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YOUTH

Thornton scholars for 2018 Three Arabia Mountain High School seniors are getting a boost from the James L. Thornton Scholarship Fund. 6

EAST ATLANTA • DECATUR • STONE MOUNTAIN • LITHONIA • AVONDALE ESTATES • CLARKSTON • ELLENWOOD • PINE LAKE • REDAN • SCOTTDALE • TUCKER • STONECREST

Copyright © 2018 CrossRoadsNews, Inc.

May 19, 2018

Volume 24, Number 3

Handling of bus sickout questioned DeKalb County School District bus drivers stand for better pay, working conditions and retirement benefits during a DeKalb Board of Education meeting in Stone Mountain on May 14.

www.crossroadsnews.com

Election Day is May 22, time to make picks

By Jennifer Ffrench Parker

Green has been meeting regularly with bus drivers since the sickout to address their concerns but nothing has changed for them yet. Green, who earns more than $300,000 a year, has promised to review all DCSD wages in time for approval of the 2019 budget on June 30. He has also said that the district will evaluate a better bus driver retirement plan for consideration by the board in the fall, and implement itemized bus driver pay stubs by January 2019. Green has also committed to hiring two more bus dispatch personnel next year as well as additional bus monitors, and he is addressing lower-priority concerns from bus drivers such as the school district not responding promptly to incident reports, and potholes and poor lighting at various bus hubs. But Payne, a DCSD bus driver of five years, said that might not be enough. “We’re running out of time because school is out for the summer soon and DeKalb already has a shortage of school bus drivers,” he said. “There’s been talk among bus drivers that they’re not coming back,

After 11 weeks on the campaign trail, the 87 candidates in contested local races on the DeKalb primary and nonpartisan ballots must now face the music. And voters – who have encountered candidates at churches and community events; shook their hands and listened to their pitches at forums; perused their ads and fliers; and this week are pulling loads of campaign mailers from their stuffed mailboxes – must now make their picks. May 22 is election day, and all of DeKalb’s 189 precincts will open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. The precincts are at 174 different locations because some host multiple precincts. Voters who are in line at 7 p.m. will be allowed to vote. Mary Frances Week, administrative assistant with the DeKalb Registrations and Elections office, said there will be no election day voting at their main office on Memorial Drive. Through Wednesday, 13,205 voters had cast ballots in early voting that began on April 30 and ended on May 18. More voters than ever can vote in Tuesday’s elections. The county’s latest voter rolls show 517,759 registered voters, up from 501,452 in October 2017. The increase of 15,307 voters, reflect new voters who registered through April 24. The DeKalb Elections Office now puts the county’s active voters – those who have participated in the last two elections – at 471,449 up from 453,143 in October 2017. Citing similarities to May 2014 mid-

Please see SICKOUT, page 3

Please see Challengers, page 2

Rosie Manins/CrossRoadsNews

One fired driver rehired, other six remain hopeful By Rosie Manins

One of the seven bus drivers fired by the DeKalb County School District on April 19 has returned to work and the other six remain hopeful they will get their jobs back. The reinstated female bus driver, who has not been identified publicly by the school district, was rehired and began working again on May 7. “Since it is a personnel issue, we will not discuss the specifics or the name, but the driver was reinstated and is back on the job,” DCSD spokeswoman Eileen HoustonStewart said May 14. Seven school bus drivers were fired by Superintendent Dr. R. Stephen Green for allegedly organizing and encouraging a three-day sickout to pressure the district for better pay, working conditions R. Stephen Green and retirement benefits. More than 400 of the district’s 900-plus bus drivers participated in the April 19-23 sickout, stranding hundreds of students at bus stops for up to 90 minutes, and causing classes to start late. The district had to enlist

outside help from other districts and reschedule tests. Marion Payne, one of those fired, said the sickout remains a sensitive issue. “The bus driver that was rehired, she’s not goMarion Payne ing to talk to you because she’s been rehired,” Payne, a retired U.S. Army veteran, said May 14. “Dr. Green hasn’t said why they rehired her.” Payne, a Stone Mountain resident, and the other five drivers have engaged lawyers to determine the legality of their termination and whether they can get their jobs back. He said the rehiring of one bus driver gives the others hope. “You can’t fire us all for the same thing and then just hire one person back and not bring up the rest,” he said. “We’ll see what happens. I don’t think they [the school district] were expecting us to get lawyers.” Payne said he knows many DCSD bus drivers are planning to quit at the end of this school year because they’re unhappy with pay, working conditions and retirement benefits.


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Community Attorney General takes on BOC ethics complaint By Rosie Manins

Georgia Attorney General Christopher Carr wants DeKalb County to respond within 10 days to an ethics complaint about the DeKalb Board of Commissioners voting themselves a nearly 60 percent pay raise without Christopher Carr proper public notification. “I reviewed the agenda and meeting minutes and I did not see the topic of salary increases on the agenda, but the meeting minutes show that the Commission voted on that matter,” Assistant Attorney Jennifer Colangelo General Jennifer Colangelo said in a May 15 letter to DeKalb County attorney Viviane Ernstes. The BOC voted 6-1 to increase its part-time base salary by $24,107, or 59.4 percent, effective Jan. 1, 2019. With the raise, the commissioners’ annual base pay will go to $64,637, up from $40,530, making them among Viviane Ernstes the highest paid commissioners in metro Atlanta. Colangelo was responding to a March 6 complaint filed by Ed Williams alleging that the BOC voted for a salary increase without placing the item on the agenda of its Feb. 27 meeting. Williams, who lives in Lithonia, is now a candidate for the BOC’s Super 7 District seat. Colangelo said the attorney general has the discretionary authority to enforce Ed Williams the Open Records Act and the Open Meetings Act, and has chosen to exercise that discretion by establishing a mediation program that attempts to resolve disputes between citizens and local governments. “This office also reserves the right to pursue litigation in matters where it deems doing so is appropriate,” she said. Colangelo pointed out that the Open Meetings Act states that “failure to include on the agenda an item which becomes necessary to address during the course of a meeting shall not preclude considering and acting upon such item” but that the notice of the salary increase was published in the county’s legal organ two or three weeks before the Feb. 27 meeting. In that notice, the county said the fiscal impact of the increase would be an extra $229,660 a year. “Of course, I am not aware of all of the circumstances surrounding the complaint, and I am not assuming the county violated the law,” Colangelo wrote. “I would appreciate a response to Mr. Williams’ complaint within the next ten business days.” The county has until May 30 to respond. DeKalb County spokesman Andrew Cauthen says the county received the letter, but that its law department does not comment on legal matters.

May 19, 2018

“I reviewed the agenda and meeting minutes and I did not see the topic of salary increases on the agenda...”

Ballot questions seeks voter input on touchy issues By Rosie Manins

Voters in the May 22 Democratic primary can weigh in on gun control, Medicaid expansion, the drawing of political district boundaries, and mass transit investment. The Georgia Democratic Party is asking voters to choose yes or no to four questions on the ballot: n Should the sale and distribution of bump stocks be prohibited in the state of Georgia? n Should Georgia pull down our federal tax dollars to save rural hospitals and create more than fifty thousand jobs by expanding Medicaid? n Should Georgia allow voters to elect our own representatives by amending our Constitution to place the power of drawing district lines under the authority of an independent, non-partisan commission? n Should Georgia alleviate traffic congestion, reduce carbon emissions, and better connect communities by investing a substantial amount of existing tax dollars in mass transit? Answers to the questions will determine how the party proposes legislation going forward. The bump stocks question addresses the ongoing gun control debate. Bump stocks – attachments that make a semi-automatic weapon like an AR-15 rifle shoot nearly as fast as fully automatic machine guns – have been used in mass shootings. There is widespread bipartisan support for restricting them from civilian use and states such as New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts and California have declared them illegal. Moves are also afoot to do the same in Florida, Vermont, Hawaii, Maryland and Washington.

“Five rural hospitals in Georgia have closed since 2013 due to a lack of funding, and scores more operate under the threat of closure.”

DuBose Porter, Democratic Party state chairman

In the wake of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Fla., President Donald Trump has also instructed the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to issue regulations to treat bump stocks as machine guns, effectively banning them in the U.S. under federal law. “We will ban all devices that turn legal weapons into illegal machine guns,” Trump said March 23. The ATF issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on March 29 with a 90-day public comment period. If the rule becomes final, people would be required to destroy or surrender existing devices. In April, the holder of the bump stock patent – Slide Fire Solutions – announced it would cease production of bump stocks on May 20, though they did not state whether this was a temporary or permanent measure. The healthcare question is seeking directions from voters on Georgia’s long-standing reluctance to expand Medicaid, the largest funding source for medical and healthrelated services for low-income people. As of 2017, Medicaid is providing free health insurance to 74 million low-income and disabled people. As a means-tested program, Medicaid is jointly funded by state and federal gov-

ernments, and managed by states which determine eligibility. DuBose Porter, Democratic Party state chairman, says five rural hospitals in Georgia have closed since 2013 due to a lack of funding, and scores more operate under the threat of closure. “More than 300,000 Georgians live without health insurance, we have one of the highest infant and maternal mortality rates, and we rank 49th in Medicaid spending per enrollee,” Porter said Jan. 10, in response to Gov. Nathan Deal’s State of the State address. If Georgia expands Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, Porter said the state would reap benefits including “slashed uninsured rates, saved tax dollars and, more importantly, saved lives.” In Georgia, congressional and state district lines are drawn by the state legislature, leading to partisan gerrymandering of boundaries to favor the party in power. The district lines ballot question is testing the waters for an independent, nonpartisan commission to assume that role. Porter says an independent authority doing this job is in the best interest of voters. “The dangers posed in gerrymandering know no party affiliation and silence the voice of voters,” he said March 1. “Together, both parties can lead by example.” The mass transit question is tapping into the passionate conversations underway in many communities including DeKalb, where residents have supported MARTA with their tax dollars for decades with very little new investment into the county. Early voting for the May 22 elections ended May 18, with more than 13,200 votes cast in DeKalb. The polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day.

Challengers seeking to unseat 15 incumbents election, from page

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terms, DeKalb Elections Director Erica Hamilton is predicting a 20 percent turnout. Fifteen races on the ballot include challenges to incumbents, some of whom have been in office for up to 27 years. The hot races that should lure voters to Tuesday’s polls include the challenges to incumbents Superior Court Judge Courtney Johnson and Super District 7 Commissioner Gregory Adams. Both attracted opposition because of behavior while in office. Johnson, a twoterm incumbent, is being challenged by DeKalb attorney Genet Hopewell because of her alleged poor treatment of attorneys, witnesses and defendants in her courtroom resulting in the Georgia Supreme Court overturning her verdict in the Burrell Ellis corruption trial. The county had to pay Ellis’ court costs – $1.2 million in attorney’s fees – and $223,000 in back pay. Adams, who won a special election and has only been in office for 17 months, drew opposition from three challengers – Lorraine Cochran-Johnson, John Tolbert and Ed Williams – in part because he sexually harassed his chief of staff. A county internal

investigation, which found that Adams violated the county’s sexual harassment policy, recommended that he undergo sensitivity training. In the 13 other races with incumbents – School Board District 2, DeKalb District 3, the 4th Congressional District, Georgia House seats 81,83, 86, 87, 90, and 94; and Georgia Senate Districts 40, 41, 43 and 44 – political hopefuls are hoping to unseat elected officials they say have become ineffective, many from being in office too long. Open races for the bench and the school board have also attracted attention. In the contest to succeed Superior Court Judge Daniel Coursey Jr., five attorneys – Tunde Akinyele, Gina Bernard, Roderick Bridges, Kirby Clements Jr., Latisha Dear-Jackson and Nicholas Smith – are vying to make the cut. In the DeKalb School Board District 6 race, Redan graduate Diijon “Twin” DaCosta and DeKalb NAACP stalwart Lance Hammonds are battling for the seat. Voters are also picking party nominees for the 6th Congressional District, Georgia Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Secretary of State, Labor, and Insurance Commissioners, State School Superintendent, Public Service Commissioner, and Court

of Appeals. Voters in the Democratic primary will also get to weigh in on gun control, Medicaid expansion, the drawing of political district boundaries, and mass transit investment on the ballot. The Georgia Democratic Party is asking them to vote yes or no to four questions: n Should the sale and distribution of bump stocks be prohibited in the state of Georgia? n Should Georgia pull down our federal tax dollars to save rural hospitals and create more than fifty thousand jobs by expanding Medicaid? n Should Georgia allow voters to elect our own representatives by amending our Constitution to place the power of drawing district lines under the authority of an independent, non-partisan commission? n Should Georgia alleviate traffic congestion, reduce carbon emissions, and better connect communities by investing a substantial amount of existing tax dollars in mass transit? Answers to the questions will determine how the party proposes legislation going forward. Sample ballots are available at www. dekalbvotes.com.

Decatur Post Office hosting passport fair on May 26 By Bryce Etheridge

Adults and children can apply for or renew their passports at a May 26 Passport Fair at the Decatur Post Office. The annual event helps families avoid the rush while planning summer travels. It takes place 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Applications will be processed on a first-come, first-served basis. Applicants should print the applica-

tion form from www.travel.state.gov and complete it beforehand in black ink, but the application must be signed in the presence of a passport agent. Applicants must also bring accepted photo identification which includes a Georgia driver’s license, an undamaged expired U.S. passport, or a current military ID; as well as two recent, identical, 2-by-2 inch photographs of themselves on a white background.

On-site photo services will be available for a fee of $15. To process applications, all applicants, including minor children, must be present. Children younger than 16 must have both parents present. If a parent is absent, a notarized authorization along with a photocopy of the parent’s ID must be presented. The Decatur Post Office is at 520 W. Ponce de Leon Ave in Decatur.


May 19, 2018

Community

CrossRoadsNews

“I think it was just a matter of the council appointing someone on a temporary basis that they felt comfortable with at this time.”

GBI investigating Lithonia police after city fired chief By Rosie Manins

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is investigating the Lithonia Police Department, and the city is seeking a new chief of police after firing Roosevelt Smith for allegedly misusing his power. Smith, who was placed on paid leave in February by the Lithonia City Council, was terminated by the council at its May 7 meeting. He faces allegations Roosevelt Smith that he ran his name through the Georgia Crime Information Center (GCIC) database to look into someone’s background, which he did not have the authority to do. Smith, who has been a police officer since 1987, joined the Lithonia Police Department in 2013. He was a captain when he was appointed chief of police in November 2014, when former Chief Eddie Moody became the city administrator. Lithonia Mayor Deborah Jackson said Smith’s termination was effective April 30, and followed an April 16 decision by the city council to place him on unpaid leave. Pserda Dickerson, a sergeant, was appointed interim chief on Feb. 2. Jackson said the police chief position will be advertised. “The interim does have the ability to apply to be considered,” she said May 14. Several Lithonia police officers quit after Dickerson’s appointment, allegedly because they believed the council should have appointed someone of higher rank, such as a

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major or captain. “I think it was just a matter of the council appointing someone on a temporary basis who’s been with the department that they felt comfortable with at this time during the process,” Jackson said at the time. The GBI began its investigation on March 6, at the request of Dickerson. Responding to questions from CrossRoadsNews on May 14, GBI deputy director of public affairs Bahan Rich said the investigation focuses on allegations of Georgia Crime Information Center violations by officials within the police department. Atlanta news media reported on May 12 that Lithonia City Council member William “Ric” Dodd had accused Smith of misusing the GCIC. Dodd had also accused other officers of doing the same thing, Channel 2 Action News and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Dodd has not responded to questions. The Georgia Peace Officer Standards and Training Council has asked the city of Lithonia for information regarding Smith’s termination. “We have asked, but not yet received, the information from the city of Lithonia,” investigations director Phillip Stacy said May 15. “The city reported Smith’s termination, and we asked for information about it.” Jackson declined further comment on Smith’s termination, or the GBI investigation of the entire police department, but she said Lithonia residents needn’t be worried. “The citizens should feel confident that we will continue to provide public safety and maintain law and order,” she said May 14.

Drivers average about $23K per year SICKOUT,

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because they don’t like the way they’re being treated and they want to move on, and others are retiring.” On May 14, a dozen DCSD bus drivers stood silently at the back of the DeKalb Board of Education’s first public meeting since the sickout, as parents, a teacher, and other supporters advocated on their behalf. Fearing for their jobs, the bus drivers did not want to speak at the meeting, nor be photographed or named by media, given the firing of their colleagues. Only one, John Crear Sr., dared to voice his concerns to the board during the community input session of the 6 p.m. meeting, attended by more than John Crear 100 parents, residents and other stakeholders.

“My concern is for my fellow workers who were dismissed over the sickout,” said Crear, a five-year DCSD bus driver. The average DCSD bus driver works about 30 hours a week and earns about $23,000 a year. Considered a part-time job, drivers work split shifts starting as early as 4 a.m. and finishing as late as 7 p.m. After the meeting, several of the bus drivers too afraid to talk publicly for fear of losing their jobs spoke to media anonymously. One man, a driver of 15 years, said he used to work a lot of overtime to pay the bills but now overtime is capped by the school district and drivers rely on field trips to get a decent wage. “Who wants to have to do field trips every single day?” he said. The driver said the sickout, in which he participated, was the result of driver concerns that have long been ignored by administrators. “It’s sad,” he said. “We’re the third largest school district in Georgia but we’re not even in the top 10 for bus drivers’ pay in the state.”


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Scene

CrossRoadsNews

May 19, 2018

“The new route is going to be really nice, the bands are really pleased with it, and I just hope everything goes well on the day.”

Carnival at Stonecrest to be ‘bigger, better than ever’ 2346 Candler Rd. Decatur, GA 30032 404-284-1888 Fax: 404-284-5007 www.crossroadsnews.com editor@crossroadsnews.com

Editor / Publisher Jennifer Parker Staff Writer Jennifer Ffrench Parker Editorial Intern Rosie Manins Bryce Etheridge Front Office Manager Catherine Guy Multimedia Editor Sharif Williams CrossRoadsNews is published every Saturday by CrossRoads­News, Inc. We welcome articles on neighborhood issues and news of local happenings. The opinions expressed by writers and contributors are not necessarily those of the publisher, nor those of any advertisers. The concept, design and content of CrossRoads­News are copyrighted and may not be copied or reproduced in whole or in part in any manner without the written permission of the publisher. Advertisements are published upon the representation that the advertiser is authorized to publish the submitted material. The advertiser agrees to indemnify and hold harmless from and against any loss or expenses resulting from any disputes or legal claims based upon the contents or subject matter of such advertisements, including claims of suits for libel, violation of privacy, plagiarism and copyright infringement. We reserve the right to refuse any advertisement.

Circulation Audited By

Since 2003

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Jennifer Ffrench Parker / CrossRoadsNews

Atlanta DeKalb Carnival spectators lined both sides of the parade route on Covington Highway in Decatur on May 27, 2017. Organizers say the crowd easily topped 15,000. DeKalb Police closed several roads around the route for five and a half hours. Trinidadian soca/ pop music group Kes the Band (left) will headline the show in the Festival Village after the parade, which will feature its usual assortment of colorful flashy costumes and smiling faces.

By Rosie Manins

A sea of spectacular costumes, feathers the color of the rainbow, and thousands of masqueraders gyrating to the sweet sounds of steel drums are headed to Stonecrest on May 26 for Atlanta DeKalb Carnival. Organizers – Atlanta Carnival Band Leaders Parade Council and Atlanta Carnival Production – say more than 20,000 paraders, musicians, and spectators are expected to revel in the festivities which kicks off at noon on Mall Parkway near Walmart with the Carnival Parade. The event – which is relocating from Decatur, where it has been held annually on Covington Highway since 2015 – is being held in Stonecrest for the first time. In the three years since organizers brought Carnival to DeKalb County, attendance has ballooned from 6,000 the first year to 15,000 last year. Stonecrest Mayor Jason Lary is happy that his city is hosting the event. “I love Carnival,” said Lary, who will be one of the carnival’s grand marshals and ride in a convertible during the five-hour parade. “I am happy it is coming this way.” Masqueraders resplendent in brightly colored feathers, chiffon and tiny bikinis will dance along the two-mile parade route and rendezvous at the Festival Village, in the parking lot in front of the former Kohl’s building now owned by Atlanta Sports City. Cilia McTush, a Carnival organizer and sponsorship coordinator, says this year’s event is going to be bigger and better than ever before. “I’m extremely excited and a little nervous,” she said May 16. “The new route is going to be really nice, the bands are really pleased with it, and I just hope everything goes well on the day.” The weather forecast for May 26 is partly cloudy with a high of 86 – perfect weather for masqueraders. More than 4,000 musicians, band members, dancers and other entertainers will compete in the parade for prizes and bragging rights. Thousands of spectators, many of whom will travel from Canada, New York and Florida will

Jennifer Ffrench Parker / CrossRoadsNews

line the route to dance along and cheer for their favorite bands. Competing bands, ranging in size from 200 to 900 people, will cross the Festival Village stage in front of a panel of judges that will award points based on costumes and liveliness. Mas bands include Atlanta Junkanoo Group, Calabash Alley Masqueraders, Inferno Mas Band, Panamanics Mas Band, and Islandaz Mas. The band to beat is Madd Colors from Trinidad – one of the largest to compete in DeKalb’s carnival, and a huge favorite. This year’s carnival will also include a majorette team from the U.S. Virgin Islands. After the parade, a lineup of local and international calypso, reggae and other artists will perform in the Festival Village until 10 p.m. Masqueraders and spectators plucked from the crowd will compete for cash prizes in a firsttime-ever limbo contest. Musical acts are traveling from Haiti, Panama, Costa Rica, Jamaica, The Bahamas, Trinidad and Tobago, Saint Lucia, Guyana, Brazil, England, Canada, from across the United States for performances in the Festival Village. Trinidadian soca/pop music group Kes the Band will headline the show. The band, which is known for its unique blend of soulful vocals, calypso-inspired melodies, rock music riffs and island beats with hints of reggae, is making its Atlanta DeKalb Carnival debut. The group, made up of brothers Kees Dieffenthaller (lead vocals) and Hans Dieffenthaller (drums); and Jon Dieffenthaller (guitar), along

Jennifer Ffrench Parker / CrossRoadsNews

with longtime friend Riad Boochoon (bass guitar), is known for its electric and high-energy performances. It is wildly popular in Trinidad and throughout the Caribbean, and has also performed in Berlin, Germany. Inside the Festival Village, which requires a cover charge to get in, more than 30 food and arts and craft vendors will sell everything from island delicacies like bammy and fried fish, jerk pork, curry chicken, coconut rum cake, and mauby, to handmade clothing, jewelry, flags, souvenirs, and oils, creams and soaps. Vendors are coming from the Caribbean islands as well as Florida, New York and Philadelphia to join locally based ones. Despite the huge crowds attracted by the carnival, DeKalb Police has never had made any arrests at event. McTush said the crime-free nature of the event has been a surprise to law enforcement. “They can’t believe there are never any emergency calls whatsoever, and they can’t believe the sheer number of people we get,” McTush said. “Everybody’s just out having a good time and enjoying themselves.” She says the Stonecrest community, businesses and officials are right behind the carnival, providing support and ample parking spaces, including in the former Target lot. Accommodations around Stonecrest are almost already booked out for the Memorial Day weekend. For more information, visit http://atlantacarnivalbc.net/.


May 19, 2018

CrossRoadsNews

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Youth

CrossRoadsNews

May 19, 2018

“It had such an impact on their family, we felt it was vital to give the opportunity to families in DeKalb County.”

Three Arabia Mountain seniors nab 2018 Thornton Scholarships

Three Arabia Mountain High School seniors – Erin Roberson, John W. Jackson III and Daryl Lanier – are headed to college this fall with $6,254 worth of scholarships from the James L. Thornton Scholarship Fund. Erin, who will attend Belmont University in St. Claire, Ohio, and major in chemistry/pre-pharmacy, is the first-place scholarship winner for 2018. She received $2,718. John, the second-place James Thornton winner, received $2,018. He plans to attend Florida A&M University and major in nursing. Third-place winner Daryl, who got $1,518, plans to attend Georgia State University and major in computer science. The Thornton Scholarships are awarded annually by Lovell and Ora Thornton in memory of their son James, who was a rising senior at Lithonia High School when he was killed in a car accident on Aug. 9, 2002. James, a 17-year-old honor student, was a back-seat passenger in the car when it hit several trees on Flakes Mill Road, near the Henry County line. The car was driven by a 16-year-old. Police said speed was a factor in the accident. Three of the four teenagers in the car were ejected. James was the only fatality. His parents used donations that poured in from their Lithonia neighbors, co-workers,

Ora Thornton (left) and her husband Lovell Thornton awarded scholarships totaling $6,254 to (left to right) John W. Jackson III, Erin Roberson and Daryl Lanier, in honor of their son James, who died in a car accident when he was 17.

church members, students and teachers to seed the scholarship They started awarding $2,250 in scholarships, three each of $750. The Thorntons, who live in Lithonia, established the scholarship in the hopes that teens might think more about safety, and as

GPTC names interim president By Jennifer Ffrench Parker

Dr. D. Glen Cannon has been appointed interim president of Georgia Piedmont Technical College. Cannon, a former GPTC vice president of administration, has held positions in finance, operations and senior management. He began his career at DeKalb Technical College in 2007 before it became GPTC. He D. Glen Cannon left the college, based in Clarkston, in 2011 to become president of Chattahoochee Valley Community College in Phenix City, Ala. Cannon returned to Georgia in September 2014 to serve as the third president of Gwinnett Technical College. Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) Commissioner Matt Arthur announced his appointment on May 14. Cannon replaces Dr. Jabari Simama, who served from 2012 to May 11, 2018, when Arthur citing “financial concerns” with the school’s financial aid program placed him on paid administrative leave. Simama retired from the system on May 11. Arthur said Cannon “will be a tremendous leader during this time of transition” for the college based in Clarkston.

He said TCSG will immediately begin the search for Georgia Piedmont’s next president. In the wake of Simama’s removal from office, Dr. Ivan Allen, president of Central Georgia Technical College in Macon, led an assessment team of system-wide experts in student enrollment, financial aid, finance, and operations to conduct a thorough review of mission-critical aspects of GPTC’s operations and made recommendations for improvements. Arthur said Allen will now return to Macon. Cannon, a certified public accountant, has more than 30 years of experience in higher education. He also served at Central Georgia Technical College in Macon from 1994 to 2007, and at Moultrie Technical College in Moultrie from 1993 to 1994. He was the director of accounting at Carroll Technical Institute (now West Georgia Technical College) in Waco from 1989 to 1993. At all of these schools, he was either a vice president of administrative services or director of accounting. He serves on the board of directors for the Greater North Fulton Chamber of Commerce and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce. He also is involved in organizations such as Partnership Gwinnett, the Metro Atlanta Learn4Life initiative, and the Greater North Fulton Talent Coalition.

a way of helping others to pursue their postsecondary education. The scholarship began with the 2003 Class of Lithonia High School. The first 13 years, it was open only to Lithonia High School students. Starting in 2016, the Thorntons opened the scholarship to students from Arabia Mountain, Miller Grove and Martin Luther King Jr. high schools. Applicants must have a 3.0 GPA, be in good academic standing and write an essay on safety, and must attend an accredited institution of higher education.

Students with driver’s license also must not have had any moving violations in the previous 12 months. Lovell Thornton said the goal each year is to award at least three scholarships. This year’s recipients bring to 42 the total number of scholarships awarded over the past 16 years. Arabia Mountain High School students have received eight of the nine scholarships awarded since 2016. For more information, visit www.southdekalb.com/jlt.

Program targets fathers of daughters By Bryce Etheridge

Fathers can explore some of the issues faced by their daughters at a “Because We Have Daughters” event on June 9, but they must register by June 1. The annual event is Ulester Douglas part of the Because We Have Daughters initiative, established in 2005 by nonprofit Men Stopping Violence to give men the opportunity to deepen their bonds with their daughters. DeKalb Solicitor-General Donna Coleman-Stribling, who is partnering with Men Stopping Violence on this year’s program, said her office’s goal is to create a better and safer DeKalb. “Strengthening family bonds is one way we do that,” she said. Coleman-Stribling said she learned of the program after a member of her team participated in it last year. “It had such an impact on their family, we felt it was vital to give the opportunity to families in DeKalb County,” she said. “Creating a safe space for fathers to strength their bond with their daughter, isn’t only beneficial to these individual families, but also benefits our community.” Men Stopping Violence organizes men to end male violence against women and girls through innovative training, programs and

advocacy. The half-day Because We Have Daughters program is based on six core values – active listening; valuing girl’s voice; awareness of space; assertiveness, not aggression; appreciation for D. Coleman-Stribling nontraditional qualities; and standing up for what we learn together. It is designed to create awareness and understanding of societal pressures girls and women face. The program starts at 9 a.m. at Peace Baptist Church, 4000 Covington Highway in Decatur. Ulester Douglas, MSV’s executive director, said it is important to have the support of community leaders like Coleman-Stribling. “Our goal is to give every man this opportunity to grow and learn from the young women in their lives,” he said. “By having community partners train their team and facilitate sessions of Because We Have Daughters, we’re able to exceed our expectations of the program.” The Because We Have Daughters event is free to attend. Lunch will be provided. Because space is limited, registration is required at https://dekalbfatherdaughter. eventbrite.com. For more information, visit http://menstoppingviolence.org/

Rain moves GPTC commencement Georgia Piedmont Technical College’s May 19 spring commencement has been relocated because of impending inclement weather. The college said May 17 that the event has been relocated indoors to Springfield Baptist Church, 1877 Iris Drive S.E. in Conyers. It was originally set to take place at the

open-air James R. Hallford Stadium on Memorial College Avenue in Clarkston. The 9 a.m. start time of the ticketed event remains unchanged. It will be live streamed at http://media.thechurchonline. com/springfield/ For more information visit https://www. gptc.edu/


CrossRoadsNews

May 19, 2018

Community

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“My role basically is to meet with representatives of different organizations and observe the election.”

Lithonia mayor Quest to relocate Confederate monument continues in Venezuela to DeKalb County is re-advertising a refor information for the Confederate observe election quest monument in Decatur Square, as county By Rosie Manins

By Rosie Manins

Lithonia Mayor Deborah Jackson is one of 200 elected officials from around the world who will be observing Venezuela’s presidential election on May 20 in Caracas. Jackson and the other U.S. officials were invited to be poll observers by the Venezuelan National Electoral Council, an independent body that is paying for the May 17-21 trip. They flew to Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, Deborah Jackson and will visit different polling areas and observe voters on election day. Jackson, who is fluent in Spanish, is the only elected official from DeKalb County making the trip. Not everyone making the trip speaks Spanish, and Jackson said it was not a requirement, but is helpful. “My role basically is to meet with representatives of different organizations and observe the election,” Jackson said May 14. “It’s a very short time we’re there, but I think we’ll receive a presentation about what’s been happening in the country.” Jackson said she is not expecting too much turmoil from voters. “I’m hoping it will be well managed,” she said. “I’m hoping we’ll see that all possible steps are being taken to ensure that the election is free and fair.”

commissioners debate whether to establish a task force to come up with new location options for the 110-year-old obelisk. Only a couple of people responded to the county’s first public RFI about relocating the Lost Cause monument, erected in 1908 by the United Daughters of the Confederacy. DeKalb’s efforts to involve that organization and several others with Civil War or Confederate ties in the monument’s relocation have also failed over the last few months. Commissioners resolved earlier this year to investigate legal options for relocating the monument, following widespread public opposition to the structure and what it represents. Speaking before the May 8 DeKalb operations committee, DeKalb COO Zachary Williams, said the RFI will be re-advertised so the county can continue soliciting public input. Committee members, including District 5 Commissioner Mereda Davis Johnson who has led the county effort to relocate the monument, will vote at their May 22 meeting on whether to create a task force to make recommendations to the Board of Commissioners. Davis Johnson said May 8 that residents can give their input about the monument and its relocation “so we can get a better perspective.” She said she wants to see the monument removed from its prominent position outside the historic DeKalb courthouse.

Hundreds of people rallied against the Confederate monument in Decatur Square on Sept. 10, 2017, surrounding the 110-yearold obelisk and demanding its removal.

Rosie Manins/CrossRoadsNews

“I’ve personally experienced segregation, hatred and divisiveness because of my color,” Davis Johnson said. “I remember in 1959 when a cross was burned in my yard. My brother, because he was black, barely missed a bullet that was shot inside our home when he was about four years old.” North Druid Hills resident Ben Williams told commissioners at their May 8 meeting that the monument should be relocated to the county’s landfill in Ellenwood. “These monuments deserve no place of honor in our public spaces, and our citizens shouldn’t have to live under the shadow of white supremacist objects and monuments that were meant to intimidate our ancestors,” said Williams, a member of the Fear Fighters Digital Media Exposition. He suggested that the county relocate

the 30-foot Lost Cause obelisk to the landfill entrance, or the side of a trash pit “so that one day when state law is corrected or overturned – and that day is coming – all we have to do is tip it over into the trash pit and call it a day.” State law currently prohibits the county from destroying the monument or removing it from public view. “The county-owned landfill is the rightful place for this monument because this monument is garbage,” Williams said. “Just like swastikas and statues of Adolf Hitler, it belongs in the trash heap of history.” Davis Johnson said Williams’ suggestion wasn’t such a bad idea. “That’s what I think the monument is worth,” she said. “But I’m open to see what other recommendations come in.”


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CrossRoadsNews, May 19, 2018  
CrossRoadsNews, May 19, 2018