Eugene “Gene” Walker (right) was among supporters who helped DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis launch his re-election campaign. 5
A modern adaptation of “The Canterbury Tales” will be staged at Georgia Perimeter College’s Clarkston campus. 7
The ban on marching band activities in the DeKalb County School System has been lifted, but the investigation into alleged hazing and abuse continues. 9
On board the Ellis train
Classic brought to life
And the bands play on
EAST ATLANTA • DECATUR • STONE MOUNTAIN • LITHONIA • AVONDALE ESTATES • CLARKSTON • ELLENWOOD • PINE LAKE • REDAN • SCOTTDALE • TUCKER
January 28, 2012
Copyright © 2012 CrossRoadsNews, Inc.
Volume 17, Number 39
Ambassador force learns ins and outs of code compliance By Jennifer Ffrench Parker
Jennifer Ffrench Parker / CrossRoadsNews
Kevin Taylor of Lithonia was one of 34 code compliance ambassador volunteers attending the inugural class on Jan. 23.
When the first training session for the inaugural DeKalb Code Compliance Neighborhood Ambassador Program kicked off on Monday, the class was packed with residents who want to improve their neighborhoods. Among them were four ardent advocates for code enforcement – Joe Arrington of Les Chateaux Homeowners Association in Stone Mountain, Joel Edwards and Charles Peagler of Kings Ridge Homeowners Association in Decatur, and Gil Turman of the South DeKalb Neighborhoods Coalition. The men, who are also members of the county’s Advisory Code Compliance
Board, were among the 34 representatives from 29 civic and homeowners associations countywide taking the four hours of training. Edwards and Peagler said they joined the class to experience the training firsthand and see how it will work. “This is the stuff we have been talking about,” Peagler said. Edwards said they expect to see tangible results in about 90 days. “If it’s not done, we will be back to complaining,” he said. “We are not going to let it fail.” The ambassador program is training volunteers to be the eyes and ears of the county’s 25-member code compliance force in their neighborhoods.
Kevin Taylor of the Eagles Ridge Homeowners Association in Lithonia said he is glad that the county is getting residents involved. “I just hope that we approach it with the right attitude,” he said. Taylor, who moved to the county in 2003, said that he has noticed code deterioration since he has lived here. Three years ago, he began volunteering with Keep DeKalb Beautiful and said he jumped at the opportunity to be a code ambassador. “I think code compliance is very important and I am glad the county is finally doing something,” he said. Please see AMBASSADORS, page 3
Tougher Vicious Dog Laws Proposed Sgt. Tim Medlin of DeKalb Animal Services and Enforcement spends time with a pit bull at the county facility. DeKalb’s zoning ordinance does not ban pit bulls, officials say.
Mauling of girl in Lithonia spurs task force, bills By Donna Williams Lewis
Moved by the plight of 10-year-old Erin Ingram, who lost part of an arm after being attacked by two pit bulls, lawmakers are looking to revamp the state’s animal laws. State Rep. Earnest “Coach” Williams (DStone Mountain) hopes to see it become a felony to own a dog that has attacked someone. “We need to put some teeth into some legislation that will make the owners Earnest Williams of these breeds aware of their responsibilities and to make sure that the public doesn’t have to be confronted by these animals,” Williams said. An animal cruelty bill by House Judiciary Chairman Wendell Willard (R-Sandy Springs), House Bill 440, could be amended to address dangerous and vicious dogs. Retired veterinarian Gene Maddox (RCairo) has sponsored two bills, House Bill 148 and House Bill 685, which seek to clarify definition and punishment. DeKalb County code defines a dangerous dog as one that has committed an unprovoked attack or severe mauling.
Carla Parker / CrossRoadsNews
A community task force created by county officials has been meeting across DeKalb to address animal ordinances and the county’s Animal Services and Enforcement facility (formerly known as Animal Control). District 3 Commissioner Larry Johnson said lawmakers need to make sure that they err on the side of caution in any legislation that they pursue. “We’ve got to make sure that we don’t put people at risk like this young lady was put at risk,” he said. The common villain in every dangerous dog discussion is the pit bull. Pit bulls that were unprovoked attacked Erin on March 9, 2010, in front of her Lithonia home. However, there is no such breed as a pit bull.
The term is a catchall to categorize dogs that include bulldog and terrier mixes, such as the American pit bull terrier, the American Staffordshire terrier, the Staffordshire bull terrier and the bull terrier. While some think pit bulls were banned in DeKalb, Kathy Mooneyham, director of Animal Services, says that’s not true. “We don’t have a pit bull ban,” Mooneyham said. DeKalb’s zoning or- Kathy Mooneyham dinance says pit bulls “are not considered household pets,” she said, but it does not ban them from the county.
However, what this does mean is that any pit bull that goes into Animal Control is not going back out for adoption, unless it’s one of the rare few that make it into the hands of a rescue group or to a person who does not live in DeKalb County. Ashley Derrick is founder and president of a local pit bull mix rescue and education network called the Atlanta Responsibully Coalition (www.responsibully.com). She said she is completely in favor of a ban against aggressive dogs but doesn’t believe specific breeds should be targeted. Animal Services officers say the same thing. The problem is not any one particular Please see DOGS, page 2
January 28, 2012
“If they don’t socialize them, don’t spay and neuter them, the animal’s natural prey drive is built up.”
Activists oppose ban on specific breeds, take owners to task DOGS,
breed of dog, they say, but rather irresponsible dog owners. People play a part in their dogs’ behavior, said Kevin Hearst, a field supervisor for Animal Services. “If they don’t socialize them, don’t spay and neuter them, the animal’s natural prey drive is built up,” he says. Hearst said banning specific animals doesn’t work and that enforcement requires “incredible manpower.” He said banning a breed would make it infamous and lead to people saying, ‘I got to have one.’ ” Pit bulls have become a symbol, a “macho dog,” Hearst said. Derrick, who owns two pit bull mixes she rescued from DeKalb Animal Services, said that wasn’t always so and that pit bulls were once considered “nanny dogs.” They are seen in old photos of wealthy white families, she said, adding that blind and deaf author, political activist and lecturer Helen Keller owned one. Now the dogs are prized as fighting machines and seen by many as a way to make a quick buck, she said. “Unfortunately, they are the most overbred dog in Georgia, possibly in the U.S.,” Derrick said. Animal Services gets about 8,000 dogs a year that are surrendered or picked up as strays or cruelty and bite cases. In 2011, about one in four of them was classified as a pit bull. On a recent Wednesday at 10 a.m., Animal Services was full, as usual, to capacity. Meanwhile, seven dogs sat in cages in a processing area waiting to be moved into the main kennel. All of them were pit bulls. Pit bulls can only be housed one to a cage and all dogs impounded for criminal reasons must be held until court cases come up. One pit bull in a cruelty case has been in a cage at Animal Control since February 2010. The court case ended two months ago, but Sgt. Tim Medlin is trying to hold on to the dog, hoping he can be rescued. Hearst estimates that 75 percent to 80 percent of the pit bulls who come in are “great dogs,” but all of them pay for what he calls their “dark history.”
Responsible pet ownership DeKalb’s Animal Services officers are available to present responsible pet ownership classes at community meetings and other gatherings. Field Supervisor Kevin Hearst offered the following advice to pet owners and people concerned about others’ animals: n Be a responsible pet owner. Have your animal properly vaccinated and registered with the county, spayed or neutered, and securely enclosed on your property. n If you have a problem with a neighbor’s animal, try talking to them about it before calling Animal Services. n Report cruelty violations. Include an address. n If you see a stray dog, report it to Animal Services at 404-294-2996. Give as much information as you can about the dog and its location. n If you encounter a stray animal that scares you, remain still. To run or scream will inflame the animal’s instinct to go after prey. Avoid eye contact with the animal because it will be seen as threatening. Carla Parker / CrossRoadsNews
Larry Russell, who owns two county-registered American bulldogs to protect his elderly mother, said his dogs are friendly because he treats them right, regularly taking them out for walks.
Larry Russell was out on Candler Road on a briskly cold afternoon last week, walking his two brown and white dogs, Rip and Chopper. Russell said the dogs are “American bulldogs,” county-registered, inside dogs who protect his 82-year-old mother. Russell’s dogs looked somewhat menacing because of their stocky build but were friendly toward two women talking to their master. Their master said that’s because he treats his dogs right. For example, Russell said, “I walk my dogs every day.” In the Lithonia mauling case, Erin’s injuries were so extensive that doctors amputated a portion of her left arm to save her life. Twyann Vaughn, owner of the dogs that
attacked Erin, is serving a 16-month sentence for the mauling. A DeKalb State Court jury convicted her on Jan. 6 of two counts each of reckless conduct, violation of the county’s vicious dog ordinance, and failure to have the dogs immunized for rabies. Vaughn faced a maximum penalty of five years in prison for the misdemeanor charges, DeKalb Solicitor General Sherry Boston said she chose to personally prosecute the case “because I felt so strongly about the facts of the case and that the defendant was criminally liable for the dogs living in her home.” “Erin’s case has brought a lot of attention across Atlanta, but reckless dog owners live everywhere,” Boston said. “I would welcome
an opportunity to testify before lawmakers who are considering strengthening the state’s vicious dog laws.” She said that toughening vicious dog and animal cruelty laws doesn’t just protect vulnerable, Sherry Boston defenseless pets. “It also protects human victims like Erin Ingram and countless others,” Boston said. “Further, when animals in a home are abused or neglected, it is a warning sign that others in the household may not be safe.”
Want to learn more? For photos of some of the animals available for adoption and information on how to take one of them home, visit www.dekalbcounty animalservices.com.
January 28, 2012
“It’s a way to get more people looking, and more people doing. We have to keep the train on the track to a cleaner DeKalb County.”
Town hall on hot-button issues
MARTA seeks input on route changes
DeKalb citizens can get more information about the dangers of cell towers on school properties, the hazards of biomass gasification, and clean energy alternatives at an urgent town hall meeting on Feb. 11 in Clarkston. The 1-to-3 p.m. meeting will be held at the Conference Center on the campus of Georgia Piedmont Technical College. It is co-hosted by Citizens for a Healthy and Safe Environment in partnership with No Briarlake Tower LLC, the Green Party of DeKalb County, DeKalb County NAACP, and other concerned environmental and
MARTA riders who missed a Jan. 24 public hearing can still comment on proposed bus service modifications at www.itsmarta.com. The transit authority is seeking to modify five bus routes, including routes 86 (Fairington Road/McAfee Road) and 115 (Covington Highway/South Hairston Road). The changes will be implemented on April 24. On Route 86, MARTA wants to make permanent the temporary rerouting that began on Dec. 17 because of the closure of the Evans Mill Parkand-Ride lot. Under the change, from Evans Mill Road and Mall Parkway, Route 86 will continue along Mall Parkway, make a left at Stonecrest Trace, and a left at Mall Loop Road to the bus shelter at Mall at Stonecrest, its new terminus. The segment of the route along Millwood Lane
neighborhood association groups. CHASE, a grass-roots community organization, was formed in 2011 by a coalition of residents who were fighting a biomass incinerator in Lithonia. It sued DeKalb commissioners for granting the permit for the facility after they had signed a contract with the developers, Green Energy Partners. CHASE also has joined the fight against the placement of cell phone towers on DeKalb County school properties. Georgia Piedmont is at 495 N. Indian Creek Drive. For more information, contact Dr. Darren Harper at firstname.lastname@example.org or Janice Harper at email@example.com.
will be discontinued. On Route 115, the rerouting begun Dec. 17 due to the closure of the Evans Mill Park-and-Ride lot is proposed to become the permanent routing. From Covington Highway and Evans Mill, Route 115 will operate via a left onto Evans Mill, continue on Main Street, a left onto Max Cleland Boulevard and a right onto Swift Street to Main Street, which will become the new terminus. The segment of Evans Mill south of Covington Highway, Mall Parkway and Millwood Lane will be discontinued. Final changes will be recommended based on customer feedback as well as MARTA’s service analysis. Copies of the proposed changes are available at its Office of External Affairs, 2424 Piedmont Road N.E. in Atlanta, and on the Web site.
Volunteers empowered to remove illegal signs in county rights of way AMBASSADORS,
Edwards said that aggressive code compliance will bring neighborhoods in compliance and uplift the county, but he said a lot of residents are unaware of the codes and what are violations. “That’s why we are asking the county to include the codes in the water bills that go to everyone,” he said. “They do it for the sanitation schedule and should be able to do it for code compliance..” The “Code Compliance 101” training was split over two days on Tuesday and Thursday. It offered an overview of code compliance, violations and ordinances and covered the qualifications, duties and responsibilities of the ambassadors. At their first session, trainees explored examples of code violations like parking on unpaved surfaces; inoperable, unregistered and unlicensed vehicles parked in driveways;
high weeds and grass; illegal signs in the public rights of way; commercial and business vehicles in residential areas; and open storage of trash and debris. The ambassadors, will work at no cost to the county. They must pass a criminal background test and do a ride-along with a DeKalb County code compliance officer. Before attending their graduation ceremony, they will visit the DeKalb Recorders Court which tries code violators cases. Volunteers can file complaints anonymously by telephone or on the county’s Web site. Ward Silver, the code compliance officer who led Tuesday’s training, said the department will respond to complaints within 10 days. He encouraged the ambassadors to get to know the officers over their areas. “Build a relationship with your officer,” he said.
Andrew Baker, the county’s “We are excited about you beassociate director of Planning and ing here and where you are going Sustainability, which manages code to take it,” he told them. “Our compliance, told the trainees that overarching goal is to make DeKalb the county will be able to measure County better.” progress because it knows how Betteye Davis from the CEO’s many complaints it now has and One DeKalb Office said they already will track the complaints filed by have a waiting list of 15 people for volunteers. the next training class, scheduled Andrew Baker “If we get slammed with lots of for April 23 and April 26. complaints, I encourage you to come with Peagler of the Kings Ridge subdivision me to the Board of Commissioners to ask for said the volunteer ambassador force is a more code compliance officers,” he said. way to get more people involved in their Code compliance ambassadors must be neighborhoods. law-abiding citizens who are 21 years and “It’s a way to get more people looking, older. and more people doing,” he said. “We have They will assist county employees by re- to keep the train on the track to a cleaner porting code violations. They are empowered DeKalb County.” to remove illegal signs within county right of Applications for the program are availways but cannot write citations. able at www.onedekalb.com. For more DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis stopped by the information, call Stephen Haynes at 404class to welcome the trainees. 371-2038.
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January 28, 2012
“I love Dr. King and I am a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.; however, I have a responsibility as a father to leave a legacy for my children.”
Homeowner opposes bid to rename Snapfinger By Henry M. Carter
I live in the Eagles Ridge subdivision on Snapfinger Road. I oppose the renaming of Snapfinger to Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway [CrossRoadsNews, Jan. 21 issue]. The National Realtor Association, in an article released by AOL on Jan. 17, did a survey on the property value of homes on streets renamed MLK and found that there was a 12.5 percent decrease in value because many MLK streets are in economically challenged communities and hold a negative
I have a responsibility as a father to leave a legacy for my children. That legacy consists of leaving a home that has value and renaming the street after Dr. Martin Luther King will put that value in jeopardy. perception. I love Dr. King and I am a proud member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc.; however, I have a responsibility as a father to leave a legacy for my children. That legacy consists of leaving a home that has value and renaming the street after King will put that value in
jeopardy. I feel that the street running through downtown Stone Mountain beginning at Stephenson would be more symbolic location because Dr. King mentioned Stone Mountain in his “I Have a Dream” speech, and it used to be the state headquarters for the Ku
Klux Klan. There are better ways to continue the dream of Dr. King. On Snapfinger Road we have Martin Luther King High School and we are proud of that school. It would be more meaningful to provide an MLK scholarship to the students at the high school. I believe Sen. Ronald Ramsey should host a town hall meeting to get the sentiments of residents of the subdivisions along Snapfinger Road. Henry M. Carter lives in Lithonia.
Hate groups’ goal: Make Obama a one-term president As we celebrated the election of the first African-American president of the United States in 2008, various hate groups began to surface because the White House no longer had white people in it. President [Barack] Obama was now the president of the United States. Although he was a Harvard graduate, lawyer and senator, it still was not good enough for the racists and bigots who immediately began attacking his character and integrity. First, he was attacked by racist and drugged-out talk radio personalities that spewed racist messages on a daily basis. They poisoned people’s minds with a lot of halftruths and innuendos.
Many of the hate groups are saying, “We are going to take back OUR White House and OUR country.” Well, I have news for you. I, like many other decent and honest Americans, am part of this country also. We work, pay taxes, but most of all, we VOTE! Arnold Butler
Next, various right-wing conservative zealots on Fox News began to question Obama’s birth certificate, former church, former pastor, and past acquaintances. The intent was to destroy his character in the minds of all those that were ignorant and weak-minded enough to listen. Finally, there is the so-called Tea
Party. These people are the worst. They will stop at nothing to have their way. Just as the KKK formed when slaves were emancipated, the Tea Party came on the scene when it became inevitable that we would have a black president. They immediately began funding and selecting candidates to run for office
to block everything that Obama introduced. They are responsible for all the turmoil that went on in Washington for the past three years. They are filled with so much hate until they don’t have enough sense to realize that what affects us (blacks) affects them also. Their only goal is to make Obama a oneterm president. Finally, many of the hate groups are saying, “We are going to take back OUR White House and OUR country.” Well, I have news for you. I, like many other decent and honest Americans, am part of this country also. We work, pay taxes, but most of all, we VOTE! Arnold Butler blogs at www .crossroadsnews.com.
Watson’s Cabinet breakfast Officer fired in theft case Mike “Stinger” Glenn of EPA Region 4 Adthe Mike Glenn Foundam i n i s t r a tor G wen tion; and Sarah Balog, Keyes Fleming is the government relations difeatured speaker at rector of the American Commissioner Stan Heart Association. Watson’s DeKalb LegWatson said it is imislative Community portant to provide an Cabinet Breakfast on opportunity for citizens Feb. 4. G. Keyes Fleming to talk to and hear from The 9-to-11 a.m. meeting takes place at Chapel elected officials about issues that Hill Middle School in Decatur. affect them. Chapel Hill Middle is at 3535 Speakers include South Precinct Public Education Specialist Dogwood Farms Road. For more Sheila O’Rear and Capt. Voss; information, call 404-371-3681.
Mauling of girlin Lithonia spurstask force, bills
Moved by the plight of 10-year-old Erin Ingram, who lost part of an arm after being attacked by two pit bulls, lawmakers are looking to revamp the state’s animal laws.
Supporters give thumbs-up to president’s blueprint 5
call at his Lithonia home DeKalb Officer Ghayth on Jan. 23. Police spokesAbdul-Mughnee has been woman Mekka Parish said fired for allegedly stealing during the investigation, from people he arrested. allegations surfaced about The Police Departthe officer’s engagement ment said Thursday that in illegal actions. Abdul-Mughnee, 30, who “A criminal probe was has been with the departlaunched and detectives ment for four years, was G. Abdul-Mughnee later recovered evidence arrested on Jan. 25 on a warrant charging him with theft at the home about his involvement by taking, possession of marijuana in theft activities,” Parish said. His girlfriend, Shawnta White, and violation of his oath of office. The probe began after officers 34, also was arrested. She faces responded to a domestic dispute charges in the domestic dispute.
BestBuy offers $1,000 scholarships
High school students have until Feb. 15 to apply for $1,000 scholarships from the Best Buy Scholarship Program.
Ellenwood woman to lead energy group
Bands back in business after suspension ends
DeKalb Schools’ ban on marching band activity has been lifted.Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson lifted the suspension on marching band activities on Jan. 18.
Churches holding joint Sunday service 9
For President Barack Obama’s third State of the Union Address, a number of local supporters gathered to watch his speech.
DeKalb County resident Cherryl M. Harris has been named president of the Atlanta Chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy.
Lithonia school collecting shoes for Liberians
‘Canterbury Tales’ for GPC stage 7
Child sex abuse victims can “Speak Up” now 9
A modern adaptation of Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” will be onstage at Georgia Perimeter’s Clarkston Campus.
Victims of child sexual abuse now have a place to report and speak up with the launch of the “Speak Up” campaign.
Lithonia Middle School and its PTSA are joining the mission to send thousands of shoes to children and adults in Africa.
The Rev. Kerwin Lee will be the featured preacher at the “Churches Coming Together” service at Fairfield Baptist Church.
index to advertisers 2012 Health, Wellness & Beauty Expo...........12 Beulah Baptist Church....................................9 BJH Attorneys & Counselors at Law.............. 10 Bobby L. Scott & Associates.......................... 10 Comfort Suites Northlake................................6 DeKalb County School System........................ 8
Ella’s Caring Hands Adult Day Care............... 11 F.I.E.R.C.E. Dance Team................................ 10 Gwinnett Federal Credit Union.......................6 Henry Mitchell, CPA, PC................................ 10 LaHair Café.................................................... 11 Saint Philip AME Church.................................9
South DeKalb YMCA...................................... 11 Spencer Hutchinson....................................... 11 SWH Apparel................................................. 11 The Herb Lady............................................... 11 The Law Office of B.A. Thomas.................... 10
Walmart.......................................................... 3 Word Church International............................ 11 Best Buy Co. Inc......................................Inserts Holistic Health Management Inc. . .........Inserts Walgreens...............................................Inserts
January 28, 2012
“There is a real need to study this form of government to make sure it is the most efficient and appropriate for the citizens of DeKalb.”
Supporters rally around CEO to promote his second term Dozens of DeKalb citizens and supporters got on his handling of the foreclosure crisis, restoring the board the “Burrell Ellis Train” at the Jan. 25 kickoff of county’s credit rating, and repairing the county’s the DeKalb CEO’s re-election campaign. aging water and sewer system. Ellis, who took office in January 2009, announced “I am proud of the work that we have accomthat he is running for a second term of office. DeKalb plished but there is still much work to do,” he said. law allows up to two consecutive terms for its CEO. “I am optimistic about DeKalb County’s future and Joining Ellis for the kickoff were former LithoI look forward to earning the support of DeKalb nia Mayor Marcia Glenn-Hunter, DeKalb School County voters.” Board member Dr. Eugene “Gene” Walker, Georgia Flemming said Ellis has created programs, such American Federation of Labor and Congress of Inas “One DeKalb Works,” that put DeKalb citizens dustrial Organizations President Charlie Flemming, back to work. and others. “Times have been extremely difficult and Burrell None of DeKalb’s seven commissioners was preshas continued to find new inventive ways to push ent at the noon ceremony in front of the Historic DeKalb County forward,” Flemming said. “He cerDeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis greets supporters after launching his bid for a second DeKalb Courthouse in downtown Decatur. tainly deserves another four years.” term on Jan. 25 in front of the Historic DeKalb Courthouse. Glenn-Hunter urged the people to climb aboard For more information about Burrell Ellis’ the Burrell Ellis Train to support a CEO “who is going to are yet to come and we want to be here to support him as he campaign, contact campaign manager Will Sellers at will@ continues to make DeKalb government efficient,” she said. burrellellis.com or 404-219-8551. For the latest campaign move us forward.” Among the accomplishments highlighted by Ellis were developments, visit www.burrellellis.com. “Burrell Ellis is the person who realizes that our best days
Eastside 4 Obama members give thumbs-up to president’s blueprint By Carla Parker
For President Barack Obama’s third State of the Union address, a number of local supporters gathered at Buffalo Wild Wings at the Mall at Stonecrest to watch the Jan. 23 speech to the joint session of Congress. Over hot wings and drinks, “Eastside 4 Obama,” a group of 15 men and women, sat captivated, mostly silent, as the president laid out his blueprint for an “America Built to Last.” The group included people from Decatur, Lithonia, Conyers, Snellville and Lawrenceville. During the hour-long speech, the president said he wants an America that encourages companies to create manufacturing jobs in the United States while removing deductions for shipping jobs overseas and encouraging “insourcing,” bringing jobs back, and making additional investments in the United States. Kelvin and Shenika Turner of Snellville applauded his ideas. “I liked his plan about keeping kids from dropping out of school early,” Shenika Turner said. “I like to see him go through
Lithonia school collecting shoes for Liberians Lithonia Middle School and its PTSA are joining the mission to send thousands of shoes to children and adults in Africa. The school is partnering with Martin Kumi and his Soul Project to collect 50,000 pairs of shoes to send to Liberia. Their goal is to collect 5,000 pairs of shoes. The school will kick off its shoe drive on Feb. 1. During the month of February, residents can help the school reach its goal by donating gently used shoes at the school at 2451 Randall Ave. Kumi, who is from Ghana, launched the drive in March 2011 to collect lightly worn and new shoes for some of the poorest children and adults in Liberia. Through the Soul Project International, he has collected and shipped more than 100,000 pairs of shoes to Ghana and Haiti with the help of DeKalb students, churches and individuals. Kumi said that children in poor countries walk up to 10 miles to school barefoot and that some die from diseases they contract through foot infections. All sizes and types of shoes with flat heels are welcomed. The shoe drive kickoff event takes place from 8:45 to 9 a.m. For more information, contact Louise Cobham at 678-875-0702 or the PTSA at 404-388-2627.
Dr. Loretta Crosson, a professor at Georgia Piedmont Technical College and Strayer University, said the speech was very intuitive. “President Obama is clearly in touch with his constituents and the economy,” said Crosson, who lives in Conyers. “I think he has a sure plan to facilitate growth in society and I think we all need to understand his plan and get on board.” Tracy Corley-Smith of Snellville said she was impressed that some of his ideas were agreeable to Democrats and Republicans. “When the camera scanned the crowd, you saw people on both sides standing and clapping,” she said. In a statement after the president’s speech, 4th District U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson agreed that this is a “make or break moment for the middle class.” Supporters watched President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech on a big screen on He said we can build an economy that Jan. 23 while eating hot wings at the Buffalo Wild Wings at the Mall at Stonecrest. favors the few, outsourcing, bad debts and The Turners said they will vote to re-elect phony profits. “Or can we build an economy with that.” in President Obama’s vision – an economy Obama said he would like all states to Obama because “he’s for the people.” “He really has the interest of the whole built by American workers, powered by change their laws to require students to stay in school until they are either 18 or gradu- country, not just certain people,” Kelvin American energy and reflecting American values.” Turner said. ate.
CEO’s veto of DeKalb government study stands By Mary Swint
The DeKalb Board of Commissioners failed to override CEO Burrell Ellis’ veto of a resolution seeking a charter commission to study the county’s form of government. Five votes were needed to override Ellis’ Dec. 22 veto of the resolution, but the measure got four votes on Jan. 10 from Commissioners Larry Johnson, Lee May, Elaine Boyer and Sharon Barnes Sutton. Commissioner Kathie Gannon, who voted Burrell Ellis against the resolution, also voted against overriding the veto. Commissioner Jeff Rader abstained from voting and Commissioner Stan Watson was absent. The board passed the resolution 6-1 at its Dec. 13 meeting asking DeKalb’s delegation to the General Assembly to create a charter commission to study the delineation of powers between the executive and legislative branches of DeKalb government. It said the county’s CEO form of government “has been an ongoing source of conflict that has impeded the efficiency and effectiveness of the county government.” In his December statement vetoing the resolution, Ellis disagreed with the board. “To the contrary,” he said, “the CEO form of government allows for essential checks and balances between two branches of government [as opposed to a single branch form of government] as well as a central point
of contact with greater decisiveness and accountability when the health, safety and wellness of the public are at stake,” he said. The was the second attempt of the board to have the Legislature study DeKalb government. In February 2010, it passed a resolution 4-3 encouraging the General Assembly to investigate the delineation of powers between the CEO and the commissioners, including the power to set the county’s purchasing policy. Ellis did not veto that resolution. No legislation resulted from the resolution. May, who represents District 5, said all they want is to study the government and that the resolution was not directed at any person in office. “There is a real need to study this form of government to make sure it is the most efficient and appropriate for the citizens of DeKalb,” he said. May pointed out that a 1994 DeKalb Civic Coalition study committee concluded that an executive and legislative branch form of government creates gridlock, is less responsive and reduces accountability. He said he would like to see the county have a part-time chairman elected countywide to preside at commission meetings and a county manager to run the day-to-day operations. May said the changes could be delayed until 2016 when Ellis’ term limit takes effect, if he wins re-election in November. A Senate study committee’s recommendations in 2006 led to the passage of SB 52 that gave commissioners the power to set their own agendas and their presiding officer the power to chair their meetings, instead of
the CEO. The changes took effect in 2009. Ellis says that three years is not enough time to fully determine the effectiveness of SB 52. “It would be more prudent to allow sufficient time to pass in order to properly assess the changes implemented,” he said. Boyer, the District 1 commissioner, said SB 52 did not go far enough, and Lee May May said it just took a “baby step.” But Ellis said that studying the county’s form of government at this time would send the wrong signal to financial rating agencies that could jeopardize the recent restoration of the county’s credit ratings. “[It would] bring instability and create a distraction from addressing the ongoing financial issues the county faces,” he said. Rader, who represents District 2, said he would favor having citizens vote on whether to form a charter commission to study the form of government, as they do in Ohio. He said he did not vote to override the veto because he objected to the power struggle between some commissioners and the CEO, which resulted in their opposition to the CEO’s appointment of very qualified planning director Gary Cornell. Gannon, who represents District 6, said the timing was wrong because the delegation would be too busy with redistricting and transportation issues this session. “This was not the right time to ask them to look at the form of DeKalb’s government,” she said.
January 28, 2012
This year, Girl Scouts added “Savannah Smiles” to its lineup to celebrate 100 years of Girl Scouting.
Commissioners at Chamber lunch
Downtown Decatur Marriott opening Feb.1
Three DeKalb commissioners will headline the Feb. 13 First Monday Lunch of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce at the Doubletree Hotel Atlanta Northeast in Tucker. Commissioners Larry Johnson, Jeff Rader and Stan Watson of the board’s Planning, EcoLarry Johnson Jeff Rader Stan Watson nomic Development & Public Works Committee will be on the panel exGeneral admission pricing is $45. ploring “Economic Development and Land The Doubletree Hotel Atlanta NorthUse: What Lies Ahead for DeKalb County?” east is at 4156 LaVista Road in Tucker. The meeting takes place 11:30 a.m. to For more information, visit http://dekalb 1:30 p.m. chamber.org or call 404-378-8000.
The 179-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel in downtown Decatur will open to customers on Feb. 1. The extensively renovated hotel is the successor of the former Holiday Inn Decatur Conference Center, which was opened in 1989 and was acquired in June 2011 by the privately held Noble Investment Group. The property underwent $9 million worth of rebranding and repositioning to become the Courtyard Atlanta Decatur Downtown/Emory. The new hotel offers an open, bright and contemporary design with vivid contrasting colors, including blue, green, orange and red.
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Metro jobless rate at 9.4 percent Metro Atlanta’s jobless rate rose to 9.4 percent in December, while the state rate dipped for the third straight month. DeKalb County’s jobless rate was 9.7 percent in December. The Georgia Department of Labor said in a Jan. 26 statement that the preliminary unemployment rate in metro Atlanta increased two-tenths of a percentage point from 9.2 percent in November. A year ago in December 2010, the rate in metro Atlanta
was 10.1 percent. The rate increased because there were layoffs in construction, manufacturing, retail trade, administrative and support services, and accommodations and food services. Metro Athens and Warner Robins had the lowest unemployment rates in the state at 7.3 percent, while metro Dalton had the highest at 12.1 percent. For more information, visit www.dol.state.ga.us.
The traditional front desk is replaced with separate welcome pedestals to create more personal and private interactions when guests check in. It also allows staff to move about and provide assistance. The five-story hotel features a Bistro restaurant serving breakfast and dinner, an indoor swimming pool, fitness center, guest laundry and business center. The hotel also offers a conference center with more than 15,000 square feet of flexible meeting space including the 6,400-square-foot Decatur Ballroom. For more information or reservations, visit www.marriott.com/atldc or call the hotel at 404-371-0204 or 1-800-321-2211.
Ellenwood woman to lead energy group of African-Americans and other DeKalb County resident Cherminorities into the discussions and ryl M. Harris has been named developments of energy policies, president of the Atlanta Chapter of regulations, research and developthe American Association of Blacks ment technologies, and environin Energy. mental issues. Harris is a senior budget analyst Harris and a dozen other 2012in the Diversity and Inclusion orga13 officers will serve a two-year nization at Georgia Power, where term, starting this month and culshe is responsible for managing minating on Dec. 31, 2013. the departmental budget and serv- Cherryl Harris The Atlanta chapter has more than 130 ing as project manager for Georgia Power’s employee diversity training programs. She members from 30 utilities, distributors, has been a member of AABE Atlanta for nine infrastructure providers, and other energyyears and previously served as vice president, related companies. It is one of 10 AABE chapters in the Southeast region. secretary and treasurer. For more information, visit www.aabe AABE is a national association of energy professionals dedicated to the input .org.
Time to order Girl Scout cookies Cookie lovers have until Feb. 11 to order nah Smiles is named in honor of Juliette Gordon Low, founder of Girl Scouts their favorite Girl Scout cookies. USA, who started the very first Girl Scouts across DeKalb Girl Scout troop in Savannah on and metro Atlanta began takMarch 12, 1912. ing cookie orders on Jan. 6 and Cookies are $3.50 a box. cookies will be delivered Feb. Cookie sales teach girls to 11-17. manage money and raise funds Girl Scout cookie booths for camping and other Scoutwill open across metro ing programs. Atlanta on Feb. 17 where Girl Scout cookie booth favorites – Thin Mints, locations include McDonSamoas, Tagalongs, ald’s on Turner Hill Road Do-Si-Dos, and Trein Lithonia and Krogfoils – will be on er on Flat Shoals sale. Parkway in DecaThis year, Girl tur and on RockScouts added “Sabridge Road in Stone vannah Smiles,” Mountain. a special cenFor more infortennial lemon mation on cookie cookie, to its booth locations, visit lineup to celebrate www.cookielocator 100 years of Girl .littlebrownie.com. Scouting. Savan-
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January 28, 2012
“Perfect Peace” begins when Emma Jean Peace delivers her seventh son and makes the unfathomable decision to raise the child – named Perfect – as a girl. Georgia Perimeter’s production of Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” includes multimedia photography, sound effects and videography background.
‘Canterbury Tales’ for GPC stage A modern adaptation of Geoffrey Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales” will be onstage Feb. 3-12 at Georgia Perimeter College – Clarkston Campus. The collection of stories written in Middle English by Chaucer at the end of the 14th century follows eight pilgrims on a bawdy, medieval romp to Canterbury Cathedral. Full of beer and devilment, the travelers let their tongues and imaginations loose, telling tales they have collected during their journeys. Sally Robertson, the play’s director and GPC Fine Arts associate professor, said they have updated the production by creating a buffet of multimedia photography, sound effects and videography background that continues the theme of taking an important journey. “We also use physical comedy choices that a modern audience will find familiar and
touch on themes that are interesting and recognizable to current theatergoers,” Robertson said. “We’re taking these beautiful tales that have been around for centuries and making them relevant for today’s audiences.” “Canterbury Tales” will be presented in a studio theater setting, with the audience on the stage. The play is not suitable for children under 10, and infants and toddlers will not be admitted. The play will be held in the Cole Auditorium, Fine Arts building on GPC Clarkston Campus. The campus is located at 555 N. Indian Creek Drive. Show times are 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday Feb. 3 to 11, and Sundays, Feb. 5 and 12, at 3 p.m. Tickets are $15; free with a GPC ID. For reservations, contact the box office at 678891-3572 or email@example.com. Online, full-price only, tickets are available at http://
CAU professor a Townsend finalist Authors Daniel Black and Lynn Cullen are among 10 finalists for the 2012 Townsend Prize for Fiction. Black’s novel “Perfect Peace,” published by St. Martin’s Press, and Lynn Cullen’s “Reign Of Madness,” published by G.P. Putnam’s Sons, are nominated for the prize that is awarded every other year by a board of judges to an outstanding novel or short-story collection published by a Georgia writer. The Townsend Prize will be awarded on April 26 at the Day Room of the Atlanta Botanical Garden. The 2012 winner will receive $2,000 and a silver commemorative tray. Black, an associate professor at his alma mater, Clark Atlanta University, is a member of First Afrikan Presbyterian Church in Lithonia. He is also the author of “They Tell Me of a Home” and “The Sacred Place.” “Perfect Peace” begins when Emma Jean Peace delivers her seventh son and makes the unfathomable decision to raise the child – named Perfect – as a girl. When Perfect turns 8, her mother tells her, “You was born a boy. I made you a girl. But that ain’t what you was supposed to be. So, from now on, you gon’ be a boy.” Without ceremony or excuse, Perfect is rechristened Paul.
Critics say the story has elements that seem biblical, mythical, and folkloric all at once, with a transformative river named Jordan flowing throughout. Cullen is the acclaimed author of more than 15 books for young readers. Her first novel for adults, “The Creation of Eve,” was Daniel Black, published in 2010. She lives a member in Atlanta. of Lithonia’s The other nominees First Afrikan for the Townsend Prize Presbyterian, and Lynn are Ann Hite, “Ghost on Cullen are Black Mountain”; Joshilyn Townsend Prize Jackson, “Backseat Saints”; finalists. Collin Kelley, “Remain in the Light”; Thomas Mullen, “The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers”; Andrew Plattner, “A Marriage of Convenience”; Josh Russell, “My Bright Midnight”; Joseph Skibell, “A Curable Romantic”; and Amanda Kyle Williams, “The Stranger You Seek.” The Townsend Prize, which was created in 1981, is named for Jim Townsend, the founding editor of Atlanta magazine and an early mentor to such Georgia writers as Pat Conroy, Terry Kay, Bill Diehl, and Anne Rivers Siddons. Previous winners of the Townsend Prize include Kathryn Stockett for “The Help,” Ha Jin for “The Bridegroom: Stories,” and Alice Walker for “The Color Purple.” At the awards ceremony, Ann Beattie, author of “Mrs. Nixon” and “Walks With Men,” will give the keynote address. For more information, contact Rebecca Rakoczy at 678-891-2691 or e-mail Liam Madden at William.firstname.lastname@example.org.
January 28, 2012
“We’re looking at adults here. We want to make sure that the adults are following the policies.”
Marching bands back in business after suspension ends By Carla Parker
DeKalb Schools’ ban on marching band activity has been lifted. Superintendent Cheryl Atkinson lifted the suspension on marching band activities on Jan. 18, two days after five bands marched in the DeKalb NAACP’s 10th annual Martin Luther King Jr. Parade and Rally in Stone Mountain. But even though students can rehearse and engage in other band acCheryl Atkinson tivities, the investigation into reports of inappropriate behavior in the 19 band programs will continue. Atkinson said the district will have a “zero tolerance” for inappropriate behavior like hazing or bullying. “But at this stage we are confident that student activities may resume as planned,” she said. Atkinson suspended marching band activities on Dec. 14 after complaints about inappropriate behavior at a school that was not identified. The school district says the investigation is focused on the activities of adults in charge of marching band programs. DeKalb Schools spokesman Walter Woods said they are looking into some reports of intimidation by some marching band employees. “We’re looking at adults here,” Woods said. “We want to make sure that the adults are following the policies.” Woods said the district has received information on a “small number” of incidents Carla Parker / CrossRoadsNews of “harassment and intimidation,” and inves- The Stone Mountain High School Marching Pirates performed at the Jan. 16 DeKalb NAACP Martin Luther King Jr. Parade in Stone Mountain. They tigators are looking into them. He did not say were one of five bands allowed to participate in the King Day event that happened during the suspension of band activities at DeKalb schools.
Curtis Parker / CrossRoadsNews
The Clarkston High Marching Angoras showed their colors at the King Day Parade in Stone Mountain.
what took place or where. Woods said that the suspension allowed the district to ensure that students were safe. He said the investigation could lead to disciplinary action and possibly criminal charges. “If we determine that actions have taken place that were criminal or against our policy, decisive action will be taking place,” Woods said. When the suspension was announced, parents raised concerns about the impact the suspension could have their children’s chances of getting college scholarships. “We know that band is a very positive experience for our students,” Atkinson said. “We fully expect for it to continue to be that.” Atkinson said she and her staff met with all high school principals and band directors to make sure they “understand their responsibility and accountability for students regarding our policies when it comes to band activities.”
The investigation is expected to last up to 60 days. The investigation came in the wake of the hazing death of Robert Champion, a Florida A&M University student and a graduate of Southwest DeKalb High School, and the implication of three other DeKalb Schools graduates in another hazing incident at the university. Three weeks before Champion’s death on Nov. 19, Bria Hunter, a Southwest DeKalb High alumna and former FAMU band member, said she was hazed at an off-campus apartment by FAMU band members, including three DeKalb School District alumni. One of the band members also graduated from Southwest DeKalb High School. The countywide suspension came two days after the three students were arrested and charged with hazing Hunter, an 18-yearold freshman at the time. Tallahassee police arrested Sean Hobson, 23; Aaron Golson, 19; and James Harris, 22, on Dec. 12 for allegedly beating Hunter.
January 28, 2012
“The goal is to help bring healing to adults who work with children and youth who may have been abused.”
Launch party for Synergy Singles Ministry Unmarried adults can attend the official launch party of the Synergy Singles Ministry on Jan. 29 at the Greater Travelers Rest Baptist Church in Decatur. The launch of the ministry, which seeks to connect single adults 18 and up with other like-minded believers, immediately follows the 10 a.m. worship service and includes networking and giveaways at the H.F. Shepherd Multiplex. A calendar of activities, including service projects, will be unveiled, and refreshments will be served. Synergy will host events and gatherings and offer programs where singles are grouped according to age, location and other preferences. Ministry coordinators are Richaun Wilson and Quinetha Frasier. Greater Travelers Rest is at 4650 Flat Shoals Parkway. For more information, visit www.greatertravelersrest.org or call 404-243-9336.
Child sex abuse victims can “Speak Up” now By Carla Parker
Victims of child sexual abuse now have a place to report and speak up about the crime with Greater Travelers Rest Baptist Church’s launch of the “Speak Up” campaign. The Decatur church Wendell Martin initiated the campaign on Dec. 11 in the wake of child sexual abuse scandals at big name universities, churches and other places. Wendell Martin, campaign coordinator and youth pastor, said the campaign was “birthed” from a conversation between him and the church pastor, E. Dewey Smith. Martin said Smith shared with him that his Dec. 11 sermon, “Christmas, Syracuse and Penn State,” would be dealing with child sexual abuse in light of the scandals at Pennsylvania State University and Syracuse University. In November 2011, former Penn State football defensive coordinator Jerry Sandusky was arrested and charged with 40 counts of sexual abuse of young boys over a 15-year period. In the same month, two
former Syracuse ball boys alleged on ESPN’s “Outside the Lines” program that they had been molested by former assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine from the late 1970s to the 1990s. Martin said he apE. Dewey Smith plauded Smith for “speaking up” about the issue. “He is one of few, if any, megachurch pastors who has even addressed this problem from the pulpit,” Martin said. “We then concluded that we had to do more than just preach about it. We had to do something to prevent, respond to, and report child sexual abuse.” Martin said anyone in the community can report child sexual abuse whether or not they are a member of the church. All reports would be forwarded to the police department in the county of the incident, and the church will follow up with them. Since the launch, Martin said he has received two reports via text message. “Both cases are under investigation,
but no arrests have been made thus far,” he said. Other measures the church is taking include adding questions such as “Have you ever been a victim of child sexual abuse? If yes, would you like to speak to a counselor or pastor about this?” to the children’s and youth ministry volunteer application. “The goal is to help bring healing to adults who work with children and youth who may have been abused,” Martin said, “possibly preventing the cycle from continuing.” Martin said the church also will provide training on child sexual abuse on Feb. 11, which will be mandatory for all individuals working with students ages 17 and under at the church. Makeup sessions will be provided, and all individuals serving in the various ministries will have to complete the course by March 31 or they will not be allowed to serve. To report sexual child abuse crimes through the Speak Up campaign, contact the church at 404-243-9336, Ext. 2235; e-mail SpeakUp@BlueprintYouthMinistry.org; or send a text message to GTRBC@SYMT.US.
Churches holding joint Sunday service Seniors to tour Carter Museum The Rev. Kerwin Lee of Berean Christian Church will be the featured preacher at the “Churches Coming Together” service on Jan. 29 at Fairfield Baptist Church in Lithonia. The service, which takes place at 4 p.m., is a project of the United Ministers Alliance of Metropolitan Atlanta. The alliance, founded in the mid-1990s, meets fifth Sundays to bring its church-
es together in a joint worship service. The Rev. Micheal Benton of Fairfield Baptist is host for the service, which rotates among member churches. Lee is senior pastor and organizer of Berean Christian Church in Stone Mountain. Fairfield Baptist Church is at 6133 Redan Road. For more information, call 770-482-7660. Kerwin Lee
Seniors at Corpus Christi Catholic Church in Stone Mountain are headed to the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum on Feb. 3 for a guided tour. Participants will attend an 8:30 a.m. Mass at the church, followed by coffee and snacks, then a car pool to the Carter Presidential Center complex on Freedom Parkway. A guided tour will be offered, fol-
lowed by lunch in the café of the museum. The cost is $6 for seniors over 60 and $8 for all others. A cafeteria lunch is $5 to $10. For more information or reservations, call Pat and Jack Horvath at 770934-0127 by Jan. 30. Corpus Christi is at 600 Mountain View Drive. For more information, visit http://corpuschristicc.org.
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MARKETPLACE RATES Place your MarketPlace line ad here – up to 20 words for $25. Additional words are $3 per block of five words (maximum 45 words). Boxed Ads (with up to 3 lines bold headline): $35 plus cost of the classified ad. Send ad copy with check or credit card information and contact phone number (if different from ad) to MarketPlace, CrossRoadsNews, 2346 Candler Road, Decatur, GA 30032, or e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Our deadlines are at noon on the Friday one week prior to publication, unless otherwise noted.
YOUTH SPORTS Basketball
SOUTH DEKALB FAMILY YMCA
Ages 5 & up • 2:30p.m.-6:30p.m. Weekly Rates Start at $30 • CAPS Accepted • Daily Snack & Dinner 2030 Wesley Chapel Road Decatur, GA 30035
Transportation & pickup from area schools
404-288-3834 404-284-2377 www.phcdc.com
Ages 3-17 • www.ymcaregistration.com Call 770-987-3500 for details Retail
SWH Apparel Charity Red Carpet Trunk & Fashion Show February 4, 2012 • 7 p.m. - 9 p.m.
Shareef Abdur-Rahim Gymnasium $20.00 $25.00 735 Fayetteville Rd. • Atlanta, GA advance at the door
Albany State University
Average drying time 35 minutes. 1st-time Clients only. Offer expires 2/14/2012.
Bachelor of Science Degree in Forensic Science
Congratulations Spencer, Job Well Done. Mom and Dad Sisters and Brother.
WHERE EVERY KID PLAYS
schools / youth
SPENCER HUTCHINSON 2011
A Ministry Of Decatur Bible Chapel “Serving Our Community”
A safe, comfortable place to leave your loved ones. Offering devotions, games, crafts & more.
IN & OUT
Spencer Hutchinson graduated from Albany State University December 10, 2011 with a Bachelor of Science Degree from Albany State University Spencer is the son of proud parents Michael and Rapunzel Hutchinson and a . member of Greenforest Baptist Church. Spencer is in the process of seeking employment with an agency such as the GBI, FBI, CDC etc… but not limiting his options. He says the sky is limitless for his career goals.
Open Monday & Friday
Now Offering Hourly Accommodations To Schedule An Appointment, Call 770-322-1973
3355 Snapfinger Road•Hwy 155•Lithonia, GA 30058
Up Make hop s k Wor Trun Showk Cash Prize for Best Dressed Diva Vendor Tables Available
Doors Open at 4 p.m.
Portion of Show benefits Abused Women's Shelter & Celebrates Breast Cancer Survivors
678-362-1076 • www.swhapparel.com
January 28, 2012
CrossRoadsNews, January 28, 2012