South River renaissance
For the love of art
Frustrated by the county’s unwillingness to clean and maintain major street corridors, many residents have been taking matters into their own hands. 4
Once considered the most polluted river in Georgia, the South River is making a comeback and has become something of a playground. 7
Thirteen schools were represented in the second annual Division V Art Challenge sponsored by State Court Judge Eleanor Ross. 9
Wesley Chapel cleanup
EAST ATLANTA • DECATUR • STONE MOUNTAIN • LITHONIA • AVONDALE ESTATES • CLARKSTON • ELLENWOOD • PINE LAKE • REDAN • SCOTTDALE • TUCKER
Copyright © 2012 CrossRoadsNews, Inc.
December 29, 2012
Volume 18, Number 35
State summons DeKalb School Board to suspension hearing By Ken Watts
DeKalb School Board members have a date to tell state officials why they should keep their seats. The state Board of Education summoned the board members to a Jan. 17 hearing at 1 p.m. “regarding whether the state board should recommend to the governor that he suspend the members of the DeKalb County BOE.” The hearing comes in the wake of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools placing the district on a one-year probation for violation of its standards for Governance and Leadership and Resources and Support Systems on Dec. 17. Board members will have to present evi-
dence as to why the governor should not suspend them with pay pursuant to Georgia law 20-2-73 (a) (1) enacted in 2011. The summons, signed by state board Chairwoman Barbara Hampton and hearing officer K.P. Barbara Hampton Reddy, said that the notice is based upon DeKalb being placed on the level of accreditation “probation.” In his announcement of the probation, Dr. Mark Elgart, president and CEO of SACS’ parent company AdvancEd, said there’s been poor and ineffective governance. “There is significant and irrefutable evidence that the DeKalb School District is in a
state of conflict and chaos,” 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 that is very dangerous.” The SACS report said the investigation followed numerous complaints by parents about leadership failure and board interference in the district’s day-to-day operations. School Board Chairman Eugene Walker said the district hasn’t lost accreditation. “We do not plan on losing our accreditation and we plan to do everything in our power to ensure the sustainability of the good work we are doing and our children are doing in our schools,” he said at a Dec. 17 news conference that followed the SACS announcement.
At the Jan. 17 hearing, DeKalb will get a chance to present its side of the story, including a list of witnesses who will speak on its behalf. Critics of the board will get the same opportunity. As in a trial, the two sides will have to describe their witnesses’ anticipated testimony and reveal their facts and evidence to each other before the hearing. Both are entitled to a “pre-hearing” by phone if they request it by Jan. 4. Under the new state law, the state board can make an immediate recommendation to the governor for possible action or give the DeKalb board time to make improvements. SACS gave DeKalb until Dec. 31, 2013, to show progress or face the loss of accreditation.
Imagine East Metro Rapid Rail CSX, which owns the 147-mile rail line that runs from East Georgia through South DeKalb and into Atlanta and uses it for freight, said “maybe” to the idea of sharing the line with a passenger operation.
Would the public support commuter service if feasible? By Ken Watts
Imagine this morning rush-hour scenario. You leave your home in Decatur, Stone Mountain or Lithonia and instead of hopping onto I-20, you drive to the MARTA Park-and-Ride lot at Minola Drive, Evans Mill Road or the Mall at Stonecrest. A waiting shuttle whisks you a short distance to a depot where you board a commuter train. Instead of fussing and fuming over traffic gridlock, you relax, sip coffee, read the newspaper or get some work done on the ride into downtown Atlanta. Is this scenario feasible? Is it something the public would support? Last July, voters in south DeKalb County joined others around metro Atlanta in emphatically rejecting the $8.5 billion TSPLOST initiative. Taxpayers were upset that after more than 30 years of supporting MARTA, the T-SPLOST offered only more bus service for South DeKalb in the short run and only a possibility of rapid rail sometime in the distant future. But an East Metro commuter rail service could be a practical and possibly less expensive alternative. Miles of railroad already exist in the community and former rail depots, like the ones in downtown Stone Mountain, Decatur and Olde Town Conyers, have been transformed into other uses, including restaurants, museums and visitor centers. More than 50 of the picturesque little rail stops that once processed passengers, freight and mail have survived across the 28-county metro area. The Stone Mountain rail depot on Main
Ken Watts / CrossRoadsNews
“Unless or until the state Legislature and Georgians decide that transit is as important a project as building more roads, Washington will continue funding projects in Charlotte and Austin that are making a much stronger commitment to rail.” U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson
Street was built in 1857 and rebuilt in 1914. It housed Stone Mountain’s City Hall between 1964 and February 2012. The city’s Police Department recently moved out and officials say it will become a visitor center and museum. The Decatur Depot, built in 1891, had passenger rail service until 1988. After that, the depot at the intersection of College and Howard avenues housed a number of restau-
The Olde Town Conyers rail depot, located at 901 Railroad St., was built in 1845. It operated until 1972 when passenger rail service between Atlanta and Augusta ceased. It is now a Conyers Welcome Center and a social gathering place maintained by the Rockdale County Historical Society. CSX owns the 147-mile rail line that runs from East Georgia through South DeKalb and into Atlanta at the proposed site for a multimodal transit station. The railroad uses that corridor for its lucrative freight service. Would it be willing to share that line with a passenger operation? In a statement last week, CSX said “maybe.”
rants and bars. The city of Decatur raised $250,000 in early 2006 to move it back 30 feet from the tracks after CSX relinquished it. The depot been vacant since the Cajun restaurant Depeaux closed there in 2010. The Lithonia Rail Depot, once a thriving passenger stop on Main Street, was torn down in the 1960s to make way for urban Please see RAIL, page 6 renewal.
Community CEO hosting inauguration at Saint Philip
December 29, 2012
“This is not a panacea that will stop all suicides, but it is a place to start.”
Brown sworn in for 4th term as sheriff
Bishop, brother out on bond Bishop Wiley Jackson and his brother, the Rev. Rodney Jackson, are out of jail after each posted $10,000 bonds. The brothers were released on Dec. 21, DeKalb Jail records show. Both are facing eight felony counts of violating the Georgia Securities Act. A DeKalb County grand jury indicted them on charges on Dec. 20. Wiley Jackson, 73, is founder and pastor of Gospel Wiley Jackson Tabernacle Church, a metro megachurch with locations in Atlanta, Stone Mountain, Fayetteville and Griffin. Rodney Jackson, 58, is also a pastor at Gospel Tabernacle. The indictment accused the men of selling shares for up to $10,000 in Genesis LLC to several female church members between June 2002 and January 2009 without a securities license. DeKalb 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 Rodney Jackson said. Authorities were alerted by the women when they could not get their money back. Wiley Jackson told WSB-TV there was no wrongdoing. Jail records didn’t indicate who posted bond for the men.
DeKalb Sheriff Thomas Brown was sworn in for his fourth term at the Decatur court complex on Dec. 21. Brown ran unopposed in the July and November elections. He also ran unopposed in 2004, which had not happened in DeKalb sheriff elections in 30 years. Brown, who was the county’s Thomas Brown public safety director for 11 years, was appointed interim sheriff after the assassination of Sheriff-elect Derwin Brown in December 2000. During his past 11 years in office, Brown took the Sheriff ’s Office from a tumultuous past to an agency that has garnered accreditations from the American Correctional Association, the Commission on Accreditation of Law Enforcement Agencies, and the National Commission of Correctional Healthcare. Brown and his staff have returned more than $500,000 to the county general fund over the past several years.
DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis will begin his second term with a Unity Inauguration and Swearing-In Ceremony on Jan. 3 at Saint Philip AME Church in Atlanta. The ceremony begins at 6 p.m. and will be followed by a reception. Ellis won re-election easily on July 31, defeating challengers Jerome Edmonson, a business man, and Gregory Ad- Burrell Ellis ams, a pastor and former DeKalb police officer. Saint Philip AME Church is at 240 Candler Road in Atlanta. For more information, visit www.co.dekalb.ga.us or call 404-371-2881.
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Hank’s language makes into bill fighting suicide Congress gave U.S. troops a potentially lifesaving gift days before Christmas. The House and Senate passed the fiscal year 2013 National Defense Authorization Act on Dec. 20 and Dec. 21, respectively. The bill includes language offered by 4th District U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson to prevent cases of suicide among service members. Johnson’s provision would allow military commanding officers and mental health professionals to talk to at-risk service members about the firearms they own personally and encourage them to safely store those weapons in a military facility or with the use of a gunlock. A provision in the FY 2011 Defense Authorization created confusion within the Department of Defense about whether officers had the authority to discuss privately owned firearms with service members who appeared to be a threat to themselves or others. Johnson believes the new language will clear up any ambiguity. “This is not a panacea that will stop all suicides,” he said. “But it is a place to start as we all come together to end this troubling epidemic. We owe it to our soldiers, their families and their loved ones to do everything we can to help them through difficult times.” In a shocking Dec. 7, 2012, Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post, retired Gens. Dennis Reimer and Peter Chiarelli said “this year more soldiers, seamen, airmen and Marines died by their own hand than died in battle. Suicide was the number one cause of death for U.S. troops.” The National Defense Authorization bill now goes to President Barack Obama for his signature.
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December 29, 2012
“This is my purpose in life right now, to bring the school system through SACS probation and back to the prominence it once had.”
April 15 trial School Board a passion despite cancer battle set for former moved Edler’s cancerous right breast, and over-the-counter painkillers. But through it all, Edler said she never between Aug. 18 and Nov. 29, she underwent When DeKalb School Board member thought cancer. chemotherapy. superintendent Donna Edler rose to her feet to speak at a re- In the Nov. 30, 2010, runoff, she beat “I thought I had strained a muscle.” By Jennifer Ffrench Parker
Three years after his departure from the DeKalb School System, former School Superintendent Crawford Lewis will finally have his day in court. DeKalb Superior Court Judge Cynthia J. Becker has set Lewis’ trial for April 15. DeKalb district attorney spokesman Erik Burton said the trial Crawford Lewis will go on this time because it was “specially set” by the judge. “When the judge sets the date this far out, it’s a signal to everyone to get all the discovery and everything done,” Burton said this week. Lewis left the school district on April 16, 2010, facing racketeering and other charges. His co-defendants, former Chief Operating Officer Patricia Reid and her former husband, Anthony Pope, are being tried separately. The three are facing charges of running a criminal enterprise that sent millions of dollars to Pope while he was married to Reid and to school system vendors in exchange for cash, sports tickets and other perks. The 300-page indictment, issued in May 2012, alleges that $80 million in contracts were obtained through fraud and that Pope made more than $2 million on the deals. It includes four counts of racketeering, one count of theft by taking by a government employee, and one count of bribery.
cent Georgia EPD hearing into an air quality permit for a controversial biomass facility in Lithonia, you could hear a pin drop. Her story of her ongoing battle with cancer was spellbinding. When her voice broke, voices whispered words of Donna Edler encouragement. “Take your time, sister,” someone in the audience said. “Lord have mercy,” said another. Edler, a CPA and stay-at-home mom, was diagnosed with breast cancer in late May 2010, weeks before Hidden Hills neighbor Dr. Kathryn Brice and Donata Renfrow approached her on June 24 about running for the District 7 School Board seat. They brushed aside her reservations. “They said, ‘We know you are going to beat it,’” she said. A week later, Edler said yes, and on July 2, 2010, she qualified for the race. Brice, who was running for the DeKalb Board of Commissioners at the same time, said she encouraged her neighbor to run because she liked her values and the way she was involved in the community. “People respond to illnesses in different ways,” Brice said. “Some retreat and nurture themselves. Some find strength in being involved. If you were to shut Donna away, she would die.” Edler was one of four people who challenged incumbent Zepora Roberts. Four days later on July 6, doctors re-
Roberts, earning 72 percent of the vote. Her radiation treatment began Dec. 20, ending on Jan. 31, 2011. In between, on Jan. 3, she took the oath of office and her seat on the School Board, quickly proving herself a warrior for children. On Dec. 18, 2012, the audience of more than 100 at the EPD hearing heard that her cancer had returned, this time metastasizing in her spine. But don’t write Edler off just yet. She said Wednesday that she has no plans to leave the board. If anything, she is hoping her fellow board members will elect her their chair so that she can help lead the fight to rescue the board from SACS probation. “I have the knowledge, the technical skills and the leadership ability to help,” she said. The School Board will have three new members – Dr. Melvin Johnson, Jim McMahan and Marshall Orson – in January, and Edler said she can help it face its challenges. Edler points out that she has had cancer the entire time she has been on the board and that it has not interfered with her ability to serve. When she couldn’t be there in person, she attended by conference call. “Nobody has seen me without cancer,” she said. “I am a breast cancer survivor fighting cancer.” That said, Edler’s husband, Darryl, took her to the emergency room on Dec. 1 for nagging back pain that had plagued her on a Nov. 7-16 trip to China by a delegation of American educators and through the Thanksgiving holiday. On Nov. 30, she was immobilized by the pain, which was no longer responding to
During her week in the hospital, she found out she was among 70 percent of breast cancer survivors who see the return of the disease in the spine and among 10 percent who have it manifest itself with pain. Lucky for her. Because of that pain, Edler now knows her foe is back. Brice said Edler is so driven that during her December hospitalization, she turned her hospital room into an office. “She had her notebook and she was making calls,” Brice said. “I truly believe that’s how she becomes well.” This time, the cancer manifested on Edler’s 12th vertebra, a spot where her doctors could reach it easily with radiation, which she had between Dec. 4 and 17. To stay well, Edler has changed her eating habits and is doing more physical exercises. “I have eliminated extra sugars, and I am being more careful about what I put into my mouth,” she said. “If I feel pain anywhere, I know to check it out immediately.” At the last 2012 full School Board meeting on Dec. 10, Edler was there to bid goodbye to the three departing members – Thomas Bowen, Don McChesney and Paul Womack. She is again wearing a wig and has lost a few pounds, which she intends on keeping off with more walking and swimming. In the battle with cancer, Edler said she has thought about her purpose in life, and the School Board is front and center. “This is my purpose in life right now,” she said, “to bring the school system through SACS probation and back to the prominence it once had. That is my mission, my passion and my purpose.”
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December 29, 2012
“If we want our area to be attractive, we have to invest in it. That’s what other communities do.”
Residents need county’s help to clean up corridors By Jennifer Ffrench Parker
During his 2012 re-election campaign, DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis famously rolled up the long sleeves of his crisp white shirt on June 13 and shoved a shovel into a Glenwood Road sidewalk full of built-up gunk. It was the launch of his “Operation Clean to the Curb” campaign. But a week later, Anthony McBride, the county’s deputy director of Collections Services, said curb cleaning was not part of the scope of what the DeKalb Sanitation Department does. “In no way should it have been interpreted that we are going to clean curbs,” McBride said. “We don’t have the resources to do that.” Frustrated by the mixed message and lack of any coordinated plan to clean and maintain corridors like Wesley Chapel Road, Flat Shoals Parkway, Candler Road, Panola Road and Turner Hill Road, residents have been taking matters into their own hands. In May, individuals and residents of 10 homeowners, condominium and business associations created the Wesley Chapel Curb Appeal Task Force. Among them are Rainbow Creek, Cobb Valley, Snapfinger Manor and Westwind/ Mayfair homeowners associations. The group has hosted several cleanups along the corridors and scraped away thousands of pounds of gunk from around the Wesley Chapel median and along the curb on portions of Rainbow Drive. They also hauled off illegal signs and picked up trash. In a special project on June 16, the county’s Sanitation Department spent eight hours scraping away 1,500 pounds of built-up gook from a quarter-mile strip of curbs and median in front of the Wesley Chapel Library. The group was inspired by
Members of the Wesley Chapel Curb Appeal Task Force have cleaned medians and planted shrubs to improve the appearance of the roads in their community.
Jennifer Ffrench Parker / CrossRoadsNews
Kevin Chapman Jr. and his homeowners association at Snapfinger Manor. Its mission is to improve curb appeal through government and community collaboration. They adopted the Wesley Chapel Road ramps to I-20 in January and planted shrubs. During the hot summer months, they trucked water to the plants and have now expanded their efforts to the corner of Wesley Chapel and South Hairston Road. But Chapman says it’s been a tough battle. “It’s been frustrating and disappointing dealing with the county,” Chap- Kevin Chapman Jr. man said. “There are code violations and they are not enforcing them.” For example, Chapman says they have been trying for months to get the rusted “China Buffet” sign taken down from the Racetrac property at the corner of Wesley Chapel and Snapfinger Road.
Despite getting Code Enforcement tracking numbers 112604 and 112606, the sign is still in place. But Chapman said they are not giving up. The group is meeting on Jan. 17 in the community room at the Wesley Chapel Road Kroger at 6:30 p.m. On Jan. 19, residents will clean to the curb and remove weeds, illegal signs and debris from street gutters from 8:30 a.m. to noon. For 2013, Chapman said their priorities include: n Have the China Buffet sign torn down. n Get the NTB at 4373 Snapfinger Woods Drive to repair the peeling paint on its building. n Remove dead trees from the Wesley Chapel median and replace them with growing trees. n Plant shrubs in the medians on both sides of the Wesley Chapel overpass bridge. n Grow the task force and fundraising efforts. n Install water meters at the four corners of the I-20 bridge to maintain the shrubbery.
Chapman said that Commissioner Lee May donated $200 toward purchasing the shrubs. They still need $800 in cash or donations of plants to do the project. He said the plantings should be done by early spring before it gets hot. “If we want our area to be attractive, we have to invest in it,” Chapman said. “That’s what other communities do. We have more than enough people and business along the corridor. With the help of the county, we can really improve the area’s appearance.”
Want to help? The Wesley Chapel Curb Appeal Task Force is meeting on Jan. 17 at 6:30 p.m. Members will clean up the corridor on Jan. 19 between 8:30 a.m. and noon. The meeting will take place in the Kroger at 2385 Wesley Chapel in Decatur. The cleanup starts there as well. For more information, visit www.wesleychapelcurbappeal.com or call Kevin Chapman at 678-509-
Wiley Jackson, brother out on bond 2
Residents need county’s help to clean up corridors 4
South River’s reputation on the mend 7
Bishop Wiley Jackson and his brother, the Rev. Rodney Jackson, are out of jail after each posted $10,000 bonds.
During his 2012 re-election campaign, DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis famously rolled up his sleeves and shoved a shovel into a Glenwood Road sidewalk full of built-up gunk.
After years of being one of the state’s most reviled waterways, the South River became a playground of sorts for river advocates and the curious.
Free recycling lures more residents
Comrie hits ‘Jackpot’ with novel 8
CEO hosting inauguration at Saint Philip
DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis will begin his second term with a Unity Inauguration and Swearing-In Ceremony on Jan. 3 at Saint Philip AME Church in Atlanta.
School Board a passion despite cancer battle
When DeKalb School Board member Donna Edler rose to her feet to speak at a recent Georgia EPD hearing into an air quality permit for a controversial biomass facility in Lithonia, you could hear a pin drop.
Now that curbside recycling is free, DeKalb residents are embracing it. In the first three months since the $30 fee was eliminated, more than 6,400 new subscribers have signed up.
Construction set for Oakhurst site 7 Construction will begin in January on Oakhurst Medical Centers’ new $5 million health center and administration complex.
Lisa Comrie is parlaying a lifelong passion for writing into a three-part murder mystery series. The first in the series, “Jackpot: When Life Is at Risk,” was published Nov. 24.
New Life to show off Christian School at open house 9 Families seeking a Christian education for their children will be able to find one at New Life Christian Academy of Achievers next fall, even if they can’t afford to pay tuition.
index to advertisers
Circulation Audited By Achievers Learning Academy......................... 3 Arthur’s Contracting....................................... 11 Aviation Institute of Maintenance.................. 11 Beautiful Babes Hair Care for Children.......... 11 BJH Attorneys & Counselors at Law.............. 10 Brinkley Realty Group.....................................6 Centura College............................................ 10 Committee to Re-Elect Howard Mosby........... 5
DeKalb County School System....................... 11 Flat Shoals Foot & Ankle Center..................... 7 Hibachi Grill.................................................... 2 Jimmy Mickens............................................... 11 Johnny Harris CPA......................................... 11 L’Couture Fashion Lounge............................. 11 Malcolm Cunningham Auto Group................12 Mechanixx Corporation.................................. 11
My Alter Ego Boutique.................................. 11 North DeKalb Mall.......................................... 5 Oakhurst Medical Centers, Inc....................... 11 Padgett Business Services...............................6 Saint Philip AME Church................................. 7 Savannah State University...............................9 The Davis Bozeman Law Firm, P.C................ 10 The Law Office of B.A. Thomas.................... 10
The Spa at Stonecrest..................................... 7 The Spa Ladies............................................... 11 Top Level Real Estate..................................... 11 Wright Vision Care.......................................... 7 Best Buy Co. Inc......................................Inserts Walmart..................................................Inserts Walgreens...............................................Inserts
More than 6,400 new subscribers have signed up for curbside recycling since the DeKalb Board of Commissioners eliminated the $30 fee three months ago.
DeKalb County Georgia House Delegation
Rep. Stacey Abrams D-Atlanta
Rep. Elect Tonya Anderson D-Lithonia
Rep. Elect Karen Bennett D-Stone Mountain
Rep. Dee Dawkins-Haigler D-Lithonia
Rep. Karla Drenner D-Avondale Estates
Rep. Michele Henson D-Stone Mountain
Rep. Scott Holcomb D-Atlanta
Rep. Mike Jacobs R-Atlanta
Rep. Dar’shun Kendrick D-Lithonia
Rep. Rahn Mayo D-Decatur
Rep. Billy Mitchell D-Stone Mountain
Rep. Howard Mosby D-Atlanta
Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver D-Decatur
Rep. Pam Stephenson D-Atlanta
Rep. Tom Taylor R-Dunwoody
Rep. Ernest “Coach” Williams D-Avondale Estates
Free recycling lures more residents Now that curbside recycling is free, DeKalb residents are embracing it. In the first three months since the $30 fee was eliminated, more than 6,400 new subscribers have signed up. The county dropped the sign-up fee with a Sept. 26 vote from the Board of Commissioners. It is now seeking 40 percent participation of the 159,000 eligible households in the next four years. Through Dec. 20, 25 percent, or 41,231, of households were using curbside recycling, up from 34,800 when there was a fee. Billy Malone, director of the county’s Sanitation Division, said they are averaging 15.5 pounds of reusable materials each week. He is encouraging residents to take advantage of the free recycling Billy Malone service. “There are no more reasons not to participate anymore,” he said. “Everyone needs to do their part in recycling.”
December 29, 2012
Malone said that throwing away recyclable materials is a waste. “I hope more DeKalb County residents will add curbside recycling to their list of New Year’s resolutions,” he said in a Dec. 20 statement. The Sanitation Division has a comprehensive waste reduction plan and an aggressive goal to reduce landfill disposal of solid waste, increase recycling, and divert tonnage from the Seminole Road Landfill. Residents can sign up for blue recycling bins, bags and instructions at www.DeKalb Recycles.com. Once the application is received, Sanitation workers will deliver the bins, bags and information to subscribers. Residents also can stop by the Sanitation Division Administration Office at 3720 Leroy Scott Drive in Decatur to fill out the application form and take home the recycling materials. Additional bins or blue bags are available for $15. For more information, visit www.DeKalb Recycles.com, e-mail sansanitation@dekalb countyga.gov, or call 404-294-2900.
Invites you to two Legislative Town Hall Meetings to inform residents about the upcoming 2013 Legislative Session of the Georgia General Assembly. Tues., Jan. 8, 2013, 6:30 p.m. Thurs., Jan. 10, 2013, 6:00 p.m. Porter Sanford Center Agnes Scott College, Rebekah Scott Hall 3181 Rainbow Drive 141 East College Avenue Decatur, GA 30034 Decatur, GA 30030 For more information, call J.D. Easley at 404-656-0311
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December 29, 2012
“Applicants have to justify their projects while proving that they have enough local financial support.”
Would federal transit agencies fund an East Metro commuter line? RAIL,
Rail in South DeKalb
One possible arrangement is for a commuter rail line to operate from 7 to 9 in the morning and from 5 to 7 during the evening rush Monday through Friday as a way of To Augusta gauging rider support. “For commuter rail Lithonia to be introduced onto freight-exclusive tracks Map by GDOT Intermodal-Rail Programs requires that any pro- Gary Sease The rail line (blue) from Atlanta to Augusta goes through Decatur, Stone Mountain and Lithonia. posal provide no degradation in safety,” CSX spokesman Gary Sease said. The proposal also would have to provide “the ability to serve our customers today and to grow our business, proper liability protection with the additional risk of passengers on our rails, and compensation for the use of our private property.” “CSX has been part of the dialogue about commuter rail for many years, and we look forward to continuing the discussion about this important matter,” Sease said.
Studies support feasibility The advocacy group Georgia Rail Passenger Association says the feasibility of adding passenger service to existing freight lines has been studied since the late 1980s. It said the Georgia Department of Transportation conducted a study of commuter rail between 1993 and 1995. It said it worked on a Major Investment Study of commuter rail in the Athens-toAtlanta corridor. Those studies concluded that with infrastructure improvements, “it is feasible to add passenger service as exists in over a dozen U.S. cities.” In Lithonia, where a once-bustling rail station brought travelers to and through the city, Mayor Deborah Jackson said commuter rail also could spur commercial development in the tiny city’s Deborah Jackson depressed downtown. “It’s a fantastic idea,” said Jackson, who is from New York City and was accustomed to taking the train. The once prosperous town hit hard times in the 1950s with the decline of its granite mining industry. Jackson believes train service would be an ideal resource giving heritage tourists easy access to Lithonia’s historic sites. If the railroad concerns can be worked out, there’s still the matter of funds for pas-
The Decatur Depot had passenger rail service until 1988 (top photo). It has been vacant since 2010 (top left). Lithonia’s depot (above) was torn down for urban renewal. The Stone Mountain station (at left) will be repurposed.
senger rail cars, locomotives and an operating budget. In 2010, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was highly critical of then-Gov. Sonny Perdue at a transportation summit in Macon. Annoyed by the state’s slowness in raising matching funds for a high-speed rail project, LaHood said “Georgia needs to get its act together” on alternative modes of transit. More to the point, Washington wants Georgia to act on its own plans.
Join the conversation The list of long-proposed commuter rail The idea of commuter rail revolves includes Athens to Atlanta; Atlanta to Love- around the question of whether people are joy and Macon; Bremen to Atlanta; Canton committed individually. to Atlanta; and Gainesville to Atlanta. Are you willing to ditch your car a day or two per week in favor of alternative transCities across U.S. vie for grants portation? In 2008 after visiting commuter rail serLet us know your feelings at www.cross vices in Philadelphia and Chicago, a delega- roadsnews.com or at http://www.facebook tion of Georgia Department of Transporta.com/crossroadsnews, and most importantly, tion officials urged the state Legislature to call your state and local political leaders if pass a transit policy. you think commuter rail should be a priorPerdue backed the Lovejoy line and said ity.
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he wanted it to be pursued aggressively, but so far no line has been built. The Athens-to-Atlanta line, nicknamed the “Brain Train” because it would link 10 colleges and universities from Emory to the University of Georgia, would cost $383 million as determined by a 2005 estimate. The estimate includes construction, rail stations and rail cars. The Georgia Rail Passenger Program under the state DOT estimated the Athensto-Atlanta line would divert 1.8 million drivers from the highways by 2025. It projected as many as 8,000 people or more could use the system daily, removing 5,300 cars a day from already overtaxed roadways during peak travel times. Would an East Metro line have similar impact? And would the feds fund the project? Maybe. The Federal Transportation Administration, a funding agency in the U.S. Department of Transportation, says there has to be strong local support with a solid financial plan in place. It said money is available, but the application process is highly competitive with cities across the nation vying for grants. “Applicants have to justify their projects while proving that they have enough local financial support,” the Federal Transportation Administration said in a Dec. 21 e-mail responding to a reporter’s questions. U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, a Lithonia resident, agrees that commuter rail could bring benefits to South DeKalb, but he remembers the long, frustrating history of passenger rail projects in Georgia. His district includes portions of DeKalb, Rockdale and Newton counties. “Unless or until the state Legislature and Georgians decide that transit is as important a project as building more roads, Washington will continue funding projects in Charlotte and Austin that are making a much stronger commitment to rail,” Johnson said.
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December 29, 2012
“There are still issues. But if we stay vigilant, we can turn the South River into something to be proud of.”
South River’s reputation on the mend By Ken Watts
Oakhurst Medical broke ground for its new complex at 5582 Memorial Drive on Aug. 7.
Construction set for Oakhurst site Construction will begin in January on Oakhurst Medical Centers’ new $5 million health center and administration complex. “The building should be completed by the end of September 2013,” said Jeff Taylor, the center’s chief executive officer. The nonprofit, federally qualified medical center offers family medicine, pediatrics and ob/gyn services to underinsured and uninsured families. It broke ground on Aug. 7 on its new complex at 5582 Memorial Drive. The new one-story, 27,000-square-foot complex will double the size of Oakhurst’s current 13,500-square-foot facility on Village Drive and increase its exam rooms to 32 from 18. It is going up on the site of the former Ambiance Club and Restaurant. Oakhurst Medical operates centers on Village Drive in Stone Mountain; on Candler Road and on Covington and Memorial Drive in Decatur; and in Conyers.
After years of being one of the state’s most reviled waterways, the South River became a playground of sorts for river advocates and the curious. The South River Watershed Alliance took dozens of people on boat tours down the river, which runs 14 miles through South DeKalb, and 135 people went on its four Beyond the Bridge canoe trips. The South River tours pushed off from Panola Shoals at the intersection of Panola Road and Highway 155 to the Everett property at Panola Mountain State Park. The scenic trip covers up to six miles and includes a lunch. The trips were subsidized by the Patagonia Foundation and boaters were able to participate free of charge. Alliance President Jacqueline Echols said four trips are planned for 2013. For years, the South River was known as Georgia’s most polluted because of combined sewage overflows from the city of Atlanta and from DeKalb’s Snapfinger and Pole Creek wastewater treatment plants. Sewage spills caused by the dumping of fats and oils in the county’s drains and private dumping also plague the river. But Echols said Dec. 18 that the river is making steady progress because of a 1997 federal consent decree that requires Atlanta to limit the number of combined sewage overflows to an average of three or four per year. The decree followed a lawsuit by the Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper. A separate decree in 2010 from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division ordered DeKalb to eliminate sanitary sewer
The South River Watershed Alliance has taken dozens of people on boat tours and canoe trips. The river also is considered safe for tubing and catch/release fishing, but not for swimming.
overflows by 2020. In 2012, the South River Watershed Alliance conducted several cleanup efforts in the river. Volunteers and county employees helped clear debris and removed 100 tires during two Tire Round Up events. Kayaker and river enthusiast Richard Grove also pulled 621 tires from the river over five months. Grove, who works by himself, said the county supplied a trash bin and picked up and recycled the tires. Despite his efforts, Grove says that there are still thousands left in the river. “They were dumped during the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s,” he said. The alliance also worked with the county to install new signage identifying the South River at all nine bridge crossings in South DeKalb. It sponsored an Adopt-a-Stream workshop, a River Walk, and an environmental justice workshop and established a
partnership with Arabia Mountain High. There was encouraging news for the South River this past year. Kevin Farrell, the state EPD’s Watershed Assistant Branch chief, said that fecal coliform bacteria levels are declining, making the river less contaminated in 2012 than at any time in recent memory. Farrell said testing showed lower fecal coliform concentrations most months because of dry weather. Runoff from heavy rain usually causes a spike in harmful bacteria. Echols said they now consider the river safe for canoeing, tubing and catch/release fishing – but not for swimming. “There are still issues,” Echols said. “But if we stay vigilant, we can turn the South River into something to be proud of.” For more information, e-mail southriver email@example.com or call Echols at 404-285-3756.
Join us for
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Weekend
Jan. 19-20, 2013
Saturday, Jan. 19 Breakfast 9 a.m.
(No charge. Space is limited. Must make a reservation at 404-371-0749.)
Speaker: Bishop Walter Scott Thomas New Psalmist Baptist Church Baltimore, MD Sunday, Jan. 20 7:30 a.m. and 11 a.m. Worship Services Dr. Deforest “Buster” Soaries brings the message First Baptist Church of Lincoln Gardens Somerset, NJ Dr. Deforest Soaries
December 29, 2012
“Each person I encounter says the same thing, ‘I can’t wait for the next book. When is it coming out?’ ”
South DeKalb Rotarian rides to end polio Rotarians have been involved South DeKalb Rotarian Mark in the global fight against polio Davis rode 60 miles in November for 20 years. to help raise funds to eradicate New cases of the disease have polio. dropped to an all-time low. In Davis, who is director of Head 2012, there were fewer than 200 Start at the Partnership for Comworldwide. munity Action in Clarkston, was Only Afghanistan, Pakistan and one of more than 9,000 cyclists Nigeria remain polio-endemic. from around the world who Rotary International says a participated in the 30th annual $700 million funding shortfall El Tour de Tucson on Nov. 17 in for the Global Polio Eradication Arizona. Initiative threatens to impede Davis finished the ride in four progress against the disease. hours and 45 minutes and raised The initiative also includes more than $1,500 with support the World Health Organization, from his Rotary Club members UNICEF, the national Centers for and other Rotarians in Rotary Disease Control and Prevention, District 6900. Mark Davis was one of 9,000 cyclists from around the world who the Bill and Melinda Gates FounHe said it was a unique and participated in the bike ride to raise funds to eradicate polio. dation, and governments around incredible experience. the world. “I met people from all walks of life,” he said. For more information about the End Polio Now campaign, visit Cyclists completed distances of 42, 60, 85 and 111 miles and www.endpolio.org. raised more than $400,000.
Comrie hits ‘Jackpot’ with novel Lisa Comrie is parlaying a lifelong passion for writing into a threepart murder mystery series. The first in the series, “Jackpot: When Life Is at Risk,” was published Nov. 24 with characters drawn from the people she has met in everyday life. Comrie, a 17-year DeKalb County government employee, says the whodunit novel, set in New York City, will take readers on an intriguing journey of people facing everyday challenges. She said audiences are loving the book. Lisa Comrie “I am truly blessed,” said Comrie, who lives in Henry County. “Each person I encounter says the same thing, ‘I can’t wait for the next book. When is it coming out?’ ” “Jackpot: When Life Is at Risk” is available on Amazon.com, the Apple iBookstore and other eBook retailers. For more information, visit www.lisamcomrie.com.
Lithonia church adds new service Union Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia is going to two Sunday worship services effective Jan. 6. The Rev. C. André Grier will offer an 8 a.m. and an 11 a.m. service on the first Sunday of the month. The theme is “New Year, New Church, New You.” The church is at 2470 Bruce St. in Lithonia. For more information, visit unionmissionarybaptist.org or call the church administrator, Velzie Martin, at 770-482-7088.
Jubilee marks Emancipation Proclamation Descendants of slaves, history buffs and activists can join the sesquicentennial anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation at the DeKalb NAACP’s annual Jubilee Day Celebration on Jan. 1 at Rainbow Park Baptist Church in Decatur. Derrick Alexander Pope, a lawyer and author, will be the featured speaker. The program begins at 10:30 a.m. Pope is chairman Derrick Pope of the Pope Law Cos. International, a public interest legal collaborative; an adjunct professor of law at Georgia State University College of Law; and author of “By the Content of Our Character: A Declaration of Independence for Colored Folks, Negroes, Black People, and African-Americans” and “Thy Will Be Done: An African-American Guide to Estate Planning.” The DeKalb NAACP marks the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation annually with a Jubilee Day Celebration. The proclamation, which was issued by President Abraham Lincoln as the Civil War raged, became effective on Jan. 1, 1863, freeing slaves in all territory still at war with the Union, although slaves in Texas did not learn about their freedom until “Juneteenth” 1863. Rainbow Park Baptist Church is at 2941 Columbia Drive. For more information, visit www.dekalbganaacp.org, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 404-241-8006.
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• 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).
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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.)
December 29, 2012
Harris said the academy will accommodate a mix of tuition-paying students and those on scholarships.
New Life Baptist to show off Christian School at open house By Jennifer Ffrench Parker
Families seeking a Christian education for their children will be able to find one at New Life Christian Academy of Achievers next fall, even if they can’t afford to pay tuition. The Rev. Marlin Harris, pastor of New Life Baptist Church in Decatur, said the church is acquiring the 2-year-old Achievers Academy ef- Marlin Harris fective Jan. 1 and will launch its academy in August for the 2013-2014 school year. The school, which can accommodate up to 140 students, will serve kindergarten through eighth grade. Harris said the academy will accommodate a mix of tuition-paying students and those on partial and full scholarships provided by church members through their tithes and offerings. “This will be a school for children of all socio-economic groups,” Harris said. “Our school is a school where underprivileged
New Life is holding an open house on Jan. 5 to introduce the school to the community. It will launch its academy in August for the 2013-2014 school year.
families can send their children.” Families will pay on a sliding scale based on their income to attend the school, which is accredited by the Georgia Accrediting Commission. To introduce the school to the community, the church is hosting an open house on Jan. 5 so that parents can meet and speak
with teachers, review the curriculum, and explore the school’s academic history in preparation for fall enrollment. Harris said having a school is a 10-year dream of the church and that when the opportunity presented itself, the church jumped at it. “There is a need for private Christian
education for everyone,” he said. “One of the purposes of the church is to leverage resources to help poor families.” New Life already offers a range of services for adults, including GED, SAT prep, and job training. Harris said a missing link was services for children, which the school will fill. “It’s been our vision to do it for 10 years,” he said. “It just kept pressing on us.” Achievers Academy, which was cofounded by Justina Jenkins, has been located on New Life’s Flat Shoals Road campus since 2011. It currently has 80 students. Harris said no specific goals have been set for fall 2013 but that they expect to grow enrollment. “We will see how many students enroll,” he said. Harris said the school will serve the metro Atlanta community, and families do not have to be members of his church to send their kids there. “If you can get your kids to the school, we will serve you,” he said. The open house takes place 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 3592 Flat Shoals Road. For more information, e-mail info@achievers learning.org.
Middle and high school students win top prizes in judge’s art contest By Stormy Kage
Columbia Middle and Columbia High students won the grand prizes in State Court Judge Eleanor Ross’ Division V Art Challenge Contest and were honored along with all of the contestants at a Dec. 17 reception in the DeKalb County Judicial Tower. Yalista Warren, a Columbia Middle School eighth-grader, won the middle school grand prize for her painting “The Majestic Sits and Waits,” and Columbia High sophomore Ahmonza Gwynn won the high school grand prize with his sketch “The Encounter.” The two students topped a field of 36 entries from 13 middle and high schools in the second annual contest, held Sept. 24 to Nov. 5. Ross launched the contest in 2011 for paintings, drawings, photography, collages and sculptures to help students showcase their artistic talents in the face of cutbacks in art programs in DeKalb Schools. Eleanor Ross It is co-sponsored by Stuart Shapiro and Binders Art Supplies and Frames. About 50 parents, teachers and supporters attended the reception for the emerging young artists inside Ross’ courtroom. The grand prize winners received $100 gift cards and certificates. First-, second- and third-place winners got $50, $25 and $15 gift cards respectively. All entries will hang for a year in the Division V chambers and jury room. Ross said that jurors, court staff and the public have enjoyed the art exhibition. “They are amazed at the talent,” she said. Yalista, who is 13, has been painting for only two years. She says she specializes in painting houses, but for the competition, she wanted to do something different and painted a tiger sitting peacefully in the forest. Yalista, who lives in Decatur, said the painting took her out of her comfort zone. “I worked on it one hour every day for three weeks,” she said. Ahmonza, who is in the 10th grade at Columbia High, says he has been drawing since he was 2 years old. Drawing “mythical things” is his passion. Roscoe Jackson, his art teacher, applauds his talent.
Grove Middle’s TyJanai Jackson, who placed first; Jacques Davis from Columbia Middle who placed second; and Ousame Gaye from Chamblee Middle who placed third. In the high school contest, Yazmine Lowe of Lithonia High won first place; Zach Ho of Chamblee Charter High won second place; and Leon Tran of Cross Keys High won third
Columbia High School sophomore Ahmonza Gwynn won a grand prize for his sketch “The Encounter.” He has been drawing since age 2.
Yalista Warren of Columbia Middle School won a grand prize for “The Majestic Sits and Waits.”
“He is very good at figure drawing and getting the proportions right,” Jackson said. “He draws very easily.” Other middle school winners are Miller
place. Elizabeth Epps, DeKalb Schools Visual and Performing Arts coordinator, helped judge the contest for the second time and was very impressed with the talent she saw. “It’s just wonderful,” Epps said. “I strongly believe that arts are a foundation for learning in other content areas.”
December 29, 2012
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December 29, 2012
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JOHNNY HARRIS, CPA PC M E C H A N
public notice Health Resources and Services Administration NOTICE TO THE PUBLIC OF FINDING OF NO SIGNIFICANT IMPACT for Oakhurst Medical Centers In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act, the Council on Environmental Quality regulations for implementing NEPA (44 CFR Parts 1500 through 1508) and the HHS General Administration Manual Part 30 Environmental Protection (February 25, 2000), HRSA has determined that Oakhurst Medical Center proposed by Oakhurst Medical Centers, Inc. will have no significant adverse impact on the quality of the human environment. As a result of this FONSI, an Environmental Impact Statement will not be prepared. The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) provides discretionary grant and cooperative agreement awards to support health centers expand their capacity to provide primary and preventive health care services to medically underserved populations nationwide. Oakhurst Medical Centers, Inc. in Stone Mountain, Georgia has applied for HRSA grant funding. The applicant proposes to use grant funds to demolish an 11,000 square foot structure and associated site improvements, then construct a 24,000 square foot facility at 5582 Memorial Drive, Stone Mountain, Georgia. The applicant has submitted an Environmental Assessment (EA) that documents impacts of the proposed action. This EA is incorporated by reference into this FONSI. Additional project information is contained in the Environmental Assessment for this project, which is on file at the following address for public examination upon request between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., Monday through Friday. Oakhurst Medical Centers 770 Village Square Drive Stone Mountain, GA 30083 Attn: Jeff Taylor Phone: 404-298-3250 No further environmental review of this project is proposed prior to final approval from HRSA.
Public Comments Any individual, group, or agency disagreeing with this determination or wishing to comment on these projects may submit written comments to the Jeff Taylor, CEO, at the above referenced address. HRSA will consider all comments received within 15 days of this “Notice” prior to final approval from HRSA.
December 29, 2012
The Malcolm Cunningham Auto Group Wishes You… 2012 is coming to a close. This is OFFERS EXPIRE your last chance for these deals! 12/31/2012
MANAGER’S SERVICE SPECIAL
New 2012 Ford
SPECIAL! 95 $
You Spend 100 And We Take ............. 20 OFF! You Spend $200 And We Take ............. $40 OFF! You Spend $300 And We Take ............. $60 OFF! You Spend $400 And We Take ............. $80 OFF! You Spend $500 Or More And We Take $100 OFF! $
SATURDAY & MONDAY ONLY.
Cannot be combined with any other discounts, promotions or coupons. Must present this offer to Advisor at time of write up. Expires 1/31/2013.
21,169 $ 12,500 OFF MSRP MSRP $33,669 - $5500 Factory Rebate - $7000 Malcolm Cunningham Discount = SALE PRICE
All New 2013 Ford
IMPROVE YOUR FUEL MILEAGE
2 WHEEL ALIGNMENTS LIMITED TIME OFFER Regularly
Valvoline Fuel System Service cleans injectors to improve fuel delivery efficiency, removes carbon deposits from intake valves and combustion chambers and cleans the Throttle Body and Air Intake System. This Process reduces tip in hesitation and improves throttle response.
Cannot be combined with any other discounts, promotions or coupons. Must present this offer to Advisor at time of write up. Expires 1/31/2013.
FREE TIRE ROTATION!
LIMITED TIME OFFER $
WE CAN HELP!
Cannot be combined with any other discounts, promotions or coupons. Must present this offer to Advisor at time of write up. Expires 1/31/2013.
No Purchase Necessary!
2003 Nissan Frontier SE
MSRP $20,884 - $2601 Factory Rebate - $2395 Malcolm Cunningham Discount = SALE PRICE
2010 Kia Forte
New 2012 Ford
2010 Toyota Yaris
2009 Honda Civic
Gas Saver & Pocket Saver
Automatic, Gas Saver
2010 Ford Fusion
2006 BMW X3
Auto, Sport Wheels, Nice
MSRP $19,404 - $3516 Factory Rebate - $2000 Malcolm Cunningham Discount = SALE PRICE
23,234 $ 7500 OFF MSRP $
MSRP $30,734 - $4000 Factory Rebate - $3500 Malcolm Cunningham Discount = SALE PRICE t’s
Prices plus tax, tag, title, with approved credit. Includes all factory rebates. See dealer for complete details. Expires 12/31/2012.
2011 Ford Escape
Certified Up To 100K Warranty Included
2012 Volkswagen CC
2004 Mercedes-Benz CL500 Sporty Luxury
2004 TOYOTA SEQUIA SR5
P/W, P/L, Custom Wheels, CD, STK#A3041 ....................
2006 DODGE GRAND CARAVAN
7995 $ Luxury Ride, STK#A3142 ........................................ 14,995 2010 TOYOTA CAMRY $ P/W, P/L, Low Miles! STK#A3171 .............................. 14,995 2008 LEXUS ES 350 $ Smooth, Luxury Ride, Low Price, STK#A3026 ........... 20,995 2009 BMW 328 Xi $ Like New, Only 25K Miles, Sporty! STK#A3020.......... 21,995 Family Fun, STK#A3176 .............................................
2005 BMW X5
Smooth Ride, Like New
2009 TOYOTA VENZA
2010 ACURA TL
2008 TOYOTA 4RUNNER LIMITED
2009 VOLVO XC70
Family Fun, Smooth Ride, Looks Great, STK#A3076 .. Tech Package & More, STK#A3118 ..........................
23,995 Cross Country Rider All Terrain, STK#A3131 ......... 23,995 2007 MERCEDES-BENZ GL450 $ Family Luxury, Nav, Reverse Camera, STK#A3147 ... 25,995 2011 FORD EXPLORER $ Navigation, Leather, Sunroof, STK#A3156 ................ 27,995 Nav, Rear Entertainment & More! STK#A3110 ......
Prices plus tax, tag, title, with approved credit. Offers expire 12/31/2012.
YOUR FIRST, LAST AND ONLY STOP!
WE NOW RENT
5675 Peachtree Industrial Blvd www.MalcolmCunninghamFord.com
A Division of Malcolm Cunningham Ford
. 7 70 987.9000 I-20, Exit Wesley Chapel • To Snapfinger Woods Drive Sales Hours: Mon-Sat 9am-8pm • Closed Sunday
4C (10.5”) × 16” 36823-MCAQ (12-29) Crossroads FC (gc)
2012 Ford Focus
All Remaining 2012 Ford
Sport Package, Gas Saver