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

and Stone Mountain.




Atkinson’s former district still struggling
by Robert Naddra he former school district of DeKalb County Schools superintendent Cheryl Atkinson is operating under a warning by the state of Ohio and a $12 million deficit. The Lorain City School Board in Ohio voted March 29 Atkinson to approve a plan to cut 182 positions within the district—51 teachers in grades 1-12; 10.5 kindergarten teaching spots; 21 non-classroom teachers because of cuts in grants; and 100 support staff and administrative jobs. The Ohio Department of Education has placed the district under fiscal caution, according to Ohio DOE spokesman Patrick Galloway. There are three fiscal categories in which a district can be placed and fiscal caution is the least serious, Galloway said. “It requires them to work closely with our financial specialists and to address a five-year forecast that creates responsible spending,” Galloway said. Lorain interim superintendent Ed Branham and school board president Timothy Williams did not return phone calls requesting comments for this article. The Lorain district has been under fiscal caution since June 23, 2007, but some districts have been in the category for 10 years, Galloway said. Atkinson began her tenure in Lorain in 2007. DeKalb County School District spokesman Walter Woods defended Atkinson’s tenure in Ohio in a statement. “The DeKalb County School District is looking forward, not backward. Our focus is on enhancing student performance in DeKalb, not in other school districts,” according to the statement. “In her three years in Lorain, Dr. Atkinson instituted a num-


Chef Sidney Corum says the focus at his culinary camp will be on preparing healthful meals.


by Kathy Mitchell

Summer camp goes culinary IS SHE

Often youngsters complain of the food at summer camp, but campers at special sessions on Emory University’s campus this summer will have little right to gripe since they will be preparing the food themselves. In a new summer camp option this year, youngsters ages 5 through 17 not only will have the opportunity to pick up some cooking skills, but will be taught about nutrition, the origins of the foods they eat and the science and mathematics behind food preparation. Chef Tech Academy’s summer camp focusing on the culinary arts will operate in association with the Emory University Summer Camp Programs and is Rajkumar her offered through the Office of Emory Rhea to discussSmith andtheirhusband visit Corum at an exhibit at the Mall at Stonecrest enrolling children in Chef Tech Academy. Conferences. “For a multitude of reasons, this groups: 5-10, 11-14, and 15-17. themselves. “That’s the fun part,” he is the most exciting venture I’ve Campers may attend one, two, three said. “Then we will deconstruct the ever been involved with in my caor all four sessions. meal mathematically and scientifireer,” said Sidney Corum, founder At Chef Tech Academy children cally. We’ll talk about how we figure and CEO of Chef Tech Academy. will be working with chefs certified how many ounces of a food we need “My goal is to spark the children’s by the National Restaurant Associa- to prepare a certain number of servunderstanding of how much of a role tion’s ServSafe program for a thorings, for example.” the critical elements—math, science, ough and professional introduction In addition to the lessons on the technology and communication to the culinary arts. Each day camp- Emory campus, campers will take skills—play in their development as ers will prepare dishes ranging from trips to local culinary arts schools, chefs and leaders in our communisalads to entrees and desserts. They workinggets her news updates online from the The Champion. Because she farms such as Serenbe, and ties.” Because she gets her news updates online from the The Champion. food distribution sites such as the will be taught about food safety, Because she gets Tech Beginning June 4, Chefher news updates online fromfoodThe Champion. DeKalb Farmers Market and Georkitchen skills and the science. And you can too! Follow us. Academy will offer four weekly Corum said every meal the stugia Farmers Market. They will exsessions for children in three age dents eat at camp they will prepare perience sustainable farming,



See Atkinson ews updates online from the on Page 17A The Champion.

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

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The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012

DCSD moves forward with district wide reorganization
by Daniel Beauregard he DeKalb County Board of Education approved new job classifications and an aligned salary structure for the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) at its monthly board policy meeting April 18. The move is part of Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson’s ongoing reorganization of positions in the district. Under the reorganization more than 380 job titles were consolidated into 17 job classifications, each with an aligned salary structure that is uniform across all departments and Derrick Yancey, a former DeKalb County Sheriff’s deputy, was in court April 24 to petition Judge Linda Hunter for a new trial. comparable with similar school disPhotos by Daniel Beauregard tricts. Earlier in the year the district hired Management Advisory Group Inc. (MAG) to perform a personnel audit of every position within the district. MAG presented its findings to the board in January and called for a unified salary schedule for all employees, as well as pay adjustby Daniel Beauregard trial suppression hearing about ments for certain positions. Hutchins’ evidence and it was tionally, the management firm recdetermined he could only presommended a complete restructuring Convicted murderer and ent expert testimony based on of central office departments. former DeKalb County Sherpictures rather than what he had DeKalb School DIstrict spokesriff’s deputy Derrick Yancey seen inside the home. man Walter Woods said the reorwas in court April 24 as his “I did have a pre-trial hearganization is, in part, a response to attorney petitioned a judge to ing and the appropriate time, MAGs findings but the district will allow a new trial. perhaps, to have presented that not implement all of its suggestions. Yancey, 52, filed a motion witness would have been at the Woods said although 380 job titles for a new trial, accusing his suppression hearing …It’s just defense attorneys of failing not relevant to the fact that I did were being condensed into 17, it didn’t mean those not included in him by not suppressing blood not exclude their blood spatter the 17 positions would lose their spatter evidence presented experts’ testimony,” Hunter told jobs. during his 2010 trial. Merchant. “Many employees will be afAppellate Attorney “A motion for a new trial does fected but not necessarily leaving Ashleigh Merchant argued not necessarily mean that you the district,” Woods said. Yancey’s defense counsel was can bring in new evidence of All reclassifications were based ineffective by failing to call everything you wish you could an independent blood spathave presented at the trial of the on a 239-day schedule in an effort to ter expert to dispute evidence case.” show an internal relationship among presented by the prosecutor’s Yancey was convicted of fapositions, a press release said. The way or another that Mr. Hutchins’ witness, blood spatter expert Cecil tally shooting his wife Linda and salary for the full range of the clastestimony was indeed not based…on Hutchins. day-laborer Marcial Cax-Puluc in sifications will only be earned if the this illegal evidence but solely based During the motion for a new trial, on pictures,” Grant said. 2008 in the basement of their home employee works a full calendar year Merchant tried to present new eviin Stone Mountain. Blood spatof 239 days. Therefore, if the emDuring the pretrial hearing, public dence by another blood spatter exter evidence played a major role in ployee’s work calendar is fewer than defenders Ruth McMullin and Lepert who planned to testify Hutchins titia Delan, who defended Yancey, the case because Yancey originally 239 days, the salary for the position that could have only obtained the in- were called to testify and questioned said he hired Cax-Puluc to work on will be based on the actual number formation for his testimony by being by Merchant and Grant. Both testihis home and that the day-laborer of days worked. illegally present in Yancey’s house. robbed and shot his wife, and he shot The new job classifications and fied they were working with an inDeKalb Assistant District AttorCax-Puluc in self-defense. salary structure are expected to dependent blood spatter expert at the ney Leonora Grant testified that for time of the trial who told them if he When police determined Yancey save the school district more than Merchant to call a new witness she wasn’t telling the truth, he was ar$300,000 and make it more efficient. was called as a witness he would do had to first prove that Yancey’s deThis district-wide reclassification Yancey’s case more harm than good. rested. As he was awaiting trial on fense attorneys had committed an er- McMullin and Delan said the decibond, Yancey cut off his ankle moni- is the first such effort for the DeKalb ror by not calling an expert to refute sion not to call an expert to refute tor and fled to Belize, where he was County School District in more than Hutchins’ claims—that it was not arrested six months later. 10 years. Hutchins’ testimony was a strategic part of a planned defense strategy. Hunter is expected to make a one. “According to post-conviction ruling on the motion for a new trial Judge Linda Hunter, who tried council and Mr. Yancey, these attorthe case in 2010, said she held a pre- within the next several weeks. neys should have made sure in some


Former deputy convicted of murder in court for new trial hearing

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The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012

Crime BrieFS
Mother, son plead guilty to animal cruelty charges
A Decatur mother and son pleaded guilty April 27 in State Court to five counts of animal cruelty, according to DeKalb County solicitor general spokeswoman Emily Gest. The pleas came after their fox terrier, Blaze, was found severely emaciated with a grapefruit-size tumor on her stomach and another tumor in her mouth. The dog also suffered from periodontal disease, Gest said. Shirley McClain, 58, was sentenced to 20 days in jail and was allowed to serve many of those days on weekends. Michael McClain, 38, was sentenced to 45 days in jail with daily release to go to work. Both must perform 200 hours of community service at the DeKalb County Sanitation Dept. and must pay $6,500 in restitution to the American Fox Terrier Rescue Inc., the organization that rescued the animal and paid for Blaze’s medical treatment. In August 2011, a maintenance worker repairing a leak in the family’s apartment discovered Blaze locked in a bathroom, which was 83 degrees. After her rescue, Blaze endured three surgeries to remove the tumors, and infected teeth and gums. The 14-year-old dog survived her ordeal and has been adopted. When she was rescued, Blaze weighed about 10 pounds. She now weighs 18 pounds, which is a normal weight for her breed.

Open house to inform community about Be Someone program for youth
Be Someone Inc. Creative Director Orrin “Checkmate” Hudson every year opens the doors of his organization to the public so that those in the community can get a closer look at his program for youth. This year, the 10th annual “Be Someone Day,” will be dedicated to Trayvon Martin, the Sanford, Fla., teenager killed earlier this year by a selfdescribed community watch volunteer. According to Hudson, “This incident and the multiple homicides with young people against each other” prompted him to use this day to “bring much needed attention to these issues affecting young African-American males. We need to focus on the root causes and seeds of our community challenges.” Founded in 2001, Be Someone is a non-profit crime prevention program aimed at the youth of America. The organization teaches self-esteem, responsibility and analytical thinking skills to at-risk youth through numerous tools, including the game of chess. Be Someone also offers inspirational programs for corporations and parents, designed to foster teamwork and encourage participation in the lives of children. Hudson, a former Alabama State Trooper, said that his organization is dedicated to teaching life lessons primarily to young African Americans, “many of whom are at risk of violence in their lives or making poor choices that will not allow them to reach their full potential,” he said. Hudson explains that Be Someone “is all about bridging the gap between ignorance and knowledge. We teach ‘think it out, don’t shoot it out!’” Hudson uses the game of chess to teach that every move a person makes has a consequence

DeKalb County men indicted for pimping, exploiting youth
A DeKalb County grand jury on April 26 indicted two DeKalb County men on 18 counts of pimping and exploiting children. John William Anderson and Darryl Bearnard Curry are accused of trafficking persons for sexual servitude, pimping, sexual exploitation, false imprisonment, cruelty to children, aggravated assault, contributing to the delinquency of a minor, obstruction of an officer and conspiracy to commit false statements. “These are very serious and disturbing charges,” said DeKalb County District Attorney Robert James. “Our office is committed to protecting the people of DeKalb and prosecuting those who prey upon our youth.” The charges stems from alleged incidents from September to October 2011.


Off-duty police officer charged with DUI after hitting Greyhound bus
An off-duty police officer was allegedly drunk and driving the wrong way on I-85 when he crashed into a Greyhound bus at approximately 5 a.m. April 26, according to police. The driver was identified as Christopher Niezurawski of the Atlanta Police Department. DeKalb County Police spokeswoman Mekka Parish said officers received a report of a wrong-way driver traveling north in the southbound lanes of I-85. Parish said an off-duty DeKalb police officer spotted the vehicle stopped facing the wrong way on the interstate between Northcrest Road and Pleasantdale Road. “Before officers could get to the area, a Greyhound bus loaded with passengers struck the wrong-way vehicle,” Parish said. Parish said no injuries were reported on the bus. Niezurawski had visible head injuries and was transported to Grady Hospital. Niezurawski faces charges of DUI, reckless driving and operating a vehicle the wrong way

Cyclist dies after being hit by pickup
A cyclist was killed after being struck by a pickup truck on North Decatur Road early April 30. The cyclist, Paul Taylor of Atlanta, was struck just before 6:30 a.m. at 220 North Decatur Road, according to a press release by the Decatur Police Department. Taylor was taken to DeKalb Medical Center where he was pronounced dead. The road was closed until approximately 10 a.m.

and that it’s crucial to think before acting. Noting that he himself was an at-risk young person who saw his life turn around because of a teacher who taught him to play chess, Hudson said, “It’s payback time now.” Hudson tells of a 17-yearold he said “could very well have been me several years ago.” Aaron Porter was in trouble and in the court system when a judge gave him a second chance by to get his life together. Through Be Someone, the young man “found his second chance behind a chess board,” according to Hudson. “He began to clearly see something that before was not in his thought process—the underlying principle of understanding every choice carries with it a consequence.” Porter’s mother, Debora, said, “I’m amazed at the turn around in my son after learning a game I would have never thought to offer him. Orrin cares for every child who is fortunate enough to sit down at his training tables.” Hudson said the youth has not only turned his life around but has become an accomplished chess player and thinker. The open house will be

at Be Someone’s recently acquired training center in Stone Mountain. “This was a dream come true,” Hudson said of the facility. The 2,000-square-foot facility contains two administrative offices and training space to support up to 50 students. He said the number of young people he and his team can reach more than doubled overnight. “I want the community to see what we are offering. We aren’t playing games here, we are saving young lives!” In addition to offering information for the community the event also will include what Hudson said will be exciting “entertainment with a message.” Lil Jimmy, who calls himself the “The New Millennium Fat Albert,” will address bullying and violence through his program “You’re a Bully.” Magic from Joe M. Turner with Turner Magic Entertainment and music by gospel recording artist Arthur Reed and James Lawrence, “The Piano Man.” The Be Someone open house will be Saturday, May 5, 1 – 4 p.m. The center is located at 949 Stephenson Road, Stone Mountain. For more information, visit

***** Pursuant to the requirements of Part 303, Subpart A of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation’s Rules and Regulations (12 C.F.R. § 303.7), notice is hereby given that Community & Southern Bank, Atlanta, Cobb County, Georgia, has filed an application for approval to establish a branch office. The proposed branch office will be located at Town Brookhaven, 104 Town Boulevard, Suite A-110, Atlanta, DeKalb County, Georgia 30319. Any person wishing to comment on and/or protest the application filed with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation may do so by filing written notice with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, 10 Tenth Street, NE, Suite 800, Atlanta, Georgia 30309-3906, by the 15th day following the date of this publication. The nonconfidential portions of the application are on file at the Atlanta FDIC office and are available for public inspection during regular business hours. Photocopies of the nonconfidential portion of the application file will be made available upon request.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012

South DeKalb movie house searches patrons
matinee of Think Like A Man, the uproariously funny movie based on entertainer Steve Harvey’s bestselling book. The south DeKalb location was convenient to both of us. My friend, like Jack Benny, doesn’t acknowledge being older than 39. I, on the other hand, readily accept the fact that I am a senior citizen. The point here is that here are two grandmothers on a Monday afIf you plan to attend a movie at ternoon being told our purses would the Big Cinemas at the Gallery at have to be searched. I said I had no South DeKalb expect to be searched! food, recording devices or weapon Incredible as that sounds, that’s the in my purse. My friend admitted to sorry state of affairs at Big Cinemas having a small bag of almonds for at South DeKalb. her vegan snack. I had planned to You are informed as you purpurchase a bucket of buttered popchase a ticket that you will be corn and other high cholesterol, fatsearched, especially women’s purses, tening goodies. But when told our to make sure you are not smugpurses would be searched and that gling in food, recording devices or a she could not bring in her almonds, weapon. When did the harmless act outraged we decided to take our paof taking in a movie require being tronage elsewhere. searched as though you were going As we were leaving a young emthrough airport security at Hartsfield- ployee of the theater caught up with Jackson? The only things missing us to express his dismay and offer at South DeKalb’s Big Cinemas are an apology even though he had no metal detectors and body scanners. control over the situation. He said he Last week my girlfriend, a lorecognized me and hoped I would cal business owner, and I went to write about this policy, which as he Big Cinemas to catch the afternoon put it, “was ridiculous and had gone on for too long.” He told me his name but I won’t use it because he most certainly would be fired. These kinds of inane policies only occur in African-American communities and continue because they are tolerated. I tried later to contact the local theater management, but only got show titles, times and directions on the recorded message. I also put in a call to Big Cinema corporate offices in Phoenix, Ariz., to determine their policy regarding the searching of patrons and whether this was a policy made by local managers at their discretion. I left messages for the appropriate people but at press time had not received return calls. To have one’s person or belongings searched without cause or posting seems to be a violation of basic rights. What law is being broken by my having a recording device, food or a weapon? Suppose I am an off-duty police officer or other individual’s licensed to carry a weapon? Suppose, like my friend, I have special dietary needs? I understand there are crooks out there violating copyright laws by making bootleg copies of movies. I understand the unscrupulous who smuggle food into the theater rather than pay the inflated concession prices. I also understand that there might be some Saturday night specials carried by everyday hoodlums. Unfortunately that is the price of doing business in high-risk areas. Many businesses hire off-duty police officers to keep the peace and provide security. Searching senior citizens’ purses at an afternoon matinee? Not so much. Big Cinemas clearly does not want the business of decent, law-abiding citizens who constitute the majority or they wouldn’t impose these ridiculous policies. The bad apples are a nuisance, but a minority. Do not allow yourself to be victimized. Don’t succumb to these searches. Take your business elsewhere and encourage others to do the same, even if it means letting Big Cinemas screens at south DeKalb fade to black—permanently. Steen Miles, The Newslady, is a retired journalist and former Georgia state senator. Contact Steen Milies at

Opinion The Newslady

Page 4A

Letter to the Editor
Dear Editor: The deadline is looming. I have two years before I enroll my son into the DeKalb County School System—or not. I read your article with a critical eye and became rather upset with myself and with the DeKalb County Board of Education. Perhaps it’s my fault. Maybe I should have been more vocal when expressing concerns about the vetting of DeKalb County School Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson. But then again, perhaps the School Board should have been more thorough. After I read your article in The Champion, I obtained research from the Lorain newspapers and the Ohio state report cards and was shocked that the board determined Cheryl Atkinson was the best candidate for what might be my son’s school system. It was clear from the research that she had not proven the academic success and fiscal management in Lorain, a school system with only 10 elementary schools, three middle schools, one high school and three alternative option programs. If it was clear to the Cleveland School System and Atlanta Public School System that she was incapable of leading a large school system such as the one I might enroll my son in, why was it OK for DeKalb County? There are five designations of school system success ratings in Ohio: Excellent, Effective, Continuous Improvement, Academic Watch, and Academic Emergency. Research shows that during her tenure in Lorain, Cheryl Atkinson’s system never reached Effective or Excellent. The inconsistency of the student scores in the Lorain schools indicate that perhaps none of the areas that achieved success in any one year were sustainable year after year. I noticed that school system spokesman Walter Woods says Atkinson is not looking back. Well I looked back and what I saw frighted me. A system that never reached the three top state destinations and a system that’s on “fiscal caution”? Also, an article dated May 28, 2011 on stated about Atkinson’s performance, “The district slipped into ‘academic watch’ the year after she arrived. An attempt to pass a new school tax failed by a large margin. And last year, the district met only one of the 26 indicators that the state measured on its last report card— placing it (Lorain) in the bottom five districts statewide.” If I write books and TV scripts that fail, there’s a good chance publishers and networks won’t ask me to write anymore material. I am hired based on past history of success. I’m wondering what past history of success the DeKalb County Board of Education saw in Atkinson. The deadline is looming, I have two years before I enroll my son in the DeKalb County School System—or move to another district. – Brian Egeston DeKalb County parent

Letter to the Editor
Who is Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson? She is a lady who talks a good game about transparency, openness and progress as she hides behind double talk, closed doors, Walter Woods, and secretive meetings with the board of education members as a whole and her favorite board members privately. Her double talk will eventually be her demise. See examples: She is eliminating the socalled ‘family and friends” hiring practices. Reality is that all of her cabinet members except a few are friends from her past, all are earning $160,000 annually. Not one of them has a history of success in their job currently held. Her new chief information officer helped her implement books in three middle schools, one high school and three alternative schools in Lorain. Hurray! Big deal. Dekalb probably has more students in three of its high schools than Lorain had in its total middle and high schools enrollment. The chief of curriculum and instruction is not clear. It seems that she held a seniorlevel position in curriculum and instruction. What does that general information tell us about her credentials. Walter Woods was a business reporter for the AJC and Atlanta Business Chronicle. Chief of leadership and operational support was a principal in Charlotte at Westley Hills Academy, a K-8 school, 2011 test scores not available for grades 6-8 on website, but here are the results for 2011 for grades 3-5:
Grade 3: Reading 41% State Average 68% Math 68% 82% Grade 4: Reading 62% State Average 72% Math 87% 84% Grade 5: Reading 45% State Average 72% Math 65% State Average 82% Science 55% State Average 73%

Atkinson said through Walter Woods that she could not make progress in Lorain because: “the system had never made AYP” “the community never raised local taxes” “the demographics were challenging and there were financial and academic challenges”. Didn’t she know that before she went to the system? I am sure that during her interview with them, she promised to turn all that around. instead, the system made no progress and she made excuses, so she interviews in Atlanta and DeKalb with many of the same challenges, only bigger and promises to improve. She can’t move a shovel of dirt, but she can move a mountain? Walter Woods says that she is pleasing the board and the parents (which parents)? So her goal is not “victory in every classroom”? I would have thought that somewhere in the statement, that Atkinson and Woods would have made academic achievement a priority statement. Sounds to me like she was given a political agenda when she got here. She said that she is downsizing the county employees. Everybody gets pay cuts but her friends who are in the same positions and making the same salaries that everyone complained were too high for years. Only of “six” of them making $160,000 as in the past, now there are “nine” of them making $160,000, including her legal affairs chief who has failed to pay federal, state and local taxes on his privately run school which has a daycare through eighth grade. This is what I mean when I accuse Cheryl Atkinson a master of double talk! – B.M. Wilson

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012

Be careful what you wish for
tale is we live in an era where voters covet high levels of services and low levels of taxation. Owning two residential properties in DeKalb County, one in unincorporated Scottdale, and the other in the city of Avondale Estates, I can see the differences in service levels and the large gap in my property tax bills. My Scottdale home is less than five years old, and nearly 3,500 square feet. The Avondale home/office is more than 25 years old, just more than 1,250 square feet, with a tax bill nearing two-thirds that of the Scottdale property. The Avondale condo’s value has been dropping though the tax bill has not. If my Scottdale home were in Avondale, I simply could not afford the tax bill. In recent years, across north metro Atlanta, a spate of new municipalities have formed, some in the planning stages for decades (Sandy Springs), and others moving much more recently forward (Dunwoody, Johns Creek, Peachtree Corners). Without spending too much time on the why, in most every case, and in part due to the collapse of real estate prices across metro Atlanta, revenue forecasts for each of these new cities were overly optimistic and actual expenses were under-forecast. This lasting recession has certainly not helped, but even with the cannibalization of several large commercial and industrial tracts inside a few of these cities, such as Perimeter Center being swallowed into Dunwoody, promised savings via privatization and leasing as opposed to owning municipal buildings have on occasion failed to materialize. And though there are clearly unanticipated start-up costs, larger cost concerns are actually long-term. The most significant cost of any government enterprise is its payroll. Historically city, county, state and federal government employees in Georgia and elsewhere earned a modest living, in comparison with their private sector peers of a similar position and background, in exchange for greater job security and long-term pension, health care and other retirement benefits. I’m not here to malign public sector employees, but I will point out as with any other constituency or special interest group, it is only logical that those employees will support elected officials looking out for their interests, strengthening their employment contracts, preserving benefits—or as in the city of Atlanta—allowing unfunded pension mandates to swell to the size of a budget line-item larger than funding police services. Hats off to Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed for taking that bull by the horns and taking the first steps toward major pension reform in the city of Atlanta. So any “new city” and its potential residents have some cause for pause. Are your “wants” of today also willing to absorb the costs of your promises for tomorrow? And is it fair for your community to swallow or absorb infrastructure, assets and commercial zones, developed over decades and funded by the entire county, or in many cases the state, solely for the benefit of your new city? Unfortunately the ballot question facing voters in the now unincorporated community of Brookhaven this summer will not go into this level of detail—it only waves the carrot, without revealing the stick. So as some consider the benefits of cityhood, and wish for a bit more control of their own day-to-day destiny, the residents of the prospective city of Brookhaven, in the former historic community of Ashford, might need to ask themselves if what they are seeking is worth the potential of later becoming “Brokehaven.” Bill Crane also serves as a political analyst and commentator for Channel 2’s Action News, WSB-AM News/Talk 750 and now 95.5 FM, as well as a columnist for The Champion, Champion Free Press and Georgia Trend. Crane is a DeKalb native and business owner, living in Scottdale. You can reach him or comment on a column at billcrane@

Opinion One Man’s Opinion

Page 5A

“The need to overhaul public employee pensions at the state and local level was the dominant theme at a Wednesday night Tribune forum featuring two of the state’s major Democrats, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn. Rising pension costs, the result of politicians’ promises stretching back decades, threaten to gobble up state and city budgets.”— The Chicago Tribune, April 4, 2012. Since 1837, the windy city of Chicago has survived fire, winters more brutal than you can imagine and organized crime. What may bring that great city, and arguably the state of Illinois, to its knees are the pension, retirement and related health care benefits of retired city, Cook County and Chicago-land school system employees. Though Chicago is far from alone, and other states and major municipalities (including the city of Atlanta) are struggling with both the health care and pension reform costs of their retirees. Part of this cautionary

Letter to the Editor
After reading the article in last week’s Champion, I just couldn’t sit back any longer and stay silent. What was the Board of Education thinking when they hired Ms. Atkinson? Based on the article, her performance at her last job was appalling. I speak of performance because student success is the main reason schools are in business. Every job that I have ever had was based upon my performance. When applying for my first job, my employer wanted to know about my grades in college. Teachers and everybody in every profession are usually hired on past performance. When Mr. Woods couldn’t speak to the issue of Atkinson’s past performance, he brushed these facts off and talked about looking forward not backward. Duuugh! And he can cite all of her peripheral accomplishments that he desires, but the “proof is in the pudding.” Out of 26 to 30 indicators set by the state, her highest number reached was 4? And in her last year there, which one would think would have been a stellar year—a positive culmination of her efforts—she only met one (1) indicator out of 26? I had no idea about the information stated in last week’s article, but I am deeply concerned about the poor judgment that she has demonstrated since she has been the leader of DeKalb County Schools. Her hasty decisions which she has publicly flaunted have served to further damage the image of a school system which was slowly recuperating from a nationally scandalized reputation. In a system that was trying to heal and move forward from the hurtful images of the past administration, Atkinson made rash and hurried decisions that implied that criminal activity was occurring in our school band programs. Everyone from the local news station to CNN televised that all band programs in DeKalb Schools had been suspended and that students, staff and volunteers were suspected of hazing. No investigation had been done, no people had been interviewed, and no suspects or victims had been identified, but she suspended the entire program for months, promising to “clean up” the band program, conduct a thorough investigation and report the findings. Her findings are yet to be publicly shared. Next, she cried “wolf” that the school system had a shortfall of finances, later reducing the amount of the shortfall, and finally quietly “whispering” (not sounding the trumpet) that the shortfall was projected (as was the projection for every metro school system as you see on the news.) As if she had not gotten enough negative press for the school system from these incidents, she devised three school calendars that showed no regard for decisions and votes that had already taken place creating loud public outcry of “foul.” Next, she paid a firm to conduct an audit to show that the school system had too many employees. After wasting thousands of dollars and creating a public spectacle, she said that she was not taking the recommendation of Part I from the audit committee; later when she arbitrarily moved people, she said she was using the audit! Now that she has Part 2 of the audit, she is using the audit, but she is not using the audit! No, that’s not a misprint, that’s the public message she is delivering. The news reporters who have been relatively quiet for the 18 months prior to her arrival were like bees buzzing around her watching for the next “big negative” that she will throw their way. While other school systems have had the same issues as DeKalb (I could cite specifics, but I don’t want to be guilty of “Cheryl Atkinson’s negative media behavior”), they have managed to focus their attention on attempting to resolve the issues rather than trying to publicize the issues and come back as “heroes.” For the sake of our children, I do hope our Board of Education and Mrs. Atkinson are/were right—I’ll gladly send another letter saying I was wrong. I always hate to see our children lose, get behind, not reach their potential because of our failed programs and failed leaders, i.e. teaching reading without phonics, “new math,” open classrooms, recently failed superintendents (not including our recent interim superintendent who did a stellar job). However, we’ll all see the proof when the pudding is done. – B. Nichols

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Send Letters To Editor, The Champion Free Press, P. O. Box 1347, Decatur, GA 30031-1347; Send E-Mail to FAX To: (404) 370-3903 Phone: (404) 373-7779 Deadline for news releases and advertising: Thursday, one week prior to publication date. EDITOR’S NOTE: The opinions written by columnists and contributing editors do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the editor or publishers. The Publisher reserves the right to reject or cancel any advertisement at any time. The Publisher is not responsible for unsolicited manuscripts.

Publisher: Dr. Earl D. Glenn Managing Editor: Kathy Mitchell News Editor: Robert Naddra Production Manager: Kemesha Hunt Graphic Designer: Travis Hudgons The Champion Free Press is published each Friday by ACE III Communications, Inc., 114 New Street, Suite E, Decatur, GA. 30030 Phone (404) 373-7779.
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We sincerely appreciate the discussion surrounding this and any issue of interest to DeKalb County. The Champion was founded in 1991 expressly to provide a forum for discourse for all community residents on all sides of an issue. We have no desire to make the news only to report news and opinions to effect a more educated citizenry that will ultimately move our community forward. We are happy to present ideas for discussion; however, we make every effort to avoid printing information submitted to us that is known to be false and/or assumptions penned as fact.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012


Page 6A

Declaration of war
Republican firebrands want to set Romney's agenda.
mandate to return to the 18th century. That mandate has very little validity. In that election, Republican candidates scored a total of 30,799,391 votes. Two years earlier in the presidential election, Obama received 69,498,215 — more than twice as many. That’s a mandate. Unfortunately, he hasn’t been able to exercise it much over the past two years because of Republican intransigence. Our system of government invites gridlock, and Republican members of Congress have done everything in their power to accept that invitation. When Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said in October 2010 that the “single most important thing” that Republicans “want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president,” he wasn’t kidding. He and his Republican colleagues have spent the past two years throwing sand into the gears of government. Beating Obama will be harder for the GOP than it was to clench a robust majority of House seats and narrow the Democratic Party’s Senate majority two years ago. Despite the Republicans’ best efforts to paint him as an extreme liberal, Obama has governed as a moderate. He’s certainly too moderate for some of his supporters. He’s helped drag us back from the brink of insolvency, save the auto industry and cut our trade deficit. He’s even managed to oversee an increase in our oil production, making us less dependent on foreign sources of energy. All of this with the Republicans leaving heel marks all the way. Had the voters kept the Democratic Party in control of Congress in 2010, or had more reasonable Republicans been calling their party’s shots, our economic recovery might be several years further along by now. The Republicans will argue that none of that is true, of course, that the Obama administration has been a failure in every regard. Maybe they can sell that. They’ve certainly got enough money to give it a try. However, they have no competing narrative that makes sense to anyone but people who are interested in nothing but low taxes for the rich. There’s a saying in politics that you can’t beat somebody with nobody. This election will test that premise. OtherWords columnist Donald Kaul lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Republican lawmakers have declared war on the presidency. Not so odd, perhaps, given their recent record. But the leader they’re targeting this time is Mitt Romney. The former Massachusetts governor is clearly going to be the party’s candidate. Traditionally, the nominee sets the agenda for the party in the fall elections. Not this time, according to several Republican firebrands. “We’re not a cheerleading squad,” said Rep. Jeff Landry, a freshman from Louisiana. “We’re the conductor. We’re supposed to drive the train.” “We have led and will continue to lead,” said Rep. Lou Barletta, a Pennsylvania Republican. Their bottom line seems to be that Romney can say anything he wants so long as he supports lower taxes on the rich, the evisceration of food stamps and other programs that benefit the poor, and the inflation of a military budget that already looks as though it’s on steroids. Basically Republicans don’t want a president. They want a potted plant. And judging from his performance so far, Romney might be willing to accommodate them. He’s already reversed himself on pretty much every issue that would make a tea party fanatic frown. I keep wondering how in the world Republicans expect to win the election on a platform that would benefit — at most — 10 percent of the population at the expense of the other 90 percent. I suppose they’re going to rely heavily on negative campaigning. Romney certainly did in destroying his primary opponents. And thanks to the Supreme Court’s lamentable Citizens United ruling, they will have virtually unlimited resources to hurl exaggerations, misrepresentations, and outright lies at President Barack Obama. We’re going to revisit Obama the Muslim, Obama the foreigner and Obama the hate-filled Black radical, as well as Obama the socialist and Obama the dictator. I doubt that any of those hysterical charges will stick with anyone who isn’t a Rush Limbaugh fan, but who knows? When the Republicans took over the House of Representatives in the 2010 election, they claimed a national

The following comments are pulled straight from our website and are not edited for content or grammar.

‘Pit bull’ may be removed from county ordinance
Chihuahuas and Dachshunds are more aggressive than Pits, Pitbulls even proved to be less aggressive than Labs and Goldens. I’d trust a Pitbull more than I’d trust those breeds. – Alice posted this on 4/27/12 at 4:34 p.m. Good news. Dogs are individuals and it is up to the owner of any dog to make it safe. Any dog can become dangerous in the wrong hands. It is not a breed problem, it is a human problem and pit bull is a term used way too much for all sorts of dogs when it is really only supposed to refer to three different breeds of dogs. They are great dogs in the hands of a responsible owner. The key is to encourage strongly that people be responsible dog owners and don’t violate leash laws and make your dog safe. If you can’t make your dog safe you have no business having a dog. – Satisfied posted this on 4/26/12 at 11:36 p.m.

I spent last weekend around a pitbull that was adopted from a rescue facility, and that 3yr. old dog was so gentle and had great indoor manners. It amazed me at how sweet she was, having been adopted only weeks previous. Not three days after returning home, I witnessed another friends pitbull, biting & somewhat viciously,shaking, the hand of a person that he was familiar with! It’s all in the dog, and how they were raised, and apparently, not the entire breed. – Shawn posted this on 4/26/12 at 10:31 a.m.

Cake Café owner make desserts her grandmother’s way
Jane, she said that African American women are currently her strongest customer base, “However, I want everyone to enjoy my desserts,” she said, adding that she is considering opening a Dunwoody store” How is that discrimnating? She opened a store in area where her customer base is already drawn, but is looking to expand. Yeesh! – Cammi317 posted this on 4/24/12 at 4:29 p.m. discrimination at it’s finest, only cater to black women. – Jane posted this on 4/24/12 at 11:58 a.m.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012

Local News

Page 7A

major’s complaint leads to rotation of top DeKalb Police brass
by Andrew Cauthen A hostile work environment complaint by a DeKalb Police major triggered the department to proceed with a planned rotation of top brass. Chief William O’Brien signed a personnel order on April 20 that called for the four assistant police chiefs to rotate the departments they command. According to DeKalb County Public Safety Director William Miller, Assistant Chief D. A. Holmes was rotated from the support services division to the uniform division, previously commanded by Assistant Chief M. P. Yarbrough, who is now assigned to the criminal investigations division. Assistant Chief L. A. Gassner has moved from the special operations division to the support services division, while Assistant Chief A. Williams, former head of the criminal investigations division, will command the special operations division. “We have four assistant chiefs; all of them were rotated to different departments,” Miller said. “All of them have pretty close to the same experience, time, education and training. We just swapped them out and put them over different departments.” There was “no upward movement or downward,” Miller said. “[It was] completely lateral. The departments are relatively equal in size, responsibility and authority.” Since an August 2009 police department reorganization, a plan has been in place to rotate the assistant chiefs, Miller said. “We decided at that time that we were going to do a rotation of these assistant chiefs,” Miller said. “We didn’t set a date for certain, but we toyed with the idea of 18 months to two years of just rotating them all. Well, here we are now. That’s what we did.” Miller said the rotation, which will be recurring, “is a good chance for them to learn areas in which they have not traditionally commanded and get a more broad-based view of the police department and how the different divisions function.” This is the first rotation among the assistant chiefs, Miller said. The rotation comes after a major filed a hostile work environment claim against an assistant chief, Miller said. While the police department conducts an internal investigation of such claims, the department usually moves the nonaggrieved party,” Miller said. “We did not do this out of punishment,” Miller said. “It triggered us to do what we were going to do.”

Heather Kleckner

Champion of the Week




ment such as wheelchairs and hospital beds at little or no cost to disabled persons and their families. Since 1986, FODAC has collected and distributed more than 25,000 wheelchairs. Kleckner said FODAC is a “really family oriented” organization. The organization meets with the volunteers every morning and “checks on everybody,” she said. “It’s wonderful what they do for the community, but it’s really At least four days wonderful what they do a week 36-year-old for each other,” Kleckner Heather Kleckner spends said. “These people are a portion of her time wonderful.” working at the Friends of Kleckner encourages Disabled Adults and Chil- people to volunteer. dren (FODAC) thrift store “I think you should,” in Stone Mountain. Kleckner said. “At least For a little more than get out and do somea year, she has worked thing for people. It feels the register and priced good to give back to donations after learning somebody. about the charity when “It’s a good feeling her mother passed away when people smile when and Kleckner needed to you’re doing something donate some medical selfless,” Kleckner said. equipment. “It is a rewarding feelShe ended up not do- ing.” nating the equipment to When she’s not volunFODAC but does donate teering, Kleckner enjoys approximately 24 hours a going to dog parks, festiweek of her time. vals and dining at restau“It was recommended rants’ rooftop patios. by someone I knew and “I like anything outmy sister is deaf, so I’ve doors,” Kleckner said. always been around The FODAC Thrift people with disabilities,” Store is located at 4900 Kleckner said. Lewis Road, off MounFODAC is a nonprofit tain Industrial Boulevard organization in Stone just south of Highway 78 Mountain that provides in Stone Mountain. durable medical equip-

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, May 4, 2012

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interim director running medical examiner’s office after demotion
by Andrew Cauthen DeKalb County is still without a permanent director for its medical examiner’s office after the former director was demoted in November for insubordination. Patrick Bailey worked as director of the medical examiner’s office for a year before the demotion to a chief investigator in the office. According to Bailey’s personnel file obtained by The Champion under the Georgia Open Records law, the demotion was related to Bailey’s handling of a contract for the chief medical examiner. In DeKalb County, the director of the medical examiner’s office handles the administrative functions of the office, while the chief medical examiner oversees and performs forensic examinations. Bailey joined the DeKalb County Police Department in 1996, where he moved through the ranks as a uniformed patrol officer, a robbery/homicide detective and an internal affairs investigator. He joined medical examiner’s office in 2003 as a forensic death investigator, forensic services manager and chief investigator. Upon Bailey’s demotion, DeWayne Calhoun was appointed interim director of the office. Calhoun “has performed very well in that position,” said William Miller, the county’s director of public safety. “Right now [Calhoun] is doing a good job in that capacity. Dr. [Gerald] Gowitt likes him. DeWayne may become our permanent director. We just haven’t made that decision yet.” Miller said he will discuss with CEO Burrell Ellis whether Calhoun will be named the permanent director. Miller would not comment on Bailey’s demotion. In a November 2011 letter informing Bailey of his demotion, Miller stated that Bailey failed to inform Miller, Finance Director Joel Gottlieb or CEO Burrell Ellis that the chief medical examiner’s contract was up for a vote by the Board of Commissioners on Oct. 25, 2011. Miller stated that he “consistently instructed” Bailey for seven days to remove the item from the commissioners’ agenda. When Miller attended the commissioners’ meeting to ensure the removal of the contract, Bailey said “this is political” and “not right,” according memo by Kelvin Walton, director of the purchasing and contracting department. “Mr. Bailey was very upset and disrespectful,” Walton stated. The agenda item was removed by Walton during the Oct. 25 meeting. The contract in question was for Gowitt who has been DeKalb’s chief medical examiner since 2000.

Local News

Page 8A


Bailey asked the Board of Commissioners to increase Gowitt’s contract by $140,000 to $800,000 to “properly fund him.” Gowitt’s contract is used to pay seven people and funds any additional staff or testing needed for the medical examiner’s office which investigates approximately 1,700 cases a year, Bailey said in a September 2011 interview after the contract was first introduced to the

Board of Commissioners. “It costs him to provide those additional personnel and that doesn’t cost us anything,” Bailey told The Champion. The contract, which was due to expire at the end of 2011, has not come back before the Board of Commissioners for a vote. Gowitt is currently on a month-tomonth contract until a new one is written, Miller said.

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The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012

Local News

Page 9A

Notice of Public Hearings
May 15 & 17, 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 Fiscal Year 2013 Operating & Capital Funds Budget, and Proposed Fare Increases on Reduced (Half-Fare) and Mobility for October 7, 2012*

Group supports those who support foster children
by Andrew Cauthen In the 22 years that psychologist Merrill White has been a foster parent, she has had 91 children in her home. She has also suffered some broken bones. “Many times we are assaulted in our own homes by the children that we are sworn to protect,” said White, president of the Foster Parent Association of DeKalb County, Ga. Inc. “Our lives are different from yours because we do not go to a comfortable sleep at night,” White said during a recent meeting of the county’s Board of Commissioners. “We retire with the knowledge that at 11 p.m. or at 2 a.m. or 3 a.m., we can receive a call. “When children in DeKalb County are verbally abused, they come to us,” said White, who has two adopted children and three foster children. “When they are hit, kicked, burned, have broken bones and are physically abused in other ways, they come to us. “When they are sexually abused in the most horrific ways, from infant to teens, they come to us,” White said. “When children are abandoned, they come to us. “Many children are brought to us with only the clothes on their back,” she said. “They may be hungry, screaming, fighting, angry, cursing and more.” Approximately 30 to 50 percent of foster children are placed in special education classes because of learning disabilities or emotional disturbances, White said. They have higher absenteeism and perform lower on standardized tests than non-foster students. The Foster Parent Association of DeKalb County “seeks to turn these statistics around,” White said. The DeKalb group, which is 18 years old, has 25 paying members. Its aim is to support foster and adoptive parents and their children. “In times of emergency or crisis, we are someone to call when you need someone to talk to or need someone to keep your children while you run out on an emergency,” White said. The group also is also an advocate for foster parents. “When foster parents have to go to hearings, we will actually attend hearings and meetings with them to offer support and just to be with them,” White said. “Our purpose is to keep foster parent homes open—the foster parents who are actually complying with state law.” White said she gets three to four calls a day from parents who have some concerns, many of which arise after a home check by the state Division of Family and Children Services case managers, who routinely monitor the homes of foster parents. Case managers “may not see a situation the way the foster parent sees it,” White said. “We are reported sometimes. Sometimes there are reports against foster parents that have to be investigated. That is a regular process.” In addition to supporting foster parents, the group runs At Work, a program in which children ages 5-12 run their own businesses. Currently, the participants are growing plants from seeds and selling them at various events. The funds are used to support mentorship program. “We are trying to teach them what to do with money and teach them some responsibility,” White said. Another group Teenwise, allows students ages 13-18 to mentor younger children. In DeKalb County, there are 123 foster homes and 576 children in foster care, White said. “There are more foster parents needed,” White said. “Some of the foster children are having to be sent out of the county because we actually cannot accommodate them.” According to the DFCS website, Georgia has more than 7,000 children in foster care at any given time. White said the biggest need of the Foster Parent Association of DeKalb County is office space. “We need to get our own office so that we can have space enough to provide some of the programs that we [offer],” White said. White runs the organization out of her Lithonia home. “Wherever the president lives, that’s where the office is,” White said. “We really do not have office space.”

Reduced (Half-Fare) Mobility Base (One-Way) Mobility Pass

$0.95 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $1.00* $3.80 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $4.00* $122.00 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . $128.00*

*This is the last step in the 3 year staggered process that began in FY10 for reduced and mobility fares.

Tuesday, May 15
7741 Roswell Road, Sandy Springs, 30350

Thursday, May 17
55 Trinity Avenue, Atlanta, 30303

SERVICE CENTER Community Exchange: 6-7 p.m. HEARING: 7:00 p.m.
Riding MARTA: Bus route 87 from either the Dunwoody or North Springs rail stations.
also on Tuesday


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


1300 Commerce Drive, Decatur, 30030

3717 College Street, College Park, 30037

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


PUBLIC SAFETY COMPLEX Community Exchange: 6-7 p.m. HEARING: 7:00 p.m.
Riding MARTA: Bus route 172 from College Park Station.


Copies of the proposed budget will also be available at MARTA’s Office of External Affairs, 2424 Piedmont Road, N.E. Atlanta, Georgia 30324 during regular business hours, Mon-Fri 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. In addition, a sign language interpreter will be available at all hearings. If you cannot attend the hearings and want to provide comments you 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 May 25, 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 interests require.
Beverly A. Scott, Ph.D. General Manager/CEO

Local News The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012

Stone mountain attorney banned from practicing in Georgia
by Andrew Cauthen A Stone Mountain lawyer was disbarred after he let the statute of limitations expire on a case. Xavier Cornell Dicks, who was admitted to the state bar in 1991, had a pattern of “abandoning clients, but trying to justify his conduct by expressing doubts about the merits of the clients’ cases,” according to an investigator who handled the complaint against Dicks. Dicks could not be reached for comment. Dicks tried to avoid disbarment by filing a petition for voluntary discipline seeking a public reprimand and promising to pay restitution. According to a voluntary petition filed by Dicks, he was hired in June 2007 to represent a client in a $175,000 lawsuit to enforce a mechanic’s lien. Although Dicks knew the statute of limitations would expire on Dec. 15, 2007, Dicks did not file an action to enforce the lien until approximately a month later, according to documents from the Georgia Supreme Court. At the time he filed the lawsuit, Dicks said it had no merit, failed to appear at the hearing scheduled on the motion to dismiss the action and, when the trial court dismissed the lawsuit, he did not inform his client that the action had been dismissed. When Dicks re-filed the action, it was dismissed because the original lawsuit was filed after the statute of limitations had expired. Again, Dicks did not immediately notify his client of the dismissal. In July 2009, Dicks promised to pay his client $25,000 within two months as long as the client agreed not file a complaint with the state bar. Dicks only paid $6,000. An investigator found that Dicks “did not make a timely good-faith effort to make restitution,” “refused to acknowledge the wrongful nature of his conduct,” and submitted false evidence during the disciplinary process. Dicks had prior disciplinary reprimands issued against him in 2003 and 2009. The Georgia Supreme Court agreed with the investigators’ opinion that “nothing in [Dick’s] record indicated that another reprimand or even a period of suspension would adequately protect future clients, opposing parties, and courts from Dicks’ continued misconduct.”

DeKalb County Solicitor General Sherry Boston reads Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes to students at the Scottdale Child Development and Family Resource Center.

Scottdale center serves community in need
by Daniel Beauregard Audra Wallace, director of development for the Scottdale Child Development and Family Resource Center, said only 7 percent of residents in the center’s service area have a high school diploma. Scottdale is an unicorporated area located between the cities of Avondale Estates and Clarkston, one of the largest refugee resettlement areas in the country. Although the center has struggled since it opened 35 years ago, Wallace said it has provided a much-needed service to the community. “Scottdale Child Development Center started in the Toby Grant Housing Development,” Wallace said. “The county came together and asked the community what their needs were and one of the things they said was that they needed quality, affordable child care.” The center opened in what were two units within the housing development that were donated to be used as classrooms. In 1996 the Scottdale Center held a capital campaign and raised enough money to erect the building where it’s housed now, off Warren Avenue. Upon moving to its new location, the center began offering home-based programs in addition to those offered at the school. There are currently 90 students ages 6 months to 4 years enrolled at the center. Wallace said approximately 51 percent of the students come from lowincome families. If children cannot make it to the center it provides resources to parent that allow them to teach their child at home, or teachers from the center will go to the home. “We actually provide at no cost, to low-income families, instructions to try to help the parents become the first line of education to their children,” Wallace said. “We have 155 children that we serve in our home-based program.” In addition to child care, the center provides services to educate the community about teen pregnancy, parenting and nutrition, and evaluation services to assess children’s needs and ensure each child is on schedule to meet his or her developmental goals. The Scottdale center is accredited by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Wallace said only 8 percent of all preschools in the country are accredited. “Because we’re NAEYC accredited we have to keep the student-to-teacher ratio very low,” Wallace said. The center is funded by the county and through grants and partnerships with organizations such as The Goizueta Foundation and United Way. Wallace said lately the center has struggled because the economic downturn has caused donors to reduce funding. At a recent event celebrating the center’s 35th anniversary, DeKalb County Solicitor General Sherry Boston read to some of the pupils. She said the center serves an important role in the community because it helps get children on the right educational track at an early age. “We believe that education starts as early as Scottdale, which is the young preschool. For them to be ready and prepared to go into pre-K and kindergarten means that we can have students that ultimately will not become truants,” Boston said. Boston said the correlation between the high school dropout rate and people ending up in jail is “tremendous” and getting children interested in learning as soon as possible helps prevent crime. “Supporting a program that promotes the earliest of education [helps] us keep our community much safer because we’re producing a great crop of children that will be able to go out into the workforce and do wonderfully,” Boston said.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012

Local News

Page 11A

County honors Community Heroes
To the smiles, applause and standing ovations of approximately 200 wellwishers, this year’s winners at the third annual CEO’s Community Hero Awards Ceremony stepped forward to be honored for extraordinary service to DeKalb County and its communities. At the April 29 event at Callanwolde Fine Arts Center, six individuals and four organizations were recognized for outstanding volunteer efforts. Among them were a retired police officer who serves the homeless community, an organization that nurtures youth musical abilities, two youngsters who found special ways to serve other youth, a woman who works tirelessly to address issues that affect her neighborhood, a doctor who gives his Sunday afternoons to treat those who can’t afford health care and a man who has been the force behind the revitalization of one of the county’s parks. Host of the afternoon event DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, said, “We celebrate volunteerism in our community and encourage and inspire other DeKalb County citizens to find ways to create positive change in their respective communities.” Earl and Carolyn Glenn, publishers of The Champion Newspaper, the event’s presenting partner, joined Ellis in presenting the awards, which Earl

Glenn said, “reminds us what a truly special place DeKalb County is.” Nationally known country music artist and DeKalb native Erica Nicole sang, accompanied by guitarist Bill Cinque. Television news reporter and Executive Director of the South Fork Conservancy Sally Sears was mistress of ceremonies.

The following individuals and organizations are 2012 winners of the CEO’s Community Hero Awards:
Community Champion Award – individual Jeremy Turner Retired DeKalb County police officer Jeremy Turner is a native Atlantan. After obtaining a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Georgia he moved to DeKalb County and worked as a counselor for the American Red Cross, assisting military families and people affected by natural and man-made selected to become a part of the department’s newly established Interactive Community Policing Unit (ICPU), which provided officers opportunities to strengthen bonds with the community. During his ICPU work, Turner realized there was a lack of community outreach and support for the homeless in DeKalb County. Many had mental illnesses, addiction problems and domestic violence issues. Turner began Contribute2America (C2A) to create, “effective change in the lives of homeless or near homeless individuals through one-on-one interaction and consistent involvement in their lives.” With a core group of more than 40 volunteers, C2A conducts outreach visits to local homeless encampments underneath bridges and other areas, assists homeless clients with long-term medical care and addiction counseling, and holds a weekly dinner for homeless individuals and families. C2A also established the first food cooperative in DeKalb County. Turner retired from the DeKalb County Police Department in 2010, but continues his work in the community. In addition to C2A, Turner and his wife Nicole volunteer at their children’s schools assisting with various PTA fundraisers and helping with administrative work. Community Champion Award – organization Still Waters Youth Sinfo-Nia of Metropolitan Atlanta Inc. Named in part after the dean of Black composers, William Grant Still, the Still Waters Youth SinfoNia of Metropolitan Atlanta Inc. was designed to showcase the works of Black composers and arrangers. Founded in 1990, the orchestra serves to give talented young instrumentalists an opportunity to perform multicultural music, become more proficient musicians (in an environment where there are no auditions), travel, meet other young musicians, prepare to earn college music scholarships and consider careers in symphony orchestras and/or music education. The orchestra’s newly formed dance company which dances with the orchestra, offers advanced instruction in ballet, modern, tap, jazz, hip-hop and other music styles.
See Heroes on Page 12A

disasters. In 2002 Turner became a DeKalb County police officer and was very passionate about his job. His brother had been killed by a hit-and-run drunken driver several years earlier and, after he had been on the job only a few months, his father was killed during an armed robbery in Atlanta. Turner was later promoted to detective in the department’s major felony unit. In 2008, he was

Page 12A

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012

Heroes Continued From Page 11A
The orchestra has performed locally, nationally and toured internationally, and has performed in more than 500 concerts. Its young musicians also have participated in a number of workshops. Still Waters Youth SinfoNia has completed two videos and makes an effort to participate in community events large and small. Environmental Change Award – individual Peter Michelson tance of restoring native habitat to a park. Michelson’s company spends more than $1,600 annually and countless hours on the project. The event is a partnership between Renewal Design Build, DeKalb County Recreation, Parks and Cultural Affairs, and the city of Decatur. Park Renewal Day also includes live music and food for all volunteers. The event has been so successful that the county hopes other small businesses will duplicate the model of community support and environmental stewardship at other parks in the county. Michelson, a fourthgeneration construction professional, helped out with the family business while growing up in Boston. After spending time in the construction business, he earned a master’s degree in education and became a teacher at The Waldorf School in Atlanta. He started Renewal Design Build in 2001. Environmental Change Award – organization The Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Atlanta ence divisions in north and middle Georgia since 1996. When the organization established its warehouse in Chamblee in the late 1990s, its recycling program began with a focus of protecting the environment. A byproduct of the St. Vincent de Paul donation center and retail thrift store operations, the recycling program is an essential part of the organization’s efforts to assist those in need. The 10 St. Vincent de Paul thrift stores in metro Atlanta accept and process donations and select inventory for the stores. Donations that are not suitable to offer to clients or sell to patrons are sent back to the donation center for recycling processing. The income from recycling helps defer some of the costs of store operations and programs. In the previous fiscal year, more than 750,000 pounds of discarded materials were recycled by St. Vincent de Paul’s Conference Support Center, saving DeKalb’s landfill and protecting the environment. St. Vincent de Paul recycles clothing, shoes, belts, purses, toys, computers, electronics, books, metals, household items and baby products. St. Vincent de Paul also uses all cardboard products in its baling operation and proceeds received from the recycling program support emergency funding for DeKalb residents in need. Youth Volunteer Awards Andi Kehz

See Heroes on Page 13A

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Peter Michelson, president and CEO of Renewal Design Build in Decatur, has sponsored Park Renewal Day at Dearborn Park in Decatur for the past four years. The event has been successful in bringing together people in the community to remove invasive plants and trash from a natural area within the park. Michelson first presented the idea five years ago to Dave Butler, greenspace environmental manager for DeKalb County. Michelson was a volunteer at Dearborn Park at the time and offered to put up prize money to get competing teams to work in the park every November. The teams would work on plots of land designated by county staff. Each year the event has drawn more than 100 people and as many as 10 teams. In addition to cleaning up the park, participants learn about the impor-

The Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Atlanta, a nonprofit, holistic social service agency located in Chamblee, went “green” before it was trendy. DeKalb County is the headquarters for the statewide Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the organization’s support center in Chamblee has been the administrative hub for the 73 St. Vincent de Paul confer-

Helping to Build a Strong Sustainable DeKalb
The DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis and the Board of Commissioners salute the organizations and individuals nominated as

for the incredible work that you do to make DeKalb County a better place to live and play.

2012 CEO’s Community Hero Awardees

DeKalb County is pleased to work with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and other stakeholders to help develop housing and community facilities for our DeKalb neighborhoods. We are proud of our collaborative partnerships that help to develop viable urban communities; principally benefiting low to moderate income persons in the areas of affordable housing, homeless prevention and intervention, expanded economic opportunities, and community facilities.

Burrell Ellis, CEO
Elaine Boyer, District 1; Jeff Rader, District 2; Larry Johnson, District 3; Sharon Sutton, District 4; Lee May, District 5; Kathie Gannon, District 6; Stan Watson, District 7 DeKalb County, Georgia -Community Development Department 150 East Ponce de Leon Avenue, Suite 330 Decatur, Georgia 30030 (404)286-3308

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012

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Heroes Continued From Page 12A
Andi Kehz, a fifth-grader at Oak Grove Elementary School, began working for Smile Train two years ago. Smile Train is an international nonprofit charity that provides cleft palate surgery to those in need, and training to doctors throughout the world. Andi, who was born with a cleft palate, has undergone nine surgeries. When Andi was sitting in the waiting room of a doctor’s office she noticed an advertisement for Smile Train in a magazine. Her mother told her that many children around the world don’t have the same opportunities as she and that they can’t afford corrective surgery to fix their cleft palates. Soon after learning about Smile Train, Andi began volunteering for the organization. She created a Facebook page for the charity, sharing her own story and asking for donations. Andi has sponsored a fun run and also created Smile Train apparel, iPhone cases and water bottles, which she sells on Andi donates all the proceeds to the charity. Andi has raised more than $12,000 for Smile Train over the past two years. Spencer Wilson er was working in the Congo at the time, and his father is in Saudi Arabia. After surgery to relieve the pressure on his brain, the young man survived and began the long path to recovery. Expectations were low at the beginning, and the middle schooler was unconscious for a long period. Spencer visited his friend at least weekly, reading to him, because both young men are avid readers. When the ill youngster regained consciousness and became responsive, “there was Spencer, to laugh with him, read to him, tell him what he wasn’t missing about school,” said Liz Williams, the Henderson teacher who nominated Spencer. She described Spencer as an angel to his classmate. “I cannot imagine what [it must be like] to be 13 years old and trapped in a body with little control.” When Spencer visits the boy smiles, and when Spencer leaves his eyes tear. The young man has made more progress than those around him had dared to hope for. Now his friends and family are hoping for full recovery. “Spencer is the type of friend who is there for the long haul, and I am so grateful for young people like Spencer that keep us grounded in what really matters. He is our hero,” Williams said. Neighborhood Empowerment Award – individual Faith Reed Reed is revitalizing the neighborhood’s watch program and is spearheading involvement in an adopt-a-road program. She also serves as a block captain for her street and several others, and has initiated an e-mail group to disseminate information to neighbors. The avid walker has been known to pick up debris as she strolls throughout her community. The individuals who nominated Faith Reed for the CEO’s Community Hero Award describe her commitment to her neighborhood as unparalleled. “Her relentless
See Heroes on Page 14A

DeKalb Convention & Visitors Bureau Congratulates the 2012 Community Heroes
DeKalb County is the Home of Family Reunions
Upcoming Free Reunion Planning Workshop July 14, 2012 Atlanta Marriott Century Center (770) 492-5050 ext. 1181

Building a Stronger Community Through Service
Greenberg Traurig proudly sponsors the CEO’s Community Hero Awards. We also join in honoring the individuals and organizations that have helped make a signifigant impact in DeKalb County.

Greenberg Traurig is a service mark and trade name of Greenberg Traurig, LLP and Greenberg Traurig, P.A. ©2012 Greenberg Traurig, LLP. Attorneys at Law. All rights reserved. Contact: Ken Neighbors, Jean Wilson and Ernest L. Greer in Atlanta at 678.553.2100. °These numbers are subject to fluctuation. 14214

In the wake of an alarming incident at Henderson Middle School last year, an unlikely hero emerged. A student at the school had an unexplained hemorrhage in his brain. At first, school officials weren’t certain that the young man would live. His schoolmates were all concerned, but Spencer Wilson did far more than might have been expected of a 13-year-old. He visited his schoolmate in the hospital, prayed for him, and provided food and comfort for his family. The ailing student’s moth-

“Action” could easily be Faith Reed’s middle name. The treasurer of the Churchill Downs Civic Association seems unable to allow sub-par issues in her neighborhood to go unaddressed. She has taken on the responsibility of reporting cars parked on the street that impede traffic, untidy lawns, etc. In addition to handling the association’s finances,

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The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012

Heroes Continued From Page 13A
action assists in maintaining a well-manicured and safe environment,” stated the nomination form that was submitted on Reed’s behalf. Neighborhood Empowerment Award – organization Vanguard Award individual Hansen Chang continues to grow as other doctors, nurses, medical students and volunteers give three or four hours a month. “Sometimes we get specialists—eye doctors, dentists, dermatologists—they are all needed.” The program, he said, can use more sponsors and more volunteers. “It’s a true gift to give
See Heroes on Page 15A

DeKalb Watershed Project Team

Civic Association Network The Civic Association Network (CAN) has been bringing together central DeKalb County communities for several years. The organization consists of members representing 14 neighborhood associations and nearly 10,000 homes. Many of the neighborhoods are in unincorporated parts of the county and some are historic. A large number of the communities were established in the 1960s. The group keeps residents informed about current events by sharing knowledge on the political process, holding leadership networking dinners and hosting speaker meetings on specific topics. The association also has a website to share information pertinent to the neighborhoods, including redistricting maps, election information and a calendar of events. CAN hosted candidate fairs in 2004, 2006 and 2008 to allow voters and candidates to speak one-on-one. The group also has planned candidate fairs for this year. CAN is active in environmental issues and has participated in several park cleanup days around the county. Members of CAN include civic association presidents, past presidents and presidents-in-development. Its members also are people who lead or have led civicminded groups in non-civicassociation neighborhoods, and many are long-time civic activists in the area.

Every Sunday afternoon for the past 12 years, Dr. Hansen Chang has provided medical assistance to DeKalb County’s uninsured and underserved residents. Since 2000, Chang has a run a free weekly clinic and monthly health fair for the Chinese American Lion’s Club, a group of charityminded individuals from the Chinese American community of metro Atlanta. Chang is the medical director and vice president of the organization. Through the clinics and fairs, medical volunteers provide blood pressure screenings, blood sugar tests, bone density screenings to check for osteoporosis, acupuncture services and flu shots. “With the health care situation the way it is, there are a lot of Asians who are without basic health care. I just wanted to help,” Chang said. “Sometimes the people who come to us actually cry because they are so happy to see that someone cares about them.” Chang, who is a past chairman of the DeKalb County Board of Health, also provides shadowing and mentorship opportunities for young adults, many of whom are now physicians and medical students. Chang said one of his main goals is to get medical students and his colleagues to focus on why they want to become doctors. “It’s to help patients understand their diseases. I’m trying my best to do my part and hopefully the students will understand that the true meaning to be a doctor is to help those in need,” Chang said. Chang said the program

wE lOvE tO rEAd AbOut HErOs


Congratulations to all winners of the 2012 CEO’s Community Hero Awards

404.373.7779 • 114 New Street, Suite E, Decatur, GA 30030

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012

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DeKalb County CEO Burrell Ellis, Champion co-publisher Dr. Earl Glenn and television personality Sally Sears welcome guests to ceremony.

Heroes Continued From Page 14A
something to the community without wanting anything in return,” Chang said. Vanguard Award – organization DeKalb Medical community it serves through communication, education, service and charitable giving. The DeKalb Medical Foundation is dedicated to improving the standard of health in our community by raising funds and charitable gifts for health care initiatives offered through DeKalb Medical,” according to the foundation’s website. Through its foundation, DeKalb Medical donates funds to organizations that positively impact the community’s health. Among these are DeKalb Rape Crisis Center, with which it is a founding partner; Friends of Disabled Adults and Children, an organization dedicated to providing medical equipment to those in need without regard to their ability to pay; Project Open Hand, an organization that helps provide proper nutrition for those who either are unable to afford the food they need or are too sick to prepare their own meals; Atlanta Community Food Bank, an organization that distributes more than 30 million pounds of food each year to more than 700 nonprofit partner agencies; and the Junior League of DeKalb County, which has among its many community service projects a major initiative on preventing childhood diabetes.
See Heroes on Page 16A

Champion publisher, Carolyn Glenn and Ellis congratulate Faith Reed, recipient of the Neighborhood Empowerment Award. Photos by John Hewitt

DeKalb Medical is a more than 50-year-old, threehospital private, not-for-profit health care organization. The organization enriches the community not only through its stated mission “to improve lives through the delivery of health and wellness services,” but also through its association with numerous other groups that contribute to the health and well-being of the community. The DeKalb Medical Foundation was created “to strengthen the link between DeKalb Medical and the

Environmental Change Award winner, Peter Michelson, with Glenn.

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The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012

Heroes Continued From Page 15A

Youth Volunteer Award winners Andi Kehz and Spencer Wilson seated with family members.

Guitarist Bill Cinque and singer Erica Nicole.

Glenn and Ellis with representatives of Civic Association Network.

Founders of Still Waters Youth Sinfo-Nia receive Community Champion Award from Glenn and Ellis.

Cheryl Iverson accepts Vanguard Award on behalf of DeKalb Medical.

Spencer Wilson, Youth Volunteer Award winner with Glenn and Ellis.

Glenn and Ellis with Youth Volunteer Award winner Andi Kehz.

Dr. Hansen Chang with Glenn and Ellis. Photos by John Hewitt

Community Champion Award winner Jeremy Turner with Glenn and Ellis.

Jennette Boyd-Moore presents Ellis with words of song about the Titanic.

Glenn and Ellis congratulate representatives of The Society of St. Vincent de Paul.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4 , 2012

Local News
30.9 percent Hispanic, 28 percent White, 28 percent Black and 13 percent multi-racial, according to the district’s website. The site also states that 85.6 percent of the district’s students are “economically disadvantaged.” Voters in the Lorain school district last year voted down a tax increase to help fund the school district. According to Woods, “Lorain City Schools in Ohio is a district that has historically faced significant financial and academic challenges that do not stem from Dr. Atkinson’s tenure. “The system had laid off a third of its staff only months before her tenure. The system had never made AYP,” according to the statement. “And the community has not raised local taxes to fund the school system in more than 20 years. “During her time in Lorain, Dr. Atkinson and her team balanced the budget, raised the graduation rate and brought the system’s high school to meet state achievement standards for the first time since the implementation of Ohio’s accountability model.” Lorain’s graduation rate for the

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Atkinson Continued From Page 1A
ber of achievements. And it was her record of achievement at a troubled school district that attracted the attention of the DeKalb County Board of Education. “In just six months, she has met and exceeded the expectations of DeKalb parents and the board. Dr. Atkinson will be judged on how she improves schools in DeKalb, not elsewhere,” according to the statement. According to the past four Ohio DOE report cards on the Lorain School District, minimal academic improvement was made over the previous four school years. In the 2007-08 school year, the district met four of 30 indicators, which measure achievement in grades three-12 in various subjects. The indicators also measure graduation test results, graduation rates and attendance. It had a performance rating of 77.8 out of 120 points. For the 2008-09 school year, the district met three of 30 state indicators. The district had a performance rating of 78.6. For the 2009-10 school year the district met one of 26 state indicators and had a performance rating of 78.1. The district was under academic watch during both of those school years. The district met five of 26 indicators in 2010-11 and was graded “continuous improvement” by the Ohio DOE. “It looks like they’ve been toggling between academic watch and continuous improvement for a while,” Galloway said. Because of the economy, Galloway said, many districts in Ohio have struggled in recent years. “Unfortunately, a lot of districts in Ohio are going the same way,” said Galloway, who added that Atkinson may have inherited some of the district’s financial and academic issues. Academic watch is the fourthlowest of five designations used by the Ohio DOE. The Lorain school district is less than one-tenth the size of DeKalb’s 100,000-student district, but there are similarities with demographics and economics. For the 2010-11 school year, the Lorain school district was 2007-8 school year was 78.5 percent, according to the Ohio DOE report card, and the rate was 80.7 percent in 2010-11. The highest rate under Atkinson was 84.7 percent for the 2009-10 school year. The state requirement is 90 percent and the state average during Atkinson’s tenure was roughly 84 percent. “She brought computer labs, music, art and physical education to every elementary school. She implemented a program to give ebooks to every middle and high school student. Through a partnership with NASA, she started an aeronautics course in middle school, the first of its kind for middle schools in Ohio,” Wood’s statement said. “In a district with only one foreign language, she restored foreign language programs and started the first Mandarin Chinese full immersion pre-school program in an urban school system in Ohio.” Woods did not allow Atkinson to be interviewed for this article and board chairman Gene Walker did not return a phone call seeking comment.

Chef Continued From Page 1A
munity gardens and organic farming trends. “Everything we cook will be prepared using fresh foods,” Corum said. He described Chef Tech Academy as a goaloriented and practical learning program focused on the total experience for the student chefs. “Learning through practical models is the most effective approach and will provide the student chefs the transferable skills to prepare them to ultimately succeed in a competitive global environment,” according to Corum. Parents who send their children to camp to give them opportunities for physical exercise may be glad to learn that that, too, is part of this camp. All Chef Tech campers will be involved in daily physical activity designed to promote a healthy understanding of physical and nutritional health. Enrollees will have access to the Emory University Student Activity and Academic Center, and the resources of the George W. Woodruff Physical Education Center and acres of green space for outdoor activities. Corum said that he conceived the program after looking at Georgia’s rankings in several areas. The state’s high rate of childhood obesity and low rates of proficiency in such areas as science and mathematics inspired him to develop a program to address both. “Georgia shouldn’t be at the bottom in anything; we need to be at the top in everything. It’s going to take programs like this to get us there,” he said. “I’m extremely passionate about training a new generation of chefs to battle the issues of obesity and poor nutrition that plague youth throughout our country today,” said Corum, who has more than three decades of experience in the food and service industry. In 2002, he started Chef Ago Go, a catering business that won the 2004 Exemplary Service Award from the inaugural class of the Goizueta Business School at Emory University. Corum said a number of scholarship opportunities are available to help cover the $350 -$375 a week camp tuition. For more information, visit

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012


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‘Ghost Out’ program shows students consequences of DUi, distracted driving
by Daniel Beauregard Clarkston High School senior Tavares Dixon was led to the front of the room in handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit to answer for his alleged crimes. If convicted, Dixon faces up to 17 years in prison. “He’s facing a maximum of 16 years for first degree vehicular homicide as well as DUI. We’re also charging him with failure to maintain lane so that will bring it up to 17 years,” said Nicole Marchand, chief assistant district attorney for DeKalb County. Earlier in the week, Dixon had been drinking and driving and lost control of his vehicle, causing him to veer into oncoming traffic and collide head-on with another car. Dixon’s passengers Kadejah Outlaw, Malika Marshall, Adoncia Jackson and Daniel Jeanbaptiste, all died on impact. Lucky for Dixon, the trial wasn’t real, and Outlaw, Marshall, Jackson and Jeanbaptiste weren’t really dead—it was all part of the Ghost Out program taking place at the school. Beverly Thompson, public education specialist at DeKalb County Fire Rescue, said the program was started in 1989 by two paramedics. When it first began, the program focused on drinking and driving during prom season. Ghost Out still takes place during prom season, which Clarkston High held the weekend following the mock trial but the focus has broadened to include distracted driving—texting, adjusting the radio, talking to passengers instead of keeping their eyes on the road. “We were at Druid Hills High School... and one of the kids stood up and told us how it really changed his plans of what he was doing,” Thompson said. She said the student told Ghost Out officials how he had planned to go to a prom after-party, but decided instead to go home or ride with a designated driver. The Ghost Out program takes place over two days. On the first day, students who have signed up to participate in the program are chosen to be “ghosted out”—in this case Outlaw, Marshall, Jackson and Jeanbaptiste—and face paint is applied to make them look like they’re dead. The rest of the day ghosted students aren’t allowed to say anything and walk silently through the halls. A student is also chosen to be the driver responsible for their deaths, which is this case was Dixon. In the second half of the program a mock funeral is held during which students and officials speak about what has happened. Officer T.P. Dunn, from the DeKalb DUI Task Force spoke at the mock funeral at Clarkston High. Students filled the auditorium. On the stage was a white coffin and four tombstones bearing the names of the deceased. Dunn waited for the students to quiet down and told them they could go back to class if they didn’t, assuming the serious and authoritative role of a police officer. “I’ve done this program since 2005—I’ve seen people make mistakes and I’ve knocked on doors and told people that their children are dead,” Dunn said. Dunn told the students how several years earlier he pulled over some Lakeside High School students that had been joking around during a Ghost Out presentation he gave. The driver of the vehicle had been drinking and he, and three other girls, were headed to a party with a cooler full of beer. “He was drunk and he went to jail,” Dunn said. “The driver lost his Hope scholarship and three scholarships to colleges he had earned for his good grades.” Dunn said DUIs cost the state of Georgia, on average, $4.6 million a year. He also said studies from the National Highway Safety Administration have shown that teen drivers who have a teen passenger in the car were more likely to get into a crash. “Males are twice as likely to get into an accident as females, but females are more apt to die when they get into a crash. Last year in DeKalb County alone, we had six student fatalities during the school year,” Dunn said. After a eulogy given by a student at the Ghost Out, the grim reaper brought the four ghosted students out onto the stage. They stood silently and looking at the audience, their white face-paint giving them a zombie-like look. Dixon was then brought out in handcuffs and an orange jumpsuit by a DeKalb County police officer and seated in the front row. Day two of the Ghost Out program consisted of a brief sentencing for Dixon in front of his fellow students. He received the maximum penalty and was sentenced to serve 15 years in jail and lose his license. Dixon said although he doesn’t drink much, the experience had taught him to be more responsible. “I have a couple of friends who like to drink,” Dixon said. “If they’re all drinking at a party then I can be the designated driver.” He also said the program has shown him the importance of thinking before acting, and taking others into consideration, such as the passengers he “killed.” Marchand said Dixon is a good student but she wanted to show the Clarkston students that what happened to him could happen to anyone. “Nowadays people fall victim to distracted driving more than anything. Historically, this type of behavior has been seen during prom time because of drinking and driving but lately we’re seeing cases of distracted driving and homicides as a result throughout the year,” Marchand said.

Students at Clarkston High School participated in a ‘Ghost Out’ program that promotes awareness of the dangers of driving under the influence and distracted driving. Photos by Daniel Beauregard

Work from Home Business Opportunity 770-323-3993

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012


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Shop owners bring a bit of mexico to Georgia
by Kathy Mitchell kathy Mario Aviles lived for a while in Texas and Raul Gonzalez is a former resident of California. In both states, especially in border towns, the men saw many shops selling authentic items from their native Mexico, but when they moved to Georgia they found no such shops. “You might find stores with a few pieces, but not a whole shop of Mexican imports,” Aviles said. Aviles and Gonzalez are now partners in a shop that features home decor, sinks, tiles, murals and other items selected by Gonzalez and brought directly from Mexico. Filled with brightly colored items from ceramic swans to religious items, the shop catches the eye of many browsers in the busy Plaza Fiesta mall on Buford Highway. “Each item is hand painted in Mexico and no two are exactly alike,” Gonzalez explained. Gonzalez, who said he visits Mexico approximately twice a year, said he works closely with the artisans who create the pieces. “If a customer wants something special, all they have to do is let us know what they want and we can arrange to have it created for them,” he said. Customers may notice a number of elaborately dressed skeletal figures and brightly painted ceramic skulls. “Those are used in the celebration of the Day of the Dead [Nov. 2],” Gonzalez explained. “It a big holiday in Mexico.” Adobe Mexican Import is a relatively small shop now, but the partners say they plan to expand. “We are getting a feel for what customers are interested in and that’s what we’ll stock when we have more space,” Aviles said. The store, which has been open less than three months, now offers mostly ceramics, but copper and wooden items are available through special order. “When we have more space, we’ll have copper and wood items in the showroom,” Gonzalez said. He said they are proud of the quality of Mexican ceramics. Unlike ceramics from some other countries, those from Mexico are made from clay that is oven baked, then painted and baked again, Gonzalez said. “This paint won’t wash off or wear off,” he added. Although this is a first venture into retail for both, Aviles and Gonzalez say they are confident the shop will be a success because of the quality of their merchandise and the fact that there are no businesses like it in the area. “I believe we’re the only one in Georgia,” Aviles said. Aviles said he wants the shop to be a place where both Mexican-born shoppers who would like to bring a touch of Mexico will their homes and others who enjoy the arts and crafts of Mexico to feel equally at ease. The partners also say they are hoping that restaurant owners will find items to help create an authentic Mexican atmosphere in their eateries. “We’re very excited about the possibilities,” Aviles said.

Photos by Kathy Mitchell

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

DeKalb Chamber of Commerce

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The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012

Business conference to showcase DeKalb County DeKalb County will showcase its assets to domestic and international citizens and businesses interested in entering the import-export business arena during an event May 17. The Local to Global Initiative event will be held May 17, 10 a.m. - 1 p.m., at DeKalb Peachtree Airport, 2000 Airport Road. The event, sponsored by Commissioner Larry Johnson, will showcase the county in an effort to stimulate new business activity in DeKalb. Multi-national chambers will be present to answer productservice entry strategies for businesses. Representatives from the U.S. Small Business Administration, Arcadis, Verizon, Microsoft, United Healthcare and other companies will be at the event. The Local to Global Initiative Event is free and open to the public. For more information and to RSVP, call the office of Commissioner Johnson at (404) 371-2425. More information about the initiative can also be found at www. “Gardens in the Park” is set for 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. at Exchange Intergenerational Park, 2771 Columbia Drive, Decatur. DeKalb County, in partnership with Comcast Cares, will plant a community garden at Exchange Park to provide residents in the area an opportunity to work together to improve nutrition, the environment and the overall quality of life in their community. “Day in the Park” at Mason Mill Park will celebrate the opening of a new section of the PATH trail, the completion of the wetland project at the old Decatur water works site, and the opening of the dog park. Participants will gather at 2 p.m. for the PATH/wetland project ribbon-cutting ceremony and take a short walk to the dog park for a ribbon-cutting ceremony at 2:45 p.m. The park is located at 1340 McConnell Drive, Decatur. Movie offered at library As part of its Senior Movie Time series, Wesley Chapel-William C. Brown Library will present Super 8, starring Elle Fanning and Amanda Michalka, on Tuesday, May 8, 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Funding is provided by the Friends of the Wesley Chapel-William C. Brown Library. The library is located at 2861 Wesley Chapel Road, Decatur. For more information, call (404) 286-6980. ‘A Day of Play’ designed to get people moving As part of the “Let’s Move DeKalb Initiative,” Commissioner Larry Johnson is hosting A Day of Play, May 19 at the Exchange Park Intergenerational Center, 2771 Columbia Drive, Decatur. The event, which is set for 10 a.m.–1 p.m., is in support of the national Let’s Move Initiative which is designed to help combat childhood obesity. Stepp Stewart, who has been featured on the Dr. Oz television show and has produced the Stepp With Me and Burn It Up, cardio dance workout DVD series, will lead the workout sessions and activities. For more information contact the office of Commissioner Johnson at (404) 371-2425. Soil and water meeting scheduled The DeKalb County Soil and Water Conservation District monthly meeting will be held on Friday, May 11, at 10 a.m. at the Clark Harrison Building, 330 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., Decatur. For additional information call (770) 761-3020. Author to discuss home renovation Ron Tanner and his girlfriend 10 years ago bought a big Baltimore brownstone—formerly home to a notorious fraternity, but now abandoned—and restored it. The only problem was that neither knew anything about fixing up old houses. What happened then is the subject of Tanner’s new book, From Animal House to Our House: A Love Story. He will be at the Decatur Library Monday, May 14, at 7:15 p.m. to discuss the book and the project. Decatur Library is located at 215 Sycamore St., Decatur. For more information, call (404) 370-3070. Road, Lithonia. For more information, call (770) 987.6900.

Tour of Homes event scheduled The third annual Pine Lake Tour of Homes is May 6, 1-5 p.m. Some of the community’s most unusual homes will be featured. Tickets are available at City Hall or from any LakeFest volunteer. Ticket price includes a wine tasting, which will be held 5-7 p.m. Proceeds go to support city arts. For more information, call (404) 2999498.

Harris Jacobs Dream Run set More than 700 people are expected to participate in the 19th annual Harris Jacobs Dream Run on May 6 at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta in Dunwoody. There will be a 5K race as well as a half-mile fun run/walk for ages 12 and younger. Proceeds from the run help fund youth sports scholarships for children. The first 500 runners will receive a T-shirt. The event honors the memory of Harris Jacobs, a past president of the MJCCA, beloved member of the Atlanta Jewish community and a staunch children’s advocate. The event will take place at the Zaban Park campus, 5342 Tilly Mill Road. The fun run begins at 7:30 a.m. and the 5K starts at 8 a.m. Entry fee is $30 and registration on race day begins at 7 a.m. Participants also can register online at, key word “dream run.” Downloadable registration forms are available at

FODAC race event set The 12th annual FODAC Run Walk, n Roll is set for May 5 at Confederate Hall in Stone Mountain Park. The event features a 2K walk/roll and a 5K run. Entry fee is $25 for the race and a T-shirt; or $50 for the race, T-shirt and an all-attractions park pass. Children younger than 5 are admitted free. Registration begins at 8 a.m. and the races start at 9 a.m. Proceeds from the event help Friends of Disabled Adults and Children provide wheelchairs, medical supplies and other equipment to the disabled and elderly. To register online, visit and click on the Run,Walk n Roll headline.

Watson to host community breakfast DeKalb County Commissioner Stan Watson has announced that his monthly Community Cabinet Breakfast will be held Saturday, May 5, 9 – 11 a.m., at Chapel Hill Middle School, 3535 Dogwood Farms Road, Decatur. May’s breakfast topics include: • 2012 Legislative Updates from the DeKalb Delegation: Jason Carter-42nd District in the Georgia State Senate and Howard Mosby-Georgia General Assembly, District 90 • Connecting Our Community— Consumer Services and Community Initiatives, with Gas South and Georgia Power The event is free and open to the public. No registration is required. For more information call: (404) 371-3681. Decatur Earth Day events rescheduled Two Decatur Earth Day events have been rescheduled for May 5.

Movie to be shown at library Tucker-Reid H. Cofer Library will screen Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, starring Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, on Saturday, May 12, at 2 p.m. as part of its New Movie Series. The movie is rated R. The series features popular recently released movies. Tucker-Reid H. Cofer Library is located at 5234 LaVista Road, Tucker. For more information, call (770) 270-8234.

Book discussion scheduled A discussion of the book Act Like a Lady, Think Like a Man: What Men Really Think About Love, Relationships, Intimacy, and Commitment by Steve Harvey with Denene Millner will be Monday, May 7, 6 - 7 p.m. at the Salem-Panola Library, 5137 Salem

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012

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The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012


Page 22A

by Robert Naddra

Work in progress: Chamblee ace building on breakout season


t didn’t take long for Chamblee baseball coach Brian Ely to realize something was different this season. Patrick Gaulden, who had been used sparingly as a starter last year, beat Riverwood in the Bulldogs’ season opener. It was the first time in eight seasons under Ely that Chamblee had beaten the Class AAA perennial playoff team. Gaulden followed with wins over Lakeside and Redan on his way to a 9-2 record at the end of the regular season. The nine wins tied the school record set by David Jansen in 1985. Gaulden has a chance to break the record when the Bulldogs face Alexander on May 4-5 in a best-of-three series in the first round of the Class AAAA state playoffs. “I thought he would be an important part of our rotation but I had no idea he would come out and dominate,” Ely said. “He was pitching on Feb. 20 like it was April 20. He’s been impressive every start and has beaten some really tough teams.” The 6-foot-4 junior is working to increase his velocity but has relied on spotting his fastball this season. Gaulden has a 1.65 earned run average through the end of the regular season. “He’s really effective with the placement of his pitches,” Ely said. “He’s been able to get ahead in the count and keep batters guessing. He’s also been helped by the defense behind him. They’ve made some big plays for him and he’s delivered for them.” Gaulden said he worked hard over the summer to get stronger in an effort to increase velocity on his

Patrick Gaulden has tied Chamblee’s school record for wins in a season with nine. Photo by Robert Naddra

pitches. He is primarily a fastball pitcher and throws in the low to mid 80s. He went from throwing three innings a game to going six innings most of the time this season. “Before this year I wasn’t really known as a starting pitcher,” Gaulden said. “This year I became the go-to guy for us. I did a lot of work over the summer to improve, working out to get stronger and build up endurance.” Gaulden said he did weight training and exercises to help him increase the velocity on his pitches. His emergence as the Bulldogs’

top pitcher has helped the team tie the school record for number of wins in the regular season. Chamblee is 17-9, its most wins since going 19-7 (the most wins in program history) in 2008. This is the third playoff appearance in the past four seasons for the Bulldogs, but they have not won a firstround series since 1996. “He’s been a pleasant surprise all the way around,” Ely said. “He’s one our of leading hitters and he’s got one of the highest grade point averages on the team.” With another year to improve,

Gaulden said he is hopeful he will be able to draw the attention of college scouts. He plays left field when he is not pitching and is batting higher than .300 this season. “For next year I want to work on my strength and developing one more pitch,” Gaulden said. “I like to stick with my fastball, but my change-up works pretty good. Some colleges are looking but they’re not serious. I’m not there yet as far as my velocity goes. Before this year I had no idea people were interested in me, but it’s made me work harder.”

13 teams qualify for state soccer playoffs
by Robert Naddra Five schools—Marist, St. Pius, Lakeside, Chamblee and Paideia—qualified their boys’ and girls’ teams for the state soccer playoffs that began May 1. A total of 13 teams in DeKalb County earned state berths. The other teams to qualify are the Tucker and Druid Hills boys, and the Dunwoody girls. Tucker, Marist, Lakeside and Chamblee are in the AAAA tournament, St. Pius and Druid Hills qualified for the AAA playoffs and Paideia is in the Class A tournament. The girls’ representatives in AAAA are Lakeside, Chamblee, Lakeside’s boys (12-3) have 11 straight winning seasons and last won the state title in 2007. Chamblee won the boys state title in 2008 and its 12-5 record is the best mark since winning the championship. Tucker (13-4-1) has no state championships but has qualified for the playoffs five times since 2007. The Tigers’ 13-4-1 record ties the school mark for most wins in a season. Druid Hills (8-5-1) is in the tournament for the first time since 2009. The Paideia boys (16-1) won 16 straight regular-season games after a season-opening loss to St. Pius. The Pythons, who allowed four goals in the regular season, have non-region wins over playoff teams Tucker, Grady and Wesleyan. On the girls’ side, Chamblee and Dunwoody are looking for their first state tournament wins. Chamblee (13-2) entered the playoffs with the most wins in a season in school history but the Bulldogs are 0-3 in state tournament games. Dunwoody (11-7), 0-7 at state, has posted back-to-back double digit wins in a season for the first time since 1993-94. First-round boys games in AAAA and AAA were May 1, while Paideia hosts Mount Paran on May 9. First-round girls’ games in AAAA and AAA were May 2 while Paideia hosts Holy Innocents’ on May 9.

Dunwoody and Marist. Several schools have a history of winning state titles while others are searching for their first win in a state tournament game. St. Pius won the boys AAA title last season and has won three straight girls’ championships.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012


Page 23A

Columbia’s Dennis gets win No. 300
by Mark Brock Columbia High School baseball coach Steve Dennis celebrated a DeKalb County coaching milestone April 26 as he notched his 300th career victory by beating McNair 14-1 in the season finale. The victory was against former Columbia player Jonathan Dunton, the coach at McNair. Dennis, a graduate of Briarcliff High School, becomes the first baseball coach in DeKalb County to reach 300 wins at the same school, posting the win in his 24th year at the helm of the Eagles’ program. “As I started getting closer, that has been my ultimate goal,” Dennis said of becoming the first to hit the 300 mark at the same location. “It’s special, it really is. It was a good win. My phone has been lit up. I had to turn it off.” Trenton Nash had two hits and Devonte Blow added two hits and three RBIs to lead the offense, while Demetrius Jones pitched all five innings to earn the win. Columbia players started looking for the Gatorade bucket immediately following the final out but had to wait until after the traditional post-game hand shaking to finally drench Dennis. Dennis earned win No. 100 in 1997 against Stephenson and knocked off Southwest DeKalb in 2005 for win No. 200. “It means a lot,” Dennis said. “I was 23 and in my first year here when they called me one day and said we want you to be the head baseball coach. I didn’t know what I was getting myself into at that point, but it’s been a great ride.”

Late-season surge puts marist in playoffs as top seed
by Robert Naddra
With a week to go in the regular season, defending Class AAAA state champion Marist was facing the possibility of missing the state playoffs. The War Eagles were in fifth place in Region 6-AAAA and had three games against teams that had beaten them earlier in the season. The top four teams in each region advance to state. Marist, however, turned the tables and defeated Miller Grove, Southwest DeKalb and Redan to claim the No. 1 seed from the region heading into the first round of the state playoffs. Marist (14-11-1) is one of seven teams in DeKalb County to qualify for the state playoffs. The other three teams to qualify from 6-AAAA are Dunwoody, Redan and Chamblee. St. Pius is the No. 1 seed from 5-AAA and Arabia Mountain earned a berth as the fourth seed. Also, Paideia played in the Class A preliminary round April 30 but was eliminated. The War Eagles won five consecutive region games at the end of the season to climb to the top. Marist defeated Miller Grove 13-2, Southwest DeKalb 7-6 and Redan 6-3 in games April 23-27. The wins gave the War Eagles their ninth region championship since 2000. Sean Guenther pitched a four-hitter with eight strikeouts to beat Miller Grove. In the nineinning win over Southwest, Griffin Davis scored the winning run when Michael Toner reached first base on a throwing error by the Panthers. Davis went 3 for 3 against Redan, including a home run in the second inning. Dunwoody, which had lost to Southwest DeKalb and Chamblee in games April 13-19, earned a forfeit win over Douglass, then defeated Carver-Atlanta 11-1 on April 23 and Mays 12-2 on April 25 to lock up the second spot in the region. Josh Shailer had two hits and two RBIs against Carver, while Jared Martin had two doubles and four RBIs in the win over Mays. James Cunningham also had two hits and Charlie Madden hit a home run. Each round of the state tournament is a best-of-three format with a double-header played on the first day and the deciding game, if necessary, played the next day. Here are the first-round matchups for DeKalb teams: Class AAAA (May 4-5)— Villa Rica at Marist; Pope at Dunwoody; Redan at East Paulding; Chamblee at Alexander. Class AAA (May 4-5)—LaGrange at St. Pius; Arabia Mountain at Columbus.

Columbia’s 14-1 win over McNair on April 26 gave Eagles’ coach Steve Dennis his 300th victory at the school. Photo by Mark Brock

miller Grove’s Parker picks UCLA
McDonald’s All-American Tony Parker of Miller Grove ended a long wait April 23 by signing a basketball scholarship to UCLA at a ceremony at the school. Parker, who unzipped his jacket to reveal a UCLA shirt, chose the Bruins over Georgia, Duke and Ohio State. He had received more than a dozen scholarship offers. During the ceremony, he sat with his family with a cap from each school on the table in front of him and his high school, McDonald’s All-American, Jordan Brand All-Star and Junior Olympic jerseys hanging behind him. Parker finished his high school career with four state championships, 1,723 points (13.8 average per game), 1,349 rebounds (10.8) and 327 blocks (2.6). He averaged 16.8 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks during his senior season.

Two m.L. King track stars sign scholarships
M.L. King seniors Vanita Pulliam and Felicia Brown signed track scholarships recently. Pulliam signed with Coastal Carolina University while Brown chose the University of Tennessee. The pair helped the Lions win the 2011 Class AAAAA state track and field championship. Brown won the 400 meters in the state meet last year and is a part of two record-setting relay teams this season. The Lions’ 4x100 and 4x400 relay teams have the fastest times in Georgia and the 4x100 mark of 45.42 seconds is the fastest in the United States. Pulliam also runs on the 4x100 relay team and competes in the long jump and triple jump.

Frost gets third straight all-star win
Columbia girls basketball coach Chantay Frost won her third consecutive DeKalb County All-Star Basketball Classic with a 64-51 win over the Breedlove All Stars, coached by Miller Grove’s Renee Breedlove. Columbia’s Ebony Johnson had a game-high 11 points and the Eagles’ Zuri Frost was named the game’s MVP. Quiana Tucker of Tucker led the Breedlove All Stars with 10 points. In the boys’ game, White’s All Stars, coached by Miller Grove’s Sharman White, outlasted McKinney’s All Stars, coached by Southwest DeKalb’s Dwayne McKinney, 124101. Miller Grove’s Christian Houston of the White All Stars scored 24 points and was named the game’s MVL. De’Aires Tate of M.L. King added 22 points for White’s team. Redan’s Maurice Mays added 11 points and Brandon Morris of Miller Grove had 10 for White’s team. Columbia’s Chris Horton led McKinney’s team with 23 points. Columbia’s Jarmal Reid added 14 points and Stephenson’s Derek Harper had 10.

Page 24A

The Champion Free Press, Friday, May 4, 2012

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