01-19-18 Brookhaven Reporter

Page 1

JAN. 19 - FEB. 1, 2018 • VOL. 10 — NO. 2


Brookhaven Reporter


► State, city officials debate best ways to regulate short-term rentals PAGE 4 ► Touring theater company for seniors eyes expansion PAGE 20

Jackie Williams sings praise during the MLK Day Dinner at Lynwood Park. She has lived in Lynwood Park all of her 64 years and is one of DeKalb County’s original school integrators. Read story page 14.►

BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net



Bring on the bagpipes! 1,500 expected in Tartan Trot run Page 16

Is Sandy Springs’ arts-oriented civic center a smart play? See COMMENTARY, Page 10


Eminent domain case for Greenway property heats up

MLK Day hits home in Lynwood Park

As an artist myself; I fully support art as a core in civic identity. Construction and traffic are my only main concerns preand post-completion.


The fight over 19 acres of land the city wants for the Peachtree Creek Greenway is heating up after court-ordered negotiations proved fruitless. The city is refusing to pay more than its appraised value of $340,000 while the property owners say the tract of land is worth $2.3 million because it is prime for townhome development. The attorney for the property owners also states the city is “acting in bad faith and showing egregious conduct.” The City Council voted in June to use eminent domain to acquire the undeveloped land at 1793 Briarwood Road that is included in the first “model mile” of the Greenway trail and park expected to break ground early this year. The city appraised the property last year for $340,000 and said they tried to work with Mark Morgan and Lifestyle Family See EMINENT on page 22

Cherry Blossom Festival to get bigger, better BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net


Creating a student-operated cafe at North Springs High Page 8

The city is pumping up this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival, bringing in big guns Live Nation Atlanta to secure its music acts and expanding its vendor and artist market significantly. The fourth annual fest is set for March 24 and 25 at Blackburn Park. A new logo was unveiled at the Jan. 9 City Council meeting. “This is a more dynamic presentation symbolic of the growth of the festival,” Councilmember Linley Jones said. See CHERRY on page 13

2 | Community

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Community Briefs G EB B IA, PAR K SWOR N IN A S C I T Y C O UNC IL M EM B ER S

Above, Judge Courtney Johnson swears in Joe Gebbia as Mayor John Ernst and Councilmember Bates Mattison look on.


Below, Judge Alvin Wong congratulates Councilmember John Park as the Councilmember Linley Jones, Mayor John Ernst and Councilmember Bates Mattison applaud.

City Councilmembers Joe Gebbia and John Park were sworn in for their next four years on the council during a ceremony at the Jan. 9 council meeting. Gebbia, who represents District 4 and who was first elected in 2012 as part of the city’s first council following incorporation, was re-elected in November after defeating challenger Dale Boone. He was sworn in by DeKalb Superior Court Judge Courtney Johnson. Park, who was first elected in 2014, did not face a challenger in his bid for a second term. He was sworn in by DeKalb State Court Judge Alvin Wong. After the swearing-in ceremony, the council voted unanimously for Gebbia to serve as mayor pro tempore, meaning he will perform the mayoral duties when Mayor John Ernst is not available. Councilmember Bates Mattison served the past two years as mayor pro tem and nominated Gebbia for job.

B U FO R D HIG HWAY T O WNHO M E C O M P L EX R EZO NI NG R EQ UES T DEL AY ED The Ardent Companies’ request to rezone a 17-acre tract of land that includes 30 single-family houses on Bramblewood Drive and two residential properties fronting Buford Highway to make room for a 226-unit townhome development has been delayed as the company and city work out a right-of-way abandonment plan. Ardent Companies is asking the city to abandon nearly 2 acres of right-of-way on Bramblewood Road, currently a public road, for the proposed gated townhome community. The company has appraised the right-of-way as being worth nearly $250,000. The Planning Commission in January deferred the rezoning request to its March 7 meeting. The Planning Commission also does not have oversight on right-of-way abandonment, so that specific issue is expected to go before the City Council in late March or early April, according to a city spokesperson.


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Mayor John Ernst has signed contracts with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to utilize $100,000 in state grant funding to build a 1-mile trail through Briarwood Park that could be completed by this summer. “Working with the state DNR allows Brookhaven to get the biggest bang for the buck. With this funding in place, we can now go out for bid and secure the best contractor to get this done in 2018,” Ernst said in a press release. The total cost of the project is estimated at $160,000, and will restore a half mile of existing damaged trail and add another half-mile of new trail. The successful grant application was one of 46 applications that competed in the DNR’s 2016 fall funding cycle. “We owe a huge debt of gratitude to DNR Commissioner Mark Williams and our state representatives under the gold dome for their advocacy, especially State Reps. Meagan Hanson, Mary Margaret Oliver, Scott Holcomb and Sens. Fran Millar and Elena Parent,” Ernst said. “If all goes well, the community should be able to enjoy the enhancement to the park this summer.”

CITY HO NO R ED FO R EX C EL L ENC E IN FINA NC I A L R EP O R TI NG For the second consecutive year, the city has been awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for its Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR) for 2016. According to the Government Finance Officers Association, the award “is the highest form of recognition in the area of governmental accounting and financial reporting, and its attainment represents a significant accomplishment by a government and its management.” In 2016, Brookhaven maintained a budgetary “rainy day fund” reserve equal to 26.3 percent of expenditures for the first time, according to a press release. The Government Finance Officers Association says that Brookhaven’s CAFR “demonstrat[es] a constructive ‘spirit of full disclosure’ to clearly communicate its financial story and motivate[s] potential user groups to read the CAFR.”

APPO INTM ENT O F KEY EM P LO Y EES R ENEWED The City Council at its Jan. 9 meeting renewed appointments with key city employees. Contract appointments were renewed for Christian Sigman as city manager, Chris Balch and Balch Law Group as city attorney, Susan Hiott as city clerk, Laura Stevenson and Jonathan Granade as judges for municipal court, William Mulcahy as internal auditor and Linda Nabors as finance director. The Balch Law Group will be paid a $20,000 a month retainer in addition to other legal fees as they arise. BK

JAN. 19 - FEB. 1, 2018




Community | 3

4 | Community

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State, city officials debate best ways to regulate short-term rentals BY JOHN RUCH

into effect late last year. Now it is considering ways to expand and refine regulations, possibly including a mandatory short-term rental registration system and the hiring of a company for $21,000 a year to keep track of them. At the Jan. 2 Sandy Springs City Council meeting, Mayor Rusty Paul said such regulations have complexities the city is still considering. “It’s a balancing act,” he said. Dollar said that it remains to be seen whether any state law will be passed in what is expected to be a short legislative session. But some kind of legislative reckoning is likely coming, he said, “just like we did with Uber and all those other things. Technology is forcing us to address these questions.”


As cities grapple with how to regulate short-term rental services like Airbnb, state legislation that would have reduced local control is getting a rewrite after pressure from Atlanta and Sandy Springs, among other jurisdictions. House Bill 579, introduced last March, would have prohibited cities from banning short-term rentals and limited local regulations. In Sandy Springs, where leaders are considering a new regulatory system, the city’s top planning official called the bill “frightening” and “dangerous,” and the city of Atlanta says it is “actively monitoring” the bill to ensure local control. The bill’s lead sponsor is Rep. Matt Dollar (R-Marietta), whose District 45 includes Sandy Springs’ northwest corner. He said the bill was a “conversation-starter” and is getting a rewrite. “The new bill will look very different,” he said, and likely will propose different types of short-term rental regulations for different types of housing and areas. That still leaves the big question of what those regulations will be, at both the state and local levels, where the issues are complicated and governments take varying approaches.


A mansion at 4205 Peachtree-Dunwoody Road in Buckhead as it appears in Airbnb listings that have drawn citations from the city of Atlanta, which the owner says are unfounded.

For cities like Atlanta, Brookhaven and Dunwoody, which largely address shortterm rentals through hotel and bed-andbreakfast sections of their zoning codes, statewide legislation could alter the playing field. “We are actively monitoring the bill and will work with our partners to ensure the

city has the ability to locally legislate on the subject matter in the interests of the public health, safety and welfare,” said Alnissa Ruiz-Craig, a city of Atlanta spokesperson. For Sandy Springs, timing could be important. The city just formally allowed short-term rentals to operate for the first time in its new zoning code, which went

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Short-term rental services have become a booming — and controversial — business, allowing homeowners and apartment renters to make extra cash by arranging online room rentals. The current top dog is San Francisco-based Airbnb, which boasts millions of rental listings in nearly every country in the world. The service includes a listing, a payment service and a rating system.

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Short-term rentals have been especialterm rentals on the market in Georgia. Rep. Dollar notes that many “mom and pops” ly controversial in big cities, where they can rent out beach houses, mountain cabins act as significant competition with hotels and lakeside properties around the state, while avoiding the same taxes and regulawhich are accepted parts of local econotions. There are also concerns that shortmies. term rentals inflate local housing mar“Local governments kets, making it harder for are dealing with it in diflong-term residents to afferent ways,” amounting ford housing. In 2014, to a “big kind of hodgethe tourist-heavy city of podge,” Dollar said. The Savannah, Ga., cracked general intent of HB579, down on short-term renthe said, is to reduce “unals as zoning violations. certainty” for properLittle attention has ty owners and the shortbeen drawn to shortterm rental industry, and term rentals in sub“level the playing field” urbs and outlying urban with regular hotels and neighborhoods, where motels — and the taxes Jim Tolbert, Sandy Springs’ there likely aren’t such assistant city manager. they are required to pay. large-scale market imBut Tolbert, the Sanpacts and homeowners can often rent with dy Springs planning chief, said the legislamore privacy. But other concerns about tion was “frightening” and could be “taking short-term rentals are still possible, such as my authority to deal with these folks away.” absentee owners, misbehaving guests or viHe said the “most dangerous” part of the olations of condo rules. bill was that it would allow short-term rentJim Tolbert, Sandy Springs’ assistant al companies to pay local hotel/motel taxcity manager in charge of planning, told his es on behalf of their users without disclosCity Council that shorting where exactly any of term rentals can bring in those properties are. taxes and serve tourists Tolbert and his staff on the positive side. But are proposing several on the negative side, he changes to the legislative added, they can “replace proposal. Some ideas inlong-term residents and clude: requiring a shorttenants,” “alter neighborterm rental property’s hood character,” and creowner to live in the propate parking and safety erty the majority of the problems. time; requiring a business Tolbert said that in license and posting of November, he found 211 Rep. Matt Dollar. any city noise ordinance; short-term rentals offered and banning short-term in Sandy Springs via 10 different online rentals in subsidized housing units. companies. In 2016, a Reporter Newspapers Those ideas dovetail with additions Tolreview of listings on the services Airbnb bert suggests for the city code, such as reand Corporate Housing By Owner found quiring registration of all short-term rental dozens of local listings. Some of them were properties, with “detailed records” providthe type that concern city officials, such as ed to the city, and requiring all parking to a Buckhead “party house,” apartments bebe on-site. ing sub-rented against management’s rules, Two other local state representatives, and a Perimeter Center condo that had Beth Beskin (R-Atlanta) and Deborah Silcox served solely as a short-term rental invest(R-Sandy Springs), said they have not taken ment property since 2010. a position on the legislation, but added that Certain properties have drawn city cithey have concerns. tations and neighborhood criticism in the “I am aware of a few homes here in my past two years. A prominent example is district that are the subject of a lot of neigha mansion at 4205 Peachtree-Dunwoody bor concern,” said Beskin, who represents Road in Buckhead that drew criticism for part of Buckhead. hosting a concert without the owner’s “I’ve got a lot of questions,” said Silcox, knowledge, then received a cease-and-deincluding the bill’s exemptions for “private sist notice from the city after noise comentities.” plaints, but remained in operation. Owner Dollar said he has spoken briefly with Paul McPherson said he was unfairly tarPaul, the Sandy Springs mayor, about the geted for past or nonexistent issues. issue. “I understand their position … SanIn Brookhaven, where Airbnb co-founddy Springs, it’s one of a handful [of cities] er Joe Gebbia Jr.’s father is a member of across the state that are addressing the the City Council, a house at 1302 Brooklashort-term rental issue,” Dollar said. wn Road drew city Code Enforcement at“The takeaway is, I am working on new tention for allegedly serving as a full-time language and I am working with all intershort-term rental property, which the ownested parties,” he said. er has disputed.

The legislative debate

But those aren’t the only types of short-

– Evelyn Andrews and Dyana Bagby contributed



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6 | Food & Drink

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Popcorn Palooza BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

Popcorn lovers Keith Gispert and Sandra Cox of Brookhaven worked in the medical sales field for many years, traveling the country, where they would specifically visit popcorn shops to try out some of their favorite snack. “We both remember being in a shop, looking at each other and saying, ‘We can do this,’” Gispert said. And so they are doing it. Popcorn Palooza was created in 2014 and now has a brickand-mortar spot at Keth Gispert and 5071 Peachtree Sandra Cox. Blvd., Suite 350, in Chamblee, just over the Brookhaven border, where they sell dozens of flavors such as parmesan garlic, red velvet, white cheddar, cotton candy and many more. The storefront is only open on Saturdays from noon to 8 p.m. because most of the business currently caters specifi-

cally to corporate and special events. Gispert answered the following questions about their business.


What inspired you to go into gourmet popcorn?


[Sandra and I] were both were in the medical sales field for many years. We had the opportunity to travel many places and tried several different popcorn shops. We both remember being in a shop, looking at each other and saying, “We can do this…” Here we are several years later.


How do you come up with the different flavors? What is involved in the process?


We come up with

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different flavors through experimentation. There have only been a couple of flavors we tried that did not work to our liking, but nearly everything has worked out well. We have our core offerings at this point, but can always make other flavors for special occasions. Some people request special flavors for events, weddings, etc. We use commercial equipment for everything. Our process is different for our savory flavors versus our sweet/chocolate flavors. The savory flavors are an easier process, where we combine blends of cheeses and spices in a large commercial mixing bowl that turns and combines everything. The amounts of cheeses and spices has all been trial and error to get to the flavor profile we feel is best. The one thing we pride ourselves on is not using powder cheeses. The taste of our product versus a powder cheese popcorn is rather evident. The sweet and chocolate flavors are made by mixing everything in our large commercial equipment. The ingredients go in the heat kettle and it is a longer process. Again, we have tried many varieties/ amounts of certain ingredients we combine to get to the final product. We definitely go with flavor combinations that we know work, like peanut butter and milk chocolate, hot wings and blue cheese, etc. We both love cooking shows and have gathered ideas by flavor combinations we see on Food Network. Lots of trial and error to get to where we are.


How is the gourmet popcorn business doing overall? Is it gaining in popularity, and if so, why?

A: The business is doing well. There was

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corn when you go to the movies?


I have always purchased popcorn when attending the movies. Sandra would eat it sometimes, but not all of the time. Popcorn and the movies, the two just go together. I would not be telling the truth if I said we never bring our own popcorn to the movies. Let’s just say it has snuck itself in a time or 20.

Q: Can you eat regular popcorn anymore?

Or are you tired of popcorn when “off the clock” and like to eat other fun snacks?


We do eat regular popcorn here and there, but prefer to eat something we have created. People always ask us if we are tired of it, but we simply have too many options and flavor profiles to get sick of it. We definitely have our favorite snacks/treats. We are both on the same page when we say our favorite snacks outside of popcorn are donuts for me and ice cream for Sandra, but we definitely limit those treats.

Q: Why locate in Chamblee? A: Chamblee is growing like

crazy. There is a ton of development and great places coming to the community. We really enjoy the people and this location is rather convenient to where we live in neighboring Brookhaven.

Q: Who buys gourmet popcorn? A: Many people buy gourmet popcorn.

We like to say our age demographic ranges from about age 3 to 90 years old. The key point with our product is getting people to try it. I can say with great confidence that it is nearly impossible for someone to not really enjoy at least one flavor we offer. We truly have something for everyone. Oreo, caramel sea salt, parmesan garlic, peanut butter milk chocolate, Hotlanta con limon (a cheese blend with lime and hot spices), white chocolate pretzel and more. There is something for everyone. We have broken into the corporate world pretty well and that makes up a large portion of our clients. This is a great and fun option for employee appreciation, catering events, weddings and parties.


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definitely a learning curve over the first couple of years. We feel like we have figured out the best model for us and things are growing. Our product speaks for itself. People seem to love our product and we take pride in that. We value our loyal customers and look forward to growing our business in 2018.


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JAN. 19 - FEB. 1, 2018

Food & Drink | 7



The Dunwoody Farmers Market is set to open on April 18 at Brook Run Park after local volunteers partnered with the Dunwoody Homeowners Association and city officials to create the new offering. The city at one time had a for-profit farmers market, but it closed after not being able to find a permanent location. The new farmers market is nonprofit and is under the DHA’s umbrella, much like the DHA’s Food Truck Thursdays also held at Brook Run Park. The Dunwoody Farmers Market will take place Saturdays from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. beginning April 18 and continuing through Oct. 27.

More information can be found at facebook.com/dunwoodyfarmersmarket.


Zoë’s Kitchen, a fast-casual Mediterranean chain, opened this month in the new Plaza at City Springs shopping center at 5840 Roswell Road, Suite 300. For more information, see zoeskitchen.com. Meanwhile, two restaurants in Sandy Springs’ Abernathy Square shopping center closed in January. The upscale sports bar Dantanna’s closed its doors Jan. 9. No reason was given on its website or through social media. Dantanna’s, with other locations in Buckhead and downtown, was located in the Abernathy Square shopping center at Roswell and Abernathy roads for about four years. It replaced an Ap-

plebee’s that was located at the site. CT Cocina & Taqueria, a Mexican restaurant, also closed in early January after being open for about one year.


Pontoon Brewing celebrated its official grand opening the weekend of Jan. 12 with a ribbon cutting, tours, live music, food trucks and, of course, plenty of craft beer. Located at 8601 Dunwoody Place Building 500, Suite 500, it is Sandy Springs’ first brewery. CEO Sean O’Keefe told Reporter Newspapers in October that the business owners looked at 40 buildings in areas as far as Carrollton, Acworth, Smyrna and the West End BeltLine. “We finally found the location we are in today because of the great proximity to the Chattahoochee [River], the amount of traffic and businesses in Sandy Springs

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and the welcoming city. We thought Sandy Springs was a great location,” O’Keefe said.


The Dunwoody Village Burger King, which long doubled as the site for school groups and other organizations to hold car washes for fundraisers, closed its doors Jan. 5 after 30 years of serving Whoppers and fries. The fast food restaurant’s parcel was recently sold to Brand Properties, owners of the Shops of Dunwoody, who have listed the site for lease, according to City Councilmember Terry Nall.

Got food or drink news? Submit your tips to the Reporter at


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8 | Education

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Monica Brown, North Springs Charter High School Monica Brown, a special education teacher at North Springs Charter High School, helped create a school café operated by her students. She was awarded “Teacher of the Month” by the Sandy Springs school for her work creating the café in October. “It was a huge project undertaking with hard work, determination and patience with this process,” she said of the project. A teacher for 15 years, Brown is in her second year of teaching special education at North Springs, which created its CBI, or Community Based Instruction program, two years ago. “I am extremely elated about the new CBI program here at North Springs Charter High School. There are endless activities, programs and classes the students can participate in as a new high school student,” Brown said.

Q: Why did you decide to have your students run a cafe?


The Coffee Shop Program has been around in Fulton County for the CBI Program for some years. This program is designed to teach real life, functional, social, personal finance and transition skills to high school special needs students. The students operate a real business (a coffee shop)



in the school. Students operate a cash register, make change, fill recipes, deliver coffee, restock, talk to customers, clock in and lots more. There is no better way to teach job skills than to practice them in a real-world setting. The Spartan Café Express is doing a phenomenal job this school semester.


How is the café program going and how have the students responded to it?


The program is going great! The entire North Springs Charter High School is so excited about Spartan Cafe Express. The interaction amongst one another is exciting and friendships are made. The students have built great relationships with the other peer students. The staff and teachers are excited to receive their first cup of coffee and tea in the morning. This is such a wonderful delight in the morning. The students are loving it and excited! This is really a historical moment for our students. They have left a legacy, that’s for sure. I get a joy to see them prepare coffee, deliver and greet staff members and teachers each day.

Q: Do you enjoy your role in the new CBI

Monica Brown stands with students as they prepare to cut the ribbon on the Spartan Café Express in November 2017.



I truly enjoy my role as the CBI lead teacher of my classroom. The CBI scholars are growing, learning and having fun at the same time. I am extremely elated about the new CBI program here at North Springs Charter High School as the special needs population is growing within our communities. Now that the CBI program is up and running at North Springs Charter High School, students are able to go to their home school. There are endless activities, pro-


grams and classes the students can participate in as a new high school student. Students are learning and working towards building independence and employability skills while working in the coffee shop.


What attracted you to teaching at



After working with students and volunteering with the Special Olympics for several years as a recreation therapist, I later became interested to go back to school and pursue my Masters in Special Education as special education continues to grow within our nation and throughout our communities. I cannot imagine doing anything else. I have always had a passion and love for working with children and young adults with special needs. I see myself as a teacher, role model, friend and also a parent. I am truly living out my purpose, and wouldn’t trade it for the world.

Q: What do you want to see in your students?


I want to see my CBI students transition after graduating into a college, community college or even a work program to get started. I would love to see them working in the community by taking every job skill learned from my class. I want to see them be successful in their career, skill or even managing in their own business.

Q: What keeps you going year after year? A: My love and passion for my students keep me going. They have a will to learn and succeed in their work as they continue to grow and glow each day. They have a spirit of not giving up. This is what keeps me going and wanting to teach them more the next following year.



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Editor’s note: Through our “Exceptional Educator” articles, Reporter Newspapers showcases the work of some of the outstanding teachers and administrators at our local schools. If you would like to recommend a teacher or administrator to be the subject of an Exceptional Educator article, please email editor@ReporterNewspapers.net.

Education | 9

JAN. 19 - FEB. 1, 2018 ■ www.ReporterNewspapers.net

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A rendering shows the final design for the new Riverwood International Charter School in Sandy Springs, which includes an auditorium, gymnasium, media center and cafeteria.

BY EVELYN ANDREWS evelyn@reporternewspapers.net

The Fulton County Board of Education is set to vote on designs for the next phases of Riverwood International Charter School construction among concerns about changing the driveway at Heards Ferry. The $80 million project would build an entirely new school, including an auditorium, gymnasium, media center, cafeteria and classrooms. The first two floors of a classroom building and a baseball field have already been completed. Meanwhile, the school district is set to present the renovation plan for North Springs High at a Jan. 23 meeting amidst advocacy for an entirely new school, fueled in part by the new Riverwood campus. The board heard details on the next phases at its Jan. 9 work session, ahead of its regular board meeting set for Jan. 18. The concept designs for the entire Sandy Springs school and the site plan have not changed significantly since originally presented in 2015, Robert Sussenbach, the architect working on the designs said at the work session, which was broadcast on the board’s website. “This is pretty much what we showed you several years ago, and we’re trying to stay consistent with that,” Sussenbach said. Officials won’t be able to say whether or not the project is set to stay on budget until the board meeting, as final costs are still being determined, Patrick Burke, the chief operating officer of the Fulton County School District said during the work session. Some board members, including Katie Reeves, who represents District 2, brought up concerns about limiting the use of the driveway at Heards Ferry, which used to be heavily used but is now restricted to construction traffic and as a right-turn-only entrance. The main entrances are now located at Raider Drive. Reeves argued its safer to have multiple entrances and exits and questioned why one would be removed. Burke said the city of Sandy Springs has safety concerns about the driveway because of the curves on Heards Ferry and prohibited the driveway from continuing to be used as a full access entrance and exit. Construction of the school, located at 5900 Raider Drive, is split into seven phases. The first phase is the only phase that has so far been completed, which included the first two floors of a new building and a baseball field. The third floor of that building will be completed in the second phase, which is scheduled to begin next month and end in June. The contract for finishing the interior of the third floor is also set to be voted on at the board meeting. The construction is estimated to cost $2.8 million, according to the work session agenda. A cafeteria and media center will also be built during phase two. Other phases will include the addition of a gymnasium, an auditorium and expanded parking from 450 spaces to around 650. All construction is planned to conclude in January 2022, according to documents. The new school facilities are being built on the existing school grounds without shutting down any current classrooms or programs. Once the new facilities are built, the old ones will be demolished.

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10 | Commentary

Reporter Newspapers

Our mission is to provide our readers with fresh and engaging information about life in their communities. Published by Springs Publishing LLC 6065 Roswell Road, Suite 225 Sandy Springs, GA 30328 Phone: 404-917-2200 • Fax: 404-917-2201 Brookhaven Reporter | Buckhead Reporter Dunwoody Reporter | Sandy Springs Reporter www.ReporterNewspapers.net Atlanta INtown www.AtlantaINtownPaper.com Atlanta Senior Life www.AtlantaSeniorLife.com

C O NTA C T US Founder & Publisher Steve Levene stevelevene@reporternewspapers.net Editorial Managing Editor John Ruch johnruch@reporternewspapers.net INtown Editor: Collin Kelley Editor-at-Large Joe Earle Staff Writers Dyana Bagby, Evelyn Andrews Copy Editor: Donna Williams Lewis Creative and Production Creative Director Rico Figliolini rico@reporternewspapers.net Graphic Designer: Soojin Yang Advertising Director of Sales Development Amy Arno amyarno@reporternewspapers.net Sales Executives Julie Davis, Jeff Kremer, Janet Porter, Jim Speakman, Janet Tassitano Office Manager Deborah Davis deborahdavis@reporternewspapers.net Contributors Phil Mosier, Jaclyn Turner

Free Home Delivery 60,000 copies of Reporter Newspapers are delivered by carriers to homes in ZIP codes 30305, 30319, 30326, 30327, 30328, 30338, 30342 and 30350 and to more than 500 business/retail locations. For locations, check “Where To Find Us” at www.ReporterNewspapers.net For delivery requests, please email delivery@reporternewspapers.net.

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Community Survey / Is Sandy Springs’ arts-oriented civic center a smart play? With its new City Springs civic center, a $229 million facility set to open this year with a major performing arts center at its core, Sandy Springs aims to build its identity around the arts. Many respondents to the Reporter Newspapers’ latest 1Q.com survey say that’s a smart, forward-thinking move — though there is some disagreement about the cost. “I believe it adds great value and keeps the life in a city,” said a 58-year-old Sandy Springs woman, one of 200 respondents to the cellphone-based text survey of residents in communities served by the Reporter and our sister paper, Atlanta INtown. “Having this arts center will provide options for theater-going and generate revenue for the city. Keeping the arts alive is a way we can lead the younger generations and give them additional opportunities to learn more about their talents.” A 36-year-old Dunwoody woman said she couldn’t wait to join friends and family for shows at City Springs. “I love it!!,” she commented. “I think it’s a great add to our community.” “I live in Sandy Springs, so I’m all for it and the guests it will bring in,” a 53-year-old woman wrote. “I find it to be an incredible plan,” a 28-year-old Buckhead man commented. “I enjoy having various things to do around the Atlanta area, which includes art galleries, performances, attending the symphony, as well as enjoying music. More options like these make living in this city more enjoyable.” And a 52-year-old Buckhead woman put it simply: “It’s a good play for Sandy Springs,” she said. There were some naysayers. “That’s what the city of Atlanta is for. Not Sandy Springs,” said one 23-year-old respondent. Meanwhile, a 32-year-old Atlanta man applauded Sandy Springs for outdoing his city: “Not refurbishing and breathing new life into the Atlanta Civic Center was a waste of a beautiful property and a key part of Atlanta’s heritage. Glad to hear Sandy Springs is picking up the torch to enrich their community.” A bigger split in opinion was whether such a civic center, built as a public-private partnership, is worth $229 million. “Too much money spent,” a 42-year-old Sandy Springs man commented. “Let the private sector do this.” Another Sandy Springs resident, a 33-year-old man, had similar questions. “While I appreciate the city building a performing arts center,” he wrote, “the price tag to complete [it] is very concerning and [I] wonder if those funds could have been better used elsewhere for the city.” Residents of communities near Sandy Springs also were concerned about the cost. “I think it’s a waste for the smaller cities to do this. There are plenty of arts venues and organizations in Atlanta already,” a 36-year-old Brookhaven man noted. A 46-year-old Buckhead man said the project represented “a lot of money that could be going elsewhere. [I] don’t agree.” But other respondents thought money invested in the arts would provide a good return to the community. “I’m in favor of it,” a 51-year-old Sandy Springs man said of the performing arts center. “It makes a town more attractive and raises property values.” “Arts and culture are key to a community’s growth and vitality and is a proven economic driver for long term growth,” said a 42-year-old Atlanta woman. When respondents were asked what would attract them to Sandy Springs for a show, answers varied widely. Concerts featuring popular music led the list, with 34 percent of the respondents expressing interest. Classical music drew the least interest, with only 2 percent of the respondents saying they would come to Sandy Springs for that type of concert.

What type of arts event is most likely to attract you to visit City Springs? Popular music (pop, rock, hip-hop, etc.)


(musical or dramatic)


34% 18.5% 7.5%

Children’s arts programs


Art exhibit


Celebrity speaking tour






(classical or modern)

Classical music Other

2% 13%

Here’s what some other respondents had to say: “Great idea! The arts will enhance the cultural activities in the area.” — 27-year-old Atlanta woman “I believe arts are an important part of a community. The fact that Atlanta is doing pretty good on the arts front was a big reason for staying in the area.” — 39-year-old Atlanta woman “As an artist myself; I fully support art as a core in civic identity. Construction and traffic are my only main concerns pre- and post-completion.” — 25-year-old Buckhead woman “Feel like that money would be better spent in our schools and starting an appreciation for and attention to the arts early in life.” — 25-year-old Brookhaven woman

1Q is an Atlanta-based startup that has developed a technology which sends questions and surveys to a cellphone via app or text message from businesses and organizations across the country. Respondents are paid 50 cents per answer, through PayPal, for sharing their opinions. Payments may also be donated directly to charity. Sign up to be included in our local community polls at 1Q.com/reporter or by texting REPORTER to 86312. © 2018 with all rights reserved Publisher reserves the right to refuse editorial or advertising for any reason. Publisher assumes no responsibility for information contained in advertising. Any opinions expressed in print or online do not necessarily represent the views of Reporter Newspapers or Springs Publishing, LLC.

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JAN. 19 - FEB. 1, 2018

Commentary | 11


Around Town

Joe Earle is editor-at-large at Reporter Newspapers and has lived in metro Atlanta for over 30 years. He can be reached at joeearle@reporternewspapers.net

Growing up in Dunwoody, Kristen Hard loved to make things. “I was always into food, from the time I was a child,” she said recently. “I was always in the kitchen wanting to make stuff.” At the same time, “All I ever wanted was a chemistry set. I was really into science. I was really into invention.” “I think I kind of always had this brain where I have a balance with this obsession for science and for art,” she said. Jump forward a few years. In her 20s, Hard was working as a private chef on a yacht. During a stop in the Caribbean, she had an epiphany. The two sides of her brain came together when she discovered chocolate – real chocolate – came from the seeds hidden inside the fruit of a tropical tree and wasn’t simply concocted in a huge factory. “It blew my mind. It was like all these dots connected… like the stars aligned.” Hard set about learning how to make chocolate from scratch. She produced small batches of chocolate for herself and friends. She experimented. In 2004, she moved back to Atlanta and started selling her chocolate through farmer’s markets and street fairs. When Hard started out, she was among a handful of custom bean-tobar chocolate makers in the country, she said, and the only one in the southeastern U.S. Now her chocolates draw widespread attention. Notices from magazines such as Travel + Leisure, Food + Wine and Oprah decorate the walls of her office in her northwest Atlanta factory. Her company, Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Co., makes luxury chocolate directly from cacao beans and sells scores of chocolate treats — such as $3 chocolate truffles and $8 chocolate bars and $21.50 Salame di Cioccolato, which looks like salami — through a Buckhead shop and a café in Virginia-Highland. Hard says she’s set her sights set on an even grander goal. She wants to make the best chocolate in the world. And maybe, in the process, help save chocolate itself for the future. After she got into the chocolate business, Hard said she discovered its problems. It’s a far-flung industry, with small farms in Central and South America and Africa and

manufacturers spread around the world. “I started understanding the industry and the corruption and the lack of quality,” she said. “Over the last 100 years, cacao has been bred [to increase] disease resistance and yield,” she said. “They have bred out flavors.” She decided that if she wanted to make the best chocolate in the world, she needed to work with the best raw materials. She went looking for better chocolate beans. She said she worked with cacao farmers and at one point even owned her own farm in Peru. She says she found what she wanted in old chocolate trees that produced fruit that is sweeter, not as bitter, “more elegant.” “I’m looking for the rarest, the less than 1 percent, cacao,” she said. “It exists. It’s really hard to find. It’s hard to find farmers who are growing it.” Hard said she’s now working to convince farmers to grow rare, heirloom varieties of cacao. At the same time, she wants to create a market that would allow those farmers to be able to afford to grow those varieties. “We basically have created a new market for cacao that has never been seen before,” she said. That means making chocolate that’s expensive. That doesn’t worry Hard. “Chocolate is a luxury,” she said. “A dark chocolate, fine chocolate, is a luxury. It’s not a foodstuff, like rice. It shouldn’t be treated like a commodity.” She also worries about finding ways to replace aging cacao farmers. Their chilSPECIAL dren are moving away or to Kristen Hard of other crops, she said, which Cacao Atlanta Chocolate Co. may mean real chocolate will grow even rarer, more expensive. “What happens when [the farmers] die?” she asked. She thinks it’s worth the struggle. “I am trying to redefine things so our children and children’s children will have this,” she said. “I just feel like there is a way to make a change in this world if you put your mind to it.”

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12 | Community

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City loses Hastings site lawsuit ahead of Overlay District rewrite vote

Councilmember Bates Mattison, far left, with Community Development Director Patrice Ruffin, talked with residents who have concerns about the proposed Brookhaven-Peachtree Overlay District rewrite at a Jan. 16 meeting.

BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

The state Supreme Court last month denied the city of Brookhaven’s petition to ask the court to hear its appeal in the lawsuit over a proposed development on Peachtree Road that dates back to 2015. The Supreme Court’s denial means the Court of Appeals decision that the city was wrong to deny a land disturbance permit to developers JLB Realty and SDS Real Property stands for a mixed-use development it wanted to build on what is known as the former Hastings Nursery site at 3920, 3926 and 3930 Peachtree Road. “We lost,” City Manager Christian Sigman said at a Jan. 16 public meeting called by Councilmember Bates Mattison to allow residents to ask questions of staff about the Brookhaven-Peachtree Overlay District rewrite slated to be voted on by the City Council on Jan. 23. Mattison in November asked and the council agreed to delay the BrookhavenPeachtree Overlay District rewrite vote to allow for more public input. JLB Realty and SDS Real Property in 2015 sued the city and some individual residents after the city refused to issue a land disturbance permit for nearly 5 acres on Peachtree Road that abuts the Historic Brookhaven neighborhood and lies within the Brookhaven-Peachtree Overlay District. Develop-

ers were seeking to rezone the property from commercial and single-family residential to PC-2, pedestrian community. A DeKalb Superior Court judge ruled in 2016 in the city’s favor, leading the developers to take the case to the Court of Appeals where they came out victorious. The city then attempted to appeal all the way to the state Supreme Court, but on Dec. 11 the high court denied to hear the case. The development, named JLB Porter Square, included plans for a 6-story building with 273 apartments, 17,695 square feet of retail and commercial space, 2,500 square feet for a leasing office and 6,691 square feet for an enclosed amenity area. Residents of Historic Brookhaven strongly opposed the mixed-use development with several hiring their own attorney to represent them. Historic Brookhaven residents asked developers three years ago to include keeping the 150-foot forested buffer at 3926 Peachtree Road zoned R-100 for single-family residential and to not disturb it. That property lies between the commercially zoned parcels on Peachtree Road and a handful of backyards of Brookhaven Drive homes. Under the developers’ original plans filed with the city, the apartments would be built 30 feet into that forested buffer, and the plans were to keep only 30 feet of landscaped buffer space between the neighborhood and the devel-


opment. At the Jan. 16 meeting, Bob Connelly, president of the Historic Brookhaven Neighborhood Association, said his neighborhood is now opposing the portion of the Overlay District rewrite that would include changing the R-100 buffer area into the new Peachtree Road1 District. The Overlay District rewrite divides the area into three Peachtree Road, or PR, districts. PR-1 is the same as what is currently known as sub-area 1 and includes the Peachtree Road corridor from North Druid Hills Road to Oglethorpe University where high-density development is encouraged. Connelly and others fear removing the specific R-100 zoning that dates back to before city incorporation could open the door to developers encroaching into that 150-foot forested area and the current mandate of a 30foot setback. The proposed Overlay District rewrite includes a revision made in November by the Planning Commission addressing neighborhood transition areas in the PR districts that states, “The required buffer must have a width of at least 30 feet or a width equal to 15 percent of the depth of the subject lot, whichever is greater” and would provide more of a setback, according to city officials. Sigman said, however, that because the city lost the lawsuit with JLB Realty and SDS Real Property, a developer could come in and have the legal right

to build what was proposed in 2015. “The litigation is over, but until the Overlay is passed there is still a 30-foot setback,” Sigman said. Historic Brookhaven residents want the city to somehow come up with a way to legally preserve the buffer area without changing its designation in the proposed Overlay District rewrite. “We request that the City Council and city leadership protect the 150 feet transitional green space by either designating it as a permanent green space, or removing it from the buildable area of the Peachtree Overlay,” Connelly wrote in a letter to the City Council and Planning Commission that was presented to Councilmember Mattison at the Jan. 16 meeting. “By protecting and preserving this R-100 150-foot buffer that has existed for decades between the city of Brookhaven’s premier neighborhoods and its developing urban area, the city will allow for development that is both environmentally friendly and forward thinking,” Connelly stated. Mattison said he also has concerns about the Overlay District rewrite in that it allows development by right without a public rezoning process. “We have a very impassioned public” that remains involved in zoning issues, he said. And part of the reason the city of Brookhaven was founded five years ago was to have more local control of zoning, he added. “We don’t want to be that city that can’t get development through,” Mattison said, “but at the same time this is a leap of faith I’m personally uncomfortable with.” In October, the city said it had spent nearly $30,000 in legal costs defending the lawsuit.

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Methodist Dunwoody United Gil Yates, about to begin at for his classmate Coast Indians was making a beeline A class on Pacific strode into the room, Church when a man OK.” approached. “Shuffling’sbuddy, who would not front row, center. said, as the man his “No running!” Yates is a year older than all in good fun. Yates By Kathy Dean The teasing was share his age: 91. with Perimeter Adults did but spring this name, classes reveal his 175 students taking We hear it all The men are among most of whom adults, time: senior (PALS). less is more. forthe rings education Services & especially Learning start. The phrase continuing true for older from the year of providing members adultsneed empty nests been PALS is in its 25th are facing and are the whofor of Dunwoody, have care ready of takes to of and his wife, Dot, of their enjoy the second kind lives. and this are 60-plus. Yates Intown and north half to help other people, many comforta metro Atlanta friends.” “People our age want made lifelong ble options for offer them. on page 4 Yates said. “We have “Baby boomers fellowship,” Dot have spent Continued working and much of their building lives said Dawn Anderson their wealth for retiremen t,” , Realtor, Dorsey “As retiremen Alston Realtors. t becomes more of a reality, they plan their transition begin to to downsize. Ease and affordability of life, proximity are certainly the goals of most downsizing common boomers.” The trend of continues to grow, 55+ active adult commun ities Anderson said. well qualified “Baby boomers buyers and know are looking for.” exactly what they are Kim Isaacs, aged Avalon in Alpharet 58, said that her townhom e in ta gives her everything they and her husband want. “We had home in Johns lived in our previous Creek for 19 years. left for college, When our last we child and really didn’t decided that we wanted a change need a large house of us,” she said. for just the two



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Community | 13



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The logo was designed by Splash Festivals, who the council contracted with last year to manage the arts and crafts market at this year’s festival. The city is not paying Splash Festivals for its work, including the logo design, and instead the company is paid through vendor fees. Other Splash Festivals events include the Dunwoody Art Festival and the Alpharetta Arts Streetfest. The Cherry Blossom Festival’s 5K run will also be a Peachtree Road Race qualifier for the first time this year, Jones said, and there are 100 vendors and artists signed up — a five-fold increase over last year’s event. The city also wanted to beef up its music lineup over the two-day fest, so Mayor John Ernst and Jones called up experts in that field — Live Nation Atlanta and its president, Peter Conlon. Conlon is the founder of the Music Midtown fest, which attracts thousands of music lovers to Piedmont Park each year. After sitting down in a meeting, Conlon and his team agreed to donate their services for this year’s festival, they said. “I think people will be shocked with the talent and name recognition we expect to bring in,” Ernst said. The music stage also has its first sponsor, Stone Mountain Park, which will soon be advertising the festival, according to Jones. The music acts are expected to be announced by the end of January, Ernst said. The festival will continue to have its classic car show, a children’s village and the popular pet parade. The city’s 2018 budget sets aside $1 million for the creation of a Convention and Visitors Bureau. Funding for the city’s own CVB comes from the new revenue stream created last year by the increase in hotel-motel taxes from 5 percent to 8 percent that was initiated to fund the construction and marketing of the Peachtree Creek Greenway. The city’s contract with Discover DeKalb, the tourism agency for the county and for the past several years for the city of Brookhaven, was $575,000 a year. That contract is under review, according to the city. Last year, Discover DeKalb spent $200,000 to market the Cherry Blossom Festival, including $45,000 to pay “digital influencers” to promote the festival online and on social media and more than $70,000 on out-of-state billboards. In 2017, the city’s tourism budget was $150,000, which included funding the Cherry Blossom Festival. Revenues for the 2016 Cherry Blossom Festival totaled $73,219 while expenses totaled $126,925.




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14 | Community

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DeKalb CEO Thurmond: Speak out against injustice BY DYANA BAGBY dyanabagby@reporternewspapers.net

DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond held court at the city’s third annual MLK Dinner and Celebration Jan. 15, urging those in attendance to honor the civil rights icon’s legacy not just one day a year but every day. “Tomorrow when you go back to work, when you hear something racist or a sexual comment, will you sit silent or speak up?” he said to praise and applause from the crowd as he walked among the tables where people dined on barbecue. Thurmond was the keynote speaker at the event at Lynwood Park Community Center, once an all-black school in the historically African-American Lynwood Park neighborhood. The annual event also honors the Lynwood Integrators, now known as the Lynwood Trailblazers, who were the first to integrate DeKalb County schools in 1968. Thurmond, the son of a sharecropper, shared his story of attending a segregated school in Athens, Ga., and using second-hand textbooks. He went on to get a degree from historically black Paine College in Augusta and then earned a law degree from the University of South Carolina’s School of Law. A Democrat, he became in 1986 the first African-American elected to the Georgia General Assembly from Clarke County since Reconstruction. Thurmond noted that recent vulgar comments reported to have been used by President Donald Trump to disparage people from Africa and Haiti have been rejected by people around the globe. “Dr. King said there will be evil men … but it’s not what the bad men say or what the bad men do,” Thurmond said. “The damage is done when good men and women fall silent. What will you say? What will good people do?” People must come together despite politics, Thurmond said. He noted the story of a DeKalb firefighter who was able to recently catch a child thrown from the third floor of a burning building as the child’s parent was escaping down a ladder. The dramatic event, captured on video, made national news. Watching the footage, Thurmond said neither race nor religion nor anyone voted for president mattered. “There is a powerful message in that story,” he said, “We’ve got to love one another ... and value life over politics.” Thurmond noted that the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination will be commemorated on April 4. King flew from Atlanta to Memphis, despite death threats and warnings from people to not go, on his final appearance to support striking sanitation workers who wanted safer working conditions and better wages.


Top, DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond speaks on Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy at the third annual MLK Dinner at Lynwood Park on Jan. 15. Above, Lynwood Park resident Gary McDaniel said he was the first student off the bus when he and other Lynwood students integrated Cross Keys High School in 1968. Middle, from left, Monica Ernst; Councilmember Linley Jones; Mayor John Ernst; DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond and his wife, Zola; DeKalb Commissioner Jeff Rader; and state Rep. Meagan Hanson of Brookhaven. Left, from left, Darlene Jordan with Fikree Jordan, age 4, Aaliyah Guthrie, and Farah Jordan, age 6. Aaliyah now lives in Alpharetta, but was raised in Lynwood Park. Mmany of her relatives still live there.


JAN. 19 - FEB. 1, 2018

Community | 15


Retired Brig. Gen. Richard Dix, left, with Brookhaven Planning Commission member John Funny. Dix recently retired after 30 years in the Army. “Many of the Lynwood trailblazers raised me,” he said. “This is the first time I’ve been home in 30 years.”

“Dr. Martin Luther King went to Memphis ... and ultimately to his death to help garbage workers,” Thurmond said, noting to a loud round of applause his proposal for the 2018 budget to raise the minimum wage for DeKalb County employees to $14 an hour. The DeKalb Board of Commissioners is expected to vote on the county budget next month. King’s legacy includes the coming together of black and white folks sitting together in the Lynwood Park Community in the city of Brookhaven sharing a meal, he said, as he asked people to stand up to injustice against anyone as they continued to live their daily lives. Thurmond also praised the “historic men and women of Lynwood Park,” many of whom were in attendance, who paved the way for future black students. Lynwood Park Community Center was once the elementary and high school

in Brookhaven’s historic African-American community. When DeKalb County schools finally became integrated in 1968, nearly 20 high school students at the Lynwood school were bused to the allwhite Cross Keys High School. Three years ago, Councilmember Linley Jones worked with members of the Lynwood Park community to organize the first city-sponsored MLK Day event to also recognize the local residents’ role in the civil rights movement. Gary McDaniel said he was the first student to step off the bus when he and his classmates integrated Cross Keys High School 50 years ago. He still lives in Lynwood Park where his father and son also live. “I marched with Dr. King and it is so important to remember him,” he said. “I’m also very proud of our community.”

Top, EJ and the Versatiles provide live entertainment at the MLK Dinner. Above, Janice Chapman of the Lynwood class of 1969 sings along at the close of the dinner event. Below, More than 100 people attended the MLK Day Dinner held at the Lynwood Park Community Center.


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16 | Arts & Entertainment

Facebook.com/TheReporterNewspapers ■ twitter.com/Reporter_News and artistic director Roni Koresh. $25 members; $38 community. MJCCA’s Morris & Rae Frank Theatre, 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Info: atlantajcc.org/boxoffice or 678812-4002.







Friday, Jan. 26 through Sunday, Feb. 18 Stage Door Players present the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “Picnic,” by William Inge. The play is set on a Kansas Labor Day weekend in the joint backyards of two middle-aged widows whose families are disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious young drifter. $15$33. 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Schedule and other info: stagedoorplayers.net.


Saturday, Feb. 3, events begin at 7:50 a.m. An anticipated 1,500 runners will gather to the sound of bagpipes to compete in the 2018 Tartan Trot 5K/10K race, which starts and ends at Saint Luke’s Presbyterian Church. The Tartan Trot features two Peachtree Road Race qualifying races (8:30 a.m.) and is a walker-, stroller- and dog-friendly event with a 1-mile Fun Run (8 a.m.) and a Tot Trot (7:50 a.m.). $35 for the 5K/10K; $15 for the Fun Run. 1978 Mount Vernon Road, Dunwoody. Info: tartantrot.com.


Saturday Jan. 27, 8 p.m. and Sunday, Jan. 28, 5 p.m. The Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta presents the critically acclaimed Koresh Dance Company, founded by Israeli-born choreographer


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Saturday, Feb. 3, 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. Beginner’s dance lesson 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. The Dennis Stroughmatt and Creole Stomp band fuel the music for a Mardi Gras party featuring everything from bluesy twosteps and waltzes to Creole tunes and zydeco. Authentic Cajun/Creole food for sale. Sponsored by the Atlanta Cajun Zydeco Association. $18. $14 active military. $5 students. Dorothy Benson Center, 6500 Vernon Woods Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: aczadance.org.

JAN. 19 - FEB. 1, 2018

Arts & Entertainment | 17



Ongoing Senior Stretch and Cardio & Strength classes are now in session at the Briarwood Recreation Center. SilverSneakers is a fitness program for adults ages 65-plus that comes free with qualifying health plans. Free. $5 per class for nonSilverSneakers members. 2235 Briarwood Way N.E., Brookhaven. Info: silversneakers.com/flex or brookhavenga.gov.


Thursday, Jan. 25 to Saturday, Jan. 27, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. The Cathedral of St. Philip partners with the nonprofit Antiques Council for its festival of art, antiques and floral and interior design, benefitting A.G. Rhodes Health & Rehab. Period furniture, jewelry, art and accessories will be for sale; lunch available from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. $20 covers the three days. Additional costs for author talks, a Sunday tour of homes and other scheduled show events. 2744 Peachtree Road, Buckhead. Info: cathedralantiques.org.

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Thursday, Jan. 25 to Monday, Jan. 29. (Closed Sunday.) Members only: 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Thursday. Public hours: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday. The Friends of the Dunwoody Library will hold a four-day book sale culminating with a Bag Day on Monday. 5339 Chamblee-Dunwoody Road, Dunwoody. Info: 770-512-4640.

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Saturday, Jan. 27, 10 to 11:30 a.m. Heritage Sandy Springs has rebranded its American Girl Club, which always welcomed all genders but only attracted girls, to reflect the inclusive nature of the program. This month, kids will learn about the history of country music with coed characters Logan and Tenney. Each monthly club meeting includes an activity, craft and snack. Kids are invited to bring their favorite doll. Best suited for ages 5 to 12. Advance registration recommended. $8 Heritage Sandy Springs members; $10 nonmembers; $15 at the door. 6075 Sandy Springs Circle, Sandy Springs. Info: heritagesandysprings.org. Click the education tab. Continued on page 18

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18 | Arts & Entertainment

Facebook.com/TheReporterNewspapers ■ twitter.com/Reporter_News Continued from page 17


Wednesday, Jan. 31, 5 to 6:30 p.m. All are invited to the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta at Zaban Park for a celebration of the Jewish Earth Day featuring songs, activities, crafts, fruit and nut sampling and a Tu B’Shvat birthday cake. Free. 5342 Tilly Mill Road, Dunwoody. Registration: atlantajcc.org. Info: Rabbi Brian Glusman at 678-812-4161 or rabbi.glusman@atlantajcc.org.

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Saturday, Feb. 3, 6 to 8 p.m. This ninth annual event is open to all girls attending school in Sandy Springs (grades K-5) and their dads or father figures. A DJ will play music from both generations. Dance contests, musical games, complementary snacks and refreshments, keepsake photo, door prizes and a goodie bag for each girl. Business casual to semi-formal attire. $35 for father-daughter; $10 each additional daughter. Preregistration required by Feb. 2 or until the event is full at registration.sandyspringsga.gov. Spalding Drive Elementary School, 130 West Spalding Drive, Sandy Springs. Info: 770-730-5600.




Wednesday, Jan. 24, and Wednesday, Feb. 7, 4 to 5 p.m. Seniors are invited to audition stories of their lives for a national living history initiative called “These Eyes Have Seen” (theseeyeshaveseen.com) during either of two events at local retirement communities. Free, with complementary food and beverages and live entertainment. The Jan. 24 event, featuring a presentation on the history of Dunwoody, is at Dunwoody Pines, 435 Georgetown Square, Dunwoody. RSVP by Jan. 23 to Traci Sherman at 770986-1100 or traci.sherman@sunshineret.com. The Feb. 7 event, which features a presentation by Holocaust survivor Helen Weingarten, is at Hammond Glen, 335 Hammond Drive, Sandy Springs. RSVP by Feb. 5 to Alicia Bartlett at 404-256-6300 or alicia.smith@ sunshineret.com.


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Saturday, Jan. 27, 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Adult artists of all abilities are invited to the Blue Heron Nature Preserve for a natural science illustration workshop focused on trees. Drawing techniques such as modeling, contour and value building will be explored. For ages 18 and older. Preregistration required. Basic art supplies provided. $75. 4055 Roswell Road N.E., Buckhead. Info: bhnp.org.


Ongoing Wednesdays, 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. (beginners) and 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. (intermediate). Learn Spanish and refine your Spanish language skills at the Sandy Springs Library. Free. 395 Mount Vernon Highway, Sandy Springs. Info: 404-303-6130.



JAN. 19 - FEB. 1, 2018

Arts & Entertainment | 19


Atlanta Jewish Film Festival returns The Atlanta Jewish Film Festival, a cinematic exploration of Jewish experience, is back for its 18th year of presenting films from around the world. This year’s event runs over 23 days, from Wednesday, Jan. 24 through Thursday, Feb. 15, at seven venues across metro Atlanta, including Sandy Springs’ Regal Perimeter Pointe and The Springs Cinema & Taphouse. Presented by AJFF, an independent nonprofit arts organization, the festival will feature more than 190 screenings, with 75 films from 27 countries. Filmmakers, academics, authors, critics and other guest speakers will engage with the audience before and after select screenings. Opening night and closing night festivities will take place at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre. Other venues include Regal Atlantic Station, Regal Hollywood 24, UA Tara Cinemas and Woodruff Arts Center. Here’s a preview of some of the film festival attractions:

“The Invisibles,” a docudrama about the teens and adults who survived World War II in Berlin hiding in plain sight.

“Let Yourself Go,” an

Italian comedy that features a self-involved psychoanalyst who has his tightly ordered world thrown for a loop by a high-spirited fitness instructor.

Tickets and other info: ajff.org.

“Sammy Davis, Jr.: I’ve Gotta Be Me,”

a tribute to the iconic dancer, singer and actor. Kicks off opening night.

“Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds: The Conductor Zubin Mehta,” a film that celebrates the international career of a musical maestro.

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20 | Arts & Entertainment

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Touring theater company for seniors eyes expansion BY JACLYN TURNER

ing there, Theatre-To-Go’s professional company travels to senior living comAfter a decade of bringing theater to munities, senior centers, churches and seniors, the Atlanta Theatre-To-Go travsynagogues, bringing a theatrical exeling company is making a big move of perience to seniors, its own, expanding from some of whom may its base in a Sandy Springs not be able to go to a house and hiring its first traditional theater. executive director. Three plays and “I am looking forward a musical are perto having more creative formed each year, time and to seeing my often written by lo“baby” blossom into its full cal playwrights, inpotential,” said founder cluding Ilgenfritz. Sondra Ilgenfritz, who has Beyond the 60 or so stepped down as president performances put to serve on the company’s on each year, TheSondra Ilgenfritz. board and devote more time atre-To-Go offers histoto playwriting. ry tours, and such interactive works as Lois Keopke, the new executive di“reminiscence theater,” where a memrector, has a resume that includes ory from a participant is turned into a forming a troupe of senior dancers to script, which is then performed in front perform at the Milwaukee Bucks basof family and friends. ketball team’s halftime shows. “We are ready for our next stage of “I’m really jazzed up about what I’m growth,” said Ilgenfritz. “For 10 years, doing and joining this organization,” we have been a largely volunteer-drivKeopke said. “Seeing what they are doen organization fueled by an entreing and bringing this joy to seniors, it’s preneur with a passion and a mission. really cool.” Thanks to generous sponsors and doFounded in 2007 in Ilgenfritz’s Sannors, we are now able to move into a dy Springs home and regularly rehearsprofessional business model with the funds to hire expert help. “I hope that Lois can create the type of buzz that makes Atlanta Theatre-ToGo a catalyst for other communities throughout our nation to harness and utilize the creativity of our seniors,” added Ilgenfritz, who will continue to serve on the company’s board. Koepke spent 22 years choreographing and creating halftime shows for the National Basketball Association’s Milwaukee Bucks. She formed the “SeniorGee!” dance team in 2006, a group of dancers ranging in age from 60 to Your monthly guide 85 who auditioned and performed durto the city’s vibrant ing halftime, and calls it a highlight of INtown community! her career. She was inspired by a MiPick up a copy or ami Heat performance at an NBA Allread it online at Star game involving seniors, and adaptatlantaintownpaper.com ed it to her own. “They’d start with a classic routine, and then switch into hip hop. They brought the house down,” said Koepke. New Restaurant

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At right, Sandy Springs resident Sondra Ilgenfritz, president of Atlanta Theatre-to-Go, introduces some actors at during the company’s 2010 season.

well in order to continue the mission.” “They were the most popular entertainTheatre-To-Go rehearses and opment group I’ve worked with.” erates out of Ilgenfritz’s home, some“The work ethic was just awesome, thing that has worked smoothly for the and they just wanted to entertain,” Kolast 10 years, but Koepke would love to epke said of working with the dancers. have access to a rehearsal space or of“A piece of me says, I know what sefice space, perhaps in a community niors can do, and what they are capacenter. For one upcoming performance, ble of doing when they are jazzed about the company is rehearsing a Tucker the arts, and then actually perform it.” church. Koepke retired, but after a recent “My goal is to partner with an orgamove to metro Atlanta, she said, she nization that would like to serve as a wanted to get involved in her new comhome for Atlanta Theatre-To-Go. And I munity, and was interested in working say that very loosely, but with nonprofits. it could be a place where Koepke has expanwe rehearse and partner sion and upgrades in with them to give their mind for the theater residents free theater,” company, such as bringshe said. ing more technology to The company is curthe organization as well rently touring a musias creating a unifying cal comedy called “Evbrand. ery Day Is Tuesday,” with “It’s time to reach a stops including the Berbroader audience, and man Commons assisted my role is going to be living and memory care funding. I want to bring residences in Dunwoody. more performances to For more informamore places,” she said. tion, see AtlantaThe“I’m the one to make Lois Keopke. atreToGo.com. sure we function really

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22 | Community

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Eminent domain case for Greenway property heats up Continued from page 1 Group, the property’s owners, to pay that amount. The property owners say they intended to build a townhome development on the site and countered with a $2.3 million price tag. With the vote approved to use eminent domain, the city filed in September a petition to condemn in DeKalb County Superior Court, which meant the two parties would enter into negotiations with a courtappointed special master. A special master essentially serves as a judge to hear evidence from both parties before making a ruling. Those talks in November again proved fruitless. On Dec. 21, the city ceased talks with the property owners through the special master and filed a “Declaration of Taking” to seize the property. The city paid the $340,000 appraised value into the registry of the court, which is to then go to the property owners. Christian Torgrimson of Purley Friese Torgrimson, an attorney for the owners, on Jan. 11 filed a court motion to dismiss the land-taking, alleging the city is breaking state laws in its use of eminent domain. “[The city] has ignored statutory rules and protections by attempting to amend these ongoing proceedings, all in order to

avoid the results of its unlawful actions and bad faith conduct and the required payment of fees and expenses incurred” by the property owners, she states in the motion. The city declined to comment. In the motion, Torgrimson said the 19 acres on Briarwood Road is one of the few remaining large tracts of land in the city “that since late 2016 has been primed for development of a townhome community along with other compatible uses.” The motion said discussions between Morgan and City Manager Christian Sigman began in the summer of 2016. On Sept. 19, 2016, City Attorney Chris Balch offered the property owners $120,750, stating the price “represents 5 percent premium over the appraised value obtained by the city,” according to the motion. No appraisal was included with the price offer, according to the motion. On Sept. 21, Morgan made a counteroffer to sell an easement of the property for the $120,750 or sell the entire property for $495,000, “despite the fact that at the time he did not believe it represented fair market value,” according to the motion. The motion says that Balch responded not with further negotiations, but instead “threatened Mr. Morgan with legal action and repercussions if he did not negotiate.”

Morgan was “shocked and understood Mr. Balch’s statements to be a direct threat of condemnation in order to force him to sell,” according to the motion. On Sept. 29, Balch emailed Morgan again and acknowledged his “unduly harsh” response, and increased the city’s offer for the 19 acres to $190,000. In an interview, Torgrimson said the city violated state law by sending out someone to appraise the Briarwood Road property without informing the property owners. “The city’s appraiser did at no time get on the phone and call saying he was going to appraise the property,” she said, which means the city essentially “admitted to trespassing.” Morgan broke off negotiations with the city when he realized he would not be paid $495,000 and hired Torgrimson. The only appraisal Morgan received from the city, according to the motion, was more than one month after entering into negotiations. That appraisal was a redacted two-page letter dated Nov. 15, 2015, stating the value of the Briarwood Road property was $191,500. During the special master hearings in November, the city presented an appraiser who stated the land was worth $340,000 based on an appraisal made in December

2016. The appraiser acknowledged he did not contact the property owners to ask permission to inspect the land, according to the motion. That appraisal states only 3.16 acres of the 19 acres can be developed. But Torgrimson said in an interview the appraisal needs to be thrown out for having no supporting information that fails to comply with state law. “We don’t take this lightly,” Torgrimson said. “The city is acting in bad faith and showing egregious conduct. And we still don’t have a resolution. What we are trying to do is get the case dismissed.” The $2.3 million number came up in settlement talks, Torgrimson added, and added the entire property can be developed into townhomes. “The value of the property continues to increase. The Brookhaven market is exploding,” she said. A hearing on the motion is expected to take place in February, she said. The City Council last year approved a $35 million master plan for the Greenway that includes approximately three miles in Brookhaven. The 19 acres on Briarwood Road is included in phase one of the Greenway project, about a 1.25-mile section between North Druid Hills Road and Briarwood Road. A rendering of the “model mile” slated to break ground early this includes a trailhead on two acres of the Salvation Army’s property, circled at left, at Corporate Boulevard. The Salvation Army donated the property to the city earlier this month. Another trailhead and section of the Greenway is designed to go on some 19 acres of Briarwood Road, circled at right. The city is currently trying to seize the property through eminent domain. CITY OF BROOKHAVEN

Salvation Army donates land for Greenway The Salvation Army has donated 2 acres of its property located on Northeast Expressway to the city for a trailhead and plaza area for the Peachtree Creek Greenway. The City Council voted at its Jan. 9 meeting to accept the donation. “This is a critical piece of the Greenway,” Patty Hansen, project manager for the city, told the council. The acreage includes a portion of the Salvation Army’s parking lot where a plaza is to be built and will also provide Americans with Disabilities Act compliant parking for the Greenway, she said. The city has been in talks with officials with the Salvation Army’s Southern Territory Headquarters, located at 1424 Northeast Expressway and near Corporate Boule-

vard, for more than a year, trying to secure the donation of property that will serve as a trailhead for the “model mile” set to break ground this year. The first mile of the Greenway will run from Corporate Boulevard, including a portion of the Salvation Army property to REI at Briarwood Road. “Brookhaven has been striving to improve its recreation and safe pedestrian transportation alternatives since our formation,” Mayor John Ernst said in a prepared statement. “This type of community partnership with the Salvation Army advances this initiative forward and brings us closer to the finish line. I want to thank the Salvation Army for their partnership and very generous donation.”

The Salvation Army had one of its representatives serving on the Greenway Steering Committee and the Salvation Army also hosted a community meeting at its site as part of its partnership with the city. “This donation is critical to getting the construction of the PCG underway, which provides park space, recreation and transportation alternatives to District 4,” City Councilmember Joe Gebbia said in a prepared statement. “I appreciate the Salvation Army’s commitment to Brookhaven and the PCG.” The Greenway is an approximate 12mile linear park envisioned to run along the north fork of the Peachtree Creek and connect Brookhaven to Chamblee and Doraville as well as to Buckhead’s PATH

400 and eventually to the Atlanta BeltLine. The north fork of the Peachtree Creek runs from Mercer University in unincorporated DeKalb County to near the PATH400 trail. The city is working with the PATH Foundation on the design of its approximate 3-mile segment of the Greenway. In Brookhaven, the creek largely flows between Buford Highway and I-85. Masked by buildings and overgrowth, it can be hard to see even from bridges spanning it. The city does own one parcel along the creek. It was granted by the Pink Pony strip club as part of a lawsuit settlement in 2014. – Dyana Bagby


JAN. 19 - FEB. 1, 2018

Public Safety | 23


Police Blotter / Brookhaven From Brookhaven Police reports dated Jan. 7-14. The following information was pulled from Brookhaven’s Police-2-Citizen website.

T H E F T A N D B U R G L A RY 4400 block of Memorial Drive — On

Jan. 7, in the morning, a man was arrested and accused of entering an auto and theft by taking.

A S S AU LT 4400 block of Peachtree Road — On

Jan. 7, in the afternoon, a man was arrested and accused of disorderly conduct. 3000 block of

Buford Highway — On Jan. 8, in the early morning, a woman was arrested and accused of battery. 1600 block of

N. Cliff Valley Way — On Jan. 14, in the afternoon, a woman was arrested and accused of battery.

3900 block of Ashford-Dunwoody

Road — On Jan. 10, in the afternoon, a man was arrested and accused of marijuana possession. 1900 block of Dresden Drive — On

Jan. 10, at night, a woman was arrested and accused of obstruction and resisting officers. 4100 block of Peachtree Road — On

Jan. 11, in the morning, a man was arrested and accused of driving with a suspended license. block of Buford Highway — On Jan. 11, at night, a man was arrested and accused of violating probation.

3000 block of Buford Highway — On

Jan. 7, after midnight, a man was arrested and accused of driving uninsured.

1300 block of Cliff Valley Way — On

1800 block of Corporate Boulevard —

On Jan. 7, at night, two women were arrested in regards to a busted prostitution ring. 3700 block of Buford High-

way — On Jan. 8, a man was arrested in the early morning for driving without a license. 1400

block of Northeast Expressway — On Jan. 9, in the afternoon, a man was arrested and accused of driving without a license. 3300 block of Buford Highway — On

Jan. 9, at night, a man was arrested and accused of driving uninsured. 3400 block of Buford Highway —



for local news and information! We’re honored that Reporter Newspapers won 12 awards, including three first-place selections in its division, in the Georgia Press Association’s 2017 Better Newspaper Contest.

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4600 block of Peachtree Road — On

Jan. 13, in the early morning, a man was arrested and accused of driving with a suspended license. 3700 block of Buford Highway — On

Jan. 13, in the early morning, a man was arrested and accused of driving under the influence of alcohol. 1600 block of Briarwood Road — On Jan. 14, in the early morning, a man was arrested and accused of following too closely. 1900 block of N. Druid Hills Road —

Lifestyle/Feature Column First Place - Robin Conte, “Robin’s Nest”

Hard News Writing Second Place - John Ruch News Photograph Second Place - Phil Mosier Special Issues: Second Place - Fall 2016 Education Guide Humorous Column: Second Place - Robin Conte


Jan. 12, in the evening, a woman was arrested and accused of contributing to the delinquency of a minor.

Business Writing First Place - Managing Editor John Ruch

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block of Buford Highway — On Jan. 12, in the morning, a man was arrested and accused of driving without a license.



On Jan. 10, in the morning, three people were arrested and accused of driving without a license.



General Excellence: Third Place Local News Coverage: Third Place - Staff Writers Religion Writing: Third Place - Staff Writers Serious Column: Third Place - Robin Conte Newspaper Website: Third Place

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On Jan. 14, in the early morning, a man was arrested and accused of driving under the influence of alcohol. 2100 block of Weldonberry Drive —

On Jan. 14, in the morning, a man was arrested and accused of driving under the influence of alcohol.

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