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the DeKalb

FRIDAY, December 16, 2016 • VOL. 19, NO. 36 • FREE

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


An art not lost
Lakeside High hosts 11th World Language Poetry Café

by R. Scott Belzer


or two hours on Dec. 8, Lakeside
High School’s media center
transformed into a haven for the
spoken word, foreign language and
classical literature.
Lakeside High School’s language
department hosted the 11th annual

World Poetry Café on Dec. 8 from
10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Approximately
40 students took turns reciting poetry
in French, Latin, Spanish, Arabic,
Japanese and Italian while also
consuming light refreshments.
According to teacher Terry
Krugman, who founded the event more
than a decade ago, the World Poetry
Café mirrors the English department’s
See Art on page 5

A Lakeside student recites a poem in French from memory before providing a translation to the gathered crowd. Lakeside High
School teaches French, German, Latin and Spanish. Photos by R.
Scott Belzer

Lakeside High School hosted its 11th annual World Languages Poetry Café on Dec. 8, drawing approximately 40 participants and an even larger crowd. Students read poetry in foreign languages and
enjoyed light refreshments for approximately two hours.

Lakeside High School Latin teacher Terry Krugman, far left, began the World Language Poetry Café 11 years ago to expose students to world languages and international






DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 • Page 2A

Clarkston businesses owners selling packaged alcohol without being considered a growler shop, grocery store or specialty wine store will be locked into their current
license and location following the adoption of an amended alcohol ordinance. Photo submitted.

Clarkston adopts alcohol ordinance
New amended statute dictates distance from schools, other retailers, type of store

by R. Scott Belzer
Following a six-month ban on
the issuance of licenses, several
public meetings and input from the
community, Clarkston City Council
adopted an ordinance with strict
laws on alcohol sales.
On Dec. 6, the council adopted
an amended ordinance mandating
packaged alcohol only be sold at
growler shops, specialty wine shops
and grocery stores. It also requires
alcohol be sold at least 100 yards
away from schools, public parks,
churches or libraries; 166 yards
from an adult entertainment
establishment and 50 yards from
a single-family residence; and
granting the council power to deny
According to the ordinance,
“the city of Clarkston has a high
concentration of businesses
licensed to sell packaged alcohol
with 15 such locations in the city.”
“The presence of businesses
selling alcohol by the package has
a negative impact on public health
and welfare,” states the ordinance.
“[The city] declares that engaging

in the business of selling alcohol
in Georgia is a privilege and not a
Clarkston City Council voted
to halt the issuance of licenses
for packaged alcohol sales in July
“The idea was that the city
has 15 locations [to buy alcohol]
and we think that’s more than
enough,” said city attorney Stephen
Quinn. “We’ve been tweaking this
ordinance ever since [July].”
According to Quinn, the largest
aspect of the ordinance is the
continuation of the license ban. He
said the permitted types of stores—
growler shops, specialty wine and
grocery stores—are defined as
desirable to Clarkston.
“There will be no new licenses
for distilled spirits or liquor under
this ordinance,” Quinn said. “For
beer and wine, no new licenses
[for those who own] a convenience
store, gas station or package store.”
Under the ordinance, a grocery
store is defined as an establishment
selling uncooked food, has at least
10,000 square feet of retail space,
and where 85 percent of space is
reserved for the sale of food.

According to Quinn, established
businesses selling packaged
alcohol have been grandfathered
and “locked” into their respective
current locations and business
The ordinance states such
businesses cannot increase their
retail space, cannot add a type of
alcohol and must conform to the
new ordinance by January 2022.
This applies to current Clarkston
package stores, gas stations and
convenience stores.
“In six years, it won’t be
possible to transfer [a business
owner’s current license] at all,”
Quinn said.
According to councilman Mario
Williams, 15 stores selling alcohol
in Clarkston are too many.
“Clarkston is really small—it’s
about 1.5 maybe 2 square miles,”
Williams said. “The empirical
evidence is out there regarding the
negative impacts of a condensed
amount of package stores in a
small area.”
Williams said the ordinance
encourages business diversity in
the city and that the only problem
grandfathered businesses owners

have had with the ordinance is
allowing six years (January 2023)
rather than 10 (January 2027).
Councilman Awet Eyasu asked
what difference extending the
grandfather clause would make.
“If it is one year, 10 years or
100 years, with the ordinance we
have now, the number of alcohol
locations is locked into those 15
locations,” Quinn said. “Licenses
are issued to individuals. If they
move away, get sick, or die, once
we’re past this period, then we’ll
have one less retail alcohol location
in the city. The policy question
and consideration is, is that what
we’re trying to accomplish and how
Councilman Dean Moore
clarified that established
businesses selling alcohol will not
cease to exist as such after January
2023. However, issued licenses will
be locked to an individual rather
than a business or building.
Clarkston City Council voted
3-1 in favor of the ordinance, with
councilman Eyasu opposing and
councilwoman Beverly Burks


Avondale Estates
Church to host Christmas concert

The 50-voice Chancel Choir and 20-piece Chamber Orchestra will
present, “Christmas in Avondale: A Festival of Lessons and Carols,” Dec.
18 at 5 p.m. at Avondale First Baptist Church. The concert of Christmas
music will feature classical, traditional and contemporary choral
selections on the theme of the birth of Christ. The church is located at
47 Covington Highway. For more information, visit www.

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 • Page 3A

fundamentals of multimedia. Regional partners include Turner, Spitfire
Studios, Motion Family and Immersive Atlanta. The organization has
hosted an annual summer camp, monthly film-based networking events,
educational podcasts and more.
Participation in the event is free. Those interested are required to
RSVP due to limited space at


Details of Christmas decorating contest announced
Judging for the annual Avondale Estates Christmas and Holiday
Spirit Awards Decorating Contest will take place Dec. 19 and awards
will be presented Dec. 20. Judges will view decorations on residences,
storefronts, building exteriors and display windows from a vehicle
passing or stopping in front. Judges will not leave the vehicle for
close viewing of decorations. Entrants must have lights on by dusk;
businesses and house numbers must be clearly marked for judges
to see; and all decisions of the judges are official and final. For more
information, visit


City facilities serving as Toys for Tots donation sites
Brookhaven residents can drop off donations for Toys for Tots
through Dec. 16 at Brookhaven facilities, including City Hall, the
Brookhaven Police Department and Lynwood and Briarwood recreation
centers. New, unwrapped toys can be dropped off at any of the four
facilities between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Collection sites:
Brookhaven City Hall, 4362 Peachtree Road
Brookhaven Police Department, 2665 Buford Highway
Lynwood Recreation Center: 3360 Osborne Road
Briarwood Recreation Center: 2235 Briarwood Way
For more information, call (404) 637-0508. Visit
for additional collection sites.


DeKalb Symphony Orchestra presents Peter and the
The DeKalb Symphony Orchestra will present their annual
children’s concert featuring Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf. “This is a
family favorite for children of all ages to come and enjoy. It is a great
opportunity for parents and grandparents to introduce their children and
grandchildren to live classical, orchestral music,” a release states.
The one-hour concert will be narrated by WSB-TV’s Nicole Carr and
feature young dancers from Decatur School of Ballet. Also included in
the program will be music from Rossini’s William Tell Overture, Arlen’s
Over The Rainbow, Holst’s Jupiter, and Sousa’s The Stars And Stripes
This event will take place Jan. 22 at 3 p.m. in the gymnasium at
Georgia State University, Clarkston campus. All tickets will be general
admission and are $5. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit, or call (678) 891-3565. Tickets may also be
purchased at the door.

Community center to host film school boot camp
Clarkston Community Center will host a free film production boot
camp on Dec. 17 from 10:45 a.m. to 4 p.m.
No Comment, a teen produced web series from Re:Imagine/ATL,
will host a one-day film workshop on filming, videography, photography,
screenwriting and more. Professionals from each category will take part
in the workshop.
Re:Imagine/ATL is an Atlanta nonprofit that teaches youth the

City teams with Marine Corps for Toys for Tots
Doraville residents will continue the tradition of helping needy
children throughout the city by participating in the 2016 Toys for Tots
Toys for Tots ensures needy children have a happy holiday by
placing toy donation boxes at various locations. In Doraville, these
locations are Doraville Municipal Court at 3765 Park Ave., Doraville
Library at 3748 Park Ave., Honeysuckle Park Arena at 3037 Pleasant
Valley Drive and Doraville Police Department at 3750 Park Ave.
Participants are encouraged to bring unwrapped gifts to any of these
The effort is sponsored by the United States Marine Corps, which
states the program “plays an active role in the development of one of
our nation’s most valuable resources—our children—and helps unite all
members of our communities in a common cause.”
For more information, including information on how to set up a
donation box, call (470) 294-2486.


Nature Center hosts Winter Break Camp
The Dunwoody Nature Center, located at 5343 Roberts Drive,
will host three Winter Break camps in late December 2016 and early
January 2017.
The first Winter Break Camp, which expects to educate Pre-K
through fifth grade students on the winter climate as well as its effects
on animals, plants and habitats within Dunwoody, is scheduled to take
place Dec. 22 and Dec. 23.
Other camps will take place Dec. 27, 28 and 30 as well as Jan. 3-4.
Half-day rates begin at $60 and full-day rates begin at $100. Early
bird specials also begin at $20.
For more information, visit


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 • Page 4A

Fourth time’s a charm for Gregory Adams
by Horace Holloman


he road to becoming an elected official
with DeKalb County government hasn’t
been an easy one for newly-elected
District 7 Commissioner Gregory Adams.
After three attempts at various positions
throughout the county, Adams defeated Randal
Mangham in a Dec. 6 runoff election receiving
52 percent of the vote. Just 303 votes separated
Adams and Mangham.
Adams said he expected the voter turnout
to be low in a runoff election. Out of the 350,000
residents which the district covers, just 6,790
residents cast their ballots; 212,390 were
registered to vote.
Nonetheless, Adams said he is thankful that
DeKalb County residents choose him to hold the
super district seat.
“It was surreal. I was just so elated I had to
pinch myself,” Adams said. “This is my fourth
time running for office and I was so happy the
voters chose me. I showed my due diligence and
I showed that I’m willing to fight for the people.”
In 2012, Adams ran for CEO of the county
and in 2014 he ran for the District 7 commissioner
position. This year nine candidates qualified for

the District 7 seat, which opened up after Stan
Watson’s unsuccessful run at DeKalb’s tax
commissioner position.
Adams received 26 percent of the vote in the
General Election but it was not enough to win the
seat outright. Adams said his persistence was a
key factor.
“When some people don’t win, they stay
underground and you don’t hear from them. But I
stayed visible and went to meetings,” Adams said.
“I wanted to show people my commitment. I don’t
go just to go. I go to see what I can do to make
things better.”
Now that Adams has won, he said he plans
to turn his attention to safety within his district

and the county, as well as pay raises for police
Adams, an Emory University police officer,
said he’s been in talks with Commissioner Larry
Johnson and other county officials on how to
retain more officers in the area.
“We need to reduce crime in DeKalb County
and be more diligent by working with the school
board,” Adams said. “Businesses will want to
come and move to DeKalb and call it home and
set up shop.”
In the beginning of the year, officers disputed
how much they were being paid and requested
raises. Some officers reportedly left the
department because of low wages.
“We want our police officers to be fairly
compensated. We need to find ways to get them
a little more money and look at the healthcare
and pensions,” Adams said.
Adams also wants to focus on government
transparency, which could mean utilizing more
social media, he said. Having an “open-door”
policy is important, he said.
“We want to open their eyes on what’s taking
place whether that’s engaging them by email or
publications through the paper,” Adams said. “I
think we should also use DCTV [DeKalb County’s
television station] to get our message out.”

District approves $200,000 contract for graduation audio, video services
Sparks discussion
on commencement
by R. Scott Belzer
DeKalb County School
District’s (DCSD) board of
education approved a contract
worth $204,663 for audio, video
and staging services to be used at
graduation ceremonies the week of
May 22.
According to the request for
proposal (RFP) from the district,
services will include providing
an 80-foot by 40-foot stage, five
camera mounts, podiums, student
and stage lighting, a sound system
to accommodate 7,000 guests, 14
video displays, six cameras and
staff to manage it all.
Staging Directions, an event
production company based in
Suwanee, was chosen by the
district out of six total respondents.
The company will facilitate each
high school’s commencement
ceremony at the Georgia World
Congress Center May 22 through
May 27.
Deputy superintendent
Vasanne Tinsley presented the
item to the board on Dec. 5. Tinsley
said the contract could serve as
a litmus test for future graduation
ceremonies in DeKalb County.
“Graduation ceremonies are a
major component of the culmination

Vicki Turner questioned how much
money the district is spending to hold
DeKalb County School District commencement ceremonies at the Georgia
World Congress Center in May preceding a $200,000 contract approval for
video and audio services. Photo by R.
Scott Belzer

of high school for our students,”
Tinsley said. “In recent years, high
schools have used government
buildings, sports arenas and
churches to hold graduation
Tinsley said the need to host
graduation ceremonies at the World
Congress Center and hire an event
production company stems from
a complaint filed by the American
Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) during
the 2015-2016 school year. The
complaint was rooted in certain
graduations taking place in religious
“It was agreed that the district
would work to address the concern
for the 2016-2017 graduation
season,” Tinsley said. “An extensive
search for one location to hold

district ceremonies took place
within the metropolitan Atlanta
area. Venues in DeKalb County
with larger indoor facilities are
According to Tinsley, the
Georgia World Congress Center
also was chosen to reduce senior
and student fees. In years past,
dues have been paid to offset the
cost of hosting a graduation event.
“Utilizing one venue has
allowed the student assessment to
be reduced to $35,” Tinsley said.
“This fee will be used to support the
cost of hosting graduation at the
Congress Center.”
Tinsley said approximately
6,000 seniors have paid $35 each
to offset a $200,000 bill for renting
the Georgia World Congress
Center. She said fees in the past
have been “much higher” and
accommodated ceremonies at
the Georgia Dome, Civic Center,
Phillips Arena and churches.
Approval of the prepared
contract came after approximately
25 minutes of discussion.
Board member Jim McMahan
requested the district look at ways
the county can help facilitate
student involvement in event
production in the future.
Board member Vicki Turner
asked Tinsley about 1 p.m. and
4 p.m. weekday graduation
schedules, a concern that was
brought up by the public during the
November DCSD board meeting.
“Did you give any consideration
to that, maybe considering an
evening time for [these schools]?”

Turner said.
“We did look at that when we
looked at the total calendar of
ceremonies,” Tinsley said. “We
looked at numbers of students
so that we could adjust with the
timeframes we have for the actual
ceremonies. We looked at how
we could get smaller and larger
schools in to make sure we could
get the three or four blocks in per
“So are you saying, when
looking into it, you were not able to
accommodate the parents?” Turner
“We looked at all the schools
individually and also took into
consideration other dynamics
such as board members coming
to ceremonies, things of that sort,
so we took into account a lot of
different things before we allocated
which schools would participate
on which days,” Tinsley said. “We
looked at, when moving forward,
adjusting those times.”
Turner concluded her
questioning by stating it is a shame
graduation ceremonies cannot be
held in a “house of God.”
“This is the first time we have
gotten involved financially,” Turner
Board member Joyce Morley
said it is “ridiculous” that DeKalb
County does not have an event
venue to accommodate DCSD
students. She suggested contacting
the county board of commissioners
to ensure this does not become the

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 16, 2016


Page 5

Art Continued From Page 1
poetry event but includes
poetry from around the world.
Students read or recite poetry
before providing a translation or
“It’s been a lot of fun,”
Krugman said. “We’ve had a lot
of students sign songs, recite
poetry, sometimes too lengthily.
Sometimes it’s original work;
sometimes it’s stuff they’ve
learned in their language
classes; sometimes it’s work
they love if they’re from another
Krugman said past events
have focused on such themes as
World War I.
Certain students, including
Matt Walsh, took the opportunity
to sing songs in foreign
Walsh’s rendition of “Años
Dorados” in Portuguese had
eyes and ears in the media
center focused on the rhythm
and cadence of the European

“It’s a song about a man
who’s going through a breakup,
different stages of grief, looking
at a photograph and worried if
he can ever love again,” Walsh
said. “
Like the poetry read
throughout the morning, Walsh’s
efforts were met with the sound
of snapping fingers rather than,
applause, a nod to poetry cafés
around the world.
Students such as senior
Christianna Mariano said they
found the event to be a good link
to their cultural heritage. She
said her reading of a portion of
The Aeneid in Latin put her in
touch with her Italian roots.
“We’ve been translating the
book all year in Latin,’ Mariano
said. “I like the poem a lot
because it talks about, even if
you’ve been through bad things,
it might help you in the future to
remember those things. Today

was a day to hear different
languages and get a feel for
everyone’s background or show
respect for someone else’s
Teacher Henri Devastey,
who heads the world languages
department at Lakeside High
School, said he appreciated
seeing and hearing students
who memorized poems. He also
took the time to connect certain
poems to lessons in education
and life in general.
“I remember being a kid and
reciting poems in my head,”
Devastey said. “You can’t just
read poetry. You have to recite it;
you have to know it.”
Devastey, along with other
Lakeside High School teachers,
joined students in reciting poetry
and relating their own personal
According to Krugman,
there are plenty of intellectual
and educational benefits to

memorizing and reciting poetry
and literature. He specifically
mentioned the exposure of
different sounds, poetry itself,
peer exposure and poetry’s
contribution to critical thinking.
“Memorizing poetry
has its own rewards,
both psychologically and
pedagogically,” Krugman said.
“Calling a certain line of a poem
to mind can provide insight into
something affecting your life—
it’s good mentally to focus and
memorize anything. It’s a lost art.
I teach Latin and I astonish my
students when I tell them, in the
ancient world, there were people
who would memorize the entire
Iliad and Odyssey. You also hear
about people memorizing the
Koran and parts of the Old and
New Testaments. So I guess it’s
not a totally lost art.”

DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 16, 2016


Page 6

Seize the moment while you can
I’m a big believer in seizing
the moment while you can. When
opportunities—or even a notion—
comes my way (or into my head)
I tend to jump on it and make
something happen. An airline offers
a bargain basement airfare to some
place I’ve never heard of or been
to and before I know it I’m booking
a flight. I read about an event that
sounds intriguing and the next thing
I know I’m making plans to take part
in it.
Mostly I’ve not been
disappointed with the experiences
I’ve had from my “seize the
moment” philosophy.
That’s why I’m telling those
whose candidate won the

Gale Horton Gay

presidential election to seize their
moment and attend the presidential
I certainly won’t be there. I
doubt I’ll even turn on the TV on
Jan. 20, but if you backed Donald
Trump and are exuberant about his
presidency, then you might consider
heading to the nation’s capital to be
part of the pomp and circumstance.

Eight years ago I was ecstatic
when the candidate I supported
financially and with my vote—
Barack Obama—won the
election. I was overwhelmed by
the significance of a Black man
achieving the highest office in the
country and wanted to witness the
history-making moment when he
took office.
I took my daughter and four
of her teen friends to Washington,
D.C., where we rose before dawn,
endured bitter cold, stood outside
for hours and then witnessed (on
a jumbo screen as we were way
back on the National Mall) Obama
being sworn in as our nation’s
44th president. It was exhausting,

yet thrilling to be in the thick of
thousands who were equally proud,
excited and believing in this new
leader. I now cherish the memories
of the start of a presidency of which
I’m remain grateful and proud.
The political winds in the
country have changed dramatically
from that time eight years ago and
now the electorate has charted a
new direction. If Trump is the man
you supported and you’re ecstatic
that he’s about to become our
45th president, consider going to
the inauguration and taking in the
official and unofficial sights, events
and activities. This is your moment
so seize it, you’ll likely be thrilled
and proud that you did.


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 16, 2016

Page 7

Give from the heart, and your wallet will follow
“No act of kindness, no matter
how small is ever wasted,” Aesop (620-564 B.C.), Greek philosopher and author of Aesop’s
As we count our blessings
and gather with family and
friends in the coming weeks to
celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanzaa,
Christmas and this holiday season, it is important to remember
that not every hearth or belly is
full and that Santa may still have
trouble finding a few thousand
households thanks to a malfunctioning GPS as well the lingering
effects of the long recession. 
So please take a moment,
during all of this hustle and
bustle to select in your heart and
your mind those organizations
most worthy of your support this
Here are few charities and
nonprofits of good reputation
and long standing, with low administrative costs, a record of
service and thrift and a demonstrated ability to stretch most every donated dollar to do the most
The Empty Stocking Fund
- http://www.emptystockingfund.
Since its founding by The Atlanta Journal in 1927, the Empty
Stocking Fund has been helping
Santa find the homes of Atlanta’s
families most in need. Medicaidrecipient children, from birth to
age 13 are eligible; their parents
come to shop at a Santa Village
on Memorial Drive. The thinly
staffed nonprofit will distribute

‘One Man’s
Bill Crane

nearly $4 million of gifts to nearly
60,000 children this year, an increase of nearly 20 precent over
last year. The ESF buys closeouts and last year’s toys directly
from the manufacturers–often
right after each holiday season–
stretching each donor dollar further. A gift of $25 will sponsor an
age and gender appropriate gift
packet for a child containing four
toys, an educational gift and a
pair of socks or stockings.
FODAC - http://www.fodac.
Friends of Disabled Adults
and Children (FODAC), based
in Stone Mountain, has been improving and changing the lives of
mobility-impaired disabled adults
and children for decades. Its annual Santa Breakfast, a primary
fundraiser was held Dec. 10 at
the Marriott Evergreen in Stone
Mountain Park. It is one of the
charity’s largest annual events,
but their need is year-round,
as is the gap between serious
accident/injury and temporary
disability and being officially
declared disabled by Social
Security or the U.S. Veterans
Administration. FODAC charges
only a one-time membership fee
of $25, providing recycled and

gently used mobility and durable
medical equipment to veterans,
the disabled or anyone temporarily sidelined by serious injury.
Monastery of the Holy Spirit, Conyers, GA - http://www.
Particularly for my Catholic
readers, though all are welcome,
the Monastery of the Holy Spirit,
just off Georgia Highway 212
and now the PATH trail in Conyers is a place for peaceful reflection, prayer and just pausing
to remember what this holiday
season is really all about. Since
the dawn of civilization, where
you have found Trappist Monks,
you have found society, productive farmlands and a place for
thoughtful prayer. This monastery is no different–nestled on
a couple of thousand acres,
including a self-sustaining farm,
retreat house, green and natural
burial grounds, exquisite handcrafted stain glass and a wide
array of Abbey trades and goods
available for purchase in the gift
shop. The PATH trail now winds
past Arabia Mountain and along
the South River giving another
scenic way to travel to and from
the monastery. The monastery’s
mission and operations all are
locally funded and self-sustaining.
The Salvation Army - http://
“Doing the Most Good” wherever the need is greatest, all
across the globe is the Salvation
Army, and the Metro Atlanta Salvation Army has a vast mission

and annual budget exceeding $2
million. Volunteers are needed to
ring the red kettle bells at more
than 150 locations, which fund
programs ranging from the Angel Tree, to Boys & Girls Clubs
to food pantries, family shelters
and emergency displacement
relief. If an apartment building
burns, a hurricane such as Katrina devastates the Gulf coast
or an earthquake all but obliterates civilization in Haiti–the
Salvation Army is on the ground
first, providing care, relief and
the basic human necessities of
life. Army thrift stores support its
mission of helping those suffering addiction find their path to
recovery and salvation, with clients most often serving as store
You may instead want to support the mission of your own
church, local school or community; what is most important, is that
if you can give, that you do so
and that you encourage others
to do the same. We are, after all,
our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers. God bless us, every one.
Bill Crane also serves as a
political analyst and commentator for Channel 2’s Action News,
WSB-AM News/Talk 750 and now
95.5 FM, as well as a columnist for
The Champion, Champion Free
Press and Georgia Trend. Crane
is a DeKalb native and business
owner, living in Scottdale. You can
reach him or comment on a column at

Subscribe to The Champion
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the DeKalb

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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
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discourse for all community residents
on all sides of an issue. We have no
desire to make the news only to
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ultimately move our community
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assumptions penned as fact.


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 • Page 8A

Avondale Estates commission
approves changes to park and
lake restrictions
by Carla Parker
The Avondale Estates Board of
Mayor and Commissioners approved
an ordinance that removes exclusive
language from the signs at Avondale
Lake and Willis Park.
The board voted unanimously
with a 4-0 vote at its Dec. 12 regular
meeting to remove the language
from the signs and city ordinance.
Mayor Pro Tem Terry Giager was
absent from the meeting.
The current ordinance states
that George Francis Willis, who
founded the city, deeded certain
property to the city on Aug. 16, 1928
“for the exclusive use and pleasure
of the residents of the city, their
children, and guests.”
The language from the deed
was added to the city ordinance and
to the signs at the lake and park in
Mayor Jonathan Elmore and
city commissioners have argued
that the language on the signs
and ordinances sends the wrong
message to non-residents that the
city is exclusive.
“The way the signs reads to a
lot of people is, ‘you’re not welcome
here, stay out.’ Some people do read
it to be possibly even racist, which I
don’t think it is, but we’ve heard that,”
Elmore said. “I ran on responsible
growth. I’m an architect and I want
to see our central business district

grow. I want our city to have the right
tools, the right people and the right
presentation to everybody out there
in the world—that you are welcomed
here, we would like for you to come
here and buy a house, start a
business or just visit.
“For me this is part of a bigger
thing of making sure that our city is
presenting the best image it can,”
Elmore added. “And I think when
people see that on the sign it is a big
turnoff. [The language] is a known
thing and I think it’s hurting us.”
Elmore said his comments are
not meant for Willis and his family.
“I think it was taken out of that
deed, it was put in our ordinance
and it was put on the signs to keep
people out,” Elmore said. “And I think
that is the wrong message.”
Several residents spoke against
changing the language. Resident
Larry Minnix, who lives around
the lake, said he wants the city
to be inclusive but the lake and
park should still have rules and
restrictions for visitors.
“I believe we’re all lucky to live
as close to a Garden of Eden as
anyone else can find,” Minnix said.
“I just want to preserve the natural
atmosphere. I don’t want to live next
to a public park.”
Resident Tracey Scott, who is
Black, agrees that the signs should
change and said the city does have a
reputation of exclusivity and racism,
which she has experienced from

Avondale Estates considers changing park and lake restriction signs.

other Avondale Estates residents.
“I grew up in south DeKalb and
I used to come up to the cinema to
watch films, and I knew, frankly, that I
wasn’t welcome to stay in Avondale,”
Scott said. “And that is the reputation
that Avondale has throughout this
city—that we are not a welcoming
place. I can’t tell you how many
times I go to the pancake breakfast
and I introduce myself to people,
and they say, “Oh, where are you
renting?’ That’s the kind of culture
and reputation that Avondale has.”
Betty Jones, who is White, said
no one has told her, nor has she
heard anyone tell a visitor to leave
the city.
“I’ve been here a long time
and I’ve never heard anybody…I
don’t see everybody, I don’t talk to
everybody in this town but I have not
heard anybody say, ‘get out of here,’”
Jones said.
Julie Davis, who is also White,
agreed that the language should be
removed from the signs and said she

has also experienced unwelcoming
behavior from other residents. In
one instance, Davis, who wasn’t a
resident at the time, was picnicking
at the lake with her physician, who
was a resident.
“My physician was approached
by the police and asked if she lived
here,” Davis said. “Her family was
Black. I didn’t even live here, I was
with them.
“Second, I’m walking my twin
6-year-olds [to school],” Davis said.
“I parked on Dartmouth Ave. and
was approached by a resident who
asked, ‘Do you live here?’ in front of
my children. [My children asked] are
we allowed to go here? This sense
of exclusion and this spirit of the
diamond in the rough have to stop.
And it’s not just the sign; it’s all up to
The commission will soon have a
special called meeting to decide on
what language should be added to
the signs.

New water meters coming to DeKalb County
by Horace Holloman
The DeKalb County Department
of Watershed Management (DWM)
has purchased a new type of water
meter while the county addresses
issues with the current water meter
The county ordered 960
AccuStream water meters, costing
approximately $96,000, according a
DWM official.
Currently, there’s a moratorium
on the installation of the iPerl smart
water meters. During a town hall
meeting to address water billing
errors in the county, an iPerl
manufacturer said the meters
can sometimes malfunction when
exposed to water.
“The CEO and DeKalb Board
of Commissioners have directed
staff to suspend the current meter
replacement program, which we
have already done,” said DeKalb

The county recently purchased
960 AccuStream water meters. The
meters are meant to replace old or
broken meters in the county while the
moratorium on the installation of iPerl
smart water meters is resolved.

Chief Operating Officer Zach
Williams in a statement.  “The
issue has been the replacement of
broken meters and meters for new
developments.  The only meters we
have in stock are iPerl smart water
meters, but this order of AccuStream
meters gives us an alternative as the
moratorium continues.”
The county’s water meter

replacement program began in 2011
to replace brass turbine meters with
digital iPerl smart meters. Currently,
roughly 70,000 iPerl meters were
installed prior to the moratorium out
of 183,000 residential meters.
The AccuStream meters
were selected by partnering with
Gwinnett County’s competitive
bid process. DWM spokesperson
Burke Brennan said the partnership
allowed the county to fulfill the needs
of the county.
“We have to use a competitive
bid process, but we don’t necessarily
have to initiate it. We used Gwinnett
County’s competitive bid process,”
Brennan said. “That’s not uncommon
that we partner with another
municipality. It allowed us to expedite
the process. If we had to start [the
bid process] over it would have taken
several months on our end.”
There is not a formal plan in
place to replace the current iPerl
meters that were installed, Brennan

said. He said the county will likely
reevaluate the type of meters used
moving forward.
The AccuStream model utilizes
positive displacement technology
to measure water volume.
The iPerl measures volume by
electromagnetic flow technology,
according to county officials.
New developments or a
meter that fails in the field could
be replaced with the AccuStream
“This purchase allows us to
fulfill the direction of the governing
authority, while simultaneously
creating an opportunity to examine
a different device for possible use
moving forward,” said Williams.
Brennan said the department
is looking forward to rectifying any
future issues.
“We’re looking forward to
proceeding and coming up with a
solution to our water billing and water
meter issues,” Brennan said.


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

Commissioners react to Burrell Ellis reinstatement
by Horace Holloman
As DeKalb County
commissioners held a
regular meeting Dec. 13, a
few reacted to the news of
Burrell Ellis’ reinstatement.
Ellis was reinstated Dec.
12 after his conviction was
overturned by the Georgia
Supreme Court. Ellis was
accused of trying to force
a county vendor to make
campaign contributions.
In the court’s opinion,
which was released Nov.
30, Justice Harold Melton
wrote that “while the
evidence was sufficient
to convict Ellis, due to
technical errors, the criminal
convictions against Ellis,
who has already served
his time in prison and been
released, must be reversed.
It will be up to the district
attorney whether to retry
Ellis scheduled a press
conference in front of the
Maloof Building Dec. 14
to thank supporters as he
re-entered the office he
once occupied before being
suspended in July 2013.
“He has had to spend
eight months in prison
away from his mother, wife
and children and I think he
can move on now,” said
Commissioner Mereda
Though Ellis’ conviction
was overturned, the county
can bring Ellis to trial again.

During a regular county commissioners meeting, commissioners
reacted to the reinstatement of formerly convicted Burrell Ellis.
Ellis will take over as CEO until the end of the year.

Commissioner Jeff Rader gives his opinion on the reinstatement of
Burrell Ellis

According to the courts,
that decision will be up to
the county’s next district
attorney which will be
Sherry Boston.
Along with Ellis’
conviction being overturned,
his right to practice law
was also reinstated. In a
unanimous decision, the
court said in a statement,
“On [Oct. 5], this Court
suspended W. Burrell Ellis,
Jr. pending the termination
of the appeal of his felony
convictions. On [Nov. 30]
this Court reversed those
convictions…. A motion
for reconsideration denied
[Dec. 8]. Thus, it is hereby
ordered that W. Burrell
Ellis, Jr. be reinstated to the
practice of law in the State
of Georgia.”

Adams said that dispute
should be left up to the
county’s legal department.
“Let them fight over that.
We’re at a point of healing.
Michael Thurmond is a
new CEO and we have
new commissioners such
as myself and Steve
Bradshaw. We’re going to
work with Ellis during his
time here and bring about
a positive image,” Adams
Thurmond, who was

As of press time it was
unclear whether Ellis plans
to sue the county for his
legal fees.
“It is unfortunate that
this travesty took so long
to be rectified. One cannot
undo the damage the
entire ordeal has done to
the Ellis family and to the
county. Hopefully this next
few weeks will allow for
positive closure for us all
and a smooth transition
to the new governing
authority,” Commissioner
Kathie Gannon said in a
When asked if it’s
reasonable for the county
to pay for Ellis’ legal fees,
Gannon replied “absolutely.”
Newly elected
commissioner Gregory

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elected in the General
Election and received
74 percent of the vote, is
slated to take office at the
beginning of the year. Ellis,
whose term ends Dec. 31,
will be succeeded by CEOelect Thurmond in January
Commissioner Jeff
Rader said he expects
Ellis to operate in the best
interest of the people in
DeKalb County.


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 • Page 10A

County officials ask for tougher legislation against code violators
by Horace Holloman
In a DeKalb board
of commissioners
meeting Dec. 6, county
commissioners asked
what could be done about
revoking business licenses
of repeat code violation
During a presentation
on blighted properties
in DeKalb County,
Commissioner Nancy
Jester said she was
presented with information
that several business
owners were able to operate
in the county without a
business license.
“How can we allow that
to continue?” said Jester.
“If people are violating the
law over and over again, we
need to be very comfortable
with saying ‘you can’t
do business like that in
Luz Borrero, a deputy
chief operating officer of
development for the county,
said as long as she’s been
working with the county, she
has not heard of a business
license being revoked
by the county’s planning
“In the event of repeat
violators, the planning
director has the ability to
revoke a business licenses,”
Borrero said.
During her presentation,
Borrero highlighted
apartment complexes in
DeKalb County that are
operating without a current
business license including
Colony Ridge, Eastwyck
Townhomes, Kensington
Station and Terra Creek.
Each complex has been
issued a citation and will
appear in court Jan. 10.
Commissioner Jeff
Rader asked Borrero
about the consequences
of operating in the county
without a business license.
“Do we stop them from
collecting rent? Do we
prevent them from opening
the business office? What
is it that we do to enforce
that?” Rader said. “Do we
prevent them from leasing
new property?”
County officials said
there’s difficulty when it
comes to enforcement.
“We’ve got 60-yearold properties that you
can abate all day long
and you’re not going to fix
those buildings up. That

abatement money should go
toward relocation services
and relocation housing
programs and not a way
to clean up other people’s
trash,” Commissioner
Kathie Gannon said.
According to county
officials, there are legislative
changes needed to
decrease limitations of legal
framework and compel

owners of the property to
resolve their issues.
In her presentation,
Borrero said certain legal
changes should be made
to help task force officials
discourage repeat violators.
Borrero suggested the
county authorize officials
to enter private property
under certain circumstances
of egregious deterioration,

obtain legal authorization
for the county to place a
lien on private property to
recoup cost of cleanup and
pass legislation to require
property owners to relocate
residents when a property is
declared uninhabitable.
Jester said she’s
pleased with how county
officials have worked
together, but said more

should be done.
“We’re going to
court and have multiple
big issues. From the
Presidential Hotel in my
district to Brannon Hill
and Creekside Forest
[Apartments], we’re dealing
with it aggressively. There
has been some action
taken, but we have to do
more,” Jester said.

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DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 • Page 11A


Brookhaven Police and Target at North Druid Hills Road hosted the third annual Shop with a Badge event Dec. 10 to help children from surrounding areas purchase holiday
gifts for themselves and their families. A total of 50 families were sponsored by the event and more than $10,600 was spent on gifts.

Chamblee Charter High School’s “Chamblee OnStage” program performed at the
Brookhaven Holiday on the Town event on Dec. 7. Photo submitted.

A sign wishing customers a season’s greeting is displayed at the Refugee Holiday
Market in Clarkston Dec. 7. The sign was created by Kerry Hetherington. Photo by
Horace Holloman

Chamblee City Council held a ribbon cutting on Dec. 6 to celebrate new signage
at Dresden Park, located at 2301 Dresden Drive. City council approved the $12,000
purchase on Aug. 16. Photo courtesy of city of Chamblee.

Materials created by the Refugee Sewing Society on display at the Refugee
Holiday Market in Clarkston. The organization displays handmade items by
resettled refugee women in the area. Photo by Horace Holloman

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. 16, 2016 • Page 12A

Stone Mountain officials to meet with state rep on proposed annexation
by Carla Parker

Stone Mountain city officials
will soon meet with the city’s state
legislator Sen. Steve Henson
to review the city’s proposed
annexation map.
During the Dec. 6 city council
meeting, city manager ChaQuias
Thornton said the council asked
during a work session to schedule
a meeting with Henson to discuss
the proposed map. The meeting
with Henson will determine if the
city should move forward with a
resolution to request the Georgia
General Assembly to form an
annexation bill.
“The map that is decided
upon by the city will determine
the language that is incorporated
in the resolution,” Thornton said

to the council. “It’s imperative
that we decide on that—if we’re
going to present a resolution to
the legislation. I would suggest
that after that [meeting] we would
have a special called [meeting]
to determine the map and the
Henson said the meeting
with city officials is to review the
proposed map to see “where
they’re at and their request.”
“I met with the mayor earlier and
went over a preliminary thing but I
haven’t seen their final proposal,”
Henson said. “I’m just going to
review it, see where they’re at and
see if I can support it.”
The Stone Mountain Annexation
Task Force recommended a
proposed map that would annex
1.635 square miles into the
1.869-square-mile city. The areas

being considered include some
industrial parks along E. Ponce
de Leon Avenue, properties along
Memorial Drive to North Hairston
Road and to Rockbridge Road
and the Walmart on the corner of
Memorial Drive and North Hairston
The proposed annexation would
bring the city’s population from an
estimated 6,100 residents to more
than 9,200. The annexation also
would increase the commercial and
industrial tax base from 20 to 36
The task force said annexation
would improve public safety,
improve code enforcement—
specifically along Memorial Drive,
expand public works and give
the city more local control of
unincorporated Stone Mountain.
The city tried to have an

Audit of water meter, water
billing could come to fruition
by Horace Holloman
During a town hall meeting to discuss
water billing system errors, some residents
in attendance yelled and screamed “audit”
to county officials.
Residents may get their wish as
commissioners recently introduced a
resolution to have a third-party audit
performed on the department.
The resolution, co-authored by
commissioners Kathie Gannon and
Nancy Jester, was introduced in the
Dec. 6 regular meeting of the board of
The resolution is currently under the
vetting process, Jester said.
Gannon said she was moved to help
create a resolution after attending a town
hall meeting regarding water billing issues
within the county. In the meeting, hundreds
of residents came to express their
Gannon said it was the largest town hall
she had attended in DeKalb County.
“It was alarming. It says to the
community that DeKalb County does not
have their act together,” Gannon said. “We
need to be efficient and effective and stand
up and say ‘we hear you.’”
According to the resolution, “the county
is actively working to address community
concerns with high water bills and develop
solutions to mitigate causes. The Chief
Audit Executive [John Greene] seeks to
initiate a performance audit of the primary
departments involved in water metering
and billing to determine factors contributing
to inaccurate water meter readings and
inconsistent water and sewer billing
Greene, who was hired in September
and receives a salary of approximately
$142,000, will receive an estimated
$250,000 in funding if commissioners

approve the resolution. The funding is
meant for Greene to acquire consulting
services to conduct a performance audit of
the water metering and billing operations.
“I’m glad that the people asked for [an
audit]. I’m pleased that [the watershed
department] is plowing through each bill
at a time, but we still have not gotten a
plan for moving forward,” Gannon said.
“With one person it’s faulty data or faulty
meters or the call center thing. There’s
management issues there, but I’m hopeful
this will be corrected. We need to find the
root causes.”
Greene’s job came to fruition after state
legislators passed House Bill 599. HB 599
requires the county to provide independent
internal audits for DeKalb County.
Jester said she hopes the resolution
will pass. The resolution will likely be vetted
for language in the board’s next County
Operations and Public Safety (COPS)
Committee meeting, she said.
“We want [Green] to look under the
hood and see what’s going on and see if
he finds anything,” Jester said. “We have to
reestablish trust and credibility with water
billing and one of the steps to do that is an
Jester said she’s optimistic about the
resolution passing.
The county conducted a search for
a new member of the five-member audit
oversight committee in November. One
member’s term ends Dec. 31 of this year.
“If someone is against [this resolution]
I’d have to question why,” Jester said. “I
can tell you the residents of our county
think we have a problem, I think we have
a problem and if we’re not going to take
steps that we’re exercising oversight...
that’s terrible. We have to admit we have
a problem and we have to go about fixing
it and giving people a level of comfort that
we’re getting to the bottom of things and
we’re focused on the issues.”

annexation bill passed by the
local delegation in the past, but it
fell through due to the number of
cityhood bills. During a previous
town hall meeting, task force
member Thom Deloach said he is
confident the city would get enough
signatures from the local delegation
to create an annexation bill.
“We got really close last
time—we got seven out of the nine
signatures needed from the local
delegation of the house,” Deloach
said. “We had a verbal commitment
from the Senate, so we would
have been OK. Had we gotten two
more signatures we would’ve had
a chance to get to the floor last
time around. So, I’m thinking at a
time that it’s less contentious that
we have a really good chance,
particularly if we start with the
[delegates] who said yes last time.”

Notice is hereby given that a Special Election will be held
in the City of Clarkston on Tuesday, March 21, 2017, to fill
an unexpired term on the City Council; said term expires
December 31, 2017.
Voting will take place at the Clarkston First Baptist
Church, 3895 Church Street, from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Any person who is a resident of the City of Clarkston
and who is registered at least thirty (30) days prior to this
election with the DeKalb County Board of Registrations
and Elections as an elector within the City of Clarkston
shall be eligible to vote in this election. Deadline for voter
registration is February 21, 2017.
Persons wishing to qualify for this election may file
a Notice of Candidacy with the Municipal Election
Superintendent at Clarkston City Hall Annex, 1055
Rowland Street, from 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. beginning
on Monday, January 9, 2017 to Friday, January 13, 2017.
The Qualifying fee for council is $105.
Application for absentee ballots may be made by mail or
in person to the Absentee Ballot Clerk, DeKalb County
Elections Division, 4380 Memorial Drive, Decatur, GA
30032, 404-298-4020.
This notice is given pursuant to Chapter 21 of the Official
Code of Georgia, as amended, pertaining to municipal
elections, this 7th December, 2016.
Tracy Ashby, City Clerk and Municipal Election


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 • Page 13A

DeKalb, Georgia rep nominated by Trump
Georgia’s 6th Congressional District opens up for election
by R. Scott Belzer
U.S. Representative Tom
Price, who represents part of
DeKalb County in Georgia’s
6th Congressional District, was
nominated by President-elect
Donald Trump to lead the
Department of Health and Human
Trump officially announced
Price’s nomination on Nov. 29,
naming his “exceptionally qualified”
commitment to repealing or
replacing the Affordable Care Act as
a prime asset.
If selected, Price would be
the top authority in the nation
in health—responsible for a $1
trillion budget—and Trump’s go-to
official for reworking healthcare.
During his time in the House of
Representatives, Price has played
a role in opposing the Affordable
Care Act and drafting several bills
seeking to replace it.
Before being elected to the
Georgia Senate in 1996, Price,
a Michigan native, completed his
residency at Emory University. He
settled in Roswell—where he still
resides—and opened an orthopedic
clinic while also serving as an
assistant professor at Emory and
the director of the orthopedic clinic

is a staunch Republican who favors
limited government and limited
government spending. Price has
repeatedly called for an end to gun
control, abortion, gay marriage and
taxpayer financing, according to and Vote Smart.
Price was one of nine
Republican House representatives
who pledged loyalty to Trump in
House Speaker Paul Ryan
endorsed Price’s nomination via and Twitter on
Nov. 29, calling him the “absolute
perfect choice” for the position.
U.S. Representative Tom Price,
who represents Georgia’s 6th
Congressional District, has been
nominated as secretary for Health
and Human Services by Presidentelect Donald Trump. Photo courtesy
of Tom Price.

at Grady Memorial Hospital.
After serving on the Georgia
Senate until 2005, Price was
nominated to Georgia’s 6th
Congressional District. He has
won reelection three times,
including Nov. 8 when he defeated
Democratic nominee Rodney
According to Price’s website, he

“Tom Price has made health
care his life’s work,” Ryan said.
“As a doctor he has practiced and
taught medicine, and he knows
exactly how Washington’s decisions
affect patients. As a legislator,
he has played a leading role in
developing conservative healthcare solutions that put patients
Former Georgia Representative
Newt Gingrich, who also served
Georgia’s 6th Congressional District
until 1999, also endorsed Price’s
nomination on Twitter.
“[Price] will be a great secretary
of Health and Human Services,”
Gingrich tweeted Nov. 28. “He is
the right leader to help congress

replace [the Affordable Care Act].”
According to a blog post on
Nov. 29, Dunwoody city councilman
John Heneghan wrote he could
see Dunwoody business owner
Bruce LeVell and attorney Chris
Carr as potential replacements
for Price in Georgia’s 6th
Congressional District.
LeVell served on Trump’s
diversity coalition during the
campaign and may receive the
president-elect’s endorsement.
The 6th district includes
segments of Dunwoody, Doraville,
Chamblee, Tucker, Sandy Springs,
Roswell, Alpharetta and eastern
Cobb County.
According to,
Price’s wife, Betty Price, as well
as many state and metro Atlanta
representatives may have a better
chance to claim the Georgia 6th
Congressional District seat.
“Based on speculation on who
might run, it could be an interesting
election,” Heneghan wrote. “Maybe
former or current Dunwoody
mayors, city councilmembers, state
reps or our country commissioners
might be interested? Who would
you support from our community to
represent us on a national level?”
A special-called election is
likely to take place in the first half of


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 • Page 14A

Moderator M. Alexis Scott, at lectern, poses a question to panelists, including, from left, Rep. Howard Mosby, Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver, Rep. Tom Taylor and state Senatorelect Tonya Anderson. At far right is Rep. Scott Holcomb.

Legislators look ahead to coming year
by Kathy Mitchell
In opening comments to
DeKalb Chamber of Commerce’s
Legislative Preview 2017 Business
Breakfast and Forum, Delores
Crowell of AT&T, the event’s gold
sponsor, said although some
businesses are thriving and others
are struggling, all need the support
of elected officials.
The event, moderated by
journalist Alexis Scott, was held
Dec. 8 at the Courtyard by Marriott
Decatur, where a panel of eight
elected officials—state senatorelect Tonya Anderson, and state
Senator Fran Millar and state
representatives Michele Henson,
Scott Holcomb, Mary Margaret
Oliver, Howard Mosby, Dar’shun
Kendrick and Tom Taylor—
weighed in on a variety of topics,
including transportation, education
and annexation.
The panel appeared to agree
generally that a “religious freedom”
bill, which would allow businesses
to decline providing services
that are at odds with the service
provider’s religious faith, would
not be a good use of the state
legislature’s time and effort. Oliver,
a Democrat, said, “I stand with the
business community in opposition
to this bill. It’s irrelevant since we
already enjoy religious freedom.”
Henson, also a Democrat,
agreed. “Religious freedom
is already guaranteed by the
Constitution. We don’t need to

spend any more time on this type of
Republican Taylor said such
a bill would “take up a lot of time,
when we have more important
issues.” Millar, also a Republican,
said the bill “will not go anywhere,
A religious freedom bill was
vetoed earlier this year by Gov.
Nathan Deal, who commented in
announcing the veto, “I do not think
we have to discriminate against
anyone to protect the faith-based
community in Georgia, which I and
my family have been a part of for
Legislation that would have
allowed schools deemed to be
failing to be taken over by the state
failed on the Nov. 8 ballot, still panel
members said there likely will be
proposed legislation addressing
schools not meeting state and
federal standards. “I would like to
see the school superintendents
and the governor partner in a plan
to help struggling schools,” Oliver
Anderson commented that
upcoming education legislation
should assure that a portion of
the money allocated to school
improvement go toward increasing
teacher salaries.
Taylor said the current
education structure for the state,
which primarily places schools
under county control, was designed
in 1945 when legislators “could not
have envisioned mega-systems

such as those in Gwinnett and
DeKalb. We need to revisit that.”
City school systems such as
Decatur’s were grandfathered in, he
said, but under the current system
new small school systems cannot
easily be created.
Cityhood and annexation also
are topics as recent balloting put
Stonecrest on the path to cityhood.
Taylor predicted that Stonecrest
will have a difficult time. Cities
such as Dunwoody that spent a
good deal more time planning
for cityhood still struggled in the
beginning, he said. “It’s harder
than you think.” He also expressed
doubt that MARTA would create
direct transportation from Atlanta to
Henson said the county needs a
more holistic approach to planning
so that communities aren’t driven
to cityhood or annexation as ways
of solving local problems. She
suggested that some communities
might explore the township model
for self-government.
With a new federal
administration coming in, it is likely
the Affordable Care Act will be
radically changed or abolished,
Mosby suggested. “Why can’t the
state take advantage of what’s in
place now so that we’re in the best
possible position before changes
are made?” he asked.
With regard to healthcare,
Oliver said Georgia already is in
a poor position that is likely to get
worse once the new administration

is in place.
The panel also discussed the
Nov. 8 vote for a constitutional
amendment replacing the judicial
qualifications commission, a
body created in 1972 to review
complaints against judges. Approval
of Amendment 3 would result in the
creation of a new entity created by
the state’s general assembly.
Kendrick was among those
who said the intent behind the
commission was good, but
that details had to be fixed to
accomplish its purpose.
“We have had 60 judges resign
or be run off in the past six years
because of ethics issues. That’s a
lot,” Taylor observed.
Holcomb said the state bar
association should take more of
a role in disciplining or removing
judges following questionable
behavior. “There may be some
movement on that,” he said.
Panelists expressed wariness
about legislation expanding
gambling options beyond the state
lottery. Millar sarcastically called it
“a full employment bill for lobbyists.”
With new leadership coming in,
DeKalb’s government structure—
unique to the state—may again to
subject to examination. “We have
to look at it in terms of what works
best for the county,” Mosby said.
“We owe it to our citizens to provide
the best government we can give



DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 • Page 15A



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

Hundreds made their way to the DeKalb County School District Administration & Instructional Complex on Dec. 5 to voice support and opposition to the E-SPLOST V
project list, which was ultimately approved 6-1. Photo by R. Scott Belzer

DCSD board approves E-SPLOST V
project list amid public outcry
by R. Scott Belzer


he DeKalb County School
District (DCSD) board of
education approved a list
of projects funded by a
1-percent sales tax on Dec. 5 amid
public outcry.
Hundreds made their way
to DCSD’s Administrative &
Instructional Complex (AIC) to voice
prepared, written and organized
responses to the project list, which
has been discussed publicly and
privately for more than 18 months.
The list approves approximately
$561 million in safety and security
improvements, new facilities
and additions, facility condition
improvements, technology,
school buses, vehicles and other
“This blueprint will enable
DCSD to provide our students with
first-class facilities and services that
they deserve,” said Superintendent
Stephen Green. “But our work is
far from finished. We will engage
the community every step of
the way as these projects move
forward. Our goal is to build trust
and complete quality projects,
DCSD’s board of education
approved the list 6-1 with Stan
Jester casting the single opposing
vote. Jester’s “nay” vote stems
from the beliefs that the list does
not serve Doraville, is founded
in a misleading online survey
and will not adequately relieve
overcrowding in northern portions of
DeKalb County.
Jester made the motion that
the board defer the vote for three

months to ensure imperfections
in the new facilities and additions
portion—worth $291 million—are
taken care of.
Jester’s request mirrors
positions officially taken by
Austin Elementary, Montgomery
Elementary, Chamblee High
School, Chamblee Middle School,
Dunwoody High School, Sagamore
Hills Elementary, Henderson Middle
School and Lakeside High School,
each of which sent requests for
deferment to the board of education
as early as October.
Under the proposed list,
Lakeside High School cluster
schools may be redistricted to a
new high school in the Cross Keys
cluster, while also moving students
in Chamblee, Cross Keys, Tucker,
Lithonia, Clarkston and Miller
“As a board member, as
a resident of Region 1, as a
parent with kids in the Dunwoody
cluster—the Dunwoody Cluster,
the Chamblee Cluster, Sagamore
Hills Elementary have all requested
a delay in category two of the
E-SPLOST project list,” Jester said.
“I hope this vote doesn’t go down
the way it has always gone down,
the way I suspect it will always go
down—against our will and with
[Region 1] getting the short end
of the stick. With feedback from
numerous school councils and
request from many communities,
I move that we delay the vote of
category 2 for three months.”
Jester’s motion received
applause but it was not seconded
and therefore failed.
The AIC auditorium was filled
to capacity during the public input

session of the meeting. For more
than an hour, the board heard pleas
for approval and deferment from
DeKalb County parents and other
interested parties.
Sagamore Hills parent Rick
Dasher said the public had little
to no information in the several
meetings leading to the formulation
of the list, specifically mentioning
the Secondary Schools Facility and
Feasibility Study conducted from
September 2015 to October 2016.
“The survey used was
something we were not told that
was going to be used as a tool
for a decision,” Dasher said. “The
choices offered were confusing,
limiting, and widely misunderstood.
To move forward with the plan the
district has presented, despite the
massive amount of community
concern, would be a major breach
of trust.”
“I’m a lifelong resident of
this county,” said Peter Steckel,
another Sagamore Hills parent. “I
want to know, what’s happened
to this county? We used to be
considered one of the best counties
in the country.”
Chamblee parent Amy
Holmes-Chavez, who joined many
in wearing white as a symbol for
unity and support, urged the board
to move forward with the list without
“I’m ecstatic with the
recommendations and am
pleased with what has been a
transparent and thorough process,”
Holmes-Chavez said. “This is
unprecedented in the years
I’ve been in DeKalb County. I’m
confident concerns will be taken
care of at the local level. I’m

grateful for the superintendent in
addressing many inequities and
injustices that have been allowed to
continue in the Cross Keys Cluster,
Chamblee and Doraville area. ”
Board member Jim McMahan
said while representing Sagamore
Hills Elementary and part of
Lakeside High School he carried
out the wishes his constituents by
approving the list.
“I oversee 16 schools in the
Lakeside and Tucker district, 15 of
the 16 schools have said ‘Please,
move forward with the vote,’”
McMahan said.
Board member Joyce Morley
said the totality of the list outweighs
the concerns of a vocal minority.
She credited the district’s director
of planning, Dan Drake, as well
as chief operations officer Joshua
Williams for developing the project
“This wasn’t taken lightly,”
Morley said. “At some point, this
county has to unite and realize
we are not sectioned and come
together with unity. There’s been a
north and south for so long. We’re
here to educate all children.”
Board member Marshall
Orson said delaying the process
of implementing the list would be
unacceptable, as it “deals with
needs that have gone unmet for
more than 20 years.”
“We would be continuing a
wrong that has been perpetrated by
this school district and this county
in a totally unacceptable fashion,”
Orson said. “There’s never going
to be a perfect solution but this is a
good plan.”


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 • Page 17A

GLOBE Academy facility purchase approved

According to Laura Stowell, director of charter schools for DeKalb County School
District, GLOBE Academy hopes to place its student body under one roof beginning
in 2017. Photo submitted.

by R. Scott Belzer
The DeKalb County School
District (DCSD) board of education
approved the purchase of a new
facility for GLOBE Academy, a
charter school located in the county.
Following approval, GLOBE
Academy—currently located at
both 2225 Heritage Drive NE
(grades K-3) and 4105 Briarcliff
Road (grades 4-6)—will move
approximately five miles away to a
facility located at 2300 Northlake
Center Drive in Tucker.
GLOBE Academy is currently
housed in the former Heritage
Elementary School and a portion of
Briarcliff United Methodist Church.
The proposed site is currently
a four-story office building near
Northlake Mall.
According to GLOBE Academy’s
application, the new 10.1 acre site
offers improvements in vehicular
access, potential for expansion, 77
instructional units (classrooms) and
available space for athletics and
GLOBE Academy’s site approval
is pending a hazard analysis and
complete site assessment from code
officials. While the site is zoned as
office space, GLOBE Academy’s
designation as a charter school—
and a government facility—makes
it permissible in all zoning districts,
states John McHenry, community
and economic director for the city of
According to Laura Stowell,
director of the office of charter
schools for DCSD, GLOBE
Academy must receive approval
from the governing district (DCSD)
to submit an appropriate application
to the Georgia Department of
“DCSD’s operation’s division has
approved the form and supporting
materials,” Stowell said. “This will
have no financial impact on the
district since charter schools are

solely responsible for their own
facility costs.”
Stowell said GLOBE Academy
hopes to move into the new facility
by the beginning of the 2017-2016
school year.
“It depends on how much
mitigation has to take place at the
site,” Stowell said.
Board of education member
Stan Jester commended GLOBE
Academy seeking approval with the
city of Tucker and DeKalb County
watershed before approaching
“There is a very extensive
checklist that the facility service
unit at the [Georgia Department of
Education] requires and those are
standard,” Stowell said.
Stowell also said that Heritage
Elementary School would again be
property of DCSD when the GLOBE
Academy move is completed.
GLOBE Academy currently
serves approximately 1,300
students in DeKalb County. The
school opened during the 20132014 school year and states its
vision is to “develop globally minded
citizens who have the knowledge,
skills and attitudes to effect positive
change in our world,” according to
its website.
“The GLOBE Academy’s
core values are expressed in the
acronym CREST: community,
respect, empathy, sustainability
and trust,” the website states. “We
are inclusive; we treat ourselves
and each other with kindness and
dignity; we strive to understand
and share the feelings of others;
we aim to conserve our resources
for optimal use in the present
and future; we are committed
to honesty, transparency, and
respectfully sharing our thoughts
and encouraging others to do the
According to Stowell, GLOBE
Academy will begin the process of
AdvancED accreditation next year.

GLOBE Academy, a charter school serving DeKalb County students, was
approved by the county to seek a new facility located at 2300 Northlake Center
Drive near Northlake Mall. Photo submitted.


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 • Page 18A

Tucker falls to Valdosta in state title game
by Carla Parker

The Tucker Tigers’ only regular
season loss came in the Georgia
Dome in September in the Corky
Kell Classic.
Their only playoff loss also
came in the Georgia Dome—in the
state title game. The Tigers fell to
the Valdosta Wildcats 17-7 in the
Class AAAAAA title game Dec. 9 at
the Dome.
This was the second
consecutive championship loss for
the team. The Tigers’ last loss came
in 2013 to Creekside in the Class
AAAAA title game.
Tucker struggled offensively in
the first half—accumulating only
86 yards of total offense. Tucker
went three-and-out on its opening
possession. Valdosta made it look
easy on its opening drive—going
79 yards on eight plays. The drive
ended with a 35-yard touchdown
pass from quarterback Josh Belton
to D. Morris, giving the Wildcats a
7-0 lead.
Tucker’s offense went threeand-out again on its second
offensive possession. Valdosta
found the end zone again in the first
quarter on a 17-yard touchdown
pass from Belton to Joseph
Ingram, extending Valdosta’s lead
to 14-0.
Tucker fans thought their team
found some life in the second
quarter when Tylen Olgesby
picked off Belton’s pass at the
1-yard line. But the Tucker offense
could not capitalize on the turnover
and went three-and-out again.
Later in the quarter, Valdosta
looked as if it was going to go up
21-0, but receiver Wesley Veal
dropped a wide open pass on fourth
down and the Wildcats turned the
ball over on downs.
Tucker’s offense finally got
something going on the following

drive—moving the ball 40 yards on
nine plays. But the Tigers could not
pick up the first down on a fourth
down play, giving the Wildcats the
ball at their 31-yard line.
The Wildcats extended their
lead to 17-0 before halftime on
a 44-yard field goal by Davis
The Tigers’ offense teased
its fans again in the third quarter,
picking up a couple of first downs.
However, Xavier Shephard’s pass
to Josh Vann was intercepted by
Jayce Rodgers in the end zone,
ending a promising drive.
Tucker finally found the end
zone late in the third quarter. After a
30-yard run down to the 8-yard line
by running back Chris Broadwater,
he scored on the next play, cutting
the Wildcats’ lead to 17-7.
After a couple of good defensive
stances by Tucker in the fourth
quarter, the offense continued to
struggle to get in the end zone.
After another positive gain of yards,
a fourth down pass from Shephard
to Vann was broken up, ending the
Tucker coach Bryan Lamar
said after the game that his team
didn’t capitalize on some big play
“They have a good defense,”
he said. “We had opportunities in
the passing game, but we missed
some throws. We felt like we had
some guys open, we felt like we
had some opportunities to win. In
a big game like this you have to
make plays and we didn’t make the
plays in the first half. We had some
opportunities in the second half but
we still missed a couple shots that
we had there.”
Tucker finished the game
with 262 yards of offense—with
109 of those yards coming from
Broadwater. Valdosta had a total of
310 yards on offense.

SWD girls basketball teams receives new shoes, message from LeBron James
by Carla Parker
The Southwest DeKalb High
School girls’ basketball team is
stepping on the basketball court
with new kicks thanks to NBA
player LeBron James.
The Lady Panthers were
one of 12 schools in the country
selected by Nike as one of the
top girls programs in the country.
James sent shoes, t-shirts and a
video message to the team Nov.
“I think it’s amazing because
they have so many high schools
in this country to choose from,”
coach Kathy Walton said. “I

didn’t anticipate anything like this
Walton said her players were
“pumped” about the gifts and
James’ message.
The note sent with the shoes
from James read, “Panthers, it
seems like winning is expected at
Southwest DeKalb. It’s hard to find
a championship you haven’t been
a part of in the last several years.
Even after five losses in a row, you
came back, just like champions
do. Let’s keep this dynasty on the
rise. I’ll be watching.”
The Lady Panthers won the
Class AAAAA state championship
in March. The state title was the
The Southwest DeKalb Lady Panthers basketball team received new shoes from
fifth in nine seasons.
LeBron James and Nike.


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 • Page 19A

From left, Netori Johnson, Justin Shaffer and Jelani Woods celebrate Cedar Grove’s first football state championship. Photos by Travis hudgons

When the Saints marched to victory
Cedar Grove wins first football state title

by Carla Parker


hen Jermaine Smith took over
as head football coach at Cedar
Grove High School in 2013, he
knew he had enough talent to
build a consistent winning program, but he
also knew it would not be an easy task.
In 2013, the team finished the season
7-5 on a second-round playoff loss. In
2016, the team finished 13-2 with a Class
AAA state title—the program’s first football
championship in school history.
“It feels good. I just feel good for the
guys, for the community and for the people at
Cedar Grove [who came] before me,” Smith
said. “It was a process. [We couldn’t] just get
here. We had to work our way to it and we
did it the right way. The guys put work in this
The Cedar Grove Saints defeated the
Greater Atlanta Christian Spartans 3019 in the state title game Dec. 9 in the
Georgia Dome. It was the program’s second
appearance in the state finals. Cedar Grove
lost to Cartersville in the Class AA title game
in 1991.
The Saints had a dominant first half
against GAC. On the Spartans’ first
possession, a controversial hit by Cedar

Grove’s Jadon Haselwood on GAC’s
starting quarterback Davis Mills knocked
Mills out for the rest of game with a left knee
injury. Mills was running along the sideline,
looked as if he were going out of bounds but
came back into the field of play and was hit
hard by Haselwood.
Jonathan Rose came in at quarterback
for GAC and was unable to get his team in
scoring position, forcing the Spartans to punt
to the Saints.
The Saints marched down the field on
their opening offensive possession. On fourth
down and three yards to go, quarterback
Jelani Woods threw a line drive pass to Tre’
Shaw, who followed his blockers and ran 32
yards to the end zone—giving Cedar Grove a
7-0 lead in the first quarter.
GAC responded on the following
possession with a 40-yard field goal by
Brooks Buce, cutting the Saints’ lead to 7-3.
In the second quarter, a 31-yard field
goal by Cedar Grove kicker Solee Fofana
extended the Saints’ lead to 10-3. Later in the
quarter, running back Grant Walker scored
on a 2-yard run, giving the Saints a 17-3 lead.
The touchdown was set up by a 55-yard run
by running back Darrell Neal.
With 1:09 left in the first half, GAC had
hoped to put a scoring drive together before

See Chaps on Page 20A

Grant Walker


DEKALB FREE PRESS Friday, Dec. 16, 2016 • Page 20A

Champs Continued From Page 19A
halftime, but Shaw intercepted
Rose’s pass and returned it 34 yards
for a touchdown. The missed extra
point by Fofana left the score at 23-9.
GAC got in Saints’ territory with
the clock winding down, but with
three seconds left, Buce’s 49-yard
field goal attempt fell short.
Things began to unravel for the
Saints in the second half. On Cedar
Grove’s first possession, Haselwood
dropped a pass near the end zone.
The Saints were unable to pick up a
first down after that play, forcing them
to punt.
The Saints defense was able to
get the GAC offense off the field on
the following drive, but a quick threeand-out by the Saints’ offense gave
the ball right back to GAC.
The Spartans put together a
scoring drive on a tired-looking
Saints’ defense. GAC running back
Kyler McMichael scored on a 9-yard
run. The extra point attempt was
tipped, leaving the score at 23-9 with
2:55 left in the third quarter.
On the following possession, a
high snap went over Woods’ head
and the ball was recovered by GAC
at the 31-yard line. However, the
Saints’ defense was able to kill the
Spartans’ momentum and forced
them to punt.
With the ball within their own
5-yard line, the Saints turned the ball
over when Woods’ pass was picked
off by GAC’s Trey Morrison. That

turnover led to a 6-yard touchdown
pass from Rose to Morrison, cutting
the Saints’ lead to 23-16.
The game went from bad to
worse for the Saints when Neal
fumbled the ball on the next
possession and it was recovered
by GAC on the 26-yard line. The
turnover led to a 32-yard field goal
by Sean Henderson, bringing the
Spartans within four points (23-19).
Although his team had two
turnovers and couldn’t get in the
end zone at that point in the second
half, Smith said he wasn’t concerned
about his players’ mindset.

“I tell people all the time that
these guys don’t get flustered,” Smith
said. “I told the coaching staff to
calm down; the guys are going to be
all right. They just kept fighting and
fighting. That’s a good team over
there, and some things are going to
happen—adversity will strike. But
when adversity strikes, how are you
going to react to it?”
The Saints reacted by scoring a
50-yard run by Walker set up a 17yard touchdown pass from Woods
to Dennis Bell, giving the Saints a
30-19 lead. A turnover on downs by
the Spartans and four straight kneel

downs by Woods sealed the win for
Cedar Grove.
Woods, who graduated early
and will start classes at Oklahoma
State University in January 2017,
said he gave his team an important
message in the huddle before the
final touchdown.
“I was telling them I got y’all,
we’re good,” Woods said. “We just
kept our momentum and built it up
possession by possession.”
Woods said it was amazing to
finish his high school career as a
state champion.
“It’s like a dream come true,” he
said. “We’ve been looking at this
since last year. We knew that we
should’ve had it last year but we fell
short. So we came out and gave it
our all.”
Senior offensive lineman
Netori Johnson also gave some
encouraging words to his teammates
before the touchdown.
“We have to step it up. We came
too far to lose this game,” Johnson
said. “We had to step it up and I had
to lead my team by example. We
were getting a little lax out there, not
giving our all out there at the time.
But we did it and won.”
Smith said he is very proud of his
“That was my first freshman
class,” he said. “Those guys are
seniors now and they earned it.”

My day is all
about making