See foreclosure listings

See page 6 for locations

the DeKalb

FRIDAY, December 9, 2016 • VOL. 19, NO. 35 • FREE

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

Former Georgia quarterback D.J. Shockley helped
construct the field.


Former Florida quarterback Tim Tebow also participated in the project.

Volunteers build football field at Gresham Park
by Carla Parker


hree months after a new basketball court was unveiled, Gresham Park received another contribution.
Park Pride Atlanta and Allstate Insurance in partnership with DeKalb County Parks and Recreation constructed a new football field at the park located on Gresham
Road. The project was the focus of the eighth annual Allstate SEC Good Works Day.
Allstate SEC Good Works Day is an annual community
service initiative in which Allstate volunteers and former
Good Works Team members give back to the Atlanta
community the week of the SEC Championship game.
Volunteers included former University of Georgia football players Jon Stinchcomb, David Greene and D.J.
Shockley, and former University of Florida quarterback
and SEC Network analyst Tim Tebow.
Revonda Cosby, greenspace manager for DeKalb
County Parks and Recreation, said Park Pride’s resources help the department run a “Friends of the Park” group
project for parks in the county.
“As a result of that, they bring corporate friends and
they bring other resources and that’s how we got here—
through Park Pride,” Cosby said. “We nominated three
parks and we worked with Allstate to arrive at the one
that met their needs most. And [Gresham Park] meant
the most because we could go from the ground up—
nothing previously existed. When [Allstate] got the idea
of doing this [project] and we went to the other places,
this [park] just bode well—to be able to turn nothing into
“It’s huge,” said John Ahern, volunteer manager for
Park Pride. “This is the fourth year that we’ve done the

See Football on Page 5


Volunteers put up the fence for the field.





DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 • Page 2A

Mixed reactions to
Burrell Ellis decision
by Horace Holloman


or some DeKalb County residents,
former DeKalb CEO Burrell
Ellis’ conviction being overturned
by the Georgia Supreme Court
was another blow to government
accountability, while others believed it
was a step in the right direction to justice
for Ellis and his family.
The Georgia Supreme Court
announced its decision Nov. 30 and
reversed a previous ruling that Ellis was
guilty of trying to “shake down” a county
contractor for campaign contributions.
Ellis served time in jail and was
released in March of this year.
While the court said the evidence
to convict Ellis was sufficient, due to
technical errors in the trial process his
conviction should be overturned.
“It’s a complicated issue. Clearly
Ellis’ behavior was unethical and not
what I would like to see in our elected
officials, however, given the facts of the
case and the way it was prosecuted I’m
not surprised it was overturned,” said
Marjorie Snook, a community activist
with the group DeKalb Strong.
In 2012, Ellis allegedly attempted
to extort a campaign contribution from
Power and Energy Services Inc. through
its co-owner, Brandon Cummings. The
company had a $250,000 contract with
DeKalb County.
After the first trial ended in a mistrial
because the jury could not reach a
unanimous verdict, Ellis was tried again
and convicted in 2015.
“DeKalb County has some serious
corruption issues, but I never thought
Ellis was the best target. I think that
[District Attorney Robert] James could
have gone after better targets if his goal
was cleaning up corruption,” Snook said.
During his retrial, Ellis’ defense
team was unable to bring other vendors
in as witnesses who said they did not
feel intimidated after turning down the
option to donate to Ellis’ campaign. The
court said  in its decision, “we must
nevertheless reverse Ellis’ convictions
based on certain evidentiary errors that
occurred at his trial.”
DeKalb County government released
a statement regarding Ellis’ overturned

“The county attorney has advised
that [Burrell] Ellis’ appeal to the Georgia
Supreme Court is not final until the time
passes for motions for reconsideration,
which could be filed by either party. The
Georgia Supreme Court has ordered
that such motions must be filed by Dec.
5, 2016. During this interim period, the
county attorney is evaluating the effect of
the Supreme Court’s order in the event
that no reconsideration motions are filed
or the Supreme Court denies motions
filed by either or both parties.”
Joel Edwards, a DeKalb County
resident and founder of government
watchdog group Restore DeKalb, said
Ellis should receive compensation from
the county for the time he served in
“I think the county owes him. I
think he should go after the county for
compensation. The county got it wrong,”
Edwards said. “First of all, I never
thought he was guilty from the start.
Personally speaking, I think this whole
thing was a conspiracy against Burrell
Ellis for whatever reason. Witnesses
were supposed to go to the stand but
were never called and in my opinion they
used this one vendor to convict Ellis. I’m
The decision to try Ellis a third time
will fall on the shoulders of DeKalb
County District Attorney-elect Sherry
Boston defeated James in his
reelection attempt.
William Perry said the county should
try Ellis for a third time. Perry, a member
of DeKalb’s Political Action Committee,
said Ellis’ overturned conviction sends
the wrong message for local county
“This sends the message that you’re
allowed to bully people and nothing’s
going to happen,” Perry said. “The ethics
in state law and a lot of local jurisdictions
are already so weak when it comes to
conflict of interests and it’s tough to
make a federal case. Those who want an
ethical system have no legs to stand on.”
Vendors in the future may also feel as
though they have to “pay to play” to get
contracts with the county, Perry said.
“I would like to see [Boston] take
another shot at it,” Perry said. “You’d be
hard-pressed to find anyone who feels
like he’s not guilty.”

this paper

Burrell Ellis recently had his conviction overturned by the Georgia
Supreme Court.


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11/28/16 3:36 PM



DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 • Page 3A

Avondale Estates


The Avondale Estates Woman’s Club will hold its monthly meeting
Dec. 15 at the American Legion Post 66 at noon. This month’s speaker
will be Aaliyah Rucker, a middle school philanthropist. The American
Legion Post 66 is located at 30 Covington Road. For more information,
contact Alana Graves at (404) 291-4170.

Clarkston city officials have agreed to lend the city’s court staffing
and facilities to Tucker on a monthly basis for the purpose of prosecuting
ordinance violations.
On Nov. 29, Clarkston City Council approved an intergovernmental
agreement providing municipal court services to Tucker for $600 per
month. The $600 will finance one court session of up to 15 cases.
Tucker established its municipal court on Nov. 14 and state law
permits holding such a court within county limits.
“Clarkston and Tucker desire to maintain a mutually beneficial,
efficient and cooperative relationship that will promote the interests of
the citizens of both jurisdictions,” reads the agreement.
The agreement’s duration is December 2016 through May 2017.

Avondale Estates Woman’s Club monthly meeting


Police department to host class on human trafficking
The Brookhaven Police Department will host an education session
for those interested in learning about child sex trafficking Dec. 11, 3:45
to 6 p.m. at Brookhaven Christian Church. The event will include a
viewing of the 90-minute documentary “8 Days,” a film inspired by actual
events. The movie will be followed by a panel discussion and case study
assessment by the DeKalb County Assistant District Attorney’s Office.
The church is located at 4500 Peachtree Road. For more information,
contact Greg Chevalier, at or (678) 6127652.


Local theater troupe hosts hour-long entertainment
Onion Man Productions—a nonprofit theater company located in
Chamblee—will host two hour-long, holiday-themed plays until Dec. 18
Thursday through Sunday.
The first play, Arroyo Mortiferro by David Fisher, features a couple
indulging in desires for the first year of retirement.
The second, Lead Role by James Beck, chronicles the depths a
community theater actor goes to play the role of Ebenezer Scrooge.
Onion Man Theatre is located at 5522 New Peachtree Road #111 in
Chamblee. For more information, visit
or call (404) 519-7591.

City signs agreement with Tucker


School district hosts school choice expo
A DeKalb County School District (DCSD) School Choice Expo will be
held at The Gallery at Dunwoody High School, located at 5035 Vermack
Road, on Dec. 17 from noon to 2 p.m.
Representatives from 40 choice programs will present informational
materials, creative displays and answer questions from event
participants. Members of DCSD’s School Choice office will be available
to help with enrolling and navigating the district’s lottery process.
The event also will feature giveaways and other activities for
participating families.
DCSD’s school choice program allows students and families to
apply for magnet programs and specialty campuses such as the DeKalb
School of the Arts. Open enrollment for DCSD school choice will begin
Jan. 11.
For more information, visit

City to host toy drive

Lithonia will hold a Toys for Tots drive until Dec. 19. Toys can be
dropped off at city hall, 6920 Main Street. The toys will be distributed
Dec. 22.


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 • Page 4A

Barnes Sutton: comments from Porter Road community ‘personal and absurd’
by Horace Holloman
DeKalb County
Commissioner Sharon
Barnes Sutton said
comments made by some
residents of the Porter Road
community were “personal
and absurd” after residents
claimed the commissioner
wasn’t responding to their
phone calls and emails.
LDG Development, a
company based in Kentucky,
planned to build an 11acre multi-family apartment
complex in DeKalb County.
The complex, a total of 198
units, is proposed to be built
on the north side of Covington
Highway beginning at the
northwest intersection of
Covington Highway and
Porter Road.
Community members in
the affected area said they
did not want that particular
development in their
community. Commissioners
voted to defer the company’s
zoning application until its
Dec. 13 zoning meeting.
During the Nov. 15 zoning
hearing, Sutton said she was
going to visit the Mt. Pleasant
Baptist Church cemetery
and meet with some area
residents before making
a final decision on LDG
Development’s application.
Sutton said she had not met
with residents as of Dec. 5,
but said she still had time to
meet with residents before the
Dec. 13 meeting.
[LDG Development
representatives] said they
wanted to submit a traffic

study and I’m going to give
them an opportunity to
present the study [before
making a decision],” Sutton
said. “I was very responsive
to them and at the meeting I
told them I represented the
area and I represented the
constituents. I told them not
to get emotional. I just want
them to trust me to be fair.”
Thaddeus Moore, a
Porter Road resident and
descendant of the Porter
family that settled in DeKalb

County, said Sutton had not
responded to his calls or
emails. Moore said Sutton
appeared not to believe him
regarding the history in the
“I would like to see the
cemetery and I want that
[area] preserved. It’s not that
I didn’t believe him,” Sutton
said. “I would really appreciate
if people would not come and
be negative. It doesn’t have to
be a hostile fight.”
Officials with LDG

420-393689 12/8,12/15,12/22,12/29
By virtue of Power of Sale contained in the Deed to Secure Debt
(the “Security Deed”) from Atlanta Complete Home Renovations, LLC
(“Grantor”) to Atlanta Private Lending, LLC (“Grantee”), dated November
25, 2015, recorded in Deed Book 25279, page 745, DeKalb County, Georgia
Records, said Security Deed being given to secure a note of even date
therewith in the original principal amount of Seventy-Five Thousand and
00/100 Dollars ($75,000.00), with interest from the date thereof at the rate
specified therein (the “Note”), together with any and all other indebtedness
owing the Grantor to Grantee, there will be sold by the undersigned at public
outcry to the highest bidder for cash before the Courthouse door at DeKalb
County, Georgia, within the legal hours of sale on the first Tuesday in January,
the following described property:
All that tract or parcel of land lying and being in Land Lot 129 of the 16th
District, DeKalb county, Georgia, being Lot 16, Block D, Timbers East
Subdivision, Unit Two, as per plat recorded in Plat Book 70, Page 126, DeKalb
County, Georgia Records, which plat is hereby referred to and made a part
of this description, being improved property known as 984 Timbervale Lane,
according to the present system of numbering houses in DeKalb County,
The indebtedness secured by the Security Deed has been and is
hereby declared due because of default under the terms of said Note and
Security Deed including but not limited to the nonpayment of principal and
interest in full when due. The indebtedness remaining in default, the sale will
be made for the purpose of applying the proceeds thereof to the payment
of the indebtedness secured by the Security Deed, accrued interest and
expenses for the sale and all other payments provided for under the Security
Deed, attorneys’ fees as provided in the Note and Security Deed, notice of
intention to collect attorneys’ fees having been given as provided by law; and
the remainder, if any, shall be applied as provided by law.
Said property will be sold as the property of Debtor subject to all
unpaid real estate ad valorem taxes and governmental assessments and to
all prior restrictions, rights-of-way, and easements of record, if any, appearing
of record prior to the date of the Security Deed and those appearing after the
date of the Security Deed and consented by the Grantee.
Atlanta Private Lending, LLC
Attorney in Fact for
Atlanta Complete Renovations, LLC
24 Lenox Pointe, NE
Atlanta, GA 30324

Development said they plan
to withdraw their application
without prejudice in the Dec.
13 meeting.
Moore said Sutton
met with a few community
members outside during the
Nov. 15 meeting and told
them she was not making
money off of the deal. Moore
said “a hit dog will holler,”
insinuating that Sutton was
not being honest.
“I’m not a dog and I wasn’t
hollering. I did come out

and try to explain and that’s
all there was to it,” Sutton
said. “I’m leaning toward
doing what’s best [for] that
community. That area needs
better housing and there
needs to be quality housing.
We also need to preserve
history. I think that when I
have the opportunity to look
at everything, my leaning will
always be what’s best for the
See related story page 12A

420-393688 12/8,12/15,12/22,12/29
By virtue of Power of Sale contained in the Deed to Secure Debt
(the “Security Deed”) from Atlanta Complete Home Renovations, LLC
(“Grantor”) to Atlanta Private Lending, LLC (“Grantee”), dated June 25,
2015, recorded in Deed Book 25029, page 779, DeKalb County, Georgia
Records, said Security Deed being given to secure a note of even date
therewith in the original principal amount of Fifty Thousand and 00/100 Dollars
($50,000.00), with interest from the date thereof at the rate specified therein
(the “Note”), together with any and all other indebtedness owing the Grantor to
Grantee, there will be sold by the undersigned at public outcry to the highest
bidder for cash before the Courthouse door at DeKalb County, Georgia, within
the legal hours of sale on the first Tuesday in January, the following described
All that tract or parcel of land lying and being in Land Lot 250, 11th District,
DeKalb county, Georgia, being Lot 145, Block A, Unit One, Amherst Forest, as
per plat recorded in Plat Book 68, Page 43, DeKalb County, Georgia Records,
which plat is hereby referred to and made a part of this description, being
improved property known as 6350 Forester Way, according to the present
system of numbering houses in DeKalb County, Georgia, and being more
particularly shown on plat of survey prepared by Georgia land Surveying Co.,
Inc., dated August 27, 1980.
The indebtedness secured by the Security Deed has been and is
hereby declared due because of default under the terms of said Note and
Security Deed including but not limited to the nonpayment of principal and
interest in full when due. The indebtedness remaining in default, the sale will
be made for the purpose of applying the proceeds thereof to the payment
of the indebtedness secured by the Security Deed, accrued interest and
expenses for the sale and all other payments provided for under the Security
Deed, attorneys’ fees as provided in the Note and Security Deed, notice of
intention to collect attorneys’ fees having been given as provided by law; and
the remainder, if any, shall be applied as provided by law.
Said property will be sold as the property of Debtor subject to all
unpaid real estate ad valorem taxes and governmental assessments and to
all prior restrictions, rights-of-way, and easements of record, if any, appearing
of record prior to the date of the Security Deed and those appearing after the
date of the Security Deed and consented by the Grantee.
Atlanta Private Lending, LLC
Attorney in Fact for
Atlanta Complete Renovations, LLC
24 Lenox Pointe, NE
Atlanta, GA 30324

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 9, 2016


Page 5

Volunteers construct sideline benches for the field.

football Continued From Page 1
[Good Works Day] with [Allstate]
and we’re super excited to be
here today to help build the
youth football field so the rec
center can help program it to engage kids in football and sports.”
Previously, Allstate, Park
Pride and the county did $11,000
of work to the other Gresham
Park location on Bouldercrest
Road, according to Cosby. At the
Gresham Road location, volunteers installed new field poles,
a pavilion plaza and tables;
painted, and removed weeds
and trash.
Cosby said constructing the
football field is an opportunity for

the parks and rec staff to start a
flag football program.
“We’re into getting kids to
learn how to go from the ground
to the gut, keep moving, be active and then come out and do
things like this on a regular basis
in your own neighborhood,” she
The volunteers put up a
fence, did landscaping, built
benches and painted and striped
the whole field.
Shockley, who grew up in
Clayton County, but visited
Gresham Park in his youth football days, said he is happy that
the children will have a foot-

ball field to play on for years to
“It warms my heart,” he said.
“Knowing that you have some
kids that can really benefit from it
is a huge thing for me.
“I remember as a young kid
I use to play in areas like this,”
Shockley added. “I use to come
to Gresham Park, Sandtown
and all the different places to
play. So I know what the area is
about but it’s been a while since
I’ve been here. So it’s good that
we’re coming back and trying to
provide for an area that’s been
down for a little bit.”
This past summer, the Atlanta

Hawks Foundation donated
$48,000 to Gresham Park to
develop an outdoor basketball
court. With the new football
field, basketball court and the
South River walking trail, the
park—which is referred to as
the Gresham Family Athletic
Zone—provides opportunities for
residents of all ages to be more
“Our hope was that [residents]
are encouraged to walk, run, jog
or play,” Cosby said. “Don’t just
be the mom watching your kid at
practice; get your steps in.”

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 9, 2016


Page 6

Confessions of a Democratic Trump voter
My first recollection of politics
was the assassination of President
John F. Kennedy in 1963. I was
in the first grade. It was one of
those rare times when our teacher
brought a television into the
classroom. We watched Kennedy’s
funeral procession together and
later discussed politics and social
issues. For the next several days,
Kennedy’s death was a topic of
conversation in school and at
To my knowledge, my parents
were always Democratic voters,
as were my siblings. I have been
a registered Democrat since my
first voting experience in the late
‘70s. The majority of my friends are
Democrats and many have made
their disdain for my most recent
political preference painfully clear. I
respect their opinions and of course
still consider them friends.
Social and humanitarian issues
are extremely important to me. I
believe in, and have always been a
vocal supporter of equal rights for
all people with no regard to race,
nationality, religious beliefs, sexual
orientation or any other difference.

John Hewitt

I support immigration of all
people—refugees included—and
have a deep appreciation for the
contributions that global cultures
have made to our nation. I do,
however, believe immigration
should be done legally and that
background checks are imperative
for those wishing to relocate to the
United States. Background checks
for anyone interested in relocating
to our county are no more intrusive
than background checks that many
are required to submit to for job
I want our nation to be socially
progressive and open to all who
want to experience life as we know
I believe that energy
independence is extremely

important for our country and am
not opposed to pipelines as long
as they do not cross areas whose
owners do not want them.
I strongly support the efforts of
Native Americans in attempting to
stop the pipelines from dissecting
their native lands. I am an
environmentalist but believe that a
lessened dependence on foreign
fuels is more important than what
I believe to be a minimal risk to
our environment by fossil fuel
I also believe that all who know
the joy of love should have the
opportunity to marry whomever
they want and be legally able to
name anyone they choose to be the
beneficiary of their pensions and
insurance benefits.
For the first time in my life, I
voted for a Republican presidential
candidate when I selected the
name of Donald Trump for
Our entire political structure
has become so deeply mired in
corruption that there is a desperate
need of a complete makeover from
top to bottom.

Hillary Clinton, in my opinion,
is a most extreme example of a
career politician who has made a
profitable career of deal-making
and policies that are based more on
personal gain or favorable influence
for campaign donors than to benefit
the people of our nation.
My vote for Trump was in
support of limited campaign
contributions, safeguarding our
borders and becoming a more
independent nation. It was an
attempt to have a person at the top
who hopefully will begin to put an
end to hundreds of years of political
My vote was not as much for
Trump as it was against Clinton.
I voted against the status quo. I
voted against politics as usual. I
voted against having lobbyists in
the administration. I voted against a
career politician.
I voted for the hope of term
limits. I voted for the hope that
positive change may actually begin
to give those in Washington a loud
and clear message that the people
are fed up with politics as usual.


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 9, 2016

Page 7

Please sir...put the phone down
“Just tried watching Saturday Night Live - unwatchable! 
Totally biased, not funny and the
Baldwin impersonation just can’t
get any worse. Sad.” as Tweeted by President-elect Donald
Trump at 12:13 a.m., December
4, 2016. 
Surreal, though I’m guessing the president-elect watched
the unwatchable. SNL’s live
opening sketch was a nineminute lampoon of Mr. Trump
and his Tweeting addiction. So,
Trump tweets a critical response roughly a half-hour
later from his Samsung Galaxy
phone. Campaign watchers have
long since noted that staff and
surrogate Tweets are issued
from a series of i-Phones. 
At a similar stage in 2008,
it was reported that it was difficult commandeering a Blackberry away from President-elect
Barack Obama. The intimacy
and immediacy of both platforms
and mediums can be quite addictive. I have been a “Crackberry” owner/operator since 1999,
originally introduced by RIM as
interactive pagers.  But Obama’s
texts were typically private, responding to a family member, a
colleague or donor, in real time
and direct from the POTUS-tobe. Obama also came to quickly
understand that the job and
position are larger than any one
occupant. The ramifications and

‘One Man’s
Bill Crane

reverberations of ill-chosen comments or non-vetted foreign policy moves by a sitting president
have been known to start wars.
Trump is considering the start
of a trade war via Twitter, announcing that U.S. employers
who export jobs will be greeted
by a 35 precent tariff when their
manufactured good return stateside. 
I am myself a pretty active
user of social media. I’m a regular on Facebook, Linked-In and
YouTube, but I choose not to
Tweet. I am by nature a smart
ass. It has taken me decades
to master holding thoughts inside my head rather than
quickly blurting out whatever
sarcastic response pops into my
mind. Damaged relationships
with two younger sisters and
an ex-wife are proof that in my
younger days I was not quite
able to stay ahead of this.
Trump’s audience of 34 million Twitter followers may be
huge, but the debate is shallow, if at all, and even in the
re-Tweeting, he seems to find
more value in this direct distribution than the details of the actual

content being conveyed.
 But the realities of our
global economy are also here
to stay. Just such as with social
media, we cannot put that genie
back in the bottle. Kia Automotive, a South Korean-based
manufacturer, just completed
its 2’millionth Sorrento, rolling
off the manufacturing line in LaGrange. Forty percent of Kias
manufacturing is done outside
of its homeland. Kia is winning
awards from auto trade publications and consumer groups
as well as rapidly climbing the
sales charts. Is a foreign-owned
company product, manufactured
here in the good ol US of A, by
Americans on the shop floor, still
a foreign car? In Georgia there
are now 15,000 employed directly and indirectly by suppliers
around the Kia compound which
spans two interstate exits off of
I-85 south.
 Further south, and on the
coast, one of the state’s largest
economic engines is the Port of
Savannah. The nearby Port of
Brunswick primarily is an import
point for other foreign automobiles (largest by volume on the
East Coast). These two ports
again impact direct and indirect
employment in the region by
70,000 jobs. They are the only
two ports on the East Coast with
direct rail access and now direct
interstate connections. Billions
have been invested in this infra-

structure, and another billion is
currently being spent to deepen
the shipping channel coming into
the Port of Savannah from the
sea, to allow for Panamax ships
to use the port.
 The realities will remain, regardless of who occupies the
White House, that the costs of
labor, along with tax rates and
inducements/incentives all remain major factors in the locations of facilities and jobs. Economic development, foreign policy and statecraft are not bumper
sticker mediums. They require
thought, compromise, negotiations and often multi-layered
policies. They are not particularly
conducive to Tweeting. 
We want you to succeed Mr.
Trump. Now that you are on your
way to being sworn in, more
and more are hoping that you
can actually help make America
great again. So please sir, before the morning of Jan. 20,
2017, put down the phone.
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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discussion surrounding this and any
issue of interest to DeKalb County.
The Champion was founded in 1991
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ultimately move our community
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ideas for discussion; however,
we make every effort to avoid
printing information submitted to
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assumptions penned as fact.


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 • Page 8A

Clarkston approves 44 percent budget increase
by R. Scott Belzer
Clarkston City Council approved
the city’s 2017 annual budget
of $8,377,606 on Dec. 6—a 44
percent increase from its 2016
budget of $5,836,510.
Clarkston’s combined general
fund—estimated at $7,673,107—
includes administration costs ($1
million), planning and development
($319,000), public safety costs
($2 million), municipal court costs
($614,000), public works costs ($1
million), debt services ($365,000)
and capital projects ($2.2 million).
Other finances from Clarkston’s
grant fund, HOST fund, enterprise
fund, federal seizure fund and
city seizure fund account for the
remaining $600,000.
One of the city’s largest
expenses will be the Friendship
Forest Master Plan estimated to
cost $1.35 million. The project will
redevelop the Friendship Forest
Wildlife Sanctuary with a new
parking lot, signage, water fountain
and entrance area as well as
redeveloped pathways.
The master plan was completed
in 2016 with community input and
is set to be implemented in the
first quarter of 2017, according
to Clarkston City Manager Keith
Barker. Barker said the project
also will be eligible for financing
for being part of the city’s Urban
Redevelopment Plan.
“The redevelopment plan is
pretty much our master plan,”
Barker said. “That provides the

Friendship Forest Wildlife Sanctuary is a major component of Clarkston’s approved
$8.3 million budget approved Dec. 6. Photo courtesy of city of Clarkston.

structure by which the financing
can run through. In the budget,
what we are contemplating is
that the financing will be for eight
years. This means that $186,000
annually will be budgeted annually,
beginning in 2017.”
Barker said he hopes to take
advantage of the areas’ trees
having sparse foliage during the
winter months. He said the project
possibly could be completed within
the 2017 fiscal year. He also said
the project has been discussed in
Clarkston for several years.
In the city’s administration
costs, Clarkston saw a slight
decrease in its cost of health
insurance ($374,000 to $373,000)
but a 97 percent increase in its
retirement costs. According to the
approved budget, the city will pay

$398,000 in 2017 in comparison to
$202,000 in 2016.
According to the budget,
Clarkston will offer 24 full-time
police department positions in
2017. The city will also reclassify
one position to create a training
and certification officer position and
freeze two police officer vacancies.
Clarkston also plans to lease
three new 2017 Dodge Chargers
and 18 new body cameras. All
items will be acquired on a fiveyear, 2.77 percent interest loan
estimated to cost $94,000 and
$106,100 total, respectively.
Clarkston again budgeted five
full-time positions at its municipal
court, to include a records manager,
one deputy clerk of court and three
court clerks.
In the Public Works Department,

Clarkston budgeted for one new
part-time park attendant position,
increasing the department’s staffing
from eight workers to nine. The city
also plans to lease two new Ford
F-150 trucks.
Clarkston estimates
expenditures of $8,600 for
lawnmower repairs, $6,000 for a
modular building (portable) at Milam
Park, $21,000 for a replacement
HVAC system at Clarkston City
Hall, and $15,000 for new wiring at
Milam Park. An amount of $31,320
will be budgeted for maintenance
and upkeep of property and
$45,000 will be budgeted for pool
management and operations.
In 2017, Clarkston plans to
complete Phase II and Phase III
of the city’s sidewalk improvement
plan, which will stretch from East
Ponce de Leon Avenue to West
Smith Street and Cobble Mill Road
as well as from East Ponce de
Leon Avenue to Market Street and
Montreal Road. The project’s total
cost is estimated at $153,579.
According to the budget,
Clarkston anticipates the majority
of its revenue in 2017 from
annexation. According to city
officials, annexation brings new
funding in the form of business
or occupational taxes, alcoholic
beverage excise taxes and a
generally broadened tax base.
For more information on
Clarkston’s 2017 annual budget,

East Metro DeKalb CID hires first executive director
by Carla Parker
The East Metro DeKalb Community
Improvement District (CID) has selected
Christopher Sanders of Stone Mountain as its
first executive director.
According to the CID, Sanders will oversee
the daily operations of the organization.
Previously, Sanders served as an assistant
director of the Georgia Department of Revenue
where he managed hundreds of employees and
multi-million-dollar budgets.
“This is a unique opportunity to work directly
with corporate and community leaders to
produce real positive results,” Sanders said in a
released statement. “I am ready to immediately
help the CID increase public safety, improve curb
appeal and make this a much more attractive
location for businesses to find success.”
During his five-year tenure at the Georgia
Department of Revenue, Sanders held multiple
positions, including serving as the legislative
liaison for taxpayer services to the Georgia
General Assembly. Sanders also spent eight
years at Georgia Pacific as manager of business
information and solutions.
CID Board Chairman Frederick Daniels Jr.
said Sanders brings insights from his time in the

Christopher Sanders was selected to be the East
Metro DeKalb Community Improvement District’s first
executive director.

private sector and with a state agency to the CID.
“As a board, we believe that Christopher
Sanders is the best choice to connect our
CID with stakeholders and other communities
of interest,” Daniels Jr. said in a released

statement. “He has strong experience in
government-related administration, and we
expect him to thrive as our executive director.”
According to the CID, Sanders has engaged
property owners, partners, and stakeholders in
the district as part of the technical assistance
panel’s effort coordinated with the Urban Land
Institute-Atlanta. The panel brought together
commercial real estate experts to devise
innovative methods to spark investment and
economic redevelopment throughout the Wesley
Chapel - Panola Road corridor, according to the
The East Metro CID, located in the
southeastern area of DeKalb, formed in
May 2014 after the DeKalb County Board of
Commissioners passed a resolution to create
the CID. It covers the Gresham Park area on
the west of the county, Candler Road, parts of
Memorial Drive, and peaks north at Covington
Highway, goes south to Flat Shoals Parkway and
east to Turner Hill.
The CID served as an economic
development tool to implement major
improvements including, infrastructure, public
safety and beautification enhancements in
an effort to increase property values, revive
business and enhance the quality of life of the


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 • Page 9A

Lakeside High performs in Hawaii
by R. Scott Belzer
Lakeside High School’s
band, chorus and color
guard recently returned
from Honolulu, Hawaii,
where they participated in
commemorating the 75th
anniversary of the Pearl
Harbor attacks.
More than 85 Lakeside
High School students took
part in a wreath-laying
ceremony, a tribute concert
at U.S.S. Arizona Memorial
and U.S.S. Missouri
Memorial as well as a onemile parade along Kalakaua
Avenue on Waikiki Beach.
The Nov. 25 event was
the 18th time the Waikiki
Holiday Parade has taken
place since its creation in
1998. Music students from
throughout the country are
invited to the Hawaiian
islands to commemorate
Pearl Harbor fallen soldiers
and survivors, learn more
about United States history
as well as Polynesian
culture, according to event

Lakeside High School band and chorus at Pearl Harbor Memorial. Photo by Michael Cobb.

“This trip was a oncein-a-lifetime experience for
many of these students,”
said David Fairchild,
music director at Lakeside.
“Not only did they learn
about what happened at
Pearl Harbor 75 years ago
and how it influenced the
outcome of World War II, but
they had the opportunity to
join other school marching
bands from across the
country, Hawaiian bands,

military units, local officials
and dignitaries to honor the
fallen and pay tribute to past
and present service men
and women.”
Lakeside High School
was selected to represent
the U.S.S. New Orleans
with a banner and Big Easyinspired orchestral pieces.
Fairchild said the band
played “When the Saints Go
Marching In” and “Basin City
Blues” to honor the sunken
ship and the city it was

named after.
This is the second time
Lakeside High School has
participated in the event,
according to Fairchild.
He said Lakeside music
students marched in the
parade in 2013 and has
planned the 2016 trip since
Lakeside High School is
the only Atlanta area school
invited to participate in the
The trip cost Lakeside

High’s band approximately
$259,400 or $2,600 per
person, Fairchild said. He
expects to attend the event
again in 2019 or 2020 by
selling cheesecakes, baked
goods and fruit to the school
community in the interim.
Fairchild said he hopes
to make the trip a four-year
tradition as an incentive to
students who stick with the
music program their entire
high school career.

Apply to have your felony arrests cleared from your record!

Saturday, December 10, 2016, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.
DeKalb County Courthouse, 556 N. McDonough Street, Decatur, GA
1. Only Arrests by DeKalb
County Police Department or
DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office
2. Felony Arrests Only


Driver’s License or state ID
Certified copy of Case Disposition (available from the Clerk of Superior Court)
For more information, call 404-371-2770 or e-mail


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 • Page 10A

Tucker addresses public safety questions
by Carla Parker
When Tucker
incorporated earlier this
year, it was decided that
DeKalb County would
continue to provide public
safety services.
Instead of the city
establishing its own police
force, the DeKalb County
Police Department will
continue to provide services
to Tucker residents. On its
website, the city addressed
this decision as well as
other top public safety
“When the city was
incorporated, leadership
decided it would be in
the best interest of public
safety to continue on with
DeKalb County Police. With
established infrastructure
and more than 700 officers
on the force, DeKalb Police
are well-suited to respond
quickly to any emergency—
large scale or small—in the
city of Tucker.
Below are more
questions the city
Q: Does Tucker have
any representation on the
DeKalb Police force?
A: “In addition to
housing the Tucker and
North Central Police
precincts, Tucker has its
own dedicated officer on
the force. Lt. R.S. Smith
has 18 years of service with
the DeKalb County Police
Department. As the liaison
officer for the city of Tucker,
you will see Lt. Smith at
most city meetings and
events. He is also tasked
with briefing the mayor and
city council on efforts to
increase public safety within
the city of Tucker.”

precincts and agencies for
additional enforcement,
approving officers to
work overtime specials
throughout the precinct,
utilizing unmarked vehicles
and officers to locate and
apprehend criminals in the
act, as well as other similar
Specifically with

business burglaries, police
have increased business
patrols during the overnight
hours and have been using
detectives and crime scene
to respond when available
and when circumstances at
the scene permit.”
Q: Is there anything the
public can do to help reduce
crime in the city of Tucker?

A: “Yes! If you see
suspicious activity in your
community, report it to the
police. Consider organizing
a neighborhood watch.
Additionally, remember to
lock your cars. Thieves are
on the lookout—in shopping
centers, at the gas pump
and in neighborhoods—
for cars that can be easy
targets for break-ins.

Give a gift that keeps
on giving!

52 weeks
of the best
local news
coverage for


Call 404.373.7779 X 0 for details

Q: Property crimes—
particularly business
burglaries—seem to be
increasing across the
metro Atlanta area. What is
DeKalb Police Department
doing to crack down on
these types of crimes?
A: “During the holiday
season, Tucker Precinct
has initiated its holiday plan.
This will include conducting
enforcement specials in
targeted hot spot areas,
working with surrounding

Especially around the
holiday season, if you
leave purses, cell phones,
shopping bags or anything
else that may be of value
in plain view inside your
car, you’re leaving yourself
open to crime. Take those
extra few seconds to hide
valuables in the trunk and
lock up your car before you



Cedar Grove High School football players Korey Hernandez, left, Tre Shaw
and Jelani Woods graduated early and will enroll at their perspective
colleges. Photo from DeKalb County School District’s Instagram page

DeKalb Chamber of Commerce member Lisa Poulton teams with a Salvation
Army representative for Project Angel Tree Dec. 2. Photo courtesy of DeKalb
Chamber of Commerce.

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 • Page 11A

A Dunwoody driver’s error landed one car in an inoperable position on Dec. 3, resulting in
the need for police assistance. Photo courtesy of Dunwoody Police Department.

Clarkston Police officers were thanked by a resident who was severely beaten and
found outside his house on Dec. 2. Police work led to a suspect wanted in Georgia and
Florida. Photo courtesy of Clarkston Police Department.

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, Dec. 9, 2016 • Page 12A

Development company plans to withdraw application after community pushback
by Horace Holloman
A representative
of a Kentucky-based
development company
said the company will be
withdrawing a rezoning
application at a Dec. 13
DeKalb County board of
commissioners zoning
An official with LDG
Development, a multifamily housing development
company that specializes
in affordable housing, said
the company will pull its
application to build a 198unit, affordable housing
complex designed for the
Porter Road and Covington
Highway area.
After community
members near the area
protested the building of
the complex, Christopher
Byrd, an LDG Development
coordinator, said the
company will “withdraw
its application without
In DeKalb County, board
of commissioners can allow
property owners to withdraw
an application without
prejudice when they see
that their zoning application
has little chance of being
approved. If a rezoning
application is denied, the
owners may not reapply to
change the zoning for two
years, according to a county

“We had a group of
very vocal residents who
were just against affordable
housing,” Byrd said. “When
you’re doing this kind of
thing you hear the same five
arguments. It doesn’t matter
where you’re at.”
Byrd said LDG
Development is not ruling
out DeKalb County as a
potential site for future
affordable housing.
According to Byrd, DeKalb
County still has a need for
affordable housing in the
“We would love to stay
in this area because we
know the need. We’ve
been here for six months
and we know the need
and the market. We’re not
discouraged,” Byrd said.
“Of course, we wanted to
preserve the history of the
Many residents near
Porter Road were against
the potential development.
According to a petition
created by Kate Teague,
a resident of the area, the
development would have a
negative impact on home
prices in the area, increase
crime and overburden the
sewer system.
Residents also wanted
to preserve the area’s
history. Residents trying
to preserve Porter Road’s
historic sites said the

extra foot traffic from an
apartment complex could
potentially harm some of the
sites, specifically the Porter
family cemetery, behind
which some descendants
still live. Along Porter Road
also sits Mount Pleasant
Baptist Church, which
was recognized as one
of the oldest known Black
congregations in DeKalb
Nwandi Lawson, a
DeKalb County resident
who lives near the Porter
Road area, said the
potential withdrawal is a
“short-term victory for the
“I think this is a
wonderful example of
community unity,” Lawson
said. “In September we
found out about it and we
quickly formed together.
The voters did a great
job of paying attention to
how elected officials were
Residents against the
proposed complex still plan
on attending the Dec. 13
meeting, said Kevin Polite,
a DeKalb County real estate
agent. Polite said a largescale affordable housing
unit would “not work” in the
Porter Road and Covington
Highway area.
“I think the county
should look at what Atlanta
is doing. They have a 10
to 20 percent portion [of an

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area] as affordable housing
instead of large units of
affordable housing. It’s
better when it’s integrated,”
Polite said. “They look
like any other [complex],
integrated to the rest of
society. They are well-run
and you have a mixture of
incomes in there. My hope
is that DeKalb County looks
at doing something like
Byrd said the proposed
housing unit would have
been a large investment by
the company. He said LDG
doesn’t build low-quality
affordable developments.
“We’re trying to make
the distinction between

developments and what we
do, which is make 30-year,
$30 million investments,”
Byrd said. “The people we
service are not people that
make $100,000. Right now
they’re making between
$26,000-40,000 a year
and there’s just not quality
housing [in the area]. The
most insulting idea we
heard is that everything is
affordable in this area. The
question is, would you let
your grandmother live in
that housing, or do you want
quality housing?”
See related story on page 4A


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 • Page 13A

Clarkston appoints Moore
as interim vice mayor
by R. Scott Belzer

Time running out on
water billing moratorium
by Horace Holloman
A moratorium on water
disconnections in DeKalb County is
close to ending and area residents say
they’re concerned.
The moratorium, issued by interim
DeKalb County CEO Lee May, will last
until Dec. 31. In a town hall meeting
organized by May, he said the decision
to extend the moratorium beyond this
year will be up to the commissioners
and newly elected CEO Michael
Some residents said they have
been unable to reach Thurmond,
who is scheduled to take office at the
beginning of 2017.
“Michael Thurmond should meet
with us. We have reached out to
him repeatedly. He needs to meet
with us so we can discuss extending
this [moratorium] and I think it’s
unacceptable that he hasn’t reached
out to us,” said Ellen Buettner, a
DeKalb County realtor and resident.
In the General Election Nov. 8,
Thurmond defeated Jack Lovelace
with more than 80 percent of the vote.
After the victory, Thurmond said
“we’re going to have a more efficient
and effective government that builds
and restores trust.”
However, Buettner said the county
government has been anything but
efficient so far as it relates to solving
water billing issues.
Buettner said the county is solving
water billing issues on a case-bycase basis and should address the
“systemic issue.”
“This is an ongoing problem,”
Buettner said. “The system is broken
and the people who are in there now
either don’t know how to fix it or don’t
have the desire to fix it.”
Buettner said the county was able
to resolve her billing issues after she
entered the dispute process in June.
She said by mid-November her billing
issues were resolved.

“I feel very lucky that my resolution
came quicker than most people,” she
said. “But I will not stop fighting until
my neighbors and other residents can
get a bill and feel confident that it’s
Thurmond did not return calls from
The Champion requesting an interview.
A county official said the current
administration has recommended
CEO-elect Thurmond extend the
As of Dec. 1, 3,960 total accounts
are in dispute and 925 of those
accounts have been closed.
Star McKenzie, creator of the
Facebook group Unbelievable DeKalb
Water Bills, said Thurmond’s wife
responded to a message from her
saying that Thurmond would not be
available to meet with members of the
group until February 2017.
McKenzie said she is
understanding of Thurmond’s busy
schedule, but hopes he takes
extending the water billing moratorium
“My chief concern is that the water
disconnect moratorium put in place
by Lee May ends on Dec 31. It would
relieve a lot of stress for many DeKalb
residents heading into the holidays
to know that the moratorium will be
extended when Michael [Thurmond]
takes office,” McKenzie wrote in a
message to Thurmond’s wife.
McKenzie met with watershed
department and county officials Dec.
6. She said the meeting was meant to
address the problems with water billing
issues and what could be done in the
“Right now, as much as I want to
be optimistic, I have a feeling they want
to address these issues one by one
and hope that we’re going to go away,”
McKenzie said. “Right now, from what
they’ve shown me, they’re not headed
in the right direction. The [moratorium
deadline] is rapidly approaching and
we haven’t seen any progress.”

Clarkston City Council
nominated councilman Dean
Moore as interim vice mayor on
Nov. 29 following a two-month
long vacancy of the position.
The nomination occurred
without the presence of Mayor
Ted Terry during a specialcalled meeting.
Councilman Ahmed
Hassan nominated Moore to
temporarily fill the position for
the remainder of 2016. No other
nominations were made.
The position of vice mayor,
also known as mayor pro
tem, was vacated by former
Clarkston councilman Robert
Hogan on Oct. 4. Hogan
vacated his position after
moving outside of city limits.
The council approved
Moore’s appointment 3-0 with
councilmen Beverly Burks
and Awet Eyasu abstaining. A
special election for Hogan’s city
council seat will take place in
March 2017.
Moore—a Clarkston
resident for 15 years—has
served on the city council since
2010. He has also served on
Clarkston’s planning and zoning
Vice mayors perform the
duties of the mayor in the
absence of the actual mayor
by death, resignation, disability,
resignation or impeachment.
A vice mayor will preside over

Councilman Dean Moore, who has
served on Clarkston City Council
since 2010, was nominated Nov. 29
as Clarkston’s interim vice mayor.
Photo by R. Scott Belzer

the city council when the mayor
is not available to do so, vote
only to break a tie, and in some
cases, serve as a city’s chief
operating officer.
Clarkston did not officially
declare Hogan’s seat vacant
until Nov. 1 following opposition
from Moore.
Moore said he opposed
hosting a special election for
Hogan’s seat and did not favor
making decisions with two
councilmembers—Burks and
“There [are] a lot of different
precedents here,” Moore said
Oct. 4. “I’m against the idea
that we’re being moved forward
into a special election in an
election year that’s a waste of
taxpayers’ money. This is not
a crisis of the city to replace
[Hogan] in March.”


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 • Page 14A

Northlake area to see development boom in 2017
by Kathy Mitchell
In the 1970s, the
Northlake area saw a
commercial boost with the
opening of Northlake Mall
and an office complex on
Northlake Parkway. Now,
due in part to the efforts
of the Tucker-Northlake
Community Improvement
District (CID) revitalization
again is under way.
“The mall has not yet
released the specifics about
what will be happening
there, but we know there
are development plans and
we’re very excited,” said
Ann Rosenthal, president
of the Tucker-Northlake
Through CIDs, private
commercial property
owners within designated
boundaries vote to form an
alliance and agree to selftax and use the funds raised
for improvements within
the district. The TuckerNorthlake CID currently
includes 212 property
owners representing
more than $127 million in
assessed value.
Rosenthal said the
first major retail center to
be undertaken since the
CID was established in
2013, Tucker Meridian, is
in progress and stores are
scheduled to begin opening
in May or June 2017.

Tucker Meridian replaces
the cream-colored complex
of hundreds of offices on
Northlake Parkway that
stood just north of Lavista
Road for approximately 40
“Our goal is to be a
destination shopping area.
We want people from
across the metro area to
come here because of the
quality shopping and dining
opportunities,” Rosenthal
The office complex had
gone into decline before it
was demolished, Rosenthal
acknowledged. “A lot of the
units were not occupied.
The place was showing its
age. People today want to
be in offices that are bright,
shiny and new. It had been
primarily a medical complex
and doctors wanted their
patients to be able to come
to a place that looks sleek
and modern.” CID and
government officials broke
ground on Tucker Meridian
Oct. 5.
The 22-acre
development will include
such retailers as Hobby
Lobby, Sprouts Farmers
Market and DICK’s Sporting
Goods and dining options
such as Einstein Bagels,
Caribou Coffee, Jimmy
John’s and Newk’s Eatery.
There also are plans
for the office-retail strip

across from Meridian,
Rosenthal said. “A lot of
new multifamily housing has
gone up in the Northlake
area in recent years and
more is to be built there.
I believe the Old Hickory
House restaurant that’s
been there a long time is
going to remain but a lot of
what is now retail and office
area will be replaced with
multi-family housing.”
Rosenthal said that in
addition to new retail and
residential developments,
the Northlake area is
slated to have new
sidewalks, street lights and
streetscapes under the CID
master plan. “These are the
things people told us they
wanted.” The CID lists as its
project priorities improved
streetscapes, better traffic
signalization, additional
landscaping and street
cleaning as part of a larger
comprehensive master plan
for future enhancements.
Rosenthal, a Tucker
resident, was instrumental
in the formation of the
Tucker Northlake CID and
its expansion to include the
Northlake area.
Nicole Hall, principal
and owner of Nickel
Works Consulting, a
company working with
Tucker Northlake CID, said
inclusion of the Northlake
area greatly enhances

the CID’s worth. “These
properties represent
more than $200 million
in assessed value, which
would add more than
$600,000 to the CID’s
revenue every year.”
In a released
statement on Nickel Works’
involvement, Hall said.
“We’re going to do our best
to secure support from
as many of the owners
as possible. The more
properties that join the CID,
the larger the dollar value
the CID can leverage to

fund improvements within
the district.”
Rosenthal said
revitalization of the
Northlake area originally
had been slated for the first
decade of the 21st century.
“After the economy went
into a slump in 2008, it just
wasn’t possible to do what
the developers had in mind.
Now that the economy has
improved, we’re going to
see some exciting things
happening in this area,” she



DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 • Page 15A



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DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 • Page 16A

Museum School of Avondale Estates Principal Katherine Kelbaugh accepted the Governor’s
Award for Arts and Humanities on behalf of the school on Oct. 1. The award is the first of
two received in as many months. Photo submitted.

Museum School of Avondale Estates received two awards in as many months
from the governor’s office and the Georgia Association of Secondary Schools
Principals. Photo submitted.

Museum School of Avondale wins two awards in two months
Awards justify charter renewal, continued success
by R. Scott Belzer
The Museum School of
Avondale Estates has been lauded
by the Georgia Association of
Secondary School Principals
(GASSP) and Gov. Nathan Deal.
On Nov. 29, GASSP announced
Museum School of Avondale
Estates its 2016 Breakout School
for achieving in the association’s
criteria of collaborative
leadership, personalization as
well as curriculum, instruction and
“We are honored to receive this
special recognition,” said Museum
School Principal Katherine
Kelbaugh. “I applaud our middle
school students, their teachers
and our partners for their great
work in achieving such a high
level of academic excellence.
This recognition is further proof
that our innovative museumbased educational model, which
promotes discovery and handson exploration, continues to drive
student performance.”
To be considered for the award,
Museum School administrators
were required to submit a

school narrative and data that
demonstrates how it promotes
GASSP’s criteria on a daily basis.
“The Breakout Schools Award
is designed to identify, recognize
and showcase Georgia middle
schools that are high achieving
or dramatically improving student
achievement,” GASSP stated.
Museum School was honored
with the award in Savannah on
Oct. 31. In addition to statewide
recognition, Museum School of
Avondale Estates also received
In early October, Museum
School was presented with the
Governor’s Award for Arts and
Humanities by Deal at an award
ceremony in Atlanta.
Museum School was nominated
by a selection committee within
DeKalb County before ultimately
being selected by Deal.
Consultant Carol McCullough
nominated Museum School for the
award, stating “Museum School
has built a reputation for academic
excellence and innovation and
proudly shares its proven education
model with other public schools
across the [country].”


“Museum School stands at the
forefront of an education movement
that exemplifies the best of a robust
curriculum empowered by arts and
humanities centered practices that
prepare DeKalb County students
for academic success and success
throughout their lives,” McCullough
Kelbaugh again credited the
award to Museum School’s “unique”
educational model that encourages
innovative solutions.
Awards granted to Museum
School seem to justify the renewal
of its charter on Nov. 7 at DeKalb
County School District’s monthly
board meeting.
Board member Vicki Turner
said Museum School is doing a
wonderful job in educating students.
“The students are engaged,”
Turner said. “We [should] replicate
this—because all children deserve
it, not just one school in one part
of the county. It is engaging; it is
exciting as a parent, teacher and
principal standpoint. It should
be occurring in every part of our
“Museum School is doing a
great job,” said board vice chairman
Michael Irwin. “I thoroughly enjoy

walking through the school and
seeing the active learning going
Kelbaugh addressed the board
to tout more of Museum School of
Avondale Estates’ successes.
“Our students represent a
wide variety of ability levels,
backgrounds, lifestyles and
interests—we embrace this
diversity,” Kelbaugh said. “Our
students are some of the topperforming students in the state.
Students consistently outperform
students at the state level.”
Andy Huff, chair of the board
of directors at Museum School, was
also present at the Nov. 7 meeting
to praise the school before the
“We’re excited to report our
success and anxious to show our
progress,” Huff said. “We’ve met
and exceeded every academic goal
that’s required. At Museum School,
our teachers, students, staff and
administrators are truly passionate
about the success of the school.
The passion is contagious.”
For more information
about Museum School of
Avondale Estates, visit www.



DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 • Page 17A

Opinions differ on E-SPLOST project approval
by R. Scott Belzer

Following months of discussion, DeKalb
County School District (DCSD) approved its list
of capital projects funded by a 1-percent DeKalb
County sales tax on Dec. 5 during a monthly
board of education meeting.
Though the list has been approved, opinions
vary as to which schools need the approximate
$500 million in funding.
DCSD board of education member
Stan Jester wrote eight blog posts on Nov.
25 (“Doraville Keeps Losing E-SPLOST V
Projects”), Nov. 26 (“Doraville—Where SPLOST
Projects Go to Die”), Nov. 28 (“Hispanic and
English Learner Graduation Rates”), Nov. 29
(“Dunwoody HS—Overburdened Common
Spaces”), Nov. 30 (“Dunwoody—Not a Fan of
the SPLOST Project List”) Dec. 2 (“Multiple
Schools Now Requesting Defer on E-SPLOST
Vote”), Dec. 3 (“Online [E-SPLOST] Survey Vote
Was Fiction”) and Dec. 5 (“Defer The Vote –
General Public Consensus”) on how E-SPLOST
V—which received 71 percent voter approval
in May—may not favor the northern part of the
Jester was the only board member to vote
against the proposed list.
The majority of the blogposts state Doraville
has been deceived in the formation of the list
and suggest the DeKalb County city should have
its own high school cluster in addition to new
elementary schools.
“I’m beginning to wonder if Doraville, the
only city without a high school, is actually where
SPLOST projects go to die,” Jester wrote.
“DeKalb Schools seems to well understand
exactly what the city of Doraville will quietly
submit to.”
Doraville elementary school Cary Reynolds
is slated for $5 million in roof, HVAC (air
conditioning), site improvements and utilities
with E-SPLOST V funds, but Jester said, “this
won’t begin to address inadequacies at the
Jester’s other two blog posts list additional
facilities being completed at Dunwoody,
Lakeside, and Chamblee high schools.
“If common spaces are not addressed,
Dunwoody, Lakeside and Chamblee
communities will end up with more seats but
little in the way in common space improvements
for the students they already have, let alone the
additional seats,” Jester said.
Jester’s fifth post chronicled opinions
from Dunwoody residents Alice White, Rick
Callihan, Linda Bannister and Dunwoody Crier
reporter Dick Williams, who voiced opposition
to the plan.
Parent Councils United President Allyson
Gevertz also penned an op-ed on Nov. 30

Parent Councils United President Allyson Gevertz has
supported E-SPLOST since its vote in May because of
Superintendent Stephen Green’s transparency. Photo by
R. Scott Belzer.

Board of education member Stan Jester has opposed
the E-SPLOST V project list vocally and online via his
blog since it was unveiled in November. Photo by Travis

detailing why parents, teachers and other
educators should support the approved
E-SPLOST list.
“School children and school buildings [have
been] waiting for the bell to ring to start capital
improvements in DCSD,” Gevertz said. “A list
of specific improvement projects [has been
awaiting] approval by the BOE. There are six
reasons the BOE should endorse this list, [which
has been] devised by [Superintendent] Stephen
Green and his leadership team.”
According to Gevertz, the six reasons are
that Green has earned the trust of the public; the
list addresses needs, not wants; the project list
is based on superior data and unprecedented
community input; the list is not set in stone; this
is a separate issue from redistricting; and that
2022 projections (mentioned in the E-SPLOST
list) can be affected by citizens.
“DeKalb voters overwhelmingly approved
the sales tax without a detailed project list
in advance,” Gevertz said. “Green shared
spending categories before the vote, but asked
for more time, data and community input before
listing specific projects. Voters witnessed
DeKalb’s new superintendent demonstrate an
unprecedented level of transparency, as well as
a straightforward style and unequivocal desire to
put student needs first.”
According to Gevertz, E-SPLOST V

addresses the needs of the county wholly by
seeking to alleviate overcrowding in Region
1 (Dunwoody, Chamblee, Doraville and
unincorporated DeKalb). She said the list has
been formulating since summer 2015 and that
public meetings have been held since October
“In total, district staff spent at least 18
months studying capacity, student population
projections, facility assessments, feedback
from 20-plus public meetings, school council
letters, steering committee input, community
survey results and ideals from dozens of parent
groups,” Gevertz said. “The school district has
enough information to create a project list based
on real needs. If needs change, Green can ask
the BOE to vote on project list adjustments.”
Gevertz said E-SPLSOT’s $500 million will
not come close to meeting the needs of every
student in every region but remains a good
example of administrative transparency.
“Every school in DeKalb County needs
capital improvements (playgrounds, kitchen
equipment, HVAC, technology, etc.),” Gevertz
said. “Though E-SPLOST V funding won’t
address every need, the district developed the
project list in a transparent, systematic, objective
way. Stakeholders clearly understand how and
why certain projects are priorities.”


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 • Page 18A

Columbia, Lithonia victorious at Wheeler Hoops Classic
by Carla Parker
The Columbia Eagles and
Lithonia Bulldogs picked up wins at
the Wheeler Hoops Classic Dec. 3
at Wheeler High School in Marietta.
The No. 4-ranked Eagles
defeated No. 10-ranked Shiloh 5453 and Lithonia defeated JohnsonSavannah 70-64. No. 1-ranked
Greenforest lost to No. 3-ranked
Wheeler 53-42.
The Bulldogs played in the first
game of the tournament and played
good defense against Johnson.
Lithonia only allowed 20 points in
the first half, going into halftime with
a 36-20 lead.
“I was really impressed with
the first half,” Coach Wallace
Corker said. “We played really well
together; played good defense the
first half. We really put a great effort
together and I was really impressed
with how we played together.”
Johnson outscored Lithonia
44-34 in the second half, but
the Bulldogs—led by Robert
Hatchett—hit several critical free
throws down the stretch to hold off
Johnson and win the game.
“For the second half, we kind
of fell a little bit, let up a little bit,”
Corker said. “I wished we had

Columbia got its fourth win of the season in the Wheeler Hoops Classic. File photo
by Mark Brock

finished the game a little bit better.
But this [win] will be a big lift for
us because we’re in a rebuilding
stage. It’s really hard when you’re
rebuilding and trying to get a bunch
of guys to do what you want them
to do. So I’m proud of the effort
they played with.”
The win was Lithonia’s second
of the season, improving to 2-3.
Two missed free throws didn’t
hurt the Columbia Eagles as they

pulled out a 1-point win over Shiloh.
Senior guard Kenton Eskridge had
a chance to put the Eagles up by 2
points with under 10 seconds left,
but missed a free throw.
Shiloh had an opportunity to
win the game on a two-point shot
but the player didn’t get the shot off
in time. Columbia coach Dr. Phil
McCrary said his team has to learn
to play the game the right way to
avoid close calls.

“We make too many mental
mistakes and not taking care of the
basketball, we got the turnovers,
[lack of] rebounding and not
executing on the offensive end,”
McCrary said. “That’s going to kill
us if we don’t do the right things
and play together as a group.”
Columbia jumped out to an
18-9 lead with 3:25 left in the first
quarter, but Shiloh went on a 7-0
run to close out the quarter, trailing
by 2 points.
The Eagles continued to
struggle offensively in the second
quarter and were down 33-27 at
halftime. Columbia got hot in the
third quarter, outscoring Shiloh 1511. However, the Eagles failed to
put Shiloh away early in the fourth
quarter and the teams battled back
and forth until the final buzzer.
McCrary said he was glad that
his players had enough resilience
to continue to play hard.
“Hopefully we can get back on
the right track and do the things
that we’re capable of doing,” he
Eskridge and Terrence Boykin
led the team in scoring with 12
points each, and Lorenzo McGhee
scored 11 points. The win improved
Columbia’s record to 4-2.

Former Decatur coach to be inducted into Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame
by Carla Parker
Bob Reinhart, who coached basketball
at Decatur High School from 1969 to 1983,
will be inducted into the Atlanta Sports Hall of
Fame, the hall of fame announced Dec. 2.
Reinhart is one of five inductees in the
2017 class, along with former Atlanta Falcons
player Keith Brooking, former executive
director of the Atlanta Track Club Julia
Emmons, Atlanta Hawks radio broadcaster
Steve Holman and NBA sideline reporter
Craig Sager.
Reinhart won three state championships
during his tenure at Decatur. He went to state
finals three other times and at one point won
57 consecutive games. After leaving Decatur,
Reinhart spent two years on Mike Fratello’s
staff with the Atlanta Hawks before serving
eight years as Georgia State’s head coach.
He’s now an NBA scout for the Miami
The awards presentation and induction
ceremonies, which will be held Feb. 17,
2017 at the Buckhead Theater, will include a
reception, art exhibit, silent auction and raffle,
a parade of past inductees.
The Atlanta Sports Hall of Fame’s mission
is to honor Atlanta sports heroes, remember
great moments in Atlanta sports history
and preserve the past from which future
generations can learn and take pride.
Coach Bob Reinhart, left, stands with Decatur
High’s athletic director Carter Wilson. Reinhart was
inducted into Decatur’s Wall of Honor earlier this
year. File photo by Travis Hudgons


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 • Page 19A

Cedar Grove, Tucker to play for state titles

by Carla Parker


or the first time in 25 years,
the DeKalb County School
District will have two football
teams playing in a state
championship game at the Georgia
The No. 6-ranked Cedar Grove
Saints will take on No.1-ranked
Greater Atlanta Christian in the
Class AAA state title game Dec.
9 at 1 p.m., and the No. 4 ranked
Tucker Tigers will face No. 1 ranked
Valdosta Wildcats the same day in
the Class AAAAAA championship
game at 8 p.m.
Tucker advanced to the title
game with a 22-7 win over No. 5
ranked Northside-Warner Robins
in the semifinals Dec. 2 at Hallford
Stadium. This will be the Tigers’
fourth state title appearance in the
past nine seasons.
Tucker, which won the 2008 and
2011 title, lost in the 2013 Class
AAAAA title game to Creekside.
Coach Bryan Lamar said it feels
good to play in another state title
game but his team has to finish.
“We were here a couple of years
ago and we didn’t get it done, so
we have to figure out a way to stay
focused and find a way to get a win,”
Lamar said.
Tucker fell behind early in the
semifinals game, allowing Northside
to score on its opening drive.
Northside gained 69 yards on five
plays on its opening drive, which
ended with a quarterback sneak for
a touchdown by Tobias Oliver, and
gave Northside a 7-0 lead.
Tucker responded with a 28-yard
field goal by Adam Lippy, cutting
Northside’s lead to 7-3. The Tigers
took the lead in the second quarter
on a 26-yard touchdown pass from
quarterback Xavier Shephard
to wide receiver Josh Vann. The
missed extra point left the score at
The Tigers’ defense extended
the lead in the third quarter. A
bad toss by Oliver to the running
back was fumbled and recovered
by Tucker defensive end Aaron
Sterling, who returned it 44 yards
for a touchdown. The Tigers tried
to score 2 points following the
touchdown but failed, leaving the
score at 15-7.
In the fourth quarter, Shephard
found Vann again for a 58-yard
touchdown pass, bringing the final
score to 22-7. Lamar said he was
pleased with how his players and
coaching staff adjusted after giving
up the touchdown on Northside’s
opening drive.
“We had a disappointing
opening drive, we made a couple
of adjustments and the kids
played hard all night and [played]
assignment football,” Lamar said.

Tucker defensive end Aaron Sterling (15) recovered a fumbled and returned it 44 yards for a touchdown. Photos by Travis Hudgons

The No. 6-ranked Cedar Grove Saints will take on No.1-ranked Greater Atlanta Christian in the Class AAA state title game Dec. 9
at 1 p.m. File photo by Travis Hudgons

“[Northside] has a heck of a football
team; they’re extremely wellcoached. They run the option attack
so you have to be focused. The kids
did a good job, the coaches did a
great job preparing them and making
adjustments and [now] we have an
opportunity to win a championship.”
Cedar Grove advanced to its
second title game appearance in
program history after a 55-0 win over
No. 5 ranked Crisp County, on the
road, in the Class AAA semifinals

Dec. 2.
It was the Saints’ third
consecutive road playoff win this
season. Quarterback Jelani Woods
threw three touchdown passes and
had a 4-yard touchdown run. Wide
receiver Jadon Haselwood caught
two of Woods three touchdown
passes and Korey Hernandez
caught the third pass.
Running back Grant Walker
had two rushing touchdown and Tre
Shaw had a rushing touchdown. The

Saints defense forced two safeties in
the game.
Cedar Grove’s only other trip to
the state championship round came
in 1991, a 28-19 loss to Cartersville.
This is the fifth time DeKalb
has had two schools to play for a
state title in the same season. The
first time came in 1961 (Tucker,
Avondale), 1972 (Lakeside,
SW DeKalb), 1981 (Columbia,
Peachtree) and 1991 (Cedar Grove,


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 9, 2016 • Page 20A

When your list is long
and time is short,

10 x 13.5