DeKalb County gears up for winter weather

by Daniel Beauregard





in revenue if it lasts more than several days. Although the equipment is vital, Brennan said, shoryear ago, residents in ing up the county’s procedures DeKalb County and for such an emergency was just throughout the metro as important. Atlanta area were hit by “We’ve also had an opportunione of the worst winter weather ty to re-evaluate what streets are events in Georgia’s history: A most widely used and revisited storm that brought about 4.5 our planning and prioritizing,” inches of snow and ice. Brennan said. During the week, as cities Dunwoody Public Works attempted to deal with the snow Director Michael Smith said and ice, schools were cancelled, last year’s winter events gave the residents lost power, mail was relatively new city a chance to halted and many roads closed due take its experience from the past to safety precautions. three years and develop maps Using last year’s unpredict- for its work crews of areas that able winter as an example, resi- frequently ice on main roads. dents and municipalities are preSmith said the city works with paring for the worst case scenario a contractor to combat the winter if another major weather event weather, which he said was more blows in. cost effective than buying sanders According to the National and snow plows. Weather Service’s website, the “Our contractor has added temperature outlook for January a second snow plow. We didn’t and February is slated to be 45 have any available last year but percent above normal. A spokes- this year we’re going to have two person said any city during the in addition to our salt spreaders,” winter months could expect rain, Smith said. “That equipment is at freezing rain, snow and other no cost to the city…We just pay hazardous conditions. for them as needed and basically However, the spokesperson rent them.” did not speculate whether metro In addition to snow plows, salt Atlanta residents could expect and sand, Smith said Dunwoody such significant weather events as has participated in regional dislast year’s week-long ice storm. cussions the Georgia Department Locally Burke Brennan, a of Transportation has facilitated spokesman for DeKalb County, with cities and counties throughsaid the county has acquired sev- out the state. eral new pieces of equipment to City of Stone Mountain City prepare for winter weather. Manager Barry Amos said he has “We’re spending $452,000 also participated in the GDOT ice on new stuff,” Brennan said. and snow preparation meetings. “We’re getting eight more [snow Amos said the city has secured plows], and in addition to that, the services of a contractor with we’re increasing our sand-salt snow and ice control and removal mix and have 400 tons of that at equipment who will be on call in the ready.” the event of inclement weather. Brennan said the snow plows On Nov. 17, GDOT anand spreaders aren’t independent nounced the launch of its new inunits but devices that can be clement weather page, attached to trucks the county al- GDOT ready has. He said last year, some will also use social media outlets residents thought the county such as Facebook and Twitter to needed to get as many plows as distribute information and update possible in case another major the public of any severe weather snow/ice storm happened. situations. “It’s always a balance. Last “The new webpage is a great year was a 50-year event and we way to let the public immediately haven’t seen anything like that in see updates on road conditions,” decades. People were of the opin- said chairman of the state transion that we should get 100 snow portation board Rudygets her news updates online from the The Champion. Because she gets her news updates online from the The Champion. Because she Bowen. “I plows but that’s not practical or am excitedBecause she gets her news updates online from the The Champion. to see the department prudent,” Brennan said. And you can too! Follow us. expanding its reach to different When there is an ice storm markets by increasing the use of like the one last year, Brennan social media.” said, it cost the county millions ews updates online from the The Champion.




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

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The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012

Lawyers argue over witnesses in Dunwoody daycare killing case
by Andrew Cauthen There are more than 100 witnesses on the state’s list in the trial against Hemy Neuman, the man charged in the November 2010 killing of Russell Sneiderman outside his child’s daycare center. But the question on Jan. 4 was whether Esther Panitch, the attorney for Neuman’s wife Ariela, would be forced to testify when the trial begins next month. Lawyers for Neuman were trying to convince Superior Court Judge Gregory Adams to allow them to question Panitch when they try to defend Neuman, who is pleading not guilty by reason of insanity. Bob Rubin, an attorney for Neuman, would not say in open court exactly why Panitch is on their witness list. “We are not playing games with the court,” Rubin said. “We are not playing games with Ms. Panitch. We think she has independent facts in the case.” Panitch’s attorney, in explaining his motion to quash the subpoena, said, “There is nothing that she has that is direct evidence.” Panitch, who is representing Ariela Neuman in her divorce petition against her husband, has “no independent knowledge, no independent facts pertaining to this [alleged] crime,” her attorney said. Rubin said, “We are not seeking information about her conversations [with her client]. I do not want privileged information.” In another motion, the district attorney’s office is trying to get a copy of the results of the mental evaluation of Neuman that was requested by the defense team. Neuman’s lawyers say the information is subject to attorney-client privilege. The primary reason to quash the report is that the evaluation is protected by attorney-client privilege because it was work the attorney is using to represent Neuman, Rubin said. Peter Thomas, the doctor performing the evaluation “did not do an evaluation for the purpose of testifying in court,” Rubin said. “He does not testify in court.” Rubin said Neuman was told what he revealed to Thomas would not be discussed in court. “The attorney-client privilege is held sacrosanct,” Rubin said. “We were trying to understand what this case was all about. It was never anticipated that he would be a witness in this case.” Rubin said the district attorney office has had the opportunity to do its own evaluation of Neuman. Judge Adams is taking the motions under consideration.

A hand like this.

It took a skillful hand like this to draft the plans of our nation’s capital city. It was a visionary hand like this which pointed out the moral superiority of a way based on character and not color. It was a thorough, good hand like this that championed our rights before the U.S. Supreme Court. It took millions of laboring hands like this to build the wealth and infrastructure of this mighty country. And it was a raised hand like this that was sworn in and gave kids of all complexions and cultures the legitimacy to believe they can achieve anything. In honor of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday, Georgia Power takes pride in celebrating the countless hands like this which have worked to uplift us all. We’ve got to hand it to you.

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The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012

Commissioners, CEO begin year fighting over form of government, planning director
by Andrew Cauthen With the Board of Commissioners failure to override a veto by the county’s CEO, the movement to change DeKalb’s form of government has run into a roadblock. That failure preceded some tense moments when CEO Burrell Ellis made a rare visit to the board meeting Jan. 10 to lobby for a controversial appointment. Last month, with a vote of 6-1, the board passed a resolution that would have asked DeKalb’s state legislative delegation to create a commission to study the county’s form of government. Currently, the county is run by the seven-member Board of Commissioners, which is the legislative branch, and an elected CEO who runs the day-to-day operations of the government. Just before the Christmas holiday, Ellis vetoed the measure. Citing the 6-1 vote on the resolution, Commissioner Lee May said, “I’m disappointed that the CEO wanted to veto this. “I stand by my previous statement on there being a real need to study this form of government,” said May, who brought the issue back to the board for the override vote. “Let’s do a professional study of our form of government…to ensure that it is the most efficient,” May said. With Commissioner Kathie Gannon voting against the override, Commissioner Jeff Rader abstaining and Commissioner Stan Watson being absent, there were not enough votes to override the veto. Ellis said the real issues facing the county are jobs, housing, transportation and cityhood, not the county’s form of government. “These are the issues that DeKalb citizens care about, not issues that are manufactured by some members of the board of commissioners,” Ellis said. Board members are planning to revisit the form of government resolution when all members of the board are present at the Jan. 24 session. “The board may bring it up again, but the people aren’t bringing it up,” Ellis said. Ellis made an unexpected visit to the commissioners’ meeting after controversy developed over the appointment of Gary A. Cornell on Jan. 9 to serve as the interim director of the department of planning and sustainability. Cornell has 33 years of professional experience in city and regional planning, including seven years as the director of Gwinnett County’s Department of Planning and Development, seven years as a principal transportation planner at the Atlanta Regional Commission, three years as a planner in residence at Florida State University, and 11 years as a senior community planning consultant for Jacobs Engineering. “He is eminently qualified to serve as DeKalb County’s director of planning and sustainability,” Ellis said. Cornell “is the best planning director that DeKalb County has ever had.” When Cornell appeared before the board to give routine zoning information, some board members objected. May said he was concerned that the CEO is hiring an interim director when interim positions are usually filled by an existing employee. “What you’re doing now is bringing someone from the outside to the position,” May said, adding that there is no job description for an interim director. Commissioner Rader called the objections of some board members “petty.” Rader said Cornell “is probably one of the most highly regarded planning directors in the state.” Board members are holding up the confirmation of Cornell in their desire “to undermine the administration,” Rader said.
See CEO on Page 13A

FODAC President Chris Brand said his organization keeps a huge inventory of wheelchairs and other equipment. Photo by Kathy Mitchell

How we roll—FODAC keeps those with disabilities moving even during tough times
by Kathy Mitchell Two crime stories last year were made all the more heartrending because the criminals did not just take away property they took away individuals’ ability to function. One involved a family whose 9-yearold daughter lost her custom wheelchair when the family van was stolen from a church parking lot. The other involved a custom-made wheelchair that was destroyed in a fire set by burglars. Both stories have a littleknown, behind the scenes hero. Friends of Disabled Adults and Children (FODAC), a Stone Mountain-based non-profit, stepped in and immediately provided suitable wheelchairs, a process that through normal channels could take weeks, even months, and could cost families thousands of dollars. FODAC provides more than $9 million annually in durable medical equipment and supplies at little or no cost to children and adults with disabilities. While only a few years ago, most middle-class families could depend on insurance for the medical equipment they needed, the picture is changing. Georgia continues to have one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and many families that once were comfortably middle-class are suffering under extreme economic distress. When those families, who are often without adequate insurance coverage, are also dealing with the effects of a disability, they have to look elsewhere for support. “In the current economy, we’re providing more and more help to middle-class families, where because of lost jobs or discontinuation of insurance benefits, families aren’t able to get vital pieces of medical equipment,” said Chris Brand, president of FODAC. “People dealing with catastrophic health conditions in tough economic times are among the most vulnerable members of our community.” The co-pay on a custom piece of equipment can be $2,000 to $8,000. “Families today just can’t afford that,” Brand said. The situation, Brand pointed out, does not just affect families in which a member has a disability. “When someone can’t work because he or she doesn’t have the equipment to move about, the person has to live on government benefits and that impacts all of us as taxpayers,” he said. FODAC cleans, repairs and refurbishes equipment for persons with disabilities, then makes it available—usually at no cost— to those who need it. “One of the few things we charge for are batteries, which we buy at a discount and sell at cost. We insist that every piece of equipment that leaves here have a good battery so it will keep working as it’s supposed to,” Brand said. In addition to wheelchairs, FODAC provides walkers, hospital beds, power chairs, scooters, shower seats, lift chairs, bedside commodes, children’s positioning chairs and other equipment. The organization also provides training in equipment use and access modifications to homes and vehicles. While a person can sometimes get the equipment he or she needs through a government agency, the process usually involves navigating complex paperwork and being placed on a long waiting list. “An accident can cause a person to become disabled in a very short period of time. A person who needs special equipment to function shouldn’t have to wait six months to get it,” said Brand. While the organization was founded to help those at the lowest income levels, FODAC does not require proof of income from its clients. Because of its huge inventory of equipment, FODAC usually helps almost immediately. “We can take parts from one piece of equipment to modify another until we have what the person needs. Nothing goes to waste. Through recycling everything from parts to batteries to upholstery we keep some 185 tons of waste out of DeKalb County’s landfills,” Brand said. Started 25 years ago by Stone Mountain resident Ed Butchart, who operated the charity out of his own home, FODAC has become the largest organization of its type in
See FODAC on Page 9A

The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012

Opinion The Newslady

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The common good
sometimes putting aside our own personal agendas for the greater good. Evidence of the possibilities in the DeKalb community are all around us. The General Assembly is back in session with a myriad of issues and challenges. Some members of the DeKalb legislative delegation gave a preview last week at the League of Women Voters forum. Those in attendance were all from the House side and included Rep. Howard Mosby, who fielded most of the questions; Reps. Billy Mitchell, Pamela Stephenson and Ernest “Coach” Williams. DeKalb Commission Presiding Officer Larry Johnson was also on hand. They are to be commended. Led by President Belinda Pedrosa, the League of Women Voters joined forces with the Coalition of 100 Black Women and the DeKalb Chapters of Delta Sigma Theta and Alpha Kappa Alpha sororities to hear the legislative priorities of the delegation. Ruby Tolliver Williams, president of the DeKalb section of the National Council of Negro Women joined in along with Lois Keith, a national board member of NCNW. The meeting was well attended and the female power brokers duly noted the faces and names of the legislators who took the time to explain and discuss issues such as redistricting, Brookhaven cityhood, transportation, reducing the size of the school board, charter schools, immigration, foreclosures and human traffickings among other things. There are 18 members of the DeKalb Legislative Delegation. All were invited. The burning question became, “where were the rest?” Where were the senators? Granted the forum might have conflicted with the all-important Democratic Party fundraiser that same evening. But Mitchell, Stephenson and Williams thought educating and enlightening their constituents was at least as important as fundraising and split their time. Speaking of important, a new day is dawning in Lithonia with Debra Jackson being sworn in along with a new city council. Jackson is a smart, inclusive, politically savvy public servant who is expected to bring about healing and positive movement in that east DeKalb County community. Lithonians have an opportunity to embrace and support this new administration. And, by the time you read this, CEO Burrell Ellis will have given his State of the County address reminding us once again that we are one DeKalb and of the vital roles each of us plays in moving the county forward whether an elected official or other stakeholder. Perhaps we should ask ourselves, “what am I doing to promote unity in DeKalb and make this a better place to live?” It might be as simple as getting involved in one’s own neighborhood. The late Barbara Jordan’s quote bears repeating. “Each of us shares in the responsibility of upholding the common good.” Put another way, “If it is to be, it is up to me.”

“A nation is formed by the willingness of each of us to share in the responsibility for upholding the common good,” a quote from one of my heroes, the late Barbara Jordan. She was the first African American from the South to be elected to Congress and she was quite the orator. Her liquidity with the spoken word came to national prominence in the ‘70s during the impeachment hearings for President Richard Nixon. Jordan, a lawyer by training, chaired the powerful Judiciary Committee that was hearing the evidence. Her quote is profound. A community, county, state and or nation is successful by each one of us sharing in the responsibility for the common good. That means

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

The Champion Free Press, Friday, January 13, 2012

Trouble with a capital T - SPLOST!
recent economic slowdown and jobless rate, Georgia’s population continues to grow by roughly 100,000 new residents per year (predominantly in metro Atlanta). Our transit challenges are most visible in locating east/west corridors, or when attempting use of primary interstates during what has become our daily three- to four-hour “rush hour.” Though I applaud our regional government leaders for actually reaching compromise, something our leaders in Washington appear to have lost capacity for, I cannot say with any enthusiasm that I am a fan of “the list.” And like many voters and fiscal conservatives, I am given further pause when I see funds going to ill-advised projects such as the Sweet Auburn “Trolley.” This supposed tourism catalyst will consume nearly $70 million in federal and related match dollars to run a tourist trolley (or jazzed up shuttle bus), from the King Historic District to Centennial Olympic Park. Having frequently walked that stretch— slightly more than a mile—it is hard to imagine the need, or the benefit, of further congesting limited downtown surface streets to move visitors already capable or more easily covering the same distance on foot or via MARTA. But the greater harm to the possibilities of passage for the TSPLOST occurs every day along I-85 north into Gwinnett County. Though I have carefully avoided that trek during rush hours, I have noted, without exception, early morning, mid-day and late evening not one single vehicle using the new HOT lane. I have seen slow traffic, standstill and the usual pile-ups, but that stretch of asphalt and concrete remains empty, even when the stated tolls to the next exit drop as low as 25 cents. And for every one of the rare rush hour takers, or multi-occupant vehicles, there are literally hundreds if not thousands of drivers left in the fewer remaining lanes, staring at the empty HOT lane, already bought and paid for by taxpayers, and viewing these new restrictions and usage fees as highway robbery. Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, quickly noting this turmoil and likely a HOT switchboard into his office, rolled back the toll fees and immediately applied for a federal waiver to again allow two passenger vehicles free access to the HOT lanes, just as they previously had with the HOV lanes in the same place. Deal later quietly shut down planned privately funded HOT lanes for the I-75 and I-575 corridors, which were going to be built without public funds, and adding additional capacity, instead of cannibalizing existing lanes. Mistrust of government among voters is almost as high as the approval ratings of Congress are low. The HOT lanes bust and continuing tolls on Georgia 400, despite promises to the contrary, are two of the more visible examples of where promises made did not become promises kept. Our transportation and transit planning across the region are fragmented at best. We need help, and we need investment, but getting there in an era without the generous largesse of the federal government will first require rebuilding trust. And like trouble, that T-word can take some time. And unlike the recent E-SPLOSTs, which passed by large margins in multiple jurisdictions, local government leaders and chambers of commerce cannot use a “penny for their thoughts” or the future of our children as a lure or manner to guilt voters into supporting new taxes and additional public investment. Fear of the unknown is often a major voter motivator, but metro Atlantans already expect the worst of our traffic tie-ups, and they now fear that spending billions more may not make things any better—and that’s troubling. 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 billcrane@

Opinion One Man’s Opinion

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“Ya got trouble, folks. Right here in River City. Trouble with a capital ‘T,’ and that rhymes with ‘P’ and that stands for pool!” Professor Harold Hill, Meredith Wilson’s The Music Man, warning the citizenry of River City, Iowa of the evil coming to their community in the form of billiards transforming into a pool hall. In an item currently scheduled for the July 31 General Primary ballot, metro Atlanta voters in 10 counties will either give thumbs up or down to the $6.1-billion T-SPLOST to be funded with a five-year, one-cent increase in local sales tax. This Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax will fund a long list of projects across the region, with local revenues raised and spent in the transportation regions from whence they came. Georgia has not engaged in significant statewide transportation corridor improvements and investment almost since our Olympic era. Despite our more

Let Us Know What You Think!
THE CHAMPION FREE PRESS encourages opinions from its readers. Please write to us and express your views. Letters should be brief, typewritten and contain the writer’s name, address and telephone number for verification. All letters will be considered for publication.
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The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012

South Carolina on my mind


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By November, a third of the American people will believe that Barack Obama kidnapped the Lindbergh baby and Michelle drove the getaway car.
difference is that Santorum seems to mean all the crazy things he says. (Say what you will about Mitt, you can't accuse him of sincerity.) Santorum is really, really against abortion and same-sex marriage and authentically for guns and torture. That plays better in Iowa than it does in some other places. Should Santorum's candidacy fail to find purchase in the rest of the nation, the Republicans still have Ron Paul available as an ABM weapon. He escaped Iowa with about a fifth of the vote, much of it coming, surprisingly, from young people. I suppose I shouldn't be that surprised. Paul is another manifestation of the zeitgeist that has produced both the tea party and the Occupy Wall Street movements. Its adherents are fed up with the current system and want to tear it down and start over. Paul, a libertarian, is as liberal as he is conservative. He wants to get out of Afghanistan, legalize drugs, and let people marry whomever they wish, regardless of their gender. He's also against taxes, Wall Street bailouts, and national health care. He's probably against traffic lights too. Nobody's asked him yet. He's not a rocket, though. He's an open-cockpit biplane with a propeller that's not built for the long campaign. Who's left then? Well, I suppose it's Newt Gingrich. He's been left for dead twice already in this campaign but, like Richard Nixon and Count Dracula, he keeps coming back. Who's to say he can't do it again? Surely there's no one on the planet who hates Mitt Romney more. Newt can be relied on to do everything in his power to see to it that Romney isn't the next president of the United States. If the Republican primaries are this mean this early, it bodes ill for the civility we can expect in the general election in the fall. I confidently expect that by November, a third of the American people will believe that Barack Obama kidnapped the Lindbergh baby and Michelle drove the getaway car. It's called democracy, baby. On with the show. OtherWords columnist Donald Kaul lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Yet another Republican ABM (Anybody But Mitt) candidate has experienced failure to launch. The Newt Gingrich rocket that seemed oh-so-formidable just a few weeks ago didn't survive an avalanche of negative ads financed by stealth Mitt Romney money in Iowa. It crashed and burned on takeoff. Romney rolled to victory by a whopping eight-vote margin over — surprise, surprise! — Rick Santorum, yet another new candidate fresh out of the ABM design studio. Romney, whose support (as George Will observed) "has fluctuated wildly between 23 and 26 percent," got just under 25 percent of the vote. The circus has moved on. New Hampshire, which was all but irrelevant this year, was only a pit stop on the way to South Carolina, home to the nation's most vicious domestic politics. Romney may think he's campaigned before, but he ain't seen nothing yet. The Palmetto state will greet him with charges of keeping illegal immigrants in his basement and his illegitimate children in the attic. It may allege that he once drove to Maine with his wife strapped to the roof of the car, if it hasn't done that already. (I've said before that the Iowa caucuses are a fraud. Let me take that back. Any process that can rid us of Michele Bachmann as a presidential candidate can't be all bad.) Whether Santorum can cut it as a Romney alternative is questionable, however. He virtually won in Iowa largely because he all but lived in the state for a year. It's said that he not only shook hands with every potential Republican caucus-goer, he did their laundry and ran errands for them. Conventional wisdom says he lacks the money and organization for a national television campaign and that there are too many Republicans across the United States to depend on house calls to garner their votes. Santorum's policy differences with Romney are negligible. The only big

The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012

Local News

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Champion of the Week
Annie Johnson-Sinkfield
about the Bible, getting these people out the house and helping them to get the things they need,” Johnson-Sinkfield said. “It’s been the best thing that could have happened in our church.” In addition to working for the Council on Aging, Johnson-Sinkfield has worked as a patient sitter and with Georgia Regional Hospital as a group leader. “I have worked with seniors for a lot of years. That’s one thing that I really do enjoy.” Johnson-Sinkfield also volunteers with the County Line Ellenwood Community Group, which promotes general welfare and economic growth in the community. She is one of the founding members of the group that was started 14 years ago by her brother, Rev. Oscar C. White Jr., who was dissatisfied with the community after coming back from California. As a member of the County Line Civic Club, Johnson-Sinkfield was on the committee that asked for a MARTA bus route in her community. And 30 years later, the route that she proposed is still in use. Johnson-Sinkfield said when she is not volunteering, she spends time with her husband James. “I do have a home to take care of,” she said. And her other pastime is gardening. “I love gardening,” Johnson-Sinkfield said. “If you could see my collard greens now, they are so pretty.”

Emory University becomes a smoke-free campus
by Daniel Beauregard Emory University has recently made a big decision after considering it for the past several years: it has decided to not allow smoking on campus. Erin Long, a spokeswoman for Emory’s human resources department, said the university decided to join the more than 600 smoke-free campuses nationally after a focus group was formed in 2010. “We held a lot of community meetings and launched a website for feedback, and in the summer of 2010 the University Senate and the Presidents’ Cabinet went ahead and adopted the recommendation for Emory to become a smoke-free campus,” Long said. On Jan. 3, Emory officially became smoke-free. Long said to help smokers transition there will be 14 areas located throughout the campus where students, teachers, staff and visitors can smoke. However, come August there will be nowhere where smoking is allowed. “One of the results that came out of the feedback was that smokers needed more time to quit so the decision was made to institute these temporary zones,” Long said. According to Long, Emory is also offering students, teachers, staff and spouses of employees, access to free smoking cessation programs and support groups. Long said the university is telling those who see smokers on campus to “politely and respectfully” notify the person smoking that the campus is now smokefree and encourage them to use one of the designated smoking areas. “Emory being a healthcare institution and a school of public health, it just seems like the right thing to do,” Long said of the move to become smoke-free. “We’re really trying to get the word out to our visitors.”

Annie Johnson-Sinkfield likes working with seniors. Johnson-Sinkfield, who will be 80 years old in June, “Lord willing,” is a volunteer with the seniors group at her church, Poplar Springs Baptist Church in Ellenwood. She started the group with 10 members in 2002 when she retired from the DeKalb County Council on Aging, where she worked as an assistant director at a center on Candler Road, then as a center director. “I would like to have my own senior group,” Johnson-Sinkfield once stated as a goal. “It did lead to that.” Each week the seniors’ group meets for a Bible study with lunch and other activities such as walking, bingo and trips to a vegetable garden in Rutledge, and an apple orchard in Ellijay. “We have made a lot of trips and celebrated a lot of birthdays,” JohnsonSinkfield said. “We do a lot of things. “This has been a real good program for our church,” JohnsonSinkfield said of the group which consists of approximately 30 seniors in their 70s and 80s. “We have served a lot of people.” “It’s about learning

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 13, 2012

Local News

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Service and celebration mark local MLK Day events
Some of the events marking the 29th celebration of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day celebration are pure celebration marked by parades and performances. Most pick up the suggestion made by King’s widow, Coretta Scott King, that the day be devoted to service—that Americans find a way on the mid-January holiday to serve less fortunate Americans. “This is not a Black holiday; it is a people’s holiday,” Coretta King emphasized after President Ronald Reagan signed the King Holiday Bill into law on Nov. 2, 1983. Following are some opportunities to commemorate the holiday in DeKalb County:; through organizations or individually; or meet at the Solarium (the Community Center of South Decatur), 321 W. Hill St., Decatur, 30 minutes prior to a shift to be assigned to a home. Shifts are 9 a.m. - 1 p.m. and 1 - 5 p.m. on Saturday and Monday, and 1 - 5 p.m. on Sunday. At the end of the second Monday shift, a dinner event to celebrate the project’s completion takes place at the Solarium for all volunteers and seniors. The dinner is sponsored by the Community Center of South Decatur. For more information, visit http://www.mlkserviceproject. com. King Week Keynote Speaker - Melissa HarrisPerry, professor of political science at Tulane University, MSNBC contributor and columnist for The Nation, will speak at 4 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 17, in Emory’s Cannon Chapel, 515 South Kilgo Circle. Her address will focus on “King’s Legacy and the New Civil Rights Frontiers.” Jazz Vesper Service - Emory music professor Dwight Andrews will lead a celebration of King’s life with the Atlanta Jazz Chorus at 7 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 19, in Emory’s Cannon Chapel, 515 South Kilgo Circle.

NAACP celebration in Stone Mountain Clarkston refugee Five DeKalb County School System high assistance project
school marching bands will participate in the DeKalb NAACP’s 10th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade and Peace Rally on Monday, Jan. 16, at 12:30 p.m. DeKalb County School Superintendent Dr. Cheryl Atkinson and Congressman Hank Johnson will serve as the grand marshals. The parade will begin in the MARTA parking lot on Fourth Street in downtown Stone Mountain. Scheduled to participate are bands from Cedar Grove High School, Clarkston High School, Martin Luther King, Jr. High School, McNair High School and Stone Mountain High School. A Peace Rally will be held immediately following the parade at the Champion Theme Middle School gymnasium at approximately 3:30 p.m.

Community Learning Garden in east Atlanta
Truly Living Well will sponsor volunteer projects at Edgewood Community Learning Garden on Monday, Jan. 16, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Edgewood Community Learning Garden is located at Hardee and Mayson streets, behind Sammye Coan Middle School, 1450 Hardee St., Atlanta. For more information or to register to volunteer, visit www.

Decatur’s MLK service project weekend
Sponsored by the Decatur Preservation Alliance (DPA) in partnership with the city of Decatur, the annual Martin Luther King Jr. Service Project provides home maintenance and repair free of charge, to Decatur senior citizen homeowners. Now in its 10th year, the project is scheduled for Jan. 14, 15, and 16. To be eligible for the service, homeowners must reside in their homes within the city limits of Decatur, be at least 65 years old and meet certain income criteria. Twelve homes have been selected for major repairs, and eight will receive minor repairs and maintenance. Project volunteers will do yard clean-up and maintenance on an estimated 50 additional properties. As in past years, the project has sought and received funding through grants and from corporate sponsors, community organizations, other nonprofit organizations, churches and other places of worship and individual contributions. The project is Decatur’s biggest volunteer event. Volunteers may sign up in advance through Lee Ann Harvey, city of Decatur (leeann.

Officials of the Lutheran Community of Metro Atlanta and the Clarkston Community Center announced that the two organizations are co-sponsoring various service projects to help ease local refugees’ transitions into the United States and improve the Clarkston community, where much of the area’s refugee population resides. Hundreds of community members are expected to gather on Jan. 16, to honor the legacy of leadership left by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. through service, cooperation and celebration. Projects in which volunteers can participate include packaging hygiene kits and family-sized bags of rice for newly arrived refugees, collecting pots and pans for refugee families’ apartments and an outdoor clean-up of the Clarkston community. The MLK Day of Service will take place from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Clarkston Community Center, 3701 College Ave., Clarkston. After the service projects are completed, a community celebration will take place at 1 p.m. To register, visit http://mlklutherandayofservice-esearch.eventbrite. com/?srnk=2.

GPC celebrates with day of service
Georgia Perimeter College presents “Beyond the Dream 2011 - Become Great: Serve” in celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Day of Service will be held on Jan. 16, and will consist of hundreds of volunteers at dozens of locations throughout metro Atlanta. The Day of Service will begin with kickoff rallies at 7:30 a.m. on the Clarkston, Dunwoody and Newton campuses. Free breakfast and T-shirts will be available at the kick-off rallies. Transportation will be available from the campuses to service project areas. Service projects include the Clarkston Community Center, Hands On Newton, Panola State Park and City of Dunwoody Public Works Department among others. “The best way to celebrate the life and accomplishments of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is through service to our communities,” said Sean Brumfield, executive director of the Atlanta Center for Civic Engagement and Service Learning at GPC. “Many Georgia Perimeter faculty, staff and students are proud to make Jan. 16, 2012 a day on rather than a day off.” Participants are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food item to the kick-off rallies to support local food pantries. The deadline to register for a service project is Jan. 12. For more information on the Day of Service or to register, visit www.

Emory University’s week of volunteerism, reflection, celebration
Emory University’s King Week, the annual campus celebration of Martin Luther King Jr.’s life and work, is set for Jan. 15-24. The schedule includes panel discussions, readings, exhibits, worship and opportunities for service. For a full list of calendar events, visit http://www.emory. edu/MLK/. Highlights of Emory’s King Week include: Emory’s Day On - During the King holiday Jan. 16, hundreds of Emory volunteers will work around Atlanta to plant trees, paint arts facilities and sort medical supplies for overseas clinics as part of “Emory’s Day On.”

The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012

Local News

Page 9A

FODAC Continued From Page 3A
the nation. The organization’s current home is a large facility on Lewis Road in Stone Mountain, which in addition to offices, warehouse space, cleaning, repairing and training facilities, houses a thrift shop where people can find, according to Brand, “some of the best bargains” in the area. “We’re a little off the beaten path, so we have to keep our prices very low.” As homage to the organization’s founder, who often with little make-up plays Santa Claus, the building has a room called Santa’s workshop where year-round children who come to be fitted for or trained to use special equipment are allowed to go in a pick out a toy before they leave. At the top of Brand’s wish list this new year is greater awareness of FODAC and all that it does. “When a family or a health care facility has equipment that it no longer needs because the user has outgrown it, recovered or passed away, we want people to think first of donating it to us. We can promise that it will be put to good use,” he said.

A DeKalb County grand jury has called for an investigation into the actions of the DeKalb County School Board over the past year. Photo by Daniel Beauregard

School officials focus on moving forward, not grand jury presentment
by Daniel Beauregard DeKalb County School officials say it’s important not to focus on past problems mentioned in a recent DeKalb County Grand Jury presentment released on Dec. 29. In its presentment the grand jury cited numerous concerns, including the hiring process of Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson, nepotism and the board’s influence in the personnel evaluation process. But, former School Board Chairman Tom Bowen said these issues have been addressed. Bowen said he understands the importance of the grand jury as an oversight tool for the county but also warned there is little benefit in focusing on the leaks, which he stated were against board policy. “We’ve elected the new superintendent and the two things the public wanted in a superintendent was someone who was an outsider and someone who could come in and make some drastic personnel changes,” Bowen said. The grand jury also listed concerns regarding the school board’s influence in the hiring and personnel evaluation process, specifically in regards to “nepotism,” or hiring family members. “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. Bowen said that last year the school board implemented a policy stating that all relatives were required to have their employment contracts and information presented as a separate agenda item during the board’s monthly business meeting and work session. “We’ve implemented the policy and think its effective, but we still carry the baggage of what people think of us from what happened years ago,” Bowen said. According to DeKalb County District Attorney spokesman Erik Burton, a decision or timeline for an investigation has not been made. In a statement, 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.” School system spokesman Walter Woods said he had seen the report and would let the district attorney make his decision, but “should the district attorney choose to begin a grand jury investigation, from the administration’s point of view we’ll cooperate fully.” Other issues of concern that are listed in the grand jury presentment include senior personnel who are employed in outside work that would impact their ability to perform their required duties; whether DeKalb County Schools 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 mismanagement of projects.

The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012

Local News

Page 10A

Decatur restaurant reopens to bigger crowds than expected
by Daniel Beauregard After being closed for eight weeks, Melton’s App & Tap reopened on Dec. 30, and owner Aaron Melton said he and his staff have had trouble keeping up with the number of patrons coming in. “We’ve reopened with almost our entire old staff,” Melton said. “That being said the staff was big enough to handle the crowds prior to this, but since we’ve reopened I’ve had to hire four new cooks and one more server just to handle the volume.” In November, the restaurant voluntarily closed its doors to deal with a rodent problem, which Melton said was caused by the neglect of the Pet Supermarket store next door. Melton’s, which has been at 2500 North Decatur Road for more than a decade, had never had a problem before. According to Melton, rodents had broken through a dividing wall attached to the restaurant and Pet Supermarket. On Nov. 6, after evidence and several sightings of rodents, Melton decided enough was enough. He said when the restaurant closed he turned to the courts for help. “We were basically trying to see what was being done next door to figure out what we needed to do because it didn’t make sense for us to tear the whole place down and rebuild the place just to find out the problem is coming right back,” Melton said. Eventually, Melton decided to renovate the entire restaurant, an endeavor he said cost upwards of $200,000. Melton said he brought contractors in and repaired the ceiling, installed a new HVAC system and fixed the breaches from the wall adjoining Pet Supermarket. Now, he is suing Pet Supermarket for part of the repair cost. “There is an ongoing lawsuit and it’s in the beginning stages and we don’t know too many details on that right now. What we’re trying to focus on is taking care of the customers that come in here,” Melton said. Officials from Pet Supermarket said they were unable to comment on an ongoing lawsuit. Melton said all of the repairs created a barrier between Pet Supermarket, the outside and the roof. In addition to the cosmetic work, Melton’s has hired a company to inspect the restaurant each month and make sure it is rodent safe. Now, Melton said his main concern is keeping his customers happy and helping his cooks manage the lunch rush. He said the incident might have helped bring more patrons into the restaurant who heard about its difficulties on the news. “We won’t really be able to tell for another month’s time what the real sales levels are but we’re hoping it’s going to settle in higher than we were before we closed down. Right now, it’s ridiculously higher…we’re definitely making up for lost time,” Melton said. Melton said without his loyal staff and customer base he doubts he would have been able to reopen. “I didn’t know if everyone was going to turn on us. It went in the opposite direction and it was such an overwhelming show of support,” Melton said. “Within 24 hours I went from thinking that I might have to close down forever, to thinking without a doubt I was going to reopen the doors.”

Melton’s App & Tap, North Decatur Road has seen a large crowds since it reopened Dec. 30. Photo by Daniel Beauregard

The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012

Local News
public libraries receive operating funds from the government, but they don’t realize that much of the funding also comes from private sources.” Brazzell’s organization has found creative ways to raise money to enhance the libraries’ programs and services. But the funds cannot be used to pay library staff salaries. Engraved bricks and bench plaques showing names of contributors are two fund-raising avenues that the foundation uses. It started these programs last year at the Tucker library. Last August, the foundation held a ceremony to unveil 93 engraved bricks and one bench. This effort raised $7,500. The foundation’s biggest fund-raising event last year was “A Mysterious Evening.” Author Karin Slaughter and other authors appeared at the event, which raised $50,000 for the county’s libraries. Brazzell said another “A Mysterious Evening” with a different group of authors is scheduled for March. Slaughter, who resides in the DeKalb section of Atlanta, has championed the cause of the county’s library system. The crime mystery author appeared before the Georgia House of Representatives’ special legislative session last August to draw attention to the problem. A regular patron of the Decatur Library, Slaughter donates all of her proceeds from online sales of her new short story A Thorn in My Side to fund the libraries. Despite the challenges, Brazzell said she is optimistic about DeKalb libraries’ future. “We have a lot of people who care and want to help,” she said. She noted that county residents depend on its services. An increasing number

Page 11A

Financially strapped library system finds creative funding
by Nigel Roberts and Hairston Crossing libraries. Funds from a 2005 DeKalb has one of the bond referendum paid for most extensive library systhe facilities, but budget cuts tems in the state. More than prevented management from 3 million visitors use the staffing them. resources of its two dozen “We were only able to facilities scattered throughopen all three last summer out the county. Patrons log by reducing hours and reason to library computers more signing some staff memthan 2,500 times daily and its bers,” Weissinger said. “Rewebsite receives more than ducing hours was the option 3,000 remote hits each day. patrons said they preferred in But the library system is a survey, rather than closing in crisis. Budget cuts have branches.” forced library administrators Furthermore, the lito trim staff, reduce operatbrary system faces sharp ing hours, purchase fewer reductions in its budget to materials and take other purchase materials such as measures to save money. books, DVDs, CDs and auDeKalb County Library dio books. Its funding from Director Alison Weissinger the county for such purchassaid the library board and es was $100,000 in FY 2011, management staff requested down from a high of about about $17 million from the $2.02 million in FY 2008. county for fiscal year 2012 Weissinger said, “This to operate all branches at full does not just mean fewer capacity. No decision has items on our shelves, but been made yet. But if the FY also longer wait times for 2011 budget is any indicain-demand materials we do tion, the library is unlikely to have.” get the full funding it needs. In response to these finanWeissinger said last fiscal cial challenges, the DeKalb year the library requested Library Foundation, a non$15.9 million but received profit organization affiliated $12.5 million. State funding, with the library system, is which represents a smaller stepping up its efforts to share of funding, has also raise money. decreased over the past few Executive director Donna years, she added. Brazzell said her work inThe 22 percent decrease cludes communicating the in funding last fiscal year situation to the public. “An delayed the opening of the important part of my job is new Stonecrest Library and to raise awareness,” she exthe expanded Salem-Panola plained. “People know that of them are unemployed and use the computers to search for jobs and to submit online job applications. Immigrants attend free English classes. And underprivileged students not only use the Internet at the libraries, they also acquire online research skills with the guidance of library staff. Brazzell added: “There will always be a need for libraries. I don’t see us not being a vital part of the community.”


Notice of Public Hearings January 24 & 26, 2012
Notice is hereby given that the Board of Directors of the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority will hold public hearings for the purpose of considering

Proposed Bus Service Modifications for April 24, 2012
Proposed routing and adjustments for the following bus routes: Route 1 – Centennial Olympic Park / Park and Ride lot is proposed to become the perCoronet Way: The temporary re-routing manent routing. From Evans Mill Road and Mall
implemented June 18, 2011 to improve bus turn movement is proposed to become the permanent routing.

ed June 18, 2011 to improve bus turn movement is proposed to become the permanent routing.

Route 12 – Howell Mill Road / Cumberland: The temporary re-routing implement-

Parkway, Route 86 will continue Mall Parkway, Left-Stonecrest Trace, and Left-Mall Loop Road to bus shelter at Mall at Stonecrest which will be the new terminus for Route 86. The segment along Millwood Lane will be discontinued.


at Five Points Station after 7:30 pm on all service days. The segment from Five Points Station along Marietta Street, Jones Avenue, Ivan Allen Jr. Boulevard, Spring Street, Pine Street and West Peachtree Street to Civic Center Station will be discontinued after 7:30 pm on all service days.

Route 32 – Bouldercrest / Georgia closure of the Evans Mill Park and Ride lot is proAquarium: is proposed to terminate service

implemented December 17, 2011 due to the

Route 115 – Covington Highway / South Hairston Road: The re-routing

posed to become the permanent routing. From Covington Highway and Evans Mill Road, Route 115 will operate via Left-Evans Mill Road continue Main Street, Left-Max Cleland Boulevard and Right-Swift Street to Main Street which will become the new terminus for Route 115. The segment of Evans Mill Road south of Covington Route 86 – Fairington Road / McAfee Highway, Mall Parkway and Millwood Lane will Road: The re-routing implemented December be discontinued. 17, 2011 due to the closure of the Evans Mill

  QUALIFYING FEE NOTICE  Pursuant to O.C.G.A. §21‐2‐131 (a)(1)(A), the following qualifying fees were set by  the  Doraville Mayor and Council  in the regularly scheduled Council Meeting held on  November 21, 2011:                                       Council Seat District 1                                                         $252.00              Qualifying for the offices listed above will begin at 8:30 a.m. on January 23, 2012 and  will end at 4:30 on January 25, 2012.  The Special Election will be held on March 6,  2012.                                                                           Melissa McCain, City Clerk                                                                          City of Doraville   

Tuesday, Jan. 24
55 Trinity Avenue, Atlanta 30303

Thursday, Jan. 26
1300 Commerce Dr, Decatur, 30030

7:00 p.m. Community Exchange: 6-7 p.m.
Riding MARTA: Bus route 49 from Five Points Station. Special bus shuttle also provided.

Downtown Atlanta City Hall

7:00 p.m. Community Exchange: 6-7 p.m.
Riding MARTA: Walk one block west of Decatur Rail Station.

DeKalb Maloof Auditorium

Copies of the proposed bus service modifications will also be available at MARTA’s Office of External Affairs, 2424 Piedmont Road, N.E. Atlanta, Georgia 30324 during regular business hours, MonFri 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. For formats (FREE of charge) in accordance with the ADA and Limited English Proficiency regulations contact (404) 848-4037. For those patrons requiring further accommodations, information can be obtained by calling the Telephone Device for the Deaf (TDD) at 404 848-5665.

may: (1) leave a message at (404) 848-5299; (2) write to MARTA’s Office of External Affairs, 2424 Piedmont Road, N.E. Atlanta, GA 30324-3330; (3) complete an online Comment Card at; (4) or fax your comments no later than February 3, 2012 to (404) 848-4179.

All citizens of the City of Atlanta and the counties of Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton and Gwinnett whose interests are affected by the subjects to be considered at these hearings are hereby notified and invited to appear at said times and places and present such evidence, comment or objection as their In addition, a sign language interpreter will interests require. be available at all hearings. If you cannot attend the hearings and want to provide comments you Beverly A. Scott, Ph.D. General Manager/CEO

The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012

Local News

Page 12A

New Lithonia leaders seek to improve image

by Andrew Cauthen andrew@dekalbchamp. com

New mayor seeks to strengthen Lithonia’s foundation
by Andrew Cauthen There was a time when Lithonia’s new mayor did not know the small city existed, even though she was attending a church just outside the city limits. Mayor Deborah Jackson, who has degrees from Princeton University, Rutgers University and Southern New Hampshire University, started her professional career in a legal services program in northern Mississippi for two years working with communities. She then moved to New York “always with some interest in returning to work in the South.” In 2000 Jackson, born in Savannah and reared in Jersey City, N.J., moved to Georgia and it was in 2002 that Jackson “became aware that there was actually a city called Lithonia.” At the time she was working with her church, First Afrikan Presbyterian, to set up a community development corporation. The church, which is in unincorporated Lithonia, reached out to city officials “to see how we could be of assistance,” Jackson said. Jackson, an attorney with more than 20 years of experience, helped write the application, which led to the city receiving a $85,000 Liveable Communities Initiative grant in 2003. Jackson was then hired by the city as a project coordinator to do community outreach for the LCI study. In 2006, Jackson moved to Lithonia. “I decided I really liked the idea of being in the city as opposed to being in an unincorporated area,” Jackson said. That same year Jackson began an 18-month stint as the interim city attorney. “Serving as city attorney, I looked for opportunities to provide counsel and advice to the elected officials and I didn’t always charge every time somebody called me.” In 2008, when then-Mayor Joyce McKibben was recalled, Jackson unsuccessfully ran for the position against five other candidates. “Based on some of my prior experiences I thought that I was able to make a different type of contribution to help the city make some progress in a number of areas,” Jackson said. In 2009, Jackson was asked to run in a special election to fill the unexpired term of a city council member. She won and nine months later won a general election for the seat. Jackson said her greatest achievement during her “Lithonia journey” so far has been “encouraging people to come and let their voices be heard and that their voices are important.”

Lithonia’s new mayor Deborah Jackson wants to “lay the foundation so that we will have a strong, vibrant community.” Photo by Andrew Cauthen

“The number of citizens who are aware of what’s going on and are expressing active interest and participating in what’s going on has increased,” Jackson said. “There’s a new level of excitement in the community in terms of what people see as the possibilities for the community.” Jackson said her goal as mayor is to “lay the foundation so that we will have a strong, vibrant community.” “If you don’t have a strong foundation, whatever other things you do will not be able to stand over time,” Jackson said. “Lithonia has some really good bones. We want to look at how we strengthen those bones and take [the city] to a new level of achievement.” Jackson takes over a government that has had more than its share of resignations and terminations of government officials, and discord among elected officials. “It’s over, based on the people [who are] coming on the council,” Jackson said of the city’s internal turmoil. “We have all said to one another that we have to work together. “It’s not about the mayor or the council,” Jackson said. “It’s about the mayor and the council working together to get things done.”

Lithonia’s new mayor said that of late, she has felt a “real sense of excitement that I have not felt in the city in a long time.” “Over the years, the news about Lithonia has not always been positive,” said Mayor Deborah Jackson, who was sworn into office Jan. 9 along with newly elected council members Darold Honore and Shameka Reynolds “However, Lithonians know that they have a tremendous and rich history that has not always been talked about,” Jackson said. “We in Lithonia are working to reclaim our place in the county and state as a place, where there is a strong sense of community, where people take the time to help one another, and we welcome those who are willing to work with us.” Jackson invited residents to join the “journey to create a new Lithonia that is better than it was when it was its former best.” “We can create the Lithonia that we know it can be,” she said. In other business, council member Pat Miller was chosen by the board as the mayor pro tempore. The council passed a resolution requiring all city checks to be signed by both the mayor and mayor pro tempore. It also passed a resolution committing to adopting an ethics ordinance in the future.

The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012

Local News
The whole issue is the result of “personal agenda to keep little pieces of power,” Gannon said. “If the agenda here is what best for this county, we would be looking at a highly qualified person,” Gannon said. “We are not the administration. If we want that power, run for the office. I understand there’s an election this year.” May said it is Ellis who has “really gotten very political.” By law, the board has to approve all appointments by the CEO and “he did not have the votes necessary to

Page 13A

School system continues personnel changes in central office
by Daniel Beauregard Another top-level DeKalb County School Official has been reassigned as new Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson continues implement her 90-day entry plan and restructuring of the system. On Jan. 5, the DeKalb County School System announced it reassigned Chief Financial Officer Marcus Turk. Earlier in November the system reassigned former Interim Deputy Superintendent of Teaching and Learning Dr. Morcease Beasley and hired Atkinson’s former colleague Kathleen Howe to replace him. Uladia Taylor, former director of purchasing has also been reassigned. “I think she had made some promises to clean house and make necessary changes and I think this is part of her plan—she’s trying to be true to her word,” Gil Hearn, a member of Parents for DeKalb Schools, said. In addition to Howe, Atkinson has hired three other former colleagues for top central office positions. Hearn said it was good to see personnel changes of such high-level positions after the system has “maintained the status quo” for so long. “Overall, I think it’s positive,” Hearn said. President of the Organization of DeKalb Educators David Schutten echoed Hearn and said he had heard positive things from teachers in the county and viewed the changes as Atkinson doing what she promised when hired. Before breaking two weeks for winter holidays, school officials announced 2012 would bring “sweeping” personnel changes at all levels, including the central office. School spokesman Walter Woods said the school system is currently in the first phase of a personnel audit of all the central office staff that is scheduled to be completed by Jan. 13. It will include a new organizational chart for all departments. Phase two of the audit will be complete in March and will evaluate remaining positions within the system. School Board ViceChairman Tom Bowen said he viewed the recent changes as nothing more than Atkinson giving the public what it wanted in a superintendent: someone from outside the system who could come in and make drastic changes. “I view this as her evaluating all of the key leadership positions and deciding if we have the right people in the right places…I think the public should support her evaluating the central office,” Bowen said. According to officials Turk, who has a contract with the system until June, will continue working in a different capacity. Woods said Turk will remain in the central office but “beyond that I really can’t comment on individual personnel moves.” “We said from the beginning that we would audit the central office—look at every position—and make changes to drive resources back to the classroom. The whole idea is that the resources aren’t here but at the school level,” Woods said.

CEO Continued From Page 3A

approve that person…and we told the CEO,” May said. “We didn’t want to have this public confrontation.” “This has nothing to do with Gary Cornell the person,” May said. “The guy has good credentials. It’s not about whether he’s qualified or not. But, especially in this economy, there are a lot of people with those same credentials that could do the job.” May said Ellis is “forcefeeding someone into [the position]. That’s unacceptable. I’m not going to take it anymore. He’s done it too often.”

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
Partly Cloudy High: 57 Low: 27

Jan. 12, 2012
Today's Regional Map Weather History
Jan. 12, 1985 - A record snowstorm struck portions of western and south central Texas. The palm trees of San Antonio were blanketed with up to 13 and a half inches of snow, more snow than was ever previously received in an entire winter. Jan. 13, 1888 - The mercury plunged to 65 degrees below zero at Fort Keough, located near Miles City, Mont. The reading stood as a record for the entire continental United States for 66 years. Dunwoody 55/26 Lilburn Smyrna Doraville 56/27 56/27 56/27 Snellville Decatur 57/27 Atlanta 57/27 57/27 Lithonia College Park 58/27 58/27 Morrow 58/27 Union City 58/27 Hampton 59/28

In-Depth Local Forecast
Today we will see partly cloudy skies with a high temperature of 57º, humidity of 62%. West wind 5 to 10 mph. The record high temperature for today is 71º set in 1995. Expect partly cloudy skies tonight with an overnight low of 27º.

Sunny High: 45 Low: 25

*Last Week’s Almanac
Date Hi Lo Normals Precip Tuesday 34 21 52/34 0.00" Wednesday 51 21 52/34 0.00" Thursday 59 30 52/34 0.00" Friday 65 29 52/34 0.00" Saturday 66 44 51/33 0.27" Sunday 59 45 51/33 0.10" Monday 67 51 51/33 0.07" Rainfall . . . . . . .0.44" Average temp . .45.9 Normal rainfall . .1.06" Average normal 42.6 Departure . . . . .-0.62" Departure . . . . .+3.3
*Data as reported from De Kalb-Peachtree Airport

Sunny High: 50 Low: 29

Mostly Sunny High: 51 Low: 32

Mostly Sunny High: 55 Low: 31

Partly Cloudy High: 52 Low: 34 Last 1/16

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. 7:41 a.m. 7:41 a.m. 7:41 a.m. Sunset 5:49 p.m. 5:50 p.m. 5:51 p.m. 5:51 p.m. 5:52 p.m. 5:53 p.m. 5:54 p.m. Moonrise 9:39 p.m. 10:43 p.m. 11:48 p.m. No Rise 12:54 a.m. 2:01 a.m. 3:08 a.m. Moonset 9:38 a.m. 10:12 a.m. 10:46 a.m. 11:22 a.m. 12:01 p.m. 12:45 p.m. 1:34 p.m. First 1/30

Tonight's Planets
Mercury Venus Mars Jupiter Saturn Uranus Rise Set 6:44 a.m. 4:34 p.m. 9:49 a.m. 8:40 p.m. 10:27 p.m.11:07 a.m. 12:36 p.m. 1:41 a.m. 1:24 a.m. 12:41 p.m. 11:14 a.m.11:16 p.m.

Partly Cloudy High: 54 Low: 35 New 1/23

Full 2/7

Local UV Index

National Weather Summary This Week
The Northeast will see scattered rain and snow today, mostly clear to partly cloudy skies with isolated snow Friday and Saturday, with the highest temperature of 61º in Georgetown, Del. The Southeast will see mostly clear to partly cloudy skies today through Saturday, with the highest temperature of 78º in Hollywood, Fla. The Northwest will see mostly clear to partly cloudy skies today through Saturday, with the highest temperature of 62º in Colville, Wash. The Southwest will see mostly clear skies today through Saturday, with the highest temperature of 77º in Fullerton, Calif.

Weather Trivia
What is vorticity?

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


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

Answer: The rate of spin of a parcel of air.

StarWatch By Gary Becker - 2012: A Big Year Ahead
The lineup of astronomical events for 2012 is about as good as it gets. Early in the year, January through March, Comet Garradd, C/2009 P1, may attain naked eye visibility from rural locales. Currently visible in the morning sky during January, by mid-February, Garradd will be observable all night, but best seen after midnight. One month later the comet will be well-placed throughout the night in the north between the cup of the Big Dipper and the North Star. Currently peak brightness is predicted for March, but binoculars will still be needed to spot Garradd from the suburbs. Mars is bright during March in the constellation of Leo the Lion, and on March 13, look for Venus and Jupiter to be only three degrees apart after sundown. The moon plays among these planets on February 25-26 and March 25-26. Venus passes through the Pleiades star cluster on April 3, and Saturn is bright in the spring sky during April and May. A sunset ringed solar eclipse passes from Crescent City, CA through mid-Texas on the evening of May 20. Dead center along its path is the Grand Canyon and Albuquerque, NM. Bryce Canyon, UT and Chaco Canyon, NM are also good locations. Not to be outdone is the transit of Venus across the sun’s disk on June 5. Miss this one and you will have to hang around until 2117 or 2125. Yes, that is over 100 years. Meteor showers are also exceptional for 2012. The Lyrids (April 22), the Perseids (August 13), the Orionids (October 21), the Leonids (November 17), and the biggest display of them all, the Geminids (December 13) all fall on dates with minimal interference from the moon. It just does not get any better than 2012. All of these events are visible from the United States over your house if the skies are clear and you live in a suburban location, with the exception of the solar eclipse. If you have ever wanted to get involved in astronomy, 2012 is the year.

The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012


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Decatur outdoorsman quickly returns to an active life after innovative hip surgery
Hiking enthusiast Bob Germon, 56, had been putting off hip replacement surgery for years before coming to the conclusion that if he wanted to continue to live an active life, he would have to do more than take pain pills every day or hope some new treatment would come along that would help him avoid surgery. “I was in denial. I thought I was too young for surgery and could just deal with the pain and maybe get the surgery much later in life,” said Germon, a chemist and outdoorsman from Decatur, who would regularly bike, backpack and hike with his wife and children, “I thought if I went in for surgery now, I would have a long recovery and I just wouldn’t be the same.” But a hiking trip to North Carolina with his family in 2009 led him to change his mind about considering surgery. The pain had become unbearable, and hiking—something he spent his who life doing—became a hardship. “I was there with my family and I couldn’t make it up the mountain because of the pain. My denial was making my family miserable,” Germon said. “It was at that moment I knew I had to have hip replacement surgery and face the fact that I would be out of commission for however long it took to get better.” Germon wasn’t out of commission very long because he went to Thomas Bradbury, an orthopedic surgeon at Emory University who has been specially trained in a hip replacement procedure called the anterior approach that is less invasive than traditional hip surgery. This procedure helped Germon get back on his feet sooner with less pain and fewer restrictions than patients experience with traditional hip replacement surgery. “With anterior approach, the hip is still being replaced, but we do it with much less disruption and damage to the surrounding muscle and tissue,” explained Bradbury, who now performs more anterior approach procedures than traditional hip replacement surgeries. “Many candidates for hip replacement surgery come in expecting a long and sometimes painful recovery, and they are quite relieved to learn that we have a way that can get them back on their feet to their normal everyday activities much sooner than they think.” Germon had the procedure in May 2010 and joined the growing ranks of baby boomers who are turning to hip replacement earlier in life. Innovations in hip implants and surgical techniques are allowing them to return to doing the things they love without the pain and limited mobility they may have experienced for years with little relief. This year, more than 193,000 patients will have some form of hip replacement surgery, according to the Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, and it is projected that more than half of those will be younger than 65. The same day as his surgery, Germon was walking down the hospital corridor—first with a walker, then with crutches. Two days later, he was home still using crutches. Two weeks later he was walking on his own with little or no pain. Germon was diligent about his rehabilitation and within several weeks said he was feeling “like my old self.” Soon after, he was back on the hiking trails with his family. About a year after the surgery on his right hip, Germon began experiencing what he described as a “nagging, yet familiar” pain in his left hip. This time, his reaction to the idea of hip replacement surgery was different. “Dr. Bradbury had told me I would need surgery on the other hip eventually, but I didn’t hesitate this time, especially since I had such a positive experience with the anterior approach. This time I hit the gym before surgery, lost a few pounds and strengthened by leg so that I might have an even better recovery,” said Germon, who had the second surgery in May of 2011. Again, the surgery was a success and Germon was walking without assistance within one week. He finished rehabilitation within three weeks and went right back to work and his normal routine.

Soon after his anterior hip replacement surgery, Bob Germon was back on the hiking trails. Photo provided

The Champion Free Press, Friday, January 15, 2012

Local News

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The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012


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Dunwoody High graduates Polina Milter and Taylor Goode started The Push Back Project, a support group for victims of bullying. Photo by Daniel Beauregard

Two students learn to ‘push back’ against school bullies
by Daniel Beauregard Polina Milter and Taylor Goode attended Dunwoody High School, were friends on Facebook, but never actually spoke to each other until Goode realized they had more in common than just the same circle of friends. Earlier in the year, Milter was interviewed on CBS for a piece on bullying that Goode watched. After realizing both had been targets of bullying at Dunwoody, Goode sent Milter a message asking if she wanted to get together. “It’s something that we’re both very passionate about,” Goode said. “You’re never going to be able to eliminate bullying completely but my goal is to make it so people aren’t helpless to it.” Milter, who graduated in 2009 and now attends Georgia Perimeter College, said they got together and brainstormed ways to help other students in the same situation as they found themselves. “One of the big problems about being bullied is that you don’t have anyone in your corner, and it’s you against the world,” Goode said. The girls decided to form a support group and an after school program. On Dec. 15, Milter and Goode started The Pushback Project and began developing a proposal to present to Dunwoody High’s Principal Rodney Swanson. “We actually met with the principal of Dunwoody High School [Jan. 3] about getting them on board. The principal said he would get with the county and hopefully he would have an answer by the end of January,” Goode said. When Milter attended Dunwoody, she said the bullying ranged from name calling to “a complete avoidance,” which, for her, was the worst. She said in some cases she would walk up to a group of students and try to get involved in a conversation and be completely ignored. Goode said they created The Pushback Project to develop some accountability for bullying. “Even when I spoke up nothing was done. They just kind of went through the motions and people get away with it and nothing ever changes,” Goode said. The Pushback Project is working alongside the DeKalb County School System’s anti-bullying program, which asks students to take a pledge and sign their name at the beginning of each school year. Titled “Resolution of Respect,” the pledge asks students to combat prejudice, stop those who violate the civil rights of others and create a community where there is “No Place for Hate.” However, Milter said the pledge was only a piece of paper. School spokesman Walter Woods said the school system hoped to be able to incorporate The Pushback Project into its antibullying program. “We’re happy to work with community groups and we have worked with the Anti-Defamation League to develop the anti-bullying pledge. From our point of view bullying has to be addressed at the
See Bullying on Page 17A

The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012

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Poet Collins to give free reading at Emory
Former U. S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins will give a free reading at 4 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 29, at Glenn Memorial Auditorium on the Emory University campus. Collins’ poetry mixes humor with insightful observations into everyday life, and he is sometimes compared to Robert Frost, who combined broad popular appeal and high critical acclaim. A well-known regular guest on National Public Radio programs, Collins is often referred to as “the most popular poet in America” and is expected to draw a capacity crowd to campus. Although admission is free and open to the public, tickets are required (limited to two per person) and may be obtained through the Schwartz Center for the Performing Arts box office at (404) 727-5050 or http:// A limited number of tickets also are available at four local independent bookstores: A Cappella Books, Charis Books & More, Eagle Eye Book Shop and Little Shop of Stories.

Continued From Page 16A

Residents express concern with school officials over band suspension
by Daniel Beauregard Parents of Southwest DeKalb High School band members criticized the DeKalb County Board of Education at a recent board meeting for suspending all marching band activity and accused Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson of being “in over her head.” DeKalb County Schools suspended all marching band activity after reports surfaced in the media of hazing incidents at Florida A&M University involving former DeKalb graduates, including one that resulted in the death of Robert Champion, who attended Southwest DeKalb. Southwest DeKalb Band Booster President Keith Sailor said officials have not yet revealed the nature or details of the investigation. Those actions showed a blatant distrust for band directors, students and teachers, he said. “You’ve done a poor job of taking control of the situation. With a countywide suspension and investigation that your team announced to the media you’ve made all of our kids suspects,” Sailor said. Sailor accused board members and school officials of putting students’ ability to obtain scholarships in jeopardy. Greta Mason, a parent of a band member at Southwest DeKalb, said the legacy of the school’s music program, musicians and instructors had been distorted, and asked officials to help restore its reputation and end the suspension. “I would like the board members to restore the morale that has been tarnished,” Mason said. School Board Chairman Eugene Walker said he, board member Jesse Cunningham and Atkinson met with parents and Sailor over the winter break to discuss the details of the suspension. “We heard the explanation of the superintendent about why this measure was taken,” Walker said. “From an administrative perspec-

Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson talks with Greta Mason, left, the mother of a band member at Southwest DeKalb High School. Photo by Daniel Beauregard

Chamblee Middle School gets $1,000 donation
Georgia United Credit Union announced the winners of its 2011 Boost Your School’s Budget Promotion on Jan. 3. Among the winners was Chamblee Middle School, which was awarded $1,000. The promotion was open to all school systems in communities served by Georgia United. Every new account that was opened by a school system employee between August and December, 2011, qualified its designated school for a $10 referral bonus. At the end of the year, all schools entered in the promotion were placed in a drawing for one grand prize of $1,000. Otwell Middle School in Forsyth County, Madison County High School and Social Circle High School in Walton County all received runner-up prizes of $500. All four schools were selected at random from among all entries to receive the donation.

tive, she wanted to be proactive and not inhibit anyone from going forward in band, but to ensure proper procedures and protocol are in place.” Walker said Atkinson assured those they met with that if any student encountered difficulty in obtaining a scholarship she would personally intervene. “We have a meeting with the principals and band directors scheduled for [Jan.10]. and at the conclusion of that, after we’ve had time to have internal conversation and dialogue, we will then move out to schools,” Atkinson said. School spokesman Walter Woods said each band was being evaluated on a “case-by-case” basis and the system appreciates the support it receives from booster and parents. “This is not about students—this is about adults and making sure they are following the policies that have been put in place to ensure that band is positive and safe,” Woods said.

DeKalb School Board elects new leadership
The DeKalb County School Board elected Eugene Walker chairman and Tom Bowen vicechairman at a Jan. 9 work session and business meeting. Walker, who was elected in a 6-3 vote, is a former state senator, social studies teacher and basketball coach. He said he was honored to be elected board chairman and his No.1 objective for 2012 is to continue to improve the learning and instruction of every child in DeKalb. “My personal goal is to continue to work and unite the entire board behind this single goal: acting in the best interest of the children and to put all the other concerns aside,” Walker said. Bowen, who served as board chairman for the past three years, stated before the meeting that he was not going to run again for board chair.

school and the community level, it can’t stop at the schoolhouse door,” Woods said. Although Milter and Goode are still working out details of their project, they’ve already found a sponsor and are working toward establishing The Pushback Project as a 501-(c)-3 non-profit organization. Gyro Gyro, a business in Dunwoody, has agreed to sponsor them and host a support group for bullying victims twice a month. Additionally, the organization is currently raising money by selling T-shirts designed by local artist Max Williams. Milter and Goode plan to develop The Pushback Project into a network throughout schools within the county system. “We want to talk to principals, teachers and stuff like that,” Milter said. “We want to go from classroom to classroom so people can talk to us, we can answer questions and they can tell us their stories.” Both Goode and Milter said without the help of schools, parents and faculty, bullying will continue to be an ongoing problem. Additionally, they said it was important for The Pushback Project representitives to speak with members of the PTA because “sometimes the teachers can’t see bullying but the parents can.” “I want to let people know that they can fight bullying, and I know that if I had someone else other than my parents in my corner it would have made a huge difference,” Goode said. Milter and Goode both said it is important for a victim of bullying to know there is always someone who can help or who, in most cases, is going through something similar. “People can be there for each other. If they don’t feel comfortable contacting someone they know then they can contact us,” Milter said.

The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012


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Just the right type—Dixon offers wide variety of outsourced admin services
by Kathy Mitchell In the mid-1990s, Audrey Dixon had a successful career as a legal secretary. With the birth of her second child, however, she decided it was time to do what she said is “in her blood”—operate her own business. Describing herself as a second generation entrepreneur and business owner, Dixon said that her parents owned and operated a business in her native Jamaica. With an administrative secretarial degree from Alpha Business College, and many years’ experience working at Atlanta-area law firms, Dixon took over an existing Tucker business. Her current Stone Mountain-Lithonia-areabased business, Exceptional Transcription Solutions, specializes in transcription and business solution services. “With today’s personal computers, people can type their own business letters, speeches and so forth, but usually they would rather not. Their time is better spent focusing on other aspects of their business. It makes sense to outsource that type of work to us,” Dixon said. Noting that her client list includes small and large business owners, students at all academic levels, authors and those in the legal and medical fields, she said she is able “to enhance productivity by assisting them with quality services on a very timely basis.” Dixon, who notes that she now has more than 20 years of professional experience, said that her business is more than a transcription service and offers all the services normally available from an administrative assistant. “We can take a recorded speech and turn it into an article or an e-book. We can take a collection of business cards and make it into a data base—whatever you need,” she said, adding that she wants clients to see her business as an alternative to a temp service. “We don’t send bodies out; we take work in.” Dixon said she has approximately 20 clients who use her services on a regular basis and many others who need her services only officially. “For example,” she said. “We have a resume service that a client may use and not need again until he’s looking for a job again years later.” Among the features that make her business stand out, Dixon lists use of the latest digital technologies for transcription and transferring audio digital files, her skill in English grammar and punctuation, “attention to detail in terms of simultaneous sound interpretation while typing/ keyboarding and expertise with transcriptions from a variety of communities with different levels of education and variations in jargon Indepth knowledge of medical or research terminology.” Dixon started her business in a small retail area and from there became a “virtual business” operating from her home by computer and phone. Now, she said, she has come full circle and with the opening this month of an office on Highway 78 she is available to clients in person or by internet. “I have many clients I’ve Audrey Dixon said that her business has come full circle with the never met in person. We opening this month of an office on Highway 78—she is now availinteract by e-mail or over able to clients in person or by internet. Photo provided the phone,” she said. “But if people prefer to do business accounting and tax services. face-to-face, I can make that worlds.” Dixon said that in “Together, we create a oneavailable to them as well. her new office she has a stop shop,” she said. We offer the best of both partner who specializes in

In celebration of the conversion last month of 27 Flagstar banks to PNC Bank, Rick Lewis, left, retail banking market manager for greater Atlanta, and Eddie Meyers, regional president for Georgia, joined PNC employees for the sign unveiling at the North Druid Hills Road location. The Flagstar staff continues working at the branch under its new PNC Bank name.

The Voice of Business in DeKalb County
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The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012


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The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012

Chinese New Year event announced
A Chinese New Year celebration will be held at the Chamblee Library on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2-3 p.m. The celebration will include drumming, dancing, music from traditional Chinese instruments, trivia and games. The Chamblee Library is located at 4115 Clairmont Road, Chamblee. For more information, call (770) 9361380.

Nutritionists lead supermarket tour

Chamblee High hosting college fair
The Chamblee Charter High School will host a college fair on Feb. 11, from 1 to 5 p.m. The annual event, which is free to the public, is hosted by the Chamblee Charter High School’s PTSA and will feature representatives from junior, two-year and four-year colleges, as well as trade schools, technical schools and military academies. The event will also include guest speakers and experts in financial aid, career development and college study habits available to answer questions. Chamblee Charter High School is located at 3688 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Chamblee. For more information, contact CCHS College Fair at

Photography class offered at library
A DSLR Photography Basics class is scheduled at the Clarkston Library on Jan. 24, 6:30-7:30 p.m. The class is open to people 18 years and older. Participants will be taught how to take better pictures with their digital, single-lens reflex cameras. The class is for beginners and covers basics such as F-stops, shutter speeds and composing pictures. Owners of point-and-shoot digital cameras also are invited to attend. For more information, contact the library at (404) 508-7175. The library is located at 951 North Indian Creek Drive in Clarkston.

The City of Decatur Active Living Department is partnering with Kroger to offer free Supermarket Tours led by nutrition graduate students from Georgia State University. The nutritionists will take participants on a tour of the Decatur Kroger using a hands-on approach to label reading, healthy meal planning and avoiding marketing traps. Cruise through fresh, frozen and canned food aisles to learn about healthy shopping and eating. Have nutrition questions answered and learn how to eat healthy. The one-hour tours will be held on the second Saturday of each month beginning Jan. 14, 10 a.m. at the Kroger in downtown Decatur at 720 Commerce Drive. The tours are free, but registration is required as tours are limited to six participants. Register by e-mailing cheryl.burnette@decaturga. com or call (678) 553-6541. Be sure to specify a preferred date and time.

The classes will be held through Feb. 9, each Thursday from 8:30 to 9 a.m., at the Forest Fleming Arena Gymnasium located at 3037 Pleasant Valley Drive in Doraville. Tai Ji is a form of low-impact Chinese martial arts and Qi Gong is a Chinese exercise that focuses on breathing. Both exercises offer health benefits including improved flexibility, reduced blood pressure, expanded lung capacity, better balance, stress reduction and an overall sense of well-being. The price is $30 due at the first class or $5 per class. Checks may be made payable to the City of Doraville Recreation Department. For more information residents are encouraged to contact Mariam Holland at (404)-317-2958.

ART Station announces new program
The ART Station Contemporary Arts Center in Stone Mountain Village recently announced a new art program, Wednesday Morning Art Party. The first Wednesday Morning Art Party will be held Jan. 25 at 10 a.m. at the ART Station Contemporary Art Center at 5384 Manor Drive in Stone Mountain Village. The morning begins with morning drinks, coffee and coffee cake and includes a “meet the artist” tour of the ART Station galleries. Participants then move to the three Arts Incubator galleries and studios for demonstrations by the artists and gallery talks. The morning ends with a lunch at the newest arts incubator site, Kalonji’s Café and Bakery on Main Street. Participation in the event is by reservation only and requires a $29 fee per person. The fee includes morning drinks, four gallery tours, three artist demonstrations and lunch.

Computer class offered
A class in computer basics will be offered at the Flat Shoals Library on Tuesday, Jan. 17, 2 – 4 p.m. Participants will be taught the basic parts of a computer, basic terminology and how to use a mouse. No computer experience is necessary, but the ability to type is required. The class is open to first eight people to register. Call or visit branch to register. The Flat Shoals Library is located at 4022 Flat Shoals Pkwy., Decatur. For more information, call (404) 244-4370.

Afghanistan exhibit featured at library
An exhibit featuring the culture of Afghanistan opens Jan. 17 at the Reid H. Cofer Library in Tucker. An opening reception and lecture will be 6-8 p.m., and the exhibit will be shown through March 17. The exhibit will feature photography and a display of traditional clothing in an effort to increase awareness of the rich history and cultural heritage of the Hazara people from Afghanistan, who now live throughout the world. The exhibit and lecture will be presented by Mohammad Rezaee, who fled the Taliban regime in 1995. He will talk about what it was like growing up in the region under the Taliban, and the current conditions of the Hazara people in Afghanistan. The library is at 5234 Lavista Road in Tucker. Call (770) 270-8234 for more information.

Library to show The Big Sleep
The Tuesday, Jan. 17, movie in the Decatur Library’s Golden Classic Films series will be The Big Sleep, staring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. The series is especially designed for those 55 and older. The screening will be at 10 a.m. The Decatur Library is located at 215 Sycamore St., Decatur. For more information, call (404) 3703070.

John Wayne movie to be screened
Toco Hill-Avis G. Williams Library has announced that on Jan. 13 it will screen the 1952 movie The Quiet Man, starring John Wayne and Maureen O’Hara, as part of its Friday Movies series, a mix of new releases and old favorites. When available, movies are presented with closed captioning to assist the hearing impaired. The movie will be shown 1:30-3:30 p.m. The Toco HillAvis G. Williams Library is located at 1282 McConnell Drive, Decatur. For more information, call (404) 679-4404.


Fitness classes resume
The Doraville Recreation Department is offering Tai Ji and Qi Gong low-impact aerobic classes again.


The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012


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Motivation begins at home for Decatur standout
by Robert Naddra

Queen of the court
Decatur senior Queen Alford is averaging 22 points per game. Photo by Robert Naddra


ueen Alford learned how to be a team player long before she began playing basketball at Decatur High School. As the middle child in a household of 10 children, Alford learned the value of hard work from her mother Angelia Reeves, a single mother with children ranging in age from 8 to 21 years. Eight of the siblings are still in the home, Alford said. “My motivation comes from my mom,” Alford said. “She motivates me to get an education. She’s gone through something I don’t want to go through. She’s a very strong lady.” Alford’s hard work in the classroom and on the basketball court has earned her an athletic scholarship to Jacksonville University in Florida. She also was recruited by Georgia State, East Tennessee State and Southern Mississippi. Alford has been a starter on the varsity since her freshman season and has evolved into the heart and

soul of the Bulldogs. She averages 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals per game. “Having a lot of siblings has its benefits,” said second-year Decatur coach Bill Roberts. “They all work hard in the classroom and in practice. Being one of a crowd, you learn to be part of a team early on.” Two of Alford’s siblings also have played basketball at Decatur. An older sister, Jabreal Alford, is now at Andrews Junior College and younger sister Jahmee Reeves is a freshman on the Decatur basketball team. Inspired by her mother, Alford has become more of a vocal leader on the court this season. “Last year she put the team on her back,” Roberts said. “This year we have a little more depth and everybody knows the system now. She plays hard but she’s more relaxed. She can do more to lead both verbally and through her actions.” The Bulldogs last season met Roberts’ team goals of winning 20 games and qualifying for the Class AA state tournament. The Bulldogs finished 21-9 and lost in the first

round to Rabun County. Decatur has started 14-3 this season and stands 2-1 in Region 6-AA. Alford references a practice last summer with her AAU team that triggered her to become more verbal on the basketball court. Her coach imparted the following advice: “A quiet gym is a loser’s gym.” She carried that mantra over to her high school team. “In practice it was so quiet,” Alford said. “I can’t stand that so I started talking. I am outgoing in general. There’s a place and time when I need to step in. I usually lead from behind but I’m talking a lot more this season. “This past year I’m a lot more verbal,” she said. “I had to come out of my shell and be a more verbal leader. I need that energy on the court.” Both Roberts and Alford agree that the Bulldogs are benefiting from better team chemistry this season. Jordan Dillard is consistently scoring in double figures along with Alford, and other players are stepping up as well. “Everybody is playing their roles

and we’ve developed chemistry,” Roberts said. “She’s surrounded by more talented players than in the past.” Alford admits it has been more fun so far this season. “We have a lot of people who are more dedicated than in the past,” Alford said. “Everybody wants to be here and wants to be successful. I’ve always wanted to play with people without drama and that’s what’s happening this season.” In addition to playing in a region that boasts some of the top-ranked teams in the state, Roberts has filled Decatur’s schedule with teams in higher classifications. The Bulldogs have responded with marquee wins over AAA Woodward Academy and AAAAA Collins Hill. Despite the team and personal success, Alford keeps her mother’s motivation close by. “I’ve always been an athletic person and a hard worker,” Alford said. “I’ve got a long way to go. I’m a perfectionist so if I see anything I need to improve on, I fix it. I want to be stronger, faster, quicker and shoot better.”

The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012


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DeKalb High School Sports Highlights
Dunwoody: The Wildcats beat Northview 5958 and Lithonia 57-45, but lost to M.L. King 65-54 in games Jan. 4-7. Against Northview, Richard Carrington scored 17 points, Ryan Elmore added 14, Bradley McKnight had 12 and DeChard Hamilton 11. Carrington also scored 17 points in the win over Lithonia, with McKnight scoring 11. Hamilton led with 17 points in the loss to M.L. King. Columbia: The Eagles (14-1) have won eight straight games, including four wins in the Converse Invitational after Christmas. The Eagles beat Eagle’s Landing 44-37 in the championship game and posted wins over Butler, Crisp County and Tucker. Jhaustin Thomas sported four double-doubles in the tournament and finished with 56 points 40 rebounds. Guard Tahj-Shamsid-Deen had 57 points and 31 assists in the first three games. After the holiday break, Columbia beat Towers 69-51 on Jan. 6 and Woodward Academy 79-44 on Jan. 7. Southwest DeKalb: Jordan Price scored the winning basket in the final minute in a 43-42 win over Marist on Jan. 6. Price led with 15 points, Emmanuel Walker added 12 and William Goodwin had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Miller Grove: The Wolverines resumed their Region 6-AAAA schedule Jan. 10 against Lakeside on the heels of a five-game losing streak against some of the top teams in the country. Miller Grove lost three games in the City of Palms tournament in Fort Myers, Fla., Dec. 16-18 and lost to Simeon (Ill.) 59-56 on Jan. 7. Druid Hills: Clarence Williams had 11 points and 12 rebounds in a 41-39 loss to Washington on Jan. 6. The Red Devils made only 11 of 47 field goal attempts. The next night the Red Devils fared much better from the field, making 26 of 54 attempts in a 68-43 win over Lakeside. Jacob King led the Red Devils with 12 points, Deshon Burgess added 11 and Willie Zachery had 10. Chamblee: Joquin Jones scored 22 points as the Bulldogs beat Douglass 57-38 in a Region 6-AAAA game on Jan. 6. Devin Bellamy added 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Bulldogs (10-4, 6-1). During the holiday break, the Bulldogs went 1-2 in the Converse Invitational tournament at Columbia. The Bulldogs’ lone win came against Butler 59-58. Isaiah Mason, who was fouled at halfcourt just before the buzzer sounded, missed his first free throw attempt but made the second for the winning point.


Decatur: The Bulldogs improved to 14-3 overall but lost in Region 6-AA for the first time. Queen Alford scored 21 points and Briana Elmore chipped in with 12 in a 90-17 win over Cross Keys on Jan. 3. Alford led with 22 points in a 4541 loss to Buford on Jan. 6. The Bulldogs also beat McNair 67-6 on Jan. 7. Marist: Ashlyn Johns and Erica Fontaine each scored 10 points as the War Eagles (8-2, 4-1 in Region 6-AAAA) defeated Southwest DeKalb 48-45. Kelsey Carrier and Briana Bell each added nine points as the War Eagles remain one game behind first-place Chamblee in 6-AAAA, Subregion A. The War Eagles also beat Rome 6259 on Jan. 3. Southwest DeKalb: Nicole Martin had 17 points and six rebounds as the Panthers lost to Marist 48-45. Jasmine Coleman added 14 points and six rebounds as the Panthers (7-6, 5-1 Region 6-AAAA) remained atop Subregion B. St. Pius: After finishing second in the St. Pius Christmas Classic, the Golden Eagles went 1-1 in games played Jan. 3-6. Freshman Asia Durr scored 15 points in a 44-34 loss Jan. 3 to Wesleyan, ranked No. 1 in Class A. The Golden Eagles rebounded Jan. 6 with a 51-43 win over Riverwood. Durr scored 20 points and Emma Ucinski added eight for the Golden Eagles (11-2, 3-0 in Region 5-AAA), who faced North Atlanta on Jan. 10.

Rough road: National losses should help Wolverines in long run
by Robert Naddra A gauntlet of games against some of the top teams in the country did not turn out like Miller Grove coach Sharman White had hoped. The Wolverines entered their Jan. 10 Region 6-AAAA contest against Lakeside on a five-game losing streak. All five losses, however, were against teams outside Georgia and four are ranked among the top 50 in the nation by ESPN. Miller Grove’s last loss came against Simeon (Ill.), ranked No. 1 in the nation by ESPN. Simeon prevailed 58-55 on Jan. 7 on national television. Other losses since the streak began on Dec. 15 came against No. 2 Oak Hill Academy (Va.), No. 24 Bishop Gorman (Nev.) and No. 50 Riverside Academy (La.). The losses to Lakes Wales (Fla.), Bishop Gorman and Riverside came over the winter break in the City of Palms tournament in Fort Myers, Fla. The Wolverines (6-5) began the season ranked No. 2 in the nation and are currently ranked No. 34. “We have to live and play in the present,” White said on the Miller

Miller Grove is using a losing streak against national powers as a learning experience and preparation for the state playoffs. Photo by Travis Hudgons

Grove basketball website. “We have to develop a better sense of urgency, even in tough times. We didn’t have that sense of urgency. Every game we played [at City of Palms] we were down by at least 10 points in the first half. We were constantly fighting to get back into games. I’m not saying we didn’t have the ability to play with these teams but we weren’t there mentally. We were

always on a constant uphill battle to get back into the games.” The games against national competition should help the Wolverines once competition within the region resumes. Miller Grove, which has won three straight Class AAAA state titles, is 41-3 in region games during that span. “Honestly, we saw some of the best competition we’ll see all

year in one setting. That’s why we don’t mind playing in these national games. It really does give us preparation for the challenges we have here in Georgia,” White said. “I definitely believe it has served its purpose in that regard. I want to believe we learned a lot from it. We can take these games as a learning tool going forward, especially going into the state playoffs.”

The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012


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The Champion chooses a male and female high school Athlete of the Week each week throughout the school year. The choices are based on performance and nominations by coaches. Please e-mail nominations to by Monday at noon. MALE ATHLETE OF THE WEEK Jhaustin Thomas, Columbia (basketball): Thomas had four straight double-doubles to help the Eagles win the inaugural Converse Invitational during the winter holiday break. Thomas had 56 points and 40 rebounds, including 18 points and 10 rebounds in a 47-37 win over Eagle’s Landing in the championship game.
Marist defeated Southwest DeKalb for the Area 6-AAAA duals wrestling championship. Photos courtesy of Sharon Andres.

Wrestling: Stephenson, Marist win area duals, head to state
by Robert Naddra Stephenson has qualified for the State Duals wrestling championships before, but this time there is a distinction. The Jaguars won their first area duals title Jan. 7, beating Newton in the 2-AAAAA championship. “The boys worked hard and listened to their coaches,” said second-year coach Phillip Noble. “I thought we had a better team than last year when we finished second to East Coweta. The guys stepped up their level of focus and their concentration and we were blessed.” Three other schools in DeKalb County also qualified for the state duals tournament Jan. 13-14 in Macon. Marist won the Area 6-AAAA title and Southwest DeKalb was second, and McNair placed second in the Area 5-AAA tournament. The top two teams from each area in the state will participate in the state duals in Macon. Stephenson’s toughest test in the 2-AAAAA tournament came against Newnan in the semifinals. The Jaguars won 36-35 after Stephen Wiley won his 152-pound match to erase a three-point deficit. Wiley, Darrian Perry at 160 pounds, Dexter Brown at 113, Mike Gales at 195 and Brandon Addison at 285 each went through the tournament undefeated. Marist won its third area championship in the past five

FEMALE ATHLETE OF THE WEEK Asia Durr, St. Pius (basketball): The freshman had 35 points in two games as the Golden Lions went 1-1 last week. Durr had 20 points 51-43 win over Riverwood and 15 in a 44-34 loss to Wesleyan, ranked No. 1 in Class A.

Each week The Champion spotlights former high school players from the county who are succeeding in athletics on the college level. Mfon Udofia, Georgia Tech (basketball): The junior guard from Miller Grove posted his second-highest total of the season with 19 points in an 81-74 loss to Duke on Jan. 7. Udofia is averaging 10.8 points per game and leads the team with 37 assists. seasons, avenging a loss to Southwest in last year’s championship. Coach Riddick Beebe has six freshmen in the starting lineup, and it has been a mix of youth and experience that has propelled the War Eagles this season. “It was definitely a team effort,” Beebe said. “We needed everybody to wrestle well and wrestle smart, and more importantly they did what we wanted them to do on the mat.” Beebe said he expects Matt Andres at 138 pounds to be tough to beat in the state meet. Other top wrestlers include freshman Kenneth Brinson at 195 pounds and Steven Wallace, who leads the team in pins. “We have a big focus on team sports here and when we ask the kids what their goals are they always say they want to go to Macon,” Beebe said. “Nobody likes to come in the day after Christmas to work out, but you like to go to Macon.” All four teams will begin the double-elimination state tournament on Jan. 13, with 16 teams participating in each class. In Class AAAAA, Stephenson faces Benedictine in the first round. In AAAA, Marist faces Cass and Southwest DeKalb takes on Forest Park. In AAA, McNair faces Glenn Hills. Alondra Rivers, Tuskegee University (basketball): The sophomore from Southwest DeKalb has scored in double figures twice in the past three games. She had 17 in a 64-58 win over Miles College on Jan. 2 and 10 in a loss to LeMoyneOwen on Jan 5. Charlton Benjamin, William Penn (wrestling): The freshman from Miller Grove posted a 4-2 record with three pins to finish sixth in the 149-pound division at the William Penn Open in Iowa. He became the 11th member of the team to qualify for the NAIA national this season.

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The Champion Free Press, Friday January 13, 2012

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