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FRIDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2016 • VOL. 19, NO. 27 • 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 •

Brief bout with breast cancer
inspires, motivates Atlanta resident
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com
n April 2013, Atlanta resident Amena Mitchell went
from observing an issue at an arm’s length to full
immersion—and gained a sense of purpose in the
process.
In 2013, Mitchell was attending a vision board
party, where people come together and share their
goals via visual representations. One person’s
vision board may include a new car cut out from a
magazine. Another individual may include a physically
fit human body to represent his or her goals.
Mitchell’s included a representation for breast
cancer advocacy.
“I had had a couple of girlfriends who had breast
cancer so I included advocacy on my vision board,”
Mitchell said. “I didn’t know I would be diagnosed.”
Mitchell’s battle with breast cancer began in 2011
when a routine mammogram showed calcification.
Her radiologist called it common but insisted it be
monitored. Mitchell subsequently had mammograms
every six months.
By April 2013, Mitchell said the calcification was
showing a difference and a biopsy was performed.
She eventually tested positive for breast cancer.
“My initial reaction was crying, of course,” Mitchell
said. “The first thing you think about is mortality. We’re
all going to die at some point, so you start to think
about that. No one prepares you for it, but you just
have to go through it.”
Mitchell soon had mastectomy surgery in which
one of her breast’s tissue was removed. Weeks of
physical therapy soon followed at TurningPoint, a
physical therapy office specifically tailored to breast
cancer. Mitchell had developed a condition called
courting, with which someone loses range of motion
due to swollen veins.
Mitchell said the experience was illuminating.
“You learn little things along the way,” Mitchell said.
“You learn things no one typically shares with you

Breast cancer survivor Amena Mitchell said the experience inspired her to give
back to those who helped keep her positive.

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local

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 • Page 2

Group accuses Sen. Fran Millar of voter suppression, racial animus
by Horace Holloman
horace@dekalbchamp.com
Allied Progress, a nationwide nonprofit organization,
recently sent a letter to Secretary of State Brian Kemp
accusing several Georgia
state officials of misconduct,
voter suppression and racial
animus.
Among the state government officials listed in the
organization’s letter is State
Senator Fran Millar, who
represents parts of DeKalb
County. The group accuses
Millar of being a part of a
“coordinated effort to suppress the votes of minorities,
seniors, the disabled and lowincome Georgians.”
In the letter, the group
said Millar’s social media
comments, which date back
to 2014, serve as proof of
the senator’s racial bias and
acceptance of voter suppression.
In 2014, Millar wrote on
his Facebook page, “Now we
are to have Sunday voting at
South DeKalb Mall just prior
to the election. Per Jim Galloway of the AJC, this location is dominated by AfricanAmerican shoppers and it is
near several large AfricanAmerican mega churches
such as New Birth Missionary Baptist. Galloway also
points out the Democratic
Party thinks this is a wonderful idea—what a surprise. I’m
sure Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter are delighted with
this blatantly partisan move in
DeKalb.”
“It would be nice to see
election administrators get
people to vote, instead of
keeping them from voting,”
said Karl Frisch, executive
director of Allied Progress, in
an interview with The Champion. “Either [Fran Millar] admitted to partisan motivation
or said racially charged comments. That speaks volumes
to someone’s ability to be impartial or fair.”
In a series of social media
comments, Millar also said he
“agreed with Galloway and
never claimed to be nonpartisan. I would prefer more educated voters than a greater
increase in the number of voters. If you don’t believe this is
an effort to maximize Democratic votes pure and simple,
then you are not a realist.”
Frisch said he wants
Kemp’s office to investigate
the matter and hold officials
accountable.
“There are definitely some

horrible voter suppression
laws on the books in Georgia,” Frisch said.
The group said Millar has a history of racially
charged statements on social media. In a response to
a post encouraging Blacks
to shop at minority-owned
businesses, Millar wrote,
“Whites are tired of being
blamed for past situations
they did not play a part in.
When I start shopping at
businesses based on the
race of the owner, then I give
evidence of racism. I understand [money talks] but

this is not the way to bring
people together.”
Millar said the accusations of voter suppression
and racial animus is untrue.
Miller said his statements
were not racially motivated,
but said at the time it was
unfair to have early voting in
a predominantly Democratic
area.
“[My comments] were
made concerning the fact
DeKalb County was having early voting in a primary
Democratic area. It’s very
simple. I called out DeKalb
County for having early vot-

ing in Democratic precincts
and now they have it in other
areas in the county,” Millar
said.
Millar said he has a great
relationship with Blacks
in DeKalb County. Millar
received a Thurgood Marshall award from the DeKalb
NAACP.
“If they want to name
me, then they need to ask
me why I received a NAACP
Thurgood Marshall award,”
Millar said. “They can play
the partisan card on me and
that’s fine, but don’t pull the
race card on me.”

Allied Progress is accusing
Sen. Fran Millar of voter
suppression and racial animus.
Millar denied such claims.

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DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 • Page 3

Emory hosts political Nix Mann Endowed Lecture

decatur

The Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University will host
political commentator, author, editor and blogger Andrew Sullivan as
this year’s Nix Mann Endowed Lecture on Oct. 18 at 7:30 p.m.
Sullivan, whose lecture is titled What Plato Can Tell Us About
American Democracy, works as an editor for New York Magazine and
has formerly worked as an editor for The New Republic.
Sullivan has authored four books since 1995 concerning issues
such as homosexuality, friendship, modern conservatism and political
philosopher Michael Oakeshott.
According to the college, in 1992, the architectural firm of Nix Mann
and Associates (now Perkins and Will) endowed this lecture series to
bring distinguished speakers to Emory University on an annual basis.

Registration is open for DeKalb Recreation, Parks & Cultural Affairs’
second Annual Breast Cancer Run/Walk on Oct. 22, at Exchange
Intergenerational Recreation Center.
The registration fee for the 5K run/walk is $10 and includes a T-shirt.
Participants may check in at 8 a.m., and the race begins at 9 a.m. All
money raised will benefit Susan G. Komen Foundation and services that
support those affected by breast cancer in Georgia and the surrounding
communities.

brooKHaVen
Movie in the park

The Disney film Zootopia will be screened Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at
Ashford Park in Brookhaven for the Movie in the Park event. Admission
is free and attendees can bring popcorn and other food items. The park
is located at 2980 Redding Road. For more information, visit www.
brookhavenga.gov.

City to host fall festival

Brookhaven will host a fall festival Oct. 22 at Lynwood Park from
noon to 4 p.m. The event will include food, a bounce house and
other activities. The park is located at 3360 Osborne Road. For more
information, visit www.brookhavenga.gov.

clarKston

City partners with Georgia Tech
Clarkston city officials approved a partnership with Georgia Tech on
Oct. 4 that will measure the diversity of residents.
“Through this project, we seek to gain a representative
understanding of the range of diversity in Clarkston, but also develop
better insight into refugee and immigrant populations and their
engagement with the city,” reads the project’s mission statement. “The
street-level survey will be conducted in seven languages with focus on
the experiences of native-born US citizens, naturalized citizens, legal
permanent residents, and refugees currently living in Clarkston.”
The study also will have students engage with leaders from the
Somali, Sudanese, Iraqi, Syrian, Ethiopian, Eritrean, Burmese and
Bhutanese communities in Clarkston.
“We plan to offer multiple mini-grants to local Clarkston-based
nonprofit organizations to join us in partnership and to create an
outreach platform that is unbiased, ethical and external but also
internal,” said Georgia Tech professor Anna Kim.
Following the completion of the survey, Clarkston officials will have
access to the findings, which will include survey data, data analysis,
economic data and focus group findings.

DeKalb Symphony to feature pianist Julie Coucheron
The DeKalb Symphony Orchestra will feature Julie Coucheron as
its featured soloist on Nov. 15.
Coucheron has been the artistic director of the Fjord Cadenza
festival in Norway and is a founding member of the Kon-Tiki Classical
Music Festival. In 2009 Coucheron and her brother, David, won first
prize at the Pinerelo International Chamber music competition in Italy
The performance will be held at 8 p.m. in the Marvin Cole
Auditorium at Georgia State University’s Clarkston campus.
To purchase tickets call (678)-891-3565 or visit www.
dekalbsymphony.org.

Decatur holding second annual breast cancer walk/
run

Community yard sale planned
The Friends of Chapel Hill Park are holding a yard sale at Chapel
Hill Park, 3985 Lehigh Blvd. Decatur, with Hipster Yard Sale ATL on
Oct. 22, 8 a.m. - 4 p.m. Proceeds to help raise $100,000 to install a
fishing pier in the park. For vendor and volunteer information, contact
Volunteers can email me at friendsofchapelhillpark@gmail. com or call
Samantha (678) 598-2656.

dunWoodY

Nature Center to host first Art in the Park event
The Dunwoody Nature Center will host an inaugural Art in the Park
event on Oct. 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Themed “Hoos in the Forest,” the event will feature creations from
Salley McInerney, whose “whimsical” creations use natural materials
such as wood and stone. Approximately 20 creations resembling living
creatures will be on display along trails and in Dunwoody Park.
The event will begin with a 10 a.m. artist’s talk followed by a tour
and creature building workshops. A “poetry on demand” component
also will take place in addition to lunch and beverages.
For more information, visit www.dunwoodynature.org.

litHonia

City to host Oktoberfest event
Lithonia will host Oktoberfest—billed as a “family and community
fun day at the park” on Oct. 22 from 1 to 6 p.m. at Lithonia Park. The
event will include a youth and law enforcement panel discussion, a
youth talent show, music, vendors and other activities. Attendees can
bring blankets and food. The park is located at 2515 Park Drive. Vendor
space is available. For more information, call Donna Tate at (678) 4807342.

stone Mountain
City-wide yard sale announced

The city of Stone Mountain will hold its city-wide yard sale on Oct.
22 from 8:30 a.m. until 3 p.m. on the First Baptist Church lawn in the
center of town. Set up begins at 7:30 a.m. on the day of the sale;
tables will not be provided. A limited number of 10’x 10’ spaces under
the pavilion are available at $20.00 each on a first-come, first-served
basis or 10’x 10’ lawn spaces can be rented for $10.00 each. For more
information, contact City Hall at (770) 498-8984. No food, vendors,
refunds or rain date.

local

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 • Page 4

Councilmember Ric Dodd, left, accused Mayor Deborah Jackson, center, of misleading the council. Photo by Carla Parker

Lithonia City Council censures mayor
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com

With a 3-2 vote, the Lithonia
City Council acknowledged that
they did not approve the mayor’s
handling of a contract situation
surrounding the public works
building renovations.
The mayor and city council
held a special called meeting Oct.
7 to discuss the contract process
between the city’s administrative
staff and Hatteras Construction
and its contractor Allen’s Custom
Homes on the public works building.
Councilmembers Ric Dodd, Diane
Howard and Shameka Reynolds
voted to censure Mayor Deborah
Jackson, meaning they disapprove
of how she handled the contract
process.
Councilmembers Fred
Reynolds and Tracy-Ann Williams
voted against censure.
The contract issue was brought
up by Dodd at the city council’s
regular meeting on Oct. 3. Dodd
accused Jackson of misleading the
council, claiming she signed the
contract without final approval of
council and the city attorney.
“It was illegal, and instead
of misleading council we should
have been calling the city attorney
asking him where the contract is,”
Dodd said during the special called
meeting. “Council was misled, have
been misled from the beginning on
this.”
According to the council
minutes, in April, former city
administration Eddie Moody told
the council that he had bids for the
public works building renovation
project. In May, Moody asked the
council to enter into a contract for
renovations of the public works
building, according to the minutes.

The council agreed to have
preliminary work done—cleaning of
the building—but the work should
not exceed $35,000. The council
agreed to enter into a contract
pending review by city attorney
Winston Denmark.
Denmark said he received
the contract on June 19 and he
responded in an email sent to the
mayor and council on July 8 that he
previously reviewed the agreement
and sent a response “indicating
there were no problems from my
perspective.”
“No one can enter into a
contract on behalf of the city
without the approval of the mayor
and council,” Denmark said. “If the
mayor and council did not approve
the contract…then that ought to not
have happened.”
The contract was signed by the
mayor on July 11 and work began
on the building. According to Dodd,
the council did not see the final
approved contract before it was
signed and work was started.
“We said we agree to have
work started pending review, which
means we wanted the contract
reviewed to make sure everything
was legal and the city was
protected,” Dodd said. “The work
was started without the city being
protected.”
“The work that we understood
that was going on was the cleaning
up,” Howard said. “They weren’t
supposed to get into anything major
until a contract was [approved].”
Jackson said she was not
directly involved in the discussions
about the type of work being done
until she and the council reviewed
the contract.
“The administrative staff,
primarily Mr. Moody, was working
with the contractor to see what

was happening and overseeing the
work,” Jackson said
Jackson said the city can do
things a “little differently” in future
contract discussions.
“Clearly there is a consensus in
terms of future contracts—before
any work is done that there will
be a contract that is presented
and reviewed by the council and
reviewed by the city attorney before
we allow any work to proceed

unless there is an emergency,
because there are situations
that may require an emergency,”
Jackson said. “We can’t say that
it never happens. The law does
allow for you to make exceptions
if there is an emergency. This was
not an emergency. It was a good
opportunity. Could it have been
handled better? Probably, but it’s
been done. We can’t undo what’s
been done.

Lithonia hires new city
administrator
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
DeKalb
County native
Cheryl Foster
has been named
Lithonia’s new city
administrator.
Foster, a
Towers High
School graduate, Foster
was introduced to
Lithonia residents on Sept. 6 at
the Lithonia city council meeting
and her first day on the job was
Sept. 20.
“I look forward to working
with the citizens,” she said at the
meeting. “I’m so excited to work
with the staff and really move the
city forward and to progress in a
positive way.”
Foster was one of two finalists
for the position. She replaced
Eddie Moody, who retired in
June.
Foster attended Columbus
State University, where she

earned a bachelor’s degree in
political science in 2007 and a
master’s of public administration
in government in 2013. She
worked in Clayton County for five
years as a deputy court clerk for
the Clayton County State Court
Clerk’s Office, and then a legal
assistant for the Clayton County
Staff Attorney’s Office.
Before coming to Lithonia,
Foster was a planner for Union
City community development. In
that role she helped build privatepublic partnerships, managed
commercial and residential
development and helped update
the city’s comprehensive plan.
“I come from a public
administrator background and a
legal background, so I’m really
looking forward to getting my
hands dirty and get ready to put
Lithonia on the map of DeKalb
County and be one of the leaders
to really mimic what we have to
offer in DeKalb County because
we are the best and we will be the
best on the map,” Foster said.

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 14, 2016

local

Page 5

Issue Continued From Page 1
[about breast cancer].
You try to talk to other
women and encourage
them to talk to you. I like
sharing that part—going
through a process no one
really warns you about.”
Mitchell also said she
considers herself quite
lucky. Often, sessions
of chemotherapy are
required to completely
eradicate tumors related
to breast cancer. Mitchell
only required surgery
because her tumors
were found early in the
process.
“Overall, I had a
really good experience,”
Mitchell said. “I had
very good doctors for
my surgery and very
good doctors for my
rehabilitation. I had some
very positive people
around me all the time so
I never had a bad spell.
I got my mind right and
said, ‘I need to take care
of this.’”
Mitchell said the
hardest part of having
breast cancer came
after the tumor was
removed. Her breast
had to be reconstructed
and a foreign object
was inserted to give the
appearance of a natural
breast.
“I went through this
denial process where I
didn’t want to discuss it,”
Mitchell said. “I felt like
if I talked about it, it may
come back. Like talking
about it would give it life
again.”
Mitchell’s friends
encouraged her to speak
to friends for positivity.
As she talked about it
with different people,
Mitchell found a calling—

Breast cancer survivor Amena Mitchell now has two brands dedicated to
breast cancer advocacy and mammogram awareness.
that she was spreading
awareness and helping
herself at the same time.
She also remembered
the vision board party
and how she visualized
herself advocating for
breast cancer.
“I reconciled with
myself that this may
have been God’s way
of putting me closer to
the issue if I was going
to advocate for it,” she
said. “I felt that there
may be something to this
[and] that I was meant to
talk to people about the
process.”

Mitchell, a business
graduate from Mercer
and Kennesaw
universities, used the
experience to create two
brands—Size Doesn’t
Matter, Finding the Cure
Does and the Million
Mammo Movement.
“For Size Doesn’t
Matter, Finding the Cure
Does, I thought about the
fact that everyone can get
this, no matter your size,”
Mitchell said. “It’s a fun
double entendre, but it
really means that no one
is exempt from this.”
A similar goal can

be found in the Million
Mammo Movement.
“I came up with that
brand after running
into women not getting
mammograms,” Mitchell
said. “Women were telling
me they ‘just don’t want
to know’ or just don’t want
to go. Early detection is
a game changer—the
doctors found mine early
enough that I didn’t have
to go through chemo. I
try to express to people
that, if you find out early
enough, why not just find
out?”
For both brands,

Mitchell came up with
designs for T-shirts
and sells them to raise
awareness. The money
gained from shirt sales is
donated to TurningPoint,
the same rehabilitation
office Mitchell attended.
Funds are used to
purchase lymphedema
sleeves and help offset
the cost for physical
therapy sessions.
“If I can help one,
I know I’ve made a
difference,” Mitchell said.
“I’m hoping to have good
sales and be able to
donate more.”
Mitchell also advocates
one-on-one with women
to help harbor positivity.
She advocates women to
get mammograms before
they turn 40, which is
seen as the standard,
and to accept the process
even if it requires surgery.
“Just because you
may have to have a
mastectomy, it’s not the
end of the world—I can
still throw on a bikini
and look sexy,” Mitchell
said. “It’s something we
have to deal with and
we can survive. You
have to reconcile that,
in life, things are going
to happen. But it’s not
about what happens, it’s
about how you deal with
it. You’re going to have
bad days with personal,
internal struggles. But
you can’t stay there.
Know you’ll get through
it.”
For more information
on Amena Mitchell’s Size
Doesn’t Matter, Finding
the Cure Does as well
as the Million Mammo
Movement, visit www.
atmitchellgroup.com.

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 14, 2016

opinion

Page 6

Don’t take politics seriously? I disagree
by Kathy Mitchell
In response to a recent opinion
piece, I can’t agree with the premise
that we shouldn’t take politics
seriously. Taking the election
seriously doesn’t mean buying into
every statement on the internet,
bumper stickers or Facebook. Quite
the opposite is true. Because we
are bombarded with distortions,
hyperbole and outright lies, it’s
more important than ever to wade
through the garbage and get as
close to the truth as possible.
It’s our responsibility when we
read a claim that a politician holds
a certain belief to go back to the
original source. Are those citing a
statement interpreting it fairly? Is
it being cited in context? When a
label—racist, fascist, compulsive
liar—is slapped on a politician,
it’s our responsibility to decide
whether it’s justified by the person’s
behavior.
At Olympic events voted on
by a panel of judges, the highest
and lowest scores are removed
before the others are averaged.
Perhaps we should take a similar
approach to political statements,
ignoring the most extreme of them

as we carefully examine the ones
that appear to come from rational,
responsible sources.
Taking the election seriously is
not the same as taking it personally.
Making ugly remarks or gestures
to people whose yard signs or
bumper stickers support someone
you oppose is making the election
personal. It changes no one’s mind
and just stirs up ill will. Taking politics seriously should mean doing
the thoughtful research necessary
to make the best possible choices,
because it really does make a difference who’s in public office.
I would agree that all candidates
are flawed—aren’t we all? But their
flaws aren’t identical. Voters have
the difficult responsibility of deciding which of those flaws can result
in true damage to our community,
our state or nation—and of deciding which politicians have strengths
that offset their flaws. Those old
enough to remember may agree
that Georgia with Jimmy Carter as
governor was very different from
Georgia with Lester Maddox as
governor. It is not necessary to
think one candidate is a saint to
decide he or she is a better choice
than the opposition.

I will grant that certain aspects
of government that should change
probably will not change no matter
who is elected. The “backroom
deals” and other ugliness
mentioned in the previous opinion
are real, but as long as people
are voting, no politician can afford
to take public opinion entirely for
granted. I am not so cynical that I
believe everyone is for sale to the
highest bidder. Over my lifetime I
have seen people in public office
risk political careers for positions
they believed to be morally right. I
believe there still are such people
in public life. We cannot encourage
politicians to rise above the mire of
self-serving deal making unless we
remain involved.
I get that right now there is
much frustration and dysfunction
in government, but these are the
times to be most careful. It was
a frustrated and dysfunctional
Germany that elevated Adolph
Hitler to power. I believe history
would have been quite different if
someone else had been chosen
Germany’s chancellor in the 1930s.
Our votes do matter. It’s true
that because of the Electoral
College system, the popular vote

does not elect the president. In
the 2000 election, for example,
the winner of the popular vote
was not the winner of the electoral
vote and thus not the person
who took office. Nonetheless,
individual votes mattered. Before
that election, most of us thought
of Chad just as a country in Africa.
Weeks after the last ballots had
been cast, people in Florida were
counting and recounting “hanging
chads,” “pregnant chads” and the
like because individual ballots were
crucial to determining how the
electoral votes would be cast.
Even when we’re choosing
between what we consider
the lesser of two evils, we’re
still choosing. And what is the
alternative—an oligarchy in which
special interests are free to run
the country unhampered? In the
interest of seeing that—to use
Abraham Lincoln’s words—
“government of the people, by the
people, for the people shall not
perish from the earth,” I plead with
every American to take the election
process seriously. Too many
Americans struggled and died to be
part of that process.

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 14, 2016

opinion

Page 7

A half-mile in their shoes - The Buddy Walk
“And no she’s never gonna
look like the other kids, and she
may not learn to talk like the other ones did, and I guess she’s
always gonna walk just a little
behind.” –lyrics from the song,
“God Doesn’t Make Mistakes,”
by the parent of a child with
Down syndrome.
This Sunday, Oct. 16, most all
day in Centennial Olympic Park,
metro Atlanta’s Down syndrome
community will gather for The
Buddy Walk. It is a day of celebration of our kid’s abilities and
yes, even their differences.
Trisomy 21, the genetic disorder that causes Down syndrome
at birth, is extra data on the 21st
pair of our 26 pairs of chromosomes. The genetic disorder remains one of the most common
birth defects, occurring in roughly eight of 1,000 live births, and
more frequently among mothers
with later-in-life pregnancies.
Rather than learning of this
news at birth, or via pre-natal
testing, modern medicine still
struggles with the delivery of this
information. I can still remember
a somber visit to the Emory Genetic Counseling Center after we
learned, several months prior to
her arrival, that our Olivia had
Down syndrome.
There remains an assumption, in part based upon fact,
that once given this news, in advance of birth and statutory limitations on abortion (weeks and
trimesters within a pregnancy),
that most couples will choose to
terminate the pregnancy. This
remains particularly true in the
Third World, most of Asia and in
many countries on the European
continent. A high percentage of
our kids are put up for adoption,
and believe it or not, there are
thankfully long lists of families
in most states willing and eager

‘One Man’s
Opinion’
Bill Crane

bill.csicrane@gmail.com

to give them a home and family
life. And, thankfully, at least in
the United States, our kind and
loving children no longer face
a lifetime of institutionalization,
which was extremely common
as recently as the 1990s.
Our Olivia brings us a new
life lesson and joy almost every
week. She is in many ways the
conscience in our family—reminding us almost daily of what
matters most in life—your family, friends, happiness, good
health, or even the simple joy of
a walk with a loved one on a fall
afternoon. Now just take that fall
afternoon smile, holding hands
with your own child and multiply by 3,000 or 4,000. That is a
Buddy Walk.
Without over-stereotyping,
our children largely are guile
less. They are a very good
read on others, and they notice
things which you and I may skip
over. They are caring and loving
to a fault, perhaps for some too
affectionate, though I will never
tire of her running toward me
when I pick her up at school to
jump into my arms smiling and
saying, “My daddy.”
Thanks to medical innovations, early intervention and a
wide array of therapeutic options, our kids now frequently
graduate high school, many
from college; they live independently as adults, often in
group homes. Increasingly they
marry, and when the decision is
made to have children, it is not

FREEPRess

unheard of for even a couple
with Down syndrome to have a
typical child. Trisomy 21 is a recessive, not a dominant, gene;
it does not automatically follow
into the next generation.
This weekend, Atlanta’s Down
syndrome community will again
gather, celebrate and walk the
just more than half-mile loop
encircling Centennial Olympic
Park. In a move toward inclusion, several years ago, the
Down Syndrome Association of
Atlanta invited numerous other
communities with physical challenges to walk with us, so you
will often meet someone with
MS, Muscular Dystrophy, Parkinson’s or perhaps simply living his
or her life in a wheelchair, walking, rolling, strolling and smiling
along with the rest of us.
This is not the Special Olympics. The day has no real competitions. Every one of our kids

the DeKalb

let Us Know What You Think!
SEnD lETTERS To EDiToR,
The DeKalb Free Press,
P. O. Box 1347, Decatur, GA 30031-1347;
Send email to Johnh@dekalbchamp.com
FAX To: (404) 370-3903; Phone: (404) 373-7779.
Deadline for news releases and advertising:
Thursday, one week prior to publication date.

THE CHAMPION FREE PRESS encourages opinions
from its readers. Please write to us and express your
views. Letters should be brief, typewritten and contain
the writer’s name, address and telephone number for
verification. All letters will be considered for publication.

EDiToR’S noTE: The opinions written by columnists and contributing editors do not necessarily reflect the opinions
of the editor or publishers. The Publisher reserves the right to reject or cancel any advertisement at any time. The
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

gets a gold medal for walking,
talking and bringing along their
team. On this day, they lead; on
this day, they are the stars. On
this day, we focus on their many
abilities, versus their disabilities. Whether in spirit, in person,
or via virtual financial support,
we thank you in advance for
your consideration, and many of
you for your prior generosity. We
hope to see you at the Buddy
Walk.
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.

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, Oct. 14, 2016 • Page 8

Local police, fire officials respond to Lee May policy
by Horace Holloman
horace@dekalbchamp.com
Two DeKalb County associations
responded to Interim CEO Lee May’s
new policy on guidelines for use of
staff support.
May issued an executive
order Sept. 27 requesting county
commissioners seek approval before
using county staff outside of their
district.
“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,” an email said
to commissioners sent on May’s
behalf.
In separate emails, the DeKalb
Professional Firefighters and
DeKalb’s Fraternal Order of Police
issued responses to the policy.
“Commissioners who participate
in ride-a-longs, events and activities
outside of their districts have the
ability to make well-educated
decisions when they vote on items
which impact countywide public

DeKalb Professional Firefighters and DeKalb’s Fraternal Order of Police issued
statements opposing Interim CEO Lee May’s policy regarding use of staff.

safety operations. Your attempt to
limit our duly elected commissioners
from making educated decisions
and votes is a disservice to the
members of DeKalb County law
enforcement and the citizens we
serve,” Jeff Wiggs, president of the
Fraternal Order of Police DeKalb
Lodge 10, said in a letter addressed
to May. “There should be no walls

Decatur residents choosing
homestead exemption options
by Horace Holloman
horace@dekalbchamp.com
Decatur residents will vote on different homestead
exemption options for the upcoming Nov. 8 election.
Listed on the ballot as City of Decatur Special Elections,
Decatur residents have five separate homestead exemption
options to vote on. Homestead exemptions reduce property
taxes for eligible homeowners by reducing the assessed
value of their homes, per city of Decatur tax blog.
Three homestead exemptions affect homeowners older
than 60. Senate Bill 340 would increase existing exemption
from $1,000 to $10,000 for homeowners older than 65.
SB 342 would create a new exemption for low-income
homeowners older than 62 and SB 343 is an exemption from
school property taxes for homeowners older than 65, which is
set to expire in five years, if approved.
SB 339 affects basic homestead exemption from $20,000
to $25,000. Voters have the opportunity to remove an
obsolete exemption with SB 341.
A list of a complete sample ballot can be found on the
website dekalbcountyga.gov/voter/pdf/SampleBallot

CITY OF STONE MOUNTAIN
PUBLIC HEARING NOTICE
The City of Stone Mountain hereby gives notice that
a Public Hearing will be held to consider proposed text
amendments to Appendix A of the Zoning Ordinance of
Stone Mountain.
The Mayor and City Council will hold a Public Hearing
on this matter on Monday, October 25, 2016 at City
Hall located at 875 Main Street, Stone Mountain, GA at
6:30 P.M. Anyone wishing to attend the public hearing
may do so and be heard relative thereto. A copy of the
proposed text amendments will be available at City Hall.

between law enforcement and our
commissioners who provide funding
for our budget and provide oversight
on our operations. Thank you for your
consideration to rescind this order.”
The DeKalb Professional
Firefighters also questioned May’s
policy in a letter stating in short,
“Rather than discouraging our county
leaders from visiting all parts of the

county we believe we should be
encouraging our elected leaders to
step up their involvement.”
May said the use of staff support
outside of commissioners’ districts
has not been eliminated, but requires
prior consent from the CEO.
“As a former commissioner and
as the interim CEO, I understand
the need to visit various parts
of the county to meet residents,
network with stakeholder and learn
about various issues in person.
Nothing about my directive limits a
commissioner’s ability to do that,”
May said. “This directive helps to
manage resources and prioritize
the obligations of the county and its
employees as we provide county
services to DeKalb County residents
and businesses.”
When asked under what
circumstances would May deny
a request by a commissioner to
use staff outside their district, May
responded by stating he doesn’t
want county staff to be pawns in the
conflicts between elected officials.
In an email exchange with The
Champion, the office of the CEO sent

See Response on Page 9A

PUBLIC NOTICE
NOTICE OF APPLICATION FOR A NATIONAL POLLUTANT DISCHARGE
ELIMINATION SYSTEM PERMIT TO DISCHARGE TREATED
WASTEWATER INTO THE WATERS OF THE
STATE OF GEORGIA.
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
EPDcomments@dnr.ga.gov, 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)
463-1511.
Please bring this to the attention of persons who you know will be interested in
this matter.

local

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 • Page 9

Response Continued From Page 8A

DeKalb County and Tucker elected officials and representatives from the Tucker-Northlake CID broke
ground on the Tucker Meridian development. Photo by John McHenry, city of Tucker

Tucker, county officials break
ground on Tucker Meridian
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com
A new shopping center is scheduled to
be up and running in the Northlake area of
Tucker next year.
DeKalb County and Tucker elected
officials and representatives from the
Tucker-Northlake Community Improvement
District broke ground on the Tucker
Meridian development on Oct. 5. The
207,000-square-foot development will be
located on 22 acres on Northlake Parkway
in Tucker, near LaVista Road and both
the Northlake Parkway and LaVista Road
I-285 interchanges.
The shopping center will include Dick’s
Sporting Goods, Sprouts Farmers Market,
Einstein Bagels, Jimmy John’s and other
retail shops and restaurants.
Developer Ben Kushner, CEO of Ben
F. Kushner Company said he and his staff
are proud to be in a position to be among
the first to be economic drivers in the

Tucker-Northlake area.
“This area has been somewhat
dormant for so long, and with the type of
tenants that we have here and the kind
of activity that’s going to be here—the
area across the street and in approximate
places will also be a driver and will be
something much better in the years to
come,” Kushner said. “There’s no reason
why this should not have been here
before.”
In April 2015, the DeKalb County
Board of Commissions approved rezoning
a portion of the old LaVista Office Park
from single-family residential to officeinstitutional to combine with the adjoining
property to be redeveloped as a retail
shopping center. Built in 1973, LaVista
Office Park was a 285,000-square-foot
single-story office complex on 25 acres.
Tucker-Northlake CID President Ann
Rosenthal said in a press release that

two video links as an example of recent conflicts between
commissioners.
One video features District 3 Commissioner Larry
Johnson. Johnson, who titled the post “Fix your own
backyard,” was filmed juxtaposed next to the abandoned
14-story building at 4001 Presidential Parkway along
Interstate 85.
“My grandmother told me a long time ago we all live
in glass houses, so you don’t throw stones,” Johnson said
in the video in response to a series of videos put out by
commissioner Nancy Jester. “[This building] needs a lot of
help and there are a lot of code violations and I just want to
let people know you have to work on the stuff in your own
area.”
The second video features District 1 Commissioner
Nancy Jester in a video titled, “Nancy Jester make DeKalb
strong: My backyard.”
“Apparently commissioner Larry Johnson has decided
that I was right all along and it’s OK to visit other districts
to exercise your oversight responsibility,” Jester said in the
video. “I appreciate the presiding officer finally working with
me on this matter after I have repeatedly visited this location
and asked for his help.”

E M P LOY E R S H AV E J O B S .
YO U H AV E S K I L L S .
GOODWILL CAREER CENTERS
C A N B R I N G YO U TO G E T H E R .

See Tucker on Page 11A

NOTICE OF SALES AND USE TAX ELECTIONTO THE QUALIFIED
VOTERS OF THE CITY OF ATLANTA
YOU ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED that on the 8th day of November 2016, an election will be held in all of the precincts of the City
of Atlanta (the “City’’). At the election there will be submitted to the qualified voters of the City for their determination the question
of whether an additional 0.4 percent sales tax shall be collected in the City of Atlanta for 5 years for the purpose of transportation
improvements and congestion reduction.
Voters desiring to vote for the imposition of such sales and use tax shall do so by voting “YES” and voters desiring to vote against the
imposition of such sales and use tax shall do so by voting “NO,” as to the question propounded, to wit:
“Shall an additional 0.4 percent sales tax be collected in the City of Atlanta for 5 years for the purpose of transportation improvements
and congestion reduction?”
The several places for holding the election shall be in the regular and established precincts of the City, and the polls will be open from
7:00a.m. to 7:00p.m. on the date fixed for the election. Those qualified to vote at the election shall be determined in all respects in
accordance and in conformity with the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America and of the State of Georgia.
This notice is given pursuant to joint action of the City Council of the City of Atlanta and the Municipal Election Superintendent of the
City, subject to action taken by the Fulton County Board of Commissioners pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 48-8-269.995(b)(1).
City of Atlanta
Municipal Clerk/Election Superintendent
Rhonda Dauphin Johnson

NOTICE OF SALES AND USE TAX ELECTION TO THE QUALIFIED
VOTERS OF THE CITY OF ATLANTA

YOU ARE HEREBY NOTIFIED on the 8th day of November 2016, an election will be held in all of the precincts
of the City of Atlanta (the “City’’). At the election there will be submitted to the qualified voters of the City for their
determination the question of whether an additional sales tax shall be collected in the City of Atlanta for the purpose of
expanding and enhancing MARTA transit service in Atlanta.
Voters desiring to vote for the imposition of such sales and use tax shall do so by voting “YES” and voters desiring to
vote against the imposition of such sales and use tax shall do so by voting “NO,” as to the question propounded, to wit:
“Shall an additional sales tax of one-half percent be collected in the City of Atlanta for the purpose of significantly
expanding and enhancing MARTA transit service in Atlanta?”
The several places for holding the election shall be in the regular and established precincts of the City, and the polls
will be open from 7:00a.m. to 7:00p.m. on the date fixed for the election. Those qualified to vote at the election shall
be determined in all respects in accordance and in conformity with the Constitution and the laws of the United States of
America and of the State of Georgia.
This notice is given pursuant to joint action of the City Council of the City of Atlanta and the Municipal Election
Superintendent of the City.
City of Atlanta
Municipal Clerk/Election Superintendent
Rhonda Dauphin Johnson

This October during National Disability Employment Awareness
Month, we want to remind you that Goodwill career centers
provide equal opportunity access to job training, job postings,
technology usage, and a library of resources. We also have special
programs for people with disabilities to help everyone move
closer to their dreams. You can come in to a career center,
or use Career Connector, our online job search and skills
development website. Whichever you choose, with Goodwill, a
better tomorrow can start today.
To find a career center near you, visit goodwillng.org

Northeast Plaza Career Center
3337 Buford Hwy NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30329
678.891.0235

of North Georgia

local

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 • Page 10

DeKalb school district purchases $1.2 million insurance policy
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com
Despite vocal opposition from
every DeKalb County School District
(DCSD) board of education member,
an insurance contract totaling
$1,251,029 was approved Oct. 3
during a monthly meeting.
The contract—made with
American Home Assurance—covers
DCSD’s estimated $3.3 billion in
real estate, vehicles, buildings and
contents, as well as its $14 million in
fine art from physical damage in the
event of a disaster.
The contract will assure these
assets are covered for 14 months
beginning in November 2016.
How and why the contract
was presented to the board has
many district wanting answers from
insurance brokers Christopher
Goodrich and Burch Glover, both
of Aon Brokering.
Insurance is exempt from the
district’s usual procurement process
and a third-party broker may be
used to find coverage.
American Home Assurance, an
American International Group (AIG)
subsidiary, was the only insurance
company to submit a quote to the
district despite its having solicited to
13 different carriers. The request for
proposal (RFP) was made public for
approximately one month.
“Seven carriers declined to bid
while six carriers did not respond,”
states the official agenda item.
Board member Joyce Morley
asked DCSD Chief Legal Officer
Jennifer Hackemeyer why vendors
did not respond to the district’s
solicitation.
“The 14-month [coverage] may

The DeKalb County School District board of education approved a $1.2 million insurance contract on Oct. 3 despite receiving
only one bid.

have thrown them off,” Hackemeyer
said. “Our broker had suggested
going to a calendar year. We’re in
the process of developing a RFP for
a new broker, someone who’s a little
more aggressive and will get out
there on the market.”
Board member Vickie Turner
said she is “a little suspect” in hiring
a broker responsible for finding
many bidders and only finding one.
“Sometimes, there can be an
underlying relationship there and
business can be steered to certain
companies,” Turner said. “I’m a
little suspect about that given the
fact we have to make a decision by
November, before our next board

meeting.”
Turner is pleased DCSD
is seeking another broker but
vocally opposed seeking another
option “after [the broker] made a
reasonable amount of money.”
Turner asked about previous
rates to see if Aon had saved the
district any moneyand found the
rates comparable, if not lower, in
2016, 2015 and 2014. Hackemeyer
attributed this to an increase in
property value.
According to Aon’s marketing
data, three insurance companies—
XL Insurance America, Firemans
Fund Insurance, and ACE American
Insurance—declined for “class of

business,” which refers to a type
of insurance being covered. These
businesses may not cover property
or vehicles.
In the same document, two
businesses—American Guarantee
& Liability Insurance and Affiliated
FM Insurance—declined for “loss
experience,” which refers to the
amount of loss an insured party
experiences compared with similarly
sized businesses. In other words,
DCSD may have experienced
losses in the past that made these
two companies uncomfortable with

See Insurance on Page 11A

Hogan’s vacancy tabled by Clarkston City Council
by R. Scott Belzer

sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com

Clarkston City Council has
not officially declared a vacancy
following the resignation of
councilman and Mayor Pro Tem
Robert Hogan after failing to do
so Oct. 4.
“It’s with great sadness that
I’m reporting to you that I will no
longer be serving on the Clarkston
City Council,” Hogan said Oct. 4.
“It took quite some time to make
the decision—it was very hard. I
love the work that I do here with
the community. At the same time,
I have to look at opportunities
available for housing.”
Hogan said he is purchasing
a home outside city limits and

will no longer qualify for a
Clarkston council seat. According
to Clarkston’s city charter, a city
council member must reside within
city limits.
“Rents in housing in Clarkston
are going up higher and higher,”
Hogan said. “It’s putting individuals
in situations where they have to
look at what they have to do to
have a nice, comfortable place to
live in. I made that decision—I like
a big house, a big front yard and a
big back yard.”
Hogan said there is specific
excitement—one that he will
miss—that goes with being a
councilman and part of a city’s
inner workings.

See Clarkston on Page 15A

Clarkston city councilman and Mayor Pro Tem Robert Hogan was denied an official
vacancy on Oct. 4 on the grounds his absence would require a special election.

local

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 • Page 11

InsuRanCe Continued From Page 10A
taking such a contract.
Chairman Melvin Johnson said brokers historically
save the district money and that the district may be saving
money by not having other bidders involved.
Superintendent Stephen Green said renewing in
November for a 14-month period may have put the district
out of cycle with other companies and hopes a new broker
will put DCSD on a level playing field when the district
renews again.
Board member Stan Jester suggested going to
vendors who passed up the contract and asking what the
district—or the broker—may have done wrong or what
was unattractive about such a contract.
Board member Marshall Orson suggested entering
into a cooperative contract with a neighboring school
district to reduce costs and make sure best practices are
followed.
According to insurance advisor Roger Pickens, three
other brokers are being considered in addition to Aon
Brokers.
The board approved the contract with American Home
Assurance to avoid a lapse in coverage.
Tucker Councilwoman Anne Lerner, left, interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May and Tucker
Councilwoman Michelle Penkava were among the group to officially break ground for the new
development. Photo by Carla Parker

TuCKeR Continued From Page 9A
Tucker Meridian is the first development
identified in the CID’s master plan.
“The Tucker-Northlake CID completed
a master plan last year, reflecting the input
from hundreds of stakeholders,” Rosenthal
said. “This road map for development
specifically calls for new retail and dining
options along the Lavista Road/Northlake
Parkway retail corridor near Northlake
Mall.”
Tucker Mayor Frank Auman said
the development is one of many—both
commercial and residential—to come in
Tucker.
“This one is special. We’re really

excited about this development,” Auman
said. “Not only has Ben and his team
brought world-class tenants—restaurants
and retailers—into this area but it has
already catalyzed the nearby area, the
surrounding area. This is good for Tucker.”
Interim DeKalb County CEO Lee May,
who praised the partnership between the
county and new city, said he is excited for
Tucker.
“We celebrate with you all on behalf
of DeKalb County government,” May said.
“The best is yet to come. This is one of
many dynamic developments.”

local

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 • Page 12

Fire prevention festival
focuses on safety, fun
by Horace Holloman
horace@champnews.com

T

DeKalb County Fire Rescue Department held its 14th annual Fire
Prevention Festival Oct. 1. The festival is in coordination with
National Fire Safety week.

R
E
V
O
W!
O
C
S LN

GEORGIA PIEDMONT

he annual fire prevention festival
held by the DeKalb County Fire
Rescue Department is a family-fun
event, said the department’s chief
Darnell Fullum.
Nonetheless, the 14th annual Fire
Prevention Festival, held on Oct. 1, isn’t
just about food, games and fun, Fullum
said.
Department officials said the focus is
educating children about fire prevention
and staying safe in case of an emergency.
“We like to combine the fun and the
rides and good times with fire prevention.
We focus on children and that they know
what to do in case of a fire. It’s meant to be
a good time, but to share some knowledge
as well,” Fullum said.
Fifty percent of fire deaths that occur
in homes happen between the hours of 11
p.m. and 7 a.m., Fullum said.
“It’s important to have a working fire
detector. Usually, that’s your first line of
defense,” Fullum said. “Between the hours
of 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. is the time people
are a sleep. What’s going to save you is
the fact that you have a working smoke
detector that will hopefully wake you up and
give you time to get out of your house.”
Fullum said the ultimate goal for
firefighters is to make sure the family is
safe and out of the house by the time
firefighters arrive.
The event was held at South DeKalb
all as part of October’s National Fire Safety

Week, Oct. 9-15. The festival featured a
Pokemon Go scavenger hunt, selfie station,
inflatable rides and games.
“The DeKalb Fire Safety Festival
offers residents an opportunity to meet
firefighters, learn about fire safety, check
out the fire apparatus and participate in
festival activities,” said DeKalb County
Interim CEO Lee May in a statement.
Fullum said the department chose the
mall location because it wanted to “get out
in the community.”
DeKalb County residents Yolanda
Word and Antonio Fox came to the event
with their son Antonio Jr.
Word said Antonio Jr. loves fire trucks.
“He loves fire trucks and police cars.
He’s at that age where he hears sirens
and he gets excited. He wants to look
around and see what’s going on. He’s really
excited to run around and see everything,”
Fox said.
Word said she heard about the event
at work and thought it was a great way to
get involved with local firefighters and law
enforcement.
“It’s nice that the kids can interact with
people and other firefighters in DeKalb
County,” Word said.
During the festival, DeKalb County
firefighters demonstrated how to remove a
person from a wrecked vehicle.
“This is all an effort to get out and reach
the people where they are. We just wanted
to talk about fire safety and hopefully
prevent an accident from happening,”
Fullum said.

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WeeKinPICTURES

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 • Page 13

DeKalb County Police welcomed new recruits as the 106th graduating class joined the
force on Oct. 7. Photos courtesy of DeKalb County.

The Dunwoody Police Department and DeKalb County Fire Department responded
to a crash with injuries at Cotillion Drive in Dunwoody on Oct. 8. Photos courtesy
of Dunwoody Fire Department.

Helping Oppressed Mothers Endure founder Carolyn Watson (middle) with her
husband, Leotis, and friend Carolyn Tolbert during a Decatur recycling event.

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

DeKalb25@outlook.com

DeKalb25.com

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

DeKalb County resident Joe Arrington said his water bills have
increased 300 percent in the last 18 months.

More than 200 DeKalb residents came to the Maloof Building in downtown Decatur to voice concerns
over high water bills in the county. Photos by DeKalb County Government

Star McKenzie, a resident who created the Facebook group
Unbelievable DeKalb Water Bills, speaks on behalf of unhappy
taxpayers in DeKalb County at a water bill town hall meeting
hosted by DeKalb County commissioners.

DeKalb residents furious over high bills
by Horace Holloman
horace@dekalbchamp.com

W

ith $1,000 to $2,000
and even $5,000 water
bills, DeKalb County
residents filled the
Maloof Auditorium in downtown
Decatur to express discontent over
“unreasonably” high water bills during
a town hall meeting.
More than 100 residents packed
the auditorium, some carrying signs
and a few with high water bills
stapled on their shirts.
DeKalb’s COO Zach Williams
issued a formal apology to those in
attendance on the county’s response
to high billing issues.
“We haven’t always given people
the benefit of the doubt. I apologize
for that. At the end of the day, we
have had systems in place for a
number of years that said ‘we’re
right, you prove us wrong. I apologize
for that,” Williams said. “I’m going
to agree with the statements Star
[McKenzie] said that ‘a business that
says the customer is always wrong
goes out of business.’ Each of you
that are here, and those that aren’t
here, deserve better.”
Williams, along with county
commissioners and watershed
management officials, listened to
residents’ complaints throughout the
meeting.
McKenzie, a resident who
created the Facebook group
Unbelievable DeKalb Water Bills—
with more than 1,000 members—
spoke on behalf of unsatisfied
residents.
“For years, [representatives] have
been giving us every excuse in the

book on how it’s our fault. Leaks,
unexpected usage, water theft—
that’s my favorite—and the list goes
on,” McKenzie said. “Fortunately
for watershed and unfortunately for
residents, they are selling something
we cannot live without. It’s becoming
clear that these bills are not our fault
and I will no longer stand for this
treatment of our residents.”
McKenzie shared stories from
members of her group. McKenzie
said the individuals did not want to
give their names because of fear
of repercussion from the county’s
watershed department.
One woman was forced to sell
her Lithonia home under market
value in May because she could no
longer afford her water bill payments,
McKenzie said. The woman had
a water bill of $4,500. The price
of the bill was deducted from the

closing cost and paid to the county’s
watershed department, she said.
A 65-year-old man living alone
on a fixed income, who previously
averaged $40 water bills, started
receiving $400 water bills, McKenzie
said.
Williams said the county has
identified several issues including,
water meter malfunctions, delay in
billing process, receiving two bills
at one time and customer service
issues.
“There are times where we
don’t send out a bill for one billing
period and then send it the next
billing period so you’re getting two
bills at once,” Williams said. “We
need to admit that it happens and be
understanding. These are all issues
we need to resolve and this is what
that process is going to be about.”
DeKalb County Interim CEO

Lee May issued a moratorium on
disconnections for non-payment,
which ends Dec. 31 of this year.
May, who was not in attendance
at the town hall meeting, said in an
earlier statement “I have always
said that one incorrect water bill is
too many, and we have a number
of issues that could factor into many
errors on bills. We must ensure that
the process is accurate, and we have
to err on the side of caution until we
are confident that it is.”
Williams said the county is
currently working to replace old water
meters.
Approximately 70,000 water
meters have been replaced with
new digital units that can be read
electronically.  Nearly half of the
digital meters have transmitters that
relay water usage in real time.  The
remaining 120,000 water meters are
expected to be replaced by 2021,
according to county officials.
Many residents seemed upset
with the county’s response to
questions during the meeting, some
shouting “class-action lawsuit” during
the county’s presentation.
“This year [my water bills] have
tripled. First of all, it’s gone up by 300
percent 18 months ago and it is now
600 percent higher today than it was
two years ago. That’s intolerable,”
said DeKalb County resident Joe
Arrington. “All of you are good
decent people, but we’ve had more
turnover in watershed management
in the past six years than we had in
the previous 20 years. You hire good
people, but the system does not help
them function in a management style.
That’s a disservice to the customers.”

local

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 • Page 15

Senator: Homeowners ‘crazy’ not to vote for House Bill 596
by Horace Holloman
horace@dekalbchamp.com
Fran Millar, Georgia’s state
senator representing areas of
DeKalb, Fulton and Gwinnett
counties, said homeowners “would
be crazy” not to vote for DeKalb
County Homestead Exemption Act
264, House Bill 596, which would
extend a tax break for homeowners.
DeKalb County residents will
make the choice Nov. 8 whether
to extend a frozen exemption for
homeowners or to let the tax break
expire.
“Unless you want 10 years of
[property tax] increases, then vote
yes,” Millar said in an interview with
The Champion. “If you don’t vote for
this then the tax freeze expires. It
expires at the end of this year.”
One word in HB 596 put a halt
to roughly $550 million in funding
for DeKalb County. The DeKalb
County Board of Commissioners
unanimously voted to put a hold on
a referendum for a special purpose
local option sales tax (SPLOST).
The word “tolled” was inserted

into the bill’s language, which
means if a referendum for SPLOST
passed the homeowners’ tax
exemption would be eliminated.
“If the General Assembly enacts
an equalized homestead option
sales and use tax and such tax is
placed into effect in DeKalb County
during the period the exemption
granted by subsection of this
section is in effect, the exemption
granted by subsection of this
section shall be tolled for as long
as the equalized homestead option
sales and use tax is in effect,”
according to HB 596.
On Sept. 20, Senator Emanuel
Jones spoke to a group of DeKalb
residents at the Porter Sanford
Performing Arts Center in Decatur
and suggested the word “tolled”
was intentionally inserted.
Jones said the bill was a
“poison pill” for DeKalb County
voters.
“This word that was put in
wasn’t a glitch. It was a poison pill,”
Jones said.
Millar said inserting the word
was an accident.

In the Nov. 8 general election, DeKalb
residents have the option to vote to
extend a tax exemption to homeowners

“I don’t care what he says. What
Emanuel Jones doesn’t understand
is that [voting no] for HB 596 will

kill the tax freeze,” Millar said. “It
was an honest mistake. The freeze
expires this year, so we’ve got to
pass this thing. We wouldn’t have
this problem if Emanuel Jones
didn’t insist on the sunset clause.”
Millar said state lawmakers
intend to change the wording in
January to allow DeKalb to pass a
SPLOST that will not affect county
homeowners.
If the wording is changed,
DeKalb County will still have an
uphill battle to decide what to do
with SPLOST funding. Before the
word “tolled” came to light, DeKalb
commissioners were undecided on
how to allocate revenue from the
SPLOST.
DeKalb officials also will
attempt to get cities to sign an
intergovernmental agreement. If
cities all vote yes to an agreement,
the county could receive an
additional year of SPLOST funding.
“Homeowners want to vote for
this. People would be crazy not to
vote for this,” Millar said. “If we only
made one mistake this session, I’d
say that’s pretty good.”

CLaRKsTon Continued From Page 10A
Hogan was elected as
a Clarkston City Council
member in 2013. He has
also served on the city’s
planning and zoning
committee.
Of his goals in
Clarkston, Hogan
said, “By establishing
committees, we can
educate and organize our
community with responsible
representation and present
our recommendations
to the city of Clarkston
and DeKalb County for
resolution and support.”
“It has been a pleasure
and an honor to serve on
the Clarkston City Council
and represent the Clarkston
community with its multifacets of communities,
cultures, nonprofit
organizations, social

organizations,” Hogan said.
A special election
for Hogan’s council seat
was proposed for March
21, 2017. The winner of
the election would hold
Hogan’s former seat until
Dec. 31, 2017.
The official declaration,
however, was tabled until
Clarkston City Council’s
November meeting.
Councilman Dean
Moore voted in opposition
to declaring Hogan’s seat
vacant on the grounds
that a special election
will cost the city money,
that two council members
(Beverly Burks and Mario
Williams) were absent and
that Hogan’s residence
outside the city has yet to
be verified.
“There’s a lot of

different precedents here,”
Moore said. “I’m against
the idea that we’re being
moved forward into a
special election in an
election year that’s a waste
of taxpayers’ money. This
is not a crisis of the city to
replace [Hogan] in March.”
Clarkston city attorney
Stephen Quinn argued
that the people being
represented by Hogan
have a right to continued
representation in the
months before the city’s
2017 elections.
“If a seat is vacated
for more than six months,
the people have the right
to fill that vacancy,” Quinn
said. “It’s true that it costs
money to do that, but that’s
a determination that’s been
made at the state level.

CITY OF BROOKHAVEN FY 2017 BUDGET REVIEW,
PUBLIC HEARINGS, AND ADOPTION
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 www.brookhavenga.gov October 11, 2016.

My opinion is very much
shaped by the state and
their policies.”
Several motions were
made and Moore argued
that Hogan could not vote.
When Mayor Ted Terry
overruled Moore, Hogan
chose to abstain.

Leading up to its
November meeting,
Clarkston City Council will
have a third-party attorney
review state law that
requires a special election
for vacancies lasting more
than 12 months.

PUBLIC NOTICE
Destruction of Special Education Records
The DeKalb County School District, in accordance with
federal and state law, announces its intention to destroy,
on January 31, 2017, education records collected,
maintained, and used in the provision of a free and
appropriate public education for students with disabilities.
Special education records maintained by the District for
students born between January 1, 1992 and December
31, 1992 are no longer needed by the District for
educational purposes. However, these records may
be needed by the student and/or parent or guardian for
Social Security benefits, rehabilitation services, college
entrance, or other purposes.
If you, as a former special education student or parent/
guardian of a special education student, wish to obtain
these records prior to destruction, please contact the
Special Education Records Office at 678-676-1802 or in
writing at:
•5867 Memorial Drive, Stone Mountain, GA 30083
•Or via email @ SpEdRecords@dekalbschoolsga.org
•Or via fax @ 678-676-2027
The request window opens October 15, 2016 and
closes January 31, 2017. The request for records
(scheduled for destruction) form is available on the
DeKalb County School District website on the Special
Education page. Records will be made available within
30 days of the written request; if you plan to pick up the
records in person, please notify us at least 5 days in
advance. Proof of identity is required.

local

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 • Page 16

An artist rendering of the design concept for North Decatur Square.

North Decatur Square project a go
by Horace Holloman
horace@dekalbchamp.com
A multi-use development project
received full support for rezoning
applications from the DeKalb
County Board of Commissioners
Sept. 27.
S.J. Collins Enterprise, a
Fairburn-based commercial real

estate and retail development firm,
was unanimously approved for its
North Decatur Square project.
The project will feature a 365 by
Whole Foods and housing units.
S.J. Collins partner Jeff
Garrison said he’s excited about
the project getting final approval
from DeKalb commissioners
and said he looks forward to the

upcoming project.
““We’re very excited to have
worked with the community and
gotten unanimous support from
county commissioners,” Garrison
said. “We got support from a
number of neighborhood groups
representing about 100 houses.
We’re excited about the future and
the work the community put in.”

Rover (ID# 32158796) is
ready to wow you with his happy
smile and love for snuggling. This
handsome two year old boy enjoys
going for walks, being your right
hand man, and being adorable.
If you would like to expand
your family by 4 furry little feet;
come meet Rover at the DeKalb
Animal Shelter. Adopt any dog
over 25lbs and all cats in October
during our “Fall in Love” promotion
and the adoption fee is half
price and includes spay/neuter,
vaccinations and microchip! If you
would like more information about
Rover please email adoption@
dekalbanimalservices.com or call
(404) 294-2165. All potential
adopters will be screened to
ensure Rover goes to a good
home.

One of the neighborhood
associations S.J. Collins received
support from is Decatur Heights
Neighborhood Association (DHNA).
The DHNA board sent a release in
support of the development.
S.J. Collins and neighborhood
associations negotiated

See Project on Page 17A

local

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 • Page 17

pRojeCT Continued From Page 16A
improvements for North
Decatur Square in a series
of meetings.
According to the
DHNA board’s release,
S.J. Collins will install
thermoplastic pedestrian
crosswalks at the
intersection of Church
Street and North Decatur
Road as well as the
intersection of Church
Street and Sycamore Drive
and Sycamore Drive near
Rufus Evans Drive.
S.J. Collins also
plans to install signage
warning drivers to not
block the Church Street
and Sycamore Drive
intersection.
“S.J. Collins views
[working with the
community] as an essential
part of the process.
We wanted [residents]
to define the space in
a way that reflects the
community,” Garrison said.
“We started early and
tried to understand their
intentions for the location.”
In negotiations, S.J
Collins agreed to upgrade
coordinated signal system
timing for the Church
Street signal system,
install a traffic signal or
a pedestrian crossing
beacon on Church Street
near Milscott Drive and
“explore with MARTA the
potential for a sheltered
bus stop located at the
development.”
Deanne Thomas,
president of DHNA,
said she is pleased
that improvements at
North Decatur Road are
coming to fruition and
is satisfied with how the
company engaged affected
neighborhood association.
“We’re very pleased
and excited. The Whole
Foods name has come
up for years and this is
something the neighbors
want and we now have this
within a walkable distance
of our neighborhood,”
Thomas said. “We are
very pleased with the
process of working with
S.J. Collins to make the
location walkable for the
community.”
Thomas said making
sure North Decatur Square
is walkable for surrounding
residents is important. The
development will have
tree-lined multi-use paths,
public spaces and nearly
300 apartments which will
include a minimum of 30

units of workforce housing
for individuals earning up
to approximately $44,000
annually.
“We were pleased
with the process and we
expressed to [S.J. Collins]
our thoughts of wanting
neighbors to be able to walk
to the development and
they were very good about
working with us,” Thomas
said.
Garrison said S.J.
Collins had more than 20
meetings with neighborhood
associations during the
development process.
Garrison said he envisions
the area continuing to grow.
“The corridor is starting
to turn over from industrial
car lots and become a
commercial corridor,”
Garrison said. “This trend
is something that Whole
Foods looks for. It just so
happens we were able
to find a car dealership
moving out of the area and
capitalize.”

PUBLIC NOTICE
NOTICE OF APPLICATION FOR ANATIONAL POLLUTANT DISCHARGE
ELIMINATION SYSTEM PERMIT TO DISCHARGE TREATED WASTEWATER
INTO THE WATERS OF THE STATE OF GEORGIA.
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
EPDcomments@dnr.ga.gov, 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 of 8:00 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.

2nd ROUND OF COMMUNITY INPUT MEETINGS FOR
BUILDING S.P.A.C.E.S. INITIATIVE
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:
Region

Time/Date of Meeting

Meeting Location

Informational Meeting

Tuesday, September 27, 7 – 9 PM

AIC
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

business

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 • Page 18

Frozen assets—entrepreneur opens ice cream parlor in Avondale Estates
by Kathy Mitchell
When Tushar Patel opened
Avondale Ice Cream, an ice cream
parlor in Avondale Estates, he
joined a trend as old as the country
itself. According to icecream.com,
the first ice cream parlor in the
United States opened in 1776,
the year the nation declared its
independence.
The frozen dessert is now
America’s second favorite treat—
only cookies are more popular, the
website states. It also notes that
Americans eat an average of 5.5
gallons of ice cream each year,
making the United States second
only to New Zealand in per capita
ice cream consumption.
“Everybody young and old
loves ice cream,” said Patel, who’s
known around the community by his
nickname, Lala, which is how he’s
identified on his nametag. “People,
no matter who they are and where
they come from, find ice cream
a refreshing treat. It’s a perfect
product to sell because it puts a big

smile on everyone’s face.”
Avondale Ice Cream is a family
business whose owners include
Lala Patel’s son Bobby Patel. The
Patels said they hope Avondale Ice
Cream will be become a popular
place for locals to come for a good
time. They chose bright interior
paint colors and designs to create
a party atmosphere. There is a
seating area, although a good deal
of the business is carry out.
The shop, which opened Sept.
12 and held its grand opening and
ribbon cutting Sept. 21, has been
doing a brisk business, especially
on weekends, according to Lala
Patel.
“We really didn’t look around for
a location,” he said. “We saw this
site and knew it would be perfect.”
The Twin Oaks Plaza location, he
noted, is working out very well. “It’s
a busy area. Lots of people come
here to shop or eat at one of the
restaurants and they stop by. It’s
on the city’s main thoroughfare and
there’s lots of parking.”
Avondale Ice Cream features

Hershey’s Ice Cream, a premium
brand sold in 18 states. “We
sampled different ice creams and
everybody liked Hershey’s so we
decided that’s what we would sell.”
Lala Patel said he believes his is
the only ice cream shop in the area
selling Hershey’s.
According to the Hershey’s
Creamery Company website,
the company’s uses “pure vanilla
extract and the highest quality of
cocoa available anywhere. Our fruit
flavors are made from hand-picked
fresh-frozen fruits. We use high
grades of almonds, pecans and
walnuts. We are also one of the few
manufacturers that roast nuts in our
own plant.” The Hershey Creamery
Company has no relationship to
the Hershey chocolate company,
started the same year, 1894, by a
different family with the same last
name.
Patel said he lets customers
choose which flavors are sold in
the shop. “We get a list of flavors
that are available and let customers
say ‘oh, I like this one or that one’

then we order it and see how well
it sells.” He said the shop offers 24
flavors at a time, including a variety
of frozen yogurts.
A resident of Tucker, Patel said
he has worked for an Avondale
Estates company and likes the
atmosphere in the city. “People are
very friendly. It is a great community
for families—for people of all ages.
Some people suggested that an ice
cream shop would be the perfect
business for downtown Avondale so
I decided to explore that.”
Patel praised the Avondale
Estates city government and
business community, saying they
were supportive of his venture from
the proposal through the opening.
“City officials come by to see how
we’re doing and to enjoy some ice
cream,” he said.
Patel, who said Avondale Ice
Cream is his first business venture,
noted that he has no immediate
plans to open other locations. “But
who knows what the future will
bring,” he added.

Classified

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 • Page 19

The

Champion

Classifieds

The Champion is not responsible for any damages resulting from advertisements. All sales final.
Business Opportunities
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Effective communication skills
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Julie. nelms@compass-usa.
com Compass Group is an
EOE/AA/M/F/D/V.
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williamatkinson@windstream.
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education

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 • Page 20

Meeting attendees were placed in classrooms to engage with MTG of America for a more intimate discussion regarding ESPLOST V.

DeKalb unveils tentative ESPLOST V outline
Three general options presented and discussed at Tucker, Miller Grove high schools
by R. Scott Belzer
sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com
DeKalb County School District
(DCSD) revealed tentative plans
for more than $500 million in tax
revenue on Oct. 4.
DCSD hosted the first of five
public input meetings regarding the
use of education-specific special
purpose local option sales tax
(ESPLOST) at Tucker High School.
The meeting drew a crowd of
approximately 60 people.
A similar meeting at Miller
Grove High School took place on
Oct. 11, with more to follow on Oct.
13 at Chamblee High School, Oct.
17 at Columbia High School and
Oct. 18 at Stone Mountain High
School.
Joe Clark of MTG of America—
one of the consultant firms hired
by DCSD to evaluate buildings,
address capacity issues and aid
in ESPLOST’s implementation—
revealed where revenue generated
by the penny tax will go between
2017 and 2022.
Three options are being
considered for how to use
approximately $400 million in
new facilities, additions and
improvements.
Following the Secondary
Schools Facility and Feasibility
Study, approximately $195 million
will be set aside for a new Cross
Keys High School ($84.8 million),
conversion of the current Cross
Keys High School to a 1,500-seat
middle school with additions ($12
million), an auditorium at Cedar
Grove High School ($5 million) and

additions at Chamblee, Clarkston,
Dunwoody and Lakeside high
schools as well as Freedom and
Peachtree middle schools ($93.2
million).
The district also plans to build
two new elementary schools—
evaluated at $30 million each—to
alleviate overcrowding in the Cross
Keys cluster. This includes the
planned John Lewis Elementary
School as well as a new elementary
school in the northern part of the
cluster.
The district is considering three
options in rebuilding an elementary
school and other elementary school
additions. One option includes
additions at Jolly, Chesnut and
Rowland elementary schools
combined with the rebuilding of
Indian Creek Elementary ($56.6
million), another includes just the
rebuild ($28 million), and the third is
not to pursue the issue at all.
According to Dan Drake,
DCSD’s director of Planning
and Development, Indian Creek
Elementary was chosen to be
rebuilt due to overcrowding. The
additions at Jolly, Chesnut and
Rowland were chosen based on the
assumption that two new schools
will be built in the Cross Keys
cluster.
Three options are also being
considered for $100 million in
facility improvements. The options
include athletic field upgrades,
elementary school playground
replacements, restroom fixture
replacement, water remediation
systems, site improvements and
parking upgrades throughout the

district.
Each option impacts at least
20 schools throughout DeKalb
County. The schools chosen
for improvements are based on
facility condition assessment
(FCA) data conducted by Parsons
Environmental, MTG of America
and Education Planners. FCA data
takes into account when fixtures
were built, how much service life
school equipment has, as well as
how much service life remains.
“Schools were selected based
on scores, certainly, but they were
also chosen based on capacity,
ability for growth because of site
size—there’s a pretty complex
analysis that went on to arrive
at the [chosen] schools,” Clark
said. “Does that say this is a
closed door? It’s not. It’s what [the
consultant firms] came together and
decided to do. If there’s good group
discussion across the community
engagement sessions in the next
two weeks, the district is going to
respond to that.”
About $15 million will
be dedicated to safety and
security improvements at
schools throughout the district.
A portion—$5.2 million—will be
dedicated to security improvements
involving fencing, security
vestibules and security lighting.
According to the official list,
each school will receive at least
$50,000 in upgrades, with Cross
Keys High School receiving the
most at $200,000.
The remaining $9.8 million will
be used for automatic sprinklers,
fire alarms and emergency

lighting upgrades. An official list of
improvements at each school will
be available in November.
Approximately $65 million
will be used for technology
improvements throughout the
district. This includes $12 million
in finance and human resource
system upgrades, a $22 million
“computer refresh,” a $6 million
telecommunications upgrade, $10
million in cyber security, $10 million
in active boards, and $5 million in
technology infrastructure.
“DCSD brought in a pretty
reputable technology firm that
said ‘Here’s what you guys need
to do,’ and that analysis came to
$65 million,” Clark said. “We won’t
present options on this. We aren’t
going to argue with the experts in
this case.”
An amount of $50 million will be
used for management support and
program contingency.
“When you’re building buildings,
you have professionals come in;
you pay them fees to manage
technology implementation,” Clark
said. “We also won’t be presenting
options on that.”
A dedicated $40 million will be
used for buses, vehicles and other
capital equipment. This equipment
includes kitchen equipment,
band instruments and equipment,
portable classrooms, and other
support vehicles. How much money
will be dedicated to each type of
equipment will be determined in
November.
A final project list will be
presented before the DCSD Board
of Education in December.

education

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 • Page 21

Stone Mountain Middle gets in motion
DeKalb school
hosts awardwinning STEMbased “FMA Live!”
hip-hop concert
by R. Scott Belzer

F

sbelzer@dekalbchamp.com

or one hour on Oct. 5,
Stone Mountain Middle
School combined
learning with hip-hop,
dance, comedy videos
and sumo wrestling.
As part of its science,
technology, engineering and
math (STEM) program, Stone
Mountain Middle hosted Forces in
Motion (FMA) Live!, an interactive,
science-based hip-hop concert
created by engineering company
Honeywell and N.A.S.A.
The concert featured three
actors—Curtis Grecco, Paris
Fletcher and John James—who
used such methods to explain the
three Newtonian laws of motion:
an object at rest will stay at rest
unless acted upon by an outside
force; force is equal to mass
multiplied by acceleration; and
when one object exerts a force on
another object, an equal force is
exerted in return.
Grecco, Fletcher and James
used choreography, a Velcro wall
and sumo-wrestling teachers to
show students how these laws
apply to every day life. YouTubestyle videos with a comedic
portrayal of Isaac Newton
introduced each concept with
such activities as basketball and
skateboarding
“With science, tech,
engineering and math, you’ll be
able to plot your path,” Fletcher
told students.
“By the end of this show,
[students] will know all three laws
of motion and how to use those
laws to set their futures in motion,”
Grecco said.
“Everything is in motion. It all
comes down to science—physics,
to be exact,” James told students.
“Where would hip-hop be without
the rhythm or rock without the roll?
It’s music in motion.”
The Velcro wall was used to
demonstrate inertia to students,
a water rocket helped students

Stone Mountain Middle School hosted FMA Live! on Oct. 5, an award-winning, hip-hop based science, technology, engineering
and mathematics (STEM) interactive concert.

FMA Live! actors Curtis Grecco, Paris Fletcher and John James called students and teachers to the stage to demonstrate the
three Newtonian laws of physics.

understand action and reaction,
and teachers wrestling in sumo
suits helped demonstrate force
is determined by mass and
acceleration, or that F=ma (hence,
FMA Live!).
According to Honeywell, FMA
Live! was created in 2004 and
has been seen by approximately
455,000 students in1,150 schools
nationwide.
“It is like a science magic show
that entertains and teaches at the
same time,” said teacher Audrey
Daniel.
According to Daniel, Stone
Mountain Middle was able to
host FMA Live! for free due to the
success of its STEM program. The

entire program, including a traveling
stage set, audio/video equipment
and a ten person cast/crew, is fully
funded by Honewell Hometown
Solutions. Schools only need apply
at the company’s website.
In the 2014-2015 and 20152016 school years, Stone Mountain
Middle’s underwater robotics team
was crowned regional champs in
the SeaPerch competition.
In May 2015, Stone Mountain
Middle became the first middle
school in the state with AdvancED
STEM certification.
“The STEM students at Stone
Mountain Middle School develop
solutions to real world problems,”
Daniel said. “The Pirates of

Stone Mountain Middle School
are committed to developing and
honing their STEM skills to become
creative and innovative critical
thinkers, ready to address today’s
real-world challenges.”
Daniel said Stone Mountain
Middle school’s sixth graders use
the underwater robotics program
to help preserve Georgia’s coral
reefs. The school’s seventh graders
are studying sustainable farming
by raising tilapia and vegetables
with aquaponics. Eighth graders
at Stone Mountain Middle are
developing the application of solar
energy to cars and ovens.

sports

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 • Page 22

Chamblee students have no room to complain

On Sept. 30, The Blue and
Gold, the official student newspaper
of Chamblee Charter High School,
published an article about the
upcoming renovation project at
North DeKalb Stadium.
The article was titled,
“Scheduled remodeling for North
DeKalb Stadium sparks discontent.”
North DeKalb Stadium, which
is located behind Chamblee
Charter High School, and Avondale
Stadium are scheduled to be
renovated sometime next year.
The stadiums will receive some
of the same improvements—new
field turf, track surface and new
lights—that Adams, Godfrey and
Hallford stadiums received this past
summer.
The article states that the
renovation project will take
place January through August,
meaning the stadium will be closed
during spring sports season.
The temporary closure will force
Chamblee soccer and lacrosse
teams to play at one of the other
county stadiums.
I emailed the DeKalb County
School District athletics department
and was told a start date for the
renovation project has not been set.
So the renovations could possibly
take place during the summer
months.

‘Carla’s
Corner’
Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com

In the article, the writer said the
timing of the renovation project is
“inconvenient for the spring sports
seasons.” That is understandable.
If someone is used to something
being one way, and it’s changed
for a certain about of time, it is an
inconvenience.
However, the below statements
in this piece made me give this
article and the Chamblee student
body a major side-eye.
“Without a home stadium being
so conveniently close, there will be
less student support at the games
and parents will be more reluctant
to travel to the games that are far
away.”
“Because the stadium will
be closed through the summer,
graduation, which is normally held
at North DeKalb Stadium will now
be at the Georgia World Congress
Center, which is a 25 minute drive
from the school.”
Again, I understand the
students’ gripe about this situation.

However, in my opinion, they
have no room to complain about a
short-term situation that has been
a permanent problem for 17 other
high schools in the district.
After Avondale High School
closed, Chamblee and Clarkston
high schools became the only
schools in the district with a
stadium in close proximity. Hallford
Stadium is across the street from
Clarkston.
For the other 17 schools, their
sports teams—football, soccer
and for a very few schools, the
lacrosse teams—travel to play a
home game. For example, Arabia
Mountain—located in south DeKalb
near the DeKalb-Rockdale county
line—travels to Godfrey or Hallford
stadiums for home football games.
There is a nearly 20-mile
distance between Arabia Mountain
and Godfrey Stadium. For a home
game at Hallford, the team, the
band, parents, students and fans
have to travel at least 15 miles.
Most of Lithonia’s homes
games are played at Godfrey—a
12-mile distance from the school.
Students and fans leaving Redan
have to travel 11 miles for home
game at Godfrey. M.L. King’s
football team travels 12 miles for
a home game at Hallford, and the
Miller Grove football team and its

fans have to travel nearly 10 miles
for a home game at Avondale
Stadium.
Unlike Chamblee and
Clarkston, there is not enough
space on the campuses of other
schools to hold a graduation
ceremony, so the graduates, their
families and friends have to travel
to other locations to celebrate the
students’ achievement.
Chamblee students and family
may have to take a 25-minute drive
for a graduation this one time,
but students from several other
schools have been traveling to the
Georgia World Congress Center for
graduation ceremonies for years.
MLK, Redan and Stephenson
have held previous graduation
ceremonies at the Georgia World
Congress Center—which is a
30-minute drive or more from the
schools—and will do so again in
May.
Again, I understand the
inconvenience of this possible
predicament for the Chamblee
student body and parents. But
be grateful this isn’t a permanent
solution for you.
The students and parents at
the other 17 schools don’t have a
renovated “home” stadium in their
backyard waiting for them next
August.

Lady Vikings, Angoras capture 2016 DCSD cross country titles
by Mark Brock
New champions were crowned at the 2016
DeKalb County School District’s Cross Country
County Championships Oct. 4.
The Lakeside Lady Vikings and Clarkston
Angoras rolled to the titles at the Druid Hills
Middle School Course. Lakeside senior Morgan
Mihalis ran the fastest girls’ time of the season
at Druid Hills to capture the individual title while
leading a group of five Lady Vikings in the top
10 for a 29-44 win over four-time defending
champion Dunwoody.
Druid Hills (85) was third followed by
Chamblee (99), Southwest DeKalb (145),
Clarkston (188), Tucker (210), Stephenson (225)
and Arabia Mountain (226).
Mihalis clocked the season-low time of
19:30.70 to outduel defending Class AAAAA state
champion Samantha Cameron (19:56.30) of
Dunwoody.
Chamblee’s Beining Xiao finished third
in a time of 19:58.10, followed by Lakeside
sophomore Emma Hanson (21:26.20) and
freshman Lena Ayoub (21:28.50) to round out the
first five to cross the finish line.
Lakeside wrapped up the title as freshman
Margaret Racine (21:44.40) was ninth and junior
Eliana Blam (21:49.40) was tenth.
Dunwoody senior Emma Sheehan was sixth
in 21:37.30 with teammate senior Kelly May
Sheehan in eighth to give the Lady Wildcats three
in the Top 10.
Southwest DeKalb sophomore Lanee

Edwards cruised in in seventh with a time of
21:38.70.
Third place Druid Hills had three runners
in the top 15 in junior Lisa Medford in 11th
(21:57.40) followed by senior Rachel Juieng in
14th (22:24.90) and freshman Genevieve Ferrara
in 15th (22:32.90).
It was Lakeside’s 16th girls’ county title since
winning their first in 1992.
Boys Championship
The Clarkston Angoras placed seven runners
in the top 12 with all seven breaking the 18 minute
barrier on the way to winning their third DCSD
Boys’ Championship in the past four years.
Lakeside senior Morgan Mihalis won the girls’
Senior Suheib Mohamed set the pace with
individual title. Photos by Mark Brock
the fastest time of the season at Druid Hills at
16:52.30 to lead the Angoras to a 19-73 victory
over defending champion Lakeside. The 54 points
was the third largest margin of victory in team
scores recorded since 1970, following 73 points in
1986 by Chamblee (33) over Walker (106) and 61
in 1973 by Lakeside (46) over Henderson (107).
Druid Hills swept the third place honors in
both championships with 84 points followed by
Tucker (96), Dunwoody (107), Chamblee (153),
Stone Mountain (204), Arabia Mountain (281),
Redan (292), Lithonia (297), Stephenson (322),
Martin Luther King Jr. (347) and Towers (377).
Mohamed became the fourth Clarkston runner
to win the individual title and the first in 12 years,
joining Said Ahmed (2004), Asheber Robi

See Cross Country on Page 24A

Clarkston senior Suheib Mohamed won the boys’
individual title.

sports

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 • Page 23

Photos by Travis Hudgons

Cedar Grove shuts out Towers on homecoming
by Carla Parker
carla@dekalbchamp.com

T

he Cedar Grove Saints showed up and showed
out for homecoming with a 28-0 win over region
rival Towers at Godfrey Stadium on Oct. 7.
The Saints’ offense got it going early in the
first quarter with a 16-yard touchdown run by running
back Grant Walker on the opening drive. Later in the
quarter, Dennis Bell picked off Towers quarterback
Terry Dennis and returned the ball 28 yards for a
touchdown, giving the Saints a 14-0 lead.
The defense continued to dominate the Towers
Titans’ offense throughout the game, holding them to
58 yards of offense.
The Saints’ lead extended to 21-0 in the third
quarter on a 13-yard touchdown pass from quarterback
Jelani Woods to wide receiver Jadon Haselwood.
The two would have success again later in the quarter
on a 74-yard touchdown pass.
The Saints improved their overall record to 4-2,
and 2-1 in Region 5-AAA. Cedar Grove will travel
to Buckhead Oct. 14 to take on another region
opponent—Pace Academy (4-2, 2-1).
Towers (2-4, 1-2) will try to get its third win of the
season on Oct. 15, homecoming night, against Stone
Mountain (1-5, 0-3) at Avondale Stadium.
Week 8 football scores
Oc. 7
Arabia Mountain (5-1) 44, Miller Grove (2-4) 6
Lithonia (2-4) 21, Columbia (2-4) 7
Redan (2-4) 19, McNair (3-3) 8
SW DeKalb (3-3) 49, Chamblee (1-5) 12
Cambridge (4-2) 55, Dunwoody (2-4) 27
Lovett (4-2) 42, Stone Mountain (1-5) 0
Luella (3-4) 24, Druid Hills (2-5) 0
North Springs Charter (4-2) 55, Cross Keys (1-2) 0
Parkview (4-2) 63, Lakeside (4-3) 30
Stephens County (5-1) 27, St. Pius X (0-6) 13
Open
Clarkston (0-7), Decatur (1-5), M.L. King (2-4), Marist
(3-2), Stephenson (3-3), Tucker (5-1)

sports

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Oct. 14, 2016 • Page 24

Lakeside won its 16th girls’ county title since 1992. Photos by Mark Brock

The Clarkston Angoras won its third county cross country title in four years.

CRoss CounTRY Continued From Page 22A
(2003) and Asmerom Gebreab
(1997). He finished third a year ago
with a time of 16:57.
Clarkston senior Bineyam
Tumbo, who had set the fastest
time of the season with three wins
this fall, took the silver medal with
a time of 17:03.90 as the Angoras
took four of the top 5 places. Druid
Hills senior Ermias Tewolde, the
2014 individual champ, grabbed the

bronze in 17:10.70.
Sophomores Rukundo
Uwimana (17:17.70) and Thomas
Weldemichal (17:18.40) finished
back-to-back in fourth and fifth for
the Angoras.
Senior Bosco Hakuzimana
(17:25.00) and junior Abdi Nasir
Yahye (17:35.70) were seventh
and eighth respectively to help the
Angoras seal the victory with six

runners in the top 8. Sophomore
Ngabo Daniel (17:52.90) finished
12th to give the Angoras a complete
team finish with all seven runners
under the 18 minute mark.
Dunwoody’s Max Mowrer
(17:22.60) was sixth while Lakeside
juniors Myles Boyd (17:40.10) and
Jake Tubesing (17:46.40) rounded
out the top 10.
Druid Hills junior Ian Shunk

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(17:52.40) was 11th and Tucker
sophomore Abdilnur Tiroro
(17:58.20) and senior Ryan
Wurapa (17:58.50) completed a run
of 14 runners coming in under the
18 minute barrier.
Clarkston is the two-time
defending Class AAAAA state
champion and had won the county
title in 2013 and 2014.