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IN THIS ISSUE
10 | FIRST UP EVENTS
Best Family City in Georgia
17 | Atlanta Sci-Fi Film Festival Comes to Peachtree Corners for Its Highly Anticipated Return
26 | COMMUNITY Peachtree Corners Moves Forward to Phase Two of the Town Green Playground
28 | KNOWLEDGE Paul Duke STEM High School Students Build a Legacy at National Conference
32 | DOING GOOD Local Non-Profit Peachtree Farm Continues to Be a Haven for Adults with Disabilities
36 | COMMUNITY Kathy Lunsford, a Beacon of Dedication and Mentorship, Celebrates 50 Years at Southern GF
37 | THE PEACHTREE CORNERS FESTIVAL 2023
42 | COMMUNITY Peachtree Corners Gears Up for Its Third Annual Decathlon 45 |
ABOUT THE COVER
Good Grief: Life After Loss Upgrades That Will Make You Love Your Home, Not List It PEACHTREE CORNERS
EXECUTIVE EDITOR & PUBLISHER RICO FIGLIOLINI
ARLINDA SMITH BROADY
RITA FIGLIOLINI ADVERTISING
LISA JONSSON firstname.lastname@example.org
THE TEAM & CONTRIBUTORS THIS ISSUE
Publisher & Executive Editor
Rico Figliolini is a creative director and social media strategist, three-time magazine publisher and podcast host. He grew up in Brooklyn, New York and is a political junky, sci-fi and anime fan, and avid reader and movie binger.
Rita Figliolini has lived in PTC for 23 years with her husband and life partner, Rico Figliolini. Proud mom of 3 — Jason, Kinsey and Jack. Former Managing Editor of the original Inside Gwinnett, she’s now Advisor to PTC Magazine. Telling stories is in our blood!
Julie Davis is an accomplished sales rep with over 20 years of experience in the telecom industry. When not working or spending time with friends and family, Julie can be found melting glass, as she is an avid fused glass artist.
HARRY J. PINKNEY, JR
Harry J. Pinkney, Jr is an accomplished Graphic Designer with over 25 years of experience. A Philadelphia native who now calls Atlanta his home. He enjoys his dog, Chloeé, working out, movies, and running his own freelance graphic/ web design business.
Arlinda Smith Broady is of the Boomerang
Generation of Blacks that moved back to the South after ancestors moved North. With 30 years of journalism experience, she’s worked in tiny newsrooms to major metropolitans. She brings professionalism, passion, pluck, and the desire to spread news.
Kathy Dean has been a writer and editor for over 20 years. Some of the publications she has contributed to are Atlanta Senior Life, Atlanta INtown, Transatlantic Journal and The Guide to Coweta and Fayette Counties.
Patrizia hails from Toronto, Canada where she earned an Honors B.A. in French and Italian Studies at York University, and a B.Ed. at the University of Toronto. This trilingual former French teacher has called Georgia home since 1998. Catch her reporting about our vibrant city on the Peachtree Corners Network.
George Hunter is an IT professional from Alaska by way of Texas. His primary hobby is photography, covering a wide range of subjects from pets to cosplay, sports to fashion. Volunteering and fostering dogs brings him much joy. George, his wife Lila and their rescued dogs have made their home in west Gwinnett for almost 20 years.
instagram.com/peachtreecornerslife facebook.com/peachtreecornerslife twitter.com/peachtreecrnrs www.pinterest.com/ PeachtreeCornersMagazine
PUBLISHED BY MIGHTY ROCKETS LLC.
P. O. BOX 923207
Peachtree Corners, GA 30010 678-438-5310 email@example.com
Peachtree Corners Magazine is published six times a year by Mighty Rockets LLC. Opinions expressed by the contributing writers and editors are not necessarily those of the publishers, editors or Peachtree Corners Magazine. The publisher will not accept responsibility for submitted materials that are lost or stolen. Every effort has been made to ensure accuracy of this publication. However, the publisher cannot assume responsibility for errors or omissions. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. Publisher reserves the right to refuse any advertisement it seems unfit for publication or does not fit in our guidelines.
August/September 2023 issue
Volume 5 Number 28
©2023 Peachtree Corners Magazine
The editors welcome submissions, event listings, achievements and photography. Please direct them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This publication is independently and privately owned, and managedby Mighty Rockets LLC
After a long career in global marketing for Fortune 500 companies like The Coca-Cola Company and Texas Instruments, Tracey earned a degree in Commercial Photography and now owns her own photography business. She specializes in portraits, events and real estate photography. She is the President of the Peachtree Corners Photography Club.
Raina Logan is a highly accomplished audio engineer, music producer, and talented writer. With over a decade of entrepreneurial experience as the owner of an esteemed audio production company, Raina seamlessly merges her creative writing skills with her technical expertise, shaping unforgettable auditory journeys.
Bruce has been a resident of Gwinnett County for over 30 years and is heavily involved in the Southwest Gwinnett community. A former General Manager of the Hilton Atlanta Northeast hotel, he is active with the SWGC, PTC Business Association and Norcross community meetings/events. Currently, he works for Explore Gwinnett.
Zoey Schlueter is a senior who attends Greater Atlanta Christian School and has lived in Peachtree Corners her whole life. She enjoys written journalism inside and outside of school and plans on pursuing journalism in college.
FIRST UP - EVENTS
Senior Bridge Club
Every Thursday, 10 a.m.-2 p.m.
4758 S. Old Peachtree Rd., Norcross GwinnettParks.com, 678-277-0920
The club meets every Thursday for ages 50 and up. Please call for availability.
Triple T! — Trains, Trucks & Tractors
August 5 and 6
Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sunday, 1-5 p.m.
Southeastern Railroad Museum
3595 Buford Hwy., Duluth train-museum.org
Admission: $18 for adults; $15 for seniors 65+; $12 for children ages 2-12
Special guests have included a Gwinnett County fire engine and antique trucks and tractors from private collectors. The family-friendly event includes hand-car rides (on Saturday and Sunday), music and food.
Peachtree Corners City Update
Monday, August 7, 6 p.m.
Mary Our Queen Catholic Church
St. Joseph’s Hall
6260 The Corners Pkwy., Peachtree Corners
Many changes have occurred in
Events, Programs & Fun Things to Do
Peachtree Corners over the past few years; companies have moved into the city and improvements have been made. Mayor Mike Mason will give a full report on these and future planned developments. The event is open to the general public, and all are welcome. Be sure to invite your PTC friends and neighbors!
Peachtree Corners Photography Club Group Meet Up
Thursdays, August 10 and September 14
Atlanta Tech Park
107 Technology Pkwy., Peachtree Corners pcphotoclub.org
Meetings are held the second Thursday of each month at Atlanta Tech Park and/or online. Photographers of all skill levels are welcomed at 6:15 p.m. for social time.
Light Up the Corners
Saturday, August 12, 6-10 p.m.
Twilight Trot 1K start, 8 p.m.; 4M start, 8:30 p.m.
5155 Peachtree Pkwy., Peachtree Corners lightupthecorners.com
Admission: free to spectators
Registration: starts at $35 for individuals, $30 for team members
All proceeds from the Twilight Trot and 4 Mile run event go to local children and families by giving them the chance to participate in programs and activities at the Fowler YMCA. The post-race party includes prizes for glowiest man, woman, girl, boy and team.
PCBA Tailgates & Touchdowns
Thursday, August 24, 5:30-8 p.m.
Atlanta Marriott Peachtree Corners
475 Technology Pkwy., Peachtree Corners
Registration: $50; advance, through August 16: $40 for members, $45 for guests
life in Vietnam. Willum is delighted when Rick shows up at his apartment on 34th birthday party, but his delight fades as it becomes apparent that Rick is a hopeless “nerd.”
Atlanta British Car Fayre
Saturday, September 9, 10 a.m.- 3 p.m.
Downtown Historic Norcross norcrossga.net
Celebrate all things British with nearly 400 autos and motorcycles on display. Downtown Norcross businesses and vendors will also offer British-themed food, beverages and products.
12th Annual Peachtree Corners Festival
Friday-Sunday, September 22, 23 and 24
Friday, 7:30-10:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.; Sunday, 12-5 p.m.
5140 Town Green Blvd., Peachtree Corners
The annual charity party will raise money for three outstanding local organizations. The event includes networking, live auction, silent auction, music, vendor tables and tailgating cuisine. Check online for details, including sponsorship opportunities.
10 College St., Norcross
Friday and Saturday, 7:30 p.m.; Sunday, 2 p.m.
Tickets: $18; students and seniors, $16
This comedy features Willum Cubbert, who owes a debt to fellow ex-GI Rick Steadman for saving his
This year’s festival will be filled with arts and crafts, good fair food, live music and two classic car shows. There’s something for everyone. Kids will enjoy slides, clowns, face painting and more.
Duluth Fall Festival
September 30 and October 1 Saturday, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; Sunday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Downtown Duluth duluthfallfestival.org
Celebrate autumn with a festival that has something for everyone. A parade starts on Saturday at 10 a.m. Runners in the Duluth Donut Dash 5K Race will race through the streets of Duluth on Sunday, starting at 8 a.m. Music, festival food vendors and booths filled with arts and crafts help round out the weekend of fun.
5: Flicks on the Green - Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory
12: Night Music - Uptown Funk (Tribute to Bruno Mars)
12: Light Up the Corners Run
19: Sports on the Screen
26: Smr. Concert Series - Face 2
Face (Billy Joel & Elton John Trib.)
4: Sports on the Screen
11: Veterans Day Ceremony
18: Sports on the Screen
25: Sports on the Screen
30: Holiday Glow 5:30-8pm
2: Flicks on the Green - Coco
9: Night Music - The Foozer Experience (Weezer & Foo Fighters)
16: Bark at the Park 11am-2pm
22-24: Peachtree Corner Festival
30: Smr. Concert Series - Swamp River Revival (Creedence Clearwater Revival Tribute)
2: Sports on the Screen
9: Sports on the Screen
6: Flicks on the Green - Sci-Fi Film
6-8: Atlanta Sci-Fi Film Festival
14: Night Music - Chuck Martin & The Line-Up (Country Music)
21: 3rd Annual PTC Decathlon
21: Sports on the Screen
28: Smr. Concert SeriesNashville Yacht Club Band
Flicks on the Green: 7pm Night Music: 7pm Summer Concert Series: 7pm
Yoga on the Green (by Sunny Street Yoga): Tues 8am (May-Sep)
CrossFit (by PPG CrossFit): Thurs 8am (May-Sep)
Cornhole ATL League: Wed 6:30pm (Jan-Oct)
Town Green Calendar
5140 Town Center Boulevard, Peachtree Corners peachtreecornersga.gov
Scan QR for Calendar ►
All ages and fitness levels are encouraged to join Terrance Fox with CrossFit PPG for a strength and conditioning workout every Thursday. Students are requested to bring water (no glass containers), a small towel or two, and a mat if possible; plan to wear workout attire and good shoes.
Flicks on the Green
Second Saturday of each month through September
August 12 — Uptown Funk is an international touring sensation that performs a tribute to Bruno Mars, his live band and the music that defines today’s pop culture.
September 9 — The Foozer Experience, performed by El Scorcho & February Stars, delivers anthem after anthem from two giants of the Alternative Rock era — Weezer and Foo Fighters.
Sports on the Screen
Drop by to tailgate and cheer on your favorite teams. Everyone is encouraged to bring their own coolers or purchase food and drink from one of Town Center’s many restaurants.
Braves v Giants — Saturday, August 19, 7:20 p.m.
Yoga on the Green
Every Tuesday through September 8-9 a.m.
Sunny Street Yoga holds yoga classes for everyone from beginners to experienced yogis. Students should bring water (no glass containers), a small towel or two, and a mat if you have one — and wear comfortable clothes.
CrossFit at the Green
Every Tuesday through September
First Saturday of each month through October
Movies begin at 7 p.m.
August 5 — Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory is a musical fantasy that stars Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka, an eccentric candymaker who offers the chance for golden ticket winners to tour his incredible factory. When poor Charlie Bucket finds a ticket, he embarks on a wild adventure with four other lucky children.
September 2 — Coco is an animated film that follows the story of a young boy named Miguel who embarks on a magical journey to the Land of the Dead to uncover the truth about his family’s music ban and discover his true passion.
October 7 — Hocus
Pocus is a comedy / fantasy film that features a silly trio of witches that are inadvertently brought back to life by a teenage boy on Halloween night.
College football: UGA v South Carolina — Saturday, September 16, time TBD
Summer Concert Series
Last Saturday of each month through September 7-9 p.m.
August 26 — Face 2 Face is a mesmerizing tribute concert that celebrates the iconic music of Billy Joel and Elton John. This electrifying show captures the essence of the legendary artists, taking the audience on a nostalgic journey.
September 30 — Swamp River Revival with Hu$hmoney Peachtree Corners’ own band, Hu$hmoney, opens the show with rockin’ classics that span over the decades.
Swamp River Revival is a tribute band that celebrates the spirit of John Fogerty’s work, especially with Creedence Clearwater Revival.5155 Peachtree Parkway, Peachtree Corners theforumpeachtree.com/events
Scan QR for more information ►
Every Wednesday, 6-7 p.m.
The weekly fitness session combines strength conditioning, cardio and mindfulness, leaving participants feeling balanced and empowered. Earn a loyalty stamp for every completed class. Remember to bring your yoga mat.
Thursday Night Live
Every Thursday through October 6-8 p.m.
Local musicians bring groovy sounds to the Forum. Everyone is invited to kick back and relax.
August 3 — Canon Tyler
August 10 & September 28 — The Human DJ
August 17, September 14 & October 12 — East & Ward
August 24 & October 26 —The Bourbon Brothers
August 31 — Chris Cauley
September 7 — Blue Talk
September 21 — Hughes Taylor
October 5 — Jason Gardner Trio
October 19 — Taylor Harlow
Last Tuesdays of the month, August 29 & September 26 4-6 p.m.
It’s a playdate for the young ones with kid-friendly crafts, games and entertainment.
August’s theme is “Arts & Crafts,”
and September will be “Outta this World.”
September 1723, 12-9 p.m. Taste culinary excellence during a week that features delicious dining at the Forum.
Peachtree Corners Library Branch Calendar Highlights
5570 Spalding Drive, Peachtree Corners 30092 770-978-5154 | gwinnettpl.org
Tuesdays, August 8, 15, 22 and 29 & September 5, 12 and 19 10:30 a.m.
Stories, songs and simple rhymes for children, ages 2 and under, and their caregivers.
Thursdays, August 10, 17, 24 and 31 & September 7, 14 and 21 10:30 a.m.
Join in the fun with your preschool children, ages 3-5, as they listen to stories, play games and sing songs.
The Perseids Have Arrived!
Monday, August 7, 4 p.m.
The Perseids are here! What are the Perseids? A meteor shower that can be seen in the night sky in the summer and is even brighter this time of year. Kids ages 6-11 will build telescopes and learn more.
Tú Puedes Aprender Usar la Computadora
Miércoles, Agosto 16, 11 a.m.
¡Ya es hora de aprender cómo usar la computadora! Visítenos en la
biblioteca para aprender sobre los recursos que enseñan cómo usar la computadora. Para personas de 19+ años.
Homeschool Hangout: Explore Like a Scientist
Thursday, August 24, 11 a.m.
This is a new monthly program for homeschooling families. This month, kids ages 6-11 learn how to explore your backyard like a scientist. Online registration is required.
Back to School Stress Balls
Thursday, August 24, 4 p.m.
Want help dealing with back to school stress? Students, ages 12-18, are encouraged to visit the Peachtree Corners Branch to make stress balls.
More Herbs, Less Salt Day
Tuesday, August 29, 1 p.m.
Visitors aged 19+ will discover more about the health benefits of herbs and learn how herbs are grown in the tower garden.
Saturday, September 2, 12:30 p.m.
Children, ages 5-10, are invited to the Peachtree Corners Branch to practice reading skills with trained therapy dogs.
Thursday, September 7, 4 p.m.
Learn about Loteria, a Mexican bingo game. Kids, ages 6-11, will make their own lotería cards.
Mondays, September 11, 18 and 25 & October 2 4-6 p.m.
Kids ages 6-11 can develop their reading skills by reading aloud with a volunteer Reading Buddy.
Tuesday, September 12, 6:30 p.m.
Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by learning how to make homemade tortillas.
Wednesday, September 20, 4 p.m.
Students aged 6-18 learn the art of being a detective: investigating scenes and photos, dusting for fingerprints and even how to identify someone’s handwriting.
Homeschool Hangout: Kitchen Basics
Thursday, September 21, 11 a.m.
A monthly program for homeschooling families. This month, kids ages 6-11 learn their way around the kitchen, with a focus on cooking, safety and measuring basics. Online registration is required.
Getting More from the Libby App
Tuesday September 26, 1 p.m.
This session will demonstrate, for ages 19+, how to browse and borrow e-books and e-audiobooks on a mobile device.
GWINNETT COUNTY PARKS
Family Paint Party
Saturday, August 5, 1-3 p.m.
5030 Georgia Belle Ct., Norcross GwinnettParks.com, 678-225-5400
Admission: $18 per Gwinnett resident, $36 per non-resident Gather the family – all ages – and express your creativity together.
Mindful and Healthy Families
Fridays, August 11 and September 12
10:30-11:15 a.m. in August; 10-10:45 a.m. in September
5030 Georgia Belle Ct., Norcross 678-225-5400
Designed for families with young children, this program focuses on mindfulness activities to include breathwork, meditation, self-care practices, as well as health education on relevant parenting and child topics to promote healthy family lifestyles. Ages 3 and up are welcome.
Songs and Rhymes
Saturday, August 12 10:30-11:15 a.m.
5030 Georgia Belle Ct., Norcross 678-225-5400
Children ages 8 and under enjoy an enriching experience through music, games and oral literature, presented in English and Spanish.
Splish Splash Doggy Bash
Sunday, August 13
Small dogs (20 lbs. and under), 11 a.m.-12 p.m.
Medium dogs (21-50 lbs.), 12:15-1:15 p.m.
Large dogs (50 lbs. and up), 1:30-2:30 p.m.
1540 Graves Rd., Norcross 678-277-0860
Admission free: pre-registration required
Pups are invited to splash in the interactive fountain. Dogs must be leashed and accompanied by pet parents, aged 18 and up; one dog per adult. Pet friendly vendors and Kona Ice will be on hand. Check online for additional requirements and pre-registration info.
the basics of hand-building with clay. Light refreshments are served, and supplies and kiln firing are supplied.
Stories and Music
Fridays, September 8 and 22
Friday, August 18 6-8 p.m.
4758 South Old Peachtree Rd., Norcross 678-277-0920
Admission: $12 per Gwinnett resident, $32 per non-resident
Adults aged 50 and up are invited to relax and create as they learn
5030 Georgia Belle Ct., Norcross 678-225-5400
Tales come to life for children aged 6 and under as they sing and move while discovering the excitement of storytelling. Parent participation is required.
Norcross Gallery and Studios
116 Carlyle St., Norcross | norcrossgalleryandstudios.org, 770-840-9844
Meet the Artist of the Month
Wednesday, August 30 —
Wednesday, September 27 —
Beth Arnold 4:30-6:30 p.m.
S. Peachtree St., Norcross
Live Model Sketch Group
Tuesdays, 1-4 p.m.
Moderator: Lynda Ellis, Anne Hall
Daytime Open Studio
Thursdays, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Cost: $5 members, $10 nonmembers
Moderator: Anne Labaire, email@example.com
Evening Open Studio
Wednesdays, 6-9 p.m.
Cost: $5 members, $10 non-members
Moderator: Patty Grewe-Mullins, firstname.lastname@example.org
Beginning to Intermediate Drawing
Mondays, September 11, 18, 25, and October 2 10 a.m.-12 p.m.
FREE Presentation of Alla Prima Still Life Class
Wednesday, September 20 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Anne and Larry Hall
Alla Prima Still Life Class
Wednesdays, September 27 and October 4, 11, 18 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Anne and Larry Hall
Working With Gelli Plates
Acrylic Grounds and Mediums
Clinics –Flag Football and Cheer
Wesleyan School flag football and cheer clinics are back this fall! These Saturday clinics are an opportunity to learn fundamentals in a fun, safe, and encouraging environment. These clinics are open to the public, regardless of where a student attends school.
Clinics begin Saturday, September 9. Learn more and register by scanning the QR code.
Atlanta Sci-Fi Film Festival Comes to Peachtree Corners for Its Highly Anticipated Return
The 2023 Atlanta Sci-Fi Film Festival (ASCIFFF), presented by The City of Peachtree Corners, has announced its highly anticipated return and lineup of events. This cinematic adventure will take place at CMX CinèBistro from October 6 to 8, setting the stage for an epic three-day journey in the heart of Peachtree Corners Town Center. While enjoying the festival’s lineup in CMX CineBistro, and live entertainment on the Town Green’s outdoor stage, attendees can explore Peachtree Corners Town Center, the city’s downtown area with more than 15 restaurants and a variety of shops.
“We are thrilled to launch the return of the Atlanta Sci-fi Film Festival in Peachtree Corners Town Center,” said festival founder and director Amanda Ray. “It’s the perfect location for our festival, offering a unique compact venue layout allowing attendees to navigate the festival easily and quickly on foot, minimizing the need for transportation. It’s a diverse, vibrant, innovative town, and as the nation’s #1 Smart City, it complements the festival’s futuristic and technology themes. It’s a great partnership with the City of Peachtree Corners and we can’t wait to welcome the community, sci-fi enthusiasts, filmmakers and industry professionals to this exciting event!”
The festival showcases an array of established and emerging visionary artists from diverse backgrounds. This year’s festival will feature the best sci-fi films created by Georgia’s very own talented filmmakers as well as artists from all over the world. Sci-fi creatives will go head-to-head competing for cash and prizes in the following categories: General Live Action, Animated Sci-fi and Afrofuturism.
There will be several fun and interesting programs held at the festival.
48-Hour Sci-Tech Film Challenge: Sit front and center as the festival unveils the finalists from its first 48-Hour Sci-Tech Film Challenge,
where filmmakers, armed with just 48 hours, race against time to craft short films the weekend of August 25 to 27. In a thrilling twist, artificial intelligence remains off-limits, unleashing the raw power of human ingenuity. Sponsored by OVHcloud, a Global Cloud Infrastructure Provider, this unique 48-hour film competition allows filmmakers to integrate current and new innovative technology as a required element into an original short sci-fi film and compete for $5,000 in cash and title of “Best 48-Hour Sci-Tech Film of the Year”! To participate in the Challenge, visit atlantascififilmfestival.com/48-hr-sci-tech.
The Space Race: This year’s feature program is an exclusive advance screening of National Geographic’s captivating documentary, “The Space Race.” This inspiring film explores the experiences of the first Black astronauts combining decades of archive film and interviews in a reflective illumination on the burden of breaking barriers. The film was directed by Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, Lisa Cortés and produced by Keero Birla. It stars Guion Bluford, Ed Dwight Jr., Charles Bolden and Leland Melvin.
Encore Screenings of 2021 Winners: As a result of remaining COVID concerns, films from the 2021 festival were virtual. Due to overwhelming demand, there will be an encore presentation of the 2021 winning films: “Heartland” by Jahmil Eady; “The Gazer” by Spencer Drees and Eleni Rivera; and “Kaiju Decode” by Tetsuya Yamada.
Panel Discussion — The World of Movie Poster Design: Panelists include Brian Farris with Gravillis Inc, Blake Armstrong and Mary Cox with BLT Communications. As three of the most talented art directors in the industry, they will lead an in-depth discussion on movie poster design. They will share their process of creating eye-catching key artwork, discuss how technology is having an impact on the industry and give tips on how indie filmmakers can create stunning key artwork for their films.
Panel Discussion — A.I. – A Tool for Us, or Instead of Us!: An interesting and necessary discussion on the future impact of A.I. is currently taking place, not just in the film industry, but the entire arts and entertainment industry. Panelists will include Darion D’Anjou, Film Writer, Director and VFX Artist; and Keith Kaseman, designer, advanced production strategist and architectural educator.
Outdoor Components: Taking place on the Town Green outdoor
nology and art. The 2023 Atlanta Sci-fi Film Festival is presented by The City of Peachtree Corners and with the support of partners CMX CineBistro, OVHcloud and Explore Gwinnett.
Through screenings, valuable panel discussions and networking opportunities, the Atlanta Sci-fi Film Festival seeks to propel the future of science fiction filmmaking.
To stay updated on the latest news and announcements regard-
stage will be a combination of family-friendly films and live music performances.
More festival info
The Atlanta Sci-Fi Film Festival, presented by the Multicultural SciFi Organization (MSCFO), provides screens for the finest independent science fiction films locally and internationally, increases cultural diversity in the genre and inspires the local sci-fi community by cultivating engaging art. Creating independent sci-fi films is becoming easier with today’s rapid-paced technological development.
ASCIFFF nurtures new talent and supports concepts that are not often presented in mainstream media or studio films. The festival was founded in 2015 with the goal of fostering rich science-fiction storytelling and challenging perceptions of the intersection between tech-
ing the Atlanta Sci-fi Film Festival, follow their website, ASCIFFF.com, or follow them on their social media channels on Facebook @ASCIFFF and Instagram @atlantasci_fifilmfestival.
Best Family City in Georgia
Residents, city officials weren’t surprised that Peachtree Corners received the highest marks for families in the Fortune Magazine analysis.
The City of Peachtree Corners has been awarded many accolades in its 10-year history. One recent honor bestowed upon the 41,840 residents is the distinction by Fortune Magazine as one of “The Best Places to Live for Families.” It was ranked top in the state of Georgia and number 19 in the entire U.S.
To many residents, this title sums up all that they strive for as a community.
“This is not something we work towards as far as an award or recognition. It’s a de facto confirmation of what we believe we have here and what we really work hard to achieve,” said Peachtree Corners City Manager Brian Johnson.
“Our goal is to be the most well-rounded, or call it diverse, city that we can be. And when I say diversity, I mean diversity across all the community metrics that exist, meaning we love to have diversity of cultures, races — those kinds of things that makes a community healthier, more unique, more vibrant,” he added.
Although the area has a reputation for being among the higher income, more affluent in the state, Johnson said there is a concerted effort toward diversity of housing.
options for somebody who wants to live here as we possibly can.”
Of course, that doesn’t happen organically, he added. It often requires the pushing or pulling of certain things, like zoning restrictions, and seeking state and federal funding.
“We also strive for diversity of entertainment or social opportunities within the city,” said Johnson. “Restaurants, recreational amenities, community activities — everything from organized youth sports leagues to summer concert series — things for people to go to, to be involved in.”
Gathering spotBy Arlinda Smith Broady
“We like to have everything from million-dollar single family detached homes, for those who that’s their thing, down to starter homes and workforce housing, both equity and rental,” said Johnson.
“We want to have as many housing
The city is so successful at making sure there are lots of things to do that many of the “free” offerings are well attended by people from surrounding areas as well as Peachtree Corners residents themselves.
One recent afternoon, for example, the playground at Town Cen-
ter had as many families present from Canton, Smyrna, Johns Creek and Doraville as those who walked or bicycled from their homes in the city.
Gina Hannah brought her two grandsons, Wally and Holden Wright, ages nine and five respectively, to enjoy the state-of-the-art features of the facility that was installed about a year ago.
“We moved here 10 years ago. It was our second go around living in Georgia,” she said. “We lived in Marietta in the 70s, and we were in Richmond, Virginia for a long time.”
Her husband Wayne’s business relocated to the metro area shortly before he retired. “We came back in 2013, when Peachtree Corners had just got incorporated,” said Hannah. “We chose the location because it was convenient to where his office was — just three miles from the highway. …We rented at first but grew to love it. Once we got our bearings, we bought a condo.”
As the kids explored the various pieces of equipment on the playground, Hannah explained why she wasn’t entirely surprised that Peachtree Corners made the top of
the list in Georgia.
“We love everything about it. Of course, the Town Center is newer, but even 10 years ago, there was just a lot of potential. The Forum was already there,” she said.
Even though they are empty nesters, the Hannahs see the great qualities the city has to offer families.
Hannah’s grandchildren live in Indiana with their parents, but she has a son and a daughter who live in Avondale Estates and Decatur. She also has family in Chattanooga, so she and her husband aren’t too far away from family.
Living in a condo without a lot of yard space or room for kids to roam, she’s glad there are lovely parks and other family-friendly amenities within walking distance.
“Every time [the grandchildren visit] there are new things to do. We love the concerts and stuff,” she said, noting that nearby towns like Norcross also offer a variety of things to do, adding to the appeal.
If she could change anything, Hannah said she’d like to see even
more diversity in Peachtree Corners. She does see that the city is growing its diversity in many ways.
A lot to love here
Treng Lu and his two children were at the park with hoverboards they received for Christmas. The family has lived in Peachtree Corners for seven years. Both he and his wife are in the IT field and came to the U.S. from Vietnam by way of Brussels.
“I’m still working on my English, but we love living here,” he said. “It’s very beautiful and peaceful and there are lots of things to do.”
The children, Kaitlyn, 8, and Daniel, 7, attend Simpson Elementary. “My favorite subject is math,” said Daniel. “Because you can solve almost anything with numbers.”
Similarly, Karen Gallardo brought her sons, Conner, 6, and Grayson, 7, to enjoy the park — especially the splash pad — before the day got too hot. She and her husband purchased their home in Peachtree Corners in 2018.
“I was working in Buckhead at the time. …And I was able to get to work pretty easily — just hop on 400,” she said, adding, “And it was affordable.”
She’s a teacher, and her husband works in sales, so he needed some -
place that was centrally located. “We love that it’s kind of central. And I love that Trader Joe’s is right here. That’s my jam,” she said.
Gallardo has a hard time enjoying some of the family-friendly offerings because the movies and concerts often start a little late for their schedule. “Sometimes things start so late. So, as a parent, …I don’t want to go out at 7:30,” she said.
Number one for families
And although this kind of national recognition is good PR for the city, it’s not a goal the city necessarily strives for. Still, Johnson said he’d vote for Peachtree Corners every time.
“I think it is fair to say that when you look at a community like ours — about 45,000 people and about 45,000 jobs with lots of diversity in all of those sectors — that’s a pretty cool community to consider living in. …We work hard to try to do that every day, and it’s nice,” he said.
The recognition is not something the city applied for, but Johnson said, “we’re very proud of it; …Families are the backbone of this country. When you can say that you are number one in Georgia and number 19 for families in the country, that’s a pretty cool place to be.” ■
Good Grief: Life After Loss
PART ONE OF TWO
As weighty a topic as grief can be, I felt compelled to address it as we approach National Grief Awareness Day on August 30. I wanted to provide support to those who are weathering losses. Even when life delivers one of its most powerful blows, we can share in the certainty that we will regain our equilibrium. Opening up a space to discuss bereavement has been cathartic for contributors sharing their stories and will be for those who read them. Talking about loss is healing, even as tears are choked back at
times. For readers enduring their own losses, there is comfort in the simple reassurance that we’re not alone.
Grief is unavoidable; it’s part and parcel of the human condition, the inevitable equalizer across the board in the game of life. We’re all bound to experience the tragedy and melancholy of having lost loved ones and tasked with picking up the remaining pieces of our lives to continue our journey without them.
How we deal with grief depends in large part on our personality and the relationship we had with the deceased. Thus, the process is singular to each of us. There can be no one-size-fits-all type of guide.
Losing a spouse can leave one person feeling shattered while another may face the same loss without much incident. The loss of a parent can result in one sibling handling it more easily than another, although they’ve lost the same person.By Patrizia Winsper
Neither reaction is right or wrong. Grief is as individual as our
fingerprints. No two people will move through it in the same way.
Consider this two-part article an invitation to give yourself grace while navigating the harrowing journey through loss. Provided no one is being harmed, it’s important to recognize first and foremost that all grief is “good grief.”
Get by with a little help from your friends – and a professional
When it comes to death, as prevalent as it is, we can all be pretty terrible at dealing with it, whether we’re experiencing the loss or trying to comfort someone else. Advice from a pro can go a long way when we don’t know the best things to say or do.
To that end, Danielle Edwards, MSW, LCSW, of Edwards Psychotherapy and Consulting LLC, a grief, trauma and domestic violence recovery therapist, was kind enough to share her expertise.
First and foremost, Edwards advises any bereaved individuals
struggling with thoughts of suicide to call or text 988, the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline, or to go to the nearest ER.
“Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance — the stages of grief. I don’t use them. There’s this idea that you’re supposed to move through denial, anger and once you hit acceptance, you can tie it all up and put it on a shelf. But it’s not a linear process,” Edwards said.
She advises people that they should eliminate any expectation that they should be further along. “There’s nothing wrong with you, you’re not off track, your journey may be riddled with detours and U-turns. Expect a slew of other pitstops along the way like remorse and relief, that can also be part of your experience,” she added.
Mayor of Peachtree Corners, Mike Mason
Toiling in the garden, Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason paused to survey his work and asked aloud, although he’s alone, “Well honey, what do you think? How does that look?” Having lost his beloved wife of 49 years this past January to an aggressive form of uterine cancer, he is left to only hope the late first lady of the city, Debbie Mason, would approve.
Maintaining their beautiful garden is a labor of love and one way Mason honors his late wife. “We created a habitat in our backyard for birds, squirrels, pollinators and predators. From the sunroom, you can appreciate the color palette and shapes of the pots and flowers,” Mason said.
He recalls telling Debbie, who was always at the helm of their projects, that she was an artist, painting with landscape, hardscape and texture. She had responded, “I’m glad you see that.”
Grandiose memorial suggestions from well-meaning constituents, like naming the bridge or City Hall after Debbie, did not appeal to Mayor Mason. He doesn’t feel they’d accurately capture her essence. The City of Peachtree Corners will soon announce what is yet to blossom in the first lady’s memory.
In the meantime, Mason actively seeks healing through group counseling at the YMCA and reading books like Alan D. Wolfelt’s, “Healing a Spouse’s Grieving Heart.” He has graciously agreed to share some personal anecdotes in hopes of helping others.
Work through it
In moments when tears cannot be contained, Mason has learned to embrace the process of grieving. After gardening, you might find him tearfully sipping wine, reminiscing about how he and Debbie once delighted in that effort together.
Hearing a country western song while driving may require him to pull over. Listening to artists that Debbie loved from his vinyl collection, like Linda Ronstadt, cues the waterworks.
YMCA Grief counselor, Elli Garrett, sagely advised him, “You can’t stop listening to the music you love. You’ve got to work through the grief, keep experiencing life the way you and your partner did. Right now, those thoughts make you cry, but even-
tually listening to those songs will make you feel better because they remind you of her. You have to work through the grief to get to that point.”
Attempting to recover from the jolt of facing life devoid of the emotional intimacy he once enjoyed with his best friend, Mason repeats the mantra, “work through it,” as he continues.
“Move on means you’re trying to leave something behind. That’s the wrong approach. You have to continue. Ask yourself, ‘What’s next?’ and plan it,” Mason said.
Though wanting desperately to change Debbie’s circumstances, her illness was complicated by side effects and a stroke. Based on his research, the plan was to get her into remission and have five more years of seeing her smile, holding hands, flirting, snuggling and the daily tête-à-têtes with the partner he had built a life with as they worked together to create the City of Peachtree Corners.
“Nobody’s kidding themselves. There wouldn’t be a city without Debbie Mason,” he stated.
He had remained laser focused on being a cheerleader and would’ve done so forever if it would keep her alive. But two years after her diagnosis, Debbie
was gone, leaving Mason to feel like he had somehow failed.
“My mission was gone. That’s a loss, too. Taking care of her didn’t work. Now I have to do what she told me several times towards the end: start thinking of the future,” he recounted.
Unable to think of life beyond Debbie until there was no choice, Mason abruptly met with solitude. “You wake up after the funeral, after everybody has gone back to their homes, and it’s just you and the house. All of a sudden, the house is quiet, the bed is empty,” he shared.
Facing the new normal is physically and emotionally exerting. As Edwards informed me, there’s no white knuckling someone’s passing, it doesn’t go away.
“Make room for the grief. Tend to it,” she said. And the mayor is doing just that.
Late night visits from the past
For Mason, the most difficult part of grieving has been the sleepless nights.
“Grief is insomnia,” he said. “Your mind won’t stop. You can be very sleepy, lay down and then, all of a sudden, you wake up and it’s that never-ending woulda, shoulda, coulda. It doesn’t matter that you intellectually understand [you shouldn’t do this]. You have to reason with yourself at two in the morning.”
Tormented by things he wishes he had done differently, Mason reviews past incidents. “People change. You’re not the same person now as you were when you first married. That’s where my mind goes — how I would’ve handled things as the man I am now,” he said.
Recognizing one should only learn from the past — it’s futile to beat yourself up about it — he endeavors to focus on today and tomorrow. “You can’t change it. Forgive yourself. Don’t make those mistakes again. Relentlessly remind yourself of that,” he said.
On a lighter note, one that couples can appreciate, the mayor realizes that if Debbie were aware of what he’s wracking his brain over today, she’d probably laugh and remind him of incidents he hasn’t even thought of yet.
Being a caregiver will change you
The difficulty of providing the most intimate care while watching a loved one as they’re ravaged by
You can’t stop listening to the music you love. You’ve got to work through the grief, keep experiencing life the way you and your partner did. Right now, those thoughts make you cry, but eventually listening to those songs will make you feel better because they remind you of her. You have to work through the grief to get to that point.
Elli Garrett YMCA Grief counselorDebbie Mason (1974)
an unstoppable disease leaves a mark. Supporting the emotional and physical needs of a spouse at their most vulnerable, as they become forcibly dependent due to sickness and approaching death, imposes a disarming honesty and frankness.
“You will not be the same person. I don’t have much of a filter anymore. It’s not normal for a politician,” Mason said.
resolving any differences.
Nick, however, had a more confrontational approach growing up. “He and Debbie could really push each other’s buttons,” Mason shared. Cancer didn’t leave much time for reconciliation. Though Nick is content with how things concluded, any residual burdens will be discussed with a therapist.
a long sigh. That’s how she passed. It was a moment of love,” he said. “You do the best you can for as long as you can and then you continue.”
The Mason jar gets bigger
and having new experiences is allowing for Mason to slowly grow around his grief, like the Mason jar imagery.
Forced to slow down while providing end of life care, the mayor has also noticed a change in his formerly fast-paced, herky-jerky ways. Now he adopts more of an unhurried disposition.
According to Edwards, some may wish to return to the person they were before the loss. But loss becomes part of your journey, and it does change you. The only question should be, “What does moving forward look like?”
“I love you in spite of, not especially because.”
It’s a family saying, or “Debbieism,” used in times of disagreement when the late first lady reprimanded their sons about things she may not have approved of. “‘I love you in spite of, not especially because.’ The three of us were outmatched by her,” the mayor reminisced.
Masons’ sons had markedly different reactions to the loss of their mother, in keeping with their own temperaments and individual bonds with her.
The eldest, Matt, spoke to Debbie before she passed and came out saying, “We’re OK.” He had become skilled at speaking to his mother in his best “help desk voice” whether assisting her with technology or
We’ve been friends through rain or shine for such a long, long time – Gordon
Remembering how Debbie left this world provides some comfort. “It ended well,” the mayor said. He stopped everything for two and a half years to focus first on saving her, and then on taking care of her.
“She knew I loved her, and it ended that way,” Mason said. He had given her a dose of morphine for the pain and helped her to relax with her favorite, a soothing foot rub.
“I touched her as gently as I could and said, ‘There you are sweetie, a good foot rub. Nothing like that to make a girl take a nap.’ She took a deep breath and let out
Edwards shared an uplifting visual. Picture a series of three Mason jars, each with a black ball of grief inside. The grief appears to get smaller from left to right, but in truth, it is the Mason jars that are getting progressively larger.
“People think grief will get smaller and smaller. But we grow around our grief. The jars get larger. Grief remains; we change and grow around it,” Edwards said.
Physical separation is difficult but personal growth still occurs after losing someone we love. There will be enjoyment again.
Edwards suggests releasing any guilt you may feel for having joyful moments because the deceased can’t share them with you. Embrace new people and new challenges. Do the things you’ve always enjoyed.
Developing new social contacts
He found this message communicated to him by Pastor Lori Osborn at Mount Carmel Church, to be most helpful. “The reason why, right now, talking to your friends is so hurtful, your grief is so profound, is that you live in a world where all your friends knew Debbie. Keep meeting new people so the size of your group of friends expands to include people who didn’t know her — you won’t leave them crying. Don’t be afraid to do new things,” Mason recounted.
When asked for any advice he’d like to share with mourners, he replied, “Get up every morning and try to do just that, but be kind to yourself. If you had planned to do something and suddenly you don’t want to, change the plan. Do the stuff you loved before.”
As for the mayor, he’s benefitted from a return to listening to music, perusing bookstores and reading. He is determined to keep his set point at happy and positive. It’s no easy task for the man who had tissues at the ready when he teared up during our interview.
“You get a little battered, bruised, but have to stand up and regain your balance. You can’t be a good partner if you’re too dependent upon the other person, but you do connect and lean on each other,” he said.
Feeling esteem for our city leader who so dearly loved his wife, it is my most sincere wish that when he’s ready, Mayor Mason will find a new partner with whom to create traditions and make memories, just as his departed wife had wished for him.
Caroline Manning lost her husband of 42 years in 2018. Thoroughly entrenched in the community, when he wasn’t at his law firm, John coached baseball and played tennis. He was the first Chairman of the Board at the Robert Fowler YMCA where he served on multiple committees thereafter.
He also hosted the Good Friday breakfast for thousands of people and delivered sermons to the children at Simpsonwood United Methodist Church every Sunday for 30 years. Needless to say, John was a busy man.
He died as he lived, assisting others. He was having fun with dear friends while helping a parishioner who had been evicted. They
Get up every morning and try to do just that, but be kind to yourself. If you had planned to do something and suddenly you don’t want to, change the plan. Do the stuff you loved before.
Mike MasonJohn and Caroline Manning
were boxing and transporting her belongings to an apartment on a hot September day. John, who had lived with Type 2 diabetes for 25 years, was seen jovially directing traffic. No one noticed he was declining.
In addition to taking insulin to keep blood sugar levels steady, diabetics must also remain vigilant and eat at certain times. Thinking he’d be home by noon, John had overextended himself in the warm weather, likely fueled only by a donut breakfast with his church group.
Probably feeling shaky by 2:00 in the afternoon as his blood sugar plummeted, he announced he was going to get something to eat.
“He was too busy to pay attention. He knew how to deal with it but would get so wrapped up in whatever project he was involved in. I would say, ‘John, you’re a grown man. If you feel bad, you need to stop and get something to eat.’ This was before FreeStyle Libre that checks your blood sugar and keeps you posted,” Caroline said.
At home preparing to receive guests, Caroline was contacted by a Duluth policeman with news that John had gone to Burger King, choked and passed out. Someone performed the Heimlich maneuver and John was rushed to Joan Glancy Memorial Hospital.
She was told to get to the hospital immediately.
Upon arrival, the receptionist sent her to a room. When a grief counselor introduced herself, Caroline thought she must have the wrong person.
Then the doctor came in and abruptly delivered the message, “I’m sorry to tell you this, Mrs. Manning, but your husband has passed away.” The choking had caused a heart attack. John was 70.
Caroline alerted the church that John wouldn’t be giving the Sunday sermon. She and her daughter Catherine fielded a barrage of questions as doctors sought to determine the cause of death. Her eldest, Sarah Frances, rushed home from Hilton Head.
Edwards explained anticipatory grief. If you can see it coming, whether it’s a terminal illness, an addiction, a loved one’s behavior that could cause their demise, grieving begins while the person is still alive.
“When you fear you’re losing this person, in the back of your mind you know unless something changes, this is likely going to end in their death, you’re already grieving,” Edwards said.
Those suffering anticipatory grief may wonder why they’re not more sorrowful once the individual passes away. “I ask clients to tell me about before. Before was full of so much grief or worry. After-
to beep at him, Caroline shared, “We worried constantly. He’d stay too long at the office or go to a meeting and not eat. By the time he’d get home, he’d be shaking and sweating. We’d get mad.”
Fearing the worst, Caroline insisted on moving his office from Buckhead back to Peachtree Corners; John was having episodes of feeling light-headed driving home.
She had asked him, just months before he passed, what his wishes would be for his funeral. She knew he’d have specific requests for songs and Bible verses, and she noted those.
Losing a patriarch
John’s departure was swift. “Because we didn’t see any suffering, what we had to do is learn to live without him,” Caroline said.
She was at ease assuming the role of hostess. “People were coming over. I was explaining what had happened and making everyone feel comfortable,” she said.
Sarah Frances, who worked in public relations at the time, kicked into PR mode. She wrote the obituary, planned the funeral, created the program and contacted everyone. She was in full-blown funeral mode.
comments like, “I’d just get a Coke and a candy bar to bring my blood sugar levels up,” Caroline said.
Wives reached out declaring they had never fretted, having no idea this could happen. “I don’t know what doctors are doing wrong. People think they can eat and do whatever they want, as long as they’re taking meds. So much to learn,” Caroline sighed.
John’s doctor provided some consolation, pointing out that he could’ve gone into a coma. “I firmly believe God took him quickly as opposed to letting him stay in a coma. He would not have liked to have a debilitating disease. He died the way he would’ve wanted — doing what he loved with people he loved — and not in bed, sick,” Caroline said.
“He was never sick. He never missed church or work. I think we’d all hope to die like that — quickly, no suffering, no putting your family through struggles. I count that as a blessing,” she added.
No time for a meltdown
Fraught with projects, there was no time to stop. It was likely
wards, it’s almost like a sigh of relief. Grief is more than sadness,” Edwards said.
After the initial shock, Caroline experienced a sense of calm. It was the end of her distress every time John left the house. She no longer had to worry about him living on the edge. It may seem unusual to those unfamiliar with this phenomenon, but it is indeed, part of grief.
She and her daughters had witnessed more of John’s risky behavior and cautioned him repeatedly.
Wishing he’d had FreeStyle Libre
“That’s how Sara Frances handled her grief. She wanted it to be the most perfect funeral, if there is such a thing,” Caroline said.
Diabetes can kill you
Stressing the seriousness of diabetes — a disease that can unexpectedly kill you — Sarah Frances also contributed to a cautionary article for a legal publication. The response was surprising. Caroline heard from several attorneys with Type 2 diabetes who never thought they could die from it.
The family was stunned by
self-preservation that had her functioning on autopilot. “I didn’t have a real meltdown,” Caroline said.
She’d been suggesting they downsize and encouraging John to either close his office or work from home for years. Not wanting the task of maintaining their family home alone, Caroline was quick to get it on the market.
She also closed down John’s law firm. It was a daunting undertaking; he had practiced for over 40 years.
Just days prior to his passing
I firmly believe God took him quickly as opposed to letting him stay in a coma. He would not have liked to have a debilitating disease. He died the way he would’ve wanted — doing what he loved with people he loved — and not in bed, sick.
Caroline ManningThe Mannings with their grandchildren. John and Caroline Manning enjoying a special occasion together
away, the couple had started cleaning out their basement — a job she was left to complete on her own.
Same loss, different grief
“I had all those projects lined up. I was consumed with all that. I think the girls have struggled more than I have. They were both very close to their dad,” Caroline said.
Each of the Mannings’ daughters would tell you they were John’s favorite. Sarah Frances, who inherited John’s exuberant personality, sought grief counseling.
Selecting Crowell Brothers Funeral Home on Peachtree Industrial Boulevard proved to be beneficial. “They were wonderful to work with. They handled everything,” Caroline said.
They fought for three months to obtain the certificate of death without which one cannot sell property or collect life insurance. They remained in constant contact with Caroline, who deems them “fabulous.”
According to Caroline, grief must be processed one step at a time. She has moved from one step to the next with the help of her girls and her grand-girls, who are a huge part of her life.
“I’m loving being in charge,” she chuckled.
The company of a man
When Caroline and John were together, the couple enjoyed mutual respect and a lot of fun. They loved cooking and entertaining, music and theatre.
Caroline misses his humor, companionship and the fun surprises he’d plan, like scavenger hunts and progressive dinners spanning multiple restaurants.
“John liked to go and do,” Caroline smiled. “Not having any men in my life has been challenging. They do bring a lot. I’m only now reaching that point.”
“I feel like I am where I’m supposed to be,” Caroline shared.
She’s moved to a home she loves in a conveniently located neighborhood of both young families and empty nesters. “It’s a nice mix. A great group of people. The women get together for happy hour at the pool,” she said.
Embracing a new career, Caroline adores substitute teaching at her granddaughters’ school. They bring their friends by to meet their “Mimi.”
Caroline is ready for the next chapter in her life.
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The hardest thing for Caroline was facing choices alone. She was glad to have the support of her daughters.
“When you’ve been married for 42 years, the hardest thing is making a decision by myself,” Caroline revealed.
Without an equal partner to help weigh ideas, she realized that whatever happened going forward, was going to be her call. It was daunting at first, but now she’s more comfortable with it.
Tomorrow is not promised to anyone. Tell your people how much you love them often and treasure the special moments you are able to share with them.
Part 2 of Life After Loss is scheduled to appear in the next issue of Peachtree Corners Magazine. ■KARL BARHAM KBarham@tworld.com
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Peachtree Corners Moves Forward to Phase Two of the Town Green PlaygroundBy Zoey Schlueter
After achieving great success throughout the years in creating a communal space for Peachtree Corners through the Town Green and its fitness trail and playground, the City of Peachtree Corners is moving forward with Phase Two of its playground plans.
The city began constructing the Fitness Trail in 2020 upon realizing a need for amenities in the
space created at the Town Green. There was an outstanding positive response from the community, prompting the city to build the first part of its playground.
However, planners knew there would eventually be a demand for a smaller playground for kids who were too young for the main playground.
Now, with confidence, the city is pushing forwards to install Phase Two of their playground plan, specifically for kids aged two to five
years old. This playground will be placed where the current hill and its associated slide stand, along with the area that currently has two pieces of climbing equipment, near Playa Bowls.
Construction on the project will begin in early December and is scheduled to finish by the first summer concert in May of the upcoming year. During construction, the hill and slide will be removed. The city is working on donating one of the pieces of climbing
equipment to Peachtree Elementary School.
Intentionality in design
The new stunning playground will feature low-to-the-ground pieces of equipment that will take on a whimsical outer-space theming. Additionally, the playground will have wheelchair-accessible sections with ramps to wheel on and off certain pieces of equipment.
Careful consideration went into the designing and rendering of the playground. Public Works Director Greg Ramsey shared that the team behind this project wanted the theming of this phase to be lasting and interesting for many years to come.
“We have seen NASA exploring the idea of returning to the moon
and perhaps travelling to Mars one day,” said Ramsey. “So, we developed the idea to make our new playground a place where younger children can explore space travel and space transportation structures in their own imaginative ways.”
To keep with the theme of space exploration, some of the creative structures the team plans to include are several imaginative play stations with many moving dials, buttons and movable pieces designed to help grow children’s imaginations and stimulate sensory-challenged children.
“We will also have several areas for climbing, and those climbing areas will be connected to a rocket ship that will be lifting off, a UFO that has landed nearby, a moon rover vehicle and a space car,” said Ramsey.
“We will have a couple of slides coming out of the space vehicles and space structures,” he added. “Outside of those, we will have space rocks for climbing or jumping, bridges connecting several of the structures and an ADA compliant carrousel that will be flush to the surrounding surface.” ■
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Paul Duke STEM High School Students Build a Legacy at National Conference
Iwejuo, Rohan Kumar, Hannah Le, Caleb Odunade, Mihir Pai, Rohan Pai, Phuong Truong and Keon Wilson won an astounding first place for their work in the Manufacturing Prototype category.
For their challenge, they were asked to create a Fourth of July-themed decoration. The team problem-solved and worked to create a customizable condiment and utensil holder with replaceable tops that incorporated the shapes of fireworks and the Liberty Bell, and symbols of the American flag, winning PDSTSA their first national title.
Additionally, within the realm of Data Science and Analytics, PDSTSA members Oswin Cervantes , Meagan Harris and Rohan Kumar took home third place by using and studying data found online and provided by them through science experiments involving Blue Zones teas, JASP (an open source program for statistical analysis) and the aging of Saccroymeces cerevisie (more commonly known as brewer’s yeast or baker’s yeast).
From June 28 to July 2, the Paul Duke STEM High School Technology Student Association (PDSTSA) chapter left a lasting mark at the 2023 National Leadership Conference (NLC) in Louisville, Kentucky. TheBy Zoey Schlueter
group’s dedication to their work and unwavering support from chaperones and advisors led to nine Top 10 finishes and four Top 3 placements.
The Technology Student Association (TSA) is a national Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) compiled of passionate students who are thoroughly involved in STEM. TSA has over 200,000 members nationwide and 2,000 involved schools across 49 states.
The theme of this year’s conference was “A Legacy of Innovation,” a theme that the PDSTSA chapter certainly excelled at.
The PDSTSA chapter competed in the following areas: Data Science and Analytics, Video Game Design, Manufacturing Prototype, Future Technology Teacher, On Demand Video, Virtual Reality
Visualization, Biotechnology Design and Geospatial Technology. Within each respective area, Paul Duke STEM High School (PDHS) had great success.
Aside from regional and statewide competitions, the PDSTSA chapter competed at the annual National Conference where expert judges score groups and individuals on more than 70 different STEM-based educational challenges that covered topics such as architecture, communication, engineering, leadership and technology research.
Pursuit of excellence
Within their group, the PDSTSA chapter had an impressive four awards given out to groups and individuals within places first through third.
Notably, members Donald
In the category of Biotechnology Design, Chloe Au, Brandon Auyoung, Meagan Harris, Joshua Odunade, Quincy Robinson and Phuong Truong won third place for finding a solution to adequately address food preparation, storage and sustainability issues in space, specifically for a trip to Mars.
After creating a rocket-shaped display containing their solution, the team was awarded based on their problem-solving abilities.
Caleb Odunade won third place in the solo category of Future Technology Teacher. For this category, competitors were required to choose an application that could be used for teaching and then demonstrate how to implement it in the classroom.
Odunade made a video for the preliminary round on how to use TinkerCAD, an engineering
and 3D design application, and was challenged to also present a lesson plan he had designed.
More notable accomplishments
However, the accomplishments didn’t end there. Others include:
■ Fourth place in Video Game Design for members Ali Akbar, Frank Hammock, Varun Iyengar,
Rohan Kumar, Joshua Odunade and Sahana Parekh
■ Fifth place in Virtual Reality Visualization for members Aqil Afsar, Charlie Boalch, Rohan Kumar and Mihir Pai
■ Sixth place in Geospatial Technology for members Aqil Afsar, Mihir Pai and Rohan Pai
■ Sixth place for Future Technology Teacher awarded to member Myra Wu
■ Tenth place award in On Demand Video by members Baylor Brown, Abigail Donkor, Princess Igwe, Tristan Kim, Rohan Kumar, Caleb Odunade, Joshua Odunade, Rohan Pai and Landon Shell
More to come
This was only the PDSTSA team’s second time participating in the NLC. The team is excited
with their success and are looking forward to working towards even greater success in the future.
Check out the PDSTSA Instagram at @pdstsa. Learn more about TSA at tsaweb.org.
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Local Non-Profit Peachtree Farm Continues to Be a Haven for Adults with Disabilities
Peachtree Farm has been up and running for over two years now. Here’s what the organization is all about and what its goals are for the future.Article and photos by Zoey Schlueter
Peachtree Farm’s history
Peachtree Farm is a non-profit community-based organization that provides services to adults with intellectual developmental disabilities. Located off Technology Parkway, Peachtree Farm is an exceptional place for adults with disabilities to live, work and thrive.
Peachtree Farm was founded by Mike Twiner and Mary Twiner and opened in 2021. Their son Joe Twiner , the Executive Director at Peachtree Farm, has worked closely with the non-profit since its origins.
The beginnings of Peachtree Farm are traceable back to the Twiner family’s experience within the disability community. Dis -
pleased with the job options for their daughter with disabilities, Quinn Twiner, the Twiner family set out to create a solution to their problem.
“Two years ago, she [Quinn] was still in school, and we were not thrilled with a lot of the job options that are out there or with the vocational training options that were out there,” said Joe Twiner. “We knew that there was a strong need for job services and for a place where people can come and spend their time and develop an identity, develop a meaning and a purpose in their work.”
With a goal in mind to create a space to give adults with disabilities job opportunities and vocational training, Peachtree Farm
was established. The organization focuses on empowering the adults involved in their program by supporting them in a way that they can live and work independently and develop independent living and working skills.
The adults with disabilities who come to work on the farm are given the title of farmers once they join the program. Additionally, through the supported employment program, adults will work on the farm four times a week, completing work such as planting, growing and harvesting crops.
Peachtree Farm is comprised of a greenhouse, hydroponics, a chicken coop and many plant beds that grow assorted crops depending on the season. The farm even has a canine helper, Daisy, a golden retriever farm dog.
Additionally, the farm hosts many events such as farmer’s markets with freshly grown crops, spring plant sales and one of their leading events annually, Tailgate for Tomatoes. Tailgate for Toma -
toes is hosted at the farm and includes raffles, a tomato catapult and, of course, lots of tomatoes.
In addition to these future events in store, Peachtree Farm also has much larger plans in store for their non-profit. While the farm may be a workspace now, the Twiner family plans to start installing farm homes on the farm in the future.
“We have seven full-time employees, farmers and 12 of our volunteers,” said Joe Twiner. “But the number one thing holding our program back from growing more is that we need our own space. We need a restroom and kitchen out here, so we want to build two farmhouse-style houses.”
Of the two farmhouses, one house will be an office and the
other house will be a seed which will begin the independent living community for the farmers at Peachtree farm. Each home will be a four-bedroom house for adults with disabilities to live in, making working at the farm more accessible.
Further, the non-profit is working to expand its agriculture as well. Currently, the farm is
working with the USDA to install another greenhouse. This will be a high-calorie greenhouse that will serve their plant nursery.
Community is a vital piece of Peachtree Farm’s success. Besides being co-workers, the farmers support each other throughout
all aspects of life, on and off the farm.
“It’s a real community of folks that support each other,” said Joe Twiner. “The support that we’ve received from the city and the community more broadly is essential to our work and the broader disability, environmental and food access communities that we’re a part of.”
The Peachtree Farm community provides a unique opportunity for the farmers to work alongside other adults with disabilities, allowing friendships to blossom within the workspace.
One of the many reasons one of the farmers, Joey Newton , loves Peachtree Farm is because he met his close friend John Gross at the farm.
Volunteers also heavily contribute to the community culture which makes up Peachtree Farm. Whether a volunteer works at the farm frequently, or visits a couple of times a year, like local volunteer Robert Fugate , the impact of giving time to be on the farm is powerful.
“My favorite thing is watching the kids really work and appreciate what they’re doing and see a job well done in the end,” said Fugate.
How to help
There are several ways to contribute to the growth and success of Peachtree Farm, according to Joe Twiner.
“The best way is through donations,” said Joe Twiner. “As a 501c3 nonprofit, we rely on public support to run the farm. We aim to be financially sustainable in terms of plants and produce we offer for sale. That offsets a lot of our operations costs, but as we continue to expand, we really need the support of the community.”
Another way to support the farm is through volunteering and showing up at the events Peachtree Farm hosts. Volunteers can support the farm during events like the fall festival, farmer’s markets and plant sales. Corporate volunteering is also a great opportunity to help out on the farm for a day.
In addition, it is possible to sign up to be a weekly volunteer at Peachtree Farm and join the farmers during their workdays. For this kind of service, a one-day training and background check is required.
Learn more about Peachtree Farm at peachtreefarm.org or scan the QR code. ■
Kathy Lunsford, a Beacon of Dedication and Mentorship, Celebrates 50 Years at Southern GF
Hardworking and dedicated are two words that can easily be used to describe Kathy Lunsford, a Quality Control Manager at Southern GF (SGF). In an era where job loyalty seems to be a rare gem, Lunsford proves herself an admirable example of unwavering commitment and dedication.
With her recent celebration of a remarkable 50th anniversary at SGF, a commercial door, frames and hardware company, Lunsford’s story is one of perseverance, loyalty and the pursuit of excellence. Her journey serves as an inspiration to both her colleagues and future generations of employees.
Lunsford began working at SGFBy Zoey Schlueter
at the ripe age of 17, being one of the longest-committed members of the company. Having worked at the company for the past five decades, Lunsford has witnessed firsthand a great deal of the company’s history and filled many roles throughout her time.
“When she first started, Kathy worked in the typing pool; then she was promoted to estimating the window portion of the jobs,” said Clay Bittinger, the finance manager for SGF who has worked at the company for seven years.
“A few years after that, she started working directly for the president of the company, who taught her everything there was to know about commercial door hardware,” said Bittinger. “She stayed in that role for many years and became the go-to person in the company for anything related to door hardware.
“In the last few years, her role has shifted slightly. Kathy now helps teach all new hires about the door and hardware industry, she still estimates the hardware portion of all large jobs that SGF bids and she attends many job site meetings to help our customers design the
keying system that they need,” said Bittinger.
As a veteran employee at the company, Lunsford never fails to kindly lend guidance to newer employees. When Bittinger first arrived at SGF, Lunsford worked to acclimate Bittinger into the accounting department, even though she had no specific role in accounting herself.
“As the young guy right out of college, having someone excited to help you so you could succeed was inspiring,” said Bittinger.
Additionally, this example of Lunsford’s help and care for others is not a one-time thing. New employees consistently have great experiences with Lunsford at SGF because she never fails to be a supportive mentor.
Jennifer Barber, an employee who has worked at SGF for just over seven weeks, has already been impacted by Lunsford acting as a role model. Barber’s experience with Lunsford adds to the overwhelming evidence of the wholesome impact she has as a mentor to newer em-
ployees in the company.
“Kathy is very knowledgeable and beyond helpful,” said Barber. She has taught me so much in the short time I’ve been at SGF. If any of us have questions, she’s right there to help. Her work ethic is truly an inspiration.”
Additionally, Lunsford’s selfless ways add to the familial environment and culture at the company. According to her coworkers, Lunsford is definitely “the office mom,” constantly keeping her coworkers in line, providing wisdom to newer employees and keeping calm in high-stress environments.
Anyone who has the privilege of working with Lunsford will appreciate her drive to learn and help in the workplace.
Aside from work, Lunsford is happily married to her high school sweetheart Mark and has two grandchildren whom she proudly talks about on Monday mornings after the weekend.
Join Southern GF and the Peachtree Corners community in celebrating Lunsford and all she has accomplished. ■
The Peachtree Corners Festival 2023 Gearing Up for Another Great YearBy Zoey Schlueter
The Peachtree Corners Festival is no doubt one of the greatest traditions in the city of Peachtree Corners because of its continual improvement and growth year after year. Filled with music, food, arts and crafts — and much more — the family-friendly festival continues to be a symbol and trademark of our community’s excellence.
Located in and around the Town Center, the Peachtree Corners Festival will be hosted on September 22 through 24, with times on Friday, 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.; Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Sunday, 12 to 5:00 p.m.
As the festival celebrates its 12th year of continuation, Peachtree Corners Festival brings something new to the table this year. With the recent passing of long-time Peachtree Corners resident, First Lady of Peachtree Corners and Peachtree Corners Festival Vice President Debbie Mason, the festival plans to commemorate Mason this year and the legacy she not only left with the festival but with the community.
Dave Huffman, Peachtree Corners Festival President, has been heavily involved in the festival for over a decade and worked closely with Mason for many years. To bring light to the lasting impact Mason left on the city of Peachtree Corners, the organizing committee of the festival has many plans in store for the upcoming weekend.
Celebrating Debbie Mason
Huffman shared that the professed theme of this year’s festival is “Celebrating the Life and Legacy of Debbie Mason.”
“Normally we don’t have a theme to our festival, but this year is special,” said Huffman. “In addition to all of her many activities and
contributions to our community, Debbie was a co-founder of the festival and its Vice-President until her death from cancer earlier this year.”
Within the festival, to celebrate Mason’s legacy during the festival kickoff, there will be a tribute to Mason in the opening speech, the festival t-shirts will have Mason mentioned on them, and on the festival booths, there will be mention of Mason, too.
Even before the festival, Peachtree Corners Festival worked to install the Debbie Mason Drama Scholarship at Norcross High School (NHS) to celebrate Mason’s love for the NHS drama department.
Aside from these meaningful attributions, the Peachtree Corners Festival has many other
plans in store to make this year special.
Foremost, with the festival set to take place in the middle of September rather than mid-summer, the cooled weather will surely create an enjoyable setting for the festival. Huffman and his team also have worked to improve the festival and its dynamics for this year’s event.
“Each year we try to improve a little bit on the previous year,” said Huffman. “I know people — organizers like myself — will always say, ‘Oh this is going to be the greatest festival we’ve ever had.’ But when we do a process like that, that’s actually true because each festival, we try to improve on it a little bit, take our lessons learned.”
“We’ve got more arts and crafts booths than we’ve ever had, and the music is always a plus,” Huffman
continued. “We’re one of the few festivals in this area that pays our bands. So, we do get, I think, a higher quality of band. Our car show is always fun, and I think that’s something that makes our festival stand out, I believe, from some of the other ones in the area.”
Scan the QR Code to make a contribution to the festival to honor Debbie’s memory
luxury cars, ensuring an impressive line-up of classic cars. Make sure to come out and see the collection of vintage and collectible cars that be showcased on Sunday afternoon. The cars on display aren’t merely vehicles. Rather, they are pieces of art with eccentric history and aesthetic upkeep, making them quite a sight.
Arts, Crafts and Knick Knacks
This year, the Arts & Crafts Row will be jam-packed with local artisans and businesses offering more unique products and crafts than ever before. Bring your family and friends to check out the one-of-a-kind goods for sale. There surely will be something for everyone.
Becky Lyon, Entertainment Coordinator, and Huffman have worked to create three nights full of unforgettable entertainment.
On Friday night, two show-stopping bands will take the stage. At 7:30 p.m., a Peter Frampton tribute band, Tommy Lee Thompson and the Network will get the evening off to a rocking start.
Following the opening, headliner Back N Black, an AC/DC tribute band, will start around 8:30 p.m. Performing top AC/DC hits such as “Highway to Hell,” “Thunderstruck” and “You Shook Me All Night,” the band will keep the energy high on the Town Green all night.
The musical lineups for Saturday and Sunday are still being firmed up at press time, but Huffman did share some of the bands that are scheduled to appear. The list includes Bulletproof, Casual Cadenza, The New Bridge Band and Sonic Alley.
The Whiskey Angels will also hit the stage, making their first-time appearance at the Peachtree Corners Festival.
Automobiles & More
Got a hot rod to show off? On both Saturday, September 23, and Sunday, September 24, Peachtree Corners Festival will be hosting both a Classic Car Show and an exhibition by Georgia’s Concours d’Elegance.
During the Classic Car Show, Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m., anyone who wishes to participate can enter their car or bike with a $15 registration fee. Make sure to bring your vehicles and cameras as this is surely an event all car show lovers will not want to miss.
Judges will scope out the fierce competition during the show and two top-class trophies will be given out to the top car and top bike entered.
And the fun doesn’t end on Saturday.
On Sunday, from 12 to 4 p.m., Georgia’s Concours d’Elegance will host an exhibition with cars on display. Admission is free to view many rare and luxurious vehicles. This invitation-only event will showcase
Rock My Zen: Started back in 2013, these Reiki-infused bracelets, necklaces, pendants and earrings have been made with crystal combinations to help with stress, anxiety and depression relief, negative energy protection, love and abundance. Rock My Zen was born out of a love for crystals and their properties. Visit the website at rockmyzen.com.
◄Seatree Studio: These handcrafted ornaments are both beautiful and eco-friendly. Through Seatree Studio, what once was an ordinary can is turned into a vibrant and whimsical ornament. All ornaments are hand-painted to perfection and take on curious shapes of nature. View the collection at seatree.studio.
▼Akayati Craft: Founded over 20 years ago in Ghana by brothers Joseph and Kwesi Akayati, Akayati Craft brings Ghana tradition to the U.S. with their famous Bolga baskets and other authentic African crafts. Purchasing products from Akayati Craft helps pay for educational fees for children and keeps this cultural craft alive. Check out akayaticraft. com to see their crafts.
Alchemy Deodorant: Support a local Duluth-based natural deodorant small business this year by stopping by Alchemy Deodorant. This small business has an emphasis on being a plastic-free, vegan and budget-friendly business, while still having exclusive and powerful scents to offer. Visit the shop at alchemydeodorant.com.
Almash Pieces: If you are looking for fashionable yet life-enriching pieces of jewelry, Almash Pieces is surely a place to visit. Offering distinctive bracelets, earrings, necklaces and rings, this small business crafts its pieces with love and good energy. Check out the shop at almashpieces.com.
◄Emmerse: Want relaxation in a jar? Visit Emmerse’s stand this year to enjoy artisan-crafted products such as candles, bar soaps, body butters and lip balms. Any of Emmerse’s products are sure to create the perfect spa night. Find more at getemmersed.com.
Melty Way Studio: This local small business crafts exceptional and mystical candles which take on many different shapes. Melty Way Studio crafts candles in shapes such as succulents, teddy bears, desserts and so much more. Visit etsy.com/Shop/Firstbreathshop for more information.
◄My Little World: Based out of Duluth, My Little World Plant & Flowers is a family-owned business that sells live plants, colorful flowers and allows customers to create their own terrariums. Explore the shop at mylittleworldplantsflowers.com.
Food and Beverage Vendors
Looking for a little bit of everything to taste? This year, the Peachtree Corners Festival will have five food trucks and 12 food booths and carts, allowing visitors to enjoy many different cuisines and tastes all in one place.
►Peace Love Soul: Founder Joy turned puzzles into a gateway for peace in 2021 among turmoil. Peace Love Soul is a puzzle shop that strives to illustrate and convey diversity, culture and unity by celebrating women artists of color. To view more, visit piecelovesoul. com.
▼Rainy Day Studio: Allie Benoit is the artist who creates the pieces at Rainy Day Studio. Benoit crafts ceramic home décor, dinnerware, drinkware and sculptures, among other things. The art Benoit creates helps soothe her soul and bring light into darkness. Check out rainydaystudiollc.com for more details.
Rhapsody Handcrafted: Based right around the corner in Norcross, Rhapsody Handcrafted is a small business that centers its crafts around music and travel. Rhapsody Handcrafted sells earrings, car fresheners, aromatic candles and much more. Visit rhapsodyhandcrafted.com for more information.
Call for Volunteers
Want to lend a helping hand for this year’s festival? Volunteering to help run the Peachtree Corners Festival is a great way to get some service hours completed, give back to your local community or even spend an afternoon.
The Peachtree Corners Festival is always run by amazing volunteers and the festival needs volunteers this year. With so many different opportunities to volunteer at the event, there will be no problem finding a way to have a great time while also giving back.
Volunteers must either be aged 18 or older or have parental permission to serve. Additionally, all volunteers will receive t-shirts to celebrate the event. Sign up to volunteer at peachtreecornersfestival.com.
Just among the food trucks, there is something for everyone, whether it be sweet, like Kona Ice, or savory, such as Chew on Chuan, a Latino-Asian fusion food truck. Visit their Facebook page at chewonchuan.
Additionally, among other options, PONKO Chicken will be present with their award-winning Japanese-American chicken. View their food selections at ponkochicken.com.
However, the flavor-filled fun does not stop with the food trucks. On the savory side, anyone can experience remarkable BBQ at the Moe’s Original BBQ food booth which will offer pork, chicken sandwiches and delicious bowls. View their website at moesoriginalbbq.com.
If BBQ isn’t your desire, check out some incredible Greek bites at Gyro Chef Mediterranean. This food booth will serve authentic Greek and Mediterranean cuisine along with their specialty gyros. Check out their selection on their Instagram @ gyrochefatlanta.
However, if savory is not up your alley, there are plenty of sweet treats on offer at the Peachtree Corners Festival. Look out for Jeremiah’s Italian Ice in its distinctive booth, where you can grab a tasty and authentic treat of Italian ice. Visit their website at jeremiahsice.com.
Last, but surely not least, for a nostalgic and sugary indulgence, stop by Yummi Kotton, a food booth with a rare take on cotton candy. Yummi Kotton serves distinctively flavored cotton candy, such as blue raspberry and birthday cake, among their selections. Make sure to learn more at yummikotton.com.
Sponsors continue to be the driving force behind making Peachtree Corners Festival happen year after year. There are not enough words to express the gratitude the festival and community feels toward those who continue to support the Peachtree Corners Festival.
This year’s sponsors can be found under the Sponsor tab of peachtreecornersfestival.com. Clicking a sponsor’s logo will redirect you to their website for more information.
The City of Peachtree Corners is the 2023 Title sponsor, and Peachtree Corners Magazine continues to be a silver sponsor.
Scan the QR code for the festival website.
Peachtree Corners Gears Up for Its Third Annual Decathlon
The highly anticipated third annual Peachtree Corners Decathlon is set to take place on Saturday, October 21, 2023. The event, held just off the Peachtree Corners Town Green at the Path to Fitness area, will bring together 72 participants vying for glory in 10 challenging events.
This year’s competition promises to be bigger and better, with an added team component and an impressive award ceremony scheduled at the Curiosity Lab Innovation Center.
Though the event has sold out, it was open to men and women aged 18 and older. The Decathlon is known for its intense physical challenges that test participants’ endurance, strength and agility.
Athletes will compete against one another through a series of 10 exercises. These include the wall climb,
bender, row, rope climb, box jump, rope traverse, multi-rig, sandbag carry, Olympus wall and, to finish it off, a 1/3 of a mile run.
With a rolling start every five minutes, the competition will begin promptly at 8 a.m. and continue until 2 p.m., providing a day of nonstop action. Spectators are highly encouraged to come and watch the event this year.
Building on past success
For the past three years, the Decathlon has been put together by an organizing committee composed of Alex Wright, Rich Woodfield, Jennifer Bonacci, Emily Fenn and Kristin McEwen. However, there are a number of people without which the event could not function, such as city staff and volunteers.
“I’m really excited about this year’s event,” said Wright. “The first year, I was mainly concerned about just having a decent turnout. Last year, it was building on the foundation we had built, but mainly just having things run smoother and more professionally and continuing to grow the number of racers. This year, I think what you are going to see is an elevated level of competition.”By Zoey Schlueter
Wright was excited that the event sold out so quickly, revealing that the organizers had done a good job getting name recognition for their event in such a niche athletic field. With that, the Decathlon is starting
to see some greater competition coming with the growing name.
“One of new things this year is the “Top Gym” competition,” said Wright. “To qualify, a gym must have at least three female and three male competitors. The gym that has the best composite ranking (overall
female ranking by combining the top three female finishers from their gym and the same for the men) wins Top Gym.”
“We are having a really, really nice trophy built that the winning gym will get to keep for the year,” he said, adding that the gym name and year it won will be engraved on the trophy.
Spectators very welcome
Aside from the splendor of trophy winning, the PTC Decathlon has become an exciting community event, attracting sports enthusiasts and spectators alike.
The competition not only promotes physical fitness but also fosters a sense of community and wholesome competition among participants. It offers a platform for athletes to showcase their skills, push their limits and leave a lasting mark in the history of the PTC Decathlon.
The Decathlon has an emphasis on community even amidst its strong competition. Make sure to come out and watch this year’s competition on October 21.
Find more details about the Decathlon at peachtreecornersga. gov/265/PTC-Decathlon or scan the QR on the left. The right is the YouTube video from 2022’s event. ■
Mayors Discuss Area’s Future
Peachtree Corners, Norcross and Berkeley Lake leaders give insight into triumphs and challenges in Southwest Gwinnett County.
Ahighlight of the Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce (SWGC) calendar is the annual Mayors Panel featuring mayors Lois Salter of Berkeley Lake, Craig Newton of Norcross and Mike Mason of Peachtree Corners.
This signature event took place June 14 and allowed the elected officials to discuss municipal policies and investments in their cities and share their goals for the area’s future.
The Southwest Gwinnett area mayors shared their experiences in governing the region. The panel format provided an opportunity for the mayors to share their collaborations and collective strategies to improve one of Georgia’s most culturally ethnic and economically diverse communities.
Starting things off, Salters explained that land use is a major concern over the next five years.
“We are mostly residential, butBy Arlinda Smith Broady Photos by Bruce Johnson
we have a good bit of commercial and industrial property that is ripe for redevelopment,” she said. “We are also studying housing issues after [Gov. Brian Kemp] made his statement about how he was expecting all the cities to look into affordable housing.”
With the median home price in the city at $655,000, according to Realtor.com, it would be impossible for a low-income family to purchase a dwelling in that ZIP code.
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development defines affordable housing as housing where the occupant is paying 30% or less of the gross income on total housing, including utilities. With the average family income in Georgia around $65,000, even middle-class residents would be hard-pressed to obtain a mortgage and pay utilities on a home that’s
more than a half million dollars.
Salters said the city is looking at zoning ADUs (accessory dwelling units) such as standalone carriage houses or apartments above the garage or in a basement as ways to provide affordable housing in Berkeley Lake.
Diversity and inclusion
Conversely, the city of Norcross has processes in place to preserve its diversity.
“We are one of the most diverse areas in the state, whether it’s racially or ethnically, but also in residential, commercial and industrial. …It’s actually one of the
greatest strengths of any community because it brings a unique perspective and an experience,” said Newton.
To leverage that advantage and remain responsive to unique needs, Norcross promotes inclusion by providing forums, online surveys and multilingual resources to ensure that everyone in the community can access information and services.
“We organize events that celebrate the different cultures and traditions and backgrounds of our community,” Newton added. “This not only fosters mutual respect and understanding but it also enriches the cultural fabric of the city.”
Newton mentioned that Norcross is a member of Welcoming America, a nonprofit leading a movement of inclusive communities becoming more prosperous by ensuring everyone belongs, including immigrants.
“Cities can promote fair representation by ensuring that the city’s leadership and staff are representative of the community’s diversity by encouraging participation on our councils, our boards and our committees,” Newton added.
“Transparent decision-making processes that diverse community members can understand are also
important. When we understand how and why decisions are made, we can all become better participants in providing solutions,” he continued. “And lastly, we can actually create safer neighborhoods by training, law enforcement and public safety officers in diversity and inclusion. They can do their jobs much better if they’re cognizant of the unique needs and perspectives of this community.”
Adding arts, culture and housing
In addition to its great strides in economic development, Peachtree Corners has a goal of adding enhancements to its quality of life.
“We’re currently working to see
the city enrich some of the arts and culture along with what we’ve done economically over the next several years,” said Mason. “When we became a city, back in 2012, one of the first phone calls I got was from a guy who said, ‘I’d like to start the Peachtree Corners Playhouse. So why don’t you build it or buy a theater and then I’ll run the place?’”
Even though the mayor was all for the idea, other things took precedence, and the funding wasn’t available in those early days. Mason pointed out the great work in Dunwoody and other nearby cities and has had many conversations about getting a project off the ground.
Mason noted that one thing that needs more immediate attention is development on the city’s south side. “There’s a housing project in Mechanicsville that will provide affordable housing,” he said. “We need to be persistent on that issue and stay focused, because we can get it done.”
Teamwork makes the dream work
One thing all three cities have in common is their dependence on each other.
“Our city is really very grateful to these two guys — they do a wonderful job,” said Salter, referring to the mayors of Norcross and Peachtree Corners.
“I think often politicians are in their offices for one of two reasons: either to be genuine public servants, which is almost self-sacrificial at times, or as a sort of an ego boost for themselves,” she said. “Both of these guys have been the kind of public servants that you would want. They’ve been supportive to people in my city whenever we asked them.”
Salter mentioned how Mason’s staff helped get a Peachtree Corners business whose stormwater runoff was affecting Berkeley Lake property to take care of the problem. She also shared how Newton hosted a session for state legislators to hear about area concerns and invited her and Mason.
“We have good leaders here and we work together,” she said.
Both Mason and Newton pointed out that the economic development they enjoy wouldn’t mean anything if the businesses that are bringing hundreds — if not thousands — of families didn’t have the option of housing in nearby communities.
“People who work in the tech industry in Peachtree Corners might choose to live in quieter neighborhoods, commuting to work from Norcross, thereby increasing demand for housing, retail and services in the neighboring city. And, of course, that boosts our economy,” Newton said.
Mason concurred. “It’s true that economic prosperity and whatever we can lead to increase trade, tourism and commerce causes a ripple that I call economic spillover. But our three cities understand that collaboration is important,” he said. ■
Restaurant Week at The Forum
Residential Developments May Be in Pipeline
City Councilman Alex Wright talks about developers’ wants versus residents’ needs and preferences.
Economic development doesn’t seem to take a holiday in Peachtree Corners. While many are enjoying the lazy days of summer, deals are in the works to upgrade some areas that have remained stagnant and refresh others into more modern spaces.
City Councilman Alex Wright recently shed light on a few changes in the works.
Land behind Chase has a buyer
The three acres of undevelopedBy Arlinda Smith Broady
land behind the Chase Bank on Highway 141 is owned by a man named Charlie Roberts, who at one time owned all of what is now the Town Center, according to Wright in the newsletter he distributes occasionally.
Roberts had planned to sell the land to North American Properties (NAP) last fall as part of its ‘Downtown Peachtree Corners’ project with The Forum redevelopment as its crown jewel However, due to increased lending costs, NAP did not have the funds to purchase the land, added Wright.
With the assumption that NAP was purchasing the property, City Council approved rezoning the parcels for apartments. And even though that deal didn’t come to fruition, the new zoning designation remains in place.
“The property was rezoned on August 23, 2022,” said Peachtree
Corners Communications Director Louis E. Svehla. “The city does not dictate ownership, so any new builder can proceed with construction in accordance with the ordinance conditions of 2022. However, any substantive change from the ordinance conditions would require a change that goes before the City Council at a hearing.”
This isn’t the first time Roberts tried to sell that property to developers who wanted to build apartments.
“About a decade ago, the land bordered by Highway 141, Peachtree Corners Circle and Medlock Bridge Road was just woods,” said Wright. “Mr. Roberts owned the vast majority of it. …He sold that to a company who builds apartments and houses. This was right after the city was formed and the property had been zoned for apartments.”
The city didn’t want apartments there and ended up purchasing the
property that is now Town Center. Back in 2016, Roberts made a deal with the city that another developer would build apartments and a hotel, so the city granted a zoning ordinance for apartments that expired after four years.
“He had to have stuff coming out of the ground within four years,” Wright explained. “COVID came and that deal fell through because hotels were not doing so great.”
With the four years expired, the zoning reverted back to its original zoning which was commercial. “There wasn’t a lot of demand for commercial development at the time, also because of COVID. So, he just sits on it and then several years passed,” Wright continued.
NAP enters the picture
When North American Properties came along with a vision to turn the Town Center complex and The Forum into Downtown Peachtree Corners, city officials bought into the idea of more foot traffic and more people living on site. Now Roberts had a buyer for his “white elephant.”
“Shortly thereafter, the Federal Reserve started to raise interest rates fairly aggressively to try to tame inflation,” said Wright. “That made borrowing more expensive; that was the case for North American Properties.”
Although he didn’t hear this directly from NAP management, Wright said he believes that was the case. He added that NAP probably paid more for The Forum than it had originally budgeted since it was such a desirable project.
Again, Roberts has property he wants to sell. But this time, he doesn’t have to go through the process of getting it rezoned.
“With several apartment projects locally stalling due to increased borrowing costs and data pointing to the apartments nationwide being overbuilt, I have been curious to see if and when Mr. Roberts would be able to unload this property,” Wright wrote in his newsletter.
“It appears that he now has a buyer — Terwilliger Pappas,” Wright added. “Speculation is that any project would be branded under Solis with a closing date estimated for end of [July].”
Possible changes at Jones Bridge Square
A few months ago, at a City Council work session, the city manager said the owner of Jones Bridge Square shopping center approached him about a redesign for the property, according to Wright.
The owner said Ingles Market said it may be open to working with him regarding to redevelopment, even if it meant the store had a smaller footprint, Wright added.
“I’m paraphrasing, but they basically like what’s going on at the Town Center and want to be a part of that,” said Wright. “Instead of just being a shopping center with all this space that’s unused, they want to put in some things that bring a kind of synergy, if you will, with what’s already there.”
Wright explained further that with the pedestrian bridge, there’s a growing desire to be nearer to where things are happening. Comparing what’s going on at The Forum to many European cities, Wright said that it’s human nature to seek a gathering spot and build things around it.
Opportunity for senior living option
“I don’t know much about the grocery store business, but from what [City Manager] Brian Johnson was telling us, they’ve got about twice as much space as they’d like. Apparently, the thing in grocery stores now is smaller,” said Wright. “This might be an opportunity to redesign the whole place.”
There has been some interest in a housing component. Although Wright hasn’t polled his fellow city councilmembers, he believes it could be approved for residential zoning.
“It would be a mixed-use development, and lately we’ve approved all these apartment developments, so we might not need more for a while,” said Wright.
Johnson showed several different concepts that he thought the landowners might be interested in. One
idea that caught Wright’s attention was senior living.
“I know we’ve got Waterside, but it’s very expensive to get in there. And the other thing about Waterside is you can’t really walk anywhere from there except these trails along the river,” he said.
Senior housing as part of a mixeduse development, with amenities like a grocery store, restaurants, a pharmacy, etc., could fill a current void, said Wright.
“All the new developments like retail right up on the road versus a big parking lot in the front. That’s the trend right now,” said Wright. “Then, behind that would be some parking and also a large senior component.”
Still in concept phase
Will there be a new senior housing development on Peachtree Parkway? Will the Ingles Market take on a smaller footprint? None of
these concepts have gotten past the conversation stage, said Wright, but he’s excited about what could come for Peachtree Corners.
“These decisions don’t come lightly. These plans tell developers we’re interested in more housing, more dense housing, more affordable housing,” said Wright. “But many of them are presenting rental housing, and from the public input, we hear a desire for a more balanced and also diverse housing stock with ownership options.”■
Premier Racquet Sports: A Holistic Approach to Tennis Pro Shops
Calling all racquet sport lovers! Premier Racquet Sports, a tennis pro shop, recently opened on March 15 in Peachtree Corners off Spalding Drive.
This is Premier Racquet Sports’ second location in Atlanta, the other being in Dunwoody. However, this pro shop brings something unique and special to the competition wherever it lands.
Founded by Corey Matney, with partners Claude Badowski and Bobby McMahan, Premier Racquet Sports is a shop with an emphasis on a community-driven
Story and photosBy Zoey Schlueter
approach to the racquet sports industry.
In an industry where it can be overwhelming and daunting to adventure into the realm of pro shops, Premier Racquet Sports aims to break the status quo by making tennis available to all.
“Our goal is anyone who comes in, whether you’ve never played tennis before, never played pickleball before, or you are basically a professional, you will have time spent with you explaining what’s the best kind of choice for you,” said Badowski. “Learning about customers as a person and trying to really build a relationship makes it so that we can help people long term rather than just transact with them.”
Matney began stringing rackets in high school to be able to afford tennis lessons and eventually went into college playing Division I tennis. Not only did a passion for the sport drive him to create Pre -
The exterior of Premier Racquet Sports
Right, some of the many pickleball paddles and tennis rackets offered in-store
mier Racquet Sports, Matney also found an intense need for a friendly business based in the racquet industry.
“…to be able to offer the community high-level technical services and be able to have everyone feel like they’re getting the same treat-
ment that a professional tennis player would when they come into a tennis shop, and meet their needs,” said Matney.
As a long-term tennis player, Matney found that service at pro shops could feel impersonal,
furthering his drive to create a pro shop that was more than just a shop.
One way the shop has accomplished this objective is through occasions such as demo days, events where the shop will demo rackets and bags while also running free tennis drills.
“It’s a great chance for people to talk to us about what’s the best racket for them and what’s the best string for them to hit with it,” said Badowski. “They get to feel the difference, because there’s hundreds of rackets out there and thousands of string and string combinations. It’s very rare for people to be able to try them all and get instant feedback …they can feel the difference.”
Additionally, Premier Racquet Sports will have their next demo day on July 14. This event will feature all Wilson products as well as Wilson’s new racket called the Shift.
However, this level of care and concern extends beyond their demo days. By walking into Premier Racquet Sports, customers are making their choice of supporting a business that keeps their clients in high regards.
“All of us enjoy being able to help players explore and go down the pathway of finding the right equipment for them,” said Matney. “This
is mostly stringing, but also rackets, shoes or any portion of the necessary tennis items; just being able to have that connection to the player and have them know that we are a sounding base for their questions and will help them find what they need.”
Premier Racquet Sports prides itself on its collection of all things tennis. Within their store, they carry all major brands, rackets, shoes, grips and over 250 varieties of string. They claim to be able to have anything a player may desire shipped to their store within two days, too.
Welcome Premier Racquet Sports to the Peachtree Corners community by stopping by, whether you are a tennis expert or a novice.
Learn more about Premier Racquet at Sportspremierracquetsports.com.
Tailgating For Charity
Peachtree Corners Business Association revises its football themed annual fundraiser for three local charities.
Following up with its success of last year’s inaugural event, Peachtree Corners Business Association (PCBA) will once again use the tailgating theme fOr its annual fundraiser. The PCBA Tailgates & Touchdowns Annual Charity Party will take place 5:30 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, August 24 at Atlanta Marriott Peachtree Corners.
Similar to the previous year, guests are encouraged to wear attire celebrating their favorite college and professional footballBy Arlinda Smith Broady
teams. It was no surprise that a lot of UGA, Georgia Tech and Falcons gear was on display last year.
Additionally, there will be business networking, a silent auction where participants do not need to be present to bid, a live auction, music entertainment, tailgating cuisine and vendor tables. The important part of the evening, and the reason for the party, is raising money to support local charities.
“Last year, based on the generosity of our sponsors, members and community support, we were able to award a check for $4,000 each to our three charities. These three checks were the largest checks the PCBA has been able to donate based on the net proceeds of the event — a total of $12,000 in net proceeds,” said PCBA President Lisa Proctor.
By the end of July 2023, the PCBA had donated in excess of $134,000 and awarded 17 scholarships in the last 11 years.
“All of the money we have donated comes from a portion of our
membership dues, annual sponsorships and the net proceeds from our annual charity event. Since we do not have any paid employees and are a volunteer organization, we are able to give more back to the community and those in need,” said Proctor.
“This year, we are hoping to meet and exceed our 2022 charity event proceeds, but we still need a few more sponsors and donors to get there. The checks for the three charities for this year will be awarded in October, November and December, so we can make sure each of the three charities is provided recognition and time to talk about their charity.”
Sponsors still needed
Proctor added that there is still time to provide sponsorship.
“If we can drive turnout for the event and get more people involved in donating and bidding on silent auction items, we should be able to hit a strong showing,” Proctor said. “Community en-
gagement always has a powerful impact on our event.”
Proctor stressed that participants don’t have to wait for the tailgate party to secure auction items. “If someone sees an item that they’d like now, instead of waiting for the auction, they can see if it has a “buy now” option,” said Proctor.
For example, the DynaTrap ½ Acre Mosquito & Insect Trap might be an item that someone would like to put into use now. So, instead of waiting until August 24, they can purchase it and have a month of use before the auction takes place.
Proctor added that a charity auction isn’t necessarily a place for bargain hunters even though good buys exist.
“We’re hoping to raise the most we can for the people in our community that need it the most,” she said. “Through the generosity of sponsors, members, donations, etc., we’re making a difference.”
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Charities benefitting from fundraiser
The three charities that will benefit from the fundraiser have already been announced.
“We are focusing our fundraising efforts on health, education, providing food, necessities and community assistance to these three charities,” said Proctor.
Rainbow Village programs focus on building self-sufficiency. The organization strives to turn the tide on homelessness.
Good Samaritan Health Centers of Gwinnett offer general medical and dental services for the poor and uninsured, according to its literature. It aims to meet the physical, mental and spiritual needs of patients by:
■ Providing quality low-cost primary healthcare and dental services to the uninsured to eliminate health disparities for poor and uninsured populations.
■ Decreasing the demand of the uninsured for non-emergent medical services on the emergency room to help reduce the cost of indigent care on the public healthcare delivery system.
■ Providing a venue for matriculating future medical professionals to advance their educational goals while serving the poor of our community to help disadvantaged students prepare for employment in the health and dental fields.
It is a traumatic event and healing requires both guidance and time. Rainbow Village programs are each tailored to meet the needs of residents throughout their journey, according to its literature.
■ The ASPIRE program provides safe, stable housing for families experiencing homelessness for up to two years.
■ The THRIVE Alumni Program provides an additional three years of support to families after completing the ASPIRE program.
■ The ACADEMY Academic Enrichment and Afterschool program provides support for children of ASPIRE and THRIVE participants.
PCBA Tailgates & Touchdowns
Thursday, August 24 5:30-8 p.m.
Corners Outreach offers three paths to impact its community — volunteering, donating and becoming a customer. All three paths change lives, according to its literature.
These paths are accomplished through:
■ Corners Academy (early learning, elementary tutoring, teen development);
■ Workforce Development (basic needs, life skills, job skills, educational advancement);
■ Family Engagement (adult workshops, food assistance, health services); and
■ Corners Industries & Staffing (sustainable living wage and career advancement certification).
Atlanta Marriott Peachtree Corners
475 Technology Pkwy., Peachtree Corners
Visit peachtreecornersba.com for more information or scan the QR Code below.
Business Organizations and Events
Southwest Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce
107 Technology Parkway, Peachtree Corners 30092 southwestgwinnettchamber.com
First Friday Breakfast
Friday, August 4, 7:30-9 a.m.
Atlanta Northeast Hilton
5993 Peachtree Industrial Blvd., Peachtree Corners
Admission: $28 for members, $35 for non-members
Dan Corso, esteemed President of the Atlanta Sports Council converses with Stan Hall, the visionary CEO of Gas South District. They will share their insights on sports development in our region.
SWGC Coffee Connections
Thursdays, August 10, 17, 24 and 31, 8:30-9:30 a.m. Free admission for SWGC members and visitors. Meet up with local business professionals over coffee. Meetings are normally held in the large meeting space behind the SWGC office at Atlanta Tech Park.
Atlanta Tech Park
107 Technology Parkway, Peachtree Corners 404-797-1221 | atlantatechpark.com
Atlanta Tech Meet Up
Tuesdays, August 1, September 5, and October 2
The monthly meet up, sponsored by Resolvit, is held on the first Tuesday of every month in the Atlanta Tech Park Café. It’s a great opportunity for anyone to network and join a good group of people discussing anything related to technology.
Dell Innovation Summit — Pitch Event
Wednesday and Thursday, August 16 and 17
Wednesday, 3-7 p.m.; Thursday, 1-7 p.m.
Discover the future of Atlanta’s start-up landscape with community leaders, city leaders, start-ups and investors.
Gwinnett Women’s Chamber Presents: Tech Talks
Fridays, August 18 and September 15
Peachtree Corners Business Association
4989 Peachtree Parkway, Peachtree Corners 678-969-3385 | peachtreecornersba.com
PCBA Connecting Over Coffee Morning Meetup
Tuesdays, August 8 and September 12 8:30-9:30 a.m.
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill, 5215 Town Center Blvd., Peachtree Corners
Free admission for PCBA members and their guests. Register online as space is limited.
Meet with other PCBA and business professionals over coffee in a positive atmosphere on the second Tuesday of the month. Business cards will be shared with all attendees.
PCBA Lunch Club
Wednesday, August 16 and Thursday, September 7
Marlow’s Tavern, Peachtree Corners Town Center on August 16
PCBA Tailgates & Touchdowns
Thursday, August 24, 5:30-8 p.m. Atlanta Marriott Peachtree Corners
475 Technology Pkwy., Peachtree Corners
Registration: $50; advance, through August 16: $40 for members, $45 for guests
The annual charity party will raise money for three outstanding local organizations. The event includes networking, live auction, silent auction, music, vendor tables and tailgating cuisine. Check online for details, including sponsorship opportunities.
PCBA Business After Hours / Speaker Series
Thursday, September 28
Check online for location and other details.
The group meets every third Friday of the month. Visit gwinnettwomenschamber.com for updates.
Transworld Lunch & Learn Seminar: Amplify Your Business Worth and Identity
Monday, August 24 12-1:30 p.m.
Sponsored by Transworld Business Advisors, this seminar presents tips and seminars on increasing the value of your business and the likeliness of a successful exit.
AITP 16th Annual CIO Roundtable
Thursday, September 21 5:30-8 p.m. Register at aitpatlanta.org.
The Association of Information Technology Professionals (AITP) presents an opportunity to network with a group of IT professionals in the Atlanta area.
Check online for September location.
Open to PCBA members and their guests. Online registration is required.
Meet up with PCBA members for an enjoyable way to network and save 15% off your lunch check.
Event registration is $35. Advanced registration is $25 for members and $30 for guests. Registration includes appetizers and drinks.
Rotary Club of Peachtree Corners
Norcross Cultural Arts & Community Center 10 College Street, Norcross 30071 peachtreecornersrotary.org
Mondays, August 14, 21 and 28; September 11 and 25; and October 2 and 9. 12-1 p.m. Speakers include Jonathon Wetherington of Paul Duke STEM High School on August 14; AG Jennifer Hendrickson on August 21; and Marietta Murton, ACE discussing Access to Capital for Entrepreneurs on August 28.
District Peace and Unity Event
Tuesday, September 19, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
6500 Sugarloaf Pkwy., Duluth This is an annual event celebrating peace and unity.
Upgrades That Will Make You Love Your Home, Not List It
Get the biggest bang for your renovation bucks.
Whether it’s because staying put saves time, money or stress, most Americans are happy to remain in their current homes. It might not beBy Patrizia Winsper
the right time for your family to think of changing commutes and schools or adding mortgage costs. And how does one let go of the emotional attachment to a home in which so many cherished memories have been made?
I teamed up with Eli Vaknin, experienced General Contractor at EV Remodeling; Jennie Hong, Flooring Expert and Owner of Floor Coverings International Northeast Atlanta; and Interior
Designer Leah Kessler of Leah Kristin Designs to look at home upgrades that could turn your existing home into your dream home.
We’ve gathered exciting options for a range of budgets, from $10,000 to $100,000. I hope these ideas inspire your next projects!
$10,000 budget EV Remodeling
Vaknin proposed upgrading a fireplace for $10,000. The hearth can be refaced with veneer stone, a thin layer of stone applied directly to drywall with no special preparation.
Other material options for fireplace refacing are marble and large-format tile that comes in huge 4’ x 8’ sheets. One sheet can cover the entire face of the fireplace.
“People are going for a more modern, clean look — something that doesn’t catch so much dust, that you can wipe clean easily,” he said.
Mantles can also be updated, though for a more contemporary look, Vaknin recommends eliminating the mantle altogether. Traditionalists may shudder and consider a change of mantle material instead.
The fireplace surround dictates what sort of mantle
is suitable. Vaknin favors contrasts. A rustic wood mantle for a farmhouse look plays well against a clean, bright white material; whereas a ‘clean’ mantle pairs well with rustic stone veneer.
Other ways to freshen a home include a new handrail and balusters for a staircase. Balusters can be wooden, iron or horizontal
cables for a modern esthetic.
Repainting the exterior of your home also can provide an instant facelift that your neighbors will enjoy, too.
New, man-made quartz or natural stone granite, quartzite or marble countertops and backsplash in an average-sized kitchen can make it stand out. Vaknin said he has witnessed a trend towards darker counters in black or gray.
Floor Coverings International
Familiar with older homes in Peachtree Corners, Hong is aware that if you’re not moving, you’re looking to do some work.
Many homes come with solid, 2.25” hardwood floors on the main floor, other than one or two carpeted rooms, maybe. Hong suggests removing any carpet, replacing it with hardwoods, then sanding the whole main floor and updating the stain.
Sanding and refinishing everything to a new color eliminates the orangey old stain, which is outdated.
“Everybody loves California white oak. Natural wood is in now,” Hong said. “You can get the entire main floor, solid hardwood, sanded and refinished. You can also sand and refinish your stairs. That’s right around $10,000 …for an entirely new look.”
The removal of any carpet on the main floor and replacing it with hardwoods is included. “That’s the best bang for your buck,” Hong said. “You don’t have to spend a fortune; you already
From far left, new handrails and flooring (Jennie Hong) Sanded and refinished flooring (Jennie Hong)
Secondary bathroom renovation (Leah Kristin Designs)
have the hardwoods.”
If tackling a carpeted upper level is more pressing, you can remove the carpet and replace the hallway floor with solid hardwoods finished to match the main level. Depending on your budget, you may consider extending hardwoods into the primary bedroom and getting fresh carpet in the secondary bedrooms.
“There are a lot of ways you can slice and dice it. That’s what we’re good at,” Hong said.
Another option within the $10,000 range is redoing basement floors with luxury vinyl. From 800 to 1,000 square feet can be refinished this way. The price includes everything: product, trim, moving furniture, subfloor preparation and installation.
Popular because it’s scratch resistant and waterproof, luxury vinyl is easier to maintain than hardwoods — and it’s great for people with pets.
“Even in million-dollar homes, the sale of hardwood is going
down, but luxury vinyl is skyrocketing,” Hong shared. She attributes this, in part, to the rise in pet adoptions during the COVID outbreak.
“People are gravitating towards luxury vinyl because their lifestyle has changed. They have kids and pets that scratch the hardwood floor. Luxury vinyl looks and feels like hardwood, but it’s a fraction of the price,” Hong said.
Barring being totally submerged in water in the event of a flood, luxury vinyl is indestructible and can last a lifetime.
“It’s not the vinyl sheets you knew from back in the day. They’re gorgeous, long planks that look like wood,” Hong continued. “Depending on the type of luxury vinyl you choose, we can do a basement or several rooms on the main level for $10,000.”
Leah Kristin Designs
Heading-up a full-scale design firm specializing in country club and high-end residential projects nationwide, Kessler provides space planning, procurement and FF&A (fabrics, furniture and accessories) selection for renovations and new construction.
According to Kessler, for $10,000 one could consider changing up the furniture and accessories of a space or adding a fresh coat of paint or wall covering.
“Sometimes a small refresh can give a space a completely new look,” Kessler said. New pillows for example, or the addition of a decorative window treatment, can soften a room.
She advises clients to keep large-ticket items like upholstered pieces more neutral while adding pops of color or bolder patterns in less expensive items like pillows and accessories. This allows for the easy transformation of a space’s look.
Ever-evolving design trends allow for paint and wall coverings to quickly make a huge impact.
“We’ve all been in homes that have a color change from one room to the next going from gold to hunter green to burgundy. Or every room has an accent wall painted in a very loud color,” Kessler said. “Current design trends are much lighter and more neutral.”
Today, swaths of cream, white, taupe and gray fill homes, achieving an overall more cohesive, airy look.
A reno second to none
Renovating a smaller secondary bathroom can enhance a home without being a huge undertaking.
It can be more cost-effective to purchase a vanity with a pre-installed sink and countertop.
“Older homes in our area have lower vanity heights. Ready-made vanities provide a higher sink height for a more updated and custom feel,” Kessler said.
One can achieve the high-end look of natural stone, minus the high dollar price, by redoing floors and showers with porcelain tile. Another trend Kessler mentioned is the elimination of a bathtub in
favor of a walk-in shower.
A small wet bar or butler’s pantry update are other popular postCOVID projects, as homeowners make improvements to facilitate entertaining. Adding cabinets, installing a new countertop and backsplash, incorporating a beverage fridge or wine cooler can enhance a small kitchen, dining room or living room wall for between $10,000 to $15,000 and make it more functional.
$30,000 budget EV Remodeling
For $30,000, Vaknin proposes a new guest, hallway or three-fixture bathroom remodel — down to the studs. It would include new cabinets, a counter, tiles, planning and permitting.
“Anytime you remove more than three sheets of drywall exposing walls, you need to pull a permit. You’d be replacing the light fixture and adding an exhaust fan. An electrician and an HVAC company will vent it out of the house. The faucets require a licensed plumber. All those things must be inspected by a city inspector,” Vaknin affirmed.
Certified contractors know current building codes, but a permit ensures everything will be up to code.
“I like the homeowner to have peace of mind. If a mistake is made and the city inspector fails him, that’s good for the client. The inspector makes sure we’re all on the same page,” Vaknin explained.
A kitchen renovation at this price point would include replacing the countertop and backsplash, painting the cabinets — and there may be enough to upgrade a few appliances. If cabinets date from the 80s, it might be wise to consider getting new ones so tracks and doors function properly.
“You want to upgrade the hardware and the inside too. It can be $5000 just to paint cabinets in a small kitchen. I don’t think that’s a good choice in an older kitchen,” Vaknin said. Especially since new soft close cabinets and new hardware would cost $10,000.
Vaknin also recommends an accent wall behind the bed. It can be adorned with wood paneling or shiplap, for example. Replace furniture, light fixtures, a ceiling fan, carpet or — depending what’s going on in the rest of the house — install wood floors.
The garage is the new front entrance
We all enter and exit our homes through the garage. It practically serves as the front door.
For $20,000 to $30,000, you can make your garage a welcoming place to enter your house, provided you’re starting with a solid concrete floor free of cracks or any sinking issues.
Vaknin recommends refacing the floor in an epoxy finish with an array of colors to choose from. “Darker colors like gray and black are best to hide oil spills and tire marks,” he suggested. A garage makeover would include new cabinetry to hide any disorder and prevent the dust and pollen buildup that occurs on open shelves.
For additional storage, Vaknin envisions shelves hanging from
the ceiling where “same-size boxes” can be stored neatly.
Floor Coverings International
For a “Wow!” factor, the floors and stairs in about 1,900 square feet of space can be sanded and refinished and old carpets replaced with new, nylon carpet for $30,000, according to Hong. That could cover practically the entire house.
In addition, Hong recommends redoing all the handrails.
“People are updating old white wooden spindles to metal. Back in the day, they had the spiral, rounded handrails. Nowadays, square posts and handrails — a sleek, boxy look — is popular,” Hong explained.
Another option for about $30,000 is a designer brand of engineered hardwoods covering about 2,000 square feet of space. “It’s a beautiful, wide plank, gorgeous caramel color. This is very upscale and sexy for people who like design,” Hong said.
Engineered hardwoods are for homeowners who prefer natural materials. “People think engineered hardwoods sound fake,” Hong said. “But they’re made of layers of real wood built up to make pieces of wood, whereas solid hardwood is one piece of wood,” Hong explained.
Typically less expensive than solid hardwood, engineered hardwood is popular for homes on concrete slabs. It’s installed with a glue-down application.
This product is not to be mistaken with what you find in home improvement stores where they sell 90s versions of engineered
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hardwoods for $3.50 per square foot.
“The designer brand retails for about $8 a square foot. You can go anywhere from cheap engineered hardwood to nicer brands,” Hong said.
A more rustic, wire brush matte texture hides scratches. If you have pets, Hong advises avoiding smooth finishes. As with solid hardwoods, a glossy finish makes scuffs more prominent.
Leah Kristin Designs
New architectural details like beams, wainscoting and trim that add drama and elegance are what Kessler envisions for $30,000. She advises converting open bookcases to more decorative cabinets, keeping storage behind cabinet doors to hide cluttered shelves.
Putting $50,000 into your primary bathroom allows for the relocation of plumbing and the removal or repositioning of walls that won’t affect the home’s structural integrity. Tile materials can range from porcelain to Carrera marble, though Vaknin recommends porcelain for ease of care.
Or it may be time to bring that old deck up to code. In most cases, a deck will have to be torn down and rebuilt. “You don’t want to build a new structure on top of an old one,” Vaknin cautioned.
For $50,000 you can have the deck of your dreams, minus the fireplace. I tried to squeak one in — Vaknin advised it would add considerably to the cost.
The structural material of the deck should be pressure-treated pine. Vaknin recommends composite material for the decking boards and railings to provide 30 years of worry-free upkeep.
Metal railings with horizontal cables are the up-to-date, preferred choice for unobstructed backyard views.
To stay within an existing footprint without moving any walls, Vaknin highly suggests a full kitchen remodel as the best bet for a $50,000 budget. It could include new countertops, cabinets, backsplash, appliances, an architect’s plans and permits.
Leah Kristin Designs
Kessler also champions a kitchen redesign for $50,000. It’s her most popular client request.
“The kitchen is where people gather, whether they’re entertaining large groups for a special occasion or just winding down at the end of the day with family. A well-designed kitchen that is both functional and comfortable is hugely important,” Kessler said.
Floor Coverings International
If you want your home to look like a million-dollars, Hong suggests updating about 2,900 square feet of flooring for $50,000. That price gets you three stories of luxury vinyl, except for bathrooms, where you may prefer tiles.
Included are an attractive stair runner on the main staircase and a back staircase in luxury vinyl treads and white risers that look like hardwoods.
Stair runners help prevent both pets and humans from slipping on the steps. They’re decorative and popular here in the South.
A new stair runner on your hardwood stairs can range from $1,600 to $5,000 depending on your carpet choice. “Stairs are big. They’re often the first thing you see when you walk into a house,” Hong said.
If your home came with a stair runner, the wood underneath is likely lower grade. Hence, removing a stair runner could mean replacing all the stair treads, a $3,200 job.
Careful what you crave
Another flooring trend is special order, 7” wide plank, white oak floors. “The wider planks are in, but it’s not so good for solid hardwood, which expands and contracts with temperature and
humidity fluctuations,” Hong warns.
If you want the coveted look of natural European white oak, get 7” engineered hardwood instead. Along with new matching stair treads and a runner, $50,000 will cover about 1,500 to 1,700 square feet of space, if laid in a straight pattern.
“We make sure to educate our customers. We share the pros and cons of each option. It’s ultimately up to them, but we let them know the implications,” Hong shared.
Set your sights on maximizing the use of your backyard with a blow-out budget of $100,000. Vaknin recently transformed his own backyard into a private resort. The renovation included an outdoor kitchen, an al fresco patio that runs along the backside of the main floor and a section of patio with overhead coverage.
Clear plastic panels atop wooden beams provide protection from the elements but still allow sun to shine through. This price also includes grading, concrete, massive pavers and new, horizontal, modern fencing.
Floor Coverings International
This budget commands splendiferous floors! It’s easy to spend $50,000 in a bathroom on high grade porcelain tiles or marble on floors, walls and shower stalls. Incorporating a chevron pattern, decorative shower pieces, or mosaic tile drives the price up.
Renew two bathrooms and voilà — $100,000.
When working with $100,000, Hong feels the utmost attention must be given to an overall design
element. Laying floors in a herringbone pattern in strategic areas, for example, would fall within this budget. It’s a great way to accent a hallway, a primary bedroom or the front entrance.
Material options for herringbone installations are tile, solid hardwoods, engineered hardwoods and luxury vinyl.
Border designs could be incorporated too. Picture a porcelain or marble tile foyer surrounded by wooden, herringbone floors.
Hong suggests choosing porcelain instead of marble because it’s durable, it’ll stretch your decorating dollars and you still get the beautiful, veined look of marble.
Leah Kessler Designs
A finished basement is what Kessler suggested for a $100,000 home improvement project. The designer believes it’s best to focus on completing one room or area at a time instead of doing a little here and there.
“Your home should be a reflection of your personality and style. Pictures, accessories and furnishings that speak to you tend
to speak to each other, creating harmonious spaces,” Kessler offered. “Buy things you love. They’ll be emotionally satisfying even 20 years down the road.”
No need to pack!
Which of these renovations would turn the home you already love into the home you’d never want to leave?
Hiring professionals to do the heavy lifting required to beautify, renew and improve your dwelling’s functionality is key. Consider a one-stop-shop general contractor like EV Remodeling.
For your flooring needs, a fivestar company like Floor Coverings International “brings the floors to your doors” with mobile showroom-outfitted vans.
Finally, an interior design firm like Leah Kristin Designs will devise a cohesive plan for your treasured abode.
So, stay and enjoy your home in a whole new way! ■
New Housing Development Heads Into Second Phase
Waterside offers a variety of options for families, seniors and everyone else
With residential real estate being on a bit of a rollercoaster ride now, a new cluster of housing that’s been in the works for a few years has recently entered into its second phase of development. East Jones Bridge River Holdings which includes The Providence Group of Georgia is the partnership behindBy Arlinda Smith Broady
Waterside in Peachtree Corners. Originally the project was planned as a 55+ community. Around the time the COVID pandemic broke out, leadership decided to seek an exemption on several of the home types to allow for a broader range of ownership, according to Lisa Murphy, vice president of sales, marketing and strategy.
“All of the products stayed the same after that decision. So they still have a master [bedroom] on the main [floor] and we also have townhome products with options for elevators,” she said. ”It is a good community for multi-generational families – a young professional may live in a townhome, his/her parents might live in a single-family home and the grand-
parent may live in a condo.”
Murphy explained that after the plans were in place for the overall design, look and feel of the properties, the intention was to keep the master plan with all the amenities staying the same. It’s still a gated, master-planned community situated along the shores of the Chattahoochee River with the goal of “aging in place” in mind.
According to Waterside literature, there’s an abundance of both passive and active amenities for a high quality, low-maintenance lifestyle. It’s about a mile from The Forum and Town Center at Peachtree Corners. Many of the quality-of-life attractions of the area are nearby.
By the time this article is pub-
lished, Waterside may be sold out of properties in the first phase. At the time of the interview, Murphy said there were about nine single family houses still available.
Phase Two underway
The models for the next phase of development are ready for viewing. Similar to the first part, Phase Two will also include: Single-family detached cottages with open concept designs, 3-4 bedrooms, owner’s suites on the main level and a private side
Single-family three-story detached cottages with four bedrooms, a media room and an optional elevator.
Two-story front entry townhomes with a 2-car garage, 3 bedrooms and an elevator option.
Three-story rear entry townhomes with a 2-car garage, up to four bedrooms and an elevator option.
Condos featuring one bedroom, two bedrooms or three bedrooms with direct access (no shared corridors) and a private garage.
The different types of townho-
mes have proven to be a hit, said Murphy.
“We have a three-story townhome where one of the plans has an elevator and one of the plans has this really neat outdoor living space. So on the main floor when you walk in you have this big covered outdoor living area as you go up to the front door and then behind that on that main floor is a media room that’s been really popular,” she said.
Murphy added that the two-story townhome also has an elevator option.
“It’s frontloaded and lives like a house,” she said. “It has also been quite popular because it feels like a single-family home. You have a yard in the back. People have enjoyed that.”
The newest products are the condos.
“We have three different floor plans that offer one level living on the bottom level. It’s a one-bedroom condo with a one-car garage,” said Murphy. “This product was designed for typography because if you look at it, the backside has double sided archi-
tecture so the back and the front both have full architecture. If you enter from the back, you pull into the garage which is on the bottom floor. If you go around to the other side of the building, you’ll see two stories.”
The look as well as the property “lives” is important, said Murphy. With so many homeowners looking for smaller residences, they still want quality.
“That’s why we say people want to downsize but not downgrade,” said Murphy adding that they consider the properties “shiny and
“Compared to the big house that they’re moving out of, they don’t want to give up the finishes and all the things that they’ve gotten used to. So these houses are very well appointed just like a 10,000 square foot house might be in the Peachtree Corners area, but they’re just smaller,” she said.
But don’t think a smaller footprint means squeezing into a little box, she added.
“Our smallest unit is the one-bedroom at 1,564 square feet of living space. And that doesn’t include the outdoor covered spaces. For a one-bedroom that’s big,” Murphy said. “The largest condo is three bedrooms at 2,520 square feet. All the rooms are big and spacious. It will fit big furniture and owner suites are very luxurious with soaking tubs, big showers, big closets and lots of lots of living area.”
Now that the models open, people are encouraged to see for themselves.
Several options for senior living
One thing that isn’t available yet is the options for senior living facilities.
“Our active adult component will come into play in phase three,” said Murphy. “The way the
property is zoned, we have the ability to do memory care, active memory care, assisted living and independent living. All of which would be for rental units.”
The designs for that phase hav-
en’t been finalized and the developers are looking for input from residents before making anything permanent.
“It could be all three of those uses, or it could end up being only
independent living,” she said. “We haven’t fully flushed out what percentages of that section are going to be.”
There isn’t a timeline for when that phase will begin.
“Hopefully by the time we’re finalizing that we will have enough owners in the community that we can get some feedback on what they are thinking and what they would like to see here in terms of what their needs are. We’d also have a better read on the overall market and what are the needs of the area at that time, because it’s shifting all the time.”
As a best guess, Murphy said that won’t be in the works for at least another year or maybe 18 months down the road.
But what will be on the horizon is walking trails and the clubhouse.
“Our clubhouse is being completed now. It’s probably going to be finished sometime early fall, but it’s gorgeous. It’s got a beautiful gathering room. It has some meeting rooms. It’s got a card room with a caterer’s kitchen. On the lower level it’s got a couple of massage rooms, an aerobic room and a fully appointed fitness center. There’s also a coffee bar area for people wanting to gather,” said Murphy.
Additionally, there are huge event lawns within the community.
“One of those is already in place in front of the clubhouse,” she said. “We have a very large pool with a pool house. And then we have decks and pavilions built into the landscape that overlook the river and the fire pits. We have a little bar area that’s under a covered pavilion that’s perfect for a cocktail along the river.” Waterside sales office
Good French Fare Now Closer Than Ever
Henri’s Bakery & Deli opens a Peachtree Corners location.By Arlinda Smith Broady
That common French saying, “A good meal softens the mind and regenerates the body,” is gradually becoming a theme in this part of metro Atlanta. As the Peachtree Corners food scene expands its offerings, world-class cuisine is becoming more and more available.
For example, one can find the mouth-watering goodies of a French patisserie near the Town Center. Henri’s Bakery & Deli is one of the newest food purveyors in the area, but it has a long-standing tradition of quality and service.
A tasty history
French immigrant Henri Fiscus started his first bakery at the corner of 10th and Peachtree streets in Atlanta in 1929. He quickly became
known for his inventive recipes and the attention to detail he paid to his customers’ needs and wants.
That legacy led to several shops across the metro area with the newest location in Peachtree Corners, according to company literature.
Fiscus passed away in 1974, just one day shy of his 80th birthday, but his family has carried on the traditions and original recipes but has employed modern business practices to spread the quality throughout the area.
To keep consistency and streamline costs, all the products are baked at central location in metro Atlanta.
“We have one commissary, where all our products are made daily overnight. We get a delivery every morning at 6:00. So, whatever we
need is freshly made for the day,” said Henri’s Peachtree Corners General Manager Tarik Aboudi. “We want to keep the recipe the same and make sure there is someone on top of orders.”
Aboudi, originally from Morocco, has many years of experience in this kind of food business. When the Peachtree Corners location was looking for someone to lead it, he’d been at a local family-owned bagel restaurant.
“I enjoy what I do here and like working with the company. It’s a good concept,” he said.
Unlike the other company, the hours are a little more family-friendly to his lifestyle, with the eatery closed on Sundays and wrapping up daily service by 6 p.m.
And the location is just 10 minutes from his home. “That’s one of
the reasons I came here,” he said. “I don’t want to work eight to 10 hours and then spend another two or three hours in the car.”
With Henri’s being local and family-owned, it appealed to Aboudi on many levels.
“Family-owned businesses have a different personality than many corporations,” he said. “People care more about their legacy, and you get to talk to the owners face-toface. It’s more personal and it feels more like you are part of a family.”
Feast for the eyes and tastebuds
When you get right down to it, the food is what brings people back.
“There’s a good selection of fresh pastries,” said Aboudi. “I was raised on fresh pastry and one of my favorites is the Napoleons.”
Of course, you can’t call yourself a French pastry shop without eclairs and croissants — sweet and savory. And although the name is French, Henri’s has lovely Italian fare like tiramisu and Greek baclava.
There is plenty to choose from for everyday eating, but Henri’s also provides sandwiches, salads and desserts for special occasions.
“We have these little, small cakes with a flower on top called petit fours. Also, there is shortbread; that’s been popular for years and years,” said Aboudi.
There’s a wide selection of cookies, too — chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and a specialty called the ‘Mediterranean’ that’s gluten-free, as well as classic favorites like snickerdoodle and gingerbread people.
But wait, there’s more!
Breakfast sandwiches — with a bagel, croissant or toast base — come with eggs, cheese, bacon, chicken sausage, ham and/or cream cheese. For those looking for classic Southern fare, there are several types of cheese straws and wafers with chives, jalapenos and other tasty ingredients.
Aboudi stressed that you’ll not find a more delicious cake anywhere. “Our cakes come in a lot of different sizes and flavors. You can get a six-inch round to a full sheet cake,” he said.
Southern favorites, like red velvet and coconut, to modern twists, like cookies and cream and peanut butter, are just a few choices on the menu.
If you have a hankering for something different, customers are encouraged to work with Henri’s staff through the online form, by phone or in person, to build the perfect cake for their occasion.
For customers who just want to run in, grab something and go, there’s a refrigerated case with premade sandwiches and salads.
“We try to accommodate customers on every level,” said Aboudi. “We already are seeing a lot of business and we are getting good feedback.”
Henri’s Bakery & Deli is located at 5005 Peachtree Pkwy., Ste. #820 in Peachtree Corners. Visit them at henrisbakery.com/ peachtreecorners or call 470-2823349. Their current hours are 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Saturday. ■
North American Properties and Politan Group Expand Partnership to Include The Forum
Politan Group is expanding its relationship with North American Properties (NAP) to open Politan Row at The Forum. Two years ago, the group celebrated the grand opening of its largest concept to date, Politan Row at Colony Square.
The upcoming food hall, a core component of NAP’s redevelopment strategy for The Forum Peachtree Corners, will open next summer.
“When we attended the groundbreaking back in April, it was so nice to see how much energy local officials and residents had about The Forum’s comeback story,” said Will Donaldson, CEO of Politan Group.
“NAP has a thorough understanding of how to curate high-quality retail experiences and build neighborhood town centers that bring people together, something you can tell guests are seriously craving. We are thrilled to start connecting with the community and play a role in bringing downtown Peachtree Corners to fruition,” he added.
Situated on the northern end of
the property between Aomi and Soma, the nearly 10,000-squarefoot food hall will feature space for seven independent food and beverage concepts, a central Bar Politan, a private event venue and an outdoor patio fronting the greenspace.
Politan Group is also activating the adjacent jewel box with a standalone restaurant and wine
bar presented by a brand that will be announced soon. While the chef lineup has yet to be finalized, it’s anticipated that the mix will include a few familiar faces from Colony Square along with some fresh, up-and-coming talent.
Building on success
Like all other locations, Politan Row at The Forum will have
front-of-house staff to help with everything from answering dining questions and bussing tables to serving as consumer guides. Additionally, it will feature china, silverware and glassware.
Bell-Butler, the woman-owned architecture firm that produced the vision for Politan Row at Colony Square, has once again been tapped to custom-design a
compelling dining experience for the Peachtree Corners community. Blueprints are still in their infancy, though similar elements such as wood tones and leather will likely be incorporated.
Since opening in 2021, Politan Row at Colony Square has received numerous honors, including an ICSC Design and Development Gold Award and an AIA Louisiana Design Excellence Award.
“Each week at Colony Square, the food hall serves over 10,000 guests:
a truly mind-blowing metric,” said Adam Schwegman, executive vice president at NAP. “Our journey with Politan Group has been incredibly fruitful thus far, and we have such high expectations for what lies ahead.”
NAP and Nuveen Real Estate entered a joint venture to transform The Forum into a true mixed-use destination in March 2022. Construction began this past May and will be completed in phases, with the retail-focused improvements slated for a 2024 holiday season delivery.
Plans call for a revamped merchandise lineup, an expanded public realm and density additions, including a 125-key boutique hotel, 381 multifamily units and a structured parking deck. NAP will also weave its hospitality-driven management approach into the project, incorporating resort-level services such as Concierge and valet to enhance the overall guest experience.
To stay up to date on the latest property news and happenings, follow The Forum, visit theforumpeachtree.com.
For more information about Politan Row, visit politanrow.com. ■
Shah’s Halal Food Celebrates Opening in Peachtree Corners
Mayor Mike Mason, Peachtree Corners Business Association (PCBA), business professionals and community well-wishers joined the Hameed family, owners of Shah’s Halal Food, and staff to celebrate the opening of its new Peachtree Corners restaurant with a ribbon-cutting celebration and lunch event.
Khurran (Kay) Hameed shared, “At Shah’s Halal, we take pride in offering the highest quality, most authentic and delectable halal cuisine at a fair price. We are excited to bring our exceptional dining experience to Peachtree Corners.”
In addition to dining services, Shah’s Halal also offers to-go orders and catering for special events.
Mayor Mason, along with PCBA Board Members Lisa Proctor,
Allison Reinert, Suzanna Martinez and local business supporters were on hand.
“The city council and I are delighted that you have chosen Peachtree Corners for your business location,” said Mason.
“We are pleased to have this new restaurant available as part of our business-friendly city.”
Shah’s Halal Food is located at 5450 Peachtree Parkway, Suite 8B, in Peachtree Corners. Check them out at shahshalalfood.com/ peachtree-corners/ or call 678292-6426 to find out more. ■
Peachtree Corners Named by Fortune Magazine as the #1 City in Georgia and #19 in the US to Live for Families
If you haven’t heard, we have recently received some wonderful news. Peachtree Corners was recently ranked #1 in Georgia and #19 in the nation in this year’s edition of the Fortune 50 Best Places to Live for Families.
This recognition is a testament to the city’s commitment to providing a high quality of life for its residents. There are many factors that contributed to Peachtree Corners’ ranking and why it is an ideal location for families to settle down.
Fortune Magazine’s evaluation process for determining the best places to live for families was extensive and comprehensive. They reviewed nearly 1,900 cities, towns, suburbs, exurbs, villages, and townships across all 50 states in the U.S., considering over 200,000 unique data points. The evaluation focused on several key categories, including education, aging resources, general wellness, financial health, and livability.
To compile the rankings, Fortune Magazine utilized information from a variety of public and private sector sources. These sources include CVS Health, GreatSchools, HealthGrades, Johns Hopkins University, Realtor.com, the Council for Community and Economic Research, the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Environmental Protection Agency, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and U.S. Census Bureau. The extensive use of data ensured a comprehensive and unbiased evaluation of each location.
One of the crucial factors that contributed to Peachtree Corners’ ranking was the quality of its public schools. Fortune Magazine considered various aspects, such as graduation rates, nearby college affordability, and the overall quality of education provided. Peachtree Corners has a reputation for excellent schools, offering a solid foundation for children’s academic development.
Fortune Magazine recognized the challenges faced by multigenerational families, who often juggle the responsibilities of raising children while caring for aging parents. The rankings considered factors such as the number of quality
nursing homes, assisted living communities, home healthcare agencies, and the accessibility of healthcare providers. Peachtree Corners boasts a range of resources and services to support aging residents, ensuring their well-being and quality of life.
The City’s dedication to creating a thriving community played a significant role in its inclusion on the Fortune 50 list. The city offers diverse neighborhoods that promote socioeconomic, religious, and ethnic diversity. Fortune’s staff compared the racial breakdown of each place against state benchmarks, eliminating any place that was 75% less diverse than the state medians. This commitment to inclusivity has contributed to the city’s vibrant and welcoming atmosphere.
The recognition of Peachtree Corners as a great place to live for families is a testament to the unwavering commitment and hard work of the city’s exceptional employees and our dedicated City Council. This recognition would not be possible without the tireless efforts of these individuals, who have played a vital role in shaping Peachtree Corners into a thriving community that families love.
Not only do our employees play a major role, but our residents are also equally as important. Our residents are the lifeblood of our City. Every resident, no matter their background, age, or beliefs, makes Peachtree Corners a better place to live. Without the engagement and support of the community, and our ability to work together, we would not have been able to transform Peachtree Corners into the great city we all call home.
I am proud to be the Mayor, and even more proud to be a citizen. Peachtree Corners is undoubtedly an ideal place to call home.
Stay safe, Mike Mason, Mayor
Gwinnett County’s newest and largest city, Peachtree Corners, was founded July 1, 2012 and is located along the Chattahoochee River in the southwest corner of the county. The city is home to over 45,000 residents and 3,000 businesses.
Audi Joins Leading Smart City Peachtree Corners to Advance C-V2X Deployment Pathways Aimed at Improving Roadway Safety
The automaker will develop strategies to realize connected vehicle solutions in the award-winning smart city alongside other companies within its Curiosity Lab ecosystem – including Spoke and its VRU2X technology for cyclists
Peachtree Corners and Audi of America Inc. announced a collaboration to advance cellular vehicle-to-everything (C-V2X) practical deployment pathways as part of the city’s Curiosity Lab ecosystem.
Both Audi and Peachtree Corners see this as an opportune time to further deployment of C-V2X applications that allow vehicles to communicate with city-owned streets, traffic signals, crosswalk signals and other infrastructure, as well as with vulnerable road users (VRUs). With Audi having recently received a waiver from the Federal Communications Commission to deploy this advanced technology, both intend to fine-tune strategies to expand connectivity on public roadways for increased roadway safety, increased traffic efficiency and more.
“We are honored to have been selected by Audi to define how automakers and cities can together unlock the future in the world’s most unique smart city environment, which includes the first-ev-
er full C-V2X system to be implemented by a U.S. city,” said City of Peachtree Corners City Manager Brian Johnson.
“Our first official global vehicle manufacturer collaboration will be able to leverage our ‘city street of the future,’ which brings together the C-V2X vision in an unprecedented manner. This includes a top developer like Spoke, which is addressing the vulnerable road user part of the equation to make it safer for users such as cyclists. Together, we’re showcasing how important it will be for people, places and things to communicate with each other to create tomorrow’s safer roads.”
Audi has been working with various private and public partners since 2020 to improve C-V2X technologies and protect vulnerable road users.
The automaker has worked on initial deployments with public authorities to address the safety of construction workers when vehi-
cles approach a construction zone. In addition, Audi has collaborated with various companies to develop C-V2X technologies to connect cars with school buses to improve the safety of children and to alert drivers of active school zones.
One of these companies is Spoke, a startup aiming to transform roadway safety and rider connectivity by delivering the first-ever connected IoT ecosystem for VRUs. Its solutions equip bicycles and other VRUs with their VRU2X technology, and the company is continuing to expand its C-V2X solutions with Curiosity Lab. The announcement comes after the successful first-ever deployment of Spoke’s VRU2X technology in a U.S. Pro Cycling Criterium event this past month, the Curiosity Lab Criterium, featur-
ing Audi vehicles.
“Peachtree Corners’ smart city leadership makes it the perfect environment for us to confirm how the public sector and private sector can work together for the safety and other advantages that ready-to-deploy C-V2X technology can deliver,” said Brad Stertz, Director, Audi Government Affairs. “With one of the most complete smart city ecosystems anywhere, this environment will enable us to demonstrate the latest technology Audi has to offer for improved ultra-reliable and low-latency communications, leading to enhanced connectivity, increased safety and a better overall experience for the driver. It’s one of the only places where every aspect of C-V2X comes together, including interaction with connected autonomous vehicles and VRUs – as a reflection of how cities and roads will look into the future.”
City Of Peachtree Corners Awarded Certificate Of Achievement From GFOA For Fifth Straight Year
The City of Peachtree Corners’ Finance Department has been awarded a Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting from the Government Finance Officers Association of the United States and Canada (GFOA) for its 2022 financial year-end comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR).
The GFOA’s Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management. It is the city’s fifth year of receiving the award and represents a significant accomplishment by the City’s Finance Department and its leadership.
According to a GFOA release, “The report has been judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a construc-
tive ‘spirit of full disclosure’ to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the report.
“We are pleased to again receive this honor,” said City Manager Brian Johnson. “Our finance department, and Finance Director Cory Salley, are to be commended for this achievement as it is the highest form of recognition GOFA
The city’s Finance Department produces the CAFR each year and works with independent auditors to verify the city’s financial situation and standing. The CAFR is judged by an impartial panel to meet the high standards of the program, which includes demonstrating a constructive “spirit of full disclosure” to clearly communicate
its financial story and motivate potential users and user groups to read the report.
“This is an important award that validates Peachtree Corners’ commitment to go beyond the minimum requirements to prepare comprehensive annual financial reports in the spirit of transparency and full disclosure,” said Assistant City Manager, Brandon Branham.
The Government Finance Officers Association, based in Chicago, is a non-profit professional association serving approximately 17,500 government finance professionals. With offices in Chicago and Washington, D.C., it serves the member organization by advancing uniform standards and procedures in financial management for governments and assisting with professional development for public finance managers.
Residential Basement Buildout 9 Simple Tricks to Reduce Your Environmental Footprint
Finishing your unfinished basement can be a great way to increase your home’s value while giving you the extra space you need. It is a very popular endeavor because the basics are already in place, the structure is built, and you just need to partition the basement in the way you want it. There are some basic things the Building Department will need from you at the time of permitting. Yes, you do need a permit to do any construction in your unfinished basement. So, first things first, you must make an applica-
■ Label all rooms. We must know the function of each room.
■ Emergency escape and rescue openings, basements, and every sleeping room require a window or door that opens directly to the outside and allows you to move away from the structure. We also need the size of the doors and windows on the plan.
■ Show the location of all appliances including water heaters, furnaces, ranges, fireplaces, etc. Let us know if they are gas or electric.
Here are some simple tricks to reduce your environmental footprint:
1. Prevent standby power usage
Even if your appliances are off, they are still using energy when they are plugged in. According to the Department of Energy, standby power accounts for 5-10% of residential energy use. Reduce your power usage by unplugging your appliances when you go out of town. https://www.energy.gov/ energysaver/articles/3-easy-tipsreduce-your-standby-power-loads
2. Bring your own to-go container
at a restaurant. These to-go containers are usually composed of Styrofoam, single-use plastic, or paper that is usually only used once. Reduce your waste by keeping a Tupperware container in your car to take your leftovers home.
3. Use WaterSense Appliances
Looking to replace a dishwasher, clothing washer, toilet, sink faucet, shower head, or irrigation controller? Look for an appliance with the EPA’s WaterSense label. WaterSense-labeled products use at least 20 percent less water, save energy, and perform as well or better than non-certified models.
4. Go paperless
tion for a permit which will require that you submit plans for your buildout.
This is what we cover in this article. We do not require stamped plans from a design professional for residential projects unless there is a special engineering problem. This can include items like removing a wall or a similar event that might call into question the structural stability of the structure.
For the most part, we receive CAD or hand-drawn basement plans because most projects are just creating partitions, but there is still much we need to know to approve a buildout.
This list is not all-encompassing, but it should help you understand what we are looking for.
■ Plumbing fixtures. Show the location of all plumbing fixtures and let us know if they are existing or new.
■ Electrical. Show the location of electrical receptacles and if they are GFCI receptacles. Show the location of all lighting fixtures. Finally, show the location of smoke and/or carbon monoxide detectors.
These represent the basic plan information we need on any basement buildout.
One other thing to keep in mind, if you’re adding a bedroom, and you are on a septic tank system, please contact Gwinnett County Environmental Health before submitting your plan to get approval for the added bedroom.
Many of us take our delicious leftovers home with us after eating
How much mail do you get every day and how much of it do you need? Reduce tree depletion and paper waste by unsubscribing from
catalogs and signing up for paperless billing so your statements are emailed to you instead.
5. Bring your own grocery bags
Keep durable bags in the trunk of your car for your groceries to avoid the waste from plastic and paper bags. Plastic bags can take up to 1,000 years to decompose and are wasteful.
6. Wash clothes in cold water
According to EnergyStar, about 90% of the energy it takes to operate a clothes washer is from heating the water. Unless dealing with heavily soiled clothing, washing in cold water will still clean your clothes, cut energy usage, and prolong the life of your clothing.
7. Lower the thermostat
Save energy and money on your heating and cooling bills by simply resetting your thermostat when you are asleep or away from home. You can do this automatically without sacrificing comfort by installing an automatic setback or programmable thermostat. The Department of Energy recommends setting the thermostat in the Winter to 68°F while you’re awake, and lowering the temperature when you’re asleep or away. Turning the thermostat back 7°-10°F for 8 hours while you are at work can save you as much as 10% a year on heating and cooling. https://www.energy. gov/energysaver/thermostats
8. Skip bottled water
Plastic bottled water is usually used only once and is an incredible waste of resources. Instead of buying a plastic water bottle, purchase a durable and reusable bottle to keep with you on a daily basis.
9. Reduce paper towel use
Instead of throwing away that old t-shirt, consider repurposing it and using old clothes in place of paper towels for household cleaning.
Take this quick quiz to gain insight into your ecological footprint: http://www.footprintcalculator. org/
Blue-Green Algae: What You Dematic Partners With Captain Planet Foundation To Donate Project Learning Garden To Peachtree Elementary School Need to Know
On Tuesday, July 11, 2023, team members from Dematic, along with city and school leaders, assembled at Peachtree Elementary School to begin the installation of their donated Project Learning Garden. This donation is part of Dematic’s Global Community Outreach Program which reinforces the organization’s commitment to building a stronger community, education, environment and sustainability. With this sponsored garden, Dematic employees had the opportunity to give back and volunteer with educators, students, and the local community.
In attendance were volunteers and representatives from Dematic, Peachtree Corners Mayor Mike Mason, Peachtree Corners Elementary Principal Gretchen Runaldue, Gwinnett County School Board Member Mary Kay Murphy and
Marilyn Whitmer. Project Learning Gardens comprise easy-to-assemble raised garden beds, soil, and seeds. Peachtree Corners Elementary also received supplies and tools to take learning into the garden. Educators were given thematic activities centered on standards and learning outcomes. A library of garden guides and tips for growing, harvesting,
composting, cooking with kids, and more is also part of the garden. Schools with learning gardens report that students benefit from learning about nutrition and science, along with social studies, math, and language arts. They can expand their palates, taste-test healthy foods and learn about the origins of what they grow.
Peachtree Corners Circle Landscaping Project Reboots, Construction to Begin in Mid-July
of the landscaped medians.
Over the past couple of months, the City has received many questions regarding the stalled median landscape project on Peachtree Corners Circle between Peachtree Industrial Blvd. and Westchase Village Lane.
Due to delays in the project, the City would like to provide some clarity, explain delays, and provide an update on the construction.
In June of 2022, the City signed an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) with Gwinnett County to perform a median landscaping beautification project on a segment of Peachtree Corners Circle. This agreement was necessary given that Peachtree Corners Circle is a County maintained road.
Through the signing of the IGA, Peachtree Corners was granted permission to move forward with the project, and in turn, was given responsibility for the maintenance
Over the summer of 2022, the City worked on the design of the landscaping project and began the competitive sealed bid process in late July. Competitive sealed bidding means a method of soliciting public works construction contracts whereby the award is based upon the lowest responsive, responsible bid in conformance with the provisions of subsection (b) of Code Section 36-9121. Following the posting, the City received bids in August. The bids were opened, and the construction contract was awarded to the lowest most responsive bidder.
Following the award, a Notice to Proceed with the construction of the project was issued on November 1st, 2022. Due to weather-related delays and logistical issues, work on the project did not begin until January 23, 2023. As crews began work on the project, they became aware that the demolition of the current median was more encompassing and more challenging than anticipated by the contractor.
At that time, the contractor contacted the City and voiced the need to issue change order requests for the construction which would have increased the price of the project to a limit that was not acceptable to the City. Subsequently, the City and the contractors began renegotiating the contract and it was deemed by the contractor that it would be a change in scope for the project.
At the end of the renegotiations, it became apparent that the parties would not be able to reach an agreement, so the City and the Contractor decided that it would be best if they parted ways and canceled the current construction contract. This mutual agreement was reached in March of 2023.
Following the termination of the initial contract, the City rebid the contract for the construction of the project in mid-April. Following the required 4-week posting, the City failed to receive any bids for the construction of the project. In mid-May, the City re-engaged with the second lowest most responsive company from the original bid list and , and began discussions on the terms necessary for them to complete the project.
Following discussions and negotiations, the City and the new
contractor reached an agreement for the completion of the project, which was approved by the City Council on June 27, 2023.
With this new contract in place, the City anticipates that construction will restart in mid-July. Construction will continue throughout the fall months; at which time the landscaping will be installed during the fall planting season to ensure the successful growth of all installed plants and trees.
It is currently anticipated that the project will be completed by the end of the calendar year 2023.
The City apologizes for the delay and looks forward to the completion of the Peachtree Corners Median Landscape Project which will lead to the beautification of the area roadway.
Single Use Plastics are everywhere from the water bottle on your desk to the plastic bags you use at the groceries. Some examples of Single Use Plastics are non-reusable plastic bottles, plastic silverware, plastic straws, and plastic grocery bags.
Single Use Plastics are a hazard to the environment because of the decomposition of the plastics. Most plastics are not biodegradable which means they will take a long time to break down, and in the process leave behind harsh chemicals or particles. The picture is just one of many examples of how long it takes for a plastic bottle to decompose on land. The rate at which it decomposes in the water is then multiplied exponentially increased.
Traditional plastic bottles are made from polyethylene terephthalate (PET). It’s a lightweight and flexible material that doesn’t decompose easily, mainly because bacteria cannot consume and break down the chemicals used in PET.
A plastic bottle made from PET takes around 450 years to decompose.
There are many ways to help prevent and help with the use of these types of plastics such as:
■ Using cloth bags when going to the grocery store.
■ Using reusable water bottles.
■ Reusable Tupperware and utensils.
■ Use a soda stream with reusable cups/personal bottles.
■ Use your own glass coffee mugs/reusable cup at the office or when going out to get coffee.
■ When at the groceries attempt to purchase items with little to no plastic materials/packaging such as loose fruits and veggies.
■ Invest in bamboo toothbrushes or degradable materials.
■ Purchase in bulk