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Garland Jones and Bountiful Bags are holding a fund-raiser and food drive to help refugee families in Clarkston. 5

The South River Watershed Alliance is leading another canoe trip to explore the South River’s beauty as it meanders through South DeKalb. 9

Teen makes a difference

River excursion, Part 2


Copyright © 2012 CrossRoadsNews, Inc.

July 14, 2012

Volume 18, Number 11

Levett drops plans for Flat Shoals crematory amid outcry By Jennifer Ffrench Parker

At a July 10 community meeting, staff and residents look over plans for the expansion of the Gregory B. Levett & Sons Funeral Homes on Flat Shoals Parkway in Decatur.

quality and environmental concerns and said a crematory would negatively impact their property values. John Roach from the Churchill Downs subdivision said the community doesn’t want it. “This is just a small number of the people who don’t want it,” he told the Levetts. Gil Turman, president of the South DeKalb Neighborhoods Coalition, said residents are concerned about air quality and emissions of mercury. “The major concern about a crematory is the emissions from burning a corpse that go into the air,” Turman said. “How are you go-

Gregory B. Levett & Sons Funeral Homes Inc. has scrapped plans to build a crematory at its Decatur location on Flat Shoals Parkway. The family-owned business, which also owns funeral homes in Scottdale, Lawrenceville and Buford, backpedaled on its plans in the face of strong opposition from the community. More than 50 residents showed up at a July 10 community meeting at the funeral home to tell the family they don’t want a crematory in the middle of a heavily residential community. Speaker after speaker cited health, air Please see LEVETT, page 5

Jennifer Ffrench Parker / CrossRoadsNews

Wide Smiles at Wade Walker Y Children and adults delight in the outdoor pool and water features on July 7 at the new Wade Walker Park YMCA in Stone Mountain, which opens on Aug. 16.

Hundreds enjoy sneak peek at new facility in DeKalb By Jennifer Ffrench Parker

The smiles were as warm as the sun beating down on the children frolicking in the shiny new outdoor pool at the Wade Walker Park YMCA in Stone Mountain. And hundreds of people who got a sneak peek of the facility at 5585 Rockbridge Road on July 7 were wearing them. “This is simply beautiful,” gushed Linda Denson. “I am so excited I can hardly stand it. Our babies have a safe place to be and our young men will have a place to get some mentoring.” DeKalb County and YMCA officials opened the facility on Saturday to give residents a taste of what’s to come when the $20 million YMCA opens for business on Aug. 16. The offices and meeting rooms were empty of furnishings, but the indoor and outdoor pools were open and working overtime in Saturday’s 90-plus degree weather. Denson, who lives about four miles from the new Y on Rockbridge Road, dug out her purse to show a reporter her new YMCA membership card. “I am a charter member,” she said. “I joined two weeks ago, but I have been watching it go up for a year.” Winston Myers, who was named executive director of the center in April, said the community has embraced the 57,000-squarefoot facility right from the beginning. “We have seen nothing like this before,” he said. “From day one, the phone has been ringing off the hook. They want to know how they can be part of this.” Myers said that community enthusiasm has translated into one of the largest opening numbers ever. “We expect to open with 600 members

Curtis Parker / CrossRoadsNews

“We have seen nothing like this before. From day one, the phone has been ringing off the hook. They want to know how they can be part of this.” – Winston Myers

on Aug. 16,” he said. Myers, who was at the South DeKalb YMCA for 12 years as associate, then executive director, said the Wade Walker Park YMCA will have exceptional programs and customer service and exceptional wellness support and delivery. “This is not a hope,” he said. “This is not a promise. This is not speculation. It is a pledge.” The new Y is a collaborative venture between DeKalb County government and the Metro Atlanta YMCA. The county provided

the land in the 25-acre park and paid to build the facility. The Metro YMCA’s $4.2 million share of the design and construction of the Wade Walker Park Y came from the sale of the Bransby Outdoor Y in Lithonia for that amount to the county. The county is leasing the facility to the Metro YMCA for $1 a year for 30 years. The lease is renewable for another 20 years. Under the lease agreement signed in December 2008, the YMCA will operate, maintain, repair and provide insurance and other costs for the facility. DeKalb Parks & Recreation Department will be the Y’s landlord. After seeing the zero entry pool, the popular outdoor pool and water play area, the spacious locker rooms, supersize gym, and indoor walking track, Sharon Britt, who lives less than a mile from the facility, said she was just plain excited. “Just look at the pool,” she said. “It’s very

impressive. I may have to switch my membership over here.” After hours in the outdoor pool, DeKalb Chamber President Leonardo McClarty had to almost wrestle his 5-year-old daughter, Sage, out of the water. “It’s a beautiful kiddie area,” he said. “She has been taking swimming lessons this summer so she just wants to be in the water.” McClarty, who lives in Tucker, said the amenities at the new YMCA were sorely needed in the community, which had to travel to the South DeKalb Y in Decatur or East Lake Y in Atlanta. “Whenever you have something that families can do together, it’s a plus,” he said. Delores Singh, who visited the facility with her friend Felechia Garrison, said if the YMCA had been there a couple of years ago, she might not have moved from Redan Road to Rockdale County. Please see YMCA, page 9




July 14, 2012

“FAMU refused to suspend the FAMU Band prior to the Florida Classic...”

Parents sue FAMU over hazing death as president steps down James Ammons, the embattled president of Florida A&M University, resigned from his position July 11. His resignation came the same day that Decatur residents Robert and Pam Champion filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the university in the death of their son Robert. The 26-year-old Robert Champion FAMU drum major died in November after being hazed on a band bus. He was a graduate of Southwest DeKalb High School in Decatur. Ammons, who is a graduate of FAMU, will officially leave the presidency on Oct. 11 and remain there as a tenured professor. In his short resignation letter, Ammons says he intended to help the university move past its “challenges.” “I am determined to move all of the major challenges toward resolution and move our university toward success,” he wrote. Ammons’ departure as president follows the recent retirement of longtime band director Julian White, who left on May 10 after it was revealed that more than 100 of the band’s members were not FAMU students. The Champions’ lawsuit charges that FAMU officials didn’t take enough action to stop hazing throughout the lauded band

Robert and Pam Champion filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Florida A&M University on July 11 over the hazing death of their son, Robert. They are shown with attorney Chris Chestnut.

program. In the 33-page document, they said school administrators knew about the Marching 100’s history of hazing and did not act on a key recommendation to suspend the band just days prior to Champion’s death. Their son and the band were in Orlando on Nov. 19 for the Florida Classic. Days before the game, White suspended

scores of band members for hazing, but the lawsuit said that on Nov. 16, three days before Champion’s death, FAMU Dean of Students Henry Kirby “proposed imposing an immediate long-term suspension of the FAMU band to combat the egregious hazing.” “FAMU refused to suspend the FAMU band prior to the Florida Classic, as suggested by Dean Kirby, due to the public

July 17 Candidate Forum at the Ray Voters can hear from and question candidates for local races at a July 17 forum at the Ray of Hope Church and at a July 19 forum at Arabia Mountain High School. Twenty-nine candidates for the DeKalb School Board, CEO, County Commission, clerk of Superior Court and State Court races have been invited to the July 17 candidates forum co-hosted by CrossRoadsNews and Ray of Hope in Decatur. The 6:30-to-9 p.m. forum takes place in the church’s chapel at 2778 Snapfinger Road. The Rev. Helen Branch said the church is co-hosting the forum to offer residents the opportunity to hear directly from the candidates seeking office. “It’s important for us to know who is offering themselves for office,” she said. “We need to get to know them so we can make the right choice.” Branch said the community should come out to heard from the candidates.

“Then we must do our own research, so that when we go to the polls we are going informed and are not just voting for personalities,” she said. The Rev. Cynthia Hale, the church’s senior pastor, will welcome candidates and residents. T h e fo r u m w i l l b e m o d er a te d by CrossRoads­News Editor and Publisher Jennifer Parker and questions will be taken from the audience. For more information, call Jennifer Parker at 404-284-1888.

Arabia PTSA hosts School Board forum Parents and other voters can meet candidates running for the DeKalb School Board at a July 19 Candidate Forum at Arabia Mountain High School in Lithonia. The 6:45 p.m. forum, hosted by the PTSA, will be held in the school’s auditorium. The school is at 6610 Browns Mill Road. For more information, call Tanya Graham at 770-875-0213.

notoriety and financial gain of participating in events during the three-day Florida Classic Weekend,” the lawsuit claims. Ammons has said in the past that he did not know about Kirby’s recommendation until January. Orlando officials ruled Champion’s death a homicide after an autopsy James Ammons showed he died of internal bleeding caused by blunt force trauma. Officials said on Dec. 16 that Champion had bruises on his chest, arms, shoulder and back. Eleven people face felony hazing charges in his death, and two more have been charged with misdemeanors. Among those charged is 19-year-old Aaron Golson, who also was arrested for allegedly beating Southwest DeKalb alumna Bria Hunter, 18, during a hazing event three weeks before Champion’s death. Four of the 11 people charged in Champion’s death, including Golson, are from the Atlanta area. Two of them, Jonathan Boyce, 24, and Shawn Turner, 26, were among the drum majors who marched at the funeral. Turner spoke at the service. Lasherry Codner, 20, of Atlanta also is charged in Champion’s death.

Group offers career and other help “Hoops for Health” on July 19 and 21 will tout fiscal and physical health and features a benefit basketball tournament at Samson’s Sports and Fitness Center in Lithonia. On July 19, job seekers can participate in a Career Expo and Health Fair segment from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. They should bring lots of copies of their resumes and wear professional attire. Registration is not required. For more information, contact Willie Glenn at the Georgia Department of Labor at There also will be blood pressure, blood sugar, vision and dental screenings at the event sponsored by the DeKalb/Rockdale Employer Committee, Samson’s, and the DeKalb Career Center of the GDOL.

A basketball tournament/fundraiser will take place on July 21. The tournament begins at 8 a.m. and the cost is $5. It benefits such organizations as Susan G. Komen for the Cure, which hosts an annual breast cancer walk, and J.A.B.S.T.E.P., which fights childhood obesity. The tourney also helps fund scholarships for DeKalb and Rockdale high school seniors. The DeKalb/Rockdale  Employer Committee is made up of local business representatives who establish and maintain a working relationship with the Georgia Department of Labor. Samson’s Sports and Fitness Center at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church is at 6400 Woodrow Road in Lithonia. For more information, visit

NOW YOU CAN CHOOSE! Remember to Vote July 31st, 2012

Frank L. Swindle for DeKalb County Clerk of the Superior Court Friends and Supporters: I am pleased and excited to announce to you that I intend to become the next Superior Court Clerk for DeKalb County. I am committed to providing the right leadership as we move the DeKalb Clerk’s office into the 21st Century. • 22 years of case management in DeKalb County Superior Court • DeKalb Business Owner and Employer • Longtime community activist in DeKalb County • Volunteer, Mentor, Facilitator for the children of DeKalb County, and devoted Father • Active member of various community-oriented organizations

EXPERIENCE • SERVICE • INTEGRITY Learn More. Visit My Website: electfrankswindle2012 Paid for by Committee to Elect Frank Swindle Clerk, Superior Court of DeKalb County P.O. Box 3304, Decatur, GA 30030



July 14, 2012

Saluting Excellence in Journalism. MillerCoors Salutes the 2012 A. Philip Randolph Messenger Award Recipients. AUTHOR



Jennifer Ffrench-Parker


Breaking News

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Š 2012 MillerCoors LLC, Chicago, IL


Forum 2346 Candler Rd. Decatur, GA 30032 404-284-1888 Fax: 404-284-5007

Editor / Publisher Jennifer Parker Graphic Design Curtis Parker Staff Writers Carla Parker Jennifer Ffrench Parker Advertising Sales Kathy E. Warner

CrossRoadsNews is published every Saturday by CrossRoads­News, Inc. We welcome articles on neighborhood issues and news of local happenings. The opinions expressed by writers and contributors are not necessarily those of the publisher, nor those of any advertisers. The concept, design and content of CrossRoads­N ews are copyrighted and may not be copied or reproduced in whole or in part in any manner without the written permission of the publisher.

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July 14, 2012

“What we have is a horror show called DeKalb County … we the citizens need to raise our own standards and expectations.”

Low number of graduates appalling, time for action the direction, and if you don’t know the way … open your minds and listen to those who do. It is time to stop finding fault in those things that are outside of yourselves … only when you start to take responsibility … will you change. Those students failed because they were waiting for something or someone to do whatever “I was appalled that some of the board for them, instead of doing it for themselves.” members were unaware of these numbers and ­– Wari it’s now July. Are they active in the districts that they represent? They are a joke!! However, we have to start holding these chil- The numbers are much higher dren accountable for not being able to pass these “The numbers are really much worse. tests. How many of you have been in one of our Please consider that many of our kids drop out south-end high schools? Embarrassing. in the 9th, 10th and 11th grades. The number There are a lot of our children who simply is way higher than 20 percent. DeKalb’s board don’t care and when they don’t care, what ex- is mediocre at best, but yet we vote for them. actly can you do with that? Parents give up their kids to this system only to Don’t blame the teachers because they are have them barely eke out an education on the doing the best they can with what shows up each back end. day. Please remember, teachers can’t make these How many of those who graduate are even kids come to school. college ready? I would bet less than 20 percent. Teachers can’t make the kids devote at least In this tough economy, what happens to those 20 minutes reviewing their notes. kids who dropped out early, the 20 percent who Teachers can’t make them attend tutoring dropped out late and the 60 percent [of the so please stop making it seem as if they are not graduates] who aren’t college ready? being given the opportunity to learn. What we have is a horror show called DeKalb Why pass them if they didn’t meet expecta- County … we the citizens need to raise our own tions? DeKalb will never attain success if the bar standards and expectations. Shame!” is set at a different level. We are not preparing – Southdekalbschoolwat a society of achievers if we accept half performance as the norm. Don’t blame Towers If they are not performing by 10th grade “OK Towers is not the only school with low (walking around with only 3 credits), get the graduation rates. Look at Elizabeth Andrews viruses out so they don’t infect more of the School’s graduation rate. I mean it’s really the population, and make them earn the trip back whole DeKalb County’s fault why we have low to the school.” graduation rate. You guys need to have better – Sharlin C teachers, supply us with supplies, and instead of trying to put the students on lockdown all More active parents needed the time, try teaching them. You guys need to “My request is simple. … Compare the also look at the parents. We should also not number of ninth-grade students who are al- even have seniors not graduating! So DeKalb lowed into high school after failing the CRCT don’t just blame Towers, blame yourselves and to the number of non-graduates … there will the parents.” not be a significant difference. – Cydneyj In addition, until parents learn to play a more active role in every aspect of their chil- It’s not the graduation test dren’s lives, we will continue to be faced with “We must do something now. Look at Jay’s this plague. There is a decline in the supply of quote: “The biggest thing holding back our sesocial skills among our students … they lack niors is the graduation test,” he said. basic kindness, politeness, responsibility, and reThe graduation test is not holding them spect … parents need to wake up; your children back. Their inability to pass a test that is written need your direction as teenagers just as much as on a 9th grade level at best by the time they are they did in the early years of their lives. high school seniors has nothing to do with the Teenagers are not little adults … they don’t graduation test, you idiot! These young people have the knowledge nor the sophistication to are not learning. Many of them are still reading navigate this world … it is your job to give them on an elementary level, I’ve seen it personally. Editor’s Note: Our July 7 story on the 1,194 seniors from the Class of 2012 who did get high school diplomas hit a nerve. It quickly turned into one of most-read stories online. Here are some of the comments posted on

Quick Read

These young people deserve so much more. They deserve to be educated. All will not go to college nor should they be expected to. However, they should leave high school with a basic knowledge and set of skills to enable them to enroll in a program to learn a skilled trade or be work-ready. Walker, Copelin-Wood and Cunningham need to go. They have done nothing to advance education for these children during their tenure on this board. It is time for a change. We owe this to our children.” – Berny

New taxes won’t help “That’s the DeKalb School Board just Dumber than Dumb. All the new taxes in the world will not educate our children in DeKalb with these idiots on the DeKalb School Board and I mean replace them all. The children of DeKalb deserve better. Recall the entire board.” – Dumber than Dumb

Voters need to wake up “What will it take for the voters in DeKalb to wake up and take action? These are our elected officials and some of them don’t have a clue about the graduation rates in their district. I agree – the children and the taxpayers of DeKalb deserve better.” – James Jordan

Board members are clueless “Yes, the School Board reps need to go, with the exception of a couple they know little or nothing about education … if you ever attend a School Board meeting you will see they look like idiots when presented facts about their district, about what’s happening in the various schools. How did they not know the financial situation the district was in?? In addition, we as parents need to take some responsibility for the children we send to school … at some point we need to be held accountable for the behavior, misbehavior and blatant disrespect our children (k-12) have for the educational process, for adults. Our children are “Going to Hell in a Hand Basket” and we’re sitting around blaming everyone except ourselves. … Parents, ‘let’s start raising our children.’ Raising them is not the schools’ responsibility. The school’s goal is to educate them (reading, writing and arithmetic) and we are responsible for the rest! We can still change things around.” – Concerned Parent

Levett drops plans for Flat Shoals crematory 1

Teen uses grant to aid refugee families

Gregory B. Levett & Sons Funeral Homes Inc. has scrapped plans to build a crematory on Flat Shoals Parkway.

More than 1,000 refugee families in Clarkston will receive free food until July 24 from Marietta native Garland Jones through the Bountiful Bags organization.

Decatur native and 2008 DeKalb School of the Arts graduate Amber Jackson made her national television debut on Season 9 of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance.”

New eatery, shoe store at Northlake

Carter Library woos kids, adults

July 17 Candidate Forum at the Ray 2 Voters can hear from and question candidates for local races at a July 17 forum at the Ray of Hope Church and at a July 19 forum at Arabia Mountain High School.



Shoppers at Northlake Mall will have even more options this summer at the DeKalb County retail center.

Group offers career and other help 2

School Board OKs 1-mill rate increase 6

“Hoops for Health” on July 19 and 21 will tout fiscal and physical health and features a benefit basketball tournament at Samson’s Sports and Fitness Center in Lithonia.

DeKalb County property owners will have to pay more taxes after the DeKalb School Board approved a 1-mill rate increase that will raise the tax rate to 23.98 mills.

DSA grad makes Fox dance show 8


Children and adults can learn more about foreign lands, history, nature and conservation through activities and a new exhibition at the Carter Library this month.

Family Fun Day at Bransby YMCA 9 Adults and children will engage in fun and healthy activities at Commissioner Lee May’s fifth annual Health and Family Fun Day.

index to advertisers Committee to Elect Frank Swindle.................. 2 Committee to Elect Judge Dax E. Lopez.......... 5 2012 Family & Back to School Expo..............12 Executive Cuts............................................... 10 Friends to Elect Dionne McGee...................... 2 Hibachi Grill....................................................9

Local Media Association................................ 11 Macy’s............................................................. 7 Mercy Housing............................................... 11 MillerCoors..................................................... 3 New Creations............................................... 10 Project Arm.....................................................6

Project Home Improvement.......................... 11 Quenon Smith.............................................. 10 Saint Philip AME Church................................. 5 Savannah State University............................... 8 Solution Heating and Air.............................. 10 Team Blue Tennis.......................................... 11

TLA Foreclosure Prevention.......................... 11 Trinity Social Services.................................... 10 Best Buy Co. Inc......................................Inserts Holistic Health Management Inc.............Inserts Walgreens...............................................Inserts




July 14, 2012

“Each bag that we pack for a child and their family is special and I am honored to be making a difference in other people’s lives.”

Teen uses grant to aid refugee families More than 1,000 refugee children and families in Clarkston will receive free food until July 24 from Marietta native Garland Jones through the Bountiful Bags organization. Jones, 16, was awarded a $500 Get Ur Good On grant, which is given directly to young people seeking to improve their communities. His project is to have a fund-raiser and food drive for Bountiful Bags through July 24.  The nonprofit provides food for refugee children and pre-k to fifth-graders and

their families in Clarkston. Jones, youth leader of the Bountiful Bags Project, was one of 40 youth chosen worldwide by Youth Serving America to receive grants supported by singer and TV star Miley Cyrus. He says that serving others is rewarding. “Each bag that we pack for a child and their family is special and I am honored to be a part of a project that is making a difference in other people’s lives,” he said. During July, Jones and the nonprofit

are meeting at Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church in Stone Mountain on Tuesdays and Thursdays to fill bags with food for 15 families in Clarkston. The refugees have fled war-torn countries and persecution with almost nothing. A monthlong fund-raiser and food drive will culminate with a free International Fashion Show at Shallowford Presbyterian Church on July 25. Participants are asked to donate nonperishable food or books. Donations can be made Marietta native Garland Jones was awarded a $500 Get Ur Good On grant. His project includes a food drive. at

Expansion to nearly double Levett Funeral Home in South DeKalb LEVETT,

from page


ing to stop that. How are you going to control the emissions that will go into the air.” Turman said the highest rates of respiratory problems, lung cancer and asthma in the county are in South DeKalb because of landfills and items dumped into the area over the years. Marcia Glenn, who lives nearby, said even though Levett was a good businessman in the community, residents have to look out for their own interests. “If I live in an apartment, I can move,” she said. “I can’t walk away from a $300,000 mortgage. As property owners we have to do what we can to maintain our property values.” Janie Leslie, who lives behind the funeral home, said she did not want the crematory so close to her home. “We beg you to reconsider,” she said. By the end of the meeting, Gregory Levett, the family patriarch who opened his first funeral home in Scottdale in August 1980, and his sons – Lanier Levett, the company’s chief operating officer, and Bernard Levett, president of B Square Construction – said they will not apply for a Special Land Use Permit to construct the crematory. “We are done with it,” said Lanier Levett. “Your voices have been heard.” The room of more than 50 residents, many of them presidents of community and civic associations, erupted in loud cheers.

Second fight against a crematory This is the second crematory that South DeKalb residents have fought in the past seven years. In April 2005, the former Sunset Funeral home, now Devine Mortuary, had tried to install an incinerator at its Hillandale Drive

Lanier Levett, shown with his father Gregory Levett, responds to opposition against the funeral home’s plans for a crematory at a July 10 community meeting.

Jennifer Ffrench Parker / CrossRoadsNews

location in Lithonia. After unmovable opposition, the DeKalb Board of Commissioners voted down its SLUP application, saying there were too many questions about regulation and inspection, emissions, odors and noise associated with cremation. The commissioners also expressed concern that approval of one crematory would spur a slew of applications. After listening to the mounting opposition Tuesday, Lanier Levett took the microphone to say that he grew up in Conyers and if he did wrong on the street, he would get a “whupping” all the way home, and then his parents would “whup” him when he got there. “Everybody in this room has beaten the mess out of us,” he said. “My behind is sore. Your voices have been heard. There will not be a crematory coming at Gregory B. Levett & Sons Funeral Homes Inc. South DeKalb.” Levett said that he saw many clients of the funeral home in the room. “The worst thing we could do is upset anybody we have served and you would not

continue to patronize Gregory B. Levett & Sons Funeral Homes,” he said. “I am telling you that there will not be a crematory coming on these premises.” With the family’s decision, the $800,000 expansion is now $600,000. It includes al-

most doubling the size of the 8,129-squarefoot Flat Shoals location to 14,080 square feet. The 5,951-square-foot expansion includes adding a 1,100-square-foot reception area, five 399-square-foot viewing rooms, a garage and storage rooms. Construction is slated to start by early October and be completed by March 2013. At the beginning of the meeting, Gregory Levett said he wanted a crematory at the South DeKalb location to serve a growing demand for cremation service from area families. The family operates a crematory at its Buford location. Levett said that last year, their four locations served 1,020 families, and of those 359 were cremations. “Of those 329 cremations, over 200 cremations came right here out of South DeKalb county,” he said. Levett said that he is a businessman but that he is also a community man. “We are going to continue to support this community and we want this community to continue to support us,” he said.

Community. Fairness. Justice.

Worship Services: .... Sundays - 7:45 a.m. & 11:00 a.m. Church School: ........ Sundays - 9:30 a.m. Victory Chapel:......... Sundays - 11:00 a.m. (Ages 5-16) Prayer Service: ........Tuesdays - 6:30 p.m. Sanctuary Family Bible Study: ..Tuesdays - 7:00 p.m. Mid-Wk Communion: Wednesdays B4 First Sunday - 11:30 a.m. Child Development Center


“God has a vision for our lives that is greater than any vision we can have for ourselves or that others can have for us.”




July 14, 2012

Teachers and school employees lobbied for a millage rate increase to avoid getting more furlough days.

New eatery, shoe School Board OKs 1-mill rate increase store at Northlake Shoppers and diners at Northlake Mall will have even more options this summer at the DeKalb County retail center, mall management says. A new full-service restaurant and a specialty shoe store join the recently opened Subway and T-Mobile stores. Fork in the Road, located near the main mall entrance, will spice up food choices when it opens in September. Its fresh fare includes burgers, fried chicken and salads for lunch and dinner. All sauces and salad dressings will be made from scratch daily. The specialty store Elevenup Shoes, which is already open, offers brands that include Barefoot Tess, Gwyneth Shoes and J Rene. It features high fashion shoes and caters to women who wear size 11 and up. Elevenup is located in a 633-square-foot store on the upper level near the mall entrance. Mall manager Marie Moore announced the addition of the eatery and shoe store in a July 12 statement. “We strive to offer the best options for our shoppers, and the addition of these specialty stores will enhance the shopping experience at Northlake Mall,” Moore said. “As always, we look forward to the continuing expansion of our offerings to better serve our shoppers.” The mall estimates that there are at least 20 new employees among all of the stores. Fork in the Road and Elevenup join Subway, the world’s largest sub sandwich chain, and T-Mobile, the fourth-largest wireless carrier in the United States with more than 33 million customers and America’s largest 4G network, at Northlake. Subway is now open in the Food Garden, and the 957-square-foot T-Mobile store is open near Chick-fil-A in the Food Garden. Northlake Mall features more than 115 specialty stores, including anchors Kohl’s, Macy’s, Sears and jcpenney and is an integral part of the Northlake Community Alliance, a business and homeowners organization instrumental in beautifying the community. For more information, visit

By Carla Parker

the vote was not available at press time Thursday.

DeKalb County property owners will have to pay more taxes after the DeKalb School Board approved a 1-mill rate increase that will raise the tax rate to 23.98 mills. The School Board voted 5-4 on July 9 to raise taxes that will bring in an additional $14.8 million. Board members Tom Bowen, Sarah Copelin-Wood, Jay Cunningham, Donna Edler and Eugene Walker voted for the millage increase that will cost the owner of a $100,000 house $27.50 more a year in property taxes. Nancy Jester, Don McChesney, Pam Speaks and Paul Womack voted against it. This is the first time in 10 years the School Board has raised taxes. School officials recommended increasing the millage rate to help plug an $85 million shortfall for the 2012-2013 operating budget of $760 million. The board also is considering laying off 250 teachers and 120 paraprofessionals at savings of $16.7 million. The teacher cuts, which include 120 pre-k teachers the school district proposes to rehire with the subsidy provided by the state, would save $14 million, and the paraprofessionals cut would save $2.7 million. Board members were set to vote on the additional cuts on Thursday but the meeting was canceled. The new date for

Two more furlough days School officials blame the projected $85 million budget shortfall on a 9 percent drop in assessed property values, increasing health care costs, and rising fuel and utilities expenses. The budget, which was approved by the board on June 21, included more than $77 million in cuts. Gregory Davis of Stone Mountain said raising the millage rate was a move the School Board had to make to save jobs and the quality of education. “The ultimate goal is to educate kids,” he said. “But to educate kids you still have to have services. And to have services you have to pay taxes.” Teachers and school employees lobbied for a millage rate increase to avoid getting more furlough days, which reduce their salaries. The approved budget cuts include two extra furlough days for teachers, bringing the total teacher furlough days to six for the 2012-2013 school year. Stone Mountain Middle School teacher Timothy Davis supported the tax increase and applauded the School Board for getting the budget under control. “I want to thank you for getting down to business so school can start on time,” he told the board.

Nonprofits can submit grant applications Local nonprofits serving the needy can apply for General Fund and Victim Assistance Fund consideration through Aug. 10. The DeKalb County Human and Community Development Department is now accepting 2013 Human Services Grant applications for General Fund and Victim Assistance Fund weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the William T. White Building, 39 Rogers St. N.E. in Atlanta. Applications also are available at Only applications from incorporated nonprofit organizations with a minimum of two years of service provision

in DeKalb will be considered. The organizations also must meet other guideline criteria for consideration.  Considered applicants must have a prevention or early intervention focus and meet an urgent community need. Services provided must address issues related to economically disadvantaged individuals, families, children, youth or senior adults, including under-served and difficult-to-serve populations. To be considered for 2013 funding, completed applications must be received no later than 5 p.m. Aug. 10. For more information, call Lisa Thomas at 404-270-1180.

July 14, 2012






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July 14, 2012

“In the midst of all that was going on inside, I thought, ‘Wow finally it’s my time.’” ” Amber Jackson, 21, an instructor at Dancemakers and a 2008 graduate of the DeKalb School of the Arts, is competing on “So You Think You Can Dance” on Fox.

Decatur native on Benedict board “You learn how the school runs Royce Ennett has been elected and see how it operates,” said Ento a seat on the Benedict College nett, who is a senior majoring in board of trustees. elementary education. Ennett attended Bob Mathis Ennett had to apply and be inElementary and Chapel Hill Middle terviewed by Benedict’s president, schools in Decatur and is a 2009 Dr. David Holmes Swinton, and graduate of the Lovett School in members of the board before his Atlanta. selection for the one-year term. As a trustee at Benedict, which Royce Ennett He said he wants to make his is located in Columbia, S.C., Ennett will help create and control policies that op- time on the board count. “I want to effect change on the school that erate the school’s finances, faculty and staff, won’t only last for one year but for students campus buildings and more. The 21-year-old Decatur native said to come,” he said. Ennett is also president of the Gamma serving on the 30-member board of the historically black college will be an education Pi chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity for him. He is the only student trustee and and a three-year member of the School of Honors. represents the 3,000-plus student body.

DSA grad makes Fox dance show Decatur native and 2008 DeKalb School of the Arts graduate Amber Jackson made her national television debut on Season 9 of Fox’s “So You Think You Can Dance” on July 11. Jackson, 21, was one of three metro Atlanta natives who made the top 20 on the dance show on June 27. Jackson started dancing at the age of 14 at the Ballethnic Academy of Dance in East Point. She danced her way through high school at DSA and later enhanced her dance technique at Dancemakers of Atlanta studio, studying ballet, jazz, modern, contemporary, pointe and hip-hop. Jackson has been an instructor at Dancemakers for the past four years.

In an interview with the show, Jackson said she was “overcome by a wave of emotions” when she became a contestant on the show. “Completely full of joy and excitement, which wowed my heart,” she said. “In the midst of all that was going on inside, I thought, ‘Wow finally it’s my time.’ It’s a dream come true and I’m very thankful to finally have this opportunity.” This season, the show will have a male winner and a female winner. Viewers can vote after each show for their favorite dancer to help them win the “So You Think You Can Dance” title. The show airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on Fox. An unlikely alliance helps save a family of gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle in “Big Miracle” with Ahmaogak Sweeney (from left), John Krasinski and Drew Barrymore.

‘Big Miracle’ screenings at libraries The family drama “Big Miracle” starring Drew Barrymore, John Krasinski and Ted Danson will be screened at three DeKalb Public Library branches this month as part of the New Movie Series. The 2012 film, which is rated PG-13, follows a news reporter (Krasinski) in smalltown Alaska as he recruits his ex-girlfriend (Barrymore) – a Greenpeace volunteer – on a campaign to save a family of gray whales trapped by rapidly forming ice in the Arctic Circle. They are joined by a native Alaskan boy (Ahmaogak Sweeney) as they rally an entire community and eventually rival world superpowers to save the majestic gray whales.

Danson plays J.W. McGraw, a wealthy businessman whose company has won the rights to drill for oil in the Arctic. The film will be shown at 2 p.m. on July 14 at Tucker-Reid H. Cofer Library, 5234 LaVista Road in Tucker. For more information, call 770-270-8234. On July 20 and 21, it will be screened at 2 p.m. at Stonecrest Library, 3123 Klondike Road in Lithonia. For more information, call 770-482-3828. The film, which was inspired by a true story, will be shown at 2 p.m. on July 28 at Covington Library, 3500 Covington Highway in Decatur. For more information, call 404508-7180.

Carter Library woos kids, adults Children of all ages and adults can learn more about foreign lands, history, nature and conservation through an author talk, Book Nook activities and a new exhibition at the Carter Library this month. J. Henry Fair Between now and Labor Day, admission for active duty military and their immediate family is free as part of the Blue Star Museum program, and admission for children 16 and under is free. On July 14, the new exhibition “Industrial Scars: The Photography of J. Henry Fair” opens. The stunning photographs show some of the most egregious cases of destruction of the planet, from oil spills to industrial pollution, in hopes that the viewer will come away with an innate understanding of the earth’s complicity and a will to make a difference.

On July 18, author Marc Wortman will read and sign copies of his book, “The Bonfire: The Siege and Burning of Atlanta” at 7 p.m. It is free and open to the public. The Book Nook for preschoolers takes place Marc Wortman Mondays with staff and volunteers reading from storybooks in the library and conducting outdoor Garden Safaris. Story time takes place in the museum lobby July 16 and 23 from 10 to 10:30 a.m. Garden Safari begins at 10:30 a.m. Themes include nature, the presidency, leadership, growing up, and roles that adults play. The Jimmy Carter Library and Museum is at 441 Freedom Parkway. For more information, visit or call 404-865-7100.



July 14, 2012


“By year 11, the savings in operation costs will pay for the building … a great partnership that made this happen.”

Family Fun Day

South River supporters can take a 5.5mile boat trip down the river on July 21 with the South River Watershed Alliance.

at Bransby YMCA

DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis and son Burrell III leap into Wade Walker Park Y’s pool during July 7 sneak peak. The Y will open on Aug. 16.

Residents very impressed with new Y’s stuffs YMCA,

from page

Adults and children will engage in fun and healthy activities at Commissioner Lee May’s fifth annual Health and Family Fun Day on July 22 at the Bransby Outdoor YMCA Center in Lithonia. The 2 p.m-7 p.m. event includes free food, live entertainment, health and wellness screenings, horseback riding, swimming, face painting, fitness games, moonwalks, and vendors. May, who represents District 5, also is collecting school supplies to benefit economically disadvantaged families, and guests are asked to donate book bags, pens, pencils and paper. Families attending the event are encouraged to bring chairs and coolers. Alcoholic beverages are prohibited. The Bransby Outdoor YMCA is at 1185 Rock Chapel Road. For sponsor inquiries, e-mail dekalbfamilyfunday@gmail. com. For more information, visit www.

South River canoe trip coming up Supporters of the South River can canoe down the river on July 21 with the South River Watershed Alliance. The 9 a.m.-to-1 p.m. outing takes off from Panola Shoals at the intersection of Panola and Snapfinger roads in Lithonia. Boaters will row 5.5 miles to Klondike Road while experiencing the natural beauty of South River and learning about the issues affecting the river, which runs

3455 Memorial Drive • Decatur, GA 30032


“This is beautiful,” said Singh. “It’s just wonderful.” Garrison said she loves the facility but urged the county to erect a pedestrian crossing across busy Rockbridge Road to the park so that there will be no accidents involving children. “Kids are going to see this,” she said, waving at the brightly colored water features. “They are going to want to come across the street. Other than that, everything is fabulous.” Veronica Stephenson, whose sons Bryce, 14, and Mark, 10, were enjoying the outdoor pool, said she loved everything she saw on Saturday. But she was most impressed that the community came together to bring a facility of that caliber to Stone Mountain. The YMCA features a full basketball court with a suspended running track around it, instructional lap and whirlpools and a sauna, a 4,000-square-foot wellness center with aerobic and weight equipment, day care and teen centers, an educational wing with ceramic area and a kiln, dance and aerobic studios and teaching spaces for computer and arts and crafts, and multipurpose community meeting rooms. DeKalb CEO Burrell Ellis, who lives within walking distance, said the county built a first-class intergenerational facility. He said he is proud that it is opening on his watch. “I count it as one of my accomplishments,” said Ellis, who is seeking a second term. “I take credit for not only getting it moving as a commissioner but for getting it completed as CEO.” District 4 Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton, who also lives nearby, said that the project was stalled for funding when she replaced Ellis as the district’s commissioner. Barnes Sutton, who also is running for re-election, said she and District 5 Commissioner Lee May and former District 7 Commissioner Connie Stokes allocated $1 million each from their districts’ share of the Park Bond funds approved by voters to get it going. The county owns the land and the building and the YMCA will pay all operating costs, which will save the county $2 million a year. “By year 11, the savings in operation costs will pay for the building,” Barnes Sutton said. “It’s just a great partnership that made this happen.” Through the partnership, residents in ZIP codes 30058, 30083, 30087 and 30088 are exempt from paying joining fees but must pay monthly membership dues. For more information, call 678-781-9622 or visit

14.5 miles through south DeKalb County. This is the alliance’s second recreational/ educational boat trip down the river. In April, eight canoes carried more than a dozen people down the river. Space is limited for the July 21 excursion and reservations are required. For cost and reservations, contact Jackie Echols at or 404-285-3756.

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