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JANUARY 14, 2017

Published Since April 1995 Serving DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry and Rockdale Counties •

Dawn of A New City in DeKalb

City of Stonecrest races stack up with 20 candidates

Top:Stakeholders packed out the DeKalb Medical Hillandale Auditorium to learn about the city and other activities


t’s campaign season in DeKalb County’s new city of Stonecrest and the candidates running for office are already stomping for votes. At the Jan. 12 meeting held by the Governor’s Commission on the City of Stonecrest, the volunteer group that is laying the groundwork Joel Thibodeaux for the new city, several of the candidates attended and were permitted to introduce themselves. The DeKalb Medical Auditorium where the meeting was held was prime ground for networking: The facility was packed with stakeholders. “We held the meeting to update residents on various issues, adopt resolutions, initiate activities of the Stonecrest Community Committee, and other related business,” said Joel Thibodeaux, who chairs the governor’s commission. A constituent, Johnny Waits, asked if those running for office could introduce themselves and 14 came forward. Twenty people have officially declared their candidacy for the March 21 special election. Three people are running for the top job as mayor: Jason Lary, who led the effort to


Bottom: Jason Lary stands at center as he speaks with some of the candidates who are running for office Photos by Glenn L. Morgan/ OCG News

create Stonecrest; Charles S. Hill II, who holds degrees from Morehouse College and Harvard University and will graduate in the spring from Yale University; and Douglas E. Favors II, who is self-employed and has a background in retail and management. There are 17 contenders vying

for seats on the five-member City Council. Those elected to Posts 1, 3 and 5 will serve four years, along with the mayor. Those elected to Posts 2 and 4 will serve 4 years so that in the future, elections will be staggered to prevent all of the positions from being open at the same time.

The candidates who qualified to run by paying fees of $600 for mayor and $450 for City Council represent a diverse group that includes educators, entrepreneurs, managers, authors, a military veteran and a retired police officer. H. Maxine Daniels, DeKalb County’s director of Voter Registration and Elections, said the list of candidates continually grew during the three-day qualifying period, Jan. 9-11. “We had several come on the last day to qualify,” said Daniels. “Everything went smoothly. There were no problems.” Each council member will represent 10,000 residents in the city of 50,000. Daniels said her staff is already planning for the special election speSee Stonecrest , page 5

Rockdale to hold MLK parade at county annex

rganizers in Rockdale County have reached a compromise concerning a celebration planned for the Martin Luther King, Jr. national holiday. Josie Dean, who is spearheading the planning committee, had envisioned a daylong event that included a parade in Olde Town Conyers with Rockdale’s newly-elected Chairman Oz Nesbitt serving as the grand marshal, speeches and other activities. Dean didn’t anticipate the bureaucratic red tape she said she encountered from city and county officials who told her several off-duty police officers would be needed and even more planning to get them in place and pay them. Dean called a news conference to discuss the pushback

L-R: Cheryl Board and Josie Dean map out plans for the MLK event that will be held outside at the Rockdale County government annex at 1400 Parker Road in Conyers. Photo by Glenn L. Morgan/OCG News

and remind everyone Rockdale County not too long ago was where the KKK had planned a march in

Olde Town Conyers. But now, there is peace in Rockdale again. Dean and her committee

members, civil rights friends from DeKalb County, law enforcement and city and county officials have worked through their differences and are looking forward to the community coming together for this year’s new MLK celebration. The group plans to host a scaled down version of a parade with local local school bands and others outside of the county’s government annex at 1400 Parker Road on the King Holiday. The noon celebration will follow the annual 7:30 a.m. breakfast that the Rockdale NAACP and the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of ComSee MLK parade, page 7


CONYERS-ROCKDALE CHAMBER’S ENTREPRENEURIAL ACADEMY Shows you how to turn your passion into a business!


onyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce is ready to help you learn the ins and outs of the business world and turn your passion into a business with the 2017 Entrepreneurial Academy. Starting on Monday, February 13, this seven-week program offers motivated individuals the essential information needed to start and run a successful business. “This entrepreneurial program is a course designed with the small business entrepreneur in mind. Whether you have

an existing business or dreams of starting one in the future, the academy has something for you,” said Fred Boscarino, president/CEO of the Chamber. “Experienced business people who have been there, tried that, share their voices of experiences to help you avoid common pitfalls and be better prepared to establish your business for growth and prosperity.” Taught by business leaders in the community, the curriculum includes sessions on: legal entities, accounting, loan options, marketing, social media, insurance and human resources. Each week, a new topic is introduced. The format ranges from panel discussions to lecture to hands-on training. “Of more than 400 academy graduates who have

come through the program since it started in 2004, more than 50% are now in business for themselves,” said Boscarino. “In addition to gaining valuable information, you also have the opportunity to network with other like-minded individuals who hope to establish or expand a small business.” The academy draws participants from Stockbridge, College Park, Stone Mountain, Covington, Forest Park, Lithonia, Decatur and McDonough. A recent graduate of the academy said it took her two years to earn her master’s degree in business administration at the University of Phoenix. Esther Williams says it took her six weeks at the Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce’s Entrepreneurial Acade-

my to learn everything she needed to start her own business. “Everything—from insurance to opening policies—was covered. It’s really what I needed to get things up and running,” said Williams, a retired Rutgers University professor. The cost for the program is $175. The fee includes snacks for every session and a graduation dinner. After completing the Entrepreneurial Academy and starting your small business, you will receive Continuing Education credits (CEUs) and a certificate of completion from Georgia Piedmont Technical College. Classes will be held from

6 – 9 p.m. at the Rockdale Career Academy (RCA) building, 1064 Culpepper Drive, SW, Conyers. Students are encouraged to arrive no later than 6:00 p.m. to network and to make sure they are fully prepared for each session which starts promptly at 6:30 p.m. Entrepreneurial experience is not necessary to attend. The course is open to the public, including those who are still pondering if they want to go out and start their own business. For more information or to register, call 770-4837049.

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Lithonia, GA 30038




On Common Ground News is published weekly by On Common Ground, Inc. The newspaper serves DeKalb, Fulton, Gwinnett, Rockdale and Henry counties. The opinions expressed by writers and contributors are not necessarily those of the publisher or the newspaper’s advertisers. No portion of this newspaper may be reproduced in any form without the written permission of the publisher. We reserve the right to reject material and advertisements we deem inappropriate.

JANUARY 14, 2017 • PAGE 3

DeKalb Board of Commissioners elects new leaders

DeKalb County Commissioners Kathie Gannon and Jeff Rader will serve as presiding officer and deputy presiding officer respectively. The Jan. 10 elections at the Board of Commissioners’ meeting ended a longstanding battle over the leadership positions, which were criticized by Gannon who had called for the positions to be shared by blacks and whites on the board. The seven-member Board of Commissioners elected Gannon 5-2. She received support from Commissioners Steve Bradshaw, Mereda Davis Johnson, Nancy Jester and Jeff Rader. Commissioners Gregory Adams and Larry Johnson cast the dissenting votes. Adams

had nominated Johnson to continue as presiding officer saying he believed he had done a good job. Johnson had served in the role since 2014. Gannon thanked the board for taking a new direction. “I’m honored to have been chosen by my peers, and I thank Commissioner Larry Johnson for his dedicated service” Gannon said. “My goal is to improve how the Board of Commissioners work. In our form of government the CEO is responsible for the day to day operations of the departments. The Board of Commissioners establishes policies.” Gannon said she plans to

Corey K. Hambrick

transfer of administrations when Nesbitt took office on Jan. 1. “ I want to express my sincere appreciation to Post 1 Commissioner, Attorney Sherri Washington, and Post 2 Commissioner, Dr. Doreen Williams, for their continued support of ournew direction, specifically selection of our Chief of Staff, Corey Hambrick,” said Nesbitt. “There is a spirit of cohesiveness in the air and it smells, looks and feels so good.” Nesbitt said Hambrick’s strong communication and organizational skills with making him a good fit to as-

P.O. Box 904 Lithonia, GA 30058 (678) 526-1910

Rockdale Commissioner Sherri Washington to host “Tea Talks”

The Rockdale Board of Commissioners today confirmed Chairman Oz Nesbitt’s selection of Corey K. Hambrick as Chief of Staff. Hambrick, 33, will start in his new role on Jan. 16. Hambrick led Nesbitt’s transition team overseeing the

Rockdale seeks volunteers for 2017 SPLOST Oversight Committee Sherri Washington

Starting in February, Rockdale County Commissioner Sherri Washington plans to host “Tea Talks” to hear constituents’ concerns and suggestions. Washington said at today’s Board of Commissioners’ (BOC) meeting that she plans to host the Tea Talks monthly on the first and second Tuesdays, just ahead of the board meetings. “I hope that residents will talk about their needs in the community: for example, having more parks and recreation facilities. During the budget cycle, they may want to discuss budgetary issues,” said Washington, who was sworn in a few days ago as Rockdale’s new Post 1 commissioner. “It’s just a way to remain engaged with the community, to get their feedback, and for me to answer any questions they may have.”

hold a board retreat to discuss which policies it will address first. “There are plenty of issues we must consider: police retention, dilapidated housing, economic development, funding

Jeff Rader

for roads and transportation, and more. I want our Board to reach a consensus on what we tackle first. Then I want to use our committees to focus on them, hear from experts and find solutions,” said Gannon.

Rockdale BOC confirms Corey K. Hambrick as new Chief of Staff

On Common Ground News

News 24/7 @

Kathie Gannon

Rockdale County Government is seeking qualified volunteers to serve on the 2017 Special Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) Oversight Committee as the current SPLOST nears an end. Interested county residents must apply by Feb. 7. County Clerk Jennifer Rutledge will work with the Board of Commissioners to review applications. Those who are selected to serve will receive a notification letter by March 1. The voters of Rockdale approved the new SPLOST to fund transportation projects, public safety facilities, water resources and other needed improvements for the Conyers-Rockdale community. The 30-citizen committee of volunteers will meet quarterly to prioritize and oversee the completion of projects that will receive the new round of SPLOST funding. Members on the SPLOST Oversight Committee can also actively take part in SPLOST subcommittees – Communication, Finance, Fire and E911, Parks and Recreation, Sheriff and Jail, Transportation, and Water – which meet at separate dates and times. As the 2011 SPLOST sunsets in March, the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners and Department Directors would like to thank those who graciously served on the 2011 Oversight Committee. Applications for those who would like to serve on the new committee are available at: or the Board of Commissioner’s Office, 962 Milstead Ave, Conyers, 30012. For more information, contact Jennifer Rutledge, County Clerk, at 770-278-7009 or at

sist him in moving Rockdale County forward. As Chief of Staff, Hambrick will mainly serve as the liaison among the Board of Commissioners, assist the Chairman with the County’s daily administrative functions, supervise department-level managers, represent the BOC in various relationships such as government organizations and task forces, oversee executive-level policy analysis and development, and conduct critical research and present findings that are of interest to the BOC. Hambrick said he plans to maintain his certification as

a Peace Officer and serve the Police Department in a reserve capacity. He served the City of Conyers eight years. Hambrick is the lead pastor of The Life Church Christian Center in Conyers and also serves as CEO and founder of Thinking Under Fire (TUF), an organization specializing in bridging the gap between local law enforcement and the communities they serve. Hambrick earned a Bachelors of Political Science degree from Alabama A & M University and Masters in Public Administration from Strayer University.


MLK Day 2017 Around Atlanta



MLK Commemorative Services at Ebenezer Baptist Church

Annual MLK breakfast set

The annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. commemorative service will be held Monday, Jan. 16, 10 a.m. at Ebenezer Baptist Church in the historic Heritage Sanctuary, 101 Jackson Street, Atlanta. Sponsored by The King Center, this annual church service is an ecumenical endeavor, engaging members of various religious traditions and state, national, and international governments. The service features tributes to the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. This year, Father Michael Pfleger, senior pastor at The Faith Community of Saint Sabina in Chicago will be the keynote speaker. Due to limited seating, guests are encouraged to arrive early and take MARTA. For more information, visit

The Conyers-Rockdale Chamber of Commerce is hosting its annual MLK breakfast on Monday, Jan. 16, 7:30 to 9 a.m., at Longhorn Steakhouse, 1294 Iris Dr S.W., Conyers. The cost of breakfast is $10 and will benefit the homeless population in Conyers. Pay at the door. For more information, visit or call 770- 483-7049.

2017 MLK Commemorative March and Rally set The 2017 Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday Commemorative march and rally will be held Monday, Jan. 16, 1:45 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. March assembly begins at 1:15 p.m. at Peachtree and Baker Streets and ends at the King Center, 449 Auburn Ave. For more information, visit atlantaga. gov or call 404-597-7795.

Children’s Museum of Atlanta to host MLK Day for Kids The Children’s Museum of Atlanta will host a special ceremony to honor the late civil rights activist on Monday, Jan. 16, 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., at the museum, 275 Centennial Olympic Park Drive, Atlanta. The program will include music, stories and other special performances to be performed at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. For more information, visit .DEKALB

John Evans to serve as Grand Marshal for DeKalb NAACP parade The DeKalb NAACP will host the 15th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade on the King Holiday, Monday, Jan. 16. The civil rights group’s 2017 theme is “Remembering the Dream, Honoring the Dreamer.” The grand marshal for the parade will be John Evans, founder and president of Operation LEAD and former president of the DeKalb NAACP. Parade participants will line up at Green Pastures Ministries, 5455 Flatshoals Parkway, Decatur, at 10 a.m. The parade starts at noon and will end at Martin Luther King, Jr., High School.


JANUARY 14, 2017 • PAGE 5

Stonecrest continued from page 1

cifically looking at which precincts will serve eligible voters. Some of the precincts only have about 75 people who live within that geographic area so we know that we are going to have to combine some precincts so that we don’t waste a lot of resources,” said Daniels. Daniels said that residents will be notified by mail within a month of the special election telling them where they should go to vote. The 20 candidates running for office are: Mayor Jason Lary 6844 Main Street Lithonia, GA 30058 Phone: 770-484-8740 Douglas E. Favors, II P.O. Box 361436 Decatur, GA 30036 Phone: 678-292-6852 Charles Hill, II 4135 N. Goddard Road Lithonia, GA 30038 Phone: 404-234-1990 City Council, Post 1 Jimmy Clanton P.O. Box 1495 Lithonia, GA 30058 Phone: 404-657-6283 Charles Ross P.O. Box 870928 Stone Mountain, GA 30087 Phone: 404-272-4633 City Council, Post 2 Plez A. Joyner P.O. Box 1462 Lithonia, GA 30058 Phone: 404-915-5038 Alexis Bethel Morris 5184 Miller Woods Drive Lithonia, GA 30035 Phone: 404-670-3184 ALEXISMORRIS1972@gmail. com Gretchen Jones Torbert P.O. Box 339 Lithonia, GA 30074 Phone: 770-648-4982 Rob Turner P.O. Box 361214 Decatur, GA 30036 Phone: 470-223-5991

ELECTROBTURNER@gmail. com City Council, Post 3 Jazzmin Randall Cobble 5545 Alpine Court Lithonia, GA 30038 Phone: 404-644-905 Eric Hubbard P.O. Box 1374 Lithonia, GA 30058 Phone: 678-321-8763 City Council, District 4 Geraldine Champion 5076 Miners Creek Circle Lithonia, GA 30038 Jesse “Jay” Cunningham P.O. Box 360946 Decatur, GA 30036 Phone: 404-482-4857 jaycunningham2014@yahoo. com Mary-Pat Hector 3497 Hunters Hill Drive Lithonia, GA 30038 Phone: 678-508-4086 Jonathan “JP” Phillips 5266 Sandy Shores Court Lithonia, GA 30038 Phone: 678-613-7933 George Turner, Jr. P.O. Box 2178 Lithonia, GA 30058 Phone: 404-886-2053 City Council, District 5 Diane Daniels Adoma P.O. Box 1376 Lithonia, GA 30058 Phone: 470-223-6039 Tammy L. Grimes P.O. Box 756 Lithonia, GA 30058 Phone: 678-323-8466 Lloyd Morrison 3035 Stone Mountain Street Lithonia, GA 30058 Phone: 904-412-9947 Richard Stone 5706 Southcrest Lane Lithonia, GA 30038 Phone: 404-824-9218



Rockdale Magnet senior named Coca-Cola Scholar semifinalist

azz Duncan, a senior at the Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, has been named a semifinalist for the 2017 Coca-Cola Scholars Program. The program recognizes a diverse group of extraordinary high school seniors from around the nation who have demonstrated

academic and civic excellence in their schools and communities. Duncan is among approximately 1,900 high school seniors who are in the running for 150 college scholarships worth $20,000 each. Semi-finalists are selected to advance as regional finalists based on academic excel-

lence, leadership and service demonstrated in school and community activities. “The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation received nearly 86,000 applications this year, and the semifinalists are truly some of the most accomplished students in the country,” said Mark Davis, president of the foundation.

RCPS to offer free ACT, SAT prep workshops To prepare students for top college admissions and success, Rockdale County Public Schools (RCPS) is pleased to announce the following opportunities for students hone their ACT and SAT testing skills through ongoing preparation programs. Free ACT Preparation RCPS students will have the option to attend two different free ACT workshop series this semester. All workshops will be held Saturdays, 8 a.m. - 12:30 p.m. at Rockdale Career Academy, 1064 Culpepper Dr., Conyers. Register at https:// or Please use the list below to help your child decide which ACT Workshop series to attend (Series 1 or Series 2):

Series 1: Session 1 Jan. 21, Session 2 Jan. 28th, Session 3 Feb. 4. (Test Date, Feb. 11) Series 2: Session 1 March 18, Session 2 March 25, Session 3 April 1st. (Test Date, April 8) Workshops will cover the following topics: Session 1: 3 classes (8-9:30 a.m., 9:35-11 a.m., 11:05 a.m.-12:30 p.m.); Topics: reading comprehension, Algebra basics, and interpreting scientific data. Session 2: 3 classes (8-9:30 a.m., 9:35-11 a.m., 11:05 a.m.-12:30 p.m.); Topics: reading comprehension (grammar), Advanced Algebra, and Geometry basics. Session 3: 3 Sessions (8-9:30 a.m., 9:35-11 a.m., 11:05 a.m.-12:30 p.m.); Topics: reading comprehension (vocabulary), Geometry review, and interpreting data (science). Workshop space is limited, so please be sure to register soon. Priority will be given to current

RCPS seniors who are registered for the ACT. Register at https://form.jotform. com/70043990766159 or www.rockdaleschools. org/ACTprep For more information, contact Joanna Anglin at SAT Prep Workshop Rockdale County Public Schools juniors and seniors who are taking the March 11 SAT test will be able to take a free three-day prep workshop during the Winter Intersession break. The SAT prep workshop will be held Feb. 20-22, 8 a.m. - 12:30 p.m., at the Rockdale Career Academy, 1064 Culpepper Dr., Conyers. Registration will open starting Jan. 18 at For more information, contact Joanna Anglin at

Anytime Notary Call to schedule your appointment 678-468-6852


Authors’ Spotlight

Women share candid stories in “A Widow’s Touch”

JANUARY 14,2017 • PAGE 7

On Common Ground News Marketplace T H E W E AV E STOP





East Lake Village 496 Flats Shoals Avenue Instagram@theweavestop



“A Widow’s Touch” is a source of encouragement for the nearly 700,000 women who lose their husbands each year. This book is designed to help women heal during the painful grieving process, says Sheila Coley. Coley, who helped publish the book, along with Mary M. Hollis, says “A Widow’s Touch” is a candid collection of powerful true stories from over 25 widows, young and old. The two women founded The Next Chapter Widows’ Ministry, a faith-based support group in Decatur to help widows get through the many decisions after their loss. Coley and Hollis say readers will find themselves in the stories, either as the widow, the family member, friend or someone mentioned. Readers can ride the emotional rollercoaster as the widows reveal lonely, frustrated, confusing, and victorious moments. A journey of faith dries the tears and turns sadness to joy, Coley says. No matter the circumstances, widows need kind-hearted, gentle relationships to understand and be patient with them as they learn to accept that the person they married, shared secrets with, made love with, laughed with, been angry with, and a host of other scenarios is no longer here. A Widow’s Touch seeks to provide widows a special touch or connection with someone who understands why his clothes are still in the closet, his name is still on the bank account, and grocery shopping is so difficult. He left with things undone, children not fully grown, and not enough money to meet the needs. God has a special plan to care for widows. I Timothy 5:3 says, “Honor widows that are widows indeed.” The Next Chapter has served as a support group to women for over 13 years. The group meets monthly in Decatur, enjoys an annual getaway, serves the community, and produces a weekly internet talk show. Visit TNC at for book signings and other events. For more information, email: or (980) 4WIDOWS. “A Widow’s Touch” is available for $15 at MLK parade continued from page 1

merce hosts at Longhorn Steakhouse, an event that is in its 14th year. “We will start planning for our first MLK parade very early,” said Dean. “There won’t be any excuses for next year.” John Evans, who oversees Operation LEAD based in DeKalb County, said he sat in on the meetings and believes the compromise for this year’s event is a good one. “Everybody said what they had to say and offered what they had to offer. We worked it out,” said Evans. Rockdale Chairman Nesbitt said he is looking forward to this year’s rally. “We believe the rally is a good compromise,” said Nesbitt, who will march as the grand marshal and give a speech. “We will still be honoring Dr. King and everybody is working to help make the event a success. There are a volunteers” Nesbitt. Cheryl Board, who is helping organize volunteers for the event, said she is excited about the new plans. “Although it’s gone through some changes, it’s going to be an awesome day,” said Board.

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