given
the current distribution systems
in place, built around a very
different model. We dined on
vegetables, pates and dishes I

had never heard of. Each course
was more delicious than the one
prior. The food service began at
8:00 p.m. with courses, desserts
and wonderful wine pairings still
arriving at 10 p.m. It was a wonderful night for Uber and Lyft in
downtown Decatur.
 Silent and live auction proceeds complimented the ticket
sales of seats at $150.00. The
gate and fundraising total was in
the thousands, but the potential
for this type of local farming is
almost exponential. Drive along
North DeKalb Mall’s (Market
Square) side entrance off of
Scott Boulevard and you will see
a small plot of less than an acre
which is feeding several hundred
families as well as quite a few of
their local farmer’s market and
restaurant customers.
 The small non-profit’s staff
and committed board are all passionate, eager and committed to
raising funds and raising crops,
in almost any place they can.
Hats off to Global Growers Network Executive Director Robin
Chanin, Development and Communications Director Desiree
Fowler and Farmer Manager In
Chief Todd Eittreim jobs well
done on all fronts. A young board
of directors, chaired by Jeb
Hughes along with fellow board
members Susan Pavlin, Hilary
King and my host, Will Sellers,
all see and share the organization’s potential benefits to better
community health and wealth.
 Ideas discussed which could
easily take root included taking

any of the many county-owned
tax sale parcels—awaiting title
clean-up and auction—converting them, at least for a planting
season or two, into productive
farm crop land as has already
occurred with hundreds of acres
in downtown Detroit. 
Most of our feast was produced on a handful of acres,
within a few miles of the Decatur
square by six featured farmers
from places such as Burma,
Bhutan and Burundi, with surnames we southern Anglo’s
might have difficulty pronouncing. If six can feed 200, just do
the math on what 200 Global
Growers could do? 
Every coin has at least two
sides. Instead of seeing a potential terrorist, I see a farmer with a
spade and a pitchfork, or a plowshare. In Scottdale, where we
call home, some of these folks
are also our neighbors. 
Dig in.
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

Subscribe to The Champion Newspaper
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We sincerely appreciate the
discussion surrounding this and any
issue of interest to DeKalb County.
The Champion was founded in 1991
expressly to provide a forum for
discourse for all community residents
on all sides of an issue. We have no
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DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 7 2016 • Page 8

Chamblee rules for more massage spa fees, restrictions

City council
approves second
reading of
regulations requiring
fees, permits and
background checks
by R. Scott Belzer


hamblee City Council
ruled in favor of changing
ordinances dealing with
massage parlors and spas
at its Sep. 20 meeting.
According to the agenda item—
presented by Chamblee Economic
Developer Adam Causey—owners
of massage or spa establishments
will now be required to pay an
annual $50 investigative fee, a

$200 annual license fee and a
$100 per employee annual work
permit fee following its adoption.
City officials state the fees
must be paid following the review
of an owner’s application. Massage
therapists already licensed in
Georgia will not be required to pay
the work permit fee.
According to Causey, the fees
will “offset staff time to review the
required license applications, work
permits, and background checks.”
The ordinance requires finger
printing by Chamblee Police
Department and a nationwide
background check by the Federal
Bureau of Investigation.
Applicants guilty of illegal
gambling, theft, violence, felony
trespassing, felony disorderly
conduct or misdemeanor sexcrimes within 10 years of the
application will not be granted
a license, according to city
The new ordinance also sets
“general operating provisions,”

Chamblee City Council approved a replacement ordinances placing stricter rules
and more fines on massage and spa establishments. Photo submitted.

including the reporting of employee
changes, dress codes and time
Any time an employee of a
spa or massage establishment
changes addresses or hires a new
employee, Chamblee city officials

will now have it on record. Officials
will also be able to inspect such
businesses to see if employees
are wearing skirts or pants that go
down to at least two inches above

See Chamblee on Page 12A

Dunwoody council defers land permit
Transwestern deferred to build 20 story building near Perimeter Mall
by R. Scott Belzer


unwoody City
Council deferred
a special land use
permit (SLUP) five to
zero during a regularly
scheduled biweekly
meeting on Sept. 26.
The SLUP, applied
for by developer
Transwestern, will allow
building heights at a
Perimeter Mall surface
parking lot to reach 20
stories or approximately
300 feet.
Transwestern applied
for the SLUP to make
room for an office building
called Nexus at Perimeter,

which would take the
place of 140 parking
spaces. The developer
states the building
will fulfill Dunwoody’s
comprehensive plan
goal of “reducing surface
parking and promoting
livable centers in
the immediate areas
surrounding [the] MARTA
Buildings in the area—
located along Hammond
Drive near the Dunwoody
MARTA Station—are
currently approved
to be two stories or
approximately 35 feet high.
Resident Robert
Wolford spoke at the
Sept. 26 meeting before

Transwestern had a
second public hearing
that would progress
the development’s
“There’s hardly been
any time for people to
review the application,”
Wolford said. “This SLUP
calls for no diversification
of the use of land. This
SLUP does not meet
the criteria for uses
outlined in the [Dunwoody
Comprehensive Plan]. This
SLUP does not give the
community stakeholders
ample time to respond.”
Wolford referenced
Dunwoody City Council’s
Sept. 12 meeting, the
SLUP’s first reading, when

The FY 2017 City of Brookhaven proposed budget will be presented to Mayor and
Council by the City Manager on October 11, 2016 at the regularly scheduled Council
Meeting beginning at 7:00 p.m. The City of Brookhaven will hold a public hearing on
the proposed FY 2017 Budget at the regularly scheduled Council Meeting on Tuesday,
October 25, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. Another public hearing will be held during the City
Council meeting on Wednesday, November, 9, 2016 at 7:00 p.m. Following the public
hearing on November 9, 2016, the City Council will vote to adopt the FY 2017 Budget.
The FY 2017 Budget will be available for public inspection at City Hall, 4362 Peachtree
Road, and on the website October 11, 2016.

four residents spoke in
opposition while none
spoke in favor of the
On Sept. 12, Robyn
Files and Cheryl
Summers spoke about
a potential increase in
traffic should the tall, highdensity building be built.
Transwestern’s SLUP
application states “the
proposed increase in
height will not change the
character of the vehicles
accessing the site but it
will increase the traffic
generated from the
“Notwithstanding the
foregoing, [Transwestern]
does not anticipate
the impact to be overly
burdensome,” the
application states.
“From a transportation
perspective, the adjacency
to the MARTA station,
the proximity to the I-285
interchange and the
distance from single family
neighborhoods make the
site the logical location for
increased height and high

intensity use.”
City officials said
no formal traffic study
regarding Hammond
Drive or potential impact
has been completed.
Dunwoody Public Works
Director Michael Smith
said the city requested
a traffic study from
Transwestern in June 2016
but had not received it as
of Sept. 26.
At the Sept. 12
meeting, resident Chris
Gravakis said Dunwoody’s
suburban appeal is
disappearing to make way
for office development
while Dwight Hawksworth
requested city council
make information
regarding such potential
buildings better known to
the public.
“We are consistent
with [Dunwoody’s]
comprehensive plan,” said
Jessica Hill, attorney for
Transwestern on Sept.
27. “[Nexus] provides
specifically for the highest

See Dunwoody on Page 12A


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 7 2016 • Page 9

The city is moving forward with its annexation proposal. Photo by
Carla Parker

Feasibility study being
done on Avondale Estates
proposed annexation map

by Carla Parker
Avondale Estates is
moving forward with its
annexation plan and is
conducting a feasibility
study on its amended
annexation map.
City Manager Clai
Brown said during the
Sept. 26 Board of Mayor
and Commissioners regular
meeting that the University
of Georgia Carl Vinson
Institute of Government is
conducting the study, which
cost the city $7,000.
“It’s going to take about
three months to do the
study,” Brown said.
The board discussed
moving forward with its
annexation proposal at its
Sept. 21 work session. Last
year, the city considered
annexing two areas. One
area includes commercial
property north of the city
along East Ponce de Leon
Avenue, the old Avondale
Middle School property
and residential property
northeast of the city along
Old Rockbridge Road
and the DeKalb School of
the Arts, and residential
property south the city along
Berkeley Road.
The second area also
includes properties along
Old Rockbridge Road and
Berkeley Road, in addition
to residential properties
west of the city along
Katie Kerr Drive and South
Columbia Drive. Earlier this
year, the city decided not to
pursue annexation plans for
the remainder of 2016.
Commissioner Brian
Fisher brought back the
annexation discussion in
June. At the work session,
Fisher said they would be
deciding whether to move
forward with an amended
map and having a feasibility
study done on that map.
“The feasibility study

that we did before included
Forrest Hills, included the
residents around Katie Kerr,
Rio Circle and the residents
on the backside of Avondale
going to Rockbridge
[Road],” Fisher said. “What
we’ve talked about was
amending that to take out
the residents around Katie
Kerr, but including Decatur
Terrace in [the map] are
really the main adjustments
that we made.”
The board also
discussed including the
area around the DeKalb
County Department of
Juvenile Justice building on
Covington Highway, the old
Avondale middle and high
school buildings and the
Museum School.
Fisher said the city
should be prepared to move
forward if other cities decide
to present an annexation
map during the next
legislative session.
“I think we need to be
prepared for this [upcoming]
session if something were
to happen, to protect what
we feel like should be a part
of Avondale,” Fisher said.
“But in order to do it right
with the proper disclosure of
conversation and so forth,
we would need to start the
process this year but have
scheduled meetings in
the course of a year to be
ready for the next legislative
session in January of 2018.
“[We need to] begin
having conversations with
our local politicians that we
would need to support it,
residents and businesses
in the area that would
be affected, and putting
together a schedule and
a time frame to have
meetings and so forth so
that we can discuss with
existing residents, get
feedback from those that
could possibly be impacted
from other communities,”
Fisher added.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) is considering the issuance
of an NPDES permit for the following applicant, subject to specific pollutant limitations
and special conditions:
Dekalb County Department of Watershed Management, 1580 Roadhaven Drive,
Stone Mountain, Georgia 30083, NPDES Permit No. GA0026816, for the Polebridge
Creek Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility located at 4664 Flat Bridge Road,
Lithonia, GA 30038. Up to 20 MGD of treated wastewater is being discharged to the
South River in the Ocmulgee River Basin.
Persons wishing to comment upon or object to the proposed determinations
are invited to submit same in writing to the EPD address below, or via e-mail at, no later than thirty (30) days after this notification. If
you choose to e-mail your comments, please be sure to include the words “NPDES
permit issuance- Polebridge Creek WWTF (GA0026816) (Dekalb County)” in the
subject line to ensure that your comments will be forwarded to the correct staff. All
comments received prior to or on that date will be considered in the formulation of final
determinations for these permits. A public hearing may be held where the EPD Director
finds a significant degree of public interest in a proposed permit or group of permits.
Additional information regarding public hearing procedures is available by writing the
Environmental Protection Division.
A fact sheet or copy of the draft permit is available by writing the Environmental
Protection Division. The permit application, draft permit, and other information are
available for review at 2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Suite 1152 East, Atlanta, Georgia,
30334 between the hours of8:00
a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. For additional information contact: Gigi
Steele, Wastewater Regulatory Program at (404) 463-1511.
Please bring this to the attention of persons who you know will be interested in
this matter.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) is considering the issuance
of an NPDES permit for the following applicant, subject to specific pollutant limitations
and special conditions:
Dekalb County Department of Watershed Management, 1580 Roadhaven Drive,
Stone Mountain, Georgia 30083, NPDES Permit No. GA0024147, for the Snapfinger
Creek Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility located at 4124 Flakes Mill Road,
Decatur, GA 30034. Up to 44 MGD oftreated wastewater is being discharged to the
South River in the Ocmulgee River Basin.
Persons wishing to comment upon or object to the proposed determinations
are invited to submit same in writing to the EPD address below, or via e-mail at, no later than thirty (30) days after this notification. If
you choose to e-mail your comments, please be sure to include the words “NPDES
permit issuance -Snapfinger Creek WWTF (GA0024147) (Dekalb County)” in the
subject line to ensure that your comments will be forwarded to the correct staff. All
comments received prior to or on that date will be considered in the formulation of final
determinations for these permits. A public hearing may be held where the EPD Director
finds a significant degree of public interest in a proposed permit or group of permits.
Additional information regarding public hearing procedures is available by writing the
Environmental Protection Division.
A fact sheet or copy of the draft permit is available by writing the Environmental
Protection Division. The permit application, draft permit, and other information are
available for review at 2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Suite 1152 East, Atlanta, Georgia,
30334 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. For
additional information contact: Gigi Steele, Wastewater Regulatory Program at (404)
Please bring this to the attention of persons who you know will be interested in
this matter.


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 7 2016 • Page 10

Susan Hagood stands by as Columbia Presbyterian Pastor Tom Hagood blesses 14-year-old Merlin. Photos by Horace Holloman

Columbia Presbyterian’s Pastor Tom Hagood blessed several pets during the church’s 10th annual blessing of
the animals ceremony in honor of St. Francis of Assisi.

Nigerian dwarf goats Templeton and Teddy were

Church holds annual blessing of the animals

by Horace Holloman

Dogs, cats, goats and even
worms, were blessed at the annual
blessing of the animals at Columbia
Presbyterian Church.
On Oct. 1, nearly a dozen pets,
accompanied by their owners, were
blessed by Columbia Presbyterian’s
Pastor Tom Hagood.
The church has conducted
the ritual for nearly a decade.
The blessing of the animals
tradition, generally celebrated on
or around Oct. 4, is conducted in
remembrance of St. Francis of
Assisi. He was known for his love
of animals.

“In honor of what he does and
someone who cared for all of God’s
creatures, we remind ourselves
that we may take care of God’s
creatures wherever they may be,”
Hagood said. “Sometimes we have
a tendency to put ourselves on the
top of the pedestal, and sometimes
we have to realize that all of God’s
creatures are a part of his creation.”
Hagood said he’s sometimes
disappointed for “man’s” disregard
of animals of all sizes.
“With pollution and global
warming and all sorts of things
going on, we have a tendency to
forget them. Their homes are being
destroyed and there are poisons
being put into the ground from

all sorts of things,” Hagood said.
“We’re not looking at the holistic
sense of how God created all the
world. We weren’t told to hold a
two-by-four over animals’ heads,
we were told to be with them and
to love them. They are a gift and
sometimes we mistreat that gift.”
Hagood blessed several
animals during the ceremony,
including a jar of worms. Hagood
also blessed Templeton and Teddy,
two Nigerian dwarf goats.
The goats are owned by DeKalb
County’s Nicole Miller and Jeff
Outslay. The couple said they
came to the annual event for the
first time after recently moving into
the Decatur area.

“It’s the first time we’ve been
invited to something like this
and we thought it was kind of
awesome,” Miller said.
Miller said one of her Nigerian
dwarf goats had health issues and
thought giving both goats a blessing
would be a great idea.
“Teddy was kind of sickly for
his first month of life so we kind of
wanted more blessings so we could
be healthy for the long haul,” Miller
Outslay said he and his wife
have made Columbia Presbyterian
their permanent church home.



DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 7 2016 • Page 11

Dunwoody Nature Center received a helping hand from Mercedes-Benz USA and volunteers from Hands on Atlanta in preparing the center for its fall season. Dunwoody
Nature Center is scheduled to host two campouts, two night hikes, an exploring event, and a festival in October.

Clarkston Community Center was one of many nonprofits present at this year’s Pine
Lakefest on Oct. 1. The community center set up shop and performed free bike repairs
throughout the day. Photo courtesy of Clarkston Community Center.

A sculpture of children playing in downtown Decatur.

Monica Kaufman Pearson spoke at Georgia Piedmont Technical College on
Sept. 28 to speak to the college’s Design and Media Production Technology
program. Students, staff and Pearson discussed the role of citizen
journalists, journalism ethics and the job market. Photo courtesy of Georgia
Piedmont Technical College.

Have you created programming you’d like to air on TV?
Do you have an interest in Public Access TV in DeKalb County?
Submit your show to DeKalb County’s Public Access channel, DeKalb 25.
Drop off DVD or USB copies to the Manuel J. Maloof Center at
1300 Commerce Drive, Decatur, GA 30030, or upload your content via the internet.
(404) 371-2325


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 7 2016 • Page 12

DeKalb County voter information
by Horace Holloman

Early voting for the 2016 General
Election begins Oct. 17 and ends Nov. 4.
in DeKalb County. There are 10 locations
across DeKalb County where voters may
cast ballots.
DeKalb residents can vote at the Voter
Registration and Elections Office located
on Memorial Drive in Decatur, Monday
through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The
office will also be open on Saturday Oct.
22 or Oct. 29 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Voters can also vote at the Galleria
at South DeKalb Mall, Tucker Recreation
Center, Chamblee Civic Center,
Brookhaven City Hall, the Clark Harrison
Building, Dunwoody Library, Berean
Christian Church Community Center or
the Stonecrest Library.
On Election Day, Nov. 8, voters must
vote in their designated precinct. There
will be no voting on Nov. 5 or Nov. 7.

DeKalb residents must register to
vote or update any necessary information
by Oct. 11. To determine voting status,
district or polling places call (404)-2984020 or go online to
DeKalb residents can register to vote in
person at the voter registration office or
by mail by printing out the form on www.
Voting can be done by mail by
submitting an application. Ballots must
be mailed to the voter’s residence and
returned to voter registration main office
by 7 p.m. on election day.
Voters can also vote in person on
election day or early vote. For times and
locations of polling places and voting
sites, visit
As of April 29th of this year, 493,147
people were registered to vote in the
county. However, more than 25 percent
of voters in the county are inactive,
according to DeKalb County voter

dunwoody Continued From Page 8A

chamblee Continued From Page 8A
the knee.
Chamblee’s current
code, according to Causey,
allows a “limited type” of
massage business and the
replacement ordinance will
allow massage therapy,
skin care services, hydro
therapy, body wrap
treatments and other
services that do not require
a state license.
“Illegitimate enterprises
have history of using
massage businesses
across the state as fronts
for concealing certain
unwanted and illegal
activities, including
prostitution and sex
trafficking,” states the
document. “Chamblee

should have codes flexible
enough to allow for
legitimate business types
that add investment and
variety to the community,
but strong enough to deter
illicit enterprise from taking
A study published in
2014 by representatives
from Rice University, John
Jay College and The Urban
Institute found the “main
concentration” of massage
parlors conducting
underground sex acts and
trafficking in metro Atlanta
are in the Chamblee and
Doraville area.
The study cites work
permits and licensing as
one of the main deterrents

Dunwoody City Council deferred a special land use permit that
would allow the constructuion of Nexus at Perimeter, a 20-story
office building located on 140 parking spaces at Perimeter Mall.
Photos courtesy of Transwestern.

to investigation.
Doraville, which
neighbors Chamblee, has
similarly strict ordinances
dealing with spa and
massage establishments,
including not allowing
five massage or spa
establishments for every
10,000 city residents.
In addition to
ordinances resembling
Chamblee’s newly adopted
regulations, Doraville spa
or massage establishment
owners are also required
to sign a $15,000 surety
bond with the Georgia
Insurance Commissioner
guaranteeing payment
should such a business be
subject to an injunction.

intensity of buildings,
high level of employment
uses and active ground
store uses in a design
that supports pedestrian
mobility. That’s straight
from the Perimeter Center
comprehensive plan.”
Hill said no community
engagement took place
because the proposed
development is not within
500 feet of a residential
area. She also said that
Transwestern met twice
with the Dunwoody
Homeowner’s Association
before an application was
submitted and once after.
“We did have some
public [interaction],” Hill
said. “We’re hopeful that’s
why there hasn’t been
[more] opposition.”
Hill said the Nexus at
Perimeter development
“did not rise to the level of
a traffic study” because it
will not exceed 600,000
square feet and “will not
have regional impact.”
“If you look at the
SLUP application form,
it does not include any
requirement for a traffic
study,” Hill said. “From a
practical perspective, this
area has been studied.
[Dunwoody] has a traffic
study from State Farm and
those improvements are
being implemented right
now. I’m not sure what
providing a traffic study
would provide to the city.”

Councilwoman Lynne
Deutsch said she did not
feel comfortable approving
Transwestern’s application
without a traffic study and
reception of green space,
stating State Farm’s traffic
study included projected
traffic as well as existing
traffic in the Perimeter Mall
“When you’re asked
to up density, usually the
government receives
something in return,”
Deutsch said. “I’m not
sure what benefits our
community is necessarily
receiving in an area filled
with concrete.”
Councilman John
Heneghan moved the
council defer the application
on the grounds that only
five council members were
present at the Sept. 26
meeting. Heneghan also
suggested the city attempt
to negotiate for more green
space and a traffic study.
“Those two council
members may change
my mind on this subject,”
Heneghan said. “I think
this is a good project
near MARTA. Based on
the concerns of other
councilmembers and two
being absent, I propose we
defer this.”
Dunwoody City
Council voted to defer
Transwestern’s SLUP
application until its Oct. 10


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 7 2016 • Page 13

Mount Pleasant Baptist Church was recognized as one of the oldest black
churches in DeKalb County.

DeKalb residents want a grave site, located just behind Porter Road, to be
recognized by the DeKalb County Historic Preservation Commission.

Lovely Porter, 86, Louise Porter Mosley, 78 and Dorothy Porter, 83, look over old family photos and articles about the Porter Road community.

Porter Road community trying to save ‘historic’ area
by Horace Holloman
With new developments
popping up across DeKalb
County, some residents of
one community are fighting
to maintain its area and
In a small community
off Porter Road, residents
say their quaint area is filled
with history, which is why
some are urging DeKalb’s
Historic Preservation
Commission to save the
area from developers by
recognizing the area as a
local historical landmark.  
Mount Pleasant Baptist
Church, which is located on
Porter Road, is recognized
as one of the oldest known
Black congregations in
DeKalb County.
Mount Pleasant was
built on 2.5 acres donated
by slave owner Joseph
Walker. According to the
book African American Life
in DeKalb County, 1873 to
1970, Walker organized
the church when he saw
his slaves worshiping
and “misunderstood their
religious expression.”
According to the book,
Walker organized the Black
church because he believed
his slaves’ worship was an
attempt for them to return to
their African roots. Walker
then became the pastor of
the church. The book says
Walker attempted to teach
his slaves how to read and
In 1903, Frank Henry
Porter became one of

the first Black owners
of rural land in DeKalb
County when he purchased
Walker’s former home and
the surrounding 50 acres of
land for $1,000.
Descendants of the
Porter family still live in the
“Basically, the squeaky
wheel gets the oil. We
have so many people in
the surrounding community
that want to help get
this area recognized,”
said Thaddeus Moore,
a descendant of Porter.
“The bottom line is,
getting something like
this protected preserves
the value of Porter Road
and the surrounding
Housing development
company LDG Development
submitted an application to
the DeKalb County Board
of Commissioners to amend
its land use plan from
“suburban” to “commercial
development corridor.”
LDG Development
plans to build a multi-family
apartment complex at the
northwest intersection of
Covington Highway and
Porter Road.  
Residents trying to
preserve Porter Road’s
historical sites said the
extra foot traffic from an
apartment complex could
potentially harm some of the
sites, specifically the Porter
family cemetery, which
some descendants still live
directly behind.
Moore said paperwork
has been filed to have the

area recognized as a local
historical site and is “very
optimistic” the county’s
historical commission will
name the cemetery and
church as historical sites.
Kate Teague, a resident
of the area for more than a
decade, said she’s helped
Moore throughout the
process and she hopes
to preserve Porter Road’s
“We have to prove this
is historic to Georgia and
to the nation. We know we
can get DeKalb County and
that’s why we’re starting
now,” Teague said. “The
process is two-to-five years
Teague said she
hopes some of the sites
will get recognized before
unwanted development
comes to the area.
On Sept. 8 at a
DeKalb County Planning
Commission meeting,
officials representing LDG

Development requested
a full cycle deferral for its
rezoning application.
“We want to keep
this community together.
[LDG Development] is not
promoting slow growth,”
Teague said. “I’ve gone
door-to-door and talked
with people from different
races and socioeconomic
backgrounds and I haven’t
spoken with anybody that
thinks this is a good idea.”
Dorothy Porter, 83,
one of seven grandchildren
of Frank Henry Porter, said
she wants the Porter Road
community to stay the way
it is.
“We worry about what’s
going on in the Porter Road
community. We slaved for
these houses and you care
about your children living
in these houses,” Dorothy
Porter said. “Once they
started building apartments,
we started having trouble.
These folks broke into a lot

of houses and my house
twice. They stole all my
jewelry and stole my car
right out of the garage in the
morning time.”
Dorothy Porter said
she’s opposed to “lowincome” apartments being
built in the Porter Road
“This is what happens
when you have these lowpaying apartments. They
don’t give a damn because
the only thing you can
do is put them out [of the
apartment],” Dorothy Porter
said. “When you own your
little house, you care about
it. This is something for
them to think about. When
we leave here, you want
your children to have a
good place to live. That’s
what we worry about when
we go home to see Jesus.”

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DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 7 2016 • Page 14

File photo/Travis Hudgons

County commissioners limited on use of staff
by Horace Holloman
On the morning of Sept. 27,
DeKalb County COO Zach Williams
sent an email to DeKalb County
Commissioners on behalf of interim
CEO Lee May.
The email gave commissioners
guidelines for use of staff support.
“The ICEO has directed staff to
support individual commissioners
and or their staff only when
conducting activities in their district.
Therefore, staff will no longer be
available to host commissioners
outside of their district without the
consent of the ICEO,” the email said.
Commissioner Jeff Rader said
he was troubled by the new protocol.

“I want to express my concern
about that directive because my
oath of office charges me to stand in
the interest of the entire county, not
just District 2,” Rader said. “I’m very
concerned if there are issues outside of my district I may not be able
to gain information on it because of
the restrictions [Lee May] has imposed.”
During the regular meeting of the
board of commissioners, May spoke
briefly to clarify the new protocol.   
“I just want to give a little context
of why we sent that out. Some statements have been made to me saying, ‘I thought you were all about one
DeKalb,’ and I am about one DeKalb
and us working together. I do believe
however, as of late, and over time,

there has been an inappropriate usage of staff,” May said.
May reiterated that he did not
say commissioners could not have
staff support for official activities outside their district, but rather commissioners must bring requests to him
for staff support for official activities
outside their districts.
“I’ve received a number of complaints from staff on things they
deemed inappropriate and that’s
why I wrote the email. It’s not to prohibit any staff support. There’s been
a long history of district courtesy, but
what I’m saying in this email is when
you’re doing things outside your district, before staff will be given to support you, there will be a conversation
with me in this role as interim CEO.

We want to ensure that staff usage
is appropriate,” May said.
Commissioner Nancy Jester
called the new policy “a direct insult
to taxpayers across the county”
claiming the policy sets the county
back from making progress.
“Taxpayers from every district
fund county operations throughout
the county. Those taxpayers have
every right to have their duly elected
county commissioner conduct
activities anywhere in the county to
ensure the integrity of the budget
and exercise oversight over the
administration. Indeed, the votes of
each commissioner affect taxpayers
and residents throughout the county
and not simply in one district,” Jester
said in an email.

Avondale Estates residents, GDOT discuss walking/biking infrastructure options for city
by Carla Parker
For years, Avondale Estates
city officials have tried to address
the traffic issues on North Avondale
Road and make it more appealing.
However, because the road is
a state highway the city will work
with the Georgia Department of
Transportation (GDOT) and other
state agencies to develop a traffic
improvement plan that will work for
all parties.
To help residents understand
this process, Second Century
Avondale held three community
forums. The third forum, which
was held Sept. 28, focused on the
benefits, and creation, of walking
and biking infrastructure in the city’s
downtown area.
The forum featured three
speakers—GDOT state traffic
engineer Andrew Heath, GDOT
bicycle and pedestrian engineer
Katelyn Digioia, and Jack Cebe,
a Georgia Tech duel masters
candidate in urban planning and
civil engineer.
Second Century Avondale is
a group of citizens advocating
for high quality, vision-driven
development in downtown Avondale

GDOT state traffic engineer Andrew Heath shares GDOT’s vision of traffic
improvements in Avondale Estates. Photo by Carla Parker

Lisa Shortell of Second
Century Avondale said the forum
was about educating the residents
about options.
“We’re educating our citizens
on what GDOT really advocates
and what they’re trying to do, which
is probably different than what a
lot of people think,” Shortell said.
“The main thing that we want
to accomplish is [to show] that
there are options out there but it
takes a lot of commitment, a lot of

vision, a lot of focus and stick-toitiveness—and that you don’t want
to settle necessarily for something
mediocre. We can actually, through
a little bit more hard work and
planning, get something that’s
In January 2014, the Atlanta
Regional Commission announced
it would award the city a $50,000
Livable Centers Initiative (LCI) grant
to conduct a feasibility study to
determine the best design for U.S.
278, including the intersection at

U.S. 278 and Clarendon Avenue.
Since then, the city has worked
with GDOT and a contractor to
develop a road plan that will help
reduce the flow of traffic in the city,
as well as make the roads safer for
pedestrians and cyclists.
Shortell said the group is
advocating to city officials their
wants and the vision that was
developed through input from
residents. The group seeks is
to ensure the city’s character is
retained, expanded and enhanced
as development occurs.
“We’re advocating to our city
officials to interact and engage with
GDOT, with the ARC and these
other people to get to where our
vision has been,” she said. “We’re
pushing for a town green in the
center of our town and that has
gained a lot of traction in the last
few years. I think everyone wants
that. All of these [speakers] pointed
out that these things can be done
incrementally. [We] don’t have to
have $10 million right off the bat to
get it.”
Shortell said she thought
the speakers were positive and
encouraging about relaying the
residents’ vision and “working out
the bumps.”


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 7 2016 • Page 15

A tailor prepares to take a customer’s measurements.

HKT tailor creates a pattern for a custom suit.

Owner Neil Balani greets customers at the grand opening.

Tailoring shop helps men create confident, stylish look
by Kathy Mitchell

The Sept. 17 grand opening
at HKT Custom Clothiers was not
a grand opening in the traditional
sense. The business has been at
the Buford Highway location since
1970 but has recently undergone
what its owner calls “a big refresh.”
“It was started by my uncle,”
explained Neil Balani, who has
taken ownership of the clothing
store. Balani renovated and
rebranded the business that was
once Hong Kong Tailoring, evoking
the Asian city with an international
reputation for quality custom men’s
clothing. It is now simply HKT.
The upscale men’s store sits
amid rows of many types of retail
shops, restaurants and other
businesses on Buford Highway,
but Balani said he has no concern
that he will have difficulty attracting
customers. “My uncle was here for
a long time,” he said. “We already
had a well-established customer
base when I took over the shop.
We have an excellent reputation
and customers recommend us to
friends, coworkers and family. They
know where to find us.”
The business in 2015 was
named among the top five Atlanta
tailors by CBS 46 and was
named Best Black Tie by Jezebel
Men’s clothing has long been
the family business as it was in
Balani’s native Malta. “Growing
up, I was exposed to a wide range
of British and Italian fashion,”
he recalled, adding that custom,

HKT sells accessories that complement the customer’s style.

made-to-measure clothing wasn’t
always easy to find on the small
Mediterranean island. “For
men like me who have unusual
measurements, having only off-therack options available can present a
“I grew up around fabrics and
tailoring. I know what it takes to
create a garment that fits well,
wears well and looks good,” he
said. “When I moved to the United
States 15 years ago, I already knew
a great deal about men’s clothing.”
While HKT Custom Clothiers
offers off-the-rack items, the
emphasis is on tailor-made clothing.
“I don’t fit perfectly into a
traditional size,” Balani said, “so

I know the frustration of finding a
jacket, pants or even a shirt that fits
one place, but not another. Men’s
shirts are usually sized by neck
measurement and sleeve length.
Those two measurements aren’t
enough to get a perfect fit.”
Balani said that while the
business has a staff of master
tailors, he oversees the process
to be sure each customer is
completely satisfied. “That’s the
part of the business I really enjoy,”
he said. “It gives me great pleasure
to see the patron get a perfect fit
that really makes him look his best.
Our customers enjoy the personal
service and attention to detail. They
know we care about keeping them

well dressed.
“A suit that fits well and is styled
to a man’s body type can give him
enormous confidence whether it’s in
a business or social setting,” Balani
said. “Quality materials and tailoring
make all the difference in how a
man presents himself.”
He added, “Achieving
impeccable style involves more
than a getting a perfect fit. We start
with a style consultation so we
can curate the personal image the
client wants to create. We want the
client’s look to reflect who he is and
to fit his lifestyle.”
Balani describes his store’s
merchandise as “high end,” noting
that high-quality clothing is more
expensive but “is a good value
because it wears well and lasts for
many years.”
Custom-tailored clothing,
in addition to being fitted to the
wearer, can reflect the client’s taste
and preferences, he noted. “Some
men like a wider lapel, a particular
fabric or certain buttons. Some like
a classic look; others prefer a more
contemporary style. When the suit
or shirt is made just for you, you get
exactly what you want,” Balani said.
The ready-to-wear suits and
jackets HKT carries can be altered
to the customer’s measurements.
The store also carries a line of
accessories such as ties, belts,
suspenders, handkerchiefs and
socks. “After a man has just the
right suit, shirt or jacket, our quality
haberdashery items complement
and hone the look,” Balani said.


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 7 2016 • Page 16

Stephen Green, superintendent of DeKalb County School District, penned an editorial opposing the proposed Opportunity School District, citing experience and witnessing
its failure.

‘No quick fixes, no shortcuts’
DeKalb superintendent pens op-ed opposing Opportunity School District
by R. Scott Belzer
“Who do you want teaching and
looking out for our children?” asks
Stephen Green, superintendent
of DeKalb County School District
(DCSD), in an op-ed released Sept.
The piece comes one week
after the DCSD board of education
voted to formally oppose a
proposed Opportunity School
District (OSD), which will be publicly
voted on on Nov. 8.
If approved, the Georgia
Department of Education will take
over 22 DeKalb County elementary
schools, three middle schools
and one high school. The schools
are eligible for state takeover
because of College Career Ready
Performance Index (CCRPI) scores
below 60 for three consecutive
On Sept. 19, the board
announced it will dedicate $1.9
million to literacy and mathematics
initiatives, $500,000 to a new
accountability system, $398,000
for a new disciplinary system and
$749,000 for the 10 most in-need
schools to partner with Discovery
Education. In addition, DCSD
will require more data recording,
planning and parental engagement
from school officials.
“I have said it before, and I’ll
say it again now: I am opposed
to any state takeover of local

schools no matter what it is called,”
Green states. “For me, the state
of Georgia’s effort to take control
of 26 DeKalb County schools, and
schools elsewhere, is déjà vu all
over again.”
According to Green, the
Georgia OSD is similar to a
potential 2011 state takeover in
Missouri he encountered while
employed in Kansas City Public
Schools. Green’s op-ed refers to
the attempted state control as a
“conspiratorial smokescreen.”
“The real issue in Kansas
City involved powerful, ambitious
officials exploiting a political
situation rather than working with
local school systems to address
root causes of underachievement
and provide what schools needed
to succeed,” Green states. “It was
ruthless aggression—like predator
and prey. A rapacious state political
system wanted to take over the
weakest, most vulnerable schools.”
Green calls the situation in
DeKalb County “painfully similar.”
“In Georgia, the state wants
control of schools it has stigmatized
as ‘failing,’ based on standardized
testing,” Green states. “This
takeover effort comes despite
strong evidence that standardized
tests can’t fairly take into account—
or accurately measure—the
extreme complexity of teaching and
learning in a district like DeKalb
County, with 135 schools and
102,000 students from 180 nations

and with 144 languages.”
Green alludes to racial, socioeconomic and political “parallels”
between the two situations. He
states that, while in Missouri, he
faced a “predatory commissioner”
that perceived him and his district
as new and vulnerable.
“Georgia feels painfully similar,”
Green said. “The names are
different and the titles of the people
who to take over are different, but
the goal is still the same—seize
local control of public education.”
Green states that in Missouri
at the nearby Normandy school
system, “the state-controlled
education experiment failed
miserably” and that “students
performed more poorly under the
state regiment than under local
He also recalls how “too much
power and secrecy concentrated
in the hands of a detached,
uninformed, faceless state
bureaucracy ultimately [failed]
students, schools and society.”
“Media investigated the Missouri
state takeover effort,” Green
states. “They found hidden plans
and bid-rigging concerns in state
dealings with schools. The Missouri
Education Commissioner eventually
retired, suddenly and sensationally,
following a scandal that involved a
contract to overhaul public schools.”
Green said he eventually
improved Kansas City Public
Schools within two years. He was

able to improve the district’s overall
CCRPI scores, attendance rates
and graduation rates.
“Within two years, our district
score jumped from 22.5 to 84
points on the Missouri Annual
Performance Report, with the
highest statewide gains in college/
career readiness, attendance rates,
and graduation rates,” Green said.
“Our overall academic achievement
rose nearly 43 percent. The
following year, our Missouri Annual
Performance Report scores soared
even higher – to 94.5 points.”
Green said a “foundation of trust
and a sense of purpose” among
parents, students, and community
stakeholders is the key in finding
similar success in DeKalb County.
In his op-ed, Green promises
to bring the 26 schools within
compliance and beyond. He points
out that 15 of the 26 are within five
points of the 60-point threshold and
that “strong, remedial measures”
have been launched in all schools.
“There are no quick fixes, no
shortcuts,” Green said. “Turning
around schools takes deep, hard,
intimate work. It means fighting
poverty and all that it brings. It
means helping new arrivals to our
country anchor lives and hopes to
our communities and country. It
means giving special needs and
pre-school students and others
among our most vulnerable the
schooling, security and stability that
allow them to be at their best.”


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 7 2016 • Page 17

On Sept. 26, a crowd of about 50 gathered at DeKalb County School District’s central office to hear the results of the Secondary Schools Facility and Feasibility Study
focused on alleviating overcrowding.

Reuse high school, no split feeders recommended to DeKalb schools
by R. Scott Belzer


ollowing 21 public input meetings and an
18-month investigation by consultants,
a final recommendation for addressing
overcrowding in northern DeKalb County
high school clusters was presented to the public
on Sept. 26.
The recommendation, which will be
presented to the DeKalb County School District
(DCSD) Board of Education for approval on
Dec. 5 and cost $205 million, hopes to combine
redistricting with new school sites and rid
secondary schools of portable classrooms by
Specifically, the recommendation is to build
a new 2,500 seat Cross Keys High School at
the former Briarcliff High School site and convert
the current Cross Keys High School into a new
middle school with an additional 200 seats.
This will re-cluster Sequoyah Middle School
to Chamblee and provide for an additional 600
seats at Dunwoody High School and Chamblee
High School.
In addition, the plan requests a 750-seat
expansion at Lakeside High School; a 650-seat
addition at Clarkston High School; a 450-seat
addition at Peachtree Middle school and a 300seat addition at Freedom Middle School.
Cedar Grove High School will also receive
a new auditorium, assuring every high school in
the district has one.
It is estimated the recommendation will
cause 1,480 high school students and 1,775
middle school students to change schools.
Clusters affected include Chamblee, Dunwoody,
Cross Keys, Clarkston, Druid Hills, Lakeside
and Tucker. Officials say that increasing the size
of each school will reduce number of students
The plan—known as “Option B” in the
Secondary School Facility and Feasibility
Study— originally called for split feeder schools
in each cluster but was dismissed by the public.

James Wilson of Education Planners presented the
findings of the study and said the consulting firm’s
recommendation will redistrict the fewest students
on the best budget.

Similarly, Chamblee’s magnet program will not
The recommendation arrives after two
meetings that drew approximately 700
members of the community as well as 6,000
responses from an online survey. Since the
Aug. 23 and Aug. 25 meetings, more than
20 formal responses were also submitted to
consultants from school councils, parent-teacher
associations and school organizations.
Parsons, Education Planners and MGT
of America—consulting firms responsible
for researching and recommending the
plan—teamed with DeKalb County School
District Director of Planning Dan Drake to
address overcrowding in Dunwoody, Doraville,
Brookhaven, Clarkston and Chamblee and

determine how to continue to use DCSD’s
incoming E-SPLOST funds, estimated to be
$500 million. This has become known as the
Building S.P.A.C.E.S. Initiative.
“DCSD launched the ‘Building S.P.A.C.E.S.’
Initiative to determine how, where, and why
future resources should be dedicated to the
improvement and modernization of our buildings
and infrastructure to support the district’s vision
to inspire our community of learners to achieve
educational excellence,” reads a statement from
the initiative’s website.
“We looked at the enrollment of each school,
not just now but from fall 2015 to fall 2022, the
end of the E-SPLOST V term,” said Susan
Zoller of MGT. “We have done an enrollment
projection for each building based on students
we believe plan on attending each building.”
According to James Wilson of Education
Planners, at least 5,600 new seats will need
to be available in DeKalb County by 2022.
In addition, renovations having to do with
air conditioning, safety and security, athletic
facilities, technology and parking must take
“Items in these areas are an integral part of
any successful E-SPLOST program,” he said.
“An effort of this magnitude needs to begin with
stakeholder engagement.”
Data from assessments at each school
will be shared with the public to garner input
throughout October at Miller Grove (Oct. 11),
Chamblee (Oct. 13), Columbia (Oct. 17) and
Stone Mountain (Oct. 18) high schools.
The first meeting took place at Tucker High
School on Oct. 4.
These meetings will be referenced by the
three consulting firms in the creation of a project
list recommendation for E-SPLOST V. Beginning
Oct. 4, an online survey will be available for
formal letters, suggestions and short responses
for the upcoming project list. The survey will be
available to the public until Oct. 24.
For more information, visit http://www.



DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 7 2016 • Page 18



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DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 7 2016 • Page 19

Stop telling athletes to ‘stick to sports’

For some people, participating
in, or watching, sports is a way to
escape reality.
Some people turn to sports to
get their minds off the goings on
in the world—whether it’s politics,
economics or crime. Some hate
when the two (sports and the real
world) intertwine.
But sports and the real world
do intertwine, and they do so quite
Because sports consist of
athletes and athletes are people
just like the average Joe. They just
happen to be good at something
and most get paid handsomely for
Just like me and others,
athletes are people who have
feelings and thoughts on issues
and topics that are present in this

Carla Parker

world. And just like everyone else,
athletes like to share their thoughts
and feelings on those issues and
topics, whether it’s through social
media, the regular media or press
They have the right to do so,
but for some odd reason, some
sports fans don’t want their favorite
athlete or any athletes to share
their thoughts on anything other
than sports, especially if it’s an
issue that they don’t agree with.
On social media, if an athlete

gives their opinion on something
that a fan doesn’t agree with, the
fan usually tells them to “stick to
For example, as did many
Americans, University of Alabama
football player Damien Harris
tuned in to watch the first
presidential debate between
Democratic nominee Hillary
Clinton and Republican nominee
Donald Trump. As many other
social media users did, Harris
shared his thoughts about the
debate on his Twitter account.
In one tweet he said, “So... y’all
just gonna act like Donald Trump
didn’t just lie on national TV about
something that could be found on
Twitter? Lol.”
In another tweet he wrote, “Not
one time did Trump present what
he was gonna do to solve race

On cue, there were multiple
sports fans that tweeted back at
Harris and told him to “stick to
sports.” It was so bad that Harris
had to tweet this two hours later:
“It amazes me how many people
say ‘just stick to football.’ Do
football players not deserve a
political stance?”
Yes Harris, football players
and all athletes deserve to have a
political stance, and it is their right
to share their positions, whether
fans agree or not.
Just because Harris plays for
Alabama does not give fans the
right to tell him to “stick to sports.”
He is free to share those thoughts,
and if those fans and other people
don’t like his political thoughts then
hit the “unfollow” button.
It’s that simple.

Champion Middle School wins first all-sports honor
by Carla Parker
Champion Theme Middle School’s
athletics program made school history by
winning its first DeKalb County School
District’s All-Sports Trophy.
The award recognizes the best overall
middle school athletics program in the
school district. Champion won the award for
the 2015-16 school year with 99.5 points,
the highest point total in the award’s history.
Stephenson finished second with 92 points
followed by Chamblee with 68.5 points.
Champion finished second for the award
in 2001 and 2015.
Champion won the county girls’
basketball title earlier this year, topping off
a 17-0 undefeated season. The boys’ track
team also won a county title. Champion
was county runner-up in girls’ track, along
with region champions in girls’ and boys’
basketball and region runner-up in.
Stephenson, which has won the award
twice, garnered 92 points from the boys’
basketball county basketball title. The team
also finished the 2016 season with a 17-0
undefeated record.
Stephenson also won region titles
in football, girls’ basketball and boys’
basketball, and the track teams finished in
the top 10 at the county meet.
Chamblee made its first top three finish
since 2010 (second) with 68.5 points. The
girls’ track team tied for runner-up in the
country track meet, while boys’ basketball
won region champion and the girls’
basketball team was region runner-up.
Cedar Grove, the 2015 award winner,
finished in a tie for fourth with Salem with 68
points. Cedar Grove won the football title for
the second consecutive season and Salem
won the girls’ track title.
Tucker (63), Chapel Hill (62), Henderson
(60.5), Miller Grove (58) and Peachtree (54)
rounded out the top 10.

Champion won the county boys’ track and field title in March. Photo by Mark Brock

Champion won the county girls’ basketball championship in February.


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 7 2016 • Page 20

Stephenson closed out the regular season with a 21-6 win over Southwest DeKalb. Photos by Carla Parker

Stephenson tops SWD in last regular season game
by Carla Parker
The Stephenson Lady Jaguars
softball team had a successful

senior night Sept. 29 with a 21-6
win over Southwest DeKalb in
three innings.
Stephenson was up 7-6 after
two innings before scoring 14

If I don’t
have the answer,

unanswered runs in the third inning
to close out the game with the
mercy rule.
Stephenson finished the
regular season with a 15-6 record,

second in region 4-AAAAAA.
Southwest DeKalb finished with
a 7-8-1 record, fourth in region