Mother remembers slain son’s accomplishments on and off the field

by Daniel Beauregard




Matthew Hardeman, a 2010 graduate of Avondale High School, was killed in southwest Atlanta in October. Photo by Travis Hudgons

was a dog in the street. He didn’t deserve that—a dog doesn’t deserve that,” Gloria said. loria Hardeman Recently, Verlaine LaGuerre decorated her dining was arrested in connection with room with balloons, Matthew’s death and an initial cards, posters and oth- hearing was held Dec. 28. er things to celebrate her son’s Gloria said although she is birthday on Saturday, Dec. 17, still grieving, the death of her even though he had been killed son has motivated Matthew’s two months earlier. family and friends to go out into Matthew Hardeman was shot the world and do as much as they and killed Oct. 15 in his sister’s can in his name. front yard off Lakewood Terrace “He was somebody who alin southwest Atlanta. He was 19. ways finished what he started,” “Even though I put my son in D.J. Tanner, Matthew’s brotherthe ground, I still can’t underin-law said. stand…They shot him like he Matthew was a star football

player at Avondale High School. While there, he helped bring the school to the playoffs for the first time in 23 years. Hardeman left such an impression that several Avondale alumni dedicated an award in his honor, which was passed down until the school closed in 2010. Mike Carson, who coached Hardeman at Avondale, said he had seen him a week before the shooting. “We talked about life, doing the right thing and staying out of trouble. He wanted to get back in school and finish up. I told him to be positive and keep doing
See Hardeman on Page 11A

DeKalb agencies receive new funding to aid refugee resettlement
by Nigel Roberts Agency Disbursement Amount Contracted Services They arrive in DeKalb from different corInternational Rescue Committee $1,067,263 Employment, employment ners of the world. Many come from refugee upgrade, refugee youth and social camps in South Asia and others from the chaos adjustment services and brutality of civil wars in Africa. State and nonprofit agencies in DeKalb help these families DeKalb Technical College $699,823 English language instruction and to resettle and become self-sufficient members civics instruction of the community. In December, Gov. Nathan Deal and GeorDeKalb County Board of Health $105,038 Social adjustment/health services gia Department of Human Services Commissioner Clyde Reese signed contracts totaling $4.1 million that will enable the agencies to conRefugee Resettlement and $341,359 Information and referral, tinue to provide services to the roughly 3,000 Immigrations Services of Atlanta employment, citizenship and new refugees who arrive annually. Six public naturalization services and private agencies in DeKalb received more than $2.5 million of the federal funds. Refugee Family Services $287,670 Youth services According to a DHS spokesperson, Georgia disburses these funds through annual contracts Somali American Community $50,000 Youth after school services to 12 public and private agencies. The services they provide include English language instrucCenter tion, health care and employment assistance, with the ultimate aim of enabling refugee famiSource: Georgia Department of Human Services lies to transition successfully to life in a new country. without prior screening, the U.S. Department of for refugee families. A refugee is someone who flees his or her Mixon is the executive director of Refugee country because of persecution, war or violence. State reviews refugee cases and grants them legal entry into the United States. Federal officials Resettlement and Immigration Services of AtMany have a well-founded fear of persecution relocate them to various places throughout the lanta (RRISA), located in Decatur. Her organizafor reasons of race, religion, nationality, politicountry with the assistance of national nonprofit tion is a local affiliate of two national agencies cal opinion or membership in a particular social refugee agencies. that work directly with the State Department to group. Paedia Mixon explained that the decision as resettle refugees. Humanitarian concerns led to passage of the RRISA is primarily a resettlement agency Refugee Act of 1980, which among other things to where to relocate refugees is based on several factors, such as whether the refugee has family that focuses on gets her news updates online fromservices to authorizes the U.S. Department of Health and she gets her news updates online from the The Champion. Because she providing immediate the The Champion. Because already settled in a location and an area’s lanhelp newcomers. Mixon said her organization Because she gets her news updates online from the The Champion. Human Services to provide assistance to refuguage capacity. With its increasing diversity, the picks up refugeescan too! Followand provides And you from the airport us. gees. Atlanta metro area is now a prime destination immediate food, shelter, medical and other Unlike with asylum seekers who arrive




ews updates online from the The Champion.

And you can too! Follow us. And you can too! Follow us.

too! Follow us. www.

See Refugees on Page 11A

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The Champion Free Press, Friday, January 6, 2012

Syringe found in jeans purchased from shoe store
A Stone Mountain woman said she found a syringe in jeans she purchased for her daughter on Christmas Eve. Ashley King, of Stone Mountain, told DeKalb County Police that she purchased the jeans from The Athlete’s Foot, located at 2545 Wesley Chapel Road at approximately 2:30 p.m. The syringe was discovered on Dec. 27 in one of the pockets of the jeans which the 4-yearold girl was wearing at the time. Neither King nor her daughter was injured by the syringe which still had a cap covering the needle. “This case appears to be an isolated incident,” said Lt. A. B. Catlin of the DeKalb County Police Department. “However we are aware of the other cases outside of our jurisdiction and take this case very seriously.” In recent weeks, several syringes have been found in clothing at a Cartersville Walmart store. In two cases, the needles have pierced the skin of victims.

DeKalb Police have increased security around the 1800 block of Lavista Road surrounding Congregation Beth Jacob, where a member was egged while walking home from a service.

Congregants at DeKalb synagogue egged on Sabbath
by Daniel Beauregard DeKalb County Police are investigating several incidents involving congregants of the Beth Jacob Synagogue that have occurred over the past weeks. “We’ve been getting complaints where unknown suspects have been throwing eggs and bagels at synagogue members,” DeKalb Police spokesman Lt. Antonion Catlin said. The incidents have been occurring on Friday nights. The Jewish Sabbath begins at sundown Friday and ends at sundown on Saturday. Because of this, many congregants leave their cars in Beth Jacob’s parking lot overnight and walk home. According to Catlin, a vehicle was also stolen from the 1800 block of Lavista Road and recovered in Atlanta. Catlin said the department had not yet identified any suspects involved in the incidents. The synagogue is located at 1855 Lavista Road and Catlin said the incidents, have caused the department to increase patrols in the area. Catlin said DeKalb County Police have met with local rabbis and synagogues to discuss security concerns. “At this time we have not qualified this as a hate crime,” Catlin said.

Tucker woman arrested in Clarkston for identity theft
Clarkston Police made a Christmas Day arrest of a woman on a warrant for failure to appear in court in February on a traffic violation. When the woman told police she did not have a pending traffic violation, a police investigation revealed that the woman’s driver’s license had been used by another woman in February. Vehicle information and a phone number given during the February traffic stop led police to Torrie Dorsey of Summerwalk Drive in Tucker, according to Detective K. W. Hasan. Dorsey, charged with

identity theft, had a first court appearance on Dec. 28

Vacant Clarkston duplex burglarized
Someone broke into a duplex unit on 990 Smith Street in Clarkston early on Dec. 27. The suspect kicked open the back door to the unit, activating the motion-sensor light. Nothing was stolen from the duplex, which was a vacant rental unit, according to Clarkston Police Chief Tony Scipio. A resident in the adjoining unit told Clarkston Police that she heard a loud noise at approximately 2 a.m. The resident did not call police, thinking it was a branch hitting the roof.

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The Champion Free Press, Friday, January 6, 2012

All apartment buildings in unincorporated DeKalb County, like Austin Oaks on Glenwood Road, must get an interior inspection under a new ordinance that goes into effect in January. Apartment owners will not be issued 2013 business licenses until the inspections are completed. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

New ordinance requires interior apartment inspections
by Andrew Cauthen A new county ordinance requiring the interiors of all apartment buildings to be inspected by an independent state-certified inspector goes into effect in January. “We hope to ensure that every apartment complex is safe and sound for people to live in,” said DeKalb County Commissioner Jeff Rader about the ordinance passed in December 2010. Under the ordinance, apartment owners are required to have their rental units inspected as a condition of getting or renewing a business license. During the first year of complying with the ordinance, all units in a complex must be inspected and in subsequent years 20 percent of the units are required to be inspected. Complexes that are less than five years old are exempt and the ordinance does not apply to condominiums, duplexes or extended stay hotels. The inspections will be performed by third-party inspectors who will ensure that the interior of rental units meet “state minimum standard codes,” the ordinance states. Letters about the new ordinance will be sent in January with business license renewal notices. Apartment complexes will be allowed to renew their licenses for 2012 without the interior inspections but all units must be inspected by October, according to Andrew Baker, the county’s interim director for planning and sustainability. “This gives them three months to get themselves up to standard if they fail an inspection,” Baker said. Following a checklist developed by the county’s planning and development department, inspectors will check whether: • The flooring is impervious in kitchen and bath areas. • Heating facilities are in working condition with no unvented heating appliances in sleeping rooms. • Required smoke detector devices are in place. • Plumbing facilities, including kitchen sink, lavatory, tub or shower, and water closet, are clean, sanitary and are in good working order. • Electrical outlets and light fixtures are in good working order with proper covers and no exposed wiring. • Both interior and exterior doors, jams and hardware are functional. • Interior and exterior stairs are in good working order with protective railing. • There is the proper number of residents per bedroom as required by law. • Extermination is needed. • Exit requirements are met with unobstructed means of egress leading to safe and open space. • There is excessive trash, rubbish or similar items.

Inspectors will be looking for “things that are hazardous,” Baker said. County officials said they believe that “a large number of multifamily units are not up to standards,” Baker said. “We want to improve the quality of life for those residents.” Currently, the county inspects the exteriors of apartment buildings, but is not allowed to inspect the interior unless invited in, Baker said. County inspectors said there is a direct correlation between exterior code violations and interior violations. “Hopefully, the majority of people will comply,” Baker said. “The ones that we have the most problems with are the ones with 100 or more units.”

DeKalb Schools allow parole officers on campus
by Daniel Beauregard During the course of the past year DeKalb County Schools has added an extra security measure in an effort to help keep students out of trouble, or stop trouble before it starts. School spokesman Walter Woods said since the system began allowing DeKalb County parole officers into schools they have been “enormously” helpful. “I think we’ve seen a reduction in in-school incidents…We’re seeing some trends that are positive with the [parole officers] reducing fights on campus and things like that,” Woods said. Atkinson Woods said the parole officers on campus have offices and differ from armed police officers serving as resource officers, although they work together at times. “They work with the principals and resource officers to ensure that the students that are eligible for probation are keeping out of trouble,” Woods said. “It also provides a resource for additional counseling for students and it’s a good preventative measure to have additional personnel on hand.” The program was implemented by Desiree Sutton Peagler, DeKalb County chief juvenile judge, and Theodore Carter Jr., former DeKalb County chief probation officer, in conjunction with school officials. According to reports, approximately 15 parole officers visit DeKalb’s middle and high schools three days a week, on average. Parole officers monitored nearly 400 students who have been to juvenile court for crimes ranging from truancy to more serious offenses such as assault or drug possession. “In every forum we have had people whosaid we need to focus on school discipline,” Woods said. “We recently hired a new head of discipline that will begin in January.” Woods said school discipline is a “big priority” for Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson’s new administration.

The Champion Free Press, Friday January 6, 2012

Opinion The Newslady

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Grade A cooperation
this summer. While this happened in 2011, the effort is worth noting and commending and hopefully is a harbinger of the kind of cooperation we can expect in this new year. Said CEO Ellis, “Standard and Poor’s has recognized our efforts to reorganize government, reduce staff and cut expenses, as well as raise revenue. They recognize that DeKalb is serious about fiscal responsibility. This restored rating allows us to move forward with the important work of upgrading our water and sewer systems and create thousands of jobs.” Commissioner Johnson said, “DeKalb County has demonstrated a willingness to do what it takes to preserve its financial integrity. Now we must continue to demonstrate good financial stewardship by maintaining a healthy reserve for posterity.” While the recent water and sewer rate increases that take effect this month were not to our liking, the increases apparently made the difference in our ability to negotiate choppy financial waters. The chief credit analyst for Standard and Poor’s said that our outlook “appears stable based on the expectation that the system will maintain solid operations and preserve its healthy financial position aided by the county’s timely implementation of rate increases as it addresses its significant capital investment program.” CEO Ellis and Commissioner Johnson made a presentation to representatives from S&P and Moody’s Investors Service Inc. last summer. Moody’s reaffirmed DeKalb’s Aa3 credit rating for general obligation debt in August. Johnson and Ellis put aside any political differences they might have for the greater good of DeKalb County. This is how government should work. These two leaders deserve our gratitude and appreciation for demonstrating that they can work beyond their own agendas to create financial stability for the county and create jobs in this struggling economy. Big ups guys. It’s called statesmanship.

DeKalb Commission Presiding Officer Larry Johnson and CEO Burrell Ellis get an “A” grade for their collaborative effort that resulted in the county getting an A plus for its long-term water and sewer revenue bonds and a double-A minus long-term rating to the county’s existing water and sewer bonds. This action follows the lead of Moody’s Investor’s Service, which reaffirmed the county’s Aa3 rating

Steen Miles, The Newslady, is a retired journalist and former Georgia state senator. Contact Steen Milies at

The Champion Free Press, Friday, January 6, 2012

The Drew Charter School miracle
the most violent and crime ridden public housing projects in America, with crime rates 18 times higher than the national average. In 1993, Atlanta developer Tom Cousins bought East Lake Country Club and the golf course and later formed East Lake Foundation. He began redeveloping that housing project into a thriving mixed-income community, the Villages of East Lake. Area crime rates have since declined by 95 percent, and the number of area families reliant on welfare (TANF) dropped from 59 percent to 5 percent. A large measure of the credit for this community transformation is connected to the Charles R. Drew Charter School, established in 2000, and replacing the former Drew Elementary School in the Atlanta Public School system. Drew Charter opened its doors with 240 kindergarten through fifth grade students, since expanding its enrollment and mission to 850 students from age 3 through the eighth grade. In 1995 only 5 percent of fifth graders at Drew Elementary were reading at grade level. By 2010, after a decade of operation of Drew Charter School, 99 percent of Drew fifth graders met or exceeded state standards for reading, language arts and math. “We are focusing now on not just meeting standards, but exceeding standards,” said Cynthia Kuhlman, chair of the Drew Charter Board of Directors. From the worst of times to the best of times From the crack-infested crime den of East Lake Meadows, Drew Charter is now also attached to a gleaming YMCA facility that is the area center for too many community uses and healthful purposes to mention in this column. The school also has free use and access to the Y facilities. Drew Charter remains a tuitionfree public school, serving the same area and local residents once served by Drew Elementary, and though Drew Charter is in an amazing facility rented back to the Atlanta Public Schools for a pittance, it is run on the same funding formula and per pupil expenditure as any other APS school. At Drew Charter, the faculty, volunteers, parents and certainly its students, simply learn and deliver astoundingly more benefit from those same resources. Drew parents sign a contract with the school agreeing to rules of behavior and conduct, including school uniforms, and as is the case with all charter schools, transportation is not provided by the school or APS. No school buses = More parental involvement As Drew was metro Atlanta’s first public charter school, a surprise outcome of requiring students and families to supply their own transportation is that a parent or family member is as a result often at least briefly at the school twice a day. In a neighborhood once dominated by single parents and the working poor, parents and siblings have as a result now become a part of the extended Drew Charter family. The differences are most notable in Drew Charter graduates, the first of whom (a decade later) are entering college with many planning careers in education, and a return to Drew to teach. Drew, through the East Lake Foundation, also offers a unique program called CREW (Creating Responsible, Educated and Working) to its graduates helping those teen navigate high school and college through academic and guidance counseling. I’m willing to bet that Drew students home for the holidays are already getting antsy about getting back to their school, due to the culture of yearning for learning so much in evidence there. As our public schools face so many challenges across Georgia, there are many lessons to be learned by paying a closer look and attention to the miracles at Drew Charter, proudly honoring the memory of its namesake, Dr. Charles Drew. Bill Crane is a DeKalb County native and business owner, living in Scottdale. He also serves as chief political analyst and commentator for 11Alive News and WSB Radio, News/Talk 750. Contact Bill Crane at

Opinion One Man’s Opinion

Page 5A

“I am blood, and blood is me,” Dr. Charles Drew (1904-1950), famed Black surgeon, physician and scientist credited with developing the modern blood bank, which saved the lives of thousands during World War II, and millions since. Dr. Charles Drew, a name perhaps unfamiliar to most of you, has one medical school, and 11 elementary and high schools named in his honor, as well as a dormitory at his alma mater, Howard University. Drew died all too young following a severe auto accident en route to a medical conference at Tuskegee Institute (now University) in 1950. His work in the science of blood plasma, transfusion and blood storage led to the creation of the modern blood bank, and has since saved or extended the lives of millions during surgery or after facing the wounds of war. Catalyst for community re-development East Lake Meadows was one of

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The Champion Free Press, Friday, January 6, 2012

Losing my cool


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Obama seems to have confused the "bully pulpit" with a "bully suggestion box."
badge of honor. I was kind of hoping for more of that from him. You know, “malefactors of great wealth,” that sort of thing. Instead we get “What we have here is a failure to communicate.” He seems to have confused the Ask anyone. I pride myself on be- “bully pulpit” with a “bully suggesing seldom surprised, shocked almost tion box.” He’s been channeling his inner Teddy Roosevelt lately, but he –– never. 2011, however, called my cool into has a ways to go. Let’s hope he gets there before we wake up with Newt question. I was nothing but shockGingrich as president. ingly surprised all year. The following comments are pulled straight from our website and are not Talk about surprises. Gingrich’s Take Barack Obama, particularly edited for content or grammar. since the 2010 Congressional election rise from the dead during this election or, as I like to call it, The Invasion of was nothing short of astonishing. I thought he was washed up 20 the Body Snatchers. I thought he’d be years ago when his colleagues in better. Congress turned on him. Even when Not that I didn’t have certain he turned up this year running for the reservations about him from the beGOP nomination, I didn’t take him ginning — his inexperience, for one thing. He’d never really run anything, seriously. Nor did he, apparently. The Am I the only one who believes that three of our let alone a government. But I thought first thing he did as a candidate was current School Board members are QUACKS or he was smart as a whip and could fig- run off to the Greek Isles with his wife. Then he surprised everybody by LUNATICS ? Just asking. ure it out. coming back with the same wife. I was also given pause by the But lo and behold, suddenly when sheer number of Harvard and Yale Herman Cain’s improbably strong –The SnoopyDog posted this on 12/31/11 at 10 a.m. graduates in his administration. Harcandidacy imploded, there he was, vard and Yale alums tend to have an answer for everything. Sometimes it’s right at the top. At least for a while. I hope they will also investigate the conflicts of Not since the heyday of Richard even the right answer. interest and violations of the Open Records Act and Nixon had we seen such a comeback, Still, I expected great things from unless you count Dracula. Open Meetings Law that took place regarding the cell him. He was obviously bright and And I suppose if I were listing poeloquent and able to inspire people, tower vote. There were many school board rules that all qualities that his immediate prede- litical surprises of the year I’d have were broken and it’s quite possible that kickbacks cessor was innocent of. Yet his presi- to include Cain. Never in my most and personal favors were the real reason why these baroque dreams did I imagine that dency has revealed too few of those the first Republican pizza executive towers were approved. I hope they will contact qualities, instead erring on the side to run for president would be African of caution. He has invested a great organizers or at least read their deal of energy in trying to make com- American. blog site. Cain “suspended” his campaign a mon cause with his sworn enemy, a Republican Party whose leader in the couple of weeks ago because women kept showing up on a more or less Senate has said his No. 1 goal is to – posted this on 12/30/11 at 7:08 p.m. daily basis, accusing him of loving make Obama a one-term president. not wisely but too often. Thus Obama has engaged in talk Historically, that has been a dealafter talk, negotiation after negotiation with Republican leaders in an ef- breaker with the American public. The whole point of this is to get rid o0f as much dead fort to find a bipartisan solution to the You have to be Bill Clinton to get away with it. And I have no idea how wood and corruption as possible so we can actually nation’s problems, only to be stonehe did it. walled. This has left him vulnerable focus resources of money and quality educators on Apparently Newt does, though. to the criticism that his presidency is educating children. This is anything but a distraction a failure, that he hasn’t done what he In December, he “solemnly” vowed to “uphold the institution of marsaid he’d do. riage through personal fidelity to my He can say, with some justice, “I – Don’t be cute Ernie posted this on 12/30/11 at 4:40 p.m. spouse and respect for the marital tried to do those things, but the Rebonds of others.” The fact that he was publicans wouldn’t let me.” not immediately struck by lightning I wonder how far back will they go with investigating But what kind of answer is that leads one to the conclusion that God, for a president? Are those the words ‘friends and family’? It is a know fact that ‘friends and if not actually dead, is certainly sleepof a leader? Can you imagine Harry family’ from former superintendents, board members, Truman saying that? Or Franklin D. ing. and other high ranking officials used ‘friends and OtherWords columnist Donald Roosevelt? Surrounded by avowed family’ like most municipalities around the country. political enemies, they welcomed the Kaul lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. How much time do we want to spend on this as this hatred they inspired and wore it as a

Grand jury says DeKalb school board should be investigated

takes the focus away from educating children.

-- ErnestB posted this on 12/30/11 at 2:06 p.m.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, January 6, 2012

Local News

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Thieves’ Christmas Eve robbery caught on video
by Andrew Cauthen possibly a 2002-09 Dodge Intrepid, backing into the home’s driveway. A couple A group of grinches of minutes later, after three robbed the home of a Deca- runners go by, a Black male tur family early on Christis seen approaching the mas Eve, taking gifts out the front door, presumably to front door in broad daylight. ensure that no one was in And the crime was caught the home. Seconds later, on a surveillance camera. three other Black males join Kevin Kinley, who lives him at the door and kick it on Fayetteville Road in the open. Oakhurst community of The video then shows Decatur, said thieves took the males taking various “everything that was under items from the home. the tree and wrapped.” Kinley said a neighbor The gifts included cloth- saw the vehicle in their ing, shoes, gifts for the driveway but thought it was couple’s parents and for a family member. each other. Other stolen Kinley, who works in items included the family’s the technology field, said iMac computer, a flat screen he installed the homemade television, iPad and digital surveillance system “more camera. as a hobby until now.” The Fortunately, most to the video was stored on a DVR gifts from Santa to the two separate from the computer. Kinley children, ages 2 and To try to catch the 4, were hidden and not unthieves, Kinley has turned der the Christmas tree, Kinley said. In all, Kinley estimated that approximately $5,000 to $8,000 in belongings were stolen from the house. Repairing the front door, which was kicked in by the burglars, will cost the Kinley’s another $1,500. A recording from Kinley’s surveillance camera, installed above the front door, shows a silver sedan, to social media. He posted the video on Youtube and shared the link with his community’s Yahoo group page. Kinley also started a Twitter account, @DecaturGrinch, to provide updates in the case. As of Jan. 3, the video had topped 16,600 views. The story has even gotten national media attention. Kinley said the family did not let the crime ruin its Christmas. “At first we didn’t want it to interrupt the kid’s Christmas,” Kinley said. “We acted as if it didn’t happen.” But now the Kinleys just want peace in their home. “It doesn’t feel like our home is peaceful right now,” Kinley said. “The only way that will happen is if these guys are caught.”

Champion of the Week
Bonnie Flynt
There also are trash and recycling days, and Flynt is active in a senior assistance program where volunteers clean up yards, cut grass and pick up leaves. The association also has an ongoing curb appeal project. The volunteers provide the labor while the homeowners provide materials. The projects include planting trees, flowers and shrubs around homes. The neighborhood holds an annual spring fling, which raises money for multiple sclerosis and the association has done fundraisers for Hands on Atlanta. The association also raised money to donate to the family of Doraville Police Det. Shane Wilson, who was killed recently in the line of duty. “When people volunteer together, it creates a large warm-fuzzy,” Flynt said. “When you see others doing it, it spreads like wildfire. It’s good for the community as a whole; it creates a sense of pride. It makes everyone feel good about it and everybody wins.” Flynt combines her passion for running with her volunteer work by running in charity races. She helps organize a run in Northwoods that benefits Childrens Healthcare of Atlanta. A contractor by trade, Flynt volunteers for Habitat for Humanity when she’s not helping her neighborhood. “I inherited [my interest in volunteering] from my mother,” Flynt said. “She was big into volunteerism and I witnessed all of that.”

Bonnie Flynt is easy to spot in her Doraville neighborhood. Whether she is recruiting volunteers during her routine jogs through the community, planting trees or helping to clean up a local school, Flynt is the face of the Northwoods Area Homeowners Association. She started on the board in 2007 as secretary and was elected president in September of 2010. Flynt has helped the association grow in membership and in volunteer participation. Northwoods encompasses several neighborhoods and 750 homes. Nearly 90 households are members of the association. “When I became secretary, there were 22 households (in the association),” Flynt said. “That was just not acceptable to me. I took it as a personal challenge. I’m a runner, and when I would jog through the neighborhood, I would encourage people to join.” The association does a lot of cleaning up in the community, including a quarterly cleanup of Sequoyah Middle School.

If you would like to nominate someone to be considered as a future Champion of the Week, please contact Kathy Mitchell at or at 404-373-7779, ext. 104.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, January 6, 2012

Local News

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Grand jury says DeKalb school board should be investigated
by Andrew Cauthen Describing the county’s school board as being in “turmoil,” the DeKalb County Grand Jury is calling for an investigation into the actions of the group. One problem cited was the hiring process of county school superintendent Cheryl Atkinson. The school board “delayed and compromised the Superintendent hiring process for over 18 months,” stated the grand jury in a presentment released on Dec. 29. The panel is requesting that a special grand jury be convened to look into the school board. In its presentment, the grand jury stated that leaks to the media about certain aspects of the selection process came “from a very limited number of persons who were mostly DeKalb County School Board members.” “This leads to suspicion that certain board members were on purpose working to compromise the selection process to the detriment of the DeKalb School System and the citizens of DeKalb County,” the grand jury’s presentment stated. The grand jury also expressed concerns about the school board’s influence in the hiring and personnel evaluation process, stating that “it appears that there has


Two men arrested in Dunwoody murder case
The Dunwoody Police Department has arrested two men for the Dec. 26 killing of a Dunwoody man. Kevin Stallworth, 30, of College Park, was charged with murdering 32-year-old Ivan Perez at the Pointe at Perimeter Apartments located at 100 Ashford Gables Drive. Stallworth was arrested in Jonesboro. Perez was allegedly shot several times at approximately 3:43 p.m. outside of Building 8 of the apartment complex after being confronted by Stallworth. He was transported to Grady Memorial Hospital where he was pronounced dead. According to a press release, police said the Perez was not the intended target. Dunwoody Police also charged 33-yearold Antiwan Lane, of Norcross, with murder for hire. Both suspects are being held at the DeKalb County Jail.

been a long-term culture of active or perceived influence of DeKalb County School Board members on the hiring and retention of ‘friends and family.’”

The grand jury specifically mentioned the positions of parent centers and family service coordinators which appear to have “salaries out of line with other roles with-

in the School System.” “While policies and procedures need to be put in place immediately to prevent issues in this area, we believe an investigation should be made to determine if past actions to hire and retain (protect) school system employees have taken place to the significant detriment to the citizens of DeKalb County,” the grand jury presentment stated. Other issues the grand jury wants investigated include whether senior personnel are employed in outside work that would impede their ability to perform their required duties; whether DeKalb County School funds were used to promote the recent SPLOST referendum; and whether proper procedures were followed in hiring attorneys, deciding to file a lawsuit and management of the lawsuit by the DeKalb County School Board in its case against Heery International’s mismanagement of projects. In a statement, DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James said, “We take the recommendations of the grand jury very seriously and will review the information pertaining to the concerns regarding the DeKalb County School System and determine a proper course of action.”

The Champion Free Press, Friday, January 6, 2012

Lithonia again looking for a police chief
by Andrew Cauthen After just a year on the job, Lithonia’s police chief Kennis Harrell has resigned. “It’s just another resignation,” Harrell said on Dec. 30 as he was leaving his office. Harrell, a former deputy chief of the DeKalb County Police Department, said there was “no controversy” that led to his resignation. The 25-year law enforcement veteran said he plans to do “nothing,” which later he described as hunting, fishing and hanging out with his grandchildren. With the DeKalb police department, Harrell worked as a lieutenant, captain, sergeant, homicide detective and academy instructor before becoming a deputy chief overseeing operations of the department’s south and east precincts. In November 2010, Harrell took over the chief’s position in Lithonia, which had been vacant for nine months after the then-chief Willie Rosser resigned. Mayor elect Deborah Jackson, who learned of the chief’s resignation on Dec. 29, said she hopes the chief would reconsider and stay on as the chief. “It’s been a tumultuous year” for Lithonia, Jackson said. Last March, the Lithonia City Council fired its city clerk over the objections of then-mayor Tonya Peterson Anderson. The clerk, Missye Varner, was terminated after she allegedly violated city policy by accepting service of a lawsuit delivered by a DeKalb County Sheriff’s deputy. Lithonia begins the year with a recently hired city administrator and clerk, and, after having problems getting a recent special election cleared by the U.S. Justice Department, the city has a new council and mayor.

Local News

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DeKalb County Wants to Hear From You Regarding the Proposed Franchise Agreement Renewal with Comcast Cable Communications
Send your comments and/or concerns regarding Comcast’s current performance under the current franchise agreement and/or the future cable-related needs and interests of your community to

The Champion Weather
Seven Day Forecast THURSDAY
Sunny High: 54 Low: 34

Jan. 5, 2012
Today's Regional Map Weather History
Jan. 5, 1982 - A three-day rainstorm in the San Francisco area finally came to an end. Marin County and Cruz County were drenched with up to 25 inches of rain and the Sierra Nevada Range was buried under four to eight feet of snow. Jan. 6, 1989 - A blizzard ripped through south central and southeastern Idaho. Strong winds, gusting to 60 mph at the Fort Hall Indian Reservation, whipped the snow into drifts five feet high and produced wind chill readings as cold as 35 degrees below zero. Dunwoody 52/33 Lilburn Smyrna Doraville 53/34 53/34 53/34 Snellville Decatur 54/34 Atlanta 54/34 54/34 Lithonia College Park 55/34 55/34 Morrow 55/34 Union City 55/34 Hampton 56/35

In-Depth Local Forecast
Today we will see sunny skies with a high temperature of 54º, humidity of 53%. West wind 10 to 15 mph. The record high temperature for today is 73º set in 1950. Expect mostly clear skies tonight with an overnight low of 34º. The record low for tonight is 9º set in 1959.

Sunny High: 62 Low: 46

*Last Week’s Almanac
Hi Lo Normals Precip Date Tuesday 52 41 52/34 1.27" Wednesday 50 31 52/34 0.00" Thursday 55 27 52/34 0.00" Friday 63 33 52/34 0.01" Saturday 63 40 52/34 0.00" Sunday 66 37 52/34 0.00" Monday 45 29 52/34 0.00" Rainfall . . . . . . .1.28" Average temp . .45.1 Normal rainfall . .0.94" Average normal 43.0 Departure . . . . .+0.34" Departure . . . . .+2.1
*Data as reported from De Kalb-Peachtree Airport

Few Showers High: 63 Low: 47

Partly Cloudy High: 60 Low: 39

Mostly Sunny High: 53 Low: 35

Sunny High: 49 Low: 28 Full 1/9

Local Sun/Moon Chart This Week
Day Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Sunrise 7:42 a.m. 7:42 a.m. 7:42 a.m. 7:42 a.m. 7:42 a.m. 7:42 a.m. 7:42 a.m. Sunset 5:43 p.m. 5:44 p.m. 5:44 p.m. 5:45 p.m. 5:46 p.m. 5:47 p.m. 5:48 p.m. Moonrise 2:45 p.m. 3:34 p.m. 4:28 p.m. 5:27 p.m. 6:28 p.m. 7:31 p.m. 8:34 p.m. Moonset 4:27 a.m. 5:21 a.m. 6:13 a.m. 7:01 a.m. 7:45 a.m. 8:26 a.m. 9:03 a.m. New 1/23

Tonight's Planets
Mercury Venus Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Rise Set 6:25 a.m. 4:19 p.m. 9:52 a.m. 8:26 p.m. 10:50 p.m.11:31 a.m. 1:02 p.m. 2:07 a.m. 1:50 a.m. 1:07 p.m. 11:41 a.m.11:43 p.m.

My name is Emily,
and in seven years I’ll be an alcoholic.
Kids who drink before age 15 are 5 times more likely to have alcohol problems when they’re adults.

Sunny High: 54 Low: 31 Last 1/16

First 1/30

Local UV Index

National Weather Summary This Week
The Northeast will see mostly clear to partly cloudy skies with isolated snow today through Saturday, with the highest temperature of 53º in Quincy, Ill. The Southeast will see mostly clear skies today and Friday, isolated thunderstorms Saturday, with the highest temperature of 71º in Opa Locka, Fla. The Northwest will see isolated rain today, mostly clear to partly cloudy skies Friday and Saturday, with the highest temperature of 62º in Buffalo, Wyo. The Southwest will see mostly clear skies today through Saturday, with the highest temperature of 83º in Los Angeles, Calif.

Weather Trivia
How many hurricanes develop in the Atlantic per year?
Answer: On average, six.

0 - 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11+


To learn more, go to or call 1.800.729.6686

UV Index 0-2: Low, 3-5: Moderate, 6-7: High, 8-10: Very High 11+: Extreme Exposure

StarWatch By Gary Becker - Fastest, Closest in January
H a p p y N e w Y e a r ! The Holiday rush may be behind us, but for the Earth, the first week in January means that it’s moving at its fastest pace. In fact on January 5 at 7 p.m. EST, the Earth reaches this location called perihelion which is also its closest position to the sun. That may seem strange, especially since we are approaching the coldest time of the year, but for the Earth the seasons have nothing to do with distance and everything to do with the change in the sun’s angle or its altitude in the sky. This changes because the Earth’s axis is tilted. The variation in Earth’s distance from the sun causes its orbital velocity to change. When the Earth reaches perihelion, the gravitational attraction between it and the sun are at a maximum, and the Earth responds by moving fastest. This has a curious effect on the seasons because it makes the period of time from fall through winter about a week shorter than from spring through summer. A week may not seem like much time, but a little more summer is always preferable over winter. Because its orbital speed is always changing, Earth cannot revolve around the sun in a circular path. Its orbital shape is oval in contour, an ellipse to be precise. Two points of interest called the foci, connect to the boundary of the ellipse in such a way that the distance from focus one to a boundary point, plus the distance from the same boundary position to focus two, are always the same for any point along the ellipse. At one focus the sun is found; at the other focus, only an empty point in space exists. Opposite Earth’s perihelion position and along the longest axis of the ellipse, called the major axis, lies Earth’s farthest position from the sun, identified as aphelion. Earthlings won’t have to consider being there until July 4, 2012 at 11 p.m. EDT., around the time that most fireworks extravaganzas will be ending along the East Coast.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, January 6, 2012

Local News

Page 10A

Christmas tree recycling day set
Residents can bring their Christmas trees to Avondale lake to be recycled on Jan. 7, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Trees can be placed on the curb through Jan. 6. The recycling day is part of the Bring One for the Chipper program, where the mulch from the trees is used for playgrounds, local government beautification projects and private landscaping. Trees should be brought to the old compost area near Wiltshire and Berkeley. For more information, call city hall at (404) 294-5400. successful writer. The power of the deadline, as well as the positive use of writers’ groups and personal coaching, will also be shared. Funding is provided by the Friends of the Toco Hill-Avis G. Williams Library. Toco Hill-Avis G. Williams Library is located at 1282 McConnell Drive, Decatur. For more information, call, (404) 679-4404.

Lithonia holds swearing in ceremony
Lithonia’s mayor-elect Deborah Jackson and recently elected city council members Darold Honore and Shameka Reynolds will take their oaths of office on Jan. 9. Carol W. Hunstein, chief justice of the Georgia Supreme Court, will administer the oath during the ceremony at Lithonia Middle School, 2451 Randall Ave. in Lithonia. For more information, contact Lithonia City Clerk Leah Rodriguez at 770-4828136.

Writer to present second novel
Ellis Avery will be at the Decatur Library Tuesday, Jan. 10, at 7:15 p.m. Avery’s second novel, The Last Nude, is a story of love, sexual obsession, treachery and tragedy. A young woman agrees to model for the Art Deco painter Tamara de Lempicka, and the two become lovers as the young woman becomes the artist’s most iconic Jazz Age image. But their idyll is threatened by historical forces and the strains of a passionate relationship. Drawn from real-life events, The Last Nude is “a dazzling work of historical imagination.” Avery studied Japanese for five years in New York and Kyoto, Japan, and now teaches creative writing at Columbia University. Her first novel was The Teahouse Fire. The Decatur Library is located at 215 Sycamore St., Decatur. For more information, call (404) 370-3070.

Youth make nursing home visit

Lithonia revitalization plans posted on YouTube
After months of planning, the first phase of the Lithonia Blueprints for Successful Communities is now complete. The final report of Blueprints, a program of the Georgia Conservancy that helps communities promote growth, is expected to be released in February and will outline the various recommendations for the city in detail. Until then, residents can see a video of some of the recommended short-term initiatives recommended by Georgia Tech students assisting with the project. To view the video, go to www.YouTube. com and search for “Lithonia Urban Projection.”

Kids offered story and cupcake
Ruby Wright is surrounded Dec. 18 by young visitors at the UPAC Nursing Home on Panthersville Road in Decatur. The youngsters participated in an Annie W. Thomas Foundation event during which more than 135 lap blankets were given as Christmas gifts to the nursing home residents. The children, who presented a play, sang Christmas carols and passed out blankets, “were overwhelmed with emotions that left some of them in tears. They wanted to spend more time with the senior citizens,” said foundation Director Buffie McCoy, who noted, “Ms. Patricia Roberson, the assistant activity coordinator was extremely hospitable to us. It was truly a wonderful experience.” Piece of Cake in Dunwoody will host a Children’s Storytime on Tuesday, Jan.10, 10 -10:30 a.m. Children who are brought to the Dunwoody Piece of Cake location to hear the story of Tina Cocalina: Queen of the Cupcakes will receive a free small cupcake. The store is located at 1155 Mount Vernon Highway, Suite 450, Dunwoody. For more information, call (770) 643-4997.

MLK Day parade and rally needs volunteers
Volunteers are needed to help with the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade and Rally sponsored by the DeKalb Branch of the NAACP. The event is set for Monday, Jan. 16, at 12:30 p.m. and the parade will begin at 922 Main Street in downtown Stone Mountain. Following the parade, the Peace Rally will be in the Champion Theme Middle School gymnasium, located at 5265 Mimosa Drive, Stone Mountain. Volunteers are needed to work with the planning committee, make donations and assist parade participants. Parade participants should arrive no later than 11:30 am at the downtown Stone Mountain MARTA parking lot on Fourth Street. From more information contact Sarah Copelin-Wood at (404) 371-1490 or

Foreclosure seminar offered
The Stonecrest Library will present a special program, Stopping Foreclosure, Saturday, Jan 7, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. Dr. Deborah Saunders, author of Stop Illegal Predatory Lending! A Self-Help Guide, will facilitate this foreclosure information session. Saunders will provide tips on how to stop and/or slow the foreclosure process and offer strategies on how not to become a victim of foreclosure. Call or visit the branch to register. Stonecrest Library is located at 3123 Klondike Road, Lithonia. The phone number is (770) 482-3828.

Author to share writing tips
Wayne South Smith, a published author and writing coach, will conduct a seminar, The Writer’s Essentials for Success, Saturday, Jan. 7, 10:30 a.m. – noon at the Toco Hill-Avis G. Williams Library. The seminar will cover how to develop the commitment, awareness and creative balance needed to become a

The Champion Free Press, Friday, January 6, 2012

Local News

Page 11A

Hardeman Continued From Page 1A
what he was doing,” Carson said. After graduating from Avondale, Hardeman attended Fullerton Community College in California on a football scholarship. In spring, an injury forced him to return home for surgery. He had planned to enroll in Georgia State University and try out for the football team next fall. In the meantime, Hardeman had been playing on a semi-pro football team in Clayton County called the Georgia Jets and moved in with his sister in southwest Atlanta. Carson has spoken to Matthew’s mother since the shooting and said, “It’s still hard for her, knowing he’s not here. The fact that someone can take a life over a disagreement, it’s tough.” Matthew had moved in to his sister’s house to help with her baby and had begun seeing one of the girls across the street. According to Gloria, an argument escalated over the girl and Matthew ended up in a fight with someone over it. “He didn’t know anything about that neighborhood over there,” Gloria said. “I didn’t like the neighborhood, it was a bad neighborhood and I think his sister was having problems with her neighbor.” Gloria said after Matthew got into the fight, he thought that would be the end of it. However, later that night he was killed by four suspects whom she said most likely had ties to the neighbor Matthew fought with earlier that day. “They’ve caught two of them,” Gloria said. “We won’t get Matthew back but at least we’ll get some justice from it. We want all of them caught though, not just half of them.” Gloria said she hasn’t been able to cook a full meal since her son died—she finds herself wandering around the house as if lost sometimes, and still has trouble putting into words how she feels—but the thing that keeps her going every day is remembering how many people Matthew touched during his short life. “He was important to everyone who knew him,” Gloria said. Tanner remembered a time when Matthew was made to sit out of a football game because he was falling behind in his schoolwork. Shortly into the first quater fans began to chant his name. “Everybody said put him in the game and sure enough they did. I’ve never seen that before,” Tanner said. “Everything he accomplished though he made sure you knew about. He wouldn’t let you forget it.” Gloria remembered a time when Matthew was 16 years old and his cousin, who was several years older than him, after surgery and drug problems caused he to suffer a mental breakdown and stop talking. “He would come over here and Matthew would say, ‘C’mon man you’ve got to talk, you’ve got to get yourself together.’ Then, all of a sudden as time passed he started talking again, but he would talk to nobody but Matthew,” she said. Gloria said things will never be the same without her son but she has faith that justice will be done and some good will come out of his death. Gloria said Matthew was the type of person who would do anything he was asked and “if you didn’t ask him he’d ask you and say, ‘Can I help?’” With Matthew it was never a dull moment, she said, everyone would be hanging on his every word if he was in the room, waiting for him to make them laugh. “The only boring moment is

Matthew Hardeman was a member of The Champion’s 2009 all-county football team. Photo by Travis Hudgons

now. The only sad moment is now,” she said. “But, he was important to everybody who knew him…he was special. Like Coach

Carson said, all the years he’s been coaching, Matthew was the only guy who touched him like he did.”

Refugees Continued From Page 1A
essential services for the first 90 days. While RRISA focuses on resettlement, other organizations provide an array of social services that refugees need to become selfsufficient. For example, Refugee Family Services (RFS), located in Stone Mountain, specializes in services to women and youth. The various organizations coordinate their efforts. “We have a sense of working together,” said Emily Pelton, RFS executive director. She said agency directors meet regularly to discuss concerns and often speak with one voice on issues. They also refer clients to each other based on each agency’s strengths, with the aim of best assisting the refugees. “Atlanta area agencies are a model of collaboration,” Mixon added. Currently, the largest share of new refugees to DeKalb comes from Bhutan (from camps in Nepal) and Burma (from camps in Thailand), according to Pelton and Mixon. DeKalb also has an influx of refugees from Afghanistan and Iraq—many of whom collaborated with the United States as interpreters during the two wars and now fear retaliation from extremists in their home country. Those escaping ethnic violence in Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea also represent a significant, though smaller, population of new refugees into the community. This coordinated effort includes county agencies. For example, when the refugees arrive, the DeKalb County Board of Health provides medical screening through its Refugee Health Program. Its mission is twofold: to eliminate health-related barriers to successful resettlement and to protect the health of the general public. The health services include immunizations and tuberculosis assessment, as well as mental health and torture screenings. Pelton said there is an unfortunate political discourse that paints a negative picture of the refugees. In fact, many of them quickly become contributors to the community once they are settled and gain employment. Mixon agrees: “Refugees bring a lot to the community. Their resilience is amazing. Many of them assimilate quickly, start new businesses and purchase homes. And they are grateful to be here.”

The Champion Free Press, Friday, January 6, 2012

Cross Keys graduate finds the good in DeKalb Schools
A former student speaks about his experience in DeKalb public schools
This is an excerpt from an essay written by Mpaza S. Kapembwa, a student at Williams College, in Massachusetts. Kapembwa is a 2011 Cross Keys graduate, Gates Millennium Scholar, Coca Cola Scholar, Dell Scholar and Bank of America Student Leader. His essay was written on his first trip home in response to what he saw as a “tumultuous” year for DeKalb Schools. It is heartbreaking to see all the negative news surrounding the DeKalb County School system over the past year but we shouldn’t end the year on a negative note. There is a lot of good in our schools beneath everything we hear. I can’t speak for every school or student but I will speak of my experience at one school that has changed my life. I’m a 2011 Cross Keys High School alumnus currently attending Williams College in Massachusetts. I know what most of you are thinking. “Williams? Never heard of it.” That’s OK because I hadn’t either until senior year of high school. Williams is a liberal arts college that has been ranked the No. 1 college in America for the past two years by Forbes magazine. Almost everyone at Williams who comes from Atlanta attended private school. When I met other students from DeKalb public schools, I was thrilled. One Friday night, I was in the student center and two former DeKalb students joined me. We talked about the schools we came from, and one of the students said she was proud of me because I came from the worst school in the county. I’ve heard this many times but it never bothers me. I wanted to be mad at her but I couldn’t. I live by a simple saying: “I won’t let other people’s ignorance define who I am.” I know she is not alone in thinking Cross Keys is the worst school in DeKalb. Some parents may think if they send their kids to Cross Keys or any of its feeder schools they are doing them a disservice. It’s no secret, parental involvement at Cross Keys is very low. My mother works two jobs and I barely see her, and that’s the case with many of the parents. Unlike many schools, we don’t have a strong Parent Teacher Association or a Booster Club for any of our sports teams and yes, we don’t have a lot of things that your school or child’s school may have. Despite all this, I have never felt like a victim. I went to school with some of the most courageous people I have ever known. In To Kill A Mockingbird, Atticus Finch says, “I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It’s when you know you’re licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what.” We rarely got all the resources we wanted; we had a hard time raising money to pay for our


Page 12A

Mpaza Kapembwa, a 2011 graduate of Cross Keys High School, is currently attending Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Photo provided

robotics team to compete or get the new track we wanted but we never stopped fighting. However, after fighting for years we finally saw some of the renovations we needed— that was a rare victory. I am proud to be a Cross Keys Indian, and I represent that everywhere I go. At the Coca-Cola Scholarship Banquet in April, I was the only student from Atlanta being honored; therefore, I had the privilege to sit with Mayor Kasim Reed, the First Lady of Georgia Mrs. Sandra Deal and The Coca-Cola Company CEO Mr. Muhtar Kent. I talked to Mr. Kent and he told me he was from an immigrant family, like most of us at Cross Keys, and that he started out as a truck driver at Coca-Cola in 1978. Now, he is heading the company

worldwide. When I hear people saying Cross Keys only produces students who attend technical schools, I just smile because I know some of the world’s great leaders started out from humble beginnings. I consider myself very blessed for the three years I spent at Cross Keys. I helped captain the soccer team to its first ever final-four appearance, and I am hopeful the team will go further this year. I was there to witness Leonel Ayala, a good friend, win back-to-back cross country state championships and to watch our track team compete in the state championships every year. I am very fortunate to have been on the football team that broke a 40-game losing streak and went on to win two in a row and was

honored as FOX 5 Team of the Week and to have played for a soccer coach who garnered 50 wins in four years. I do realize that a lot of problems exist in DeKalb and within individual schools but the negativity of the past year has not been very constructive. As I continue to embark on a remarkable journey at Williams I will keep fighting for Cross Keys by representing it in my actions. I hope hearing from a Cross Keys alumnus will change the way you look at Cross Keys and inspire you to start looking deeper into other schools that some might be disparaging. What you focus on, you will magnify. Kapembwa’s full essay is available at

New Birth Christian Academy closes
According to reports, New Birth Christian Academy announced in a letter sent home to parents on Dec. 22, it will be closing and will not reopen at the beginning of the new year. The closing of the school, which serves more than 200 students, means parents whose children attended New Birth Christian Academy have little time to find a new school for their child. Tuition for the K-12 school ranged from $5 to $7,000 a year for each child, with nonmembers paying more than New Birth Missionary Baptist Church members. The school’s vice-chair of the board of directors Carlton Donald cited financial strain as the reason for the school’s closure but also stated the closure would be temporary. In May, 2011, New Birth’s Bishop Eddie Long settled a sexual coercion suit filed against him by four former New Birth members. Most recently, his wife of 21 years, Vanessa, filed for divorce and the bishop announced he would take some time off from his pastoral duties to tend to “family business.” Long said he will remain as New Birth’s senior pastor.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, January 6, 2012


Page 13A

Rosenfeld Jewelry sparkles among Tucker businesses
by Kathy Mitchell Bill Rosenfeld attributes the success of his business, Rosenfeld Jewelry, in part to relationships he has built in the community. “People know us, they trust us and they refer their friends to us. It’s a slow way to build a business, but a good reputation is the best marketing tool you can have,” he said. Rosenfeld’s commitment to “stay active in and be generous to the community” also is among the reasons his business was chosen as this year’s Tucker Business of the Year by the Tucker Business Association and that he was this year’s Rotarian of the Year. In addition to being a past president of the Stone Mountain Rotary Club, he is active in the DeKalb County Chamber of Commerce, the Small Business Development Center and other organizations. A former firefighter and paramedic, Rosenfeld became interested in the jewelry business after a close friend who was in the business suggested that he would be good at it. He learned more about it through jobs at such places as the now defunct Service Merchandise. Then he went to gemology school. The basics of the jewelry business haven’t changed in thousands of years, Rosenfeld said. Once you learn them, it’s a matter of whether one has talent in the area. “Apparently, I have talent,” he said. “This has worked out well for me.” In 1982, Rosenfeld opened his own store on Memorial Drive. When the building in Tucker that now houses his business became available in 2004, he bought it. He said that maintaining a staff that not only is professional but pleasant to work with is another key to the business’ success. Most are Gemological Institute of America certified. “Among us, we have more than 100 years of experience in the jewelry business,” Rosenfeld said. Rosenfeld said that his showroom on Lavista Road is a friendly place where customers and staff often share a laugh. “I don’t remember the last time we had an unhappy customer,” he said. “Of course, you can’t please everyone, but if we find we can’t provide a customer with what he or she needs, we’re happy to refer them to someone else. We want everyone to have a good experience here.” The trust and goodwill of customers is more important than the opportunity to make a few extra dollars, he said. “A customer might bring a piece in for a repair that he’s prepared to pay for, but if we find that it’s still under warranty, we can delight the person by telling him that the piece will be repaired at no charge.” His policy, he said, is “honest customer care first.” While Rosenfeld said that like nearly every business, his has been affected by the struggling economy, it helps that Rosenfeld Jewelry is diversified. About half the business is retail, but the other half involves repairing jewelry and creating custom pieces for individuals and other retailers, some outside the state. While basics of the business go back thousands of years, jewelry design and repair as it is done at Rosenfeld’s is state of the art, using a sophisticated computer program. Repairs, pearl stringing, appraisals, engraving and castings are done on the premises. Essentially anything the customer envisions can be designed and built through a multi-step process that allows the customer at every stage to confirm that the piece being built is indeed what he had in mind. “The piece is built around the stones, whether they are stones the customer owns or ones he buys from us,” explained Rosenfeld, who takes frequent trips to Antwerp, Belgium, the diamond capital of the world, to personally select gems for his customers. Rosenfeld acknowledged that there are many good jewelers in the Atlanta area but added that he’s not afraid of competition. “Competition is good. It keeps you on your toes,” he said.

Above and below, Bill Rosenfeld shows areas of his shop for designing, making and repairing jewelry. Pearls, gems, watches and other fine pieces are featured in the showroom on Lavista Road. Photos by Kathy Mitchell

The Voice of Business in DeKalb County
Two Decatur Town Center, 125 Clairemont Ave., Suite 235, Decatur, GA 30030

DeKalb Chamber of Commerce

Page 14A

The Champion Free Press, Friday, January 6, 2012


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The Champion Free Press, Friday, January 6, 2012


Page 15A

Christmas comes early for basketball campers
by Robert Naddra


The camp staff included several DeKalb ties, including Southwest DeKalb girls arsity basketvarsity coach Kathy Walball players ton, and former St. Pius and from Southwest Tennessee standout Kelly DeKalb and CoCain. lumbia were among more “This is about more than 160 players who got than basketball,” Moore an early Christmas present said. “It’s about leadership, recently—participation in a work ethic and what it’s free basketball clinic hosted like to be a great teammate. by WNBA Rookie of the I always like to get out Year Maya Moore. there and help kids.” Moore is the hottest Each participant recommodity in women’s ceived a Nike Michael Jorprofessional basketball, dan bag, a camp T-shirt and but she hasn’t forgotten her had the opportunity to get roots. Moore, who attended her picture taken with the Collins Hill High School WNBA superstar. Moore in Gwinnett County but was the WNBA rookie of played AAU basketball in the year last season and south DeKalb, set records at earlier this year became the the University of Connecti- first female player signed cut and led the Minnesota by the Michael Jordan Lynx to the WNBA chambrand. pionship last fall in her first Organizers brought in a pro season. photo booth where Moore She visited Southwest took pictures with two DeKalb High School on campers at a time during Dec. 20 for Maya’s Merry the eight-hour event. Christmas Clinic. Middle In addition to taking school and high school photos, Moore participated players from as far away as in drills with the campers. Florida and South Carolina “There’s a lot of hisattended the free camp. tory here for me and I know “It’s been a great expea lot of the players and rience; I’m very fortunate coaches,” said Moore, who to be here,” said Southwest was coached by Walton on DeKalb varsity player the AAU level. “Both boys Nekia Sockwell. “I’m crazy and girls teams are so comand fun, and she’s crazy and petitive here. You can find fun so we got some great different players to help you pictures. She knows when develop.” to be serious and when to Moore played with the have fun.” Georgia Metros Girls Bas-

WNBA player and former Atlanta resident Maya Moore addresses campers at her free Maya’s Merry Christmas Clinic held recently at Southwest DeKalb High School. Photos by Robert Naddra

ketball Club, which was founded in south DeKalb County 28 years ago. The AAU program has sent

nearly 400 female players to college on basketball scholarships. “I want to continue to

be involved in some way,” Moore said. “I always enjoy getting out on the court and teaching. It’s in my blood.”

Death of teammate a creates bond for Southwest DeKalb wrestlers
tlers did not know Kelly, his death has brought the team closer together, coach Keith Johnson said. “The kids are very dedicated,” Johnson Rafael Kelly’s headgear and singlet said. “Of course they miss him. Some of hang in the Southwest DeKalb locker room. His photo is next to the wrestling the new kids don’t know him but they’ve gear. heard about him. It brought the kids togethSouthwest DeKalb wrestlers are left er as far as doing the right thing and being to draw on those keepsakes for inspiration where you’re supposed to be. It’s a lesson and motivation, instead of hearing encour- for the kids about guns and how unsafe aging words from Kelly this season. they are.” The Panthers are dedicating the season The team had a moment of silence in to Kelly, who was shot and killed last sum- honor of Kelly at its first home meet, and mer in Clayton County. Kelly, the Region Johnson said there likely will be another 6-AAAA champion in 2011 at 189 pounds, such remembrance at the county champiwas considered among the favorites again onships at the end of the month. this season as the Panthers work toward Southwest is wearing new black unidefending their first region championship forms this season with the number “189,” since 2006. Kelly’s weight class, on the back. “We were close; he was like a brother Johnson said he stays in touch with to me,” said senior Gabe Echols. “It’s hard Kelly’s mother, but she has not come to you know, just trying to stay focused.” any of Southwest’s home matches. Kelly and Echols met on the wrestling “I talk to her often to make sure she’s team as ninth graders and quickly formed doing OK,” he said. “I can understand that a bond through the sport. Echols won the it would be hard for her to come back.” region at 285 pounds in 2010 and placed The Panthers face one of their first big second in the Class AAAA state meet. He tests of the season Jan. 5-6 in the Region is considered one of the top wrestlers in the 6-AAAA team duals championships at nation in his weight class. Marist. Echols, who admits it has been diffi“[His death] has brought the team cult coming to practice knowing his friend together,” Echols said. “This season is in won’t be there, is drawing from Kelly’s memory of him. It was going to be me, him personality to lead his team. and another wrestler to lead the team. With “He always had a good attitude and al- Rafael gone, we’ll try to lead the team to a ways gave it his all,” Echols said. “Rafael state championship. had great character and was always looking “Whatever happens, it’s important to to help somebody. He was a great guy, we keep it on a positive level. We’ve got to all miss him. We loved him.” stay humble. That’s what [Kelly] did. Stay Although some of the younger wreshumble, that’s what I take from it.” by Robert Naddra

Former St. Pius graduate and Tennessee Volunteer basketball player Kelly Cain helps out by working with a camper on a drill.

DeKalb kids carry on the blues tradition
by Daniel Beauregard Alec Reinhardt still remembers his first stage performance–he was 10 years old and had just begun to play guitar. He perfomed “T-Bone Shuffle” by blues legend T-Bone Walker. Alec, a student at Henderson Middle School, is now 12 and he and his brother Conner, a 14-year-old Lakeside High School student, are founding members of the band Frets on Fire. “I’ve always loved music and when I was 8 I got a guitar for a Christmas present and I just kept playing it. Eventually I got hooked up with Chicago Joe Jones and took guitar lessons with him,” Alec said. Jones is a prominent Atlanta musician and teacher who runs a “Rock n’ Blues” camp each year and teaches privately. Conner got a bass for Christmas the same year Alec got his guitar. After a few months of watching his brother take lessons and improve, Conner said he began taking lessons from Jones on bass. “I said, ‘Hey, I need to get in on this too’…Joe is mainly a guitar teacher but he teaches beginner bass,” Conner said. Soon, both Alec and Conner were well past the beginner’s stage and their father Eric Reinhardt began helping them lug their gear back and forth to

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The Champion Free Press, Friday, January 6, 2012

Members of the DeKalb blues band Frets on Fire performed on New Year’s Eve at the Peach Drop in Atlanta. Pictured from left to right: Kevin Frazer (guitar, saxophone), Jacob Rogers (drums), Alec Reinhardt (vocals, guitar) and Conner Reinhardt (vocals, bass). Photo provided

jam sessions. “You know, some of those amps and things weigh like 100 pounds, but they’ve learned a lot from some of the jam sessions that these teachers and pros hold…that’s been their primary area for learning,” Eric said. Alec said after he and his brother began playing jam sessions on a regular basis, they decided in 2009 it was time to form a band. Tucker High School student Kevin Frazer, who sat next to Conner in sixth grade, was asked to play guitar and saxophone. “I’ve been playing sax since I was in fourth grade and I met Conner in sixth grade when a teacher made us sit next to each other.” Soon, Frazer was also taking lessons from Jones. Several months later Frazer’s best friend Jacob Rogers, who also attends

Lakeside, joined the band on drums and Frets on Fire’s current lineup was formed. The band started playing covers of old blues and R&B tunes but soon began writing their own songs. Since the band’s inception in 2009 it has released an album and performs several times a month. The band also won the Atlanta Blues Challenge in 2011 and 2009, played in the International Blues Challenge in Memphis in 2010 and will do so again in February 2012. Most recently, they performed at Underground Atlanta’s famous Peach Drop New Year’s Eve Celebration. Eric, the boys’ dad, has become the band’s manager, booking shows, acting as a roadie and facilitating and scheduling practices. He said his role is to help gain exposure to their music and help them any way he can.

“Well, it’s a major commitment to be in a band, especially if they’re gigging a lot. They need to rehearse and work on new material constantly. That takes a lot of time, so most of that is just coordination and I can kind of help with that,” Eric said. He also pointed out that even with all the time spent rehearsing all the members are A and B students. All of the band members say they owe part of their success to Jones, who taught them as beginners and encouraged them to go out and play music with other people. Jones said he isn’t surprised at the band’s success. “I could tell the two brothers are rather driven and their parents are really supportive, and their dad has done an incredible job in doing what I taught them. The dad is just as important in their success as I have been. He’s really helped a lot,” Jones said. For Jones, Frets on Fire and each of its members are carrying on part of the blues tradition. He began teaching Alec, Conner and Kevin old blues standards but said the boys evolved into something entirely their own. “Some people will define the blues as this way or that way but it’s a tough thing to do to define it. It’s never stayed the same since it started,” Jones said. “Basically these kids are playing the blues the way they play it. It might be different but that’s part of the deal, it’s the 21st century.”

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