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Focus City of Decatur

Annual Report 2017

Courage Creativity Commitment Clear zone

JULY-AUGUST 2017 Volume 28 • Number 1

Official Publication of The City of Decatur, Georgia

Crosswalks Reflect School Spirit


innona Park Elementary kindergarten students and teachers collaborated with the Decatur Public Works Department’s Design, Environment and Construction Division to re-paint the crosswalks in front of the school as part of their “My Community and Me” learning expedition. The kindergarten team worked together to answer “How can I help my community?” and settled on the idea of the crosswalk improvements along Winnona Park Elementary. The school was awarded a grant from the Winnona Park Elementary PTA for the project.

On the last day of school, kindergarteners gathered in the street to paint the crosswalks the school colors – purple, yellow and white. These upgraded crosswalks now bring a sense of school pride to the street and make the neighborhood safer and more beautiful. City staff enjoyed working with the students and teachers and sharing their knowledge and experience on pedestrian safety.

News 3 City

BUsiness 9 NEWs



School news 21

Focus City of Decatur

Municipal Benchmark Report

Decatur’s Top 10


enchmarking is “the practice of comparing performance with standards or the performance results achieved by others” and it is not a new concept to many local governments. Following the Great Recession many places, including Decatur, began looking for ways to do more with less. This chalFocus on lenge presented a unique opportunity to review Community internal and external processes and workflows Development in an effort to make cost-effective and efficient improvements. In fall 2013, the city’s Performance Measurement Team embarked on a project to identify communities around the United States that were similar to Decatur, to make comparisons and learn best practices. As a starting point, comparable places were drawn from a list of jurisdictions that participate in the National Research Center’s citizen survey program and were members of the former ICMA Center for Performance Measurement program. Each location

The Decatur Focus is a joint publication of the City of Decatur, the Decatur Downtown Development Authority and the Decatur Business Association. It is a newsletter intended to provide announcements and information related to events, activities, and businesses in the City of Decatur. The purpose of the newsletter is to promote the city and encourage the exchange of information among residents, business owners and the school system. Letters to the editor, editorials or other opinion pieces are not published. All press releases, announcements and other information received for publication are subject to editing. Information found in the Focus is also posted on Decatur’s official website at The deadline for submitting articles, announcements or advertising is the first day of the month preceding publication. Contact: Editor, Decatur Focus, P.O. Box 220, Decatur, GA 30031, 404-371-8386; fax 404-371-1593; email: Clear zone

DECATUR CITY COMMISSION Patti Garrett...................................................Mayor Fred Boykin................................Mayor Pro Tem Scott Drake..................................Commissioner Tony Powers...............................Commissioner Brian Smith..................................Commissioner

See DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT on page 8 The Decatur Square, May 2017

DECATUR DOWNTOWN DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY Board Chris Sciarrone, Chair Linda Curry • John Drake Bill Floyd • Scott Kentner Tony Leung • Fisher Paty

Decatur Business Association

DECATUR BUSINESS ASSOCIATION Kyle Williams......................................... President Susan Sparks.............................. President-Elect Reshell Baldini...................................... Treasurer Lisa Bobb................................................. Secretary Tim Martin.................................... Past President

Design and layout: Information for the FOCUS should be submitted by mail to Editor, Decatur Focus, P.O. Box 220, Decatur, GA 30031, or by email to

2 | Decatur Focus • JULY-AUGUST 2017

City News craft beer tasting festival

A Call for Proposals


he Decatur Craft Beer Tasting Festival committee is now accepting proposals from Decatur-based nonprofit organizations to be considered for funding from proceeds of the October 2017 festival. Each year the committee donates 75 percent of festival profits to designated projects; funds the holiday Keep It Indie-Catur advertising campaign; and provides startup funding for the next year’s festival. The committee is interested in funding projects that contribute to the quality of life in Decatur and do not have ongoing fundraising associated with them. The committee prefers to use its funds to jump-start a special project and provide seed capital to get a focused activity off the ground. Organizations must be based within the city of Decatur to be considered. The grant application for 2017 may be found at, or call 678-553-6573, or email shirley.baylis@ and request a copy. Applications must be received by 5 p.m., Monday, Aug. 7, in the Community & Economic Development Department, on the second floor of Decatur City Hall.

DeKalb County under Level 2 Drought Response


eorgia’s Environmental Protection Division has declared a Level 2 drought response for much of metro Atlanta, including DeKalb County, as drought conditions continue. Lake Lanier did not refill over the winter as is normal and, despite recent rains, the lake remains below full pool. The Lake Lanier-Chattahoochee River system serves as the main water source for much of our region. Residents should be aware that there are outdoor watering restrictions for lawns, shrubs and trees and an outright ban on certain non-commercial outdoor water use. Partial lists of the types of residential watering permitted or banned during this Level 2 response are below. Visit for full details. What IS Allowed? Residents can water trees, lawns and shrubs as needed, up to twice a week. Even-addresses can water on Wednesday or Saturday and odd-addresses on Thursday or Sunday. You should water only before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m. on your designated days. Watering your personal food garden is allowed at any time as well as the irrigation of new seed, turf and plants for the first 30 days following installation. You may also water from private wells or other bodies of water on your property. Hand watering via hose is also allowed. What is NOT allowed? During this time, washing vehicles at home, non-commercial pressure washing of houses or driveways, and ornamental uses of water such as in fountains are not allowed.

Willie Walker

Citizen’s Police Academy The 2017 Decatur Citizen’s Police Academy (CPA) will be held in September-November. Sessions are Thursday nights, 7-9:30 p.m. The 10-week course will focus on the inner workings of the police department and how officers enforce laws and help keep everyone safe. In addition to attending weekly sessions covering various topics, participants will complete a patrol ridea-long and have the opportunity to get to know many of the officers serving the community, as well as meet new neighbors from around the city. If you are interested in signing up for the CPA, contact Lt. Jennifer Ross at or 678-553-6613.

Holiday Solid Waste and Recycling Services Labor Day Monday, Sept. 4 Regular services for Monday will be on Tuesday, Sept. 5. Regular services for Tuesday will be on Wednesday, Sept. 6. JULY-AUGUST 2017 • Decatur Focus | 3

City News Prevent Summertime FOG Did you know that your summertime barbecue could be clogging your pipes and dirtying your water? Fats, oils and grease, also known as FOG, are among the leading causes of sewer overflows. In fact, residents and businesses pouring fats, oils and grease down sinks and drains cause 60 percent of sewer overflows in DeKalb County. When residents and businesses pour these substances down sinks or drains (or flush them down toilets), they can build up in pipes. Sewage overflow repairs are costly for the city and its residents, and can result in increased costs for water and sewer services. Keeping Decatur Pipes Clean Residents and businesses can play a very important role in protecting Decatur pipes from FOG. Residents can help by: • Never pouring fats, oils and grease down drains or flushing in toilets. • Pouring cooled fats, oils and grease into a sealed container and placing it in the garbage. • Using a paper towel to clean up excess grease residue left on the inside of pots, pans, and utensils. Be sure to place greasy towels in the trash. • Placing all food scraps from plates, pots, pans, utensils, and any cooking surfaces into the trash for disposal. Residents and businesses with garbage disposals should also place food scraps in the trash. This year, DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond introduced two plans aimed at cleaning the sewer system trunk lines. In addition to clearing pipes, the plans approved by county commissioners will replace sewer lining and bursting pipes. This is the first time in 50 years that DeKalb County will clean the sewer trunk lines and the project is anticipated to take two years to complete. The DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management currently services more than 5,000 miles of water and wastewater pipes in the county system, but the county needs your help to ensure that pipes remain clean. Learn More about FOG For more information about FOG or upcoming DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management projects, email, call 404-687-7250, or visit

Meet Narl, Decatur Walking Superstar for July Narl Davidson and his wife moved to the Great Lakes community in Decatur two years ago because of its walkability. Narl no longer drives, but he walks to the Kroger and/or CVS frequently to get groceries and other supplies. He walks his dog, Winnie the Pooch, at least twice a day, sometimes for an hour. One of their favorite walks is to the Furry Tails Pet Store. Narl also rides his bike to his church on Moreland Avenue every Thursday.

4 | Decatur Focus • JULY-AUGUST 2017

Early Agnes Scott Alumnus Buried in Decatur Cemetery


onald Donaldson, one of the earliest co-eds in the history of Agnes Scott College, lies buried in the Old Section of Decatur Cemetery. He was one of a handful of boys who attended the college as part of a co-ed experiment in the late 1800s. Decatur Cemetery and the Agnes Scott community have maintained close ties over the last 128 years. Many founders, including Col. G.W. Scott, two presidents, many faculty and alumnae have become “silent citizens” of our downtown treasure. If you’d like to know more about the Agnes Scott connection with Decatur Cemetery, contact A guided tour of college-connected sites is available by reservation.

City News Better Together Partners Meeting The Better Together Advisory Board will hold a meeting on Thursday, July 27, 4-6 p.m., in the Public Works Building Community Room, 2635 Talley St. for potential community partners. Community partners are groups, organizations or nonprofits interested in partnering to help implement the Better Together Community Action Plan for Equity, Inclusion and Engagement. The Community Action Plan outlines 60 action items for individuals, organizations and local government to undertake together and independently to help carry out the plan The objective of the meeting is to follow up on the initial community partners meeting held in 2015, to share a little more about the Community Action Plan, to provide updates about what is currently being done and to hear from the community partners about initiatives and activities focused on equity, inclusion and engagement. All potential community partners are invited and encouraged to attend. For more information or to register, contact Linda Harris,, or call 678-553-6512.

SEE CLICK FIX! See a problem? Let the city know!

Congratulations and Welcome

Congratulations to (from left) Lieutenant Tim Karolyi, Sergeant Brandon Zachery, Sergeant Richard Phillips, Lieutenant Dana Canipe and Captain Billy Woodruff on their recent promotions in the Decatur Police Department.




Search your app store for


Front: Morrison; second row: Bostic, Solovey; third row: Sardine, Menard; not pictured: Curtis, Alexander, Manning and Abbasi Decatur Fire and Rescue welcomes the newest firefighters: Robert Solovey, Tyler Manning, Andrew Abbasi and Deputy Fire Chief Vera Morrison. And congratulations to Lieutenant Justin Sardine, Lieutenant Gary Menard, Fire Apparatus Operator (FAO) Adam Bostic, FAO Ryan Curtis and FAO Benjamin Alexander on their recent promotions in the Decatur Fire Department. JULY-AUGUST 2017 • Decatur Focus | 5

City News Decatur Tree Update City of Decatur arborist Kay Evanovich is working with the Urban Forestry Management Plan team to mark certain city-owned trees for either tree health care or removal as part of the city’s Urban Forestry Management Plan. Using a tree risk management system known as ALARP (As Low as Reasonably Practical), which manages tree risks by reducing them to a level that demonstrates due diligence and a proactive approach, the team is able to assess trees and categorize them by their risk level. Trees that are identified as high risk are being marked with an orange X for removal and moderate risk trees are wrapped with yellow caution tape to be pruned or treated. The community can help by leaving flagging tape on trees so that crews can locate them. Once all necessary trees are flagged the information at right will apply:

Tape Color Risk Level Red High


Moderate Tree is placed on the 6-month (with target potential) removal list

Yellow or White Moderate

Tree will be treated or pruned and inspected annually

No Tape Low Inspected once every two years On streets that experience reduced canopy levels each spring, new trees will be planted through the Trees Atlanta planting program.


6 | Decatur Focus • JULY-AUGUST 2017

Description Tree will be removed as soon as possible

Cub Scout Pack 134 Bear Den members learn about the 911 Center from communications officer Davis during a tour.

City News

Welcoming Week Events Decatur will join local organization Welcoming America by participating in Welcoming Week, Sept. 15-24, kicking off and closing out the week with two events.

In 2015, Decatur signed a resolution to become one of Welcoming America’s Welcoming Cities. This year’s Welcoming Week theme is “Connecting Neighbors, Serving Communities.” During this week, communities are encouraged to bring together neighbors to raise awareness of the benefits of welcoming everyone.

Welcoming Week Decatur Reception Friday, Sept. 15 Decatur and Welcoming America will kick off Welcoming Week with a reception on the bandstand. This event will be free and open to the community. Save the date, and look for more details in the Decatur Minute, on social media and in the September Focus.

We Are Decatur: Building Community through Conversations

Sunday, Sept. 24 • 5-7:30 p.m. The Better Together Advisory Board, local photographer Beate Sass and the Decatur Education Foundation invite the community to the unveiling of the I Am Decatur photo project and community conversations around Sunday supper. Read the personal stories of fellow community members, and then join in on a broad community conversation across differences. Participants will be supported by table facilitators and invited to share experiences and perspectives on a variety of topics. This event is free to the community and will take place at Beacon Municipal Center, Ebster Gym, 105 Electric Ave. Reservations are required as space is limited. RSVP by 5 p.m. on Aug. 30 at (use password WeAreDecatur17). For more information, contact Renae Madison, or 678553-6561. If you are an experienced facilitator and would like to volunteer as a table facilitator for this event, contact Renae Madison. JULY-AUGUST 2017 • Decatur Focus | 7

City News Downtown Development continued from page 2 was selected based on criteria that included population, proximity to a large city in a metropolitan region and a council-manager form of government. They are listed in the table below. Here are a few interesting comparisons. A copy of the full report is available online at showdocument?id=9921.


Special Events

% Residential Median = 62%; average = 60%; Decatur = 85%

Number of events in 2016 Median = 41; average = 46.1; Decatur = 61

% Commercial Median = 28%; average = 31.6%; Decatur = 15%

Number organized by the city Median = 26.5; average = 25.1; Decatur = 33

Value of tax-exempt properties Median = $193,603,403; average = $211,769,629; Decatur = $201,811,300

Total number of volunteer hours Median = 830.5; average = 3,026.2; Decatur = 7,333

Area Population Population City Region Metro Area (Sq Mi) Population Under 18 65+ Bettendorf, IA Midwest Davenport-Moline 21.22 35,727



Cartersville, GA Southeast











Clayton, MO

Atlanta 29.15


St. Louis

Decatur, GA Southeast Dover, NH Elk River, MN Greer, SC La Vista, NE


Atlanta 4.27 22,813

Northeast Portsmouth-Rochester



Minneapolis 42.29 24,364




Greenville 20.64 29,000




Omaha 4.28 17,143

Mooresville, NC Southeast Charlotte Piqua, OH




Midwest Dayton-Springfield 11.62 20,906

Suwanee, GA Southeast

Atlanta 10.88

Public Safety Average Police response time in FY15-16 Median = 5.4; average 5.3; Decatur = 1.53 minutes











Greenspace Area (sq mi) (sq mi)

Bettendorf, IA

% of Greenspace

1.14 21.22


0.625 29.15


Average Fire response time in FY15-16 Median = 4.6; average = 5; Decatur = 3 minutes

Cartersville, GA Clayton, MO

0.15625 2.48


% of staff that is female Median = 15%; average = 16%; Decatur = 28%

Decatur, GA

0.19375 4.27


% of staff that is minority Median = 10%; average = 13.2%; Decatur = 48%

Personnel Employee training expenditures in 2016 Median = $118,376; average = $136,986; Decatur = $252,469 Average years of service for full-time employees Median = 12; Average = 11.5; Decatur = 10

Dover, NH

0.282813 26.72


Elk River, MN

2.085938 42.29


0.15107813 20.64


Greer, SC La Vista, NE

0.345313 4.28


Mooresville, NC 0.865625 14.7


Piqua, OH

1.04375 11.62


Suwanee, GA

0.58125 10.88


8 | Decatur Focus • JULY-AUGUST 2017



Business & Nonprofit News Oysters at Kimball House Named one of Georgia’s ‘100 Plates Locals Love’ Kimball House was awarded the 2017/2018 “100 Plates Locals Love” distinction by Georgia Department of Economic Development’s Tourism Division (GDEcD) as part of its annual list, which is featured in the state’s culinary guide, Georgia Eats.

Growing Sustainable Food in Decatur

You might not think about farming when you think of Decatur, but Ben and Bill Mealor have been growing food here through sustainable and organic practices since 2009. Ben grows seasonal vegetables, blueberries, plums, and herbs, with the help of his father Bill, at his farm, Mealor Family Gardens. They sell the food they grow directly to shoppers at the Decatur Farmers Market. Ben grew up around gardening. His grandfather had a large vegetable garden and grew corn to use as a noise buffer from the roads. Ben’s sister, Stephanie Corder, sells fresh, locally made jams and preserves at the farmers market. With a commitment to providing Decatur fresh and healthy food, the Mealors are a cornerstone of the local food movement in our community. You can find Mealor Family Gardens at the Decatur Farmers Market, 308 Clairemont Ave., on Wednesdays at 4-p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.

JULY-AUGUST 2017 • Decatur Focus | 9

Business & Nonprofit News Decatur Robotics Is Looking for Coaches

Quickbooks Classes

ecatur Robotics is currently seeking coaches for the 2017 season. Teams meet after school at F.AVE or Renfroe, August-November, at least once weekly, with competition dates on Saturdays in early December. There are also night meeting options at Decatur Makers and Ebster Gym if afterschool hours do not match your schedule. Each team has a minimum of two coaches and a maximum of 8-10 students. No prior experience is required. If you volunteer as a coach your child is guaranteed a spot on your team. For more information, contact june@decaturrobotics. org or visit decaturrobotics. org/fll.

9 a.m.-1 p.m. Decatur Recreation Center 231 Sycamore St.


Come Dance with Us for ‘The Big Seven Oh!’

If you use QuickBooks to manage your small business, this half-day basics class – taught by Kristin Driver, Advanced Certified QuickBooks ProAdvisor and professional organizer – provides the foundation of QuickBooks but also offers tips and tricks to save time. If you struggle with your books, this class is for you! QuickBooks online classes Aug. 24, Oct. 19, Dec. 21 QuickBooks desktop classes Sept. 14, Nov. 16 The cost is $147 and includes a comprehensive screenshot manual, snacks, lunch, drinks plus a face-to-face half-hour onsite visit after the class.

Decatur School of Ballet celebrates its 70th year during the 2017-2018 season . Register now for ballet, jazz, tap, modern dance, ballroom, theatre dance, Mommy and Me for age two with adult caregiver, and creative movement for ages three and four. Classes are offered for children, teens, and adults. Classes begin Sept. 5. To view a full schedule and to register, visit or call 404-378-3388.

10 | Decatur Focus • JULY-AUGUST 2017

Business & Nonprofit News Andy Plankenhorn

Dedicated Decatur Volunteer TCS Recycling Day Saturday, July 22 • 10 a.m.-1 p.m. 308 Clairemont Ave. The Community School is collaborating with the Center for Hard to Recycle Materials to host their first-ever community recycling day and bake sale on the grounds of the First Baptist Church of Decatur. Acceptable items include paper, plastics, glass, printer cartridges, cardboard, metal, non-alkaline batteries, Styrofoam, textiles/ clothing/shoes, household fats/oils/grease, and aluminum cans. Visit for more details and item pricing.

Andy Plankenhorn, 89 years young, has lived in Decatur for close to 60 years, and has been a recurring volunteer at the Friends of the Decatur Library Book Sale for 10 years. The opportunity to make the environment better while working as part of a community in Woodlands Garden has given this dedicated volunteer the best of both worlds. Andy is especially fond of ferns. He has around 14 varieties of ferns in his home garden, some of which will be donated to a new Piedmont Fern collection he has helped to establish at Woodlands Garden. Woodlands has a growing mix of volunteers who help with horticulture maintenance, learn about native plants, and just get their hands dirty while contributing to a community greenspace. To get involved with Woodlands Garden or learn more, visit

First Baptist Church Offers Parenting and Marriage Prep Classes First Baptist Church, 308 Clairemont Ave., offers two prep/enrichment classes for couples this summer. The Insightful Couple is a five-Week Marriage Preparation Class utilizing the Prepare/Enrich Inventory. This course can help couples who are engaged or planning to get married explore and strengthen their relationships using Prepare/Enrich, a scientifically proven program. The course runs July 20-Aug. 17, 7:30-9:30 p.m. The Parenting Enrichment Class for Couples also uses the Prepare/Enrich assessment. It can help couples gain insight into parenting styles, family dynamics, and couple communication. The course runs Aug. 2-Sept. 20, 6:30-7:30 p.m. For more information, visit fbcdecatur. com/verdery-counseling-center or call 404369-1041.

JULY-AUGUST 2017 • Decatur Focus | 11

DBA News Summer in the


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more photos on page 13

12 | Decatur Focus • JULY-AUGUST 2017

DBA News

Meeting Reminders

July 25 Three Taverns Brewery 121 New Street 5:15 p.m. Networking Reception 6 p.m. Program

August 22 Taiyo Ramen 130 Clairemont Ave. 5:15 p.m. Networking Reception 6 p.m. Program

JULY-AUGUST 2017 • Decatur Focus | 13

Decatur Events AJC Decatur Book Festival Sept. 1-3


ational Public Radio host Brooke Gladstone headlines a panel of journalists for the DBF Keynote event, discussing the importance of journalism in a time of the 24-hour news cycle, social media-generated fake news, and society’s perceptions of media today. The panel will include Carolyn Ryan, an editor with The New York Times, and Wesley Lowery, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter from The Washington Post. The conversation kicks off the 2017 festival at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1, at Emory University’s Schwartz Center for Performing Arts. Kevin Riley, editor of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, will moderate. On Saturday and Sunday of the festival, stages throughout downtown Decatur will be filled with some of the biggest names in literature. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution Decatur Book Festival (DBF) is the largest independent book festival in the country. Over Labor Day weekend tens of thousands from metro Atlanta and beyond will share the historic Decatur Square with world-class authors, illustrators, editors, publishers and booksellers for a weekend filled with literature, music, food and fun. For more information, visit,“like” Decatur Book Festival on Facebook, or follow @DBookFestival on Twitter. Highlights of the adult programming stages:


• Bestselling author Tom Perrotta brings a penetrating and hilarious new novel about sex, love, and identity from the frontlines of America’s culture wars in Mrs. Fletcher. • National Book Award-winner Charles Frazier returns to the festival to discuss the 20th anniversary edition of his iconic novel, Cold Mountain, and to give us a preview of his forthcoming Civil War novel. • Award-winning author Daniel Handler (also known as Lemony Snicket), offers a gutsy, exciting novel that looks honestly at the erotic impulses of an all-too-typical young man with All the Dirty Parts. • Thrity Umrigar, the best-selling, critically acclaimed author, deftly explores issues of race, class, privilege, and power and asks us to consider uncomfortable moral questions in Everybody’s Son. 14 | Decatur Focus • JULY-AUGUST 2017

• In I Know a Secret, favorite author Tess Gerritsen brings her 12th gripping novel featuring Jane Rizzoli and Maura Isles. The crime-solving duo is faced with the gruesomely staged murder of a film producer. • Daren Wang launches his debut novel, The Hidden Light of Northern Fires, which is rooted in history and tells a story of redemption amidst a war that tore families and the country apart.


• In We Need to Talk, celebrated local public radio host Celeste Headlee makes the case that we all have an urgent need to have important and sometimes dreaded conversations. • Bestselling author Joyce Maynard brings The Best of Us, a memoir about discovering strength in the midst of great loss.

Poster art for 2017 by LeUyen Pham

• Atlas Obscura co-founder Dylan Thuras celebrates more than 700 of the strangest and most curious places in the world in Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders. • John T. Edge reveals how Southerners shaped American culinary identity and how race relations impacted Southern food culture over six revolutionary decades in The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South.


• Steve Raichlen, American’s foremost grilling authority, will demonstrate some of his tasty barbecue sauces and rubs. • Jerry Slater and Sara Camp Milam demonstrate tasty creations from The Southern Foodways Guide to Cocktails.

Decatur Events



Frazier Handler



• In Caesar’s Last Breath, New York Times bestselling author Sam Kean takes us on a journey through the periodic table, around the globe, and across time to tell the story of the air we breathe. • New York Times science reporter Gina Kolata follows a family through genetic illness and one courageous daughter who decides her fate shall no longer be decided by a genetic flaw, in Mercies in Disguise: A Story of Hope, a Family’s Genetic Destiny, and the Science That Rescued Them.


• In her collection Scald, Denise Duhamel presents poems that engage feminism in two ways, committing to and battling with various principles and beliefs. • Rebecca Gayle Howell shares American Purgatory, a story of the working class, a dystopia set in a near-future United States marked by severe drought, herbicidal warfare and a totalitarian climate of poverty. • Poet, novelist, and essayist Erika L. Sanchez shares her powerful debut poetry collection, “Lessons on Expulsion,” which explores what it means to live on both sides of the border – the border between countries, languages, despair and possibility, and the living and the dead.



Tippett Headlee

Thuras Edge

Longform Selects Track sponsored by MailChimp


ince 2014, the AJC Decatur Book Festival has offered a unique authorcurated track, working with a notable author to handpick a cadre of authors to present at the festival. In 2017, They’ve partnered with Longform Podcast, which is a weekly conversation with a nonfiction writer on how s/he tells stories. • As part of the 2017 track, Krista Tippett, host of On Being, presents a master class in living drawn from stories of extraordinary individuals who possess “spiritual genius” with Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living. • In They Can’t Kill Us All: Ferguson, Baltimore, and a New Era in America’s Racial Justice Movement, Wesley Lowery, national reporter for the Washington Post, offers both an unparalleled insight into the reality of police violence in America and an intimate, moving portrait of those working to end it. • The New Yorker staff writer Elif Batuman dramatizes the uncertainty of life on the cusp of adulthood in her debut novel, The Idiot. • Hua Hsu discusses the bitter rivalries of


a circle of writers over which could claim the title of American’s leading China expert in A Floating Chinaman: Fantasy and Failure Across the Pacific. National Magazine Award-winning investigative journalist Luke Dittrich explores the scientific, ethical, and human dimensions of one of the most important stories in the history of medicine in Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets. In The Best We Could Do: An Illustrated Memoir, author Thi Bui describes her experience as a young Vietnamese immigrant, highlighting her family’s move from their war-torn home to the United States. Veteran online journalist and BuzzFeed writer Doree Shafrir discusses her hilarious debut novel, Startup, which proves there are some dilemmas that no app can solve. Heather Havrilesky of New York Magazine’s Ask Polly advice column guides you through the “what if ’s” and “I don’t knows” of modern life with a collection of never-before-published material and fan favorites in How to Be a Person in the World. CONTINUED

JULY-AUGUST 2017 • Decatur Focus | 15

Decatur Events Book Festival continued News


Children and Young Adult Program Highlights Downtown Decatur will come alive with superheroes, a Hollywood icon and the mysterious Lemony Snicket as part of the young adult and children’s programming. Henry Winkler, known around the globe for his television and film roles, and Lin Oliver are this year’s Kidnote speakers at 5 p.m., Friday, Sept. 1, at the Decatur High School’s Performing Arts Center. The duo writes the Hank Zipzer and Here’s Hank book series for young readers. The best-selling Hank Zipzer series chronicles the high-spirited and funny adventures of a boy with learning differences. In 2014, the writers introduced Here’s Hank, a series targeting even younger children with reading difficulties. Authors of two of the most anticipated young adult books of the year will talk about how they created fresh and reimagined takes on beloved superheroes. Leigh Bardugo offers a modern spin on DC Comics’ Wonder Woman in Warbringer. Jason Reynolds introduces a new, edgier Spider Man in Miles Morales. Teens won’t be the only attendees testing their super powers during the festival. Saturday’s parade for kids features Kelly DiPucchio, author of Super Manny Stands Up! along with Shannon and Dean Hale and LeUyen Pham, creators of the very popular Princess in Black emerging readers series. On Sunday, Atlanta author Carmen Agra Deedy leads the parade, celebrating her newest picture book, The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet! 16 | Decatur Focus • JULY-AUGUST 2017

Guaranteed to draw large crowds will be Lemony Snicket, author of both A Series of Unfortunate Events and All the Wrong Questions. Snicket, whose tall tales have sold more than 65 million books, makes his first visit to the festival. Other highlights of the children’s and young adult stages include: Children’s Stage • Judy Schachner, author of the popular Skippyjon Jones books, returns to launch Sarabella’s Thinking Cap. • Local author Laurel Snyder shares her critically acclaimed middle grade novel, Orphan Island, a story about nine children who live on an island without adult supervision. • Reshma Saujani, founder of Girls Who Code, and author of Girls Who Code: Learn to Code and Change the World, is joined by Silicon Valley native Tamara Ireland Stone, author of the new fiction series Click’d, for

an inspiring and empowering conversation on girls and women in today’s high tech world. Young Adult • Newbery and Coretta Scott King awardwinner Kwame Alexander, joined by singer-songwriter Randy Preston, brings poetry and music to life with his new novel, Solo, which is a rhythmic, impassioned ode to family, identity, and the history of rock and roll. • Atlanta authors Becky Albertalli, Roshani Chokshi, Lauren Karcz and Marie Marquardt will discuss their latest works. • Nnedi Okorafor shares the paperback release of her bestselling Akata Witch, a coming-of-age novel that has been called the Nigerian Harry Potter. • Bram Stoker award-winning author Jonathan Maberry will take the stage to discuss his book Mars One.

art|DBF ArtsATL will again collaborate with the DBF on this year’s art|DBF programming. The line-up will include return performances from some favorites from previous years, but will also include literary events, such as Big City Maps, which is a joint project between Emory University’s Rose Library and the Center for Digital Scholarship that creates a GIS map and virtual reality experience in the main city in “Brotherman: Dictator of Discipline,” an ongoing black comix series. In addition, ArtsATL will moderate a fascinating panel on writers’ homes that have been turned into historical sites.

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Decatur Events Decatur’s Dinner Party Saturday, Sept. 9, 6-10 p.m. Decatur Cemetery


or the fifth year, the City of Decatur and Global Growers are presenting Decatur’s Dinner Party. This culinary showcase celebrates Decatur’s food community – from the Global Growers farmers who grow fresh, healthy food right here in Decatur to the chefs whose restaurants serve Decatur families an array of cuisines. Touted as one of the best local food events in the city, Decatur’s Dinner Party is a major fundraiser for Global Growers and their work at the intersection of local agriculture and refugee services. This event includes a multi-course meal featuring fresh Global Growers fruit and vegetables, wine, handmade cocktails from Kimball House and Leon’s, and local beers from Three Taverns, Wild Heaven, and Good Word

Participating Restaurants Brick Store Chai Pani Farm Burger Kimball House Leon’s No. 246 Pine Street Market Rising Son Souper Jenny Steinbecks Atlanta Hyatt Regency Taiyo Twain’s

Brewing. There will be silent and live auctions with one-of-a-kind products and experiences, and 150 guests and community leaders dining family-style in Decatur’s largest greenspace, the historic Decatur Cemetery. Tickets are $150 each and will be available

Giving you the time and attention you deserve

on July 10. Tables and sponsorship opportunities are also available. For more information on the event or Global Growers, contact Desiree Fowler,, or visit

Estate Planning

Wills & Trusts • Probate •

As your family grows, or you prepare for retirement, it’s important to have a plan.

LISA CRONIC, REALTOR® 678.641.4325

Decatur Resident for Over 20 Years | 404.874.0300 © MMXIV Sotheby’s International Realty Affiliates, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Equal Housing Opportunity. Each Office Is Independently Owned And Operated.

One West Court Square, Suite 410, Decatur, GA 30030 (404) 793-2510 •

JULY-AUGUST 2017 • Decatur Focus | 17

Decatur Events Annual Labor Day Book Sale Decatur Library • 215 Sycamore St. The Friends of the Decatur Library will host the annual Labor Day Book Sale, Saturday, Sept. 2, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. The sale will be held on the lawn in front of the Decatur Library. Proceeds will provide funds for library materials and for children and adult programs. Only cash or checks will be accepted. Dealers must scan at tables. All ages are welcome and admission is free.

I SEE YOU: Welcoming Our Neighbors An Interfaith Experience • Sunday, Aug. 20 • 2-5 p.m. The community is invited to St. Thomas More Catholic Church, 636 W. Ponce de Leon Ave., to gather with neighbors from all walks of life and faith expressions for an afternoon of storytelling, music, community service, a panel discussion, “speed-faithing” and a pot-luck meal. The gathering is offered free of charge and everyone is welcome. Bring a friend and a favorite dish to share. For more information, contact Pastor James Brewer-Calvert, or 404378-3621.

Charles Cope, Proprietor 650-B East Lake Drive • Decatur, Georgia 30030 404-377-1030 •

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18 | Decatur Focus • JULY-AUGUST 2017

Free Annual Community Carnival Saturday, Aug. 26 • 10 a.m.-2 p.m. • 465 Clairemont Ave. The Lutheran Church of the Messiah invites the community to the annual community carnival. The event includes music from the Brown Dog band, carnival games, a bouncy house, face painting, a photo booth, popcorn, and prizes. Food will be available for purchase from the Muenster Truck. The event is free and open to the public. For information, call 404373-1682 or email

A Novel Affair: Tapas & Trivia Sept. 28 • 7-10 p.m. • DeKalb History Center Come test your wits while supporting the library. The DeKalb Library Foundation is hosting A Novel Affair: Tapas + Trivia, presented by Lenz. The event features an auction, Fund-A-Need, and tapas. Local trivia company Trivial Matters will engage the audience in a short, fast-paced, and fun game of trivia featuring library- and literature-related questions. Go to for more information and to purchase tickets.

Decatur Events DeKalb History Center Lunch & Expanding Learn about Infrastructure Roots at DAA Gallery Free! Bring your lunch • Tuesday, July 18 • noon-1 p.m. Historic DeKalb Courthouse • 101 E. Court Square Second Floor, Superior Courtroom

The DeKalb History Center’s July Lunch and Learn will be presented by Dr. G. Michael Pratt on Early Infrastructure: The Roads, Ferries and Bridges that Shaped DeKalb and Fulton Counties. Early roads were influenced by the loca- A covered bridge on Highway 155 over the Yellow River, date unknown. From the DeKalb tions of ferries across History Center’s Guy Hayes Photograph the Chattahoochee Collection. River. From its formation in 1822, development would follow major crossings already established on the river. The DHC July Lunch and Learn will show how these crossings influenced road development – first to Decatur and then to Atlanta and Decatur. As the county’s population and commerce grew, additional ferries were started and were eventually replaced by bridges. By 1853 the western half of DeKalb County would be used for the creation of Fulton County. Dr. G. Michael Pratt is retired from Miami University at Oxford, Ohio, where he was associate provost, dean, professor of anthropology, and affiliate professor of forensic science. Dr. Pratt conducted the research for this Lunch and Learn as a volunteer researcher with DHC’s Archives.

Expanding Roots, a collection of oil paintings by local artist Shannon Willow, is on exhibit at the Decatur Arts Alliance Gallery/Decatur Visitors Center through August 26. The gallery is at 113 Clairemont Ave. For more information, visit

JULY-AUGUST 2017 • Decatur Focus | 19

Decatur Events BBQ Blues & Bluegrass Festival Saturday, Aug. 12 • 2-9 p.m. • Harmony Park in Oakhurst • 630 East Lake Dr. The 17th version of the Decatur BBQ Blues & Bluegrass Festival, flavored by Tabasco, has a musical lineup featuring something for everyone. Eight bands and two stages will include local, regional and national Blues, Bluegrass, Folk, and Rock acts headlined by a bit of country. Headlining this year’s event is country-blue-grass group Farewell Angelina. Other festival highlights include: • Georgia Music Legend winner Beverly Guitar Watkins headlining the Sovereign Systems stage • Returning acts: The Georgia Flood, Grizzly Goat, Porch Bottom Boys • New acts: Donna Hopkins Band, Farewell Angelina, Vista String Band

Ticket Information • Pre-event tickets are $15 and are now on sale through FreshTix and Ticket Alternative • Day of festival tickets will be $20 • Kids 12 and under are free Visit for more information or call 678-778-2000.

Schedule Sovereign Systems Stage 2:30-3:15 p.m. Porch Bottom Boys 3:30-4:30 p.m. Donna Hopkins Band 4:45-5:45 p.m. Grizzly Goat 6:15-7:15 p.m. Beverly Guitar Watkins Tabasco Main Stage 3-3:45 p.m. Greg Humphreys Electric Trio 4:15-5 p.m. Vista String Band 5:30-6:30 p.m. The Georgia Flood 7:30-8:45 p.m. Farewell Angelina

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School News

Fifth Avenue 5k and Mayor’s Mile Run/Walk

Lace up your shoes and come enjoy a healthy and family-friendly morning while running or walking the Oakhurst Fifth Avenue 5K. Then jump into the Mayor’s Mile event with city leaders and former Decatur mayors, on Saturday, Oct. 7, 9 a.m. Proceeds will benefit programs and enrichment opportunities offered by the Fifth Avenue Elementary School P.T.O. and the Decatur Education Foundation. This event will take place rain or shine.

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Lauren Alexander 770-231-8467 Kelly Lynch 404-312-6403 Quiet cul de sac, hardwoods throughout, working fireplace on main, back deck, beautiful, private wooded lot. As your family grows, so can this home. Walk to Emory University, Emory Village, CDC and much more. Endless potential!! Fernbank and Druid Hills school district.

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JULY-AUGUST 2017 • Decatur Focus | 21

School News Decatur Education Foundation Wants to Sell Your Gently Used Books


n preparation for the Decatur Book Festival in September, the Decatur Education Foundation is collecting gently used children’s books for its Reader-to-Reader Children’s Book Sale. Funds generated from the book sale will support all of DEF’s literacy programs, including Book Fair Bucks for elementary school students, Project Book at Renfroe Middle School, author visits at all CSD schools, and the citywide reading program, On the Same Page. The sale includes books for toddlers to young adults. To donate, contact the DEF office at or call 404-377-0641 for drop-off location and times. Books should be in good condition, without rips, broken spines or missing pages. The book sale will begin on the first day of the Decatur Book Festival and will be open daily during the event. The sale relies heavily on DEF volunteers – visit to sign up.

Personalized hometown community banking

Your neighbor and intown real estate specialist. Whether you are buying or selling — or simply exploring your options — call me to be sure you are positioned for success in today’s changing market. Decatur restaurateur Mike Gallagher (Brick Store Pub, Leon’s Full Service, Kimball House) at left with the bank’s new Decatur President, Brent Adams.

• More than 180 homes sold in City of Decatur since 2009

Full-service community banking: From safe deposit boxes, checking and savings to lending options from mortgages and construction to SBA and other business loans.

• More than 400 homes sold overall since 2009

404.809.3930 | PRIVATEBANKOFDECATUR.COM ONE DECATUR TOWN CENTER, SUITE 120, 150 EAST PONCE DE LEON AVENUE A division of Private Bank of Buckhead. Member FDIC. Equal Housing Lender.

22 | Decatur Focus • JULY-AUGUST 2017

• Top Ten Agent in Metro Atlanta: 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 678.429.9731

Around Town

That’s a Lot of Genealogy


Show off your Decatur on social media and share it with your neighbors. Email

Thanks, Ms. Tibbets

Long-time Decatur resident Ken Thomas recently celebrated the 40th anniversary of his column on Genealogy in the Sunday Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The weekly column is believed to be the longestrunning genealogy column in the country. He is a frequent lecturer on genealogy topics. #40years #stillgoingstrong

Police Making Friends on the Beat

Teacher Celeste Tibbets, who just retired from Clairemont Elementary School, was instrumental in encouraging children from Allen Wilson Terrace to walk to school. She volunteered to walk with the children beginning in 2007. Thanks to Ms. Tibbets for her time and energy to make our Safe Routes to School program a success. #walkingthewalk



Changing Lives in Decatur

Diane Capriola Makes a Mark

Ohm, who visits Officer Kersey on the square every week, recently gave her a portrait he drew of her.

Artesha Chaney, Decatur resident and Oakhurst Elementary staff member, recently received a Life Changer Award for the City of Decatur for the impact she has on children in community as well as in the classroom.

Diane Capriola, Little Shop of Stories owner and Decatur Book Festival’s Children’s Program director, was recognized as one of Atlanta magazine’s 2017 Women Making A Mark honorees.

#remarkablelikeness #decaturpd

#changinglive #oakhurst

#wecouldatoldyouthat #littleshop JULY-AUGUST 2017 • Decatur Focus | 23

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Decatur Square.117 East Court Square.Decatur.404/370-3979 Amsterdam Walk.500-L3 Amsterdam Ave.Atlanta.404/892-8294




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Focus July 2017  

Official newsletter of the City of Decatur, Georgia

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