the DeKalb

FRiDaY, ocToBER 21, 2016 • Vol. 19, no. 28 • FREE

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


Decatur-based blacksmith Jason Smith at his shop in Decatur. Smith helped create a water pump made out of old guns.

Local blacksmith, church make international difference
by Horace Holloman


quipped with a Colt 38
pistol as a handle, AR15
rifle and a couple of
single-barreled shotguns,
the contraption sitting at
the center of the Columbia
Presbyterian Church
may appear to be used
for something other than
helping others.
However, with the help
of a local blacksmith and
various ministries, the
Columbia Presbyterian
Church successfully
demonstrated how to take
old or discarded guns and
change them into a working
water pumps for those in
The water pumps the
church creates will be used
to provide clean water in
Malawi and south Sudan.
The church held a guns
to pump event Sept. 29 to
bring awareness to those in
need across the country.
“If you think about it, the
elements of poverty are
no different over there (in
Africa) than they are over
here. If people don’t have

See Blacksmith on Page 5

Pastor Tom Hagood at Columbia Presbyterian Church takes a photo by the church’s water pump made out of a Colt 38 pistol, an AR15 rifle and a
couple of single-barreled shotguns. Photos by Horace Holloman






DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 2

High Water Bills:
What You Need to Know
Due to irregular water bills and concerns about water meters, DeKalb County issued a
moratorium on Sept. 20 to help citizens find resolve through a new process.
According to an order from DeKalb Interim CEO Lee May, no water
disconnections will be made as long as:
• The customer formally disputes the bill
• The customer continues to pay the average bill calculated until the
dispute is resolved
* The average bill is calculated using the prior 12 months or six
cycles of usage, not including the disputed bill(s).
Currently, the moratorium lasts through Dec. 31, 2016.

How else is the county helping people with a water
bill dispute?
Some new procedures have been put in place to address disputed
water bills. The county has:
• Established a new Customer Assurance Team and work flow to
manage disputed cases

Why is my water
bill so high?
There are several factors that
can lead to a high water bill,

• Empowered the finance director to use discretion in addressing
unusually high bills due to billing or meter errors
• Suspended the installation of the new iPerl “smart” meter until a
more thorough review of mechanical issues is complete
• Expanded access to water billing representatives in the
community; future times and locations will be announced
• Removed timeline restrictions on resolving disputes, but requires
the customer to dispute the bill within two years of receipt

• Misread meter
• Irrigation
• Double-cycle billing
• Water meter
• Billing error
• Water rate increase
• Seasonal usage
• Leak (interior or under

For updates, visit

It’s In DeKalb


If your account is in dispute and you pay your average bill,
disregard any disconnection notices. Your water will not
be disconnected under the moratorium.

How do I dispute my bill?

Call Utility Customer Operations at 404-371-3000, Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Visit 774 Jordan Lane, Suite 200, Decatur, Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 3

aVondale estates


The Avondale Estates Woman’s Club will hold its monthly meeting
Oct. 27 at the American Legion Post 66 at noon. This month’s speaker
will be Theresa Wenzel, president of the Atlanta Dream basketball
team. The American Legion Post 66 is located at 30 Covington Road.
For more information, contact Mary Spencer at (404) 284-0720.

On Oct. 24, the Decatur Social Security office will relocate to 3554
Covington Hwy.
According to the social security office, the location offers new and
improved interviewing stations, an expanded reception area, adequate
parking and easy access to public transportation.


PTA group to host candidate forum

Woman’s Club monthly meeting set

Mayor to host town hall meeting
Brookhaven Mayor John Ernst will hold a town hall meeting
Oct. 27 at Oglethorpe University from 6:30 to 8 p.m. The university
is located at 4484 Peachtree Road. For more information, visit www.


We Love BuHi to host Halloween Parade
We Love BuHi and PopAtl will host a Halloween Parade and PopUp on Oct. 29 from 5 to 8 p.m.
The event will feature a walk along Buford Highway and a pop-up
playground beginning at the City Farmers Market in Chamblee, located
at 5000 Buford Highway. The event is free to attend.
According to event officials, the event follows the trend of Feria
de Barriletes Gigantes, or the Festival of the Giant Kites, celebrated
in the Guatemalan towns of Sumpango and Santiago Sacatepéquez
during Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) and Dia de Todos Santos (All
Saints’ Day). Kites are flown to honor the dead, scare away evil spirits,
celebrate folklore and religious traditions, and advocate social and
political awareness.
“Come dressed in costumes and bring your homemade kites,
lanterns, or anything you can decorate and deck out in lights!” the
event’s description states. “We love Buford Highway so much we
decided to throw it a party and parade!”
For more information, contact Marian Liou at marian@welovebuhi.
com or visit


Refuge Coffee Company to host photography
Refuge Coffee Company—located at 4170 E Ponce De Leon
Ave—will host “Refuge: An Exhibit” on Oct. 22 from 5 to 8 p.m.
The event will feature the photography of Ezra Millstein, the
staff photographer for Habitat for Humanity since 2007. The exhibit
will showcase people affected by the global refugee crisis, specifically
focusing on Syrians living in Jordanian refugee camps.
“Refuge offers a rare, intimate look into the eyes of people affected
by the global refugee crisis,” according to the official description of
the event. “Ezra’s images capture the beauty and humanity of people
whose lives have been forever changed by unique circumstances.”
Specialty coffee, tea, drinks and light Syrian snacks will
be available. For more information, visit
For more information about Millstein, visit

Social security offices moving

The Parent Teacher Student Association at Columbia Middle
School will host a candidate forum for the candidates vying for the
DeKalb Commission Super District 7 seat.
According to the PTA group, all eight candidates have committed to
being at the Oct. 25 event, which begins at 6 p.m. at Columbia Middle
There will be a chance for participants to ask the candidates
For more information call (678) 310-6129.


Boy scout troop hosts annual Haunted Farm Tour and
Dunwoody Boy Scout Troop 477 will host a Haunted Farm Tour
and Festival on Oct. 22 at the Donaldson-Bannister Farmhouse in
From 3 to 9 p.m., attendees can tour the historic farmhouse—
located at 4831 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road—and enjoy games, live
music, s’mores and food. The family-friendly event will help raise
money for Troop 477’s summer camp and scholarships for individuals
who cannot afford to participate.
Middle and high school students are needed for volunteer service
with games, tours and crafts. Community service hours will be awarded.
Parking will be available at Independence Square, located at the
corner of Chamblee-Dunwoody Road and Peeler Road, as well as at
the Vermack Swim and Tennis Center. Shuttle bus service will also be
For more information, contact


Taste of Tucker
The Taste of Tucker will be held Oct. 22 on Main Street from 1-6
p.m. Attendees can sample appetizers, entrees and desserts from local
restaurants. Sample-sized portions will be offered, with prices ranging
from $1 to $4. The event will also include live music and entertainment
and a kid’s zone. For more information, visit


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 4

Stonecrest cityhood option
on ballot for southeast
DeKalb residents
by Carla Parker

The DeKalb chapter of the NAACP held a press conference Oct. 15 to formally oppose Gov. Nathan
Deal’s Opportunity School District amendment.

DeKalb NAACP opposes Amendment 1
by Horace Holloman
The DeKalb chapter of the NAACP,
along with some DeKalb County residents
and DeKalb school board members,
formally spoke Oct.15 in opposition of Gov.
Nathan Deal’s proposed Amendment 1.
The amendment, known as the
Opportunity School District (OSD), would
place failing Georgia schools under state
The amendment will appear on the
ballot as, “Shall the Constitution of Georgia
be amended to allow the state to intervene
in chronically failing public schools in order
to improve student performance?”
DeKalb County NAACP Education
Chair Lance Hammonds said the
amendment is worded vaguely and doesn’t
give voters the full scope of the proposed
“The biggest misconception about the
amendment is the way the amendment
is written. It says ‘do you want better
schools’ and who would vote against
better schools,” Hammonds said. “But
what the amendment doesn’t tell you
is how it’s going to work and how it will
be implemented and that’s our biggest
Hammonds said if the legislation
passes, it would be like taking “voters’
rights away.”
Currently there are 26 schools in
DeKalb County that are considered
“chronically failing,” and would fall into
state control if OSD is passed in the Nov.
8 election.
Approval of the amendment by voters
would essentially implement Senate Bill
According to SB 133, chronically failing
schools would be directly managed by the
OSD and transform the failing school into
a charter school.
“What this [amendment] does is
take control away from the local school
district and brings in outside people who
may or may not have any experience
in education,” Hammonds said. “The
vagueness of the plan is what we disagree
with. We agree that we should have better
schools, but there needs to be a plan to do
that and we need to see a plan from the
Governor’s office.”
The DeKalb County School District
(DCSD) outlined a “turnaround schools
plan for OSD-eligible schools.”

Fifteen of the 26 schools on the
OSD eligible list are within five points of
scoring 60 or higher on the 2016 College
and Career Ready Performance Index,
according to the DCSD.
The DCSD plans to reallocate more
than $6 million from the 2016 general
fund budget to provide research-based
curriculum, professional learning and
instructional strategies for OSD-eligible
The DCSD also plans to reallocate
$1.9 million from the 2017 general fund
budget to create initiatives based on failing
schools’ needs.
“The control of our schools belongs to
us—our communities. I do believe that we
have empowered the village and I’m very
proud of the work the school board has
done,” said DeKalb school board member
Vickie Turner.
Turner said the DCSD plans to target
10 OSD-eligible elementary schools
(Allgood Elementary, Cedar Grove
Elementary, Chapel Hill Elementary,
Fairington Elementary, Flat Shoals
Elementary, Meadowview Elementary, Oak
View Elementary, Panola Way Elementary,
Snapfinger Elementary and Stoneview
Elementary) for complete school redesign
and intensive turnaround support.
Joyce Morley, DeKalb school board
member, said the amendment is not in the
best interest of DeKalb County schools.
“You will have an independent person
that will make a profit by taking over the
schools. We can’t allow people to reframe
the reality about failing schools. If our
schools are failing, that means our children
are failing within those schools. And that
means the parents are failures and the
community are failures and we know that’s
not so,” Morley said.

Voters in the
southeastern portion of
DeKalb County can vote
on whether to incorporate
into the city of Stonecrest.
Senate Bill 208, known
as the Stonecrest cityhood
bill, passed the Georgia
House of Representatives
on March 16 with a 144-17
vote. The bill passed the
state senate last year.
The ballot question—
Stonecrest Incorporation
Senate bill 208, Act
328—states, “Shall the
act incorporating the city
of Stonecrest in DeKalb
County according to the
charter contained in the
act and the homestead
exemptions described in
the act be approved?”
Voters can select either
“yes” or “no.”
Stonecrest would
incorporate 29 square
miles of southeast DeKalb
and have a population of
more than 50,000—95.4
percent Black and 4
percent White.
According to the
proposed city’s feasibility
study, the city’s southern
boundary begins on the
east side of Snapfinger
Road where it meets the
boundaries of DeKalb,
Rockdale and Henry
counties. The southern
boundary continues east,
tracking the Rockdale

border and stops at
I-20. The area includes
property between I-20 and
Covington Highway to the
west of Lithonia and other
areas north of Lithonia.
Stonecrest would have
annual expenses of $7.91
million and revenues of
$9.85 million, leaving a
surplus of $1.94 million,
according to the study.
The services the city
would provide are code
enforcement, planning
and zoning, and parks and
In an April interview
with The Champion,
Jason Lary, president
of the Stonecrest City
Alliance, said the six areas
Stonecrest proponents
want to address include
residential, commercial and
industrial concerns, as well
as school partnerships,
tourism and economic
“Our biggest challenge
is the lack of jobs and
economic development,”
Lary said. “Companies
aren’t moving to Stonecrest
or Lithonia Industrial
Boulevard where we have
500,000 square feet of
available warehouse space
for light industrial, for
manufacturing, [and] for
green opportunities.
“No one’s paying us
any attention,” Lary added.
“Now we get a chance
to sell the wares of the
Stonecrest corridor.”

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016


Page 5

Blacksmith Continued From Page 1
fresh water or good sanitation, the fact of the matter
is you’re going to have violence,” said Tom Hagood,
pastor at Columbia Presbyterian Church.
Hagood said the church’s water pump, which is
mostly constructed with guns and a baby stroller
wheel, is symbolic of the prophet Isaiah.
“Like the prophet Isaiah, the people of Columbia
Presbyterian envision a world where devices
associated with death are turned into [instruments]
that give life,” Hagood said in a statement. “So we are
converting guns, instruments used to inflict death, to
rope pumps—tools used to access life-giving water.”
The AR15 rifle, used as the base of the water pump
on display, was donated by a Sunday school class
at the church. The water pump also uses .45 caliber
bullets to draw the water into the pump assembly.
During the guns to pump event, the church invited
several guest speakers including Decatur Cooperative
Ministry Executive Director Marlene White, South
Sudan Education and Peace Project Program
Manager Nancy Smith-Mather and filmmaker David
Barnhart, an award-winning producer, writer and
filmmaker, created the documentary Trigger: The
ripple effect of gun violence in conjunction with
the church’s efforts. The documentary frames gun
violence as both a disaster and a public health issue.
The Presbyterian Church has a history of
advocating for gun control. In 2010, Presbyterian
Church (USA) proposed background checks for all
gun buyers including those buying at gun shows, a
ban on semiautomatic assault weapons limiting legal
personal gun acquisition to one handgun a month.
Decatur-based blacksmith Jason Smith, owner
of Smithworks Iron and Design, created the church’s
water pump. He said it was a fulfilling experience to
create something that will make a difference.
“There’s a lot of things that are happening now
that we see in the media and a lot of things that we
aren’t aware of, but I think we can all agree that gun
control is something we can do better,” Smith said. “It
became this complex thing through this quirky object
and that’s how I got drawn into it. Tom [Hagood]
approached me about a year ago to create this thing.”
Smith has been working as a blacksmith with his
own business for more than a decade. The South
Carolina native worked on various projects throughout
Atlanta and DeKalb County, but said the water pump
made out of guns was a bit of a unique challenge.
“It was kind of comical at one point,” Smith said.
“Pastor Tom [Hagood] would just show up with a part
of a shotgun or pieces of an AR15 and I just had all
these guns just lying around. I started cutting them
up and putting them together. I’m a sculptor and
a creative guy, but I’m certainly not a mechanical
When it came down to the physics of the water
pump, Smith said he relied on the guidance of Jim
McGill, a mission co-worker in Malawi.
Smith said the experience of creating the water
pump for the church allowed him the opportunity to
meet different people with different backgrounds.
“It became an interesting project. This is probably
one of the more conceptually interesting things
that I’ve done in a while, and that’s what it’s about.
Creating something that is in a way bigger than you,”
Smith said.
Hagood said the church is looking for more people
to make donations. Any guns or monetary donations
toward the water pump project will be used to build
water pumps to be shipped to Africa, he said. The
value of the donation is tax deductible.

Jason Smith uses machines in his shop, Smithworks Iron and Design, to bend and mold steel.

Pastor Tom Hagood demonstrates how the water gun pump works at Columbia Presbyterian Church. Photos
by Horace Holloman

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016


Page 6

Letter to the Editor
The Federal Renewable Fuels Mandate should be revamped
by Billy Mitchell
It is easy to criticize government
programs, especially in an election
year. In uncertain economic times,
people are quick to criticize programs
that they think spend too much money,
even when that money is being spent
to help citizens get access to important
and costly good or services—like
healthcare, or education.
With most programs being harshly
scrutinized, how can we justify having
a large-scale government program that
is raising the costs of a basic good,
disproportionately harming minorities,
and putting small businesses in
Welcome to the federal renewable
fuels mandate. Even if you’ve never
heard of it, you’ve encountered
it firsthand a million times. This
government program is responsible
for putting a large percentage of
renewable fuels (like ethanol) into the
gasoline we pump into our cars.
What this program was set up to
accomplish is a reduction in the amount
of climate-changing greenhouse gas
emissions that we create when we
drive our cars. What this program
did not intend to accomplish—but
managed to do anyway—is create a

whole host of inequities behind the
scenes in the market for producing and
selling gasoline.
The program works by forcing
refiners (who turn crude oil into
petroleum) and importers (who
bring in gasoline from overseas) to
collect renewable fuel credits in line
with the gasoline they bring into the
marketplace. These credits (also
known as RINs) are generated when
a renewable fuel is blended into the
petroleum to make the gasoline we buy
at the pump.
This is where the problems start—
refiners and importers oftentimes do
not blend gasoline. Other companies
do. And in order to meet their
renewable fuels obligation, refiners
and importers have to purchase these
credits, which get more and more
expensive every year. Which is good
news if you’re a big fuel convenience
store retail chain and blend your
own fuels, since you can sell your
credits, or RINs, for lots of money to
refiners and importers. But it’s bad
news for everyone else, including
High RINs prices come with a high
cost. Roughly half of the gasoline
and diesel made in the U.S. comes
from small and medium-size refineries

that are not affiliate with a major
brand-name oil company. These
independent refiners are struggling to
meet the constantly escalating costs
of purchasing RINs. Their owners are
warning of the risk of consolidation in
their industry, which would concentrate
refineries in fewer hands, and lead to
higher prices at the pump that harm
The high RIN prices have another
impact altogether. They hurt small
“Mom and Pop” convenience stores—
those who aren’t part of the big brandname franchise chains enjoying these
windfall profits by blending fuel and
selling the credits. So while the small
guys watch their competitors’ parent
companies get rich and figure out what
to do with their money, they’re stuck in
the same old position. And who gets
hit in particular? According to the U.S.
Census, two out of every five gasoline
station convenience stores in America
are minority-owned.
There’s one other big effect from
effectively penalizing refiners and
importers for sending gasoline into
the U.S. market: they might decide
not to bother. When a refiner exports
gasoline instead of selling it here,
they are not obligated to buy credits.
If an importer feels too much of a

pinch from buying renewable credits
for the gasoline they bring in, they
might find another country to sell to.
The renewable program is creating
incentives for higher gasoline exports
and lower gasoline imports, potentially
throwing the whole market out of whack
and leading to higher prices in the U.S.
In the end, who gets hurt most when
the price of a basic good like gasoline
goes up? You guessed it: minority
communities, who are more subject to
being in a position of having to choose
between one necessity or another.
When gasoline prices go up, tough
decisions come up about paying for
food, housing, healthcare, you name it.
Luckily, there is a way to fix this
program without junking it altogether.
Force the blenders to collect the RINs
instead of being free to sell them to
other parties. It would bring the cost
down and eliminate all the artificial
price pressures currently distorting
the U.S. gasoline market. Given all
the downsides of this program for
American households, don’t we owe it
to ourselves to try and fix it?
Billy Mitchell (D)
Georgia House of Representatives

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016


Page 7

Bushwhacked and down, but not quite out
“...when you’re a star, they
let you do it.” GOP presidential
nominee and longtime NBC
reality show TV “star” Donald
Trump, prior to an on camera
interview with Access Hollywood
in 2005.
I have often stated, and will
repeat, the sole candidate likely
to end the White House run of
Donald Trump is Donald Trump.
And though he is down, he ain’t
done yet.
More than slightly ironic to
me, the Bush family member
who did the most damage to
the Trump-tanic is middling
entertainment reporter and
now former Today Show Later
host, presidential cousin Billy
Bush. Three generations of the
Bush dynasty may be sitting on
the sidelines (with the exception
of Jeb’s eldest son, Texas Rail
Commission Chair George P.
Bush) or voting Libertarian this
fall. Trump himself has fired
numerous volleys at both Bush
presidents, as well as “low
energy” Jeb Bush, but most
return fire, other than the senior
George Herbert Walker Bush
acknowledging his likely vote for
former Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton, was less effective than
a Roman candle.
In the immediate aftermath of
the P-gate tapes, Clinton opened
up a double-digit lead in almost
every national poll, including
The Los Angeles Times tracker
poll—which Trump has led the
entire campaign season. Though
the gap has closed, and is back
in single digits, Clinton leads

‘One Man’s
Bill Crane

in the bulk of battleground
states and continues to block
in states on the two paths to
victory laid out previously by
Team Trump. Though Clinton
continues to be challenged
attracting millennials and
bringing home Sanders
supporters, she appears to
be widening the gender gap,
solidifying older White voters
and if the polls are accurate—
even cracking, or perhaps
fracking—her way into some of
Trump’s core supporters who
have simply had enough.
Trump’s base remains
much more energized and the
WikiLeaks and troves of Clinton
emails will continue to stoke
their fire.Sadly, Trump and his
louder surrogates are also willing
to question the credibility and
security of America’s election
systems, despite their actual
decentralized tallying structure
and required level of hack
sophistication, which would likely
surpass the requirements of an
Ocean’s 11-style Vegas casino
While I am clear on several
fronts as to why the support
for Trump is so passionate and
strong, and that there is the
desire to “blow up” Washington,

D.C.,—the political elites as
they exist today and a system
that many believe is corrupt
to its core—I would remind all
involved that a core precept
of our nation is a strong and
unfettered free press, and that
our system of elections in this
Republic as well as the peaceful
transfer of power, remains the
envy of the free world.
Despite the longest
presidential vote count in
history during the 2000 election
cycle, Vice President Al Gore
peaceably handed over the reins
of power, along with outgoing
President Bill Clinton to near
despised rival (at the time), then
Texas Governor and Presidentelect George W. Bush.
Gore had won the popular
vote, and only lost the Electoral
College by five votes and
the state of Florida by a
few hundred votes, where
presidential brother, Governor
Jeb Bush controlled the reins
of power. And yet, Gore did
not allege a “fixed” contest, the
decision of the U.S. Supreme
Court or even make a public
During the 1960 contest
between J.F.K. and VicePresident Richard Nixon,
Kennedy narrowly won the
popular vote. Nixon won the
majority of states and Kennedy
the Electoral College (303 to
219). It became apparent in
the immediate aftermath of
the election that the “machine”
of Joseph Kennedy, the
president-elect’s father, had

engaged in systemic voter fraud
in the states of Massachusetts
and Illinois, particularly, and that
Senator Lyndon Johnson’s
team supplied dead voters in
Texas, where Kennedy edged
Nixon by only 46,000 votes. This
voting placed all three states in
the Kennedy win column, and
tipped the Electoral College tally
in his favor. Nixon and the GOP
had sufficient proof to challenge
the results prior to the meeting
and polling of the Electoral
Nixon however understood
what was at stake, and the
importance of the office of
president, superseding the
importance of who holds that
office. Though voter fraud
allegations were successfully
pursued, and more than 650
prosecuted nationwide, Nixon
told his team to stand down and
did not challenge the results.
I know history is a Trump
strong suit, but perhaps a review
on this topic is in order prior to
Nov. 8.
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

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


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 8

New legislation offers water billing assistance
by Horace Holloman
The county may
introduce more
comprehensive legislation
to address the needs of
DeKalb County residents
disputing high water bills to
the board of commissioners,
according to DeKalb County
Interim CEO Lee May.
May said the legislation
could include customer
reimbursements or
customer credit toward
water bills.
“I have been dedicated
to help resolve people’s
issues that have gone
on in the past,” May said
in an interview with The
Champion. “A number
of people paid the bill
to prevent water being
disconnected and we want
to offer them an opportunity
to dispute that bill. That
may mean a credit or actual
Currently, May said
there are close to 600
DeKalb residents in the
bill disputing process. In
a 5-0 vote Oct. 11, the
DeKalb County board of
commissioners passed
a resolution that gives
DeKalb’s chief financial
officer the ability to address
“unusually high water bills”
due to billing or meter
During the Oct. 11
meeting, commissioner
Sharon Barnes Sutton
said she was concerned
about the new legislation
because it should be
vetted more before passing
through the board of
“I’m very concerned
that we’re doing knee-jerk
reactions and nobody’s
talked about the real
problem. We don’t have

a quality assurance team
put together to address
these issues,” Sutton said.
“It’s not the installation
of the water meters. We
were told months ago that
the problem is with the
gauges, the software and
the antenna...the crisis isn’t
in the water meters, it’s
the incompetence in the
department and nobody has
come up with a solution.”
May said the resolution
needed to be passed to
“help people who have been
suffering for a long time.”
“This is the first reading
so if there’s anyone that
votes against this, it won’t
pass. If anyone is not in
support of this, this would
be a good time to use the
restroom,” May said.
“I can do that,” replied
The legislation clarifies
code sections 25-106(f)
to specify that the CFO
has the authority to make
adjustments to a customer’s
account for billing errors,
as long as the dispute was
recorded within two years
of the billing error itself,
according to a release from
the county.
According to May, the
county has nearly 190,000
residential water customers.
May said the issues with
water billing have gone on
for more than a decade.
“I’ve been in DeKalb
County government for
10 years and I’ve heard
complaints for 10 years,”
May said. “We’ve taken
steps to rectify the problem,
but it never really went
Customers who are
in the billing dispute
process won’t have
service disconnected as
long as they pay their
monthly “average.” The

The Mayor and City council of the City of Chamblee, Georgia
will hold a public hearing on Thursday, November 10, 2016,
at the Chamblee Civic Center, 3540 Broad Street, Chamblee,
Georgia 30341 at 6 p.m. to receive public comment regarding
the following matters:
Wakefiled Beasley and Associates requests approval
of a development of community impact (DCI) for a
mixed–use development consisting of apartments,
professional offices, restaurant, and retail uses.
The request concerns property zoned transit-oriented
development at 5211 Peachtree Boulevard, being DeKalb
County tax parcel #18-299-13-005 consisting of 3.86
The City of Chamblee, Georgia proposes to amend certain
sections and subsections of Chapter 310, “Environmental
Standards.” of the official city code of ordinances, appendix
A, Unified Development Ordinance, Article 1., “Soil Erosion,
Sedimentation and Pollution.” by editing certain provisions to
be in conformity with Georgia Statues.

Nearly 600 customers are in the county’s water billing dispute process. Recently the DeKalb County
board of commissioners approved legislation to help alleviate customer issues with high water bills.

average is determined by
the customer’s average
consumption of water,
minus any billing anomalies
that are being disputed,
or the average will be
determined by regional
standards, May said.
The iPerl water meters
will stop being installed
due to the legislation. May

said it will give the county
a chance to reevaluate the
meters going forward.
According to the
county, water customers
who believe their bills are
in error should notify the
Utility Customer Operations
Center at 774 Jordan
Lane in Decatur, or call
(404) 371-3000 to speak

with a customer service
representative. A third-party
dispute process is being
developed by the county.
May issued a
moratorium on Sept. 20
on the disconnection of
residential water accounts
that will extend until Dec. 31
of this year.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) is considering the issuance
of an NPDES permit for the following applicant, subject to specific pollutant limitations
and special conditions:
Dekalb County Department of Watershed Management, 1580 Roadhaven Drive,
Stone Mountain, Georgia 30083, NPDES Permit No. GA0026816, for the Polebridge
Creek Advanced Wastewater Treatment Facility located at 4664 Flat Bridge Road,
Lithonia, GA 30038. Up to 20 MGD of treated wastewater is being discharged to the
South River in the Ocmulgee River Basin.
Persons wishing to comment upon or object to the proposed determinations
are invited to submit same in writing to the EPD address below, or via e-mail at, no later than thirty (30) days after this notification. If
you choose to e-mail your comments, please be sure to include the words “NPDES
permit issuance- Polebridge Creek WWTF (GA0026816) (Dekalb County)” in the
subject line to ensure that your comments will be forwarded to the correct staff. All
comments received prior to or on that date will be considered in the formulation of final
determinations for these permits. A public hearing may be held where the EPD Director
finds a significant degree of public interest in a proposed permit or group of permits.
Additional information regarding public hearing procedures is available by writing the
Environmental Protection Division.
A fact sheet or copy of the draft permit is available by writing the Environmental
Protection Division. The permit application, draft permit, and other information are
available for review at 2 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Suite 1152 East, Atlanta, Georgia,
30334 between the hours of 8:00 a.m. and 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. For
additional information contact: Gigi Steele, Wastewater Regulatory Program at (404)
Please bring this to the attention of persons who you know will be interested in
this matter.


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 9

Georgia Association of Educators President Sid Chapman said the proposed Opportunity School District is misleading and corrupt.

Georgia Association of Educators takes stance against state takeover
President calls OSD ‘misleading’ and ‘corrupt’
by R. Scott Belzer
The “faces on the front
line” of education have
taken a stance against Gov.
Nathan Deal’s proposed
state takeover of local

Representatives from
the Georgia Association
of Educators (GAE) have
been traveling the state to
make sure people hear the
facts about Amendment
1, which would allow state

intervention in schools
deemed as “chronically
failing.” These have also
come to be known as
Opportunity School Districts
Official wording on
the Nov. 8 ballot states,

Proposed Substantial Amendment to the 2014-2018
Consolidated Plan, including the 2014 Annual Action Plan
DeKalb County is proposing to amend to the 2014-2018 Consolidated Plan, including the 2014 Annual
Action Plan in order to provide additional funding for the completion of North DeKalb Senior Center.
As a result of increased cost in the construction of the North DeKalb Senior Center, an additional
allocation of funding is required in order to complete all of the necessary construction during the fourth
quarter of 2016. Funding which was set aside in 2014 for the Elaine Clark Center project will be utilized
due to the extended and current delay in the start of the project’s construction. When the Elaine Clark
Center project is ready to move forward with construction, we will restore funding to this project with prior
year or future year funding.
The County will utilize CDBG funding in the amount of $700,000 originally allocated for the Elaine Clark
Center Project in order to increase funding for the North DeKalb Senior Center.
All citizens are invited to review the proposed substantial amendment to these programs from October
13, 2016 – October 27, 2016 on the DeKalb County website,, and at the locations
identified below.
DeKalb County Community Development Department
330 W. Ponce de Leon Avenue, 6th Floor, Decatur, Georgia 30030
(404) 371-2727
Monday - Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Chamblee Branch Library
Decatur Branch Library
4115 Clairmont Road, Chamblee
215 Sycamore Street, Decatur
Please contact the libraries for days and hours of operation.
Comment forms may be obtained and completed at each of the above listed locations. Comments
may also be faxed or emailed to the Community Development Department.
Fax: (404) 371-2742.Email:

“Amendment 1 provides
greater flexibility and state
accountability to fix failing
schools through increasing
community involvement.
Shall the constitution of
Georgia be amended to
allow the state to intervene
in chronically failing public
schools in order to improve
student performance?”
“Chronically failing”
schools are ones that have
failed to score 60 points
on the College and Career
Readiness Performance
Index (CCRPI) for three
consecutive years. In
DeKalb County, this applies
to 26 schools, with 10
identified by the district as
“[ready for] complete school
redesign and intensive
turnaround support.”
Once schools are
added to the takeover list—
potentially January 2017—a
school will remain under
state control for at least
three consecutive years.
GAE President Sid
Chapman, a former
teacher, said Amendment
1’s language and overall
presentation is misleading
to voters. Chapman has
traveled throughout and
beyond Georgia over the
past several weeks in any
attempt to halt Amendment
1 in its tracks.

GAE is a 501(c)3
nonprofit and selfdescribes itself as “the most
experienced and effective
professional organization
for teachers, administrators
and associated educational
personnel within Georgia’s
public schools.”
The organization,
through Chapman, is
attempting to make sure
Georgia voters know what
Amendment 1 means to
their children.
“On Election Day 2016,
we want to help ensure that
Georgia voters understand
fully what their vote on the
constitutional amendment
regarding OSD actually
means,” Chapman said.
“What communities should
understand is this amounts
to a state takeover of
their local public schools.
Passage of Amendment
1 would effectively
remove the voice of local
educators, community
leaders— in decisions made
for their schools.”
Chapman said issues
such as homelessness,
poverty, hunger and a lack
of parental involvement are
typical in the communities
impacted by the bill and

See GAE on Page 11A


introduces FY2017
proposed budget

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 10

by Carla Parker
The Brookhaven City Council got its first look at the fiscal
year 2017 proposed budget at the Oct. 11 city council regular
Brookhaven City Manager Christian Sigman presented
the proposed $36,993,351 budget to council. The proposed
budget represents a $2,802,417 (8.2 percent) increase from
the 2016 budget as revised, according to the city.
“The budget is balanced,” Sigman said. “No tax
increases, no proposed fees or new taxes. There are no
program deductions and no layoffs contemplated.”
The proposed budget includes a $23,788,868 general
fund, $6.2 million for Homestead Option Sales Tax (HOST),
$2,156,532 for stormwater utility fund and more to make up
the remaining $4,847,951.
Other highlights in the budget include:
• The 2.74 millage rate is unchanged and remains the
lowest in DeKalb County.
• The 2017 year-end general fund reserve is projected
at $5.5 million, or 26.4 percent of general fund
• The proposed budget includes funding for six positions
added after the 2016 budget was adopted in late 2015,
including three positions in the finance department, a
grants administrator, economic development director
and a criminal investigator.
• Funding has been included to establish a dedicated
traffic unit within the police department with the addition
of three sworn officers.
• The proposed budget includes funding for a 3.0 percent
merit-based salary adjustment for city employees.
• The 2017 paving budget is funded at $2.5 million with
HOST and state funding.
• Parks Master Plan implementation funding is
recommended at $2.5 million.
• Funding is recommended for a development services
position to improve coordination between city
departments, a utility/right-of-way coordinator (vendor)
to coordinate city projects with utility companies, and
capital projects program manager (vendor) to manage
the increasing workload and complexity of capital
• Funding is included to conduct the required city charter
review beginning in mid-2017 and funding for the 2017
“I’m glad that we’re again balanced and the budget
approved by council will be balanced,” Mayor John Ernst
said. “This is a proposed budget and it’s our time as elected
[officials] and the citizens in general to go through it and to
point out concerns and such.”

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.

Dunwoody resident Robert Vincent was honored at an Oct. 10 city council meeting for saving the life
of a severely injured truck driver.

Resident honored for saving a life in Dunwoody
by R. Scott Belzer
On Sept. 14, Dunwoody resident
Robert Vincent was driving on I-285 in
Dunwoody at approximately 9 p.m. when a
nearby tractor-trailer’s brakes caught fire.
A number of people stopped to help
the vehicle’s driver, including one who
unsuccessfully attempted to use a fire
extinguisher to quell growing flames.
According to Dunwoody Police Chief
Billy Grogan, the driver, who had escaped
the blaze, attempted to return to the vehicle
and put out the fire by himself. Upon his
approach to the vehicle, one of the truck’s
tires blew out, causing a chain reaction of
explosions. The driver, disoriented by the
first explosion, crawled underneath the
tractor-trailer for shelter.
Vincent was one of the many who
stopped to help. Seeing the man in distress,

Vincent ran to the driver and pulled the man
away from the fire and to a safe area. The
action saved the man’s life, as the truck
was fully engulfed in flames and eventually
deteriorated to ash, Grogan said.
“Vincent, with no regard for his own
personal safety, went in there and grabbed
the driver and pulled him over 100 feet
to safety and saved the man’s life,” said
Grogan, one of many gathered to honor
Vincent at the Oct. 10 Dunwoody City
Council meeting. “[Vincent] continued
to assist by joining fellow citizens in
administering medical aid for the victim
while waiting for first responders to arrive.”
Grogan said had it not been for
Vincent’s “quick thinking and selfless
actions” the truck driver would have
“[Vincent’s] actions are exemplary of
citizenship at the highest level,” Grogan


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 11

gae Continued From Page 9A

Kindom Tattoo held its second annual Kustom Kulture car and bike show Oct. 16, featuring vintage car and bikes.

Tattoo shop gives Decatur
mobile memories
by Horace Holloman

Kingdom Tattoo in Decatur
held its second annual Kustom
Kulture car and bike show Oct.
16 featuring customized cars
and vintage bikes.
Shop owner Ryan Weaver,
who came up with the car show
concept last year, said the
event gives Decatur residents
something to look forward to.
“I just love custom cars and
custom bikes. I grew up in the
tattoo scene and it fits really
well together. Tattoos are a way
to customize your body and
the Kustom Kulture is a way to
express customizing your ride,”
Weaver said.
The recent growth in
Decatur has helped the tattoo
shop stay in business, Weaver
said. Kingdom Tattoos recently
celebrated its four-year

anniversary and the event is
a way to give back to the local
community, he said.
Participants came from
throughout Georgia to
experience the car show. Ali
Sabin, who made the hour-anda-half trip from Warner Robins
to Decatur, said she enjoys car
“One of the best things is
that this keeps people busy.
Everyone seems to be so
inundated with materialism and
negativity and all these bad
distractions,” Sabin said. “This
gives people an opportunity to
use their hands for both custom
cars and tattooing and really
express themselves in a health
positive way.”
The event featured more
than 10 vendors as well as
a customized Red Bull truck
complete with a DJ booth.
Father-and-son duo

Russell and Nick Smith, 10,
said coming to car shows has
become somewhat of a bonding
experience for them. Russell
Smith, who has an arm of
tattoos, said his son never got
to meet his grandfather, but
the experience of looking at
custom cars brings them closer
“Driving these old cars
reminds me of my dad and
[Nick] expressed an interest in
doing the old car thing when he
gets older,” Russell Smith said.
“It’s kind of a bonding thing for
the two of us.”
One of the fan favorites for
the day was Weaver’s 1959
baby blue Chevrolet Belair.
“I like Ryan [Weaver’s] car. I
just think it’s really fun to look at
all of them. These are cars you
don’t normally see. It’s just kind
of interesting to look at all of
them,” Nick said.

that “a takeover political appointee in
Atlanta, who is literally miles away from
understanding what’s truly happening
in these communities, is not a proven
Chapman called the wording on the
ballot deceitful and said GAE filed a
lawsuit to request the wording on the ballot
“It is misleading. It makes everyone
believe that it’s simply the state trying to do
something for failing schools—but the devil
is in the details,” Chapman said. “The bill
allows for outside, private, charter entities
to come in and run schools. They can fire
the whole faculty and take public dollars.”
Chapman and other GAE officials
referenced OSD school systems in
Tennessee, Louisiana and Michigan
that failed and went back to the public
school system after implementing a state
“There’s a lot of controversies and
even investigations on a lot of things,”
Chapman said.
Chapman suggested Amendment 1
may be being fueled by “corrupt” corporate
charter school interests aiming for tax
dollars rather than the interests of children.
On Sept. 26, DeKalb County School
District (DCSD) Board of Education voted
to formally oppose Amendment 1. Board
member Marshall Orson compared OSD
to “magical pixie dust” expected to fix the
wide array of problems listed by Chapman.
DCSD Superintendent Stephen Green
followed suit and wrote an op-ed opposing
OSD, listing controversies he witnessed
firsthand in Kansas City, Mo., when similar
legislation passed.
GAE states the community solutions
model may be a potential solution to
schools deemed “chronically failing.”
Chapman suggested working with the
state to ensure “wraparound” services for
children, teachers and communities.
“We are talking about challenges
that are systemic throughout these
communities,” Chapman said. “What
is going to be needed is an all-handson-deck community-centered approach
to address the underlying issues
leading to the underperformance of the
schoolchildren in these communities.
These entire school communities, from the
principals and teachers to the bus drivers,
custodians and food workers, are often
working with very limited resources and
providing what they can out of their own
pockets to help these children just make it
from day to day.”
Chapman referenced McLarin Success
Academy in College Park as a potential
starting point. McLarin has implemented
a new intervention model that somewhat
resembles DCSD’s newest department,
the Department of Student Support and
This model requires daily intervention
to address learning barriers.
“That daily in-the-school and
community interaction is needed for
success and simply is not going to happen
from someone in an office hundreds of
miles away,” Chapman said.
For more information on GAE, visit


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 12

Austin Elementary
to be rebuilt

Blank canvases for Decatur’s OctopiDecatur campaign. Holland is involved with the Instagram
hashtag #octopidecatur in which other artists are displaying their work for the upcoming Terrific
Thursdays events.

‘OctopiDecatur’ plans
to draw shoppers in
by Horace Holloman
The city of Decatur is putting a new
twist on a shop local campaign during the
months of November and December.
During the city’s Terrific Thursdays
event—a shop local campaign which
begins in November and runs through
December—shoppers may be drawn in by
a few eight-legged friends.
This year’s Terrific Thursdays
campaign will feature custom-drawn
octopuses from artists around the globe.
Larry Holland contacted artists to
draw a customized octopus to be used

in the OctopiDecatur campaign and had
a big response, said Renae Madison,
spokesperson for the city of Decatur.
“Artist from all over the country are
decorating octopi. It’s kind of like a free art
thing. When people come to the shops it’s
like a scavenger hunt. If they find it, they
get to keep it,” said Madison. “They are
really cool and [some of the artists are]
from Switzerland and the UK. We’re really,
really excited about it and we wanted to do
something to embrace the holiday spirit for
everybody. It’s different and we’re hoping it
stands out.”
At press time, Madison said she
was unsure of how many shops will be

See OctopiDecatur on Page 15A


Fun Fall Time!
Fall, family and fun times
are worth celebrating.
At JenCare, we want
to honor and celebrate
you and those you
care about, too.
or call (678) 460-4171 to
find an event near you.

Since 1970, Dunwoody Seniors Baseball used the fields at
Dunwoody Park on a regular basis. The fields will be relocated
to Peachtree Middle School in a new deal struck between DeKalb
County School District and Dunwoody City Council.

by R. Scott Belzer
Austin Elementary
School in Dunwoody is set to
be rebuilt following a special
called meeting by Dunwoody
City Council on Oct. 5.
Dunwoody officials
signed a letter of intent
on a $3.6 million deal to
place approximately 10.2
acres of property under the
ownership of DeKalb County
School District (DCSD) and
gain 18 acres in return.
The 18 acres of property
includes 9.8 acres at the
existing Austin Elementary
School site—located at
5435 Roberts Drive in
Dunwoody—as well as
eight acres near Peachtree
Charter Middle School.
The eight acres will
be used to construct two
baseball fields. As part of the
proposed intergovernmental
agreement (IGA), Dunwoody
residents will have access
to the fields after normal
school hours. According
to the agreement, one
of the baseball fields will
be available to the city of
Dunwoody at all times.
The baseball fields are
intended as replacements to
the fields currently located
at Dunwoody Park, included
in the 10.2 acres given to
DCSD. According to DCSD
officials, the district hopes to
build a 900-seat elementary
school on the Dunwoody
Park site to replace the
existing Austin Elementary.
The IGA includes a
lease at the current Austin
Elementary site until the
new “prototypical” school is
completed in August 2019.

Funding for the new school
will come from E-SPLOST
IV, which will be used by the
district until July 2017.
“The agreement is a
collaborative partnership
with the city and a realization
of the district’s commitment
to the community, shared
through our Building
S.P.A.C.E.S. Initiative and
public involvement process,”
said DCSD Superintendent
Stephen Green.
Dunwoody residents
frequently speak at city
council meetings about
a need for more sports
facilities in the area.
As recently as Aug. 22,
Dunwoody High School
football coach Mike Nash
called sports an equal
playing field for youth,
regardless of ethnicity or
“This mutually
beneficial agreement can
open the door for both
existing and additional
sports programming that’s
currently lacking for a city
the size of Dunwoody,”
said Dunwoody Parks
Director Brent Walker. “By
upgrading the infrastructure
at the track/football field
and constructing two topquality baseball fields, the
city will own or have access
to approximately 12 acres of
field space for area youth.
This could be in use in
Jerry Weiner, president
of Dunwoody Senior
Baseball who currently
uses the fields located
at Dunwoody Park, said
Dunwoody Senior Baseball

See Field on Page 15A



Rotary Club of Stone Mountain member Gene Fleeman, an aerospace engineer
for more than fifty years, instructed STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering
and Math) students from Smoke Rise Elementary on how to build and launch
soda straw rockets. Photo provided by A. Quintyne

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 13

Handmade yard sculptures adorn the back yard of Decatur-based blacksmith Jason

Creatures made by artist Salley McInerney can be found at Dunwoody Nature Center as part of the park’s Art in the Park
event. Photo provided

Dunwoody Police Officer Michael Cheek
was one of two officers to judge The
Branches’—a community in Dunwoody—
annual community cook off. Photo

The Crave Dance Experience—dance instruction for Doraville residents ages six through 13—takes place every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Forest Fleming Arena, located at 3037
Pleasant Valley Drive. Photo submitted.

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


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 14

Local officials support Safe Harbor amendment
by Horace Holloman


ith Fulton and DeKalb
counties becoming a
major hub for human
sex trafficking in the
country, local officials are trying
to raise awareness on upcoming
legislation that could help victims of
sex trafficking crimes.
In the upcoming general
election Nov. 8, Georgia residents
will have a chance to vote on
an amendment to the Georgia
Constitution which will create the
Safe Harbor for Sexually Exploited
Children Fund.
If approved, there will be a new
source of funding for child victims
of sex trafficking.
The DeKalb County Board of
Commissioners designated Sept.
27 as a day to raise awareness
and “stand together” for a Stop
Human Trafficking campaign.
“[DeKalb County] is a passthrough area for sex trafficking,
pure and simple,” said DeKalb
County Commissioner Kathie
Gannon. “When this movement
started there were no advocates for
the children and sometimes they
were left on their own or fell back
into the same trap. There were no
services for the children and as
you can imagine it’s an incredible
traumatic experience.”
The money for the Safe
Harbor Fund would provide an
estimated $2 million annually for
restorative services such as safe
housing, trauma counseling and

Commissioner Kathie Gannon, who sponsored the Stop Human Trafficking
campaign, speaks during a board of commissioners meeting

medical treatment, according to
The money for the Safe Harbor
Fund will come from a new fee
assessed to those convicted of
crimes related to sex trafficking
and a fee on establishments that
serve alcohol and provide nude
DeKalb County is paying
closer attention to sex trafficking
crimes over the last few years, said
Robert James, the county’s district

According to James, the new
legislation could make a difference
in victim’s lives.
“This is a game changer,”
James said. “If the legislation
passes it would allow necessary
and important resources to be
spent where it should be spent.
This is a game changer and people
need to be aware of it. It’s a tool
that can be used to make victims
whole again and help to get their
life on track.”
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state funds can be dedicated
to a particular purpose is with
voter approval of a constitutional
The question on the ballot will
appear as, “Shall the Constitution
of Georgia be amended to allow
additional penalties for criminal
cases in which a person is
adjudged guilty of keeping a
place of prostitution, pimping,
pandering, pandering by
compulsion, solicitation of sodomy,
masturbation for hire, trafficking
of persons for sexual servitude,
or sexual exploitation of children
and to allow assessments on adult
entertainment establishments to
fund the Safe Harbor for Sexually
Exploited Children Fund to pay for
care and rehabilitative and social
services for individuals in this state
who have been or may be sexually
In August of this year, DeKalb
County’s DeKalb Anti-Trafficking
and Exploitation (DATE) Watch
Unit got its first life sentence
conviction for a sex trafficker.
Robert Tate, 30, was found
guilty of rape, two counts of
trafficking of persons for sexual
servitude, two counts of pimping
a person under the age of 18 and
two counts of interference with
custody. The girls involved with
Tate were 16 years old.
Dalia Racine, deputy chief
assistant district attorney of the
county’s DATE Unit, said it’s
possible for teens to turn their life

See Trafficking on Page 14A


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 15

OctopiDecatur Continued From Page 12A

DeKalb County Board of Commissioners proclaimed Sept. 27 as a day to raise awareness for a Stop
Human Trafficking campaign.

trafficking Continued From Page 14A
around after being a victim of human sex
“We’ve seen some phenomenal
success stories. We’ve seen kids who
can get out of the life and get their
GEDs and become successful,” Racine
said. “We’ve definitely come a long way.
We’ve tried to educate the public that sex
trafficking is exploitation of our children.
When it comes to the new legislation,
it’s important to have a reliable funding
Racine started in DeKalb County with
two sex trafficking cases on her desk
just a few years ago. Now the number of
cases has increased to more than 60.

James said the influx in cases isn’t
related to an increase in sex trafficking
crimes, but shows the county is paying
closer attention.
“The evolution is important. Just a
couple years back there wasn’t even
a human trafficking prosecutor in this
county and in a few short years we’ve
adapted and evolved,” James said. “We
have a serious problem in our county and
we have to hold these guys accountable.
The hardest part it to continue to raise
public awareness about what’s going on.
Most people don’t even understand how
serious this problem is in the county. They
just don’t get it.”

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

participating this year, but
said based on previous
years more than 20 shops
join in Terrific Thursdays.
The dates for Terrific
Thursdays will be Nov. 3,
10 and 17 and Dec. 1, 8
and 15.
Madison said the city
plans to distribute 10
octopuses throughout the
stores every Thursday.
Last year’s campaign
“Keep it IndieCatur”
featured signs store
owners would post in their
Jay Mehta, owner of
Boutique Karma in Decatur,
said he’s excited to be a
part of this year’s Terrific
Thursdays. Mehta, who’s
been in business since
2003, said his shop has
participated every year.
“This is very important
because I think the whole
idea behind what the city
has started is to have that
kind of environment where
you live, work and shop.
A lot of my customers
believe in giving back to the
community so that keeps
adding on like a building
block,” Mehta said.
Decatur stores plan to
have discounts throughout
the Terrific Thursdays
events. Mehta said

Boutique Karma will have
a 20 percent discount on
any store item, except the
brand Sympli. During the
November and December
months, Boutique Karma
generally has a 25 percent
increase in sales, he said.
“I’m excited for business
in Decatur. A lot of the
shoppers get into the mood
of the holidays, especially
on Terrific Thursdays,”
Mehta said. “A lot of the
shops do something special
and in Decatur when you
get closer to the holidays all
of the events are lined up
on Thursdays.”
The city of Decatur also
offers shoppers who spend
$200 during the month of
November a $20 gift card
from local restaurants.
Madison said to receive
a gift card the money
does not have to be spent
in one place. Shoppers
can keep receipts from
any store located in the
city of Decatur any day
of the week. Participants
can bring receipts to the
Visitor’s Center at 113
Clairemont Ave. The gift
cards are limited to three
cards per person. The
$200 can only be spent on
merchandise, not meals or
spa services, Madison said.

field Continued From Page 12A
opposes the deal based on the city already having two
usable baseball fields, surrendering Dunwoody Park
property, and a potential loss of business at Dunwoody
“We agree that Austin Elementary needs to be rebuilt
and the SPLOST money is there to do so,” Weiner said.
“Nonetheless, we remember the school board’s original
commitment to rebuilt on-site and not disturb Dunwoody
Park. We now ask that they honor that promise. We ask that
city Council and DCSD work together to find more effective
ways to spend taxpayer money and still bring us both quality
education and youth sports facilities that satisfy existing
Dunwoody Senior Baseball has used the two Dunwoody
Park baseball fields since 1975. According to Dunwoody
residents, many current college baseball players previously
played at Dunwoody Park.
Dunwoody resident and Dunwoody Park baseball field
user John Crawford joined Weiner in opposition, stating the
current site is ideal for baseball.
“It’s a little bit like putting a building on top of Fenway
Park,” Crawford said.
Before an official closing is made in January 2017,
Dunwoody will host public information meetings on Oct. 24,
Oct. 25, and Nov. 14 at Dunwoody City Hall. All meetings
will begin at 6 p.m.
“This is an initial agreement that will be vetted in ‘public
town hall’ type meetings where citizen input will be sought
and evaluated. A public vote by the city council will be taken
after Dunwoody citizens have an opportunity to hear and
comment on the agreement,” said Dunwoody Mayor Denis
Shortal. “There are details within the agreement which will
need to be reviewed and worked out. After hearing public,
input the city council will decide the best course of action.”
Shortal said the issue will be voted on officially Nov. 14.


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 16

Changing control,
rerouting revenue
Proposed amendments to Georgia
Constitution could place schools in
state control, fund social work

by R. Scott Belzer


n Nov. 8, four
to the
Constitution of
Georgia will be on the ballot
with boxes ready for “yes”
or “no” checkmarks.
The outcome of
each has far-reaching
consequences in the realms
of education, state revenue
and law.
The first, known as
Amendment 1, asks voters,
““Shall the Constitution of
Georgia be amended to
allow the state to intervene
in chronically failing public
schools in order to improve
student performance?”
The ballot also will
have a preamble stating
Amendment 1 “provides
greater flexibility and state
accountability to fix failing
schools through increasing
community involvement.”
Amendment 1 would
allow the creation of
Opportunity School Districts
(OSD), which would place
schools with College
and Career Readiness
Performance Index (CCRPI)
scores below 60 for three
consecutive years under
state control.
Both the DeKalb County
School District (DCSD) and
City Schools of Decatur
have proclaimed opposition
against Amendment 1,
stating the legislation would
take away local control of
public education.
Amendment 2 asks
voters a similarly worded
yes or no question.
“Shall the Constitution
of Georgia be amended to

allow additional penalties
for criminal cases in which
a person is adjudged
guilty of keeping a place
of prostitution, pimping,
pandering, pandering by
compulsion, solicitation
of sodomy, masturbation
for hire, trafficking of
persons for sexual
servitude, or sexual
exploitation of children
and to allow assessments
on adult entertainment
establishments to fund the
Safe Harbor for Sexually
Exploited Children Fund
to pay for care and
rehabilitative and social
services for individuals in
this state who have been or
may be sexually exploited?”
the ballot asks.
According to
Ballotpedia, this amendment
will make way for Senate
Resolution 7, which allows
the state government to
charge additional $2,500
in penalties or fees to a
person found guilty of sexrelated crimes.
The second part of
the amendment will allow
further assessments
of adult entertainment
establishments such as
strip clubs or adult novelty
shops. A new $5,000 annual
fee will be required of adult
entertainment businesses.
Funds from both will
help create a Safe Harbor
for Sexually Exploited
Children Fund, which will
provide the state with a
source of funds for the
treatment of sex victims.
Amendment 3
asks voters, “Shall the
Constitution of Georgia
be amended so as to
abolish the existing
Judicial Qualifications

Commission; require the
General Assembly to create
and provide by general
law for the composition,
manner of appointment,
and governance of a new
Judicial Qualifications
Commission, with such
commission having the
power to discipline, remove,
and cause involuntary
retirement of judges; require
the Judicial Qualifications
Commission to have
procedures that provide
for due process of law and
review by the Supreme
Court of its advisory
opinions; and allow the
Judicial Qualifications
Commission to be open
to the public in some
This amendment would
effectively remake Georgia’s
Judicial Qualifications

Commission, the state
agency responsible for
investigating allegations
of corruption in the judicial
branch. The commission
has the authority to remove
judges from its post.
Amendment 3 would
take three appointments
currently made by the State
Bar of Georgia and give
appointment responsibilities
to the governor, lieutenant
governor and Georgia’s
speaker of the house.
Amendment 4 asks,
“Shall the Constitution of
Georgia be amended so as
to provide that the proceeds
of excise taxes on the sale
of fireworks or consumer
fireworks be dedicated to
the funding of trauma care,
firefighter equipping and
training, and local public
safety purposes?”

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This amendment
proposes placing revenue
from the existing 5 percent
sales tax on fireworks into
a dedicated account to
fund a statewide trauma
care network, firefighter
equipment and training, as
well as public safety.
According to
Ballotpedia, a “yes” vote
on the amendment will
open the door to Senate
Bill 350 and Senate 558,
which outlines the flow of
revenue in detail. The bill
and resolution have been
making their way throughout
the state capital since
fireworks became legal in
To look at the rest of
the DeKalb County sample
ballot, visit http://web.


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 17

Debate continues over Clarkston Clean Indoor Air Act
Smoking ordinance ‘hurting Clarkston businesses’ and ‘stopping cultural practices’

by R. Scott Belzer

More than a dozen
Clarkston residents publicly
spoke against the Clean
Indoor Air Act adopted by
Clarkston city officials in
Enacted in September,
the act bans indoor
smoking within city limits
and mandates that outdoor
smoking take place at
least 30 feet from business
Before its adoption
in August, Clarkston City
Council received opposition
from the vaping community
and adult entertainment
industry. In September,
attorney Patricia Bernard
addressed city council
on behalf of businesses
offering hookah, stating
the ordinance will harm
Clarkston businesses
Sunrise Café and Kabu
On Oct. 4, Bernard
spoke on behalf of both
businesses once again.
“For the past 1,000
years, hookah has become
part of the culture of a lot
of people,” Bernard said.
“The main people being
affected are the Ethiopians
and Eritreans in the city of
According to Bernard,
quality control officers
in Clarkston stopped by

both businesses in late
September and negatively
impacted Kabu Lounge and
Sunrise Café.
“The quality control
people came around
Monday [Sept. 26] and
by Tuesday [Sept. 27],
everyone’s business died,”
Bernard said. “Since
Tuesday, no restaurant
that sells hookah has been
making money. Friday night
was dead, Saturday night
was dead, every day has
been dead. You’ve taken
away a cultural practice.”
Bernard called the
practice of smoking hookah
a “holistic practice” for
when people meet in
certain cultures. She also
mentioned that college
students often go to both
businesses to do homework
and study.
“People eat together off
one plate and talk together—
the hookah is part of that
gathering,” Bernard said.
“People come in, take out
their laptops, drink a Sprite
and go home. Old people
talk to young people—all
ages talk. Once you take
away that hookah, everyone
Bernard said the two
businesses have been
operating legally and in
this manner for at least five
Councilmen Robert
Hogan and Mario Williams

expressed concerns about
an ordinance harming
Clarkston businesses in July.
Both councilmembers stated
grandfather clauses would
be included to accommodate
hookah lounges and adult
entertainment businesses.
The official two-year
grandfather clause states
smoking will be allowed until
Dec. 31, 2018 in businesses
with valid business licenses
issued on or before April
1, 2016; where primary
business is generated by
the retail sale of tobacco or
electronic cigarettes; and
prohibits anyone under the
age of 21.
The grandfather clause
also specifically references
“qualified adult entertainment establishments.” Hookah lounges are not specifically referenced.
Bernard questioned possible preferential treatment
to adult entertainment establishments and bars. Sunrise
Café and Kabu Lounge both
allow minors but card people
who wish to use hookah.
“You grandfathered a
particular place—Stroker’s
Adult Entertainment—and
I’m trying to figure out why
this was preferred over a
restaurant,” Bernard said.
“I’ve read the ordinance
and if adult entertainment is
something that’s preferred
over people meeting and
conducting a cultural

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


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

The Kabu Lounge, located along E Ponce de Leon Ave in Clarkson,
is one of several businesses reportedly have lost revenue following the passing of the Clarkston Clean Indoor Air Act in July.

practice, that is inherently
Bernard said Clarkston
City Council took away the
rights of Kabu Lounge and
Sunrise Café.
“Their right to conduct
business should be allowed
as it had been in April 2016,”
Bernard said. “They will not
be able to pay their rent.
They’re out of business.”
Rob Strickland,
who runs an office near
Savannah Café, another
business threatened by the
Indoor Air Act, said hookah
makes up more than 80
percent of the business.
“From 2011 to the
present, this has been
[the owner’s] business,”
Strickland said. “She’s a
single mother of two small
children, a great business
lady. There’s a kitchen, but it
is not used.”
Councilman Dean
Moore interrupted Bernard
and asked where the law
bans smoking at hookah
“The ordinance says
that if it’s a hookah club or
hookah sales retailer then
they can continue until
Dec. 31 2018, it says it
very clearly to me,” Moore
said. “Now if they are a
restaurant, most restaurants
do not have smoking. We
passed a law to regulate or
eliminate places under-21
offering smoking. We want
to guarantee anywhere
under-21 is offered, you can
walk in and have clean air.”
Moore said he did not
know of any business that
has a business license

declaring they are a hookah
“We didn’t pass a ‘get
rid of hookah’ ordinance,
we didn’t pass a ‘get
rid of cultural practices’
ordinance,” Moore said. “We
had open meetings telling
us who they are and what
businesses they have. How
are we at fault in this? You’re
asking us to reconsider and
let people be open until
Mayor Ted Terry said
it would be difficult to relitigate the ordinance. He
appreciated the attendance
at the Clarkston City
Council meeting and the
participation. Terry also
explained the health benefits
of not smoking.
“The indoor air quality
ordinance has been effective
in reducing cigarette tobacco
use across age groups. We
don’t see this as an antibusiness measure,” Terry
said. “This is about the
health of our residents. The
employees of the restaurant,
the patrons of the restaurant.
We’re trying to set an
example of how we want the
future of businesses to be.”
Clarkston City Attorney
Stephen Quinn addressed
the issue of businesses
whose primary business is
generated by tobacco sales,
but like Moore and Terry,
did not address the part of
the ordinance requiring that
patrons be older than 21.
To read the Clarkston
Clean Indoor Air Act,


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 18


—business samples city’s diverse restaurant scene
by Kathy Mitchell
A Decatur businesswoman has
latched on to what industry officials
say is a new, but growing trend—
food tourism.
According to an article recently
published by Skift, a company that
provides information to the global
travel industry, “While cuisine has
always been an important part
of most travel experiences, the
concept of traveling to a destination
specifically for its [food and
beverage] product is a relatively
recent mainstream consumer
trend.” The article quoted a 2013
report by Mandala Research
indicating that U.S. leisure travelers
who visit places to learn about and
enjoy unique dining experiences
grew from 40 percent to 51 percent
between 2006 and 2013.
Tracy Reddick, this year
founded Downtown Decatur
Food Tours, a company that
provides guided food tasting and
cultural walking tours. “Decatur
is perfect for this,” she said.
“Even though the city is only four
square miles, it has approximately
80 restaurants—many of them

interesting, independent eateries
that offer unusual food choices. It’s
also a ‘foodie’ town. There are lots
of people here who enjoy unique
dining experiences.”
So far, Reddick’s customers
have been Georgians interested in
learning more about Decatur and
its varied culinary offerings. “In
time, I’m hoping people visiting the
Atlanta area will learn about this tour
and make it part of their vacation
itineraries,” she said.
The Skift article reports, “This
is big business. In 2012, it was
estimated that tourism expenditures
on food services in the U.S. topped
$201 billion, nearly a quarter of all
travel income. That makes food
service the highest category of
travel spending, according to the
University of Florida report A Flash
of Culinary Tourism.”
“I’ve always enjoyed good food,
travel and history,” Reddick said.
“This business allows me to combine
those things.” She explained that her
three-hour tour, which includes stops
at three restaurants, also includes
visits to unusual Decatur shops and
places of historical interest.
Some stops between restaurants

are at food-related shops. “There’s
a shop that sells infused olive oil
and vinegar. I would never have
imagined so many flavors and
varieties of olive oil and vinegar are
available,” commented Reddick,
who said participants play a game in
which they try to be the first to spot a
feature she has told them is coming
up. “They really enjoy the game.”
Although the groups—usually
approximately 12 people—stop at
three restaurants, they don’t have
a full meal at any one of them. “The
food is preselected and ordered,”
Reddick explained. “At the end of
the tour each person has had the
equivalent of a moderate lunch.
“Downtown Decatur is a very
walkable area,” Reddick said.
“It’s colorful and beautiful. There
are things going on all the time.”
Although current tours are all
midday on Saturdays and Sundays,
Riddick said she doesn’t schedule
tours when major festivals are going
on in downtown Decatur.
Currently, all tours are
identical—same route, same
restaurants—but Reddick said she
hopes that as the business grows,
she will be able to hire additional

tour guides and can create tours that
highlight Decatur’s nightlife.
Those going on tours must
register online in advance, Reddick
explained. Tours are held rain or
shine and all start at the designated
time. “If someone registered for a
tour hasn’t arrived several minutes
before we start, I try to call them. If
they are delayed, I tell them where
we’ll be and let them join the tour in
She said groups have included a
wide variety of ages, some couples
and groups celebrating a birthday
or another occasion. “We’re glad
to work with people who want an
unusual way to spend a birthday
or anniversary or a bridesmaid gettogether. This is all about having fun
and creating memories,” Reddick
Although Reddick has
experience in event planning, but
no prior specific experience in food
tourism, she said she has had no
problems. “I had a very good mentor
who has years of experience in food
tourism. He taught me everything
that I should prepare for; so things
have gone smoothly.”


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 19




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DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 20

Ten DeKalb
schools test
positive for
lead amounts
Water from ten school sinks and two school
fountains contained unhealthy lead amounts
in DeKalb County School District. Photo by R.
Scott Belzer

by R. Scott Belzer


en out of 16 DeKalb
County schools have
tested positive for
lead amounts deemed
unacceptable, according
to DeKalb County School District
(DCSD) officials.
As of press time Oct. 18,
Wadsworth Magnet Elementary,
Museum School of Avondale
Estates, Allgood Elementary,
Robert Shaw Elementary,
Redan Elementary, Barack H.
Obama, Briar Vista Elementary,
International Community School,
Stone Mountain Elementary and
the International Student Center at
Midway all recorded lead levels that
“do not meet standards.”
According to the Environmental
Protection Agency (EPA), this
means each school has water

sources containing lead amounts
of 15 parts per billion (ppb). High
lead amounts can contribute to
cardiovascular problems, kidney
damage, memory damage and
neurological problems.
Certain school samples tested
as high as 2,280 ppb.
The schools each had one to
five water sources or sets of pipes
contributing to the high amounts
with Stone Mountain Elementary
showing the most at five. In six
schools, the problematic water
came from sinks rather than
drinking fountains.
A school, depending on size,
has approximately 25 to 30 water
sources throughout its campus.
Certain sinks, such as one
tested for 95.9 ppb at Wadsworth
Magnet, are described in the report
as kitchen sinks.
A newly added drinking
fountain at Museum School of

Avondale Estates, contained two
drinking fountains with lead levels
at approximately 25 ppb. Another
drinking fountain at Briar Vista
Elementary also showed lead levels
at 363 ppb.
Letters sent to parents from
DCSD Superintendent Stephen
Green state water sources
containing the unhealthy lead
amounts were immediately turned
off or piping contributing to the lead
count is scheduled to be replaced.
“The health and safety of all
students and staff are, and always
will be, our top priorities,” the letter
states. “If any sample indicates
a presence of lead at EPA action
levels, we’ll immediately stop
using water from that source, then
repair or remove the problem. We’ll
provide bottled water, if needed,
until any problem is fixed.”
DCSD announced the tests
Sept. 12 and began testing Sept.

20. Water meters, fountains, , ice
machines and sinks in athletic fields
and kitchens at each school are all
tested for toxicity.
According to a fact sheet
provided by DCSD, buildings built
before 1986 are at greater risk of
exposure because lead was an
allowable building material in prior
Atlanta Environmental
Management was hired as a
$450,000 “emergency purchase”
in September to collect and test
water sources at all 150 DCSD
facilities. Testing began with the
district’s oldest elementary schools
and is scheduled to be complete by
summer 2017.
Tested schools that met
standards include Avondale
Elementary, DeKalb Preparatory
Academy, McLendon Elementary,
Briarlake Elementary and Toney


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 21

Majority of DeKalb high schools to graduate at Georgia World Congress Center
by R. Scott Belzer
Clarkston and Cross Keys
high schools and Margaret Harris
Comprehensive School are the
only schools that will use DeKalb
County School District (DCSD) and
local facilities for their 2016-2017
graduation ceremonies following an
announcement from DCSD officials.
On Oct. 11, DCSD board
member Stan Jester announced
all other DCSD high school
graduations will take place at the
Georgia World Congress Center
during the week of May 22 through
May 27.
Jester’s announcement was
based on a report from Vasanne
Tinsley, director of DCSD’s student
support and intervention, to DCSD
Superintendent Stephen Green.
“Graduation ceremonies are a
major component of the closing of
each school year,” Jester states. “In
recent years, schools have used
governmental buildings, arenas and
even churches to hold events.”
According to Jester, the
district faced legal opposition of
such practices from the American
Federation of Labor and Congress
of Industrial Organizations (AF-CIO)
during the 2015-2016 school year.
The AFL-CIO challenged
holding graduation ceremonies in
religious facilities.
“While measures were taken
to comply with the request to not
house ceremonies in religious
venues (and some locations were
changed), it was agreed that the
district would work to address the
concern for the 2016-2017 school
year,” Jester said.
Green created a District
Graduation Task Force over the
summer of 2016 to consider
venues, dates and costs to house
graduation ceremonies. Based
on these factors and accessibility,
the task force determined the best
option to be the Georgia World
Congress Center.
The Georgia World Congress
Center was built in 1976 and
features 3.9 million square feet of

The Georgia World Congress Center will play host to 22 of 25 DeKalb County School District high school graduation ceremonies
for the 2016-2017 school year. Photo submitted.

event space. It is known as the
third-largest convention center in
the United States.
The complete schedule of
DCSD high school graduations is
as follows:
On May 22, McNair, Towers,
Columbia and Cedar Grove
high schools will graduate at 10
a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
On May 23, Redan, Lithonia
and DeKalb School of the Arts will
graduate at 10 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4
p.m. respectively.
On May 24, Elizabeth Andrews,
Stephenson, DeKalb Early College
Academy and Stone Mountain
high schools will graduate at 10
a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
On May 25, Miller Grove,
Destiny Academy, Chamblee
Charter and Dunwoody high

schools will graduate at 10
a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
On May 26, Martin Luther King
Jr., Arabia Mountain, Southwest
DeKalb and Druid Hills high
schools will graduate at 10
a.m., 1 p.m., 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.
On May 27, Tucker and
Lakeside high schools will graduate
at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. respectively.
An anonymous Chamblee High
School parent on Jester’s blog
called the option “stupid” and asked
“[Why] graduate from a place miles
[away] from your high school?”
Another anonymous commenter
on said the measure was logistically
“The venues available for
large graduating classes—other
than DCSD stadiums and you’re
screwed if it rains and you have

more than two family members
attending—are few and far
between—and don’t exist in DeKalb
other than churches—and they
charge a fortune for one school to
foot the bill,” the commenter said.
“In the past, many schools have
paid tens of thousands of dollars
to find a location. I understand that
churches, temples and synagogues
create issues for many of our
diverse DCSD community from the
atheists to Buddhists, agnostics,
Muslims, Jewish and Christian
families, so a more generic option is
Margaret Harris Comprehensive
School will graduate on campus
May 19; Clarkston High School’s
graduation will take place May 24
at Hallford Stadium and Cross Keys
High School’s graduation will take
place May 25 at Adams Stadium.


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 22

Arabia Mountain, Marist sweeps to the second round of softball playoffs
by Carla Parker
The Arabia Mountain Lady Rams
and the Marist Lady War Eagles swept
their first-round opponents on Oct. 12
to advance to the second round of the
state fast-pitch softball playoffs.
Arabia Mountain defeated Kell
at home in the Class AAAAA state
playoffs in the best-of-three series. The
Lady Rams shut out Kell in the first
game 6-0, and pulled out a 9-8 win in
the second game to win the series 2-0.
Arabia Mountain (21-7) will host
Starr’s Mill (21-10) in the second round
for the best-of-three series beginning
Oct. 19 with a 2 p.m. doubleheader. If
necessary, game 3 will be held on Oct.
Marist shut out Cedartown at home
to win the best-of-three series 2-0 on
Oct. 12 in the Class AAAA playoffs.
Marist won both games with a score of
Marist (25-2) will host Columbus
(22-11) in the second round for the

best-of-three series beginning Oct.
19 with a doubleheader. If necessary,
game 3 will be held on Oct. 20.
Four teams from DeKalb County
in Class AAAAA lost their first-round
matchups. Miller Grove (15-4) fell
to Woodland-Cartersville (14-19) at
home 5-3 in game 1 and 11-3 in game
2. Decatur (22-8) also lost its home
playoff series to Flowery Branch (1317), losing 16-6 in game 1 and 11-3 in
game 2.
Chamblee (16-11) fell to Villa Rica
(21-7) on the road 10-2 and 17-4; and
Southwest DeKalb (8-12-1) dropped its
road games 15-0 and 2-0 to Carrollton
In Class AAAAAAA, Lakeside (1016) was swept by Lambert (22-3) by
scores of 14-0 and 13-0.
Stephenson (16-9) was swept out
of the Class AAAAAA state playoffs at
home to Effingham County (18-9) by
scores of 13-0 and 15-0.
In Class AAA, Cedar Grove (15-13)
fell to North Hall (13-8) 8-2 in game 1
and 14-1 in game 2.

Arabia Mountain’s Dyamond Brown scores before being tagged at home
plate. Photo by Mark Brock

Southwest DeKalb shuts out Miller Grove on senior night

by Carla Parker

Albeit a junior, quarterback Justin Tomlin
put on a performance on senior night as he led
the Southwest DeKalb Panthers to a 40-0 win
over region 5-AAAAA rival Miller Grove Oct. 14 at
Hallford Stadium.
Tomlin threw for 257 yards and three
touchdowns, and had a rushing touchdown. The
seniors went to work first in the game.
The Panthers jumped out to an early 7-0 lead
in the first quarter on their opening drive when
senior running back Horizio Goober scored on a
26-yard run. The Panthers lead extended to 14-0
in the second quarter when senior Javeon Cody
stripped the ball from Miller Grove quarterback
Darren Parker and returned it 37 yards for a
Two minutes later, Tomlin got his first
touchdown of the night on a 30-yard run to
give the Panthers a 20-0 lead. The extra point
was missed. Miller Grove tried to respond on

its following drive, but Parker was picked off by
senior Eric Johnson Jr.
Tomlin would get his second score of the
game in the second quarter on a 28-yard pass to
senior wide receiver Devaughn Brown, giving
the Panthers a 26-0 lead at halftime (the extra
point was missed).
Tomlin got his second touchdown pass of
the game in the third quarter on a 36-yard pass
to wide receiver Michael Pace, extending the
Panthers’ lead to 33-0. He would get his third
touchdown pass of the game on a 13-yard pass
to Johnson, extending the lead to 40-0 with 1:36
left in the third quarter.
Miller Grove got in the red zone late in the
fourth quarter, but Parker’s pass was intercepted
by Michael Tanks Jr.—son of the late Panthers’
coach Michael Tanks Sr.—to close out the game.
Southwest DeKalb (4-3) will take on region
rival Lithonia (3-4) Oct. 21, homecoming night,
at Godfrey Stadium. Miller Grove (2-5) will try to
bounce back against region rival Columbia (2-5)
Oct. 21 at Avondale Stadium.

Week 9 football scores
Oct. 14
Cedar Grove (5-2) 49, Pace (4-3) 0
Clarkston (1-7) 42, Cross Keys (1-3) 0
Marist (5-2) 43, West Hall (5-3) 3
SW DeKalb (4-3) 40, Miller Grove (2-5) 0
Stephenson (4-3) 49, Drew (2-5) 14
Tucker (6-1) 29, Lovejoy (4-4) 26
Pope (2-5) 49, Dunwoody (2-5, 1-4) 7
Westminster (5-2) 55, McNair (3-4) 6
Norcross (7-0) 42, Lakeside (4-4) 10
Jonesboro (1-6) 21, M.L. King (2-5) 14
Lovett (5-2) 46, Redan (2-5) 26
Banneker (5-2) 6, Decatur (1-6) 0
Oconee County (6-1) 20, St. Pius X 16 (0-7)
Oct. 15
Towers (3-4) 36, Stone Mountain (1-6) 0
Arabia Mountain (6-1) 51, Columbia (2-5) 18
Lithonia (3-4) 35, Chamblee (1-6) 0


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 23

Tucker clinches fourth middle school county region title
by Carla Parker
The Tucker Middle
School Tigers football
team clinched its fourth
consecutive DeKalb County
region title after a 30-6 win
over Champion Oct. 15 at
Avondale Stadium.
It was also the fourth
consecutive undefeated
regular season for the
Tigers. The region title was
on the line for the game
and the Tigers responded
with a 30-0 lead in the
first half. Coach Jermaine
Walker was pleased with
how his team responded to
the challenge.
“They came out and
played like we wanted them
to play,” Walker said. “They
were aggressive, they
executed and they took
care of business and that’s
what we asked them to do
today and they did that.”
Walker has been
with the program for 12
years and has been the
head coach for eight
years. This will be the
sixth consecutive playoff
appearance for the Tigers
who had not made the
playoffs before the 2011
season, and had not won
a playoff game until their
three consecutive runs to
the title game.
Tucker won its first
county championship in
2013. Walker said before
that 2013 season, he and
his coaching staff worked
to get the players to buy
into the coaches’ plan.
“We had to get the kids
to buy into the program,
buy into what we wanted
them to do, which is
dominate,” Walker said.
“Once we got [those] kids
in 2013, we had a team.
We got them to buy in
and we actually won a
championship that year.”
Although the Tigers
went on to have two more
consecutive undefeated
regular seasons, they failed
to win the championship,
losing to Cedar Grove
in 2014 and 2015 in the
championship game.
“Our goal is to get
back [to the championship
game],” Walker said. “We
feel like we have a group
of kids this year that is
very similar to the year we
won it in 2013—same type

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DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, October 21, 2016 • Page 24

Tucker defeated Champion 30-6, clinching its fourth consecutive DeKalb County region title and an undefeated
regular season. Photos by Carla Parker

football Continued From Page 23A
of attitude, same type of desire to win. We
think this year is going to be the year that we
can get over that hump, that rut that we’ve
been stuck in for the last two years. We think
we can get it done this year.”
Walker said he believes his players have

the confidence and a champion mindset
going into the playoffs.
“They’ve grown up in a winning
environment,” he said. “They have that
attitude where they want to win and they
don’t want to lose.”

It’s a

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list today.