Willie Dunlap and other Lithonia residents tell the Georgia EPD why they are opposed to Green Energy Partners’ proposed woodburning plant. 4
Longtime Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd has announced he is resigning effective Jan. 7, to pursue other professional opportunities. 5
Harpist Angelica Hairston and other young musicians in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program will honor its founders in a benefit concert. 10
Saying no to biomass
New adventures await
Beneficiaries giving back
EAST ATLANTA • DECATUR • STONE MOUNTAIN • LITHONIA • AVONDALE ESTATES • CLARKSTON • ELLENWOOD • PINE LAKE • REDAN • SCOTTDALE • TUCKER
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December 22, 2012
Volume 18, Number 34
Higher taxes for homeowners, raise for workers in proposed budget By Mary Swint
DeKalb homeowners, business owners and visitors could be paying more taxes next year if DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis has his way. In his 2013 budget recommendations to the Board of Commissioners, Ellis proposes a 1.69 mill property tax increase, a new transportation sales tax, and an increase in the hotel-motel tax. He also is recommending a 3 percent pay increase for 2,500 county workers earning up to $37,731 per year and the addition of 25 police officers. Ellis recommended a budget of $562 million, up from the current budget of $556.7 million. It includes a $30 million budgetary
reserve. County expenses in 2013 are expected to exceed revenues by $41 million to $43 million, Ellis told the media on Dec. 14 after presenting his recommendations. He said DeKalb’s fiscal reality is daunting and Burrell Ellis that delivering a priority-driven budget that focuses on critical operational needs has been the singular focus. “In this regard, I am confident that we are presenting a budget that is lean, responsible and responsive to our priority concerns,” he said.
Joel Gottlieb, the county’s chief financial officer, said 80 percent of HOST revenues would be used to offset property taxes for homeowners but that the amount of the HOST credit won’t be known until the property assessments are made in May or June. Assuming the HOST exemption is the same as this year’s, the administration estimates the 1.69 mill increase would raise the taxes on a $200,000 home by $4.04 per month, or $48.48 per year. Taxes on a $134,000 home in unincorporated DeKalb would go up $2.51 per month, or $30.12 per year. Ellis said DeKalb will have a $23 million to $25 million revenue loss due to the creation of the city of Brookhaven, which
began operations on Dec. 17. On Dec. 11, the commissioners adopted a resolution setting a moratorium on accepting and reviewing new applications for certain business licenses and permits from the Brookhaven area from Dec. 17 to Jan. 17, 2013, to allow for a transition to the new city. Ellis said that the current unincorporated tax digest is half of the 2008 level and the countywide tax digest is 25 percent less than the 2008 level. “Services provided to the increasing population during that time have not declined commensurately,” he said. The staff preparing the budget estimates Please see BUDGET, page 6
Holiday Spirit in Action Organizations, individuals help less fortunate By Jennifer Ffrench Parker
After three years of unemployment, Christmas was going to be tough this year for Adjova Prather and her family. Then a flier showed up at her door this week. Lithonia Mayor Deborah Jackson was hosting a Toys for Tots giveaway for city residents with Project LEAD on Dec. 19. Prather and daughters Ariana, 15, and Jovanni, 13; son Daniel, 10; and nephews Mylik, 9, and Mykhi, 5, showed up for the party. There was hot chocolate, cookies, cupcakes, candy, a Christmas tree and Santa Dee. Each child got an age-appropriate gift. Their smiles were infectious. “This is a huge help,” said Prather, who has been surviving on odd jobs since losing her job three years ago. “This was a blessing. They got something. We will now be able to see the Christmas spirit.” Prather said that her sister Danielle Thomas and her sons moved in with them in June. “It’s been extremely tough, but we are making it,” she said. The Prather family was among dozens of families who got presents at the event. Jackson said they got 100 items from Toys for Tots. She also bought some more toys so that more of the city’s children could be served. Prather appreciated the effort. “This mayor is always doing something good for the community,” she said. Across South DeKalb, organizations and individuals have been chipping in to spread holiday cheer to struggling families.
Wadsworth Magnet students prepare gift boxes (above). At left, Tree of Love donors drop off gifts for foster kids. Ricky Town Photography
Tomika Collins’ helps her son RaySaan get a gift from Santa Dee at Lithonia’s Dec. 19 Tots for Tots event, organized by Mayor Deborah Jackson (center) and Project LEAD.
wood in Decatur picked up 220 decorated shoe boxes loaded with toiletries, gloves, scarves and other goodies for its elderly residents from Wadsworth Magnet School. The boxes were beautifully decorated by the elementary school students, who also donated the items and packed the boxes. The gifts touched the heart of Treon Adams, the center’s activity manager. “Tears were in my eyes,” Adams said. “I was overwhelmed, overjoyed. It was just amazing.” Adams said the kids also personalized the boxes with the names of each resident. “We are going to pass them out at our Christmas party on Dec. 24,” she said. “They are going to love it.” Adams said many of the residents, who are 50 to 102 years old, have no family and the gift boxes will mean the world to them. Dr. Cornellia Crum, Wadsworth’s prinWadsworth’s Shoe Box Project cipal, said the students selected the School On Dec. 10, employees of the Golden Box Project in September and worked on it Living senior center on Columbia and Glen- in their clubs. She said the fourth-graders
picked the nursing home and everyone, including teachers and parents, chipped in to make the project successful. “The outpouring of love and compassion touched my heart,” said Crum, who has been principal at the high achievers magnet school since 2008. “Every single day, they brought in combs, brushes, toothpaste, soaps, shampoos, gloves, scarves. They worked before school, after school and in art classes and in their clubs. The whole community got involved.” Fourth-grader Ny’Asia Bell said their clubs are busy year-round. “Many of our clubs are community service organizations so we do projects all year to give back to the community,” Ny’Asia said.
Curtis Parker / CrossRoadsNews
Davis Johnson called up friends and sent a list asking for help to fill the children’s wish lists. No one said no, and within a few hours she had commitments for all the children. “Everyone was really, really happy to help,” she said. “There are so many kind and generous people in DeKalb.” On Dec. 20 and 21, about 5,000 children received bikes and toys at MARTA employees’ annual Holiday Shop. The disadvantaged families selected by United Way were invited to “shop” for gifts donated by the transit authority’s workers. Elected officials who host toy drives for disadvantaged families said people stepped up to the plate. District 3 Commissioner Larry Johnson said there was an outpouring of toys for the 500 children he needed toys for. On Dec. 15, Activists rally benefactors benefactors poured into the Gallery at South This week, attorney Mereda Davis John- DeKalb to bring gifts to his annual Tree of son heard of a single mother who was jailed, Love campaign. leaving her seven children without gifts for Please see CHEER, page 6 the holidays.
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December 22, 2012
December 22, 2012
“If the system fails to address these required actions in a substantive way, the loss of accreditation is imminent.”
DeKalb Schools put on probation, has a year to make fixes By Ken Watts
The beleaguered DeKalb School System is officially on probation. After finding the district in violation of its standards for Governance and Leadership and Resources and Support Systems, AdvancEd, parent company of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, placed the district on probation for a year – until Dec. 31, 2013. This means the state’s third-largest school district is one step away from losing its accreditation. With the accrediting agency’s action announced Dec. 17, board members also could lose their jobs under new Georgia law 20-373 enacted in 2011 that allows the governor to remove the school board if conditions don’t show improvement. At the news conference announcing the agency’s decision, Dr. Mark Elgart, AdvancED president and CEO, said “there is significant and irrefutable evidence that the DeKalb County School District is in a state of conflict and chaos.” “There’s been poor, ineffective governance,” he said. “There’s been a decline in student performance and there’s been a depletion of the financial resources of this system to a position today which is very dangerous.” Elgart said the decline happened over the past decade and also resulted financial mismanagement and lack of integrity and ethics in recruiting, appointing and evaluating personnel at all levels of the school system. SACS offered a list of corrective actions and said it will return on May 31, 2013, to assess the district’s progress toward meeting the Required Actions. “If the system fails to address these required actions in a substantive way, the loss of accreditation is imminent,” Elgart said. “This system must take decisive and proactive action beginning today.” Two hours after Elgart’s announcement, School Board Chairman Eugene Walker called a news conference to reassure parents that the district will be all right. “We have not lost our accreditation,” he said. “We do not plan on losing our accreditation and we’re going to do everything in our power to ensure the sustainability of
Ken Watts / CrossRoadsNews
Dr. Mark Elgart, AdvancED president and CEO, said that if the system fails to address required actions in a substantive way, the loss of accreditation is imminent.
the good work we’re doing and our youngsters are doing in our schools.” Under the new state law, the state Board of Education has 30 days to convene a hearing on the SACS findings. After that, it can make an immediate Eugene Walker recommendation to the governor for possible action or give the board time to correct the problems. SACS’ latest action follows an Oct. 17-19, 2012, evaluation of the district by a Special Review Team. In March, it had allowed the district to keep its “accredited on advisement” status after a review team had found some improvement. The agency said the latest investigation
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was prompted by numerous complaints from parents and charges of “stewardship failure and board interference in the district’s dayto-day operations.” Elgart said Monday that the district has been divided along racial, socio-economic and geographic lines for decades and that
the divisions “are continuing to paralyze the system’s ability to address the needs of all students no matter where they live and no matter where they go to school.” The report pointed out that the district has a nearly $1 billion budget but began the school year with a $25 million deficit, which continues to grow. Some students began the 2012 school year without textbooks because $25 million earmarked for textbooks was used elsewhere. He also said that most students lack access to computers and the Internet. Elgart said School Board members, whom he did not name, frequently interfere with daily operations and that six months of e-mails and video of board meetings show members have misused staff to pursue their individual interests or favors for constituents. “This diverts the ability of staff to actually do the job they’re hired to do,” he said. Walker said he was disappointed with the SACS decision to put the district on probation. He didn’t want to comment in detail until he and other board members have had a chance to review the complete report. The SACS required actions include: n Devise and implement a written, comprehensive plan to unify the board so that the focus will be serving the needs of the district’s children. n Ensure that all actions and decisions reflect the collective will of the board rather than individuals undermining the authority of the superintendent to manage day-to-day operations. n Set up policies that separate the duties of the governing board from the administrative staff. n Implement fiscally responsible policies and practices.
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Editor / Publisher Jennifer Parker Graphic Design Curtis Parker Staff Writers Jennifer Ffrench Parker Ken Watts Editorial Intern Stormy Kage Copy Editor Brenda Yarbrough Advertising Sales Kathy E. Warner CrossRoadsNews is published every Saturday by CrossRoadsNews, Inc. We welcome articles on neighborhood issues and news of local happenings. The opinions expressed by writers and contributors are not necessarily those of the publisher, nor those of any advertisers. The concept, design and content of CrossRoadsNews are copyrighted and may not be copied or reproduced in whole or in part in any manner without the written permission of the publisher.
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December 22, 2012
“With tons and tons of wood coming off these trucks, who’s going to be there to make sure that it is not contaminated.”
EPD hearing into biomass plant draws a crowd By Jennifer Ffrench Parker
The biomass gasification plant that Green Energy Partners proposes to build in Lithonia will be a “wood-burning smokestack.” That was the word from the Georgia Environmental Protection Division Air Protection Branch to more than 100 residents at a Dec. 18 public hearing in Decatur. Eric Cornwell, program manager of the EPD Stationary Source Permitting Program, said Green Energy “will be taking biomass, which is a fancy word for wood and wood residue, and burning that in a steam-generating Eric Cornwell boiler.” Cornwell also told residents that EPD does not issue air permits on popularity and has no minimum requirements for separation of residents from industrial factories that belch smoke and other pollutants. He said it’s the county’s responsibility to enact zoning to separate factories from residents. Cornwell said EPD is concerned only with whether the application meets state and federal guidelines. The public hearing was held at the request of residents concerned about the location of the $60 million facility. It began with a presentation by Cornwell and a question-and-answer session. After that, residents told Cornwell that the plant would be harmful to the community. District 7 School Board member Donna Edler was the only elected official at the meeting. She spoke of her battle with cancer and said she did not want anything harmful coming to the area. Residents told Cornwell that the EPD should consider the cumulative effects of air pollution, take into account the worst-case scenario when the area is heavily residential, and consider the impact of congregating polluting businesses in predominantly black communities. Dr. Barbara Lee said the price to pay for the biomass facility is too great. “The impact is 25 jobs for our health,” she said. Cornwell said the technology that will be used at the proposed plant is similar “to what you see at a coal-powered plant,” but that it will burn “clean” wood instead of coal to create steam in two boilers. He said no painted or treated wood will be used and that “the emissions coming out of that smokestack” will be monitored continuously. Dr. Jewel Crawford, who chairs Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment, said there is no clean wood. She questioned the EPD assessment of the project’s impact on people’s health. “When the wood burns off and these tiny particles go into the air, they go right into the lung,” she said. “With tons and tons of wood coming off these trucks, who’s going to be there to enforce it and make sure that it is not contaminated with cancer-causing products.” Crawford said the EPD health assessment is woefully inadequate. She said her research found 525 articles in medical literature that say how harmful the small particles are to health. “This isn’t any pristine environment,” she said. “You are talking about on top of the asthmatics going to the emergency room. You are talking about tons of pollution a day. A ton is 2,000 pounds, so you are talking about every
Curtis Parker / CrossRoadsNews
Dr. Jewel Crawford speaks about the 525 medical reports that show that biomass factories are harmful to health during the Georgia EPD hearing into a plant proposed for Lithonia. More than 100 people attended the Dec. 18 hearing. CHASE volunteer Gina Mangham is at right.
Tell EPD what you think EPD is receiving comments on the Green Energy air quality permit application and draft permit until Dec. 26. E-mail comments to email@example.com. For more information, visit gaair.org and click on permits and Title 5 link.
day, 5,000 and 6,000 pounds of this particulate matter going into the air, going into our lungs, causing heart attack, strokes.” Crawford offered to e-mail the papers to Cornwell. When he said he has a 2-megabyte limit to his e-mail, she was undeterred. “I will get a dolly and drop them off at your office,” Crawford said to widespread chuckles from the audience. Lithonia Mayor Deborah Jackson said the plant would add to the landfill, waste transfer station, automobile junkyards, and trucking companies that already exist in the area. “The combination of all of these activities has taken a toll on the community in terms of the foul smells and the truck emissions contributing to compromised health conditions,” she said. Jackson said the state EPD must follow the dictates of the EPA and incorporate the principles of environmental justice in its programs, policies and permitting processes. “It is essential that EPD take a firm position to protect the environment and health of overburdened communities and work to achieve healthy and sustainable communities,” she said. “Do not take the easy way out. When you balance the competing interests at stake, there is only one ethical, moral and legal conclusion – that is denial of the air permit application for the biomass plant.” Faye Coffield, a Lithonia resident, pointed out that there are homes within 2,000 feet of the proposed plant and several schools nearby. “In a worst-case scenario, if this situation fails, what is the health risk to the public around it?” she asked. “How far out would that health risk extend? How would you get people in and out? This is a community. There are children. What would be the impact?” Cornwell said that the EPD review doesn’t look at worst-case scenarios. Stevie Banks, a minister at Big Miller Grove
Baptist Church, said his 71-year-old mother, Mildred Banks, has lived on Maddox Road for 50 years and experienced a plant blowing up and dumping smoke and ashes on the community. “My momma got sick,” he said. “I got sick. Everybody got sick.” Banks said that nobody will be watching the plant. “When you load up these trucks, stuff goin’ to fly off,” he said. “You going to have somebody by these trucks, making sure everybody’s operating right? No you are not. We need to say no to this.” Banks said EPD needed to take time and evaluate the permit application. Athens-based Green Energy has been trying for two years to build the 11.5 megawatt plant in Lithonia. It says the plant will generate enough energy to power about 8,000 homes and will sell the electricity to Georgia Power. Cornwell said six other biomass plants have been permitted in Georgia and two, including Green Energy’s, are pending. The Green Energy plant is the only one proposed for metro Atlanta. It filed its air quality permit application in April. Cornwell said that the EPD waited until December to hold the public hearing so that it could have a draft permit to show to residents. EPD is taking written comments in the application through 5 p.m. on Dec. 26. Cornwell said it has no set deadline to approve or deny the permit. “We expect to get a lot of comments,” he said Thursday. “It will take time to review them.” Willie Dunlap said that the EPD held the hearing to put something down on paper to say that they met with the community. “We are wasting our time,” he said. “These people don’t care about us.” He said the proposed plant will compound air pollution in the Lithonia area by adding to what is already there. Dunlap said none of the people, not Green Energy Partners CEO Neville Anderson nor the EPD officials, live in the area. “They stay miles and miles away,” he said. “Even if the particulates travel through the air, it won’t get to your house. It won’t get to this gentleman’s house.” Anderson attended the hearing but did not speak. At the end, he told a reporter he had no comment.
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December 22, 2012
Community Bishop Wiley Jackson and brother indicted Gospel Tabernacle’s founder and senior pastor, Bishop Wiley Jackson, and his brother Rodney have been indicted by a DeKalb grand jury on charges they violated the Georgia Securities Act. Wiley Jackson The Dec. 20 indictment accuses the men of eight felony counts of violating the Georgia Securities Act. It said the men sold shares for up to $10,000 in Genesis LLC to several female church members between June 2002 and January 2009 without a securities license. District Attorney Robert James said it is illegal in Georgia to sell securities without a license. “Some were ministry related into books and tapes,” he said. Authorities were alerted by the women when they could not get their money back. Rodney Jackson is a pastor at the church, which has locations in Atlanta, Stone Mountain, Fayetteville and Griffin. Wiley Jackson said Friday that he was surprised to learn of the indictment but was out of town and unable to respond until he sees it. “The has been no wrongdoing,” he told WSB-TV. Arrest warrants were issued for men. At press time Thursday, they had not turned themselves in. DA spokesman Erik Burton said they could be arraigned within 30 days.
“His humble approach and obvious pride in the city makes others want to be successful as well.”
160 college presidents favor gun control The presidents of Agnes Scott College in Decatur and Oglethorpe University in Atlanta are among signatories of an open letter to U.S. policymakers urging “rational” gun safety legislation in the wake of the Newtown, Elizabeth Kiss Conn., school shooting that claimed the lives of 20 children and six adults on Dec. 14. More than 160 college and university presidents support the effort started by Dr. Lawrence M. Schall of Oglethorpe and joined by Dr. Elizabeth Kiss of Agnes Scott. Many other groups also are calling for new gun safety measures as funerals continue for the victims. Twenty-year-old gunman Adam Lanza took his own life at Sandy Hook Elementary School after killing the teachers and students. He also killed his mother,
Nancy, at her home before the rampage. Schall said the college presidents are parents and grandparents first, but also educators of America’s children. “Our country was devastated by the recent Lawrence Schall events in Connecticut, yet the murder rate by guns in this country has been at an unconscionable level for a very long time,” he said. “I just think everyone now realizes it is time to do what we can to try to reverse this tragic trend.” Schall said the answer is not simple and that no single action will accomplish that goal, but that cannot be a reason for inaction. The letter calls for: n Ensuring the safety of our communities by opposing legislation allowing guns on our
campuses and in our classrooms. n Ending the gun show loophole, which allows for the purchase of guns from unlicensed sellers without a criminal background check. n Reinstating the ban on military-style semiautomatic assault weapons along with high-capacity ammunition magazines. n Requiring consumer safety standards for all guns, such as safety locks; access prevention laws; and regulations to identify, prevent and correct manufacturing defects. Signatories include the presidents of Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur; Clark Atlanta University, Morehouse College and Spelman College in the Atlanta University Center; and Brenau University in Gainesville. The group says it is not against gun ownership but opposed to laws that would allow gun possession on college campuses. For full letter, visit www.collegepresidents forgunsafety.org.
Decatur mayor quits; special election in March to fill seat Decatur Mayor Bill Floyd has resigned effective Jan. 7. Floyd said he is calling it quits after 21 years “to pursue different professional opportunities that will require a significant amount of my time and Bill Floyd attention.” He was elected to the Decatur City Commission in November 1991. His current term expires in 2015. A special election will be held on March 19 to fill his seat. Floyd said Decatur is a wonderfully unique community.
“It has been an honor and a privilege to serve on the City Commission and to be mayor,” he said. He served as the city’s mayor pro tem from 1994-1997 and was elected by his colleagues to be mayor in 1999. He has served as the president of the Georgia Municipal Association, chair of the Metropolitan Atlanta Mayor’s Association, on the Executive Committee for the Regional Transportation Sales Tax, and on the board of directors of the Atlanta Regional Commission. He also has been active on numerous boards, including the DeKalb Rape Crisis Center and the Decatur Education Foundation. Decatur City Manager Peggy Merriss said
Floyd provided outstanding leadership and support for the city. “He has been a huge part of our success,” she said. “His humble approach and obvious pride in the city makes others want to be successful as well. He has championed our staff and challenged us to be better people. He will be missed.” DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis said called Floyd “a beacon of leadership in Decatur.” “He has served well and I wish him all the best in all of his future endeavors,” he said. The Decatur City Commission will elect a new mayor at its Jan. 7 meeting. The call for the election will be considered at its Jan. 22 meeting.
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Maybe it’s just knowing when to help. Here in Georgia, some people are having trouble paying their bills. You can help us help them. Just make a small donation to Project SHARE on your next Georgia Power bill. Or give online at GeorgiaPower.com/ProjectSHARE. Together with the Salvation Army we can show everyone what makes us different here.
December 22, 2012
“What is unique about this budget is that the commissioners know as much about it as I do.”
Slowpokes have Express Mail to get it there for Christmas DeKalb CEO’s Procrastinators who haven’t mailed Christmas cards, letters and packages by Dec. 22 can still get them to their destination on Christmas Day with Express Mail. The U.S. Postal Service says the guaranteed overnight service is available as late as Christmas Eve at most post offices for guaranteed delivery on Christmas Day. Dec. 17 was the busiest day of the year for
the post office. More than 658 million items were mailed on that day, compared with 528 million pieces on an average day. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve, the Postal Service expects to deliver 17.9 billion items. To ensure that gifts and greetings arrive on time and intact: n Use complete addresses on cards, letters and packages, including apartment numbers
and suite numbers. n Use directionals such as N.E. and N.W. and designations such as St., Ave., and Blvd. – and always include the ZIP code. Find ZIP codes at www.usps.com. n When sending packages, use a sturdy container, cushion the contents to prevent movement, include a return address inside, and seal with shipping tape.
Holiday drives help children, elderly and homeless CHEER,
“We did good,” Johnson said. “It worked out. The community came together. In the midst of a tough economy, people still felt the need to give. Those kids are going to be happy for Christmas.” District 7 Commissioner Stan Watson raised 300 toys for CASA, the Court Appointed Special Advocates program that serves kids going through the Juvenile Court system.
A new, unwrapped toy was part of the admission to Watson’s annual “Touch of Red & White” event that took place at the Porter Sanford Performing Arts Center on Dec. 15. It included dinner and a performance by trumpeter extraordinaire Joey Sommerville and some musician friends. On Dec. 15, Healing Stream Ministries handed out 72 duffel bags filled with a blanket and personal care items to homeless people throughout the county. On Dec. 22, the ministry will give gifts to 150 disadvan-
taged children ages 2 to 16. Elder Gerard Scroggins, pastor of the Lithonia church, said they went looking for homeless people on Glenwood Road, near the interstate on Wesley Chapel Road, around the I-75/I-85 interchange to I-20, and near University Avenue in Atlanta. “It’s a small congregation, but they do big work,” he said. “We learn about God’s love inside the walls of the church, and we show his love outside of the walls.”
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that property values will drop another 3 percent over the next six months due to appeals of assessments, resulting in a $6 million revenue loss in 2013. Georgia Tech Research Corp. will provide in the first quarter of 2013 anticipated property values for 2013 through 2015 for use in multiyear budgeting. Ellis said the budget was prepared with the help of the Board of Commissioners. He said Commissioners Lee May, Stan Watson and Jeff Rader participated on the Budget Development Committee. “What is unique about this budget is that the commissioners know as much about it as I do,” Ellis said. “Their observation of the budget development process will be critical in our effort to ultimately achieve consensus on final budget adoption.” Earlier this year, some commissioners criticized Ellis for including in his 2012 budget $1 million in revenue that would be generated if the Legislature passed a bill to raise the hotel-motel tax from the current 5 percent to 8 percent. In March, May, Watson, Larry Johnson and Sharon Barnes-Sutton voted to deny the CEO’s resolution endorsing legislation that would have raised the county’s hotel-motel tax to 8 percent. The state Senate passed a substitute bill to raise the hotel tax to 7 percent instead, but the legislation was tabled and did not come up for a vote. Gottlieb had said raising the hotel tax would generate from $1 million to $1.25 million for the county. In his 2013 budget memo, Ellis called for legislation to raise the hotel tax to 8 percent and a local option sales tax for transportation “to address this growing backlog of street resurfacing, sidewalks, intersection safety and congestion relief and related projects.” Ellis did not say how much the sales tax would be. If the regional T-SPLOST referendum had passed, DeKalb would have received a share of the 15 percent of the sales tax revenue that was to be distributed to local governments in the Atlanta region. DeKalb had expected to receive $148.5 million this way to spend on local transportation projects. Public Works officials have told commissioners that more than 400 miles of the county’s 2,200 miles of streets need resurfacing but resurfacing averages 40 miles per year. Other revenue enhancements in the 2013 proposed budget include sale of surplus properties and a new fee for cleaning up hazardous waste after road accidents. Ellis also said bond debt service would be refinanced for the Fulton DeKalb Hospital Authority to defer $7.5 million in payments in 2013. Ellis noted that many county employees have not received a cost-of-living adjustment since 2006 while their pension and benefit costs have risen. He proposed giving a 3 percent pay adjustment to workers whose gross wages are below $37,731, which is considered the living wage for a family of four in DeKalb County. Almost 38 percent, or 2,500, of the county’s 6,600 workers qualify for the raise. The average increase will be $822. Ellis also proposed allocating $5 million from the HOST for transportation projects, including $3.5 million to match state funding for street resurfacing and $1.5 million to match state and federal funding in the regional Transportation Improvement Program. The CEO also proposed using bond funds, some of which may need legislative action, to finance construction of a $5.6 million to $7.6 million animal services facility; a $9 million East Precinct and training facility in Lithonia; and $900,000 in renovations to the Bobby Burgess Building on Memorial Drive for the Central Precinct.
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December 22, 2012
“No matter how small the gift, this incredible match lets donors double the impact in saving the lives of homeless pets.”
Candlelight services to usher in Christmas at some churches Church members and the community can usher in Christmas at special services at a number of churches. On Dec. 24, Columbia Presbyterian and Greenforest Community Baptist churches in Decatur and Rock of Ages Lutheran Church in Stone Mountain are hosting Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion services. Columbia Presbyterian’s service begins at 6 p.m. in the sanctuary at 711 Columbia Drive. For more information,
visit cpcdecatur.org or call 404-284-2441. Greenforest’s service begins at 6:30 p.m. at 3250 Rainbow Drive. For more information, visit www.greenforest.org or call 404-486-1120. Rock of Ages’ services take place from 5 to 6:30 p.m. and 11 to 11:55 p.m. in the sanctuary. The church is at 5135 Memorial Drive. For more information, visit http://roa.ctsmember
connect.net/home-ctrl.do or call 404-292-7888.
Christmas Day Service New Birth Missionary Baptist Church is hosting a Christmas Day Service at 11 a.m. on Dec. 25 in the sanctuary. The church is at 6400 Woodrow Road in Lithonia. For more information, visit www.newbirth.org or call 770-6969600.
Robert Redford and Barbra Streisand star in “The Way We Were,” which will be screened on Dec. 28 at Toco Hill-Avis G. Williams Library in Decatur.
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Toys for Tots still needs kids’ gifts
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Movie lovers can top off the year with the nostalgic film “The Way We Were,” starring Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford, on Dec. 28 at the Toco Hill-Avis G. Williams Library in Decatur. The screening of the 1973 movie, which is rated PG, takes place from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. Sidney Pollack is director. Streisand plays Katie Morosky, a political activist who briefly meets the preppy Hubbell Gardiner (Redford) in 1937. Nearly eight years later, they are reunited in New York, when leftist radio worker Katie spies military officer Hubbell in a nightclub. They fall in love and head to Hollywood so that Hubbell can write a screenplay. But the Communist witch hunt by the House Committee on Un-American Activities tears
Toys for Tots is in urgent need of toys to meet requests from 1,400 agencies this year. Cherrie Carney, Atlanta Toys for Tots media coordinator, says if the supply is not increased, it will be unable to service all agencies. The Atlanta group is an affiliate of the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program and helps needy families experience the joy of Christmas. The campaign is urging individuals,
groups and businesses to bring new, unwrapped toys to Publix supermarkets. Stone Mountain High alumni are collecting toys for the campaign on Dec. 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 4555 Central Drive. For more information, contact Ashle’e Wright at firstname.lastname@example.org or 404-729-2456. For more information, monetary donations and volunteer opportunities, visit www.atlantatoysfortots.com.
Book drop for library’s New Year’s Eve Ring in the new year at the “Book Drop” at the Chamblee Library on Dec. 31. The library will celebrate New Year’s Eve with a new tradition by making crafts, playing games, and singing songs from 1:30 to 3 p.m. Seniors and families are encouraged to
take part in the intergenerational event, which is open to the first 35 participants. Call or visit the branch to register. Funding is provided by the Friends of the Chamblee Library. The branch is at 4115 Clairmont Road. For more information, call 770-936-1380.
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Metro Atlantans who donate to LifeLine Animal Project through Dec. 31 to help homeless pets and struggling pet owners can double their gift with a matching contribution from Anisa International. The Atlanta-based cosmetic brush design and manufacturing company says it will match donations up to $25,000. Funds will be used to provide low-cost spay and neuter surgeries and discounted veterinary services and promote the adoption of homeless pets. LifeLine, which has clinics in Avondale Estates and College Park, is celebrating its 10th anniversary. It has performed more than 55,000 spay/neuter surgeries, directly targeting the root cause of pet overpopulation in underserved communities. Rebecca Guinn, LifeLine executive director and CEO, said that they wouldn’t be able to rescue all the abandoned and abused pets they do without the help of donors. “No matter how small the gift, this incredible match lets donors double the impact in saving the lives of homeless pets,” she said. In 2012, nearly 4,000 family pets received free or reduced cost vaccinations and basic
them apart. Katie and Hubbell meet again in the 1960s in the bittersweet romantic drama. “The Way We Were” received Oscars for best original dramatic score and best original song. Films in the Friday Movies series are a mix of new releases and old favorites. When available, movies are presented with closed captioning to assist the hearing impaired. Toco Hill-Avis G. Williams Library is at 1282 McConnell Drive. For more information call 404-679-4404. All DeKalb County Public Library branches will be closed on Dec. 24 and Dec. 25 in observance of Christmas. For more information, visit dekalblibrary.org or call 404-370-8450.
Rebecca Guinn, LifeLine executive director and CEO, said Anisa International will match contributions up to $25,000 to help pets.
preventive care. To donate, visit www.LifeLineAnimal.org, mail a check to P.O. Box 15466, Atlanta, GA 30333, or call 404-292-8800.
December 22, 2012
“Car crashes are the No. 1 killer of young people. That’s why it’s a priority with us.”
Rainbow PUSH safe driving initiative teaches teens good skills Former pro football player Dextor Clinkscale speaks to Redan High students on Dec. 14 during a Safe Teen Driving Initiative event presented by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition.
tor Clinkscale presented a lecture and video showing safe driving methods developed by UPS to train its drivers. Tips included keeping a safe distance from other vehicles to give more time to avoid hazards, keep your vision focused far down the road, checking rear and side mirrors frequently, and, above all, avoiding distractions. “The No. 1 problem with teen drivers now is texting while driving,” Clinkscale said. “But loud music, food and too many people
in the car are also safety threats for kids.” Eighteen-year-old senior Justin Clark, who has been accident-free for the two years he has been driving, said the class was very informative. “A lot of people don’t think about those things, including me,” he said, admitting that it’s easy to get distracted. “Sometimes you just want to look at your phone or you’re messing with the radio or something and if a car stops in front of you, you can hit it.”
Chapel Hill Orthodontics
Ken Watts / CrossRoadsNews
By Ken Watts
Redan High School freshman Miya Collins has personal knowledge of how quickly a routine drive can turn tragic. Her 18-year-old cousin was killed three years ago in a car crash with a drunken Miya Collins driver. “She was coming out of my aunt’s subdivision on her way home and a car hit her right when she was turning,” Miya said last week. Fellow Redan freshman Setcha Little remembers what happened on the interstate last summer after her mother’s tire blew out. “My mom put on the hazard lights to go to the side of the road and this driver ran right into us after we had stopped.” Setcha said no one was seriously hurt,
but she needed physical therapy for a few weeks. Miya and Setcha were among students who took part in the Safe Teen Driving Initiative presented by the Rainbow PUSH Coalition at the Stone Mountain school on Dec. 14. The group, founded by the Rev. Jesse Jackson, has been presenting Safe Teen Driving events at schools around the state to promote effective habits for young people ahead of the holidays, a traditional high period for teen accidents. Janice Mathis, Rainbow PUSH’s national vice president, said they have partnered with Atlanta-based UPS for about 12 years to develop a safety class for teen drivers because safety on the road is one of the most serious issues that teenagers and their families face. “Car crashes are the No. 1 killer of young people,” Mathis said. “That’s why it’s a priority with us.” At Redan, former pro football player Dex-
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“With TDP it was a community and they accepted you for who you are. I feel like Mrs. Hill believed in our talents before we did.”
Musicians to honor couple whose program supported them By Stormy Kage
Harpist and violinist Angelica Hairston and a host of young musicians will honor Azira and Jesse Hill, founders of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program (TDP) with a concert on Dec. 30 at First Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. Hairston, a Chamblee High School graduate who is a student at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto, is organizing the concert, which will feature her and 14 other TDP graduates. Hairston graduated from TDP this year after five years in the program. The musicians will play flute quartet, clarinet quintet, harp duet and a string ensemble of chamber works from Mozart, Brahms, Debussy, Lizotte and Villa-Lobos. Harpist Angelica Hairston helped The tribute is free, but donations for the organize a Dec. 30 tribute concert to Azira G. Hill Scholarship will be accepted. Jesse and Azira Hill, founders of the The recital, which takes place in the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent church’s Fifield Hall, starts at 7 p.m. Development Program. The performers are now students and graduates of Juilliard, Cleveland Institute Curtis Parker / CrossRoadsNews of Music, Atlanta Intl School, Petrie School of Music, Peabody Conservatory of Music, University. concerts and having finals at school so we Royal Conservatory of Music, Curtis InHairston said it took a lot of emailing and are getting together to do it on our Christmas stitute of Music, Rice Univ., New England help from volunteers to contact graduates Break,” she said. Conservatory, South Carolina Philharmonic, from different years. TDP, established in 1993, identifies and University of Michigan, and Georgia State “Everyone is all over the place doing develops musically-gifted African American
and Latino classical music students, ages 8 to 18, for acceptance into top music programs that prepare them for professional music careers. Hairston, who has been playing the violin since age four and the harp since she was 12, said that joining the Talent Development Program was the best decision she made. “When you get in high school, it is so hard because musicians don’t always fit in,” she said. “With TDP it was a community and they accepted you for who you are. I feel like Mrs. Hill believed in our talents before we did.” So far, every person who completes the TDP program has continued to college to pursue a career in music. Hairston said she would have never imagined she would be be the musician she is today. “TDP is an amazing program for children and I am taken back by how much they have helped,” she said. “This recital is straight from our hearts to theirs.” The First Presbyterian Church of Atlanta is next door to the High Museum of Art at 1328 Peachtree St. N.E., Atlanta. To RSVP visit http://new.evite.com/l/ WTVHTQIB7I. For more information email Angelica Hairston at angelicahairston@ gmail.com or call her at 416-859-2105.
Jesse Hill’s legacy and influence span business, media and cultural life Businessman and visionary Jesse Hill Jr., who left an indelible mark on the civil rights movement in Atlanta, died Monday at age 86. Hill joined the Atlanta Life Insurance Co. in 1949 and eventually became its president and CEO, retiring in 1990. He became the first African-American president of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, now the Metro
Atlanta Chamber, in 1978. He had a close relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and served as chairman of the King Center’s board of directors from 1979 to 1995. He was also a board member of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis joined local leaders in mourning Hill’s passing. “Jesse Hill’s influence has been felt in all areas of humanity – government, finance and education,” Ellis said in a Dec. 18 statement.
“He was a champion of the civil rights movement and one of the first and the few that realized the importance of personal wealth to the African-American community.” Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed also praised Hill’s achievements. “Atlanta would not be what it is today without Jesse Hill Jr.’s extraordinary contributions,” Reed said. “ We have all of his family members in our prayers and in our hearts.” Hill was born in St. Louis. He helped create the Atlanta Inquirer
in 1960, covering racial tensions, sit-ins and other protests, and served as publisher until 1985. He co-founded of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s Talent Development Program (TDP) with his wife Azira. Hill also helped desegregate Atlanta Public Schools and the University System of Georgia. He is survived by his wife and daughters, Nancy Mercedes and Azira Dominga. Funeral arrangements are pending. Willie A. Watkins Funeral Home, Historic West End Chapel, is in charge.
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December 22, 2012
Strut Your Stuff & Win the Title of Atlanta’s Champion Fitness Instructor
Entry Fee $35
Registration Deadline Jan. 4, 2013
• Enter with your team of up to 15 members and show off the routine you use to motivate your clients to fitness. • Competition starts at 1 p.m. on the mall’s lower level. A panel of celebrity judges will pick the winner. • To enter, create a 3-minute fitness routine, choreographed to music. • Use steps, balls, weights or just movements (bring your own weights, props, music, etc).
To register, email firstname.lastname@example.org, call Jami at 404-284-1888, or fax this form to 404-284-5007. Name of Team: _______________________________________
Instructor’s Name: ________________________________
Instructor’s Address: ___________________________________
City________________________ ZIP Code____________
Phone__________________________________ Email___________________________________________________________ (Advance registration only! Limit one team per instructor. Print this form and mail with check or money order payable to CrossRoadsNews, 2346 Candler Road, Decatur, GA 30032, or call 404-284-1888 with credit card information. Space reservation is not guaranteed until confirmed by CrossRoadsNews. Limited to first 20 trainers or instructors who pay in full. Late deposits will be returned.)