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

Police arrest man in rape, strangulation of pregnant woman

Georgia Supreme Court overturns Burrell Ellis’ conviction By Valerie J. Morgan

reverses a criminal conviction,” said Thomas. eKalb CEO Burrell Ellis “He (Ellis) and his wife hugged his wife in an emotion- embraced. He was very al embrace after the Georgia Supreme grateful and he showed Court handed down its decision on strong faith. It was a his appeal on Nov. 30. The high court blessing, a very emounanimously overturned his conviction, tional moment.” citing “technical errors” that occurred At a news conferduring his trial. ence held on Dec. 1, The court said in a 30-page opinion Ellis thanked supportthat while there was sufficient eviers who have stood by dence to find Ellis guilty of perjury and him. attempt to commit theft by extortion, Thomas said the Burrell Ellis listens during his 2014 trial. OCG file photo “we must nevertheless reverse Ellis’ District Attorney has did find sufficiency in the evidence convictions based on certain evidentiary until Dec. 5 to file a errors that occurred at his trial. Accordmotion to retry the case again. Ellis’ first that was presented at the trial. James ingly, we affirm in part and reverse in trial ended in a mistrial on Oct. 21, 2014 further stated that although his office is part to allow for a retrial on the charges after a jury could not reach a unanimous assessing whether to file a motion for reconsideration, the decision is not his of criminal attempt to commit theft by verdict. The state retried Ellis on June to make on whether the case should be extortion and perjury.” 1, 2015 and he was found guilty of one retried. Attorney Dwight Thomas, who count of attempt to commit theft by ex“By the time the case gets back in served as an advisor to the team repretortion and three perjury accounts. Ellis DeKalb County, there will be another senting Ellis, called the decision “rare” was sentenced 18 months to serve in District Attorney sitting in the office,” and a blessing.” He said the reversal prison, but was released from prison on means Ellis, who is ae as a real estate March 1, 2016 after serving eight moths. said James. Newly-elected DeKalb District attorney, will have his license, which “I’m hoping that reason prevails Sherry Boston has refrained from comwas suspended, restored and he remains with the people who have the responsimenting on the case. the CEO of DeKalb County until Dec. bility to make the call as to whether he The high court said the trial judge 31. Lee May has been serving as Interim should be retried. It’s time for this to be made a “harmful error” in allowing a CEO and Michael Thurmond was elect- finished and I’m hoping the honorable Special Purpose Grand juror to testify at ed on Nov. 8 to take the helms on Jan. 1. thing will be done,” Thomas said. “The “Had this appeal been unfavorable District Attorney has the power to make Ellis’ trial in an effort to prove that Ellis made false statements that were key to to him then he would not be the CEO. the decision through Dec. 31.” the grand jury’s investigation. WhethBut he is in fact the CEO,” Thomas said. DeKalb District Attorney Robert er a false statement was key, however, “Essentially, every justice of the Georgia James, who spoke exclusively with On “is normally an issue for the jury,” the Supreme Court—all seven of them— Common Ground News, said while he Court said. “... This was inappropriate.” said he (Ellis) was denied a fair trial and was disappointed with the Supreme his conviction should be reversed. It is Court’s decision, he respects the ruling. rare that the Georgia Supreme Court He said it should be noted the high court See Ellis, page 3


Terique Hall


eKalb police have arrested a 24-year-old man who they say raped and strangled a pregnant woman at a DeKalb County motel. Terique Hall was charged with killing 20-year-old Ashley Mays at the Quality Inn and Suites at 3500 Snapfinger Park in Decatur. Mays’ body was discovered inside a room at the motel. Her hands and feet were reportedly bound with zip ties. The attack took place on Nov. 18, police said. Mays’ fetus did not survive, police said. Police said Hall was captured on surveillance footage leaving the motel room where the assault allegedly occurred. Images of Hall from different angles, including him wearing a dark jacket with an American flag decal across the back as he left in his car, were disseminated to the public. The victim’s family members told Channel 2 they are devastated. They said Mays already had a son and was four months pregnant with a baby girl. Mays had planned to name the baby Alani, the family said. Hall was also connected to a sexual assault that occurred in Lithonia on Nov. 11 and charged in that case. Investigators believe there could be more victims. Hall has been charged with the murder, rape and aggravated sodomy of Ashley Mays and charged with rape and aggravated sodomy in a separate sexual assault that occurred in Lithonia on Nov. 11. The Lithonia woman was bound with zip ties and raped in her home. Hall is currently being held at the DeKalb County jail. Police think there may be more victims. Anyone with information on the case is urged to call CrimeStoppers at 404577-8477.

Jason Lary announces he will run for Stonecrest mayor, city taking shape


ason Lary, who led the Stonecrest cityhood movement to victory, says he plans to run for mayor of the new city. Lary said that as the chief architect of the Stonecrest Yes Committee, he is ready to give birth to the vision of economic development and self-governance that he and others have worked on for so long. The referendum to create the city of 50,000 residents passed on Nov. 8 with 59 percent of the vote. “After four years of being the person who has put it together, selected the team and worked on the model for the city, I believe that I am uniquely qualified to lead the city,” Lary said. “I think I can continue to make the difference in drawing economic development for the city.” Elections are expected to be held next March. Lary, along with members of the Stonecrest Yes Committee, held a victory celebration with a crowd in attendance at the Fairfield Inn at Stonecrest on Nov. 29. Key players of the committee were introduced including Plez Joyner, who has served as vice

Jason Lary(far right) discusses how the Stoncrest Yes Committee (left) has worked over the last four years. Photo by Glenn L. Morgan/OCG News

chair; Joel Thibodeaux, who served as treasurer; board member Shawn Jones; and advisors Vaughn Irons and Al Franklin. Judge Ron Ramsey, who initially sponsored the bill for the Stonecrest cityhood as a state senator, and Oliver Porter, who worked on the Sandy Springs cityhood, also were among those introduced Lary said even a community transition team or sorts is in place, Gov. Nathan Deal he is taking recommendations for the formal City of

Stonecrest’s five-member commission. A five-member commission for the new city of South Fulton also is under way. “We are looking for community members to help shape the formation of the City of South Fulton and the City of Stonecrest,” said Deal. “As we continue to work with the General Assembly to form these commissions, See City of Stonecrest, page 5


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CRIMINAL RECORD EXPUNGEMENT DAY Apply to have your felony arrests cleared from your record! When: Where:

Saturday, December 10, 2016, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. DeKalb County Courthouse, 556 N. McDonough Street, Decatur, GA Eligibility: 1. Only Arrests by DeKalb County Police Department or DeKalb County Sheriff’s Office 2. Felony Arrests Only 3. NO CONVICTIONS


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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. On Common Ground News

P.O. Box 904 Lithonia, GA 30058 (678) 526-1910 News 24/7 @

DECEMBER 3, 2016 • PAGE 3

New date set to honor Rockdale Chairman Richard Oden

The public is invited to attend a special recognition honoring Richard Oden, Chairman of the Rockdale County Board of Commissioners. Oden’s term expires on Dec 31. Oden will be honored at the board’s Work Session on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 10 a.m., in the Assembly Hall, 901 Main Street, Conyers. Oden served eight years as Chairman. During the meeting, Chairman-Elect Oz Nesbitt and Commissioner Doreen Williams will present Oden with a proclamation declaring Dec. 13, 2016 as “Chairman Richard A. Oden Appreciation Day.” The public is welcome to share well

wishes to Oden during the public comment portion of the agenda. Elected in 2008, Oden served two four-year terms as Chairman and CEO. Oden was the first African American elected to the position. During his tenure, he served in leadership roles for local and regional boards including the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG) and the Atlanta Regional Commission (ARC). Oden is also the recipient of several awards including the Atlanta Business League’s 2009 Class Men of Influence; the National Association of Minority Contractors 2011 Trailblazer Award; Rockdale Chapter of the

Open house set for Newton County’s first African-American Chairman Marcello Baines, the newly-elected Chairman of the Newton County Board of Commissioners, will meet and greet residents on Thursday, Dec. 8, 4 to 8 p.m., at the Lindsey Firm, 1182 Washinton St., S.W., Covington Baines is the first African Marcello Baines American to be elected to the position and is a minister of Springfield Baptist Church in Rockdale County.

Conyers Police launch toy drive to help Gatlinburg fire victims The Conyers Police Department is hosting a toy drive for the families who have lost their homes to the wildfires raging in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. The fires have destroyed more than 700 homes and businesses across Sevier County and displaced more than 14,000 residents in Gatlinburg alone. The fires have consumed more than 15,000 acres in the Great Smoky Mountains and at least seven people have been killed, according to news reports. The Conyers Police Department is asking the community to donate new toys to help make the holidays a little happier for the families. The toy drive will begin Dec. 2 and run through Dec. 17. Those who donate will receive a coupon from Chick-Fil-A for a free item. The toys may be dropped off at the United Community Bank, 1600 Hwy 20, Conyers (located near Rockdale Medical Center). For more information, contact Sergeant Peggy Franklin at (678) 3745603 or email PEGGY.FRANKLIN@CONYERSGA.GOV. Ellis continued from page 1

The court also said the trial court committed a reversible error by prohibiting Ellis from presenting any evidence of his interactions with several other vendors who were not named in the indictment. “Basically, he did not get a fair trial. He did not have the legal opportunity to present evidence that was favorable to him. Had he been allowed to present that evidence, he would not have been convicted,” said Thomas. Ellis was accused of trying to pressure a county contractor for campaign contributions. His first trial ended in a mistrial on Oct. 21, 2014 after a jury could not reach a unanimous verdict. The State retried Ellis on June 1, 2015 and he was found guilty of one count of attempt to commit theft by extortion and three perjury accounts. On July 8, 2015, Ellis was sentenced 18 months to serve, but was released from prison on March 1, 2016. Meanwhile, DeKalb County issued the following statement on Supreme Court’s decision: “The county attorney has advised that Mr. Ellis’ appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court is not final until the time passes for motions for reconsideration, which could be filed by either party. The Georgia Supreme Court has ordered that such motions must be filed by Dec. 5, 2016. During this interim period, the county attorney is evaluating the effect of the Supreme Court’s order in the event that no reconsideration motions are filed or the Supreme Court denies motions filed by either or both parties.”

Richard Oden

NAACP’s 2013 Jean L. Williams Community Service Award; and the ACCG 2016 Emory Greene Leadership Award among many others.

DeKalb NAACP seeks participants for MLK Parade

The DeKalb NAACP is organizing the 15th Annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Parade, which will be held 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, former president of the DeKalb NAACP. Groups or individuals who would like to participate in the parade may register online The deadline to register is Dec. 31. Parade participants will line up at Green Pastures Ministries, 5455 Flatshoals Parkway, at 10 a.m. The parade starts at noon and will end at Martin Luther King, Jr., High School.


Coming Up

Compiled by Mackenzie N. Morgan.

Still Waters Youth SinfoNia Orchestra of Metropolitan Atlanta Join the youths from the Still Waters Youth SinfoNia Orchestra of Metropolitan Atlanta for an evening of music and dance Saturday, Dec. 10, 4 to 5 p.m. at the Decatur Library, 215 Sycamore Street, Decatur. Named in honor of William Grant Still, considered dean of African-American composers, the Still Waters Youth SinfoNia of Metropolitan Atlanta celebrates more than 25 years of instructing thousands of young, talented students in instrumental music and dance. Under the artistic direction of David E. Robinson, III, a music teacher in the DeKalb County School District, SinfoNia performs music ranging from classical to rock ‘n roll. Most of the music are works by under-represented black composers and are arranged by Robinson himself. SinfoNia has performed locally, nationally and internationally and has recorded with the Grammy Award-winning Yasmeen Williams, an original member of Sweet Honey in the Rock, among others. Funding for the library program is provided by The Friends of the Decatur Library. For more information, call 404-370-3070.


Community center offers pre-holiday fun for kids

Designer show house lights up the holidays at Callanwolde Arts Center Tour the historic Candler estate for the annual Christmas at Callanwolde Designer Show House featuring some of Atlanta’s hottest interior designers daily through Dec. 13, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Visitors are invited to enjoy a self-guided tour of the 27,000-squarefoot Tudor revival mansion bedazzled by some of Atlanta’s most prominent designers. Tours last approximately 45 to 60 minutes. Guests will also be able to experience an Aeolian pipe organ at select times and holiday shopping at the Callanwolde artist market. Snacks and beverages will be available for purchase from the Callanwolde Café. There is also a separate outdoor Christmas light show that runs through Dec. 29 for an additional cost. Discount tickets are available at For more information, visit,

Bring the entire family to enjoy a fun-filled, festive morning movie and pancakes on Saturday, Dec. 10, 9 a.m. to noon, at the Rhodes Jordan Park Community Recreation Center, 100 E Crogan Street, Lawrenceville. Delight in a pancake breakfast, hot chocolate bar, crafts and The Polar Express movie on the big screen. Kids can bring pillows and blankets,if desired. Space is limited. The program is open to children ages 3 and up. The cost is $6 person. Pre-registration required by by Dec. 5. 678-277-0890

Swim with Santa


Kids are invited to join Santa for a fun holiday swim Saturday, Dec. 17, 11 a.m., at Bethesda Park Aquatic Center, 225 Bethesda Church Road, Lawrenceville. Before the holiday rush, take a dip with Santa and have your picture taken with him in the pool. Enjoy holiday crafts and games, making a wish list for Santa and enjoy light refreshments. Children 7-10 must be accompanied by an adult 18 or older and the adult must be in the water with children ages 6 and under. All pool rules apply. The cost is $12 per child (includes one free adult admission. Please pre-register by Dec. 9: 678-277-0880.

Centennial Olympic Park hosts Chinese Lantern Festival


Centennial Olympic Park will transform its South Park lawn for the Chinese Lantern Festival Dec. 9 through Jan. 15 daily from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m., 265 Park Ave. N.W., Atlanta. The South Park area including the Southern Company Amphitheater will be decorated with 25 handcrafted lanterns, a three-story pagoda, and a 200-foot-long Chinese dragon. The festival hosts nightly entertainment featuring acrobatics, dancers, theatre, and craftsmen creating everything from edible sugar dragons to Chinese paintings. In addition to the radiant displays, the Centennial Park District offers an Ice Rink presented by Coca-Cola., Holiday in Lights display and the Skyview Ferris Wheel. For more information or to purchase tickets for the festival, visit www. .DEKALB

Healthy foods tour set at Your DeKalb Farmer’s Market Meet up with the Electric Girls at DeKalb Farmers Market for a healthy living and food tour of the Your DeKalb Farmer’s Market on Sunday, Dec. 4, 2 to 4 p.m., 3000 E. Ponce de Leon Ave/, Decatur. Guests will learn money-saving tips and hopping cart management tips. The group will also discuss “electric” foods and how to fill your fridge with the best choices for optimal health. “Electric foods” are foods that support good health, heal and prevent disease. Tickets are $15 and participants will receive a printout with shopping and cooking tips along with some delicious recipes. Event organizers suggest wearing comfortable walking shoes and bringing a jacket. For more information, visit or call 678-612-3882.

Skate with Santa Bring the family for a night out of skating with Santa on Wednesday, Dec. 7, 6 to 8 p.m., at the pavilion in Olde Town Conyers, 949 S. Main Street, NE. The event is being hosted by Ice Days Ice Skating Rinks. Bring your camera to take a picture with Santa. Admission is $12 per skater and supports victims of domestic violence. Purchase tickets in advance at

Olde Town transforms into Winter Wonderland The Winter Wonderland Winterfest, parade, and tree lighting is set for Saturday, Dec. 3, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., in the streets of Olde Town Conyers. The festival includes a Secret Santa workshop, vendors, stilt walkers, balloon artists, face painting, bounce houses, a snow machine, ice skating, games and live music. The shops of Olde Towne will remain open late for extended shopping hours. The parade begins at 4 p.m. at Rockdale County High School and ends at the Rockdale County Courthouse. The tree lighting ceremony will be held inside the Rockdale Auditorium immediately after. For more information, go to

Please always check with the event organizer before you go. To submit your event to Coming Up, email editor@ocgnews. com. We choose events that are free or a nominal cost to our readers.

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DECEMBER 3, 2016 • PAGE 5

Live performance, classic cartoons enliven MARTA stations

A stop to buy produce at a Fresh MARTA Market now can include “Charlotte’s Web” or classic cartoons at the College Park and Five Points stations. MARTA, in partnership with Serenbe Playhouse and Serenbe Film, is incorporating family -riendly programming into the transit experience. This alliance is part of the agency’s long-term strategic plan to invigorate its stations with different types of art, including performances, concerts and visual art pieces. “Going to a pop-up market now becomes a layered experience—buying locally sourced produce, viewing or experiencing art—that gives our customers the opportunity to maximize the benefits of their trip,” said MARTA GM/ CEO Keith T. Parker. The new presentations at MARTA stations include classic cartoons such as “Bugs Bunny” and “Daffy Duck” and live performances of “Charlotte’s Web.” “We’re excited to continue to bring high-caliber arts programming to Atlanta families through our partnership with MARTA during their markets,” said Jamina DAmico, director of Strategy and Resource Development for the Serenbe Institute. “We know how important arts programming is, and this collaboration ensures that more people in our community have access to the arts in the places where they live and shop.” Serenbe Playhouse produces artistically rich site-specific performances and programming that reduces the barriers between artists and audiences by immersing patrons in an environment that amplifies the beauty of nature, and provides opportunities for engagement, conversation, and collaboration. Serenbe Film offers a unique film experience, whether it’s enhancing a film’s story with food or music, organizing behind-the-scenes insight with creators and producers, or simply showcasing content you couldn’t see anywhere else. Here’s a look at the schedule: Charlotte’s Webb Classic Family Cartoons Friday, Nov. 18 Thursday, Nov. 17 Five Points Station College Park Station 4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. 6 p.m. Friday, Dec. 2 Five Points Station 3 p.m.

Friday, Dec. 9 Five Points Station 6 p.m.

City of Stonecrest continued from page 1

we seek the assistance and leadership of individuals in these areas to help guide residents and facilitate the new cityhood process.” Under state legislation, the governor will create a five-member commission consisting of a chairman and four others who reside in each council district within the city. The commission will stop serving when the city councils of both municipalities are elected next spring. The interim representatives will facilitate the provision of municipal services and facilities, the collection of taxes and fees, and the negotiation of intergovernmental agreements in preparation of the establishment of the new municipality. The interim representatives shall not have the ability to enter into any binding agreements, to expend public funds, or to incur any liability on behalf of the new municipality. Any person who is serving as or has served as an interim representative shall be ineligible to qualify for election as a member of the initial governing authority of the new municipality. Those interested in applying should submit applications or recommendations to

Groundbreaking ceremony set for new Ellenwood library DeKalb County Public Library is preparing to build a new library branch—the first since the Scott Candler branch opened in 2012. The public is invited to join county officials, library trustees, administrators and staff for a ground-breaking ceremony for the new Ellenwood library on Monday, Dec. 12, 11 a.m. The ceremony will be held at the site for the new branch, 4331 River Road, Ellenwood. In the event of rain, the ceremony will be held at the Salem-Panola Library, 5137 Salem Road in Lithonia. Construction on the facility will begin in January and the new branch is expected to open in late spring of 2018. The Ellenwood library will be 12,000 square feet in size and hold a collection of approximately 20,000 items, including books for all ages, newspapers, magazines and audiovisual materials. It also will include public access computers, a meeting room, two study rooms and a special area for children.

DeKalb libraries to host free workshops to teach teens video production

DeKalb County Public Library is partnering with Kids Video Connection (KVC) to offer teens free video production and media literacy workshops next year. During the workshops, participants will be introduced to media literacy concepts, camera operation and careers in media as they write and produce a video project. The purpose is to help prepare the students to excel in 21st century careers demanding technology and communications skills. KVC is an educational media arts organization that teaches young people communications skills and media literacy. KVC has received an $8,750 community grant from the Best Buy Foundation to help fund the workshops. The program also is receiving funds and workshop support from Emory University’s Department of Film and Media Literacy to aid in the teaching of media literacy. The first 10-session will be held on Saturdays from Jan. 21 through March 25, 2017 at the Tucker Reid Coffer Library, 5234 LaVista Road in Tucker. A second 10-week workshop will be held at the Wesley Chapel-William C. Brown Library in Decatur in the spring (dates to be announced). A third session is planned for the Exchange Park Recreation Center in Decatur. Each 10-week session will be open to up to 16 students. Registration for the workshop at the Tucker branch is open now.

Springfield Baptist to present “Soulful Noel: A Message of Hope” CONYERS—Springfield Baptist Church, 1877 Iris Drive S.E., Conyers, will host its annual holiday production, “Soulful Noel: A Message of Hope,” on Dec. 9-11. The story of Soulful Noel, in its second season, tells the story of the birth of Jesus from an Afro-centric, biblical perspective. Steeped in the traditions of the Black Church, the production brings to the stage powerful, spirit-filled singing and dynamic acting. The opening night performance will be on Friday, Dec. 9, 8 p.m. The
Red Carpet Gala Reception will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Tickets are $25. A matinee will be held Saturday, Dec. 10, at 4 p.m. and evening performance will be held at 8 p.m. Admission is free. 
A Sunday matinee will be held at 4 p.m. Admission is also free that day. For more information, contact Marva Lewis at 770-929-1111 or mlewis@





Movers & Shakers in the Community

East Metro DeKalb CID hires first executive director

hristopher Sanders, assistant director with Georgia Department of Revenue, named CID Executive Director Leaders of the East Metro DeKalb Community Improvement District (CID) have selected an experienced administrator to serve as its organization’s first executive director. Sanders of Stone Mountain will oversee the daily operations of the East Metro DeKalb CID. Sanders most recently served as an Assistant Director of the Georgia Department of Revenue, where he managed hundreds of employees and multi-million dollar budgets. “This is a unique opportunity to work directly with corporate and community leaders to produce real positive results,” Sanders said. “I am ready to immediately help the CID increase public safety, improve curb appeal and make this a much more attractive location for businesses to find success.” Sanders held multiple lead positions during his

five years with the Georgia Department of Revenue, including serving as the Legislative Liaison for Taxpayer Services to the Georgia General Assembly. Prior to working for the department, Sanders spent eight years at Georgia Pacific as Manager of Business Information and Solutions. “Sanders brings invaluable insights from his time in the private sector and with a state agency in charge of expansive business-related functions,” said CID Board Chairman Frederick Daniels, Jr. “As a board, we believe that Christopher Sanders is the best choice to connect our CID with stakeholders and other communities of interest,” Daniels Jr. continued. “He has strong experience in government-related administration, and we expect him to thrive as our executive director.” Prior to Sanders’ hire, the CID’s administrative tasks were performed by the Nickel Works Consulting firm, led by Nicole Hall. Sanders immediately engaged CID property

owners, partners, and stakeholders as part of the Technical Assistance Panel (TAP) effort coordinated with the Urban Land Institute-Atlanta (ULI). The panel brought together commercial real estate experts to devise innovative methods Christopher Sanders to spark investment and economic redevelopment throughout the Wesley Chapel - Panola Road corridor. The East Metro DeKalb CID was formed in 2014 through a unanimous vote of the DeKalb County Board of Commissioners, and accounts for more than 205 commercial property owners.

DeKalb Medical Board Member Robert Wilson receives statewide Hospital Hero Award

public safety and better health for women and children are common threads in Wilson’s legal service. For more than 25 years, he has dedicated much of his time to improving the DeKalb community, particularly its hospitals and community health facilities. He established the state’s first Child Abuse Protection Unit and one of its first victim assistance programs. He is involved in numerous task forces and committees in the community and is the chairman for the Task Force on Unexplained Child Fatalities and the Governor’s Committee for the Protection of Children. Robert Wilson It was Wilson’s work fighting for women and children as an attorney that he believes led him to eKalb Medical Board Member Robhis involvement with DeKalb Medical. Seeing the ert “Bob” E. Wilson was awarded the great needs of victims of sexual and physical abuse prestigious Georgia Hospital Heroes led him to partner with the DeKalb Junior League Award at the Georgia Hospital Association’s and the hospital. He helped fund the DeKalb Rape (GHA) Annual Meeting on Nov. 11. Wilson, who Crisis Center in 1989 and served as its chair of was one of only 10 individuals statewide to receive the Board of Directors. He remained on the board the award, was recognized for sharing his time and for 20 years. Today, the non-profit center provides talents in community service to DeKalb County. direct services and advocacy for survivors of As a former district attorney, commitment to


sexual assault and their families. In 1990, Wilson co-founded what is now the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy, a non-profit organization providing prevention, intervention and treatment for child sexual abuse victims. Wilson currently serves as Chairman of the Quality Committee at DeKalb Medical, a position not often held by someone with a non-clinical background. Since joining the committee, he has overseen the implementation of new clinical leadership models that engage physicians and leaders in improving processes and procedures. Thanks to these changes, the hospital system has seen improvement in length of stay and readmission statistics. “Hospitals are fortunate to have people like Bob Wilson in their communities,” said GHA President and CEO Earl Rogers. “His efforts have allowed the hospital to extend its patient care reach and ensure the health of not only patients, but the entire DeKalb community. He is most deserving of this award.”

Spotlight Feature

Rockdale author encourages moms to create a legacy of love through journaling


rnitris Strong, founding editor of Blessed Be the Tie (, knows all too well the anguish mothers face with the separation of their child when returning to the workforce. Four years ago, she discovered that journaling was an effective way to help cope with mommy guilt and maintain the bond with her child. Now, she’s helping other working mothers to leverage the practice of journaling to maintain a deep connection with their children with the release of “Dear Butterfly: A Devotional Journal for Mothers.” “The bond a child has with its mother is the lens through which it will filter the world,” said Strong. “It is the basis for every relationship they will ever encounter. It is important to create a written legacy of your love and wisdom. The ‘Dear Butterfly’ journal is designed to be that legacy.” Strong encourages working mothers to fill the

journal with stories of love, loss, ,healing, forgiveness and friendship. Mothers can also use the journal to save scriptures, prayers, observations, ideas and answers. The journaling experience provides nourishment for mothers, and once children are old enough, they can explore the journals’ contents to learn more about their mothers and some of the challenges they faced while raising them while balancing careers and other responsibilities. As part of the book’s launch campaign, Strong has created a “Dear Butterfly Challenge.” Participants are asked to spend 15 minutes each day for three days creating a handwritten or typed letter that will be treasured for years to come. During the three days, participants will receive a fillable PDF for guidance. Excerpts can be shared via social media on Instagram or Facebook using the #dearbutterfly hashtag. “It’s not important how much you write, as long as it’s from the heart,” said Strong. “The

challenge is not only a great exercise for mothers, but also fathers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents and teachers.” Arnitris Strong lives in Rockdale County with her family. To order the journal and to participate in the Dear Butterfly Challenge, visit


NOVEMBER 12,2016 • PAGE 7

Pet waste disposal units installed at three Rockdale parks

In an effort to help reduce water pollution, Rockdale Recreation and Maintenance and Rockdale Water Resources (RWR) have partnered to install pet waste disposal units in parks that border Rockdale’s waterways. Recreation and Maintenance and RWR are encouraging citizens to use these pet waste disposal units installed recently at Black Shoals Park, Daniels Bridge Trailhead and Lakeview Park. According to the Metropolitan North Georgia Water Planning District, studies show that pet waste in urban areas is a “significant contributor of pathogens and nutrients” to the watershed. Pet waste that is not properly disposed of can be carried by rain runoff directly into nearby water bodies. Storm drains in streets and neighborhoods usually flow directly to a stream, river or estuary without any treatment. Untreated animal waste can become a source of harmful bacteria in water. “Just as we don’t want human sewage in our water, it is important to prevent pet waste from being carried into our waterways because of negligence,” said Sue Sanders, Recreation and Maintenance Director. “Pet waste contains nutrients that can cause excessive growth in a river or lake, and as it decays, it uses up oxygen fish and aquatic life need. So please use the new pet waste disposal units conveniently placed throughout the Rockdale Count park system.” For more information, call Recreation and Maintenance at 770-278-7529 or RWR at 770-278-7400.

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