Page 4A

A pig in a poke
standpoint DeKalb County has not received any consideration for the penny we’ve already paid. Plus, we get vague commitments for what we’ll receive for yet another penny. Doesn’t appear to be a good return on investment. Further, the county should not be accused of a lack of regional thinking. DeKalb has long demonstrated its commitment to the region by the funding of both MARTA and Grady Hospital. There are three key problems with the TIA as it is currently written. Governance: what government entity has legal oversight over the estimated $8 billion created by the tax in this region? I-20 Rail: rail in the southeast DeKalb corridor should be a priority for the region. The proposed Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is not an acceptable alternative even as a down payment for rail at some point in the future. Rail in the southeast corridor should be a priority on par with the Clifton Corridor. Both are crucial to the economic vitality of the county. MARTA: as the law is currently written, it appears MARTA cannot spend the dollars designated to it for “state of good repair” on any project completed before 2011. The state should get out of the business of telling MARTA what to do, especially when it gives no appreciable funding to it compared to transit systems in other states. There are 10 projects earmarked for DeKalb County. Seven of them are road projects and three so-called transit projects. The Clifton Corridor light rail project, BRT (fast buses that mimic a train with stations instead of stops and no guarantee of a designated lane) down I-20 to Stonecrest Mall and MARTA state of good repair. By the ARC’s own estimates there are 30,000 jobs in the Clifton Corridor where light rail is proposed. There are 400,000 jobs out I-20 east. Where is the logic in not making rail a priority out I-20? An $8 million public relations campaign is in full swing. A company has been brought in that did a recent campaign to entice people to go to Las Vegas. The similarity is glaring. Both campaigns seem to have the goal of getting you to spend more money than you’re getting in return. Oh, there are billboards that read, “If you want this road improved, vote ‘Yes’ for the Transportation Investment Referendum.” Hired hands are on street corners waving signs urging a “Yes” vote. Yes, paid “consultants” are making the pitch at numerous forums. One hears, “the TIA is a historic coming together of the state, a once in a lifetime opportunity that will bring hundreds of thousands of jobs, clean air and improved transportation.” The silence of many of our elected officials is deafening and some appear to be in hiding. Your vote is your only leverage. Send back the transportation referendum to the legislature and let them fix it. It can be brought back in two years. It took the state seven years to create MARTA—from 1965 when the measure was first introduced to 1972 when the MARTA Act was finally created and the first buses purchased. The first train was the east line from Avondale to Georgia State in 1979. Wouldn’t it be fitting in 2019 to roll out the I-20 east train line on the 40th anniversary of MARTA’s first train line? It can be done. You see, MARTA’s Sandy Springs and North Springs stations came on line in late 2000 just four years after the Buckhead, Medical Center and Dunwoody stations were completed. The first seven miles of the north line were completed in June 1996, just in time for the Olympics. Just shows we can do what we want to do. The guiding principle of commerce is that if you buy something make sure it is what you intended to buy. Otherwise, that pig that’s in the poke might not be a pig at all, especially if the merchant tried to cheat by substituting something of lower value. Let the buyer beware. Steen Miles, The Newslady, is a retired journalist and former Georgia state senator. Contact Steen Milies at

Opinion The Newslady

The Champion Free Press, Friday, June 22, 2012

Part of commercial law is the Latin term caveat emptor, which means let the buyer beware. It supports the view that one should not foolishly accept a deal without close examination because you might just buy a pig in a poke. That phrase might seem like odd, old language. It is old, but it is good advice that might well be applied to the Transportation Investment Act on the ballot next month. Whether one chooses to call it the TIA or T-SPLOST, voters in DeKalb and the rest of the state will be asked whether they want to tax themselves a penny for transportation improvements. DeKalb voters should consider voting no. A yes vote means we would pay another penny on top of the penny we are already paying to MARTA, totaling some $7 billion over the last 40 years. Conceptually, having everyone in the state ante up a penny to fund transportation for the next 10 years seems sound, but from a practical

Letter to the Editor

Georgia education funding is not just about voodoo politics
Investing in education is not an option, (Dr. Eugene Walker, Guest Editorial, The Champion Free Press, June 8, 2012) should be an article of powerful insight and unquestionable integrity, but it is not. It is a sham appeal that ignores basic rules of evidence and the most routine tests for academic balance and economic logic. It caters to the lowest pleadings of semantic incitement for a community to infect itself with misplaced outrage, anger and dishonest support for a fraudulent conclusion. It is a kind of political pimping. Dr. Walker invoked a new round of gambling arms race in the form of video lottery parlors to fund HOPE, but the dishonesty is concealment of the fact that African American students are qualifying for HOPE at an invisibly small fraction of what their parents are losing in the games. There is ample statistical proof that only Black students are not using the system: • Black students are 150 points behind Asians in average overall SAT scores; • 150 behind them in math; • 100 behind them in writing; • and 90 behind them in verbal. Georgia Caucasian and Asian average composite SAT scores hover at about 1,090, but Asians lead consistently. Hispanics and Native Americans are rising quickly, with composite scores around 950 and 1,000 respectively. However, since 2008-09 Black students’ SAT scores have been stuck at 850. Black students have lagged behind Native Americans, Hispanics, Asians and Caucasians by double and triple digits in the composite SAT score, in every category and in every year. Dr. Walker never discussed educational return on investment and return on educational assets, as in SAT scores, AYP performance, or drop-out rates–nothing. What is the taxpayer getting for the $6,052 the U.S. Census Bureau says that Georgia taxpayers spent on every elementary secondary public school pupil in 2008-09? Are Black people doomed to wagering their retirement so Caucasians, Asians, Hispanics and Native American students can go to college? Georgia does not have an education funding problem. It has a “Black student problem.” SAT scores, the end of the line production of a college-ready young person; AYP, the federal SAT for public schools and their districts; and dropout rates, which tells us how many $6,052/student/year we are rescuing from waste prove that Black students, majority Black schools and majority Black school districts are endemic disasters in the Georgia public education debate. Dr. Walker and those he lures into outrage have a snowball’s chance in hell’s microwave of convincing the Georgia legislature to add new money to Elementary and Secondary public education. In fact, it makes sense to cut wasteful duplication. The system is working beautifully for the people who are using it. The predominantly Black public schools and public school districts are the same disasters. They are tremendously more likely not to meet AYP. Some Black public school administrators are so sensitive to this fact that they refuse to use standard professional Web site practice of putting pictures of the leadership and the customers in action on the schools’ Web sites. The DeKalb School District and a whopping 52 percent of DeKalb public schools did not make AYP last year. I will not discuss dropout rates, since horrific dropout rates for Black students date back to the early 1970s. This has not changed. Only consciences of pity and sympathy could get new education funding through the Georgia legislature, and we know how “well” those two perform in government deliberations. Elrado Ramsay Financial analyst who lives in DeKalb County

Local News The Champion Free Press, Friday, June 22, 2012

The Beulah Boys, a line dancing group consisting exclusively of retired seniors, performed at Scam Jam 2012. The event, held at the Manuel Maloof auditorium in Decatur, was designed to help seniors avoid falling prey or being easy targets to scammers. Photos by Daniel Beauregard

Seniors, law enforcement come together for Scam Jam
by Daniel Beauregard Luther J. Walker, a member of the line dancing group The Beulah Boys, said he has heard plenty of stories about people his age falling victim to scams. “We seem to be very easily led and we assume most people are honest and that’s not the case all the time,” Walker said of himself and fellow seniors. The Beulah Boys is a group of retired seniors and Walker, along with six or seven other members, had been asked to perform during Scam Jam 2012 at the Manuel Maloof Auditorium in Decatur June 14. “It’s very important,” Walker said of the event. “We senior citizens, we seem to be very vulnerable.” Walker said he and others his age, are temped and can sometimes fall into traps, especially when someone offers them something for nothing. He said he’s heard stories from several of his close friends who have fallen victim to various scams, including one who got a phone call from a “Nigerian prince,” who claimed he had gold to ship to the United States. “He got taken for about $2,000 or $3,000,” Walker said. “It’s a very common scam. Another one is, somebody will come by your house and say, ‘We’ll do this work on your house for cheap,’ and they’ll start working on it but they never finish it because they got paid up front.” Also present at the event were county and city law enforcement officials, and representatives from the offices of District Attorney Robert James and Solicitor General Sherry Boston. Stone Mountain Police officer Manuel Nor“But it’s gone down rington was attending tremendously because the event representing the of the SALT Council, SALT (Seniors and Law the sheriff’s office and Enforcement Together) the DA’s office, and Council. Norrington, who all of the municipaliis president of the council ties working together,” this year, said the event Norrignton said. is important because it DeKalb County allows seniors and law Sheriff Thomas enforcement officials to Brown said Scam share vital information Jam started in 2001 with each other. as an effort to get po“Criminals are changlice chiefs throughout ing now and a lot of scams DeKalb County and are targeting people on the the DeKalb County Internet,” Norrington said. Sheriff’s Office to “Or people may call and forge a better workask for their information ing relationship with DeKalb County Sheriff Thomas Brown tells over the phone and they Scam Jam 2012 attendees “don’t give away seniors and to eduyour cash because you’re going to lose it.” cate them about such give it to them and then they become victims of crimes. identity theft or fraud.” “The first thing I items using their credit card Norrington said another want to tell you is what you information, which can be scam against the elderly is easily obtained if they aren’t already know,” Brown said someone filing tax refunds to the crowd of seniors. “If careful. on their behalf or purchasing somebody is going to offer

you some cash and you have to give them some cash to make some cash, don’t believe it, and don’t give them your cash because you’re going to lose it.” Norrington said the most important thing for seniors to do when they get together is to talk about scams. That way they can find out about new ways the elderly are being taken advantage of. Additionally, Norrington said, if something looks suspicious seniors should bring it to the attention of local law enforcement and senior centers located in DeKalb County. “That’s what it’s all about,” Norrington said. “We’re all about getting together and sharing information and making sure these seniors are not victims of those crimes.”

The Mayor and Council of the City of Pine Lake hereby announces that the millage rate will be set at a meeting to be held at the Pine Lake Council Chambers, 459 Pine Dr., Pine Lake Georgia, 30072 on July 9, 2012 at 7:30 PM and pursuant to O.C.G.A. Section 48-5-32 does hereby publish the following presentation of the current year's tax digest and levy, along with the history of the tax digest and levy for the past five years.

Real & Personal Motor Vehicles Mobile Homes Timber - 100% Heavy Duty Equipment Gross Digest Less M& O Exemptions

2007 2008 2009 2010 2011
23,795,246 967,808 24,593,428 1,155,430 23,763,315 1,246,900 23,212,367 1,182,020 19,484,475 1,119,240

15,898,594 1,141,400

24,763,054 1,081,408 $23,774,148

25,748,858 1,087,370 $24,661,488

25,010,215 1,063,817 $23,946,398 0

24,394,387 1,069,933 $23,324,454

20,603,715 1,059,679 $19,544,036

17,039,994 1,003,602 $16,036,392

Net M & O Digest State Forest Land Assistance Grant Value Adjusted Net M&O Digest Gross M&O Millage Less Rollbacks Net M&O Millage Net Taxes Levied
Net Taxes $ Increase/Decrease Net Taxes % Increase/Decrease

23,774,148 14.300 14.300 $339,927 $22,055 1.07%

24,661,488 14.300 14.300 $352,659 $12,732 1.03%

23,946,398 14.300 14.300 $342,433 -$10,226 -2.90%

23,324,454 17.100 17.100 $398,849 $56,416 14.00%

19,544,036 20.604 19.600 $383,063 $15,786 -3.90%

16,036,392 24.190 24.190 $387,210 $3,489 -0.79%

The Champion Free Press, Friday, June 22, 2012

Local News

Page 9A

Special tax water district could aid homeowners’ bill ills
by Andrew Cauthen For years, homeowners in the Whitehall Forest East condominiums off Bouldercrest Road have had unpaid water and sewer bills that have reached approximately $300,000. Aging pipes and undetected leaks have led to a crisis at the condominiums, built in 1973. The complex’s 108 units are 65-75 percent occupied, according to Corey Turner, president of the homeowners association at the complex. Now the complex is paying off the bill at a rate of $3,000-$4,000 each month, Turner said. At $4,000-$5000 monthly, the sewer part of the bill was “ridiculous,” Turner said. “The water consumption is only $2,500-$3,000 per month.” The total could come in at $6,500-$8,500, Turner said. “That’s impossible for a homeowners’ association to pay, no matter what the dues were,” Turner said. To help with the problem at Whitehall Forest and similar situations around the county, the Board of Commissioners is considering allowing special tax districts to help upgrade private water and sewer systems. Turner said the ordinance “should have been maintaining the sewer, streets and water systems all along, but over the years we have had to struggle and maintain it ourselves.” In a June 4 email to the homeowners’ association, a DeKalb official said the county would pay to fix some of the problems at the complex. The county’s Department of Watershed Management “is responsible for maintaining the water main serving your condominiums,” stated watershed director Joe Basista in the email. “Should a future project be implemented within the guidelines of the special tax district legislation…[the county] will be responsible for 100 percent of the costs associated with replacing the water main.” Under the plan outlined by Basista, property owners will be responsible for 50 percent of the total costs of the replacement of the private water service lines from the main to the individual meters, with a maximum participation of $7,500 per property owner. Property owners would be responsible for the repairs and replacement of the private service line from each meter to their unit, Basista said. The Board of Commissioners is expected to take up the ordinance in July.

would benefit the entire community, which is heavily populated with retired seniors on fixed incomes. “It takes the burden off the homeowners association and homeowners from trying to pay one large bill that’s extremely, extremely high,” Turner said. “Each unit is going to have a water bill of its own.” If passed, “we will never have a large bill that would sink us,” Turner said. Under the plan, each unit would get a water meter installed and the cost for the system upgrade would go

the homeowners, but would be spread over a 10-year period. “We really need this special district,” Turner said. “We have to deal with the situation. There are a lot of communities going through the [same] problem.” DeKalb County Commissioner Lee May said, “We have some older communities…with aging infrastructure and they’re just homeowners who are just trying to make do and they can’t take on the full brunt of the up-front money to do the upgrades needed for the

system.” “As a result, they are having leak after leak after leak and their water bills are through the roof,” May said. “This is going to be a good tool in our toolbelt to help citizens who are having these issues around the county.” Turner said his community has been working for years to address the problem of the aging infrastructure. “We have paperwork saying that the sewer, water and road were dedicated to DeKalb County in 1973,” Turner said. The county

The City Schools of Decatur does hereby announce that the millage rate will be set at a meeting to be held at the Auditorium of the Central Office at Westchester, 758 Scott Boulevard, Decatur, Georgia on Tuesday, July 10, 2012 at 6:30 PM and pursuant to the requirements of O.C.G.A. 48-5-32, does hereby publish the following presentation of the current year's tax digest and levy, along with the history of the tax digest and levy for the past five years.

Fiscal Year Assessment Ratio REAL PROPERTY PERSONAL PROPERTY PUBLIC UTILITIES MOTOR VEHICLE GROSS DIGEST LESS M&O EXEMPTIONS NET M&O DIGEST GROSS M&O MILLAGE LESS ROLLBACKS NET M&O MILLAGE NET TAXES LEVIED NET TAXES $ INCREASE NET TAXES % INCREASE 2007 50% 1,088,563,600 17,577,800 18,632,600 47,267,600 1,172,041,600 66,510,000 1,105,531,600 18.90 0.00 18.90 $20,894,547 $767,846 3.82% 2008 50% 1,124,007,000 18,342,500 16,893,389 49,014,800 1,208,257,689 64,210,729 1,144,046,960 19.90 0.00 19.90 $22,766,535 $1,871,988 8.96% 2009 50% 1,162,026,500 20,387,500 16,473,600 50,081,000 1,248,968,600 66,710,729 1,182,257,871 19.90 0.00 19.90 $23,526,932 $760,397 3.34% 2010 50% 1,157,883,900 20,069,600 11,673,700 46,119,000 1,235,746,200 63,620,529 1,172,125,671 19.90 0.00 19.90 $23,325,301 ($201,631) -0.86% 2011 50% 1,149,844,600 21,146,700 18,933,750 46,119,000 1,236,044,050 65,428,635 1,170,615,415 20.90 0.00 20.90 $24,465,862 $1,140,561 4.89% PROPOSED 2012 50% 1,171,858,686 21,754,204 14,299,379 49,311,000 1,257,223,269 65,244,138 1,191,979,131 20.90 0.00 20.90 $24,912,364 $446,502 1.82%

The Champion Free Press, Friday, June 22, 2012

Local News

Page 10A

India Westbrook, 18, a graduate of Redan High School, works with DCTV through the county’s annual youth summer employment training program. Westbrook, who is planning to major in broadcast journalism, hopes her head start at DCTV will one day lead to a job as a news anchor. Photo by Andrew Cauthen

Youth jobs program provide more than paychecks
by Andrew Cauthen If it were not for a DeKalb County youth jobs program, 22-year-old Jasmine Ellis, of Decatur, said she might be working in a department store just earning a paycheck. Instead, Ellis works with seniors at Sunrise Senior Living Center in Decatur. “Nursing is my passion,” Ellis said. “Being able to engage with the seniors …is something I always enjoy. “I can just be myself, go to work and actually feel passionate about the job and not just going to work for a paycheck,” Ellis said. Ellis’ 25-hour-a-week, $8-anhour job is funded through DeKalb County’s annual Youth Summer Employment Training Program. DeKalb Workforce Development (DWD) runs the eight-week program designed to give youth the opportunity to explore careers in various fields. Through the program, youth work in nonprofit, public and private organizations and businesses such as DeKalb County Parks and Recreation, Sunrise Assisted Living Center and Greater Piney Grove Baptist Church. At the assisted living center, Ellis helps with coordinating such activities as bingo, word search games, artwork and trips to grocery stores. Her job is “making sure [residents] always have something to do so that they are not idle or bored,” said Ellis, who has been working at the center for two weeks. “You want to keep them busy at all times.” Ellis, who has also worked with the county’s Board of Education and Board of Health, recently graduated from Georgia Perimeter College with an associate of science degree in psychology. She plans to attend Clayton State University and pursue a nursing degree. For Ellis, who has worked with DWD since she was a 17-year-old Miller Grove High School student, one advantage of the program is that is it provides participants “the opportunity to pick something that is beneficial to you in the long run.” “You have the opportunity to choose something that interesting to you and may be beneficial to you… versus working at a department store where it might not be something you really want to do,” Ellis said. The program, funded by $400,000 from the federal Workforce Investment Act (WIA), provides jobs for approximately 200 youth. “This is a great opportunity for young people to get prepared for the workplace,” said Denise Funk, library supervisor at Flat Shoals Library. “These youth will not be as nervous as others who are entering the workplace for the first time because they receive so much structure and preparation through this program. I think it is a wonderful program and terrific opportunity.” India Westbrook, 18, a recent graduate of Redan High School, said her summer job working with DeKalb County TV is her “first real job” other than baby-sitting. “I do pretty much everything, but my main assignments are to write scripts for our production and, whenever I can, to do some videography as well as look over people that are doing editing so I can get more experience,” said Westbrook, who is planning to attend the University of West Georgia to major in broadcast journalism. “Hopefully, one day, if I’m good enough I can build my way to becoming an anchor.” This is Westbrook’s second summer working with DCTV through the youth jobs program. “I love the fact that I can get a backstage pass before I actually go into the field so I know the ins and outs of my career,” Westbrook said. Her summer job allows her to “be able to gain more experience so I’ll know what I’m getting myself into and how to handle things once I start my career,” Westbrook said. “When I do get into a bigger place I will be more advanced than the other [candidate],” she said.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, June 22, 2012

Local News

Page 11A

Decatur schools budget remains stable
by Daniel Beauregard Unlike other school systems in the metro area that have been hit hard by falling county tax digests, officials said City Schools of Decatur (CSD) is projected to have a surplus and a well-balanced budget in 2013. Officials in the DeKalb County School District (DCSD) proposed a budget with cuts to programs, staff layoffs and other fiscally conservative measures. However, new CSD Director of Finance Susan Hurst said CSD, which serves approximately 3,550 students, isn’t having the same problems. Last year, CSD raised its millage rate from 19.9 to 20.9 and Hurst said this year the rate will remain the same. That will enable the district to have a projected savings of $446,502. “Everything is good here. Even with leaving it at the 20.9 mills we’re still looking at a small growth instead of a small decline and that’s based on information I’ve received from the county tax assessor’s office in the past week,” Hurst said. Hurst, who has only been with CSD a few weeks, was previously the director of school budgets for DCSD. She said it appears CSD hasn’t been affected as badly as DCSD by the decline in property values. Hurst said last year DCSD had a 14 percent decline and this year, although officials originally estimated a decline of 6 percent, the school district is facing a decline that is closer to 9 percent. “Really they’ve been very conservative,” Hurst said of CSD, “and they’ve done a really good job with funding. Plus they’ve just not taken the hit the county has with foreclosures and home devaluations.” The fiscal year 2013 budget, which is approximately $53.6 million, includes a growth of 17 schoolbased and two central office positions, a restoration of pre-K and no salary increases. According to the budget, employee benefit costs are rising because of an increase in health insurance costs. The budget also reflects an increase in the teacher retirement rate to 11.41 percent up from 10.28 percent. “The board of tax assessors is supposed to have one more meeting on June 26 and the numbers may change—they’re not going to certify their digest ‘til July 27,” Hurst said. Hurst said part of the difficulty of managing the budget of a school district is the tax digest is not being finalized until several weeks or months after districts need to propose a budget, and that officials are working with only rough estimates. CSD’s 2013 budget process began in January and the tentative budget was brought before the CSD School Board May 8. State revenues in 2013 are expected to grow only as it pertains to enrollment increases and no restoration of the austerity cuts implemented at the state level is expected, CSD officials said. The new positions accounted for in the budget are due to a projected increase of 384 students.

City Schools of Decatur (CSD) recently hired Susan Hurst as the system’s new finance director. Hurst said CSD remains on a stable financial outlook for the coming school year and had not taken the hit due to declining property values that other metro areas have. Above; CSD’s new 4/5 Academy at Fifth Avenue, built last year. Photo by Daniel Beauregard

THE DEKALB COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS, DOES HEREBY ANNOUNCE THAT THE MILLAGE RATE WILL BE SET AT A MEETING TO BE HELD AT THE MANUEL J. MALOOF CENTER AUDITORIUM, 1300 COMMERCE DRIVE, DECATUR, GEORGIA 30030 ON JULY 10, 2012 10:00 A.M. AND PURSUANT TO THE REQUIREMENTS OF O.C.G.A. 48-5-32 DOES HEREBY PUBLISH THE FOLLOWING PRESENTATION OF THE CURRENT YEAR'S TAX DIGEST AND PROPOSED MILLAGE RATES ALONG WITH THE HISTORY OF THE TAX DIGEST AND LEVY OF THE PAST FIVE YEARS. CURRENT 2012 TAX DIGEST AND FIVE YEAR HISTORY OF LEVY 2007 Real & Personal Motor Vehicle Mobile Homes Timber - 100% Heavy Duty Equipment Gross Digest Less M&O Exemptions Net M&O Digest Gross M&O Millage (1) Net Tax Levy (2) Net Tax Increase ($) Net Tax Increase (%) 24,989,994,507 1,409,096,610 749,797 0 4,665,246 26,404,506,160 2,097,820,133 24,306,686,027 8.43 204,905,363 (30,491,551) -12.95% 2008 25,939,843,388 1,453,041,610 779,464 0 589,946 27,394,254,408 2,196,579,722 25,197,674,686 8.83 222,495,467 17,590,104 8.58% 2009 25,085,229,475 1,485,616,310 739,929 91,018 165,651 26,571,842,383 2,081,757,110 24,490,085,273 8.96 219,431,164 (3,064,303) -1.38% 2010 24,175,241,772 1,582,186,152 656,584 0 65,347 25,758,149,855 2,030,793,744 23,727,356,111 8.96 212,597,111 (6,834,053) -3.11% 2011 21,399,133,588 1,317,170,660 510,171 0 82,712 22,716,897,131 1,919,082,084 20,797,815,047 10.31 214,425,473 1,828,362 0.86% 2012 19,713,319,287 1,362,176,640 440,056 0 77,829 21,076,013,812 2,051,276,201 19,024,737,611 11.37 216,311,267 1,885,794 0.88%

(1) Countywide taxes only; no Special Services, Fire and Police Services or bonds in accordance with OCGA 48-5-32/32.1. (2) Net tax levies for 2007-2012 are prior to the Homestead Option Sales Tax Exemption and the GA Homeowners Tax Relief Grant.

The Champion Free Press, Friday, June 22 , 2012

Local News

Page 15A

Community Continued From Page 1A
net-based organization, says integrating with communities requires “an intentional effort both to welcome the community into the church and to bring the church out into the community.” An important first step, according to Urban Ministries, is to cultivate a culture within the congregation of loving those from the community who walk through its doors. Developing “a theology of welcome” will break the barriers that separate the church and its community. It is also important to cultivate a sense of belonging to the community by stressing to members of the congregation that they—despite where they live—are a part of the community. To that end, Urban Ministries suggests hosting gatherings and events at local restaurants, inviting community leaders to church events, hosting AA meetings or community theater productions and sponsoring the community youth recreation teams. “Instead of always waiting for the community to come to the church, your church can take its show on the road, moving out into the community,” the ministry suggests. An overlooked method of developing close ties is what Urban Ministries calls a relocation ministry: encouraging members to consider relocating to the community. “This ministry is essential to breaking down barriers and developing a healthy sense of belonging to the community,” it states. In struggling communities, an influx of church members could inject new life and resources. Some of the assets church members could contribute are civic leadership, role models for youths, as well as fresh energy and optimism to a depressed area. What happens if the community includes more than one house of worship, especially if that other place of worship belongs to a different faith community? Ethridge said it is important to be true to one’s faith. “Ours is a faith of hospitality, caring for those different from us, and reaching out,” he said. Although there is a “built-in tension” between religions that have a conversion mission, such as Christianity and Islam, it is important to remember that no one “wins someone in any way by being harsh or judgmental toward others.” In the end, love must be at the heart of integration with the community. “If love is not the heart of the matter, these bridge-building activities and relationships can easily become just a means for selfpromotion, a kind of community public relations,” Urban Ministry warns. “The more a congregation loves God, the more God can love a community through the congregation. The more your congregation yields to God’s will and relies on the Spirit’s power, the more it will identify with God’s mission in the community.”

Johnathan Barhite, a member of the community supported agriculture program at Oakleaf Mennonite Farm, processes produce from the farm. Photos by Andrew Cauthen

Farm Continued From Page 1A
strawberries are the reddest ones.” “And you should look for them under the leaves,” she said. “The best ones are usually hiding under the leaves.” Approximately 25-30 percent of the farm’s budget is funded by weekly sales at East Atlanta Village Market, Grant Park Market and East Lake Market. The farm also supports a 37-member community supported agriculture (CSA) program. CSA members can purchase half or full shares in the program and receive a box of food, including bread from H&F Bread Company in Buckhead, peaches from Dickey Farm in Musella or Pearson Farm in Crawford, and blueberries. The boxes will soon be supplemented with fresh eggs from the farm, James said. Johnathan Barhite, a first-season CSA member, said he likes picking— and eating—the farm’s harvest because “produce in the grocery store is more shelf-stable than nutrient-filled.” Working at the farm “gives me a little inspiration for what I’m cooking during the week,” Barhite said.

Page 16A

The Champion Free Press, Friday, June 22, 2012

Leadership DeKalb graduates 52 in class of 2012
Fifty-two community leaders successfully completed Leadership DeKalb— a 10-month training program that educates and connects leaders to issues facing DeKalb County and the metro region. The graduation took place during the closing retreat at Stone Mountain on June 8. Doug Hooker, executive director of the Atlanta Regional Commission, was the keynote speaker for the graduation program of the class of 2012. “Leadership DeKalb helped me grow both personally and professionally,” said Emory Morsberger, president of the Stone Mountain CID and graduate of the class of 2012. “Through this program, I had the opportunity to learn about the key issues facing DeKalb County. Getting to know an incredible group of current and future DeKalb leaders makes me more effective in my own responsibilities and expands my ability to make positive change in my community.” Members of the class represented DeKalb County’s corporations, professional services, health industries, education, social services, government and more. The graduating community leaders from the class of 2012 are: Al Adams, president, Adams Transfer & Storage Company Inc.; Latanza Adjei, assistant to the executive vice president, Georgia Power; Barry Amos, city manager, city of Stone Mountain; April Atkins, AICP, community affairs specialist, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation; Joe Basista, director, Department of Watershed Management, DeKalb County; Morcease Beasley, Ph.D., executive director, Race to the Top (RT3) for the DeKalb County School District; Jeremy Berry, J.D., attorney, McKenna, Long, & Aldridge, LLP; Sherry Boston, J.D., DeKalb County Solicitor General, DeKalb County Solicitor General’s Office; Sean Brumfield, Ed.D., executive director, Atlanta Center for Civic Engagement & Service Learning, Georgia Perimeter College; Ginny Byrd Porter, state director, Research Associates; Susan Carini, executive director, Emory Creative Group, Emory University; Matt Coleman, director of cause branding development, American Cancer Society; Jean Douglas, executive director, Women’s Resource Center to End Domestic Violence; Sally Eggleston, chief marketing officer, Senior Connections; Patti Garrett, commissioner, city of Decatur; Claudette Grant-Joseph, workforce and career development officer, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; Nina Hall, special assistant to the CEO, DeKalb County; Milano Harden, president and founder, The Genius Group Inc.; Susan Harris, VP, administrator, DeKalb Medical; Stacey Hydrick, J.D., State Court Judge, DeKalb County State Court; Vaughn Irons, chief executive officer, APD Solutions; Paul Jacxsens, large line of business Director, Kaiser Permanente; Laura Keyes, senior principal program specialist, Atlanta Regional Commission; Adriene Kinnaird, executive director, oncology and cardiac services and the Comprehensive Sickle Cell Center, Grady Memorial Hospital; Randall Kirsch, principal, Jackson Spalding; Susan Laird, team lead, business and community relations/cooperative agreements, Centers for Disease Control; Jason Lary, marketing and promotions manager, Jason Lary Management; Katherine Mason, director of communications, Leadership DeKalb; Susan McCauley, principal, DeKalb School of Arts, DeKalb County School District; Claire Miller, assistant director, Child & Youth Services, City of Decatur; Paedia Mixon, executive director, Refugee Resettlement & Immigration Services of Atlanta; Emory Morsberger, president, Stone Mountain CID; Robert Naddra, news editor, The Champion Newspaper; Matt Nagel, APR, Georgia Tech spokesperson, Georgia Institute of Technology; Lisa Newbern, chief, public affairs, Emory University, Yerkes National Primate Research; Center; Andy Pascual, J.D., assistant district attorney, DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office; Bill Piercy, J.D., partner/ attorney, Berman, Fink, Van Horn P.C.; Michelle Potter, community relations manager, DeKalb County Community Service Board; Brian Pruitt, executive director, SALA Learning & Development Centers Inc.; Carolyn Rehling, vice president, business, Southeast Region, Sprint/Nextel; Jonathan Robinson, CFP, senior financial associate, Oppenheimer & Co.; Brian Shadix, director of career services, DeVry University; Patty Shewmaker, J.D., partner, Lynch & Shewmaker, LLC; Drew Slone, J.D., associate, Smith, Gambrell & Russell; Lena Stevens, resource conservation coordinator, City of Decatur; Richard Swindle, Ph.D., SVP – Atlanta, Mercer University; Hien Ta, project manager, Ta Engineering LLC; Jamie Tiernan, controller, Gas South; Duncan Van Pelt, vice president/ general manager, Executive Adventure; Denise Warner, J.D., senior law clerk, staff attorney, DeKalb County Superior Court; Marie Watson, P.C., president – attorney, Marie Y. Watson & Associates, P.C.; Caroline Wood, chief of staff, City Schools of Decatur. The Class of 2012 will put their training in action through the Leadership DeKalb Community Pledge Project to address key issues facing DeKalb County, promote the strengths of our diverse citizenry and collaborate with other local leaders for positive community change. This is the 26th class of graduates giving the organization more than 1,050 alumni of the Leadership DeKalb program.

NOTICE The City of Chamblee City Council does hereby announce that the millage rate will be set at a meeting to be held at the Chamblee Civic  Center located at 3540 Broad Street, Chamblee, Georgia on July 12, 2012 at 6:00 PM and pursuant to the requirements of Ga. Code 48‐5‐32  does herby publish the following presentation of the current year's tax digest and levy, along with the history of the tax digest and levy for  the past five years. CURRENT 2012 TAX DIGEST AND FIVE YEAR HISTORY OF LEVY 2007 560,182,455 15,649,510 12,650,256 588,482,221 36,970,021 551,512,200 5.00 2,757,561 173,896 6.73% 2008 563,992,269 15,601,332 10,783,636 590,377,237 43,657,482 546,719,755 5.00 2,733,599 (23,962) ‐0.87% 2009 575,089,705 16,118,770 10,769,822 601,978,297 44,074,131 557,904,166 6.31 3,520,375 786,777 28.78% 2010 533,197,959 14,546,770 9,563,181 557,307,910 44,896,783 512,411,127 7.95 4,073,668 553,293 15.72% 2011 797,623,949 14,135,654 11,087,937 822,847,540 88,432,680 734,414,860 7.4 5,434,670 1,361,002 33.41% 2012 737,007,810 22,076,110 9,128,386 768,212,306 83,130,749 685,081,557 7.4 5,069,604 (365,066) ‐6.72%

Real & Personal Motor Vehicles & Heavy Equipment Public Utilities Gross Digest Less Exemptions Adjusted Net Digest Gross Millage Rage Net Taxes Levied Net Taxes $ Increase Net Taxes % increase

The Champion Free Press, Friday, June 22, 2012


Page 17A

by Kathy Mitchell

Miller Grove student chosen for international experience

“My mom didn’t believe it at first—I was getting to go to South America and it was all paid for,” said Angelica Miller, one of four Atlanta area high school students who represented the United States at the 14th annual International Forum of Entrepreneurs (FIE) in Cordoba, Argentina. Students were selected by Junior Achievement of Georgia to take part in multicultural events focused on motivating and inspiring young people to achieve their business dreams. Miller, who just completed her sophomore year at Miller Grove High School in Lithonia, said she’s not sure yet whether she wants to be a business executive one day, but said she gained a lot from the experience nonetheless. She was among more than 600 young people from around the world who attended the high-impact, educational event in mid-May. Throughout the five-day forum students participated in conferences, training workshops and multicultural activities. Miller speculated that she was chosen because she stood out in her Junior Achievement company. Volunteers help students set up temporary companies so the students get firsthand experience running a company. “I sold a lot of products and contribut-

Jazmin Gutierrez of North Atlanta High School, Sydney Richmond of Campbell High School, India Stephens of Campbell High School, Angelica Miller of Miller Grove High School, Patricia Chourio of JA of Georgia, and their tour guide. Photo provided

ed a lot of ideas,” Miller said. Other Atlanta area students on the spring trip were Jazmin Gutierrez of North Atlanta High School, and Sydney Richmond and India Stephens of Campbell High School. Along with Miller they joined students from Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay at the week-long leadership event hosted by Junior Achievement of Cordoba. “This event is one that we

always look forward to sending members of JA Fellows to,” said Patricia Chourio, associate for Junior Achievement of Georgia. “For many students this is the first time they get to travel internationally and experience other cultures. This unique opportunity allows the teens to enhance their entrepreneurial aptitude, and develop a greater understanding of themselves and the valuable role they can play on a national and international scale.”

The participants attended conferences led by various international business leaders. The speakers focused on the importance of setting goals and being self-driven

to achieve one’s dreams. Throughout the conferences, the speakers shared their life experiences and steps they took to achieve their success. The speaker who stood in Miller’s mind is a man who set a goal to climb Mt. Everest—and achieved it. “People told him he couldn’t do it, but that didn’t stop him. It was inspiring to listen to someone who didn’t let other people’s opinions stop him.” The more than 600 delegates also took part in training workshops led by professionals of the 21st Century Business University, and multicultural programs where students shared details on their local culture, economy and tourist attractions. Beyond the organized programs, Miller said that among the richest experiences for her was meeting and interacting with other students from other countries. This is the third year JA of Georgia has sent members of JA Fellows to the annual event, at no cost to the teens. JA Fellows is an after-school business and leadership program for ninth-12th grade students in metro Atlanta.

Notice of Public Hearing for Clarkston Millage Rate
Notice is hereby given that prior to setting the tax millage rate for 2012, the Clarkston Mayor and Council will hold a Public Hearing during the regular City Council Meeting, at City Hall, 3921 Church Street, Clarkston Georgia, on Tuesday, July 3, 2012 at 7:00pm on the proposed millage rate. Following the Public Hearing the Clarkston City Council will vote to Adopt the 2012 Millage Rate. The City Council is proposing to adopt a millage rate for 2012 that does exceed the rollback rate. All concerned citizens are invited to attend.

Education BriEfs
DeKalb Schools announces credit rating The DeKalb County School District (DCSD) announced June 12 that credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s has set the district’s credit rating at A+/Stable. This is a change from the district’s previous rating of AA-/ Negative. While lowering the rating, Standard & Poor’s cited a stable financial outlook for the District. Standard & Poor’s also credited DCSD Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson with implementing financial reforms that are expected to have a positive impact on the district’s future credit rating, a press release stated. Coca-Cola Foundation awards $1 million to Oglethorpe The Coca-Cola Foundation recently awarded a $1 million grant to Oglethorpe University to establish the Coca-Cola Oglethorpe Scholars program. The foundation announced grants to 17 colleges and universities totaling $5 million as part of The Coca-Cola First Generation College Scholarship Program. Oglethorpe will award its first Coca-Cola scholarships during its annual scholarship competition in January 2013. For nearly 100 years, the Coca-Cola Company and Oglethorpe University have shared strong ties to one another and to the city of Atlanta. The very first Coca-Cola bottler, John Thomas Lupton, was an Oglethorpe benefactor for whom one of the universities signature buildings is named.

City Schools of Decatur 
Community Forums to discuss Capital Improvements scheduled to be  accomplished at Oakhurst Elementary, 4/5 Academy at Fifth Avenue,  and Renfroe Middle School. 


    The City Schools of Decatur is at the beginning stages of a new Capital Improvement  Program.  As part of this program, several schools will be modified and/or enlarged.    Please join CSD staff and their consultant team to learn more details about what is planned to  happen as part of these improvements.    The meetings will be as follows:      OAKHURST ELEMENTARY        Where: Oakhurst Elementary          Date: Monday June 25th,       Time: 6:00 to 7:00 PM            4/5 ACADEMY AT FIFTH AVENUE  Where:  4/5 Academy at Fifth Avenue School  Date: Tuesday June 26th,  Time: 6:00 to 7:00 PM 

     RENFROE MIDDLE SCHOOL     Where:  Renfroe School     Date: Wednesday June 27th,     Time: 6:00 to 7:00 PM        As always, we value the input of our Citizens and wish to have an open forum where our  team can present our proposed plans and schedules and receive your input.        If you have any questions regarding these meetings please contact Jason Ware, Director of  Maintenance and Construction at 404‐370‐4408 extension 2.      We look forward to seeing you at these very important meetings.